Summer review and preview … for the year 2000!

The submarine thriller “U-571” sailed into port just before the official start of the summer season. The Matthew McConaughey underwater vehicle had more than enough testosterone to push it over the $100 million mark – – officially classifying it as a blockbuster.

Russell Crowe has made his claim to enter the realm of box office heroes with Roman epic “Gladiator.” And, he has legitimately found a place in Hollywood as actor-maximus, helping “Gladiator” to battle its way toward $200 million. Other gladiators have battled in the Hollywood coliseum with mixed results. Like always there are winners, losers, and even more eagerly lying in wait for the lions.

Tom Cruise bounced back from last summer’s financial and critical failure “Eyes Wide Shut” in the sequel to the enormously successful “Mission Impossible.” “MI2” has met with explosive box office success, likely blasting its way well beyond $200 million.

While Cruise found success, John Travolta was not so lucky. Travolta, who appeared to be able to do no wrong, stunk up the summer with “Battlefield Earth.” Well, actually, he stunk up the late spring. “Battlefield” was supposed to be an early season blockbuster, but it faded before summer actually rolled around.

Mark Wahlberg and Geoorge Clooney, last seen together in last year’s “Three Kings,” have reunited in the watery world of “The Perfect Storm.” Newly released, “Storm” shows promise of making its way into the summer blockbuster club.

Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly have found their niche by disgusting viewers into laughing with previous films such as “Kingpin,” “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary.” And, now, the brothers Farrelly have teamed up again with “Dumb” co-star Jim Carey for “Me, Myself and Irene.” Carey’s not looking for an Oscar-nod from “Irene.” Instead, he is after the laughs and probably another smash at the box office.

But still there is more to come.

“The Patriot,” starring Mel Gibson. “Patriot” brings together a group of filmmakers whose previous success have been found with movies about freedom fighting. Screenwriter Robert Rodat penned the battlefield Oscar winner “Saving Private Ryan.” Director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin were the forces behind “Independence Day.” And, of course, Gibson fought to the death for freedom as William Wallace in “Braveheart.” Together, the group has found themselves telling the story of “The Patriot” with a Revolutionary War backdrop.

“The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” has been a long awaited release … however, it has officially been declared a summer stinker. The live action-cartoon combo brings together Robert De Niro, Jason Alexander and Rene Russo. The Rocky and Bullwinkle characters will be animated, while the sets and costars are the real thing. The voice of Rocky is revisited by June Foray, who provided the flying squirrel’s voice in the original series. De Niro, Alexander, and Russo play the notorious villains.

One of the most highly anticipated films of the summer just recently opened to instant success. With Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Ray Park starring as four of the “X-Men,” the superhero slugfest has high-flying expectations from its audience. “X-Men,” the comic book, is one of the most successful comics in Marvel’s history. The movie already has a built-in audience, dedicated to the subhuman, mutant superheroes. Making its $75 million production budget back was almost a guarantee. The pressure for “X-men’s” success rests on the shoulder of a normal man, Director Brian Singer (“The Usual Suspects.”) Twentieth Century Fox is banking on Singer’s superheroes to launch a franchise.

Eddie Murphy found, what some called, comeback-success with “The Nutty Professor.” In July, Murphy will play a cast of characters in “The Klumps,” the sequel to “Professor.” Murphy will recreate his role as Sherman Klump as well as other members of the family Klump. Murphy is traditionally at his best when he iss playing a variety of characters. The funniest scenes in “The Nutty Professor” were those involving the Klump family. Klump’s alter ego, Buddy Love, is also in this story. Love sets out to spoil Klump’s marriage plans. Murphy is playing six different members of the Klump family. The film’s $65 million dollar budget was mostly spent on special effects and making sure all of Murphy’s characters are seen on screen … in one big clump.

The H.G. Wells novel “The Invisible Man” was the inspiration for Paul Verhoeven’s most recent project, “The Hollow Man,” starring Kevin Bacon and Elisabeth Shue. Director Verhoeven, most known for his filmmaking excess with such as “Robocop,” “Basic Instinct,” “Showgirls” and, most recently, “Starship Troopers,” returns the realm of sci-fi thrillers. The initial trailers for “Hollow Man” are interesting. Bacon and Shue are generally appealing as actors. And, Verhoeven, even at his worst, is always entertaining.

While Will Smith may no longer be considered the king of July 4, he is still a very bankable star. Put him in a film directed by Robert Redford, with actors like Matt Damon and Charlize Theron, and there could be a blockbuster brewing. The August release “The Legend of Bagger Vance” is about a mysterious golf caddie named Bagger Vance (Smith). Vance helps a World War I hero (Damon) mystically challenge two pro golfers.

It has been about thirty years since John Waters shocked and disgusted filmgoers with “Pink Flamingos.” Nevertheless, Waters has continued making films, continued rebelling against Hollywood and continued to display his own personal dementia. In the upcoming “Cecil B. Demented,” Waters is promising his craziest film in years. “Demented” has a staggering budget (at least for a Waters’ film) of $10 million. It is reportedly a pseudo-action movie starring Stephen Dorff as a terrorist and Melanie Griffith as a Hollywood starlet. Dorff takes Griffith hostage, forcing her to act in an underground film. And the reason – – to punish the public for not attending an artsy film festival.

Also upcoming is the Keanu Reeves, John Favreau and Gene Hackman football flick, “The Replacements.” It looks to have a taste of “Necessary Roughness,” as a rag-tag band of scab players take over during a players strike. It should at least be better than last 1999’s visually tough to watch “Any Given Sunday.”

August will also unveil another take on Godzilla. However, the latest, “Godzilla 2000” is not a sequel to the 1998 disappointment. Instead, it is number 23 in the Japanese-made series.-BB