Notes from the back row 

Summer movie preview

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And so it begins. Summer Movie season officially starts this Friday with the release of Spider-Man 3 , the first of many huge blockbusters (including a crapload of other major sequels) that just might make this the best movie-watching summer in recent history.

Let’s start with the Amazing Spider-Man. Director Sam Raimi ( Evil Dead) is back for his third webslinging adventure, as are Kirsten Dunst, Tobey Maguire, and James Franco. This one will probably be the last with that crew but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing since some of the chemistry is obviously gone and Dunst in particular seems to be phoning it in.

Spidey has three villains to fight this time: Franco as a second-gen Green Goblin, still believing that Peter/Spider-Man killed his father; Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) as a rival photographer who becomes Venom (probably Spidey’s toughest enemy ever, Venom is a bit underused in this flick); and Thomas Hayden Church as Sandman, who, despite having a pretty coincidental backstory, is the best of the bunch this time around.

Of course there’s also the much anticipated black costume (actually an alien symbiont that brings out the dark/sex fiend side of whomever it attaches to,) a new love interest named Gwen Stacey (and why not? MJ is whiny/needy throughout the film), and, for fun, another Bruce Campell ( Evil Dead) cameo.

The CG effects in Spider-Man 3 are ridiculously awesome but the story is a bit long and muddled. The regular themes of power/responsibility and forgiveness/redemption are present but not that well integrated into the emotional arcs of the characters. But who cares? It’s a comic book movie, what are you really looking for? High flying, webslinging, ass-kicking good times. And that’s what you’ll get.

Adventure is big for the rest of May as well. Shrek the Third opens May 18 th and everyone still loves that dorky ogre. Pirates of the Caribbean 3 drops May 25. Hopefully this one will be better than the last. Keith Richards and Chow Yun Fat star, alongside old favourites like Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly.

Zombies are back, in the intimate family drama setting this time, with 28 Weeks Later, and, for Canadian content, cutie-patootie Sarah Polley makes her directorial debut with Away from Her , a sophisticated adaptation of an Alice Munroe short story about a woman with Alzheimer’s. Sounds like a chick-flick for my grandma and her friends at the home but Polley’s got skills so I bet it’s well done, at least.

June brings us Hostel 2, another Slovakia torture-filled “Gore-no” (I just made that word up, it means ‘Like a porno but with gore instead of, or as well as, sex). I though the first one sucked but let’s see if director Eli Roth ( Cabin Fever) can give us better characters this time. Apparently there’s more chicks in this one.

Speaking of character, John McClane is back in Live Free or Die Hard , proving that watching Bruce Willis save the day just never gets old. The second Fantastic Four movie arrives June 15. Even Jessica Alba agrees Fantastic Four 2 is a stupid title so they call it Rise of the Silver Surfer instead. Don’t get your hopes up. What should be better though is Ocean’s 13 starring everyone cool in Hollywood and Directed by Steven Soderberg, who wants to make up for the last one. June’s best comedy is Knocked Up, Judd Apatow’s ( 40-year-old Virgin) R-rated laughfest starring Seth Rogen as the “oops” father-to-be.

We’re gonna have to finish this off next week but for anyone looking to get a jump on summer movies, the amazing Village 8 is screening Spider-Man 3 at midnight on Thursday, May 3. Get there early.

AT VILLAGE 8 May 4-10: Spiderman 3; Lucky You; Invisible; Hot Fuzz; Blades of Glory; Disturbia; Next.

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