Preview Approved: 50 Cent’s Righteous Kill, Andre 3000 Goes Semi-Pro

Movie buffs and fanboys are always bemoaning the state of modern American films. Not me. I like to focus on the positive, and I await the summer blockbuster season with baited breath.

The crop of summer blockbusters we have this year is looking very strong, Especially for fans of superhero comics. Iron Man starring Robert Downey, Jr. will be the sleeper of the bunch. It will surprise a lot of people in terms of both overall quality and box office performance.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be the highest grosser of the group. The Dark Knight will be that “ultimate” Batman film that many of us fans have been waiting for.

Until such time, the coming months will provide enough high profile projects to keep us satiated - everything from crime dramas to slapstick comedies to independent films. Here are a few that I think you should keep your eye on, especially if you enjoy seeing Hip-Hop stars doing their thing in Hollywood:

Righteous Kill

Al Pacino and Robert Deniro (in their first onscreen pairing since 1995's Heat) star as New York City Police detectives on the trial of a serial killer who leaves poems at the scene of his crimes. 50 Cent co-stars as a drug dealer named Spider.

So far, audiences and critics have been less than thrilled with Mr. Jackson’s acting abilities, as both Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005) and Home of the Brave (2006) received less than stellar reviews and underperformed at the box office. Here’s hoping that Righteous Kill can break those trends and put Mr. Jackson’s acting career on the right track.

This will be the second time in history that Deniro and Pacino will co-star together, and Righteous Kill will have them share much more screen time together than they did in Heat.

Righteous Kill will be released April 18, and also features New Kid On The Block turned formidable actor Donnie Wahlberg. It is directed by Jon Avnet and written by Russell Gerwitz, who also wrote Inside Man for Spike Lee.Righteous Kill Movie Trailer


Semi-Pro is the latest Will Ferrell comedy, set in 1976. Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon, owner of the Flint Michigan Tropics. The Tropics have the distinction of being the worst team in the American Basketball Association. When the ABA announces plans to merge with the NBA, The Tropics are forced to get their act together.

Andre 3000 stars as Tropics player "Clarence Coffee Black". So far I've enjoyed Andre in just about everything I've seen him in. He has an easy, unforced charisma that comes through in his performances. One never gets the sense that he is trying too hard - he sort of just inhabits his characters with seemingly little effort. An all-out slapstick comedy like this should be a good fit for him.

Semi-Pro also features Woody Harrelson and is directed by Kent Alterman, who has Executive Produced films like Elf, Mr. Woodcock, A History Of Violence and Balls Of Fury. It will be released on February 29.Semi-Pro Movie Trailer

What Happens in Vegas

After a wild night partying in Las Vegas, two strangers (Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz) discover they've gotten married. When they realize that one of them won the jackpot the night before (after playing the other one’s quarter), they both quickly try get their hands on the money. Of course, they end up falling in love along the way.

Queen Latifah plays a character named Avette Stowers. Latifah has sort of become Hollywood's “go to” actress when it comes to these types of family-friendly romantic comedies, but it’s working well for her. It will be released on May 16.What Happens In Vegas Movie Trailer

The Deal

Veteran actor William H. Macy (who also wrote the screenplay) stars as a film producer who agrees to finance a movie about English statesman Benjamin Disreali that was written by his nephew. The production finds itself in jeopardy when the lead actor is kidnapped from the set. The producer then sets out to save both the star and the film.

LL Cool J also appears in the film, as does Jason Ritter (son of deceased actor John Ritter of Three's Company fame) and actress Meg Ryan.

The Deal was shown on January 22 at the Sundance Film Festival. It will be released in the Netherlands on April 24, but there is no information on an American release date as of yet.