Gorilla Warfare 

A brief look at some summer movie releases.

It's ironic that the George W. Bush era brings a return to THE PLANET OF THE APES (July 27). Granted, the idea of remaking Pierre Boulle's 1968 sci-fi classic has been kicking around Hollywood for the past decade--with everybody from Titanic's James Cameron, Oliver (JFK) Stone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger intrigued by the monkey business--but it wasn't until Tim (Batman) Burton signed on that the upcoming trip to the Forbidden Zone became a reality. The plot details are top secret, but what little info has been leaked may distress Apes purists: a new shocker ending won't feature our favorite harbor chick, the story isn't set on Earth of the future, and perhaps most upsetting of all, Charlton Heston's loincloth won't grace the waist of counterpart Mark Wahlberg (nor Heston himself for that matter, who dons a pair of "stinking paws" to put in a cameo as a chimpanzee). And whereas franchise stars Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall only had eyes for each other, there's talk of a tryst between human Wahlberg and simian scientist Helena Bonham Carter.

There are plenty of things you could call Julia Roberts, but "slacker" isn't one of them. Hot on the heels of her springtime pairing with Brad Pitt in The Mexican, the toothy Georgian joins John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones in AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS, opening on July 20. But Roberts does more than just get the guy in this Billy Crystal-scripted opus--she also gets to gain and lose sixty pounds right before our eyes. The rest of the plot machinations pale in comparison.

Although APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX might sound like a spoof along the lines of Hot Shots Part Deux, it's actually an entirely new version of Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 masterpiece. Coppola and Academy Award-winning collaborator Walter Murch re-edited the flick, adding 53 minutes of never-before-seen footage. It opens on August 15--22 years to the day after the original film opened in theaters--and is a must-see for those who only know Martin Sheen from his stint on TV's West Wing.

The rest of the summer's fare is about what you might expect: sequels and special effects galore.

For special-effects hounds, CATS & DOGS (July 4) should be right up your alley: talking canines and felines wage war while humans Jeff Goldblum and Elizabeth Perkins dodge incoming kitty litter and kibble. July 11 brings FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN, which depicts a world filled with computer-animated humans, and on August 24, Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, and Pam (Jackie Brown) Grier hang out on the Red Planet in JOHN CARPENTER'S GHOSTS OF MARS.

In the sequels department, there's SCARY MOVIE 2 (July 4), RUSH HOUR 2 (August 3), and JURASSIC PARK III (July 18). Spoofing everything from Charlie's Angels to The Haunting, SM2 is directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and stars bros Shawn and Marlon, Tori Spelling, Tim Curry, and Chris Elliott. Shot in Hong Kong, Rush Hour 2 again sports Chris Tucker and martial artist Jackie Chan butting heads with a vast array of international bad guys as well as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Zhang Ziyi. There's nasties aplenty--of the prehistoric kind, that is--in Jurassic Park III. Although they both passed on the first sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Sam Neill and Laura Dern once again play hide-and-seek with human-munchin' dinos touted to be bigger and scarier than their predecessors.

But to me, the summer's most frightening film has got to be ALL THAT GLITTERS (August 31), in which pop singer Mariah Carey makes her screen debut as--of all things--a pop singer. Now that's scary.


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