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Upcoming Blockbusters and Indie Gems


Armageddon

The film has a publicity machine behind it the likes of Independence Day, but it doesn't have lucky charm Will Smith. Current It boy Ben Affleck will likely fill seats, but it remains to be seen if the public can stomach another pre-millennium disaster flick. However, director Michael Bay has filmed where no other Hollywood director has filmed before: in NASA's White Room, the germ-free, classified area that's the last stop for astronauts before boarding space shuttles. In fact, NASA had script approval and gave Bay access to files, personnel and its grounds. Undoubtedly, the film will do for astronauts what Top Gun did for Navy pilots. When asteroid expert Harry S. Stamper (Bruce Willis) gets wind of an asteroid on a crash course for Earth, he enlists a fearless team of renegade rock busters (Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thornton) to go mano a mano with the pesky rock. Release date: July 1.

The Avengers

Recently, remakes of television shows have been colossal flops (The Saint, McHale's Navy, Leave It to Beaver), but we're betting the sleek coolness of the 1960s British action-adventure The Avengers and the star power assembled for the adaptation will translate well on the big screen. Secret agents John Steed (Ralph Fiennes) and Emma Peel (Uma Thurman) team up to battle diabolical Sir August De Winter (Sean Connery), who has a device that can control the weather and uses it to blackmail governments all over the world. Release date: August 14.

54

Disco is not dead, at least on celluloid. Hollywood has proven that in the last year, giving us Boogie Nights, The Last Days of Disco and now 54. Miramax, the edgy semi-independent studio that's not known for its restraint, insisted that director Mark Christopher tone down the script, in which a gay relationship figures prominently. Still, 54 promises to be a steamy look at disco's hedonistic hub where stars danced, doped up and got down and dirty beside the girl next door whose winning combination of sequins, polyester and eyeshadow impressed the doorman enough for passage into the shrine. Mike Myers, in his first dramatic role, stars as Steve Rubell, Studio 54's cokehead co-founder. Release date: August 7.

Lethal Weapon 4

As far as sequels go, it's safer not to do them. A fourth installment is downright nuts, right? Maybe not, with the addition of a fresh face to the franchise. That face is Chris Rock, who joins Riggs (Mel Gibson), Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a very pregnant Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) and Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) to bust an Asian crime ring. Ok, so it's not the most exhilarating pick on the list, but what would summer be without at least one sequel on your to-see list? Release date: July 10.

Next Stop, Wonderland

The hit of the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, Wonderland was scooped up by Miramax for a steep $6 million – nice change for a relative unknown director (Brad Anderson). A peevish nurse, Erin (Hope Davis), has no luck with men and is outraged when her butinski mother (Taylor Holland) places a personal ad for her. Regardless, Erin finds herself entangled in the personal scene, grasping on to the hope that her Mr. Right might just be out there. Davis's Erin isn't an entirely likable character, but she's a woman not afraid to speak her mind and piss people off – not a typical Hollywood leading lady. Anderson is one to watch. Release date: August 21.

Pi

Unfortunately, this enthralling indie jewel will likely be overlooked by mainstream audiences who think The X-Files is the only sci-fi gig worth checking out this summer. The mind-bending Pi offers truly intelligent, charged filmmaking and proves that bigger is definitely not better. First-time director Darren Aronofsky shot the film, in black and white, for $60,000, and Sundance rewarded him with a directing prize for it. Rebel genius Maximillian Cohen (Sean Gullette) works away in his computer-packed Manhattan apartment, trying to crack the mysteries of the stock market and the universe. When word gets out of his tinkering, he's pursued by Wall Street suits, religious cults and others who want a piece of the pie. Release date: July 10.

Saving Private Ryan

DreamWorks has assembled a dream team: Steven Spielberg at the helm, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Ed Burns on the frontlines. A compelling alternative to the summer's onslaught of monster and disaster films, human drama Private Ryan follows eight World War II American soldiers who penetrate enemy lines to save, you guessed it, Private Ryan (Matt Damon), whose four siblings have already perished in the war. Release date: July 24.

Snake Eyes

Nicolas Cage and Brian De Palma make a winning combination and no doubt will pack a one-two punch in this thriller about a cop, Rick Santoro (Cage), who seals off a 14,000-seat Atlantic City casino after the U.S. secretary of defense is assassinated during a boxing match. Santoro, who has a shady past and something to prove, must solve the crime in only two hours or he loses the case to the feds. Release date: August 7.




Did you know? For more than a billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity.