Summer Cinema: A Vaguely Helpful Guide

Ten films to see, five worth a look, and five more to shield your eyes from

7.DOA: Dead or Alive. I've seen this one, too, and it's about time the rest of you had a chance. Not for those who like too much plot with their kung fu, this video-game adaptation cuts straight to the chase, with Eric Roberts as an evil mastermind who owns one of those mysterious islands where secret, global martial-arts tournaments are held. You know the type. Also, by sheer coincidence, most of the world's fighting experts happen to be scantily clad women, among them Devon Aoki as a runaway princess, Natassia Malthe as a purple-haired assassin, Jaime Pressly as a white-trash pro wrestler and Sarah Carter as a cat burglar. On the male side, wrestler Kevin Nash spoofs former real-life tag-team partner Hulk Hogan, and Brian J. White sports a green Mohawk. (June 22)

8.Hostel Part II. You always know exactly what you're going to get with an Eli Roth film: nudity, gore, blood, pus, mucus and an obligatory weird scene in which freaky kids beat someone up, or try to. If it doesn't make you vomit or walk out, chances are you'll be laughing along with the rest of us gore hounds. Love him or hate him, Roth has made himself the poster boy for that which culture warriors would call "torture porn" (an unfair and inappropriate label, but that's a whole 'nother essay). If you look like an overweight biker and sport several tribal tattoos, you know you'll be there opening day. (June 8)

9.I Know Who Killed Me. Full disclosure: Director Chris Sivertson is a longtime friend, but even if he weren't, the idea of the director of the balls-to-the-wall-brutal Jack Ketchum adaptation The Lost directing Lindsay Lohan in a movie with a screenplay that's been compared to David Lynch's Lost Highway seems like something worth checking out. Sivertson puts it this way: "Go out and gorge yourselves on special effects and superheroes. Eat too much popcorn and get bloated on gigantic sodas. Then when you can't handle anymore, come see this twisted mindfuck of a movie. With the possible exception of Transformers, it is sure to be the most erotic movie of the summer." (July 27)

Transformers. Courtesy DreamWorks LLC/Paramount
Transformers. Courtesy DreamWorks LLC/Paramount

10.Rescue Dawn. Remember in the '80s, how every other movie seemed to be about Chuck Norris escaping from a Vietnamese P.O.W. camp and blowing up a bunch of commies in the jungle? Now imagine Christian Bale doing pretty much the same thing, except that insane German genius Werner Herzog is the director. Yeah. You get it. (July 4)


1.Black Sheep. A movie from New Zealand about killer mutant sheep. It sounds foolproof; let's hope the film won't leave us saying, "Baaaaaaa, humbug!" (June 22)

2.Fido. At last, a genuinely new take on the zombie genre. In this world, humans beat back the undead hordes and have managed to domesticate them as servants and pets. Such an arrangement, of course, can only end badly. Billy Connolly stars. (June 15)

3.The Simpsons Movie. A friend used to say that not liking The Simpsons was akin to not enjoying breathing air. However, that 400th episode was really mediocre shit, so let's hope the writers simply used up all their "A" material on the feature film. Remember, few thought the South Park movie would be any good before they saw it. (July 27)

4.Live Free or Die Hard. A PG-13 Die Hard sequel from the director of Underworld, co-starring the kid from the Mac commercials and Kevin Smith? Sounds bad, but Bruce Willis has been roaming the Ain't-It-Cool-News talkbacks, desperately swearing it ain't. I want to believe. . . . (June 27)

5.Interview. When Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by a radical Islamist, he immediately became every right-wing blogger's favorite auteur, even though none of them had seen his films or paid him much attention while alive. Shortly before his death, he was negotiating to do this remake of one of his Dutch films; in his place, Steve Buscemi directs and stars. (July 13)


1.CareBears: Oopsy Does It! Did you know there was a new Care Bears animated movie coming out? Well, now you do. There's also a live-action Bratz dolls movie. So maybe there's hope for G.I. Joe and Thundercats. But c'mon—did anybody actually like Care Bears back in the day who isn't completely embarrassed to admit it now? (Aug. 4)

2.Surf's Up. A CG movie about penguins who surf. I don't get it. Back when it was called Blue Crush and starred hot babes, I still didn't like it. (June 8)

3.License to Wed. Robin Williams stars as an annoying priest who makes marriage counseling hell for one young couple. He certainly won't have to stretch those acting muscles much to play "annoying." (July 4)

4.Hairspray. Somebody's under a misconception that kids today give much of a damn about the '50s, and also that John Waters movies should be remade by Hollywood über-hack Adam Shankman (Cheaper by the Dozen 2). Waters isn't a great director, but he does have a talent for collecting genuine eccentrics and getting them to be weird on camera. Hollywood stars playing eccentric just isn't the same thing. It made sense for Divine to be cast as a woman in the original since he was an outrageous transvestite already. John Travolta under latex drag just looks frightening and out of place. Also, the original gave us Ricki Lake. Do we really want to tempt fate twice? (July 20)

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