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Summer 2007 Blockbuster Preview!

If you're a fan of the big Hollywood blockbuster, then plan on spending almost your entire summer sitting in a cool, relaxing movie theater. In spite of all the industry talk about increased fiscal responsibility, summer 2007 is jam packed with more big budget spectacle flicks than ever. It's a movie geek's paradise, stuffed with huge science fiction films, multiple superhero movies, star-studded comedies, and things blowing up.

All three of the biggest box office hits of all time have sequels coming out this summer. In fact not just this summer, this May. In just a few weeks Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 will start clubbing each other to death, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Below is our prediction-free breakdown of the biggest movies headed your way this summer. It's a big-budget paradise. Start planning your summer now:

Spider-Man 3

Release: May 4, 2007

It’s Spider-Man. No brainer. While he was away Captain Jack Sparrow broke his box office records, Batman drove around in his car, Superman flew with Lois Lane, and the X-Men crashed and burned in a big way. But Spider-Man is still the king. If Spider-Man 3 is as good as the first two films (and there’s every reason to think it will be), Spidey will become the first superhero franchise to maintain the same level of quality for more than two movies. It’s already the first to hold on to its original director past a second film. That should make all the difference. Let’s hope Raimi sticks around for Spider-Man 4.

28 Weeks Later

Release: May 11, 2007

The big question lingering behind 28 Weeks Later is whether or not the series' creator Danny Boyle is involved in it. Fox insists he's been a major part of the production, but Boyle talks about it as if he's had absolutely nothing to do with it. Is this sequel to 28 Days Later just a studio cash in on someone else's good idea, or is this a natural extension of the world Boyle and his team started? Does anyone even care? It's not like there's a zombie movie shortage. Resident Evil is still going strong, and in between RE sequels we're deluged with dozens of other knockoffs and zombie re-inventions every year. The dead are walking the earth in record numbers, how long before we're all just sick of them?

Shrek the Third

Release: May 18, 2007

By now the formula has been so well established, it should be easy to implement it. Shrek movies are topical and now, a product of whatever is current in pop culture and comedy, blended into a big swampy bowl. Some people bash the films for that, but for me it’s part of why embrace them. Maybe thirty years from now it will leave them dated, but for now there’s nothing wrong with having a movie that’s plugged in to the immediacy of the world around you. Shrek will be, as always, more plugged in than any other family movie you’re likely to see.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Release: May 25, 2007

There’s work to be done if the Pirates franchise wants to win fans like me back over. Despite it’s massive income, for a lot of people the second movie was a big disappointment. Will At World’s End be Back to the Future III to Dead Man’s Chest’s Back to the Future II? I hope so, because I really want to get back to loving Captain Jack Sparrow. The first movie balanced fantasy and swordplay better, both found a place in the film. They can do it again, and the return of Captain Barbosa in the second movie should help them do that. The more pirates they add, the more giant McGuffin toting squids they can subtract. With Barbosa and his undead monkey back causing trouble, At World's End deserves a shot.

Knocked Up

Release: June 1, 2007

Seth Rogen comes into his own with his first starring role in the new film from certified genius Judd Apatow. Their last movie together was The 40 Year-Old Virgin, the best movie of 2005 and one of the funniest movies ever to pop into existence. In Knocked Up Rogen plays a guy who has a one-night stand (Katherine Heigel) and ends up with a kid. Reviews from early cuts of the film have been positive, and until he misses on something, anything with Apatow’s name on or around it needs to be seen opening weekend.

Hostel 2

Release: June 8, 2007

Eli Roth knows screwed up, and his timing couldn't be better. Sadistic torture movies are at an all time high in popularity, with people flocking to theaters where audiences root not for victims to survive, but for them to be hurt, injured, and killed in the most brutal ways possible. This is pop culture's hottest movement, and while I'm not sure what it says about us as a people, there's no denying the genre's success. Hostel and its subsequent sequels are poised to be at the forefront of that success. When you think about hurting hot young co-eds, Lionsgate wants you to think Eli Roth.

Ocean's Thirteen

Release: June 8, 2007

Ocean’s Eleven made $450 million worldwide. Ocean’s Twelve made $362 million. Twelve may have taken a tongue-lashing from critics, but obviously audience interest is there. The truth is that if you pack a movie, or anything for that matter, with enough celebrities people will show up. What, you thought people watched ‘Dancing With the Stars’ for the dancing? The good news is that it’s co-written by Rounders screenwriters David Levien and Brian Koppelman. They know a thing or two about gambling and good movies, which is exactly where it looks like Ocean’s 3 is headed.

