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Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Coming Soon: The blockbusters . . .

The summer season is generally when the year's biggest-budget, most-hyped films open, but this year it almost seems as if the distributors jumped the gun in the spring. After "Spider-Man" and that Hobbit movie, can we possibly expect even more earth-shattering, brain-battering, record-breaking megalo-movies that will redefine both opening weekend box-office records and the laws of gravity? You can bet your bottom dollar that we can, and it all starts with . . .

Men in Black 2

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"Men in Black 2"

The comedy continues with Barry Sonnenfeld's followup to what was undoubtedly the funniest event flick of the past decade. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back as the super-secret alien-hunting government agents, with Lara Flynn Boyle appearing as an alien disguised as a lingerie model. Look for Michael Jackson playing either an alien or himself, but these days, who can tell the difference?

Plus: Cool suits, cool shades, cool concept
Minus: Potential retread
Opens July 6

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

The best flick of the first trilogy was its second installment, "The Empire Strikes Back," and Lucas aims for a similar feel here, getting deeper and darker as Anakin Skywalker is propelled toward the dark side of The Force. Yes, the dialogue is as corny as ever, but the special effects guys have really outdone themselves on the visual spectacle, squashing "Spider-Man" like a puny bug. Unfortunately, they don't kill off Jar Jar, but I think that crowd-pleaser is being saved for the final act. ("Ooh, meesah hurting so bad, ow ow ow!" I can hardly wait.)

Plus: Well, duh! This is "Star Wars"!
Minus: Script by George Lucas
Opens July 13

Ice Age

This one plays like "Monsters, Inc." set in the prehistoric age, with a cute widdle baby being returned to the safety of home by some furry friends, in this case, a woolly mammoth, a saber-toothed tiger and a sloth. Like Pixar's flick, this film features imaginative, impeccably rendered computer animation and a story that will charm the kids. Adults will also find much to enjoy, with plenty of wacky sight-gags and -- praise the Lord! -- not one song.

Plus: Computer animation that never forgets it's a cartoon
Minus: Screenwriter from "The Flintstones"
Opens Aug. 3

The Sum of All Fears

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"The Sum of All Fears"

Aaah, yes, just what we need to escape from it all this summer, yet another film about an indomitable CIA agent trying to save America from utter destruction at the hands of evil terrorists. See entire cities leveled to radioactive shag-piles!

Thrill at the sight of Ben Affleck desperately trying to act! Watch Bridget Moynahan, in the "chick" role, whine and fret as Ben's called away to save the world, because he's got no time for her! She and Princess Amidala need to meet for coffee and vent.

Plus: Based on a Tom Clancy novel
Minus: Ben Affleck; directed by who?
Opens Aug. 10

Austin Powers: Goldmember

Almost every movie with a "3" in its title has sucked. Whether "Austin Powers" will also be felled by sequelitis remains to be seen (nobody's seen the movie yet), but this one-joke piss-take of 007 films will pull out all the stops: Mike Meyers in five separate roles, Destiny's Child singer Beyonce as the new shagadelic Austin girl, cameos by Michael Caine, Britney Spears, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey -- and an advertising budget bigger than the movie's actual production costs.

Plus: Dr. Evil and Mini-me
Minus: Fat Bastard and -- yeah, baby! -- Austin Powers

Opens in early August

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