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Transformers

Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, John Turturro

(Paramount; US theatrical: 2 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [25.Oct.2007]
4 July The 800lb Gorilla



Transformers


Make way—it’s Michael Bay, and he’s got a little help from the original king of the Summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg. Taking on a treasured ‘80s animated icon may seem like cybergeek sacrilege, but this live action update actually makes a lot of sense. Special effects have come such a long way in the two decades since the Decepticons battled the Autobots for cosmic supremacy, and who better to handle the Earthbound destruction than the visionary cinematic extremist behind Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and The Island. Unlike other Bay efforts which seem to be all promise and very little presence, the trailers for this film have been nothing short of stellar. We get glimpses of the title characters, a look at how the narrative will play out within a contemporary real world dynamic, and enough shots of star Shia LeBeof to remind us that he’s in the movie as well. While there appears to be a bit of Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks trapped in this tale of intergalactic automaton fisticuffs, Summer more or less mandates a mindless action adventure –- and this looks as good, or frankly better, than any other.





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License to Wed

Director: Ken Kwapis
Cast: Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, Eric Christian Olsen, Christine Taylor

(Warner Brothers; US theatrical: 3 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

4 July The Simian Sidekick



License to Wed


WOW! This feels like a grade-A disaster. That man of many -– or perhaps that’s ‘any’ -– scripts, Robin Williams, plays a priest who places his prospective couples through some very grueling premarital processes. Mandy Moore and John Krasinski are his latest victims… sorry, volunteers. Sounding like an educational short gone to seed, we’re not clear if hijinx, or horror, will ensue. With a quartet of writers responsible for the script, Williams’ penchant for inappropriate ad-libbing, and a playdate opposite one of the summer’s biggest spectacles, there’s actually very little hope for his movie at all.





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Rescue Dawn

Director: Werner Herzog
Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies, Abhijati Jusakul, Teerawat Mulvilai, Marshall Bell

(MGM; US theatrical: 4 Jul 2007 (Limited release); 2007)

Review [17.Dec.2007]
4 July The Outsider Primate



Rescue Dawn


Werner Herzog. There’s a name not usually associated with popcorn movie season. Yet for some reason, MGM yanked this film from awards consideration (aka, Fall/Winter) and scheduled it smack dab in the middle of the most mainstream of milieus. Rumor has it that star Christian Bale is amazing in the role of downed US pilot Dieter Dengler, the subject of a past documentary by the German auteur.





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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Imelda Staunton, Katie Leung

(Warner Brothers; US theatrical: 11 Jul 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 12 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

13 July The 800lb Gorilla



Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


July 2007 promises to be a momentous month for J.K Rowling’s literary and cinematic cottage industries. Her final novel in the Potter series will hit shelves on the 21st, eight days after this fifth film in the franchise appears. The good news is that ever since Chris Columbus turned over the directorial reigns to an array of filmmaking foster fathers -– Mike Newell, the amazing Alfonso Cuaron -– the movies have been getting better and better. BBC TV director David Yates supposedly continues the upward trend. On the downside, gossip has it that the movie is going in for some late in post-production pruning, Warner Brothers panicking that the lackluster appreciation of Grindhouse‘s three-hour-plus running time will somehow negatively affect their offering’s inflated narrative. Here’s hoping said scuttlebutt is just more media manufactured hype. With a built in fanbase and the inherent interest delivered from Deathly Hallows (the title of the last book), this should be a cinematic slam dunk.





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Stephen King’s 1408

Director: Mikael Håfström
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Andrew Lee Potts, Kim Thomson

(Dimension Films; US theatrical: 13 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

13 July The Simian Sidekick



Stephen King’s 1408


A long time ago, Stephen King’s name was as closely associated with cinema as it was with publishing. Seems like everywhere you looked in the ‘70s and ‘80s, someone was adapting his books and short stories into films. Of course, most were god-awful, resulting in a kind of box office backlash. Movies of his tales were still made, but they more or less flew under the publicity push radar. This latest effort from Swedish horror maestro Mikael Håfström is different. It’s been given considerable press since its inception, and the recently released trailer gets a major macabre thumbs up.





