2005 Summer Preview Blowout

In need of summer escapism after a stressful spring semester? Look no further than the Pop Arts summer entertainment guide, which provides details on a number of upcoming movies, concerts and albums (not to mention a new book about a certain teen wizard) coming your way over the next four months. n Where’s the Star Wars preview, you may ask? Log on to www.stateronline.com for an exclusive web only review of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (due out May 19), for the advance word on what’s likely to be the biggest hit of the summer.


Monster-In-Law (May 13, New Line)

For her first movie role in nearly 15 years, Jane Fonda really stretches herself by playing a high-strung mother who can’t keep her mouth shut. Jennifer Lopez is her on-screen nemesis, as the desperate-to-please fiancée of Fonda’s on-screen son (Michael Vartan). Watch the fur fly next week.

— Andrew Hampp

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (June 10, 20th Century Fox)

Did Angelina really come between Jen and Brad? Are Brad and Angelina real-life lovers? Did their steamy nude sex scenes end up on the cutting room floor? Who cares! The movie that launched a thousand Us Weekly covers is finally out this summer, and it’s sure to offer some trashy fun. Pitt and Jolie play married assassins unaware that their latest targets are each other. With a supporting cast that includes Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington and Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite and direction from The Bourne Identity’s Doug Liman, Smith has “guilty pleasure” written all over it.

— Andrew Hampp

Fantastic Four (July 8, 20th Century Fox)

Fantastic Four is the latest Marvel property to make the jump from comics to big-screen. While it doesn’t look like the film will be quite what the Spider-Man films have been, this doesn’t look particularly terrible compared to previous Marvel films that haven’t actually made it to the screen. Fantastic Four looks to be one of Marvel’s mid-tier films, straddling the line between lesser-known characters (Blade, Daredevil, Punisher) and the likes of Spider-Man and the X-Men.

—Walt Kneeland

Serenity (Late summer, Universal)

As if the chance to see Joss Whedon, the genius behind “Buffy,” tackle a space epic in his feature directorial debut wasn’t enough to draw me in, the mere fact this movie is in existence should be enough to get your vote of confidence. It was originally called “Firefly” and axed off the Fox network after 13 episodes but fans lobbied so hard and sales of the DVD set were so high that Universal decided to greenlight a $70 million epic featuring everything you loved about the series and even more. Lightning in a bottle doesn’t happen too often, so don’t pass up this opportunity, I promise it will rock.

—Robert Taylor

Batman Begins (June 17, Warner Bros.)

In the 16 years since Tim Burton’s first Batman starring Michael Keaton, the Batman franchise seemed to devolve into a campiness better left to the Adam West/Burt Ward television series. However, this new release potentially heralds the return to greatness of the Bat-franchise, focusing in on what led Bruce Wayne from his vow to avenge his parents’ murders to his earliest days in the cape-and-cowl.

— Walt Kneeland

Happy Endings (July 15, Lions Gate)

To be honest, I know very little about this movie. I couldn’t tell you what it is about, aside from that it is a multi-narrative film in the style of Magnolia or Love Actually. But what I can tell you is that it is written and directed by the masterful Don Roos, and that it reunites him with the magnificent Lisa Kudrow. The two first teamed up for the wickedly hilarious yet touching The Opposite of Sex several years ago, and now they’re back with another darkly intelligent comedy. Also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern and … Tom Arnold?

—Jason C. LeRoy

Romance & Cigarettes (August 19, United Artists)

OK, how weird does this sound: Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon, Mandy Moore and James Gandolfini star in a musical directed by John Turturro, an actor best known for his work in Adam Sandler films like Mr. Deeds and Anger Management? So weird, I simply cannot wait to catch this so-called “musical for the working class,” sure to be the quirky indie hit of the summer.

—Andrew Hampp

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (July 15, Warner Bros.)

Some might say it’s wrong to “reimagine” a “timeless classic” like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who calls a glorified commercial a timeless classic anyway. At best, Tim Burton’s remake will be another instant-classic collaboration between Burton and Johnny Depp, and at worst it will be an interesting failure. Either way, the annoying song from the trailer will still be stuck in our heads.

—Jon Dieringer

Also coming this summer:

Free Comic Book Day 2005

This fourth annual event occurs Saturday, May 7 at all participating comic book stores. Through this event, anyone visiting a comic book store should be entitled to at least one free comic book (specifically designed/designated for the event). More information — including a listing of specific FCBD issues — can be found at http://www.freecomicbookday.com and local comic book retailers can be found at http://csls.diamondcomics.com/ or by calling 1-888-COMIC BOOK.

—Walt Kneeland

WeezerMake Believe (May 10, Geffen)

You don’t need emo glasses to see their lead singer is a crazy nerd, their last two albums were criminally overrated, and their new single, “Beverly Hills,” is a bad-rip off of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”— which was a bad Weezer rip-off in the first place. That being said, I will still be first in line to buy this, and if I don’t like it, hey, I can always listen to Pinkerton and cry.

—Jon Dieringer

The Three Rivers Arts Festival (Pittsburgh, June 3-19)

Every year, the far-superior city of Pittsburgh puts on a huge line-up of free concerts known as the Three Rivers Arts Festival. This year is no different, featuring performances from the likes of Nanci Griffith, Citizen Cope, Madeleine Peyroux, Cowboy Junkies, Drive-By Truckers, Chick Corea, Donna the Buffalo, Rickie Lee Jones, Buckwheat Zydeo and Aimee Mann. And yes, it is all totally and completely free. For more information, check out www.artsfestival.net.

—Jason C. LeRoy

Lucinda WilliamsLive at the Fillmore (May 10, Lost Highway)

With a serious dearth of fo’ real good music coming out this summer, we are forced to look to the first live album by gritty alt-country diva Lucinda Williams for sustenance. A two-disc collection of old and new tunes recorded at the legendary Fillmore, the live format will even further strip away what little studio sheen is already sprinkled on Williams’ studio albums. Promises to be electrifying.

—Jason C. LeRoy

Dave Matthews BandStand Up (May 10, RCA Records)

Dave Matthews Band is finally back with a new studio CD, its first since 2001. The sound of this album seems more pop than jam-band, with first single “American Dream” already gushing out of the radio. On the Dual Disc version, the DVD side will include footage about the making of the album, plus interviews.

—Erika Kreider

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (July 16, Scholastic Books)

The sixth book chronicling the young wizard’s sixth year at Hogwarts makes its much-anticipated debut this summer. Most online book retailers as well as brick-and-mortar locations have the book available for pre-ordering, generally for about 40 percent off. There are a planned seven books in this series, marking this as the penultimate chapter of the Harry Potter story. Check local retailers for midnight-release events and other functions supporting this latest release.

—Walt Kneeland

The White StripesGet Behind Me Satan (June 7, V2 Records)

Jack White is one of the best guitarists today, and maybe ever. He’s also one of the weirdest. But, no matter, this follow-up to Elephant should be another trippy trip through the mind of Jack White. The first single, “Blue Orchid,” was released just last month, and the CD will be released in June 7. This is the one CD I’m actually looking forward to in the long summer to come.

—Seth Roy

ColdplayX&Y (June 7, Capitol Records)

Coldplay’s much-awaited third CD, X&Y, is set for release June 6. Judging by the new single, “Speed of Sound,” X&Y will have all the elements of classic Coldplay — deep lyrics sung by Chris Martin accompanied by beautiful instruments. The album is borderline melancholy in tone and is nearly background music, but beautiful all at the same time. This music is sure to be a great audio addition to a warm summer night.

—Erika Kreider