This is the season of big action films, bigger sequels, and just maybe one of Hollywood's biggest summertime gambles ever.
Photos: Summer Movies
The reasons, says Newsweek film critic David Ansen, are both the cost of the sequels — "Spider-Man 3" is reportedly clocking in at more than $300 million — and the fact that so many big films are being released so close together.
"It has the potential to be one of the most successful summers that Hollywood has ever had, Ansen told CBS News correspondent Jerry Bowen
. "And it has the potential to be one of the most disastrous. It's a big role of the dice. If one or two of these huge sequels fails, they're gonna be sweating bullets."
"Spider-Man 3" kicked off the summer season this weekend with soaring expectations after the first two superhero epics each grossed $800 million worldwide.
Photos: "Spidey" In U.K.
"It works," Ansen said. "I had a good time with 'Spider-Man.' But it's kind of all-over-the-place. The special effects are wonderful. The Sandman is terrific. You haven't seen anything quite like it."
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" is also rumored to cost $300 million. The last "Pirates" took in a swashbuckling $1 billion in global ticket sales and it was critically panned. So what of No. 3?
Photos: Pirates Take On London
Photos: Tokyo Jack
Photos: Here's Johnny!
Photos: Keira Knightley
"I can only hope it's better than the second," Ansen said. "For me Johnny Depp is the attraction. He's absolutely delightful in the part. And everything else is kind of ho-hum as far as I'm concerned."
Matt Damon returns as amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Ultimatum."
Photos: Damon Diary
"Live Free or Die Hard" is another trip down memory lane, with Bruce Willis back as tough cop John McClaine.
Photos: A Star for Bruce Willis
And George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the gang are back, even though the first sequel to "Ocean's 11" was a critical disaster.
Photos: George Clooney
Photos: Brad Pitt
"'Ocean's Thirteen,' I am actually kind of looking forward to, based on the first one," Ansen said. "I get the impression that they're trying to make amends for the second one."
There's a new film of that wizard-in-training, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." The first four films brought in $3.5 billion and the final book comes out a week after film No. 5 debuts. There is also a new "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer", based on Marvel's comic book characters.
Photos: "Harry, Carrie And Garp"
"It's the sequel I'm least excited about," Ansen said. "I'm kind of surprised that they even bothered to make it."
"Transformers" is based on the children's toy, which is now a gigantic menace to world survival.
"Rescue Dawn" is based on the true story of a prisoner of war shot down over Laos.
"It's quite exciting," Ansen said. "It's an incredible sort of escape story. It's a very strong movie. I do recommend it."
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