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Summer Blockbusters With Michael Doherty

Friday, 23 May 2008

Michael is here with 6 of the best blockbuster summer movies that are not to be missed in the coming weeks

What is Michael previewing?
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull     
2. The Incredible Hulk  
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
4. Kung Fu Panda 
5. Wall-E  
6. The Dark Knight  

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (12A)

Opens Today

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, John Hurt Director: Steven Spielberg

Plot: In 1957, Indiana Jones is thrust back in action, venturing into the jungles of South America in a race against Soviet agents to find the mystical Crystal Skull.

Verdict: After the hype, the hoopla and the 19-year hiatus, that man Indiana Jones is back on our screens. We're read all the stories about Spielberg, Lucas and 65-year-old Harrison Ford, but now it's time to answer the key question about the fourth instalment in the Indiana Jones, billion-dollar franchise: i.e. is the new movie any good? 

And the answer? Well, pretty good actually. Beginning in Nevada in 1957, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finds our hero battling, not Nazis this time, but Cold War Rooskies, personified by cool, rapier-wielding baddie Cate Blanchett. With whip, fedora, new sidekick Shia Laboeuf and old flame Karen Allen in tow, Indy sets out for South America where he hopes to get his hands on the fabled Crystal Skull before those pesky Russians. Cue much quipping and derring-do and much jaw-jaw (a bit too much, actually) about ancient Mayan civilisations.

In many ways, the fourth Indiana film mirrors the first three instalments in the franchise. As with Raiders, the first part of the new movie establishes the iconic credentials of the hero: thus we get plenty of stuff about the bullwhip, the fedora and more than one silhouette of our titfer-clad archaeologist. We also get a cracking action sequence. In Raiders it was the bouncing boulder; this time, it's a brilliant scene involving a nuclear bomb, a ghost town and a lead-lined fridge. 'Nuff said.

The second part of the new film mirrors Temple of Doom in that the screenplay is clunky in parts, there's too much exposition and the whole thing begins to flag after reel one. In fairness, none of this is Ford's fault and he plays the character with just the right blend of irony and energy rolling with the ''old man'' jibes while clearly doing most of his own stunts.

It's in the final part of the new film that (like Last Crusade) the franchise comes into its own. You get the impression that Spielberg and Lucas would have killed to have today's technology available to them when they worked on the first three. Now that they have all the money and the gadgets in the world, they're prepared to use them in full. Spielberg originally set out to create a movie that would replicate the Republic / Boy's Own serials of his youth. In the last part of this new movie he succeeds in spades courtesy of breathless jeep chases, more bugs (giant ants this time!) and a dénouement that, well, I won't give the game away. Welcome Back, Indy.

Trivia: Sean Connery was approached for a cameo appearance as Henry Jones Sr., Indiana's father, but he turned it down, finding retirement too enjoyable. George Lucas later stated that in retrospect it was good that Jones Sr. did not appear, as it would disappoint the audience when he would not come along for the adventure. Harrison Ford also joked that he was getting old enough to play his own father, so Sean wasn't needed anymore. (source imdb)

The Incredible Hulk

Opens June 13th

Courtesy: Universal Pictures
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt
Director: Louis Leterrier

Plot: While hiding out in Mongolia, the Hulk is captured by the russians. After days of torture and tests, the russians collect enough DNA to create the Abomination. The Hulk eventually escapes and the russians send the Abomination to destory him.

Trivia: It took the VFX artists over a year to construct a shot where Dr. Banner's gamma-irradiated blood falls through three factory storeys into a bottle.

Edward Norton, who has previously rewritten films he starred in, wrote a draft of the script which Louis Leterrier and Marvel Studios found satisfactory in establishing the film as both a sequel and a retcon of Hulk (2003). (source imdb)

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Opens June 26th

Courtesy: Buena Vista International
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Anna Popplewell, Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley
Director: Andrew Adamson

Plot: 1,300 years have passed in Narnia and a race of men called the Telmarines now rule. Heir to their throne is Caspian (Barnes), who is battling usurper uncle, Miraz (Castellitto), and must enlist the aid of the Pevensie children to bring peace to the land. (Source empire online)

Kung FU Panda

Opens July 4th 

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman
Directors: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson

Plot: Po the panda lives a laxy life in The Valley of Peace, when his friends are threatened however Po unwittingly becomes the chosen one and must use his fighting skills to save the day. (Source empire online)


Opens July 18th

Courtesy: Buena Vista International
Starring: Ben Burtt, Sigourney Weaver, Kathy Najimy
Director: Andrew Stanton

Plot:  It is the year 2700. Following man's decision to abandon earth due to the deadly toxins that fill the air, human life flees to live aboard a huge spaceship circling the planet. Waste Allocation Load Lifters - Earth Class are deployed to clean up the surface, but after hundreds of years of work, one of the robots decides he's had enough and heads off into outer space. (Source empire online)

Trivia: There is almost no human voice-acting in the movie. Most of the predominantly robot cast of characters is voiced by Ben Burtt through mechanical sounds of his creation.

The main character's name is actually an acronym, standing for Waste Allocation Load Lifter -- Earth-Class. (source imdb)

The Dark Knight

Opens July 25th
Courtesy: Warner Brothers
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Heath Ledger
Director: Christopher Nolan

Plot: James Gordon and Batman join forces with Gotham City's new district attorney in an attempt to stop the increasingly psychotic crimes committed by the infamous Joker.

Trivia: This is the first Batman film to not have "Batman" in the title.

When asked, "Why Heath Ledger as the Joker?" Christopher Nolan said, "Because he's fearless."

Heath Ledger's sudden death on January 22, 2008 prompted immediate speculation as to the state of this film. Late the same day, Warner Bros. released a statement declaring that Ledger had completed all his scenes and post-production work, thus making the Joker the actor's final completed appearance in a film. (source imdb)