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Movie chat: Hoping for surprises in a sea of sequels

Steven Rea and Carrie Rickey discuss the summer movie season.

Johnny Depp and cast return for a rough journey in "At World's End",  the next in  the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.
Johnny Depp and cast return for a rough journey in "At World's End", the next in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.Read more

Steven Rea: So, summer movies? With all the sequels, the 2s and 3s, It's not just deja vu, it's deja vudoo. Do you think that there's a danger that with so many "event" pics, some of them are going to get lost? Or worse, that audiences won't be able to find anything else?

Carrie Rickey: Some pharmaceutical company could make big bucks by developing a cure to sequelitis. Spider-Man 3. Shrek the Third. Harry Potter the Fifth. Ocean's Thirteenth. Pirates of the Caribbean at World's End. The only big movies, known in the biz as "tentpoles," that I'm looking forward to are "The Simpsons Movie" and "Hairspray." Yes, I worry that the tentpoles will cast their long shadow on quality smaller films such as "Becoming Jane," and "Knocked Up."

Steven Rea: When I was looking through the schedule of summer films, I kept searching for the potential "sleeper," the surprise, knockout, original, where-did-this-come-from? hit. And darned if I can see one. Of course, if it's a true sleeper, no one will see it coming. Hopefully, there's a Sixth Sense lurking out there somewhere in June, July or August.

Jeff: Some early reviews of Spider-Man III are comparing it to the third X-Men film-- It seems producers have tried to cram too much into one film in order to bookend another superhero trilogy. Will Spider-Man sputter out because of bad word of mouth, or will it be this year's summer blockbuster?

Carrie Rickey: Jeff, what I really appreciate about the Spidey franchise is that Sam Raimi cast it with actors rather than pretty faces who could do the stunts. That said, Spidey 3 is not up to the prior two but nowhere as godawful as X-Men 3. Yes, Steven, I would love to find a sleeper. but the thing about sleepers is that they are surprises and the programming this summer seems to guarantee against surprise.

Steven Rea: I agree about "Spidey 3" -- overstuffed and chaotic, and the special effects never really evolved much from Spidey 1. The swinging-through-the-skyscraper-canyons still looks like a video game.

Mike: Could Spiderman 3 break Pirates opening record? 135Million

Steven Rea: The box office record thing will be interesting. One weekend's opening will likely blow away the next. Although I'm not a big John Waters fan, "Hairspray" does seem like one of the few titles coming this summer that's not a focus-grouped, by-committee, pre-packaged deal. Could be fun.

Samantha: With all the sequels in the main theaters, will the smaller movies like "Hairspray" have a place to show?

Chase: Anybody ever heard of Optimus Prime? A movie that will surely upset many a G1 fans is still the movie to see. TRANSFORMERS are coming

Carrie Rickey: To Samantha, "Hairspray" is getting a big marketing push from the studio, so I don't think it will get lost. John Travolta in drag has a certain fascination for many viewers. To answer Mike's question about Spidey spinning a web around the Pirates' box-office record: Quite likely, as every boy I know (there are about a dozen under ten on my street alone) has begged me to tell their Mom and Dad that's it's OK if they see Spidey. I think it's too intense for kids under ten, but these movies are being marketed to them. So, Chase, tell us more about Optimus Prime.

Steven Rea: Chase: Yes, please. I'm not up on "Optimus Prime." Sounds like a life insurance policy.

Michael: With all the pressure on movie companies to deliver the big sequels with stars and slam-bang action, is there even a possibility that one of them will be any good? Have you seen any surprisingly great sequels in the last couple of years?

Carrie Rickey: Michael, while I think that "The Godfather, Part II" is better than the original and that "Aliens" might be better than the first in that series and that "The Bourne Supremacy" was almost as good as "Bourne Identity" and that the third "Harry Potter" was exponentially better than the first two, usually the rule with franchises is that the longer they go, the less involving they are: consider "Matrix" and "X-Men."

Mike: I think 28weeks later will be a sleeper hit. Hostel II maybe a hit.

Steven Rea: Mike, I'm hoping that all the ugliness at Virginia Tech will put a damper on "Hostel 2" and the whole slew of hardcore slasher/scare pics out there. The fetishizing of violence and gore in some of these films is a real problem. As for sequels, Carrie's right: It's rare that a followup surpasses the original, although I actually liked "Spidey 2" more than the first.

Carrie Rickey: Come to think of it, so did I, Steven. As for "28 Weeks Later," both Steven and I have seen it and it's excellent, although I don't know how a sequel to a sleeper qualifies as a sleeper -- thinking about it makes me (yawn) sleepy. So, everyone, what else are you looking forward to? I have high hopes for "Knocked Up," by Judd Apatow who directed "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

Steven Rea: And I have high hopes for the "Bourne" -- Greengrass is a great director, and I'm a sucker for spy pics. Of the smaller, indie pics, I'm looking forward to "Paris, Je t'aime," the omnibus with installments from the Coen Brothers and a cast of Euros and Yanks promenading the rues of one of the most film-friendly cities in the world; and "Talk to Me," with Don Cheadle as the D.C. DJ "Petey" Greene; and "Jindabyne," which is an Australian adaptation of a disturbing, creepy Raymond Carver short story, and "Inland Empire," the epic surreal David Lynch digital entry.

Carrie Rickey: I, too, am looking forward to "Talk to Me," both because it seems to be Don Cheadle's year, what with his performance in "Reign Over Me" and the buzz about his perf as Petey Greene. (Also, Kasi Lemmons directed "Talk to Me," and I loved her film "Eve's Bayou.) I hear nice things about "Ratatouille," an animated film from Brad Bird, the mind that brought you "Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles." Plus, it will be nice to see Michelle Pfeiffer again Amy "Clueless" Heckerling's "I Could Never Be Your Woman." As to Mike's question about what happened to "Perfect Stranger" -- it was perfectly awful.

Peter: Are we in for a new string of geezer sequels? Die Hard 4 ... Raiders of the Lost Nursing Home ... They working on Passion of the Lethal Weapon?

Carrie Rickey: Peter, like the idea for "Raiders of the Lost Nursing Home." I think Spielberg feels your pain: he's cast Shia Labeouf, 20, to be in this one and take the load off Harrison Ford.

Steven Rea: Geezer sequels -- I like it! Speaking of which, Mike, maybe Bruce Willis' "Die Hard 4" will be one NOT to find its audience -- his name above the title didn't do much to help "Perfect Strangers."

Carrie Rickey: Thanks, everyone, for the good questions.