BY BERT EHRMANN
Last week, I looked over my wall calendar featuring
all the celestial wonders of the night sky (I bet you do this too)
and realized that we’re just FIVE short months away from the next
summer movie season. I became so excited that I began to hyperventilate
and passed out hitting my head on an old chiffarobe that my friend
Tom Robinson was going to come over to break up for firewood. (At
least that’s the way I remember it.) There are only around 150 days
for Dangerous Universe to prepare for the onslaught of the mindless
summer movies. That’s just barely enough time!
So, what can you look forward to seeing next year? Let’s see…
In early May 2005 both The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven open in theaters. Hitchhikers Guide, covered in a previous issue of The Fort Wayne Reader, follows Englishman Arthur Dent in his travels throughout the galaxy after the Earth is demolished to make way for an interstellar bypass. (Hey, it’s a comedy after all.)
Kingdom of Heaven deals with a young man, played by Orlando Bloom, defending Jerusalem during the Crusades. (I am unclear as to which side Bloom is on.) What’s interesting about this movie is that it’s been in development at one studio or another over the past decade. Kingdom of Heaven was originally titled simply Crusade and was set to star Arnold Schwarzenegger for most of that time. Excuse me, Governor Schwarzenegger.
I’ve been fan of Ridley’s for some time now even though I’m not necessarily a fan of all his movies. Whereas I could watch Alien or Matchstick Men over and over again, don’t get me started on what I think about Blade Runner or Gladiator. (Rhymes with “dad”.)
Later in May, the epic Star Wars: Episode III The Revenge of the Sith opens. (Could these titles be a bit longer, please?) In Episode III, we get to see the birth of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and his twin sister Leah, the fall of the republic and the banishment of both Yoda and Obi-Wan to the far corners of the galaxy.
Fans everywhere pray that this last movie in the epic six-movie Star Wars arch washes away the memories of Jar Jar Binks from Episode I and the love story between Anakin and Amidala in Episode II. But, then again, can anything wash away lines like, “Yipe. How wude!”?
The first trailer for Episode III hit theaters in early November and I must say that the footage within looked quite stunning. Though, as my friend Alex Faurote pointed out just after the trailer was released, “This is like dating a girl, being cheated on, giving her another chance, having her cheat on you again, then seeing her at a party and thinking, "You know, she is pretty hot and she has her moments where she's really fun to hang out with."
Ever since X-Men reinvigorated the superhero movie genre in 2000 (meaning it broke box offices records a raked in a lot of dough), companies everywhere have been looking to cash in on its success. Most of these attempts — Daredevil, The Punisher and Catwoman to name a few — have been utter failures. Looking to buck this trend are two movies coming out next summer.
The first out of the block in mid June is Batman Begins starring Christian Bale, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. Looking to “reboot” the franchise from the ground up, the plot of Batman Begins reportedly takes much from the Batman: Year One comic book. The Batman: Year One series features a young Bruce Wayne seeing his parent’s murder, growing into adulthood and deciding that the best way to fight crime is to don the elastic suit with bat ears and crack some skulls.
In Batman: Year One, Bruce isn’t yet the professional crime fighter of the previous three movies (I feel dirty for even suggesting the George Clooney version of Batman was professional) and takes his lumps when he gets into fights, which are over his head.
Later in July, another comic book franchise The Fantastic Four opens hoping to rake it in big at the box office. In The Fantastic Four, four astronauts Reed and Sue Richards, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm — are blasted with cosmic rays on a mission into space granting them superhuman powers. Reed can stretch his body to unimaginable lengths (that somehow sounds dirty), Sue can turn herself invisible, Ben is transformed into a giant, hulking rock covered “thing”, while Johnny has the ability to ignite his body into a flaming human torch.
Instead of using their powers for evil (the minute I get superpowers I’m definitely turning evil), the four decide to use them for good defending the world from the likes of the evil disfigured armored-suit wearing Dr. Doom.
In early 2001 there were plans to shoot a big screen version of The War of the Worlds, which would have been a summer, 2002 movie. These plans were eventually scraped altogether when the future of the disaster movie genre was called into question after the events surrounding 9/11. Flash forward three years to the present where disaster movies once again in vogue with last summer’s The Day After Tomorrow doing decent enough business in movie theaters.
Apparently, The War of the Worlds is so hot that is has sparked competing movies of the same name.
The first The War of the Worlds is an independent production, taking place in the late 1800’s England closely following the plot behind the book. Little else is known about this version of the story.
The second version of The War of the Worlds is being directed by Steven Spielberg initially set to open in 2007 but rushed into production to meet a 2004 release. Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins and Miranda Otto are set to star in a modern day retelling of the story set in present day America. (And I thought the movie Independence Day (1996) was a modern retelling of The War of the Worlds. Hmmmm.)
One guess as to which version will show up at theaters in our area.