A Guide to the Season's Competitors

Don Simpson Did not Die In Vain

Battlefield Earth John Travolta, looking to all the world like George Clinton, may have let his Scientology get the best of him at last, but odds are it's a strictly nonsecular blam-bang-splat. Given L. Ron Hubbard's deathlike seriousness, we're probably not talking about a Starship Troopers dark horse. May 12

Mission: Impossible 2 Tom Cruise climbs a rock! Tom Cruise takes off his sunglasses! Tom Cruise puts them back on! Does the dazzling, blood-quickeningly useless trailer portend a dazzling, blood-quickeningly useless film? Would it matter if we could tell you? May 24

Gone in 60 Seconds Nicolas Cage sold his soul to Jerry Bruckheimer in exchange for that Oscar. Newly undead Angelina Jolie won Supporting Actress and thus leapt cackling into the career grave with Marisa and Mira. Now Nic and Angie join forces and steal cars. Gone in 666 Seconds? June 9

Shaft John Singleton goes the Tarantino route and revives all that is blax, recruiting always-on-the-QT Samuel Jackson. The indignity of Isaac Hayes swallowed by all that heavy-metal-video smoke during the Oscars demands recompense, perhaps to be found here. June 16

The Patriot Blithely ignoring the abysmal track record for Revolutionary War movies, Mel Gibson steps up with director Roland Emmerich to jaunt through the world of flintlocks and pony-tails. Crowds, flag-waving, and gory battles ensue. June 30

The Perfect Storm Veteran boatman Wolfgang Petersen enlists George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg to do the waving and shouting in this season's disaster-movie entry, and wouldn't you rather spend your Fourth of July with two kings instead of up the republic wrapped in Mel Gibson's bloody flag? June 30

X-Men Anticipation is high for the filmization of this ageless and bizarre comic franchise, but with a dubiously deranged cast assort-ment (Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry) and a creepy director (Bryan Singer), it could be this summer's Avengers. July 14

The Hollow Man Paul Verhoeven's reworking of Wells's The Invisible Man should, at the least, reprise the dystopian techno-thrills of Total Recall, though his last two, Starship Troopers and Showgirls, have been so astonishingly unhinged, there's every reason to expect a brute-force mindfuck. July 28

Coyote Ugly Flashdance + Cocktail = dancing bar chicks. August 4

Bait 48 HRS redux, though with an under?$40 million budget (which could have covered craft services for M:I-2, maybe) and should-be-a-megastar Jamie Foxx, you want to root for it anyway. August 11

The Cell Another music-video hotshot in high-concept serial-killing mode, Tarsem tries to one-up David Fincher with this baroque gorefest. The most inspired casting of the season: Jennifer Lopez as a neuroscientist-diva with a taste for elaborate cybercouture. August 18

You Will Die Laughing

Road Trip In which Tom Green, MTV's most fascinatingly repellent presence since Kennedy, either plumbs new depths of gross-out comedy or sells out. Or, if he's smart enough, both. May 19

Shanghai Noon When was the last time an Old West movie made any money? How about an Old West odd-couple slapstick buddy laff riot? But the almost-heroes in this here wild wild west are Jackie Chan and always welcome Owen Wilson, so it should at least keep closet Rush Hour fans happy. May 26

Big Momma's House It's silly how people are always describing Martin Lawrence as a second-string Eddie Murphy, especially since Lawrence, strapping on drag and fatsuit in a bid to out-Klump the Nutty Professor sequel, will gladly do it himself. June 2

Me, Myself and Irene Jim Carrey returns to orthodox Hollywood hit making with this Farrelly foolery about a multiple personality battling his other selves for his girlfriend. There might be no disquieting media autopsy under the skin, but it might be fucking funny. June 23

Trixie Despite a widespread lack of interest, Alan Rudolph pursues his particular fake-innocent comedic vision in this loopiness about a ditzy security guard (Emily Watson) aspiring to detective-ness and getting embroiled in political skullduggery. June 30

Nuttly Professor II: The Klumps Eddie doing what Eddie does best, going wild in assorted characters. Too bad there's this harebrained plot about DNA experiments and youth serum. July 28

Saving Grace A British comedy hinging on the hilarity inherent in watching Brenda Blethyn, as a middle-class broad whose life is collapsing, get stoned and grow her own weed. A big hit at Sundance, despite being the fifth film in five years with that title. August 4

The Tao of Steve Donal Logue plays a dopey lout who enjoys uncanny good luck with the ladies; since Logue used to do genius lunatic MTV promo spots (on Alanis Morissette's "Ironic": "It's like meeting the girl of your dreams, and then finding out she's five"), let's hope the filmmakers allowed him to ad-lib. August 4

Blow Dry Another Brit laughfest, about hairdressers. Yankee teens Josh Hartnett and Rachael Leigh Cook try on accents; Natasha Richardson and Alan Rickman use their own. August 18

The Replacements During an NFL strike, crusty coach Gene Hackman recruits a team of scabs including Keanu Reeves. Keanu should stay still and look beatific, not wear bulky equipment, yell, grunt, etc. With a dog-days release date, be very afraid. August 25

Was Sydney Pollack Unavailable?

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her Gabriel García Marquez's son Rodrigo coordinates a massive female-bonding love-in (Close, Hunter, Diaz, Flockhart) with five interlocking stories. July

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