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Ah, summer! The season of hot weather, sandy beaches and, best of all, grand blockbuster films. Summer 2005 will be no exception, as a ton of big event films will fill theatres. Some will become huge hits while others will bomb worse than Chris Rock at the Oscars. And then many will simply never be able to make-up their gigantic budgets. Either way, prepare for intelligence to drop and spectacle to rise as studios vie for audience attention. Here are the top 13 films to keep an eye on for the summer movie season of 2005:

13. Unleashed: Jet Li stars as a man given no normal human education and contact, thus forced to act like an animal by his captors. Also starring Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins, the martial arts “drama” has been pushed back to a summer release, meaning either that a) the studio is very happy with it or b) extra changes had to be made at the last minute. Either way, Jet Li is still popular after Hero so perhaps he will find repeat success. Unleashed hits theaters on May 13th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

12. Stealth: Okay, imagine for a second: your name is Jaime Foxx and you just won an Oscar. How do you follow this up? By starring in a film about a super smart homicidal stealth plane, that’s how! Yes, the premise of this new action film from director Rob Cohen (responsible for the brilliant xXx, ahem) borders more on comedy than nail-biting action. Still, big action can sell huge and the film could manage to be a silly but fun ride. Stealth hits theaters on July 29th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

11. House of Wax: Trying to be an epic horror film, this remake has a big cast of teen stars (including Paris Hilton, did anyone tell the producers she’s not a real actress yet) all waiting to be killed in gruesome ways. Similar to the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there should be a niche market waiting to see the latest in a long string of horror films. Hopefully this time around there will be some actual scares. House of Wax hits theathers on May 6th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

10. Mr. and Mrs. Smith: This is one of those films that relies on star power more than anything to drum up interest. It could work, as the comedy action film stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as bored spouses who are shocked to learn they are assassins assigned to kill each other. From director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), there should be as much wit as action. At least, that’s the idea. Mr. and Mrs. Smith hits theaters on June 10th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

09. Land of the Dead: Moved up from a Halloween release, the studio must have a lot of faith in horror legend George Romero (director of, not surprisingly, the original Dawn of the Dead) to push up his gory zombie flick into the fray of summer action. Starring a cast of mainly unknowns, this horror film promises to be the most epic zombie film Romero has made yet as the premise involves a world taken over and controlled by zombies. Unfortunately, with the amount of recent zombie films recently released (including Shaun of the Dead and the 2004 remake Dawn of the Dead), only time will tell if audiences are ready for another helping of undead flesh. Land of the Dead hits theaters on June 24th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

08. The Island: Director Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) is known for making dumb but huge summer films. Now, with a sci-fi film starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johannson, Bay has promised to add brains to his striking visuals. Will it work? Well, the same thing was said about Pearl Harbor, and with the hackneyed premise of a “Utopian” society having deep dark secrets beyond the surface the future might not be rosy for The Island. On the other hand, sci-fi films such as Minority Report have been popular thus far, so similar audiences could show up and not leave The Island stranded (you can’t have a movie preview without a lame pun!). The Island hits theaters on July 22nd. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

07. Fantastic Four: Comic book movies! After 2000’s X-Men proved to be a smash hit, it seems they’re everywhere nowadays. It’s true, and although the desperate wave of comic book adaptations is dying out, there are still a few last breaths left. Most notably is the Fantastic Four, directed by Tim Story (he did Barbershop, yes, Barbershop.) Could such young talent be ready for such a big film? Well, perhaps a cast of fresh new stars including two TV stars, Michael Chiklis of The Shield and Julian McMahon of Nip/Tuck, could help. Flame on indeed. Fantastic Four hits theaters on July 8th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

06. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Based on a radio play and a set of novels, this sci-fi film in the same vein as Men In Black has almost as much anticipation as the new Star Wars film. Keyword: almost. The basic premise involves earth, an inter-galactic construction crew, and what happens when the two clash. However, this is no alien invasion film but rather a space adventure across the stars! With comedy! And other cool stuff! Starring Sam Rockwell, Mos Def and Martin Freeman, the advance word has been very positive which must be a relief for new-comer director Garth Jennings. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy hits theaters on April 29th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

05. Kingdom of Heaven: Director Ridley Scott hopes to repeat his Gladiator success by releasing another epic historical film in early May. Starring Orlando Bloom, this Crusades themed film is high-lighted by a huge supporting cast (say hello to Liam Neeson, Edward Norton and Jeremy Irons) and an even more massive budget. The biggest question then remains: can an Elf such as Orlando Bloom carry a film? Kingdom of Heaven hits theaters on May 6th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

04. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: From Tim Burton, director of Batman and Edward Scissorhands, comes a new take on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel that was also made into a 1971 film starring Gene Wilder. This time with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, Burton and screenwriter John August promise a film that follows the original novel more faithfully. This should appeal to all audiences and ages, and draw in much of the crowd that loved 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hits theaters on July 15th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

03. Batman Begins: A comic book movie that actually shows great promise, this new Batman film promises to be dark and serious, unlike the abomination to human nature that was 1997’s Batman and Robin. Featuring director Christopher Nolan (Memento) and a cast that stars basically everyone (really, this film includes Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes and Christian Bale, as the title character), this origin story should please both die hard comic fans and average movie goers alike. Batman Begins hits theaters on June 17th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

02. War of the Worlds: Director Steven Spielberg has been quoted saying he wanted to make “the event film of the decade.” This is it. Such a lofty goal will probably not be reached, but with Tom Cruise and an alien invasion, it will be close. As the big 4th of July weekend event film, this should be more than just Independence Day II: Electric Boogaloo. Expect a human story to mesh in with all the explosions and destruction. Also, don’t expect E.T. to show up any time soon, as Spielberg promises to keep to the original dark ideas of H.G. Wells’ novel even if the setting has been updated to modern times. War of the Worlds hits theaters on June 29th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]

01. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith: Here it is, the final Star Wars film (supposedly.) No introduction is needed. All that matters about this tale of Darth Vader’s birth and the Republic’s fall are two things: 1) will it suck as bad as the first two Star Wars prequels and 2) when do tickets go on sale? Star Wars: Episode III hits theaters on May 19th. [ Theaters & Showtimes ]


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