If brown is the new black, than May and June are the new spring. While spring may start in April, this year’s big April Fool’s joke is that the good movies don’t roll in until that month rolls out. Studios must be hoping April showers bring killer May box-office receipts.
Blockbusters bound into theaters in May with appearances from the “X-Men’s” Wolverine, “Mission: Impossible’s” Ethan Hunt and “The Da Vinci Code’s” Robert Langdon — also known as Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks. And let’s not forget a brand-new Superman in June in the guise of newcomer Brandon Routh.
And those aren’t the only big stars with potential blockbusters. Meryl Streep pays two visits to theaters this spring as an evil fashion magazine editor in “The Devil Wears Prada” and as a country crooner in “A Prairie Home Companion.” Can you say versatile? Legend Paul Newman provides one of the voices in the new Pixar animated film, “Cars.” Lindsay Lohan and Adam Sandler both have new comedies; they hope to win back fans with “Just My Luck” and “Click.”
Finally, for art-house fans, there’s “Art School Confidential,” a new collaboration from “Ghost World’s” Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff; Justin Timberlake making his film debut in “Alpha Dog”; and Kevin Bacon’s directorial debut “Loverboy.” Pick your poison.
“An American Haunting”
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek, Rachel Hurd-Wood, James D'Arcy, Thom FellDirector: Courtney SolomonStory: Based on true events (and the novel by Brent Monahan), this film tells the story the only documented case in U.S. history where a spirit caused a person’s death. Between 1818 and 1820, the Bell Family (Sutherland, Spacek, Hurd-Wood) of Red River, Tenn. were tormented by a spirit, whose attacks grew in severity. The Bells tried desperately to rid their house of the spirit. In 1998, when the manuscript of a local schoolteacher (D’Arcy) is found, all the secrets are revealed. Buzz: Rather than a straightforward horror flick, this film has the more ghostly feel of “The Others” or “The Sixth Sense.” Solomon’s only other film is the dismal “Dungeons & Dragons,” which doesn’t bode well. But Solomon’s script must have had some thrills to attract Spacek and Sutherland, so here’s hoping the second time’s the charm. Hurd-Wood looks to join the creepy kid club along Cameron Bright (“Birth”) and Haley Joel Osment.Web site: http://www.anamericanhauntingonline.com/
“X-Men: The Last Stand”
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James MarsdenDirector: Brett RatnerStory: In this third film, when a “cure” for mutancy is discovered, the mutants must choose: retain their uniqueness or give up their powers and become human (hey, isn’t that the same story as “The Little Mermaid”?). While Xavier (Patrick Stewart) preaches tolerance, Magneto (McKellan) wants to fight. It’s up to the mutants to choose which side they want to fight on. New characters include Beast (Grammer) and Angel (Ben Foster).Buzz: The big question mark with this one is director Ratner, who steps in for Bryan Singer. Singer’s “X-Men 2” was one of the better superhero films to come out and it seems unlikely that Ratner (“Rush Hour”) can live up to that standard. Fans were livid when they heard Ratner was taking the helm. Ratner told Dark Horizons, “My input really has been just trying to make a more emotional film. A film with more heart and more pathos.” Hmm. Ratner is in talks to return for a spin-off film about Wolverine. Web site: http://www.x-menthelaststand.com/
“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”
Starring: Lucas Black, Bow Wow, Brian Tee, Sung Kang, Jason Tobin, Nathalie KellyDirector: Justin LinStory: The series shifts to Japan and the style of “drift” racing, in which cars are designed so they purposely skid sideways, in this story of an outsider (Black) moves to Japan to avoid a jail sentence. Bow Wow plays Black’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, while Kang is an ex-pat who brings Black into his strange family of racers. Tee plays the notorious DK, or Drift King.Buzz: Not even Paul Walker returns for this third film. Sad. On the other hand, director Lin made the rather fun, “Better Luck Tomorrow” (of course, he followed it up with the dreary “Annapolis”). Definitely a mixed bag here, but the new setting and style of racing should freshen up the series a bit for those who just want a watchable action flick.Web site: NA
Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher Walken, Kate Beckinsale, David Hasselhoff, Sean Astin, Rachel Dratch, Henry WinklerDirector: Frank CoraciStory: Sandler stars as a workaholic architect who’s given a universal remote control by a mysterious store clerk (Walken) that not only controls his television and stereo, but everything around him, including his kids and wife (Beckinsale). Hasselhoff costars as his demanding boss.
Buzz: Sandler was pretty fun as the dad in the otherwise dreary “Spanglish” so it’s nice to see him explore a similar character. Sandler and director Coraci worked together on two of Sandler’s funniest films, “The Wedding Singer” and “The Waterboy.” Screenwriter Tim Herlihy also penned those two films (along with the dreadful “Little Nikki” and “Mr. Deeds”). It’s a fun “Twilight Zone”-lite premise for a film, and Sandler should score with this one. Web site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/click/