Summer Movie Preview
STAR WARS: EPISODE III—REVENGE OF THE SITH (May 19)
Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) finally becomes a Force to be reckoned with, transforming into heavy-breathing baddie Darth Vader. Pregnant wife Natalie Portman won’t be happy!
FORMER LIFE: George Lucas concludes the journey he began with 1977’s Star Wars.
BEWITCHED (June 24)
A washed-up movie star (Will Ferrell) plots his comeback in a Bewitched revival but discovers that the newcomer cast as Samantha (Nicole Kidman) is a real witch.
FORMER LIFE: Based on the 1964-72 series with Elizabeth Montgomery and dual Darrins: Dick York and Dick Sargent.
THE HONEYMOONERS (June 10)
Cedric the Entertainer stars as Ralph Kramden a bus driver trying to scheme his way to wealth with buddy worker Ed Norton (Mike Epps), Their wives (Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall) are loving but often exasperated.
FORMER LIFE: Based on the influential 1950s TV series starring Jackie Gleason and Art Carney.
THE DUKES OF HAZZARD (Aug. 5)
Duke boys Bo and Luke (Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville, with Jessica Simpson, above, as cousin Daisy) are still making their way the only way they know how.
FORMER LIFE: Tom Wopat, Catherine Bach and John Schneider revved up the General Lee in the 1979-85 series.
FANTASTIC FOUR (July 8)
From the X-Men to the Justice League, super-heroes always find strength in numbers. Four astronauts band together when a space station accident leaves them with powers of flame throwing (Chris Evans), superstrength (Michael Chiklis), invisibility (Jessica Alba)and elasticity (Ioan Gruffudd).
FORMER LIFE: Marvel Comics wunderkind Stan Lee started the Fantastic comics in 1961.
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (July 15)
Goody gumdrops! Johnny Depp, who never met an eccentric role he didn’t like, tackles the wacky candy man Willy Wonks, who takes five kids (including his Finding Neverland costar Freddie Highmore, as Charlie) on a tour of his factory.
FORMER LIFE: The 1964 Roald Dahl novel, a childhood staple, also inspired the trippy 1971 Gene Wilder film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
THE LONGEST YARD (May 27)
Lots of pro-football teams have players with rap sheets. But in this comedy, incarcerated quarterback Adam Sandler (with help from Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds) puts together an all-inmate unit to face off against the prison guards.
FORMER LIFE: Reynolds suited up in Sandler’s role for the 1974 original.
BATMAN BEGINS (June 17)
After his parents’ murder, trust-fund beneficiary Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) develops an alter ego to fight crime (most effectively fought while dressed as a giant bat, of course).
FORMER LIFE: Like the other Batman films and TV series, it’s drawn from DC Comics—but this is the first flick that will be released simultaneously in IMAX.
WAR OF THE WORLDS (June 29)
With Steven Spielberg at the helm, calls this one Close Encounters of the Unkind. Dock worker Tom Cruise and daughter Dakota Fanning are center as alien folk try to annihilate the planet.
FORMER LIFE: H.G. Wells’s seminal 1898 novel about invades from outer space, which also inspired a chilling 1938 radio broadcast that panicked millions.
BAD NEWS BEARS (July 22)
And now for something completely different from director Richard Linklater. This comedy remake stars Billy Bob Thornton as a grizzled Little League coach.
FORMER LIFE: Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal starred in the 1976 original.
HERBIE: FULLY LOADED (June 22)
Jumping from the party circuit to the NASCAR circuit, Lindsay Lohan plays a third-generation racer who discovers the old No. 53: A tricked-out Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own.
FORMER LIFE: Herbie got his first taste of Beetle-mania in 1968’s The Love Bug, which spawned three sequels (including 1974’s Herbie Rides Again, with Ken Berry and Stefanie Powers).