Think Distinct

This summer's movies could withstand the drought.

Already Released:

The Matrix Reloaded. Silly humans, Matrix is for kids! Or perhaps not, given the R rating of this summer's hugely anticipated (and hyped!) sequel. Once again, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne don sexy sunglasses and adopt that weird, monotone cadence as they battle the Machine Army -- you know, in that other reality. They're assisted by the likes of Jada Pinkett Smith and Monica Bellucci against freaky nemeses Hugo Weaving, Lambert Wilson and a bunch of new characters who shoot at them a whole lot. Meanwhile, writers-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski plunder random mythology all the way to the bank. Let's just hope it doesn't inspire another Columbine. (Warner Bros.)

Down With Love. In what will likely be either a massive counter-programming hit or a total flop, the director of Bring It On and the forthcoming Fantastic Four brings us Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger in a pastel-colored period homage to '60s romantic comedies. We're supposed to recall Rock Hudson and Doris Day, but will contemporary audiences have memories that go that far back? (Fox)

L'Auberge Espagnole. Loosely defined as "Euro pudding," and indeed some comparisons to American Pie leap to mind as a young dork (Romain Duris) explores his sexual impulses amid a wild crowd. Set mostly in Barcelona, this boy-abroad movie garnered six Cesars, the French equivalent of the Oscar. If that means to you that a movie is good, perhaps you'll dig it. With Amélie's marketable Audrey Tautou in one of her four new features this year. (Fox Searchlight)

Pokémon Heroes.You may exhale: The fifth Pokémon feature film has arrived. This time things get wet, as familiar characters like Ash and beloved Pikachu infiltrate an aquatic city to protect something called the Droplet of the Heart. See it quickly before Finding Nemo blows it out of the water. (Miramax)

Spellbound.Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman have absolutely nothing to do with this feisty documentary about the American National Spelling Bee. Dewy director Jeff Blitz gets to the heart of childhood's most vital quest as eight youngsters and their hopeful parents and teachers seek The One who can save humanity from bad spelling. (ThinkFilm)

Bruce Almighty.Bruce (Jim Carrey) has a decent apartment, a job in TV news and a girlfriend who looks like Jennifer Aniston. By movie standards, this means he's suffering, and when he blames God for it, the Supreme Being (Morgan Freeman, born to play God) gives Bruce the reins of power so he can see that it ain't easy being Lord. Carrey's Ace Ventura pal Tom Shadyac directs, so here's hoping the rubber man's back in form. (Universal)

The In-Laws."Inspired by" the 1979 Alan Arkin-Peter Falk comedy, this version stars Michael Douglas as a CIA spy and Albert Brooks as -- this is a stretch -- a whiny neurotic. When the former's son marries the latter's daughter, both fathers-in-law somehow end up as mismatched partners in an international smuggling scheme. Director Andy Fleming is responsible for underrated pleasures The Craft and Dick, so maybe it'll actually be good. (Warner Bros.)

Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters.A potential martial-arts-horror classic from the director of Time and Tide. Possibly envious that John Carpenter gets a vampire movie with his name in the title, Hark similarly delivers...well...hunters who hunt vampires. This time, however, we join four students with elemental superpowers in nineteenth-century China. (Destination Films)

Finding Nemo.Pixar's latest computer-animated opus goes underwater in this tale of a young clown fish who gets kidnapped by a diver and winds up in a tank in a dentist's waiting room. Fortunately, the fish's dad (Albert Brooks) is on the case, with the help of a CIA father-in-law...wait, wrong movie. The sidekick in this one is another fish, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. Advance word has it that the script isn't quite up to Pixar's usual high standards, but the deep-sea visuals look breathtaking. (Disney)

The Italian Job. He tried stepping into Cary Grant's shoes in The Truth About Charlie; now Mark Wahlberg tries on Michael Caine's footwear for size. The man's not a bad actor, but he doesn't help himself by forcing comparisons to the greats like this. Italy, meanwhile, barely registers any screen time in this heist remake directed by F. Gary Gray (A Man Apart), and Edward Norton only appears as the villain because he was contractually forced by Paramount. Mos Def, Seth Green, Charlize Theron and Donald Sutherland also show up in what looks to be at least a strong ensemble piece. (Paramount)

Wrong Turn.Director Rob Schmidt of the iffy, pretentious Crime and Punishment in Suburbia has somehow managed to keep working. His latest concerns teens chased through the mountains of West Virginia by -- what else? -- hideously deformed, inbred, cannibalistic mutants. In case you don't get enough of this in real life, you may consider joining Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Sisto for their little adventure. Or you may not. With effects by Stan Winston. (Fox)

Together.Chinese auteur Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, The Emperor and the Assassin) returns with He ni zai yi qi, the tale of a young, aspiring violinist who travels with his father to the bright lights of Beijing. Another "boy's journey" sort of movie, and an obvious bid by Kaige to bridge the gap between his Chinese roots and Hollywood paychecks, but indeed it looks -- and sounds -- charming. (United Artists)

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