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Summer RerunsMost seasonal movie fare seems 2 familiarBy Matt Brunson

photo: 20th Century FoxNicole Kidman

& cohorts in

Moulin Rouge

For all its faults, there's one good thing you can say about the film capital of the world: They sure know how to recycle out there in Hollywood. If there's one expression that can be used to describe the upcoming summer movie season, it's the one about how everything old is suddenly new again. Take the sequels. Every year, we get our fair share of follow-ups to big moneymakers, but this summer alone will see the releases of six sequels (seven if you count the latest Jay and Silent Bob adventure). Add to that a couple of remakes, an alarming number of movies about plans to take over the world (a hoary plotline straight out of an old Republic Pictures cliffhanger), a handful of techno-flicks (either about computers or employing computers), and a few blatant rip-offs of earlier hits (I'm convinced that Evolution was pitched at the studio meeting as Ghostbusters meets Men In Black), and it slowly becomes apparent that the most original movie of the period may be the one starring perennial irritant Rob Schneider (what this says about civilization in 2001, I'm afraid to ask).

At any rate, here's a preview of 45 movies that are expected to reach our city over the next four months. As you sit through most of them, you may finding yourself feeling that it's deja vu all over again.

MAY 4

THE MUMMY RETURNS

Plot: It's adventurer Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) to the rescue after the mummy Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is accidentally resurrected and continues his murderous rampage.

The Good: The 1999 smash was a passable Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off, and the preview for this one promises more of the same -- I suppose there are worse ways to kick off the summer movie season.

The Bad: When the trailer's narrator states, And [pro wrestler] The Rock as The Scorpion King, the audience chuckles every time.

The Outlook: The original made $155 million; there's no reason to believe this won't match (or surpass) that amount.

MAY 11

A KNIGHT'S TALE

Plot: During medieval times, a lowly peasant (Heath Ledger of The Patriot) disguises himself as a knight and finds success on the jousting tournament circuit.

The Good: Writer-director Brian Helgeland won an Oscar for co-writing L.A. Confidential. Like fellow Aussie hunks Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, Ledger's popularity continues to climb.

The Bad: The grungy medieval setting may turn off moviegoers looking for sparkling special effects.

The Outlook: Having already seen this one, I can declare it's a lot of fun, although it's going to take tremendous word-of-mouth for it to make its mark.

MAY 18

ANGEL EYES

Plot: A Chicago cop (Jennifer Lopez) is rescued from a life-threatening situation by a handsome stranger (Jim Caviezel); even as she falls in love with her savior, she can't shake the feeling that he's a figure from her past.

The Good: Against the slam-bam dazzle of the season's other films, a whispery love story might be just what the doctor ordered (remember Ghost?). Caviezel ably handled the sensitive man part in Frequency and The Thin Red Line.

The Bad: Lopez might turn out to be the new Demi Moore: a controversial actress of questionable talent whose celebrity outweighs her films' box office grosses. Director Luis Mandoki's last love story was the underwhelming Message In a Bottle.

The Outlook: Even as counter-programming, it's doubtful mass audiences will be touched by this Angel.

SHREK

Plot: An ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) and his donkey sidekick (Eddie Murphy) encounter all sorts of fairy tale characters as they set out to rescue a beautiful princess (Cameron Diaz).

The Good: The preview promises a sharp satire of classic fairy tales. Murphy, who stole the show as the diminutive dragon in Mulan, may do the same here.

The Bad: It might end up being a little too hip for its own good (a problem that plagued the overreaching The Emperor's New Groove).

The Outlook: Nothing to shriek about here: money in the bank.

MAY 25

PEARL HARBOR

Plot: Two dashing young pilots (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) and a courageous nurse (Kate Beckinsale) cope with the horrifying events of December 7, 1941.

The Good: The handsomely mounted preview already has audiences chomping at the bit. The distinguished cast includes Oscar winners Jon Voight and Cuba Gooding Jr., plus Saving Private Ryan sergeant Tom Sizemore for good measure.

The Bad: Michael Bay is strictly a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am director, showing little feel for genuine emotion in titles like Armageddon and The Rock.

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