BOP 25 of Summer 2005: 5-1

By BOP Staff

April 29, 2005

You tell that Christian Bale to keep his hands off Katie Holmes! 5. War of the Worlds

This H.G. Wells story was the largest scale perpetration of fraud in the 20th century. The sheer number of grass roots transmissions incited a panic of epic levels before innocent bystanders came to realize the tale of martian invasion was a hoax. An argument could be made that War of the Worlds was one of the purest early examples of how developing technology could be utilized to engross a nation. In the 70 years since then, the legend of this radio-centric sham has reached a level of ubiquity rivaling any story from the era.

Now, it receives a long-deserved updated theatrical adaptation with Steven Spielberg directing Tom Cruise. The pair found tremendous prior success with Minority Report, a well-received critical hit, albeit not a huge box office performer by either man's standards. Preternaturally creepy Dakota Fanning is also onboard, a casting masterstroke if she is playing an alien spy. As far as pedigrees go, this project has the finest one of any on the summer schedule.

Anybody who has seen the trailer should be every bit as hot for it as we are. "Get in, Ray, or you are going to die." This statement punctuates the heightened drama of a planet suddenly discovering its either under attack or has been scheduled for demolition by the universal trans-highway commission. Either way, we're there.
Call me and talk dirty to me. I swear Jenny will never know. 4. Mr. and Mrs. Smith

In between sweaty sessions of hot lovin’, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie somehow managed to shoot a movie last summer. The film, the latest project from director Doug Liman, involves the charming but unlikely story of a couple of wetworks specialists in love. The catch is that Mr. and Mrs. Hitman (Smith to their friends) have no idea of the professional vocation of their mate. That circumstance changes when each of them receives the improbable assignment of whacking the other one. And no, we don’t mean whack like what Jennifer Aniston found Brad doing during a phone call with Angelina. The film has an unmistakably similar description to Prizzi’s Honor, but this production will be much more in the tone of action comedy. The rumors about the on-set passion of the tomcatting Pitt and the meta-frisky Jolie merely amplify our desire to see what is already one of the most exciting projects on the entire 2005 schedule.

I hate Superman. So much. 3. Batman Begins

Despite some staff members' trepidation about the casting of Christian Bale in the lead role, we still love us some Batman and can't wait to see what director Christopher Nolan does with the franchise. After having intrigued us with his work on such stuff as Following, Memento and Insomnia, it seems likely that the helmer will put a unique spin on a series that grew tired and laughable under the thumb of Joel Schumacher.

Returning to the Dark Knight's roots, the film will look at Batman's origins as a force for good in Gotham City. Along with this strong story line, the movie will also feature some of the more interesting villains the comic books ever produced. Ra's Al Ghul, to be portrayed by the smoldering Ken Watanabe (Academy Award nominee for The Last Samurai), is a dangerous cult leader with a great deal of power. Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) plays the sinister and insane Dr. Jonathan Crane, who as The Scarecrow takes a nefarious interest in the activity in people's brains. We're just keeping our fingers crossed that Nolan can do as well with the Batman franchise as Sam Raimi did with Spider-Man.
That's right! This *is* the naked porn guy from Love Actually! 2. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

It's always a gamble when you decide to tackle a beloved literary classic and turn it into a movie. When that classic contains the destruction of the Earth, two-headed aliens and enough random wackiness to make Bugs Bunny cry "Enough!", you've got a real challenge on your hands. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy actually started life as a BBC radio series, by the late, lamented Douglas Adams, a sometimes Monty-Python collaborator, but the book is where I think most people know this series from. A space adventure that's heavy on the absurdist comedy, it's long been considered one of the most difficult projects to adapt to the two hour big screen format, since plot was not really its greatest strength. However, it's been handed off to a British directing duo, famous for commercial work that reflected the bizarre, and the casting, while not superstar calibre, looks just perfect. Martin Freeman (Tim from The Office) makes an ideal Arthur Dent, his Every(British)man qualities suiting the role to a T, and you can't say enough about the brilliance of casting Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox, who can play 'rock star psychopath' with the best of them. If nothing else, it's sure to be one of the most inventive and original films of the summer.
Watch him pull a rabbit out of his hat! 1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka
The amazing chocolatier
Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka
Everybody give a cheer

If you've managed to survive the trailer without having the song stay in your head for days, you're lucky. While a lot of people have complained that the film seems to diverge from the 1971 Gene Wilder version, it's important to keep in mind that for director Tim Burton, that's completely intentional. That earlier film took a different path than the book in many cases, resulting in a movie that kids could enjoy, but was really over their heads a lot of the time. That's likely to continue to be the case with this 21st century version, but it is supposed to adhere much more closely to Roald Dahl's vision for the characters.

Trailers and previews so far show a completely trippy film with an appropriately annoying Johnny Depp at the forefront as the marvelous Willy Wonka. Meanwhile the kids, including Finding Neverland's Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, look to have been just perfectly cast. While there's always the danger that Burton could pull another Planet of the Apes here, the hope would be that the film will be so chocolaty good that an adaptation of the superior Dahl sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, could be in the making.



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