BOP 25 of the Holiday: Selections 5-1
5. Blade: Trinity
After 1998's Blade kicked a lot of butt, much was expected from Blade II. With a bigger budget and a critically acclaimed director at the helm, Blade II was ready to rip the box office to shreds. And it did…for a while. Blade II ultimately was a disappointing experience; a paper-thin plot and below average special effects helped the film limp to a domestic box office total of just under $82 million. Factoring in DVD sales, the film's modest $60 million budget was justified, but fans were left disappointed. Knowing that, New Line tapped David Goyer, writer of both Blade films, to direct Blade: Trinity, the third and likely final chapter in the Blade franchise. This time around, star Wesley Snipes is surrounded by some better-known talent than in Blade II. Along for the ride are Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds, both known for previous television roles, as fellow vampire hunters. Biel is the daughter of Blade's sidekick, Whistler. Reynolds is a former vampire.
The twosome join Blade in a hunt after the mother of all vampire hives when said hive puts Blade in the world's crosshairs. Trinity looks like it's much of the same and while Blade II disappointed, it is a movie that holds up quite well upon repeat viewings. The action looks just as visceral as ever and the new cast gives the film added sex appeal. Blade: Trinity should be one of the bigger hits of the action-deprived holiday season.
4. Finding Neverland
Johnny Depp had a year for the ages in 2003. The talented, mercurial actor took another daring risk with his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, and it paid off in spades. He once more became an overnight sensation (the first time being with 21 Jump Street), and established himself as an A-List star.
What he did not do, however, was win the elusive Best Actor title at the Academy Awards. In several recent years, he would have been a lock, but in 2003, he might have finished no better than third. And that's okay. After all, the flamboyant role might be the most recognizable of his career, but the mercurial actor has offered better performances before. At heart an indie thespian, it's more appropriate for Depp to win for a signature role.
Enter Finding Neverland.
This role is a perfect predecessor to his upcoming portrayal of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He portrays legendary playwright J.M. Barrie, the man who created Peter Pan. The film tells the story of the Davies children, and the way that Barrie befriends them. Over time, he extrapolates their lives into the fictional tale of a pirate, some kids, and a boy who refuses to age. The impeccable casting affords Depp the chance to offer the tour de force performance of his still-young career and BOP can't wait to see it. After all, we've been with him since 21 Jump Street (and we are no longer ashamed to admit it).
3. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
BOP loves Wes Anderson. For proof, you need look no further than the fact that his first two films, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, placed highly on our list of Most Underappreciated Films; even more impressively, his masterpiece The Royal Tenenbaums was our Calvin Award winner for Best Picture back in 2001. So really, it should come as no surprise that we can't wait to see the director's latest film, a quirky story about a Jacques Cousteau-esque ocean explorer and his rag-tag band of researchers. The film has a truly stellar cast, including Bill Murray (last year's Calvin Award winner for Best Actor), Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Cate Blanchett, Angelica Huston and Jeff Goldblum. Complementing everything is some marvelous underwater animation from A Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick. The trailer for the film has given every indication that Anderson has paid as much attention to the details in The Life Aquatic that he has devoted to all of his work previously. And there's just something about hearing David Bowie's music set to a calypso beat, isn't there?
2. Ocean's Twelve
Were there a vote taken of films from this decade that are instant classics, Ocean's Eleven might win. While there have been more critically lauded releases, few releases from the 2000s offer the combination of pedigree and populist appeal that the star-filled Soderbergh remake offered. Such popularity raises the stake significantly for the second movie. Fortunately, there is plenty of evidence to support the fact that Danny Ocean's crew is more than up to the challenge. After all, there are three times as many heists to plan and implement. And if that isn't enough, Catherine Zeta-Jones has been brought onboard to further enhance the throwback Hollywood glamor vibe of the production. Ocean's Eleven proved that big stars with massive egos can play friendly with others. Ocean's Twelve looks to prove that this is a bankable franchise rather than an isolated exception.
1. The Incredibles
When it comes to animation, we here at BOP fall on Pixar's side of the fence. Sure, DreamWorks has a talent for making us laugh at the broad-sweeping, farcical humor employed in Shrek, but Pixar is always more refined, more clever, more subtle and somehow bigger in scope. We're extra excited for The Incredibles, though, because the film is directed by Brad Bird, the man who brought us The Iron Giant. The animation in the film looks fluid and suited perfectly to the genre Pixar is hoping to emulate and spoof. By their very nature, superheroes tend toward the ridiculous, and it's fantastic to see that this aspect of the characters and their back stories is being embraced. Possibly the biggest trump card for the film is that so far, both in commercials and previews, they've mostly kept the villain in the background. Glimpses they've shown evince images of Heat Miser, one of the great bad guys of all time, so we can't wait to see the direction Pixar has taken with this colorful, effervescent family film.
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