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Summer is upon us, and along with the heat comes Hollywood's biggest and best enticements to escape it. Here we take a look at some likely blockbusters as well as a couple of smaller films making their way to theaters. WORLD has not screened all these films, so the list should not be taken as recommendations.
Land of the Lost
Rated PG-13 for crude humor and language; June 5 release
Professor of paleontology Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) has always been the laughingstock of his field. But when he and his research team are sucked into a space-time vortex that leaves them in a world populated with dinosaurs and strange creatures, he finally has proof that his theories have merit, if he can survive and find a way back home.
Though the Saturday morning television show may have been targeted at families, the buzz on Ferrell's big screen version is that it is definitely not for kids.
Rated PG-13 for crude humor and language; June 19 release
Directed by Harold Ramis, the filmmaker responsible for such comedy classics as Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and Caddyshack, the most intriguing aspect of what looks to be another silly slap-stick is its source material: the Old Testament. After prehistoric slackers Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) are banished from their village, they travel the ancient world meeting characters like Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Abraham.
Ramis, brought up Jewish and now a Buddhist, says he hopes the movie's humor will shed light on the dangers of religious extremism but that the film is not "an attack on religion." However, early reports suggest that Bible-believing Jews and Christians could find Ramis' treatment of Scripture offensive.
The Stoning of Soraya M.
Rated R for violence and brief strong language; June 26 release
Soraya M. was produced by the same team behind The Passion of the Christ and won the runner-up award for Audience's Choice at the Toronto film festival last fall. The film stars Passion alum James Caviezel as a French-Iranian journalist who stumbles upon the tragic story of Soraya, a woman in Iran whose father and brothers conspire with Islamic leaders to convict her of a sexual crime she didn't commit. The brutal stoning that gives the film its title brings the plight of women living under Islamic fundamentalism into high relief and will leave viewers considering its implications long after the credits roll.
Not rated; June 26 release
This documentary about an American Idol-style singing show in Afghanistan promises to take viewers into an unfamiliar culture via a familiar route, pop culture. While in the United States contestants risk humiliation at the hands of Simon Cowell, in Afghanistan contestants risk death at the hands of Islamic extremists. Yet still millions of fans vote to choose the country's next pop singer, suggesting that democracy may not be as difficult a concept for the Afghan people as some believe.
Rated R for gangster violence and language; July 1 release
Gangster films are a dime a dozen, but history buffs may take a special interest in this movie about the crimes and capture of John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) in the 1930s. Financial journalist Bryan Burrough, author of the book on which the film is based, has called it "by far the closest thing to fact Hollywood has ever attempted." The fact that the movie also reportedly focuses heavily on the struggles of the working class during the Depression may make it more relevant to today's audiences than the average shoot 'em up.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Rated PG for scary images and fantasy violence; July 15 release
The boy-wizard returns, and few won't know by now that this outing is likely to leave fans teary-eyed at the demise of a much-beloved character who sacrifices his life for those of his friends.