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Hope springs infernal

Brimstone and buddy movies are on the Hollywood agenda
By PETER KEOUGH  |  March 16, 2009

VIDEO: The trailer for Terminator Salvation

Given the current economic climate, spring this year is a season more of dread than of hope for change. The coming film releases reflect that mood with a dark mix of disaster, horror flicks, alien-invasion fantasies, and paranoid conspiracy thrillers. On the bright side, we're getting buddy movies and another comedy about security guards. But even the kids' movies are dwelling on the pending Apocalypse.

First, there's the escapism of theme-park rides. Superbad director Greg Mottola's ADVENTURELAND (March 27) takes place at an amusement park where a college grad played by Jesse Eisenberg works in the summer of 1987. That, you might remember, was just before the Black Friday crash in October of that year. So escapism is not what it used to be. There's still no place like home, of course. But chances are if your home hasn't been foreclosed on, it's occupied by spooks, as in Peter Cornwell's THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT (March 27), a "true" story about the doubtful wisdom of moving into a former mortuary.

How about an animated children's movie to offer some refuge from real-life stress? Nope — Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon's animated MONSTERS VS. ALIENS (March 27) follows the doomsday lead of Wall•E with its dystopic tale of earthly monsters battling extra-terrestrial invaders. Seth Rogen, Reese Witherspoon, and Paul Rudd provide the voices.

More aliens inhabit the movies due for April 3 release. R.W. Goodwin's ALIEN TRESPASS sets the title event in a desert town in 1957. Cary Fukunaga's SIN NOMBRE tells the story of an illegal alien who tries to emigrate to the US.

Meanwhile, what's happened to Homeland Security? Check out OBSERVE AND REPORT (April 10), Jody Hill's Mall Cop–ish comedy starring Seth Rogen and Anna Faris. The media help out in Kevin MacDonald's STATE OF PLAY (April 17), in which journalists assist in solving a political murder; Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams star.

In case you'd forgotten what the stakes are, we have EARTH (April 22), Alastair Fothergill & Mark Linfield's adaptation of the TV show about the title planet. And of course Beyoncé, who stars in OBSESSED (April 24), Steve Shill's fatally attractive thriller, where she's the wife of a businessman (Idris Elba) stalked by an office temp (Ali Larter).

In May, things get darker still. In X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (May 1), Hugh Jackman plays a mutant who must uncover his past. In STAR TREK (May 8), director J.J. Abrams and cast members Eric Bana and Winona Ryder must uncover the past of the TV series and movie franchise. And in Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's ANGELS AND DEMONS (May 15), Tom Hanks's Harvard prof must uncover the secrets of the past — this time in order to save, not subvert, the Vatican.

Is there any salvation? Well, there's McG's TERMINATOR SALVATION (May 21), in which we find out what really made Christian Bale angry. We also get a couple of novel solutions to the housing crisis. In Sam Raimi's DRAG ME TO HELL (May 29), a loan officer suffers the title fate after evicting an old woman; Alison Lohman and Justin Long star. And in Pete Docter & Bob Peterson's animated UP (May 29), an old coot flies away by attaching helium balloons to his house. Ed Asner and Delroy Lindo lend their voices.

Otherwise, things are looking down.

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