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Top 10 Summer Movies of 2008  

April 2008

Summer is officially here! And time for the warm weather, the popcorn, and the cool environs of the movie theater! To help get you prepared, here's my Top 10 list of the most highly anticipated films for the summer of 2008.

Below, you won't find a particular Caspian prince, another Will Smith 4th of July vehicle, a Hellboy, a love guru, a 3rd mummy, or a green machine re-imagined. But that's the beauty of the summer movie season! With over 100 new movies set for release, there's bound to be something for everyone!

So, just kick back and enjoy the summer box office sizzle!

10.   Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia, how can we resist you? So begs the question of the ABBA inspired Broadway musical hit turned motion picture. Starring Academy Award winning actress, Meryl Streep, along with a vibrant and affable cast comprised of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Amanda Seyfried, and more, "Mamma Mia!" depicts the story of a single mother whose daughter invites three of her ex-lovers to her wedding in the hopes of finding her true father. Like the addictive hits of ABBA, you can expect the film version to be cheesy, yet joyous. Heartfelt, yet hysterical. And most certainly, the feel good hit of the summer (July 18).

9.     Kung Fu Panda

Maybe it's the blitz of pre-summer advertising that has this one on my list, but the combination of Jack Black as a lethargic, leaf eating Panda turned martial arts expert prancing along to the catchy 80's hit, "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas would be enough to draw me into the theater for a few laughs. Even though the story, about one of the laziest animals becoming a kung fu hero doesn't appear to be anything completely originally (see "Beverly Hills Ninja"), the colorful and whimsical animated film features a bevy of talent, with voicings by Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Ian McShane, and many more (June 6).

8.     The Happening

After basking in the success of such box office hits as "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable," and "Signs," the secretive M. Night Shyamalan, best known for his convoluted endings, doled out consecutive disappointments in "The Village" and "The Lady in the Water." And then there was the highly publicized falling out with Disney. However, that was then and this is now. And this summer, Shyamalan is back on his game with a new thriller about a mysterious airborne menace that may put the mental in environmental. Featuring rising star, Mark Wahlberg, as a science teacher dealing with marriage troubles and deadly toxins, "The Happening" also goes where no Shyamalan film has gone before - namely, an R-rating. Now aren't you the least bit curious (June 13)?

7.     WALL-E

There's no arguing that the leading character of WALL-E has a striking resemblance to another familiar robotic hero named Number 5 as depicted in John Badham's "Short Circuit." Even the movie poster brings back a little bit of 80's nostalgia. And then there's the whole concept of an animated film aimed at younger audiences, containing virtually no dialogue other than a series of bleeps and blips - a bold and risky move for sure. But if there's one thing you can bank on, it's Pixar's undying innovation, top of the line animation, and creative storytelling. Not to mention, the ability to bring out the humanistic, wholesome qualities in all of their characters. Everything from bugs to toys to cars - even robots that speak a language of their own (June 27).

6.     Speed Racer

One of the first noteworthy, pop icons of anime - Tatsuo Yoshida's 1967 animated TV series, Speed Racer. The show depicted the life of a young boy named Speed and his attempt to become the world's best race car driver via the infamous Mach 5. And along for the ride, his friends - Trixie, Sparky, Spritle, and Chim Chim. Not withstanding, the mysterious Racer X. As a tribute, the Wachowski brothers, best known for "The Matrix" trilogy, put their trademark visionary style into the fray. The end result? A neon infused, high octane, live action feature with racing sequences akin to the pods in Star Wars, Episode I. Overly cheesy or super cool - either way, you'll wanna be at the finish line for this one. Go Speed Go (May 9)!

5.     Sex and the City: The Movie

I can hear it now. "Mark - you put another chick flick in your Top 10 when you could have put 'Hellboy II' or 'Hancock.' What's the matter with you?" Well, it's all very simple. For premiere shows such as "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," HBO made a niche for itself with some of the best writing on television. Add to that, "Sex and the City," a nifty series about the lives of four women and their pursuit of love and happiness in the Big Apple. Sure, there's the chatty talk about sex and the ecstasy over cosmopolitans and designer shoes. But what made the series stand out was the camaraderie between the four women and their witty repartee. All of which was channeled through Carrie Bradshaw's narrative. A regular column doling out witty relationship advice based on personal experience. For fans of the show, this is a must see. Especially after four years of waiting and early news that one of the characters will make an untimely exit (May 30).

4.     The X-Files: I Want to Believe

The truth is out there somewhere, we just haven't been privy to it. The cigarette smoking man, the syndicate, black oil, bees, alien races, etc. A mythology that baffled too much and delivered far less. Particularly after David Duchovny walked away from the show in 2001. The show went completely south, never to recover. Now, after a six year leave of absence, "X-Files" creator Chris Carter revives the quest of Agent Mulder and Scully and their search for the truth behind the paranormal. The only question is whether audiences will care. In the age of new series such as "Lost" and "Heroes," shows with unique mythologies that also deliver the goods, the key will be whether this sequel can answer many of the show's lingering questions. And for that, I want to believe (July 25)!

3.     Iron Man

My favorite superhero is brought to life by director, Jon Favreau, of "Elf" and "Zathura" fame. The story of wealthy businessman, Tony Stark, who builds an armored suit out of necessity and subsequently uses it to fight the forces of evil. Great casting in Robert Downey, Jr. as Stark, a man who fights addiction. And Terrence Howard as best friend, Jim Rhodes, and Gwyneth Paltrow as the feisty Pepper Potts. Questions, however, abound regarding the faithfulness of the script to the origin. And whether Favreau will take the softer side to be family friendly instead of the character's inherent dark side. But upon first look, the suit and action sequences look amazing. And as the Black Sabbath tune goes, "Now the time is here, for Iron Man to spread fear" (May 2).

2.     The Dark Knight

Without question, the tragic loss of Heath Ledger has cast a curious shadow over Christopher Nolan's follow up to "Batman Begins," recreating the early days of the caped crusader. A terrific actor with a rugged, yet honest demeanor, Ledger had extraordinary potential. Potential that will be on full display one last time as he encompasses the Joker in a more realistic, less cartoonish way. With a return by the brilliantly brooding Christian Bale and the sophistication brought into supporting roles by Michael Caine and Gary Oldman, not to mention new additions, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart, "The Dark Knight" is rich with depth and character. It's a terrible shame that this will be the last performance from the talented young Ledger, because based on the early previews, you could be looking at the best comic adaptation of all time (July 18).

1.     Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

No other film released this summer has as much hype and pure joy surrounding it as Indiana Jones. Yes, the title may be a mouthful, it's been nearly 17 years since "The Last Crusade," and Harrison Ford may be 65 years old, but all doubts were cast aside after an initial glimpse of the first trailer. And that feeling of childhood glee came rushing back with the magnificent score by John Williams, the fedora, the weathered Ford whipping into action, the curt dialogue, and the return of Marion. Plus, new additions in Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, John Hurt, and more. It's Spielberg and Lucas back in the saddle again. And movie fans everywhere will gladly welcome back their favorite archeologist on a brand new adventure (May 22).

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