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Hairspray (2007)

Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Queen Latifah, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Elijah Kelley, Amanda Bynes, Brittany Snow

(New Line Cinema; US theatrical: 20 Jul 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 20 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [19.Jul.2007]
20 July The 800lb Gorilla



Hairspray


When this big screen translation of the famed Broadway smash (itself based on John Waters classic comedy) was first announced, it seemed like a motion picture masterstroke. The show was extremely well liked, it dealt with one of Hollywood’s favorite subjects (race) and offered a chance for some of the industry’s biggest superstars to strut their stuff. As casting continued, things appeared even more promising. Christopher Walken? Michelle Pfieffer? Queen Latifah? And John Travolta in drag? What could be better than this? Even the recently released trailer hints at a major song and dance success. So where’s the potential problem? Well, for one thing, Waters’ film was about the coming together of cultures via rock and roll. The narrative driving this latest version appears locked in a basic black/white dynamic that emphasized ideology over fun. While the music is memorable and the actors involved quite capable, this could still find a way to flop. New Line doesn’t believe so, it’s smelling early Academy buzz.





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I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Ving Rhames, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Buscemi

(Universal Pictures; US theatrical: 20 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

20 July The Simian Sidekick



I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry


Homophobia as humor… how lovely! This particular script has been laying around Tinsel Town for years, and it’s had several famous names attached to it. How it finally ended up as a vehicle for Adam Sandler and Kevin James would probably make a much more entertaining movie than what’s up on the screen. Skirting the obvious issue of same-sex marriage to instead make fun of the whole mistakenly gay angle, this sounds a lot like the appalling Partners from a few decades back, featuring the original fun couple of Ryan O’Neal and John Hurt.





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Talk to Me

Director: Kasi Lemmons
Cast: Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson, Cedric The Entertainer, Mike Epps, Martin Sheen

(Focus Features; US theatrical: 13 Jul 2007 (Limited release); 2007)

Review [28.Nov.2007]
20 July The Outsider Primate



Talk To Me


Don Cheadle is Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, a convict who becomes one of the ‘60s most celebrated radio personalities. Challenging the white-owned radio station where he worked, and mixing his own personal brand of social consciousness into his soul music playlist, he stood at the center of some major changes in the fabric of the United States. Word has this underrated indie actor tempting Oscar bait, so beware.





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The Simpsons Movie

Director: David Silverman
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer

(Fox; US theatrical: 27 Jul 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 26 Jul 2007 (General release); 2007)

Review [20.Dec.2007]
Review [27.Jul.2007]
Review [26.Jul.2007]
27 July The 800lb Gorilla



The Simpsons Movie


After it premiered on the little known Fox Network back in 1989, a big screen adaptation of America’s favorite yellow skinned family was already in discussion. Apparently, it took 18 years, as many seasons, and over 400 episodes to bring this cartoon clan to cinematic life. Whatever the case, fans will either love or hate the movie version of their beloved brood, and you can guarantee that messageboards and newsgroups will be abuzz with the typical “loved it”/ “hated it”/ “worst-best ever” assertions. While the trailer isn’t telling us much, plot wise, the grapevine has Homer placing Springfield in mortal jeopardy (yes… AGAIN!) and going on a personal quest to right the wrongs he’s committed. Either that, or Bart gets in trouble at school and Lisa finds a way to turn it into a political stand. Whatever the eventual storyline, this looks like a big fat hit for Fox. The fanbase -– even the disgruntled ones –- will definitely make an appearance, and if the movie is actually good, repeat business will fatten everyone’s already overflowing wallets.





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No Reservations

Director: Scott Hicks
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Bob Balaban

(Warner Brothers; US theatrical: 27 Jul 2007 (General release); UK theatrical: 31 Aug 2007 (General release); 2007)

27 July The Simian Sidekick



No Reservations


Catherine Zeta-Jones comes out of a semi self-imposed exile (she’s only made four films since winning her Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2002) to star in director Scott Hicks celebration of all things culinary. The current Mrs. Douglas is a dedicated foodie who finds herself in charge of her precocious niece when a member of her family suddenly dies. If this all sounds sort of familiar, it’s because Reservations is a remake of the well received Mostly Martha. Of course, there has been a bit of Westernized tweaking to this tale. Here’s hoping Hicks can keep it from becoming maudlin and messy.



Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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