Toon Talk: Summer Nights - Apr 28, 2008

Toon Talk: Summer Nights
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Promising to be more action orientated (akin to the classic Lou Ferrigno TV series), this so-called �reboot� of the franchise finds Norton�s Bruce Banner on the run from the U.S. military (led by William Hurt�s General Thunderbolt Ross) and in search of a cure for his gamma rayed condition. Liv Tyler is on hand as gal pal Betty Ross, and Tim Roth plays the requisite villain, dubbed the Abomination. However, this Hulk�s biggest foe may be all the bad buzz in the air, stemming from an underwhelming trailer and rumors of behind-the-scenes strife.

On a lighter note is Hancock (July 2), a comedic take on super heroism (and hopefully nothing like Superhero Movie from earlier this year). Will Smith headlines as an acerbic, alcoholic and all-around unpleasant �super� who seeks to improve himself in the public eye with the help of Jason Bateman�s PR guy. This one is not based on an actual comic book, but the potent combination of �Will Smith� plus �action comedy� plus �holiday weekend� should make it as big as Smith�s previous Fourth of July hits, Independence Day and Men in Black.

Following his Oscar-winning Pan�s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro returns with Hellboy II: The Golden Army (July 11). Ron Perlman is back as the cigar-chomping, damage dealing �Big Red� who not only takes on some demonic dudes bent on the destruction of the world, but also cohabitation with his pyrokinetic girlfriend, played by Selma Blair. Even more flights of fancy are promised for this creature feature, based on the popular comic series by Mike Mignola.

The Dark Knight

By far the most anticipated superhero movie of the year is The Dark Knight (July 18), Christopher Nolan�s follow-up to his excellent Batman Begins (now that is how you do a reboot). However, the anticipation is not so much for the latest fantastic adventures of the Caped Crusader as it is because of the tragic circumstances that surround it now. Expectations for Knight were high to begin with, mostly due to early word that a cast-against-type Heath Ledger was delivering a career-defining performance as the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker. His accidental death in January rocked the entertainment industry and left fans around the world shocked and grief-stricken. The unexpected result of this tragedy is the increased interest in seeing his last complete performance.

Of course, the guy in the bat suit is in the movie too, and Christian Bale is back in black, along with returning cast members Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman. Joining them is new co-stars Maggie Gyllenhaal (replacing Katie Holmes) and Aaron Eckhart, who plays the charismatic Harvey Dent, the Gotham City district attorney who will eventually become the villainous Two-Face.

Three of these superhero flicks are sequels, and there�s plenty more coming your way in the months to come as well, staring off with Disney�s own The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (May 16).

The epic fantasy rejoins the four Pevensie siblings (William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skander Keynes and Georgie Henley) one year after their first encounter with the lion, the witch and the wardrobe. They discover upon their return to the mythological land that it is now over a thousand years later in Narnia � but no worries; the mighty Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) is still around. A wicked despot has taken over, so the kids join forces with the dashing Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes, last seen in Stardust) for an old-fashioned Narnian rebellion. Andrew Adamson, who directed the first chapter, returns for the second.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

It has been 19 years since a certain archeologist went on his Last Crusade, yet it appears the years will be kind to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22). The fourth adventure of the man in the hat is poised to become the number one hit of the summer � and possibly the year.

Not much is known about the plot, save that Harrison Ford�s iconic whip-cracker runs afoul of the Soviets (led by a femme fataled Cate Blanchett), hooks up with old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen, a much welcome return), and teams up with a motorcycle-riding wild one named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who may or may not be his son. Oh, and the eponymous craniums � and maybe aliens? � are also involved somehow. Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent and John Hurt round out the cast, once again led by director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas.

Speaking of Lucas, he returns later in the season with his other franchise, now all tooned up: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (August 15). The computer animated feature, set during the period after the clones attacked yet before the Sith was revenged, will serve as an introduction to an upcoming Cartoon Network series. Frankly, this one looks a bit on the cheap/cheesy side (reportedly, only Anthony �C-3P0� Daniels is returning to voice) and therefore for Jedi geeks only.