Fast-Paised summer movie preview

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In case you forgot, last summer's movies stunk. "The Da Vinci Code." "X-Men: The Last Stand." "Nacho Libre." "The Break-Up." "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." See anything you loved?

Don't worry. This summer is practically guaranteed to blow the roof off the summer of 2006, with several "highly anticipated" flicks that we're actually anticipating highly. There are an insane amount of part-three sequels--including "Spiderman 3," "Shrek the Third," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Ocean's Thirteen," "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Rush Hour 3"--plus new installments of "Harry Potter," "Die Hard" and "Fantastic Four." But this summer also finally brings the release of fun-filled stuff like "The Simpsons Movie" and "Transformers."

Here's a look at the laughs, the explosions and, yes, the sequels that we're eager to see this summer.

MAY
4: "Spider-Man 3"
This could be the last web spun by Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and director Sam Raimi. Let's hope part three -- featuring a trio of villains played by James Franco (Goblin), Topher Grace (Venom) and Thomas Haden Church (Sandman) -- is as awesome as "Spider-Man 2."

11: "28 Weeks Later"
"28 Days Later" is one of the few legitimately scary horror movies of the decade. Even though Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting") isn't directing the follow-up, we can't wait to see more havoc from the zombies.

11: "Georgia Rule"
Lindsay Lohan is a rebellious teen, Felicity Huffman is her fed-up mom and Jane Fonda is the grandma with the task of whipping the young girl into shape. This is the movie Lohan was filming when she was hospitalized for "exhaustion." Tabloid issues aside, it will be good to have a reminder that she's a working actress, not just a walking headline.

18: "Shrek the Third"
More of our favorite ogre, including a possible new heir to the land of Far, Far Away who's voiced by Justin Timberlake. That means Timberlake and his ex Cameron Diaz (voicing Princess Fiona) are in a movie together. Sweet.

25: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
Jack Sparrow's (Johnny Depp) hiney is on the line, so Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) team up with former foe Captain Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush). Hopefully this buckles our swashes better than the confusing "Dead Man's Chest." One thing sure will: the appearance of Keith Richards--Depp's reported inspiration for Sparrow's mannerisms--as Jack Sparrow's dad.

JUNE
1: "Knocked Up"
Oops: Seth Rogen ("The 40-Year-Old-Virgin") gets Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy") pregnant during a one-night stand. We predict the team behind "Virgin" makes this one of summer's biggest hits. At least, for a non-sequel.

8: "Ocean's Thirteen"
A casino owner (Al Pacino) double-crosses one of the gang, so Danny Ocean (George Clooney) rounds up the crew for another heist. Looks snazzeriffic!
• Video: Watch our red carpet coverage with George Clooney!

8: "Hostel: Part II"
The fleshy poster for this sequel is nasty, but "Hostel" actually delivered a decent story and some cultural commentary on American tourists' objectification of foreign women along with its squirm-inducing scares. Can writer-director Eli Roth do it again with the same plot, different gender? (This time it's a trio of American gals lured into a terrifying and violent hostel.)

15: "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer"
OK, so the first "Fantastic Four" wasn't so hot, but this one was written by Don Payne ("My Super Ex-Girlfriend"), who clearly knows how to have fun with superpowers. If nothing else, it's another opportunity to see Jessica Alba and Chris Evans in tight clothing.

22: "Evan Almighty"
Steve Carell's star power rises in this spin-off of his character from "Bruce Almighty." Right now, we would watch this guy in anything.

22: "A Mighty Heart"
For anyone looking for a summer flick with a bit more substance: This flick stars Angelina Jolie as the widow of journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and slain in Pakistan.

27: "Live Free or Die Hard"
Does the world need another "Die Hard" movie? Of course not. Do we want to see Bruce Willis take on Fourth of July terrorists? Hell yes!

JULY
3: "Transformers"
Director Michael Bay ("Bad Boys II") adapts the classic cartoon. Judging from the trailer, this is going to be HUGE.

11: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
The last Potter movie ("Goblet of Fire") was the best of the series so far. Could "Phoenix" take its place?

20: "Hairspray"
The Tony-winning musical hits the big screen again (John Waters made the 1988 flick), starring John Travolta as the mother of a girl who tries to racially integrate a local TV dance program.

20: "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry"
Straight firefighters Adam Sandler and Kevin James want domestic partner benefits, but they're single. The solution? Pretend to be gay! Hopefully this is funnier than it sounds.

27: "The Simpsons Movie"
If you don't know who Homer Simpson is, you've been hiding under that rock for too long. We've been waiting for this film for years.

AUGUST
3: "The Bourne Ultimatum"
More fast-moving, CGI-free action with Matt Damon's badass, amnesiac spy who still trying to sort out his past.

10: "Rush Hour 3"
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker are at it again, this time taking on a Chinese crime family. Are we in a rush to see this? Not really, but it's light-hearted action for anyone who finds "Bourne" too serious.

31: "Halloween"
Get ready to be scared a few months early this year as director Rob Zombie remakes the fright flick that started it all. At least they didn't call it "Halloween 9."

Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.

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