Surf's Up

Release: June 8, 2007

Sony Pictures didn't have much luck with their first computer animated film Open Season, and their next one is a movie about surfing penguins called Surf's Up. Whether it's good or not, it kind of seems like they're riding on Happy Feet's coattails. If Sony's animation division is going to compete with powerhouses like DreamWorks and Disney/Pixar, they're going to have to do better than this.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Release: June 11, 2007

Gritty, dark heroes are fine, but there’s nothing wrong with a little fun every now and then. Look no further than the success of the Fantastic Four for proof. Tim Story’s fun, brightly colored, cartoony superhero movie opened to a critical crushing and received nothing but a kick to the curb by press and pundits alike. Oh it’s not cool to like Fantastic Four, but audiences are turning up anyway and having one helluva time.

Evan Almighty

Release: June 22, 2007

If someone told me they were making a sequel to Bruce Almighty without Jim Carrey, there's no way I'd be interested. But tell me you're making a movie in which Steve Carell is commanded by God to build an ark, and you can count me in. If they’d brought back Jim Carrey to repeat the same shlock from the first film, or if they’d had Steve Carell stuck in exactly the same situation Jim was in the first movie, I’d be out on this one. Instead they really seem to be trying to build on the original premise to come up with something new, and potentially even funnier.

Live Free or Die Hard

Release: June 29, 2007

If Harrison Ford isn't too old to play Indiana Jones, then why not let Bruce Willis Yippee-ki-yay his way back into the broken and battered body of tough cop John McClane. Besides with terrorism now at the top of everyone's biggest fears list, the once fantastical scenarios of city destruction familiar to the Die Hard series only seem incredibly more plausible. Bruce Willis is back and that's what matters. As long as Len Wiseman isn't tempted to tinker with Die Hard's already established formula, audiences should be content to sit back, relax, and Die Harder than ever.

Ratatouille

Release: June 27, 2007

Ratatouille, for those keeping score, is the movie Incredibles and Iron Giant mastermind Brad Bird jumped on board in mid-stream to get back on track and properly tweak out. Anything Brad Bird is involved in is worth your attention, superheroes, rats, talking tennis balls. Brad's your man. If Pixar can make a movie about a bunch of lame looking cars fantastic, they should have no problem getting something great out of a script about a bunch of rats living in a restaurant. Rats and mice have been an animation staple since the art form’s earliest days. Heck, Disney’s own logo is a mouse cartoon character. For once, Pixar has a slam dunk on their hands.

Transformers

Release: July 4, 2007

Letting Michael Bay loose on the Transformers is risky business, but how can I not be excited about the ultimate giant freakin robot movie? Thought some of his changes to the characters have been met with skepticism, the first full trailer for the movie looked great. Whatever his flaws, you can rely on Michael Bay to blow stuff up, and blow it up good. It’s the biggest geek movie since Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Transform you Megatron into a gun, throw him in a holster, and start lining up.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Release: July 13, 2007

Those magical kids return with their obligatory authority figure adults in tow. Only they're not so little anymore and as the last movie proved, they're all well on their way to no longer being kids. Whatever plot lines director David Yates chooses to chase, it's essential that he makes following their slow bloom into adulthood a priority. The films have maintained a consistent level of not sucking and that's more than most other long-running movie franchises can claim. That and it’s rabid fanbase is enough to earn Order of the Phoenix a place on this list.

1408

Release: July 13, 2007

A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences. He checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror. 1408 is an adaptation of a Stephen King short story, which ought to explain why the trailers have such an easy time of making the whole thing seem damned creepy. Mikael Håfström's film looks slick and well crafted, and it's the first horror movie trailer I've seen in awhile that didn't give me a case of the cliché shivers.

Hairspray

Release: July 20, 2007

At last, John Travolta won't have to invent excuses for himself to dance, the dancing will happen as a natural part of the script. In Hairspray Travolta will play Edna Turnblad, who it's safe to assume isn't a nearsighted superhero costume designer. Yes, we'll get to see John Travolta soft-shoeing in drag. The really exciting part of this story is that the film's screenplay is written by co-written Leslie Dixon, the guy who co-wrote Travolta's Look Who's Talking Now. This officially means Travolta's career is once again dead, doesn't it? Where's Tarantino?