For the rest of the summerEd Johnson-Ott 'Fantastic Four' opens this weekend

Forget the nonsense about summer beginning in June and ending in September. We all know that summer starts on Memorial Day and wraps up on Labor Day weekend, with July 4 marking the halfway point. So how has your summer been so far? And what about the summer movies? Have you been sufficiently thrilled, chilled, amused, moved and generally dazzled? Here's a look at what's left for summer 2005. Please remember that all dates are subject to change.

Friday:

Fantastic Four

Big screen adaptation of the 45-year-old Marvel comic book series about a squabbling, but loving family of celebrity superheroes. TV vets Jessica Alba (Dark Angel), Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Julian McMahon (Charmed, Nip/Tuck) are the cast members you may recognize. The film screws around with the basic story (Dr. Doom goes into space with Reed Richards and company and gets superpowers the same time they do) and the early buzz is so-so. The critic's screening was scheduled just a few hours after this issue went to press.

Dark Water

From Walter Salles, director of The Motorcycle Diaries, comes a psychological thriller based on a film by the Japanese creators of The Ring. Newly separated Jennifer Connelly and her daughter find that adjusting to their new life in a squalid apartment is the least of their troubles. Strange things are happening in the new homestead. Creepy things. Have fun, genre fans.

July 15:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Undoubtedly you've seen the TV commercials for the latest from King of Weird director Tim Burton and have already drawn your own opinion. As a big fan of Gene Wilder's charmingly twisted performance as Willy Wonka, I cringed when I saw Johnny Depp playing the same part as ... well, I'm not sure. A demented English schoolgirl? Regardless, these are talented people and it's best to keep that in mind.

Happy Endings

Don Roos, creator of The Opposite of Sex, returns with another screwy relationship comedy. The cast reads like an indie film dream team: Lisa Kudrow, Bobby Cannavale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Ritter, Tom Arnold, Sarah Chalke, Laura Dern and Ray Liotta, to name but a few. NOTE: The film opens in limited release on July 15. Its local premiere may be delayed for a week or two.

The Wedding Crashers

The summer's big hope for an old-fashioned Animal House-style take-no-prisoners comedy. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star as life-long friends whose hobby is crashing weddings to pick up women. Sounds funny. Christopher Walken co-stars.

July 22:

The Bad News Bears

Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear and Marcia Gay Harden co-star in this remake of the very popular 1976 comedy hit about underdog Little Leaguers. Does the world need an updated version of this story? You shall decide that with your dollars. Richard Linklater directs, by the way, and he's very good.

The Devil's Rejects

Musician Rob Zombie's gorefest House of 1000 Corpses was one of the most poorly constructed films I have ever seen. Needless to say, it has built a fervent cult following. This is his follow-up, about a family of homicidal, cannibalistic freaks. Proceed at your own risk.

The Island

Futuristic action-thriller from Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor). Scarlett Johansson, Ewan McGregor, Djimon Hounsou and Sean Bean are residents of a utopian city who discover that they are worth more dead than alive. A key element of the plot may be a secret, so I won't reveal it here. At this point in the summer, I'm actually in the mood for the kind of sledgehammer epic Bay is famous for. Hope he delivers.

July 29:

Must Love Dogs

Romantic comedy about Internet dating. Diane Lane and John Cusack star, so this has to be a winner.

Sky High

Comedy - I hope. Kelly Preston, Lynda Carter, Michael Angarano, Bruce Campbell and Kurt Russell star in the tale about trouble at a school for superheroes. This will either be very good or very bad.

Aug. 5:

The Dukes of Hazzard

Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville play the Duke boys, Jessica Simpson is cousin Daisy, Willie Nelson is Uncle Jesse and Burt Reynolds plays Boss Hogg. Good natured fun or a nightmare realized? You decide.

Aug. 12:

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo

The title really says it all, don't you think? Rob Schneider returns as man-whore Deuce Bigalow, wooing the ladies with his he-male magic. Til Schweiger and Eddie Griffin co-star. A sad truth: The original tickled the hell out of me and I'm looking forward to more nonsense. So sue me.

Skeleton Key

Live-in nurse Kate Hudson gets hired by Gena Rowlands to care for her ailing husband John Hurt in their decrepit mansion in the Louisiana Delta. While exploring the old place, Hudson discovers a deadly and terrifying secret.

Aug. 19:

Domino

Keira Knightley stars in an action thriller from director Tony Scott (Man on Fire, True Romance). Loosely inspired by the life of Domino Harvey, daughter of legendary actor Laurence Harvey and a former model who rejected her privileged Beverly Hills life to become a bounty hunter.

Red Eye

Wes Craven thriller about airborn terror on a red-eye to Miami. Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy star.

Valiant

Computer-animated British cartoon about a plucky pigeon. Voice talent includes Ewan McGregor, John Cleese, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett and Ricky Gervais.

Aug. 26:

The Brothers Grimm

Long-awaited Terry Gilliam feature starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as con-men brothers that travel from village to village fleecing the locals with tales of amazing creatures. Then the real thing comes along ...

The Cave

Explorers find big trouble - and critters - in a newly discovered, massive cave system. With Cole Hauser, Morris Chestnut, Eddie Cibrian and Lena Headey.

The Constant Gardener

Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz in a tale of murder in a remote area of Kenya, based on the John le Carre novel.

Sept. 2:

A Sound of Thunder

Sci-fi. When a hunting expedition to the Prehistoric Age alters the future, Edward Burns and Catherine McCormack must clean things up. From the Ray Bradbury short story. Ben Kingsley co-stars.

The Transporter 2

Jason Statham returns as a retired ex-Special Forces op that tries to rescue his new boss' kidnapped twin sons.

The Woods

Creepy goings-on at a girls school in the forest. The dark, scary forest.

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