CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Hallmark Channel is gearing up for its biggest summer to date as the network has announced a half-dozen new original movies and mini-series to premiere during the period.
Here's a breakdown of each project, with descriptions taken from Hallmark's press materials:
KING SOLOMON'S MINES (Sunday, June 6 at 8:00/7:00c) - No one knew if the fabled tomb existed. Those who have searched for it never returned. It�s been said that whoever finds it will become the richest soul on the face of the earth� some say, the most cursed. Now, one brave man has been hired to find out what is true, what is myth, and what is really buried in the darkness of King Solomon�s Mines.
Renowned safari hunter Allan Quatermain (Golden Globe nominee Patrick Swayze, "Ghost") has given up the life of an adventurer, vowing to leave the natural splendor of Africa to its own people�and leave its destruction to the likes of his mercenary former partner, Bruce McNabb (Gavin Hood, "American Kickboxer"). But Quatermain can�t live on his principles alone. His acceptance of a handsome offer from beautiful Elizabeth Anderson (Alison Doody, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade") and her friend Captain Good (Roy Marsden, "Vanity Fair"), promises to be an expedition of another sort�find the desperate woman�s missing father who disappeared in Africa while searching for the infamous King Solomon�s Mines. Quatermain knows the legend well, and he knows that no living soul who dared to seek out the world�s greatest treasure, ever returned alive. But for him and his game comrade of the jungle, Sir Henry (Ian Roberts, "The Power of One"), no challenge is too great or too dangerous.
In possession of an invaluable map, and led by Umbopa (Sidede Onyulo, "Nowhere in Africa"), a regal and equally invaluable native with his own secret agenda, these five brave fortune hunters embark on their rescue mission. But news of the expedition has reached McNabb, who prepares for his own journey into the heart of darkness�to clandestinely follow the explorers to the ends of the continent, secure the riches for himself, and kill whomever stands in his way, including Quatermain, the target of his vengeance. Now, into the Sahara�s treacherous Veil of Sand, across the unknown reaches of the mysterious Sitandra�s Kraal, through the sacrificial rituals of a fearsome native God, the adventure of a lifetime begins. Where it ends could be the most savage trap of all�the forbidden, impenetrable, and inescapable King Solomon�s Mines.
With thundering action, magnificent special effects, and breathtaking scenery, H. Rider Haggard�s timeless classic of adventure gets a totally spectacular, unrivaled treatment from Hallmark Entertainment.
LA FEMME MUSKETEER (Sunday, June 20 at 8:00/7:00c) - The year is 1660. Loyalties among the people of France are divided between church and state, Cardinal and King�each of whom employs a private army. The Cardinal (Golden Globe winner G�rard Depardieu, "Cyrano de Bergerac") has his guards. The King (Freddie Sayers, "Diana") boasts his Musketeers. But there is one Musketeer who stands apart from the rest. She has her mother�s stunning looks�and her father�s legendary sword.
She excels in the art of dance to appease her mother, but Valentine D�Artagnan (Susie Amy, "Sirens") wields her true skills in other ways. Her father is Jaques D�Artagnan (Emmy nominee Michael York, "Austin Powers"), the most famous Musketeer in all of France, and he has taught his daughter well. With a gift of his extraordinary sword and a letter of introduction to Commander Pinot (Roy Dotrice, "Amadeus") of the Musketeers, D�Artagnan sends Valentine to Paris to fulfill her dreams. However, there has never been a woman appointed to the rank of a swordsman, let alone a Musketeer to King Louis XIV. To prove her mettle, Valentine joins forces with the three able sons of the elder Musketeers who rode with her father.
No sooner does Valentine let her hair down than the new Musketeers are handpicked for a special task. Bandits have commandeered a coach and kidnapped the bride-to-be of King Louis XIV, but the Musketeers soon discover that there is more at stake than the safety of the princess. A purloined letter that could destroy the King�s reputation has become a tool in a blackmail plot concocted by the seductive and deadly Lady Bolton (Golden Globe winner Nastassja Kinski, "Tess"). The wicked Lady has another surprise as well�Valentine has been framed for murder and imprisoned. Once again, it�s all for one and one for all as a mission to save the princess becomes a matter of life and death for the four young Musketeers.
It�s a spectacular new twist to the classic adventure. Set against a colorful backdrop of rich historical detail and nefarious court intrigue, with an award-winning international cast, La Femme Musketeer gives swashbuckling a spectacular, seductive, and utterly thrilling makeover.
HOPE ROSE (Sunday, July 4 at 9:00/8:00c) - A detailed description was not available.
THE HOLLYWOOD MOM'S MYSTERY (Sunday, August 22 at 7:00/6:00c) - A detailed description was not available.
