May 1, 2009 in Features

Summer action films spring into view

New ‘X-Men’ film kicks off steady diet of special-effects extravaganzas
David Germain Associated Press
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Also today

For reviews of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and the weekend’s other new movies,

see page C5.

What a who’s who list Hollywood has lined up for its summer action spectacles: Wolverine. Transformers. Harry Potter. James Kirk. G.I. Joe. Terminator.

If there’s one word to sum up it all up, it’s this: Relentless.

Starting today, barely a weekend will pass without another brawny special-effects extravaganza landing in theaters.

Appropriately, summer starts with a couple of prequels.

After co-starring in three “X-Men” adventures about the Marvel Comics mutants, Hugh Jackman steps out from the pack for “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

Opening today, the film spins the back story of Jackman’s metal-clawed loner, a military experiment gone rogue amid a government conspiracy to control his super-freak kinfolk.

Next Friday, the starship Enterprise is relaunched in “Star Trek,” with a new cast taking on the characters originated in the 1960s TV show. Chris Pine inherits William Shatner’s role as dashing James Kirk, while Zachary Quinto plays Vulcan egghead Spock (Leonard Nimoy, who created the role, pops up as the older Spock).

The director of the final four “Harry Potter” movies, David Yates, is still giving thanks for the young cast he inherited, led by Daniel Radcliffe as boy wizard Harry and Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as his school pals.

“Not a day goes by I’m not grateful for this bunch they put together,” Yates says. “It’s a remarkable bunch of kids.”

In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (July 15), Harry is charged with uncovering a forgotten memory from a new Hogwarts teacher (Jim Broadbent), information the young sorcerer needs for his final showdown against dark wizard Voldemort.

While Yates marvels over how his youthful cast has blossomed, “Transformers” director Michael Bay was thrilled over the improved acting chops of his computer-animated robots for the sequel.

“We were just touching the surface last time in what they’re capable of doing,” says Bay. “This time, they really emote.”

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (June 24) reunites puny but plucky human Shia LaBeouf with his giant, shape-shifting Autobot buddies in a rematch against the evil Decepticon robot clan.

Also in a rematch are Tom Hanks and Ron Howard with “Angels & Demons” (May 15), their follow-up to “The Da Vinci Code.” This installment hurls Hanks’ symbologist into an ancient feud between the Vatican and a secret brotherhood that has kidnapped the cardinals in line to become the next pope.

Among the other upcoming action highlights (release dates subject to change):

•“Terminator: Salvation” (May 21): Christian Bale leads the last shreds of humanity against machine enemies as the franchise reboots without Arnold Schwarzenegger.

•“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (Aug. 7): The action figures get their own movie as the G.I. Joe guys take on an arms dealer and a militant secret organization.

•“Inglourious Basterds” (Aug. 21): Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino resurrect “Dirty Dozen”-style action as Jewish soldiers dish out chaos among the Nazis.

•“Public Enemies” (July 1): Johnny Depp is gangster John Dillinger and Christian Bale is G-Man Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Depression-era crime saga.

•“The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” (June 12): The remake casts Denzel Washington as a subway dispatcher and John Travolta as a bad guy ransoming a trainload of passengers.

•“Drag Me to Hell” (May 29): “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi returns to his “Evil Dead” roots with a horror tale about a bank employee (Alison Lohman) tormented by a vengeful customer’s supernatural curse.

•“District 9” (Aug. 14): “Lord of the Rings” overlord Peter Jackson produces a sci-fi tale about a human who becomes an unlikely ally for aliens held in a South African ghetto.

© Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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