MURDER WITHOUT CONVICTION (Sunday, August 22, 9:00/8:00c) - �MATRICIDE! 24-YEAR-OLD TWINS SLAY MOTHER!� Condemned by the headlines, prodigious savants James and Edward Talley were confined to separate institutions for the remainder of their lives. Together, they had been incalculably brilliant. Alone, they retreated into dark silence. Thirty years later, one woman is braving the darkness to discover what really happened that cold-blooded night.
Released from her vows of fifteen years, former nun Christine Bennett (Megan Ward, "Melrose Place") has left one cloistered world of the convent for a new one, moving into the suburban home of her late aunt. The neighborhood is also the site of Greenwillow, a care facility for developmentally challenged adults such as her cousin Gene (Matt Lutz, "Bringing Down the House"). But Greenwillow�s newest resident is causing a public outcry. James Talley�s alleged murderous past has branded him a madman�and a risk to the community. The compassionate Christine is stunned to learn that James and his brother Edward (David Proval, "The Sopranos"), institutionalized thousands of miles away, were never officially charged with the crime. Those destructive accusations are now jeopardizing the future of Greenwillow and the safe haven it provides for Gene, James, and other innocents. But if the Talleys didn't kill their mother forty years ago, who did? Christine vows to find out.
Even with the help of Jack Brooks (Morgan Weisser, "Space: Above and Beyond"), a handsome sympathetic detective, Christine�s investigation is yielding more questions than she ever anticipated�What became of the Talley�s maid? What turned the family housekeeper into a bitter recluse? Who is the suspicious visitor at Greenwillow? Whatever happened to the twins� father who disappeared decades ago? Who is the phantom stalker who threatens Christine�s every move? For the persevering amateur sleuth�a woman on the road to discovering her independence�there�s only one way to find out the answers. She must finally reunite the Talley brothers and take them back to the thirty-year-old nightmare that haunts them. But dangerous sense-memory games reveal more than anyone is prepared for�including the shocking identity of a killer who will strike again to keep the secrets of the past buried forever.
To solve a crime all it takes �is a leap of faith,� says Christine Bennett, a unique and exciting addition to the ranks of inventive amateur sleuths. Co-starring Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe-winning actress Patty Duke ("The Miracle Worker") and based on the first of Lee Harris�s Edgar nominated series of novels, Unholy Ghosts is absorbing, thrilling, and unpredictable entertainment that could easily become a habit.
FRANKENSTEIN (Monday-Tuesday, August 30-31 at 9:00/8:00c) - What happens when man violates the laws of God and science? For Captain Walton (Emmy and Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland, "The Italian Job") and the crew of a weather-beaten ship stranded in the icy sea, the answer follows their rescue of a scientist close to death, frozen in fear, and insane with dire warnings. Victor Frankenstein (Alec Newman, "Frank Herbert�s Children of Dune") has a story to tell�a story as chillingly real as the tortured howls emanating from the Arctic fog and as timeless as the need to be loved.
It begins with Frankenstein�s career as a young scientist possessed of a dark and obsessive thirst for knowledge. Against the wishes of his father, he strives to divine the mysteries of life and death. Pledging his love to his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth (Nicole Lewis), he leaves for a university in Ingolstadt, Germany where, under the auspices of Professor Waldman (Oscar winner William Hurt, "Kiss of the Spider Woman"), Frankenstein vows to unlock nature�s secrets. In his private laboratory, he has the tools he needs: severed limbs and torsos stolen from a morgue. Piece by piece, his experiment begins. Stitched together like a lumbering doll, and jolted to life by a powerful bolt of electricity, his magnificent creation is shocked to life. Even more frightened than his human creator, the fledgling being disappears into the night, helpless, abhorred, and vulnerable�
Yet this new creature (Luke Goss, "Blade II") proves even more fallibly human than Frankenstein. He is not only imbued with knowledge and wisdom, but a conscience as well�and a longing to be accepted for something other than the deviant he is. Rejected by his �father� and shunned by society, he vows revenge by stealing all that Frankenstein all holds most dear. Victim by victim, fueled by painful rage, he closes in on his prey� Frankenstein�s beloved Elizabeth. But the wounded creature has another, even more devious plan�to lure Frankenstein into the bitter wilderness in an effort to understand the nature of his father�s hideous deeds and the reason for his own despairing crimes as well. Unable to inspire love, he can now only inspire terror. And he will, as Frankenstein meets his appointment with destiny.
Mary Shelley�s immortal novel truly comes to life for the first time in the most elaborate, tragic, and chillingly faithful version of her classic macabre tale. Filmed on location in Slovakia and directed by miniseries veteran Kevin Connor ("In the Beginning"), Hallmark Entertainment�s spectacularly ambitious Frankenstein will rouse audiences with something far more profound than fear.