May 2005 Forecast
By John Seal
1. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Doesn't matter how bad it is, George Lucas will flip the switch, our implants will activate, and we'll all trudge off to see it. It might not break any records, but never underestimate the power of the force--the force of habit, that is.
This kid flick has been in the public eye for quite some time now, and though the animation doesn't look like anything special, it's going to be a monster hit thanks to the penguins. Oh, those cute and cuddly penguins. With any luck the script from Brit TV scribe Mark Burton will have a few decent zingers for voice talent Ben Stiller and Chris Rock, but it ain't the script that's selling Madagascar.
3. Kingdom of Heaven
It's already been blasted in some circles as sacrilegious and/or racist, but the early critical word is that Ridley Scott's film dramatization of the Crusades is actually quite good. I can't say I'm thrilled at the prospect of Orlando Bloom as a leading man, but I'm also willing to concede he might be able to pull it off and avoid the Jude Law career path. Bloom aside, Kingdom of Heaven has an impressive trailer and a solid supporting cast, including David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, and Jeremy Irons. Bearing in mind Scott's success in 2000 with Gladiator, I think we'll be hearing about this film come Oscar time. In the short term, it's going to be a moderate-to-large hit, with a long box office life and a re-release in February 2006.
4. House of Wax
The ads for this are very effective, and though I'm sure the film is going to suck great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts, it looks like a hit to me. Ostensibly a remake of the 1953 3-D 'classic' of the same name, House of Wax Redux will amp up the sex and violence and will have teenagers re-laminating their fake IDs in no time. There's eye candy for randy teenage lads in the shape of Elisha Cuthbert, and for the girls, there's that cute Chad Michael Murray. Fast out of the box and then quickly into the DVD keep-case, House of Wax will initially rack up some impressive returns.
Not sure what to make of this one. Is Jane Fonda due for a Babs Streisand comeback hit a la Meet the Fockers? Has J Lo recovered from the disaster that was Gigli? I'm having my doubts, and foresee middling success at best.
6. Kicking and Screaming
I know I should know better, but I'm actually kinda sorta looking forward to this Will Ferrell movie. Besides appealing to kids, this PG-rated comedy about the hilarious travails of a youth soccer coach will also resonate with parents of sports-mad children of a certain age--of which I'm one. Not a blockbuster, but a solid box office hit that will probably outlast most of the competition in theatres.
7. The Longest Yard
Is THIS the film where the wheels finally come off the Adam Sandler express? Though wisely counter-programmed against Madagascar and Star Wars Episide III: Week II, I think it just might be. It's a remake of an enjoyable if inessential 1974 Burt Reynolds comedy about prison cons trying to get revenge against the guards via a good, clean game of football. Co-stars Chris Rock and Snoop Dogg have limited box office power, it's baseball season (yay!), and Sandler is due for a fall, so the stars are aligning for failure. I hope.
This new film from director Renny Harlin--oh, pardon me, I just threw up in my mouth. Hold on a moment whilst I cleanse my palette. Now, where was I? Oh yes, this new film from director Renny--oh bother, did it again. Let's try this instead: Val Kilmer, box office stud? Not bloody likely. This film about FBI super-agents is on the crash and burn path.
Morgan Freeman cashes a paycheck in this thriller about a mentally challenged young man (Jet Li) enslaved by an evil master (Bob Hoskins) who uses him as a combatant in the shady but lucrative world of underground ultimate fighting. Can the stereotypical blind piano player/mystical black man (Freeman) rescue him? Remember, the first rule of Unleashed is: do not go to see Unleashed. This dog don't hunt, but it will be nibbling kibble in the DVD kennel real soon.
David Cronenberg's creepy sex-with-open-wounds movie finally gets the wide re-release it so richly deserves. Oh wait, no, this is an all-star drama with Sandra Bullock playing a kidnapping victim. Bullock's name provides some hope for box office success, but let's face it--Brendan Fraser's moment has passed, and the rest of the cast--excellent as it is, and including as it does Thandie Newton, Matt Dillon, and Don Cheadle--probably isn't going to provide much incentive for Joe Six Pack to head down to the 'plex. Apparently laden with subplots, this looks like a Robert Altman film on steroids.
This Danish family drama attracted my attention due to the presence of screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen, who penned one of my favorite Dogme productions, The King Is Alive. Star Ulrich Thomsen is a busy boy this month, as he also features in Kingdom of Heaven. I'll probably end up catching this on Sundance in a year or two, because Brothers will be in and out of art-houses in a week.
Dominion: A Prequel to the Exorcist
Finally seeing the light of day after its extremely contentious production history, Dominion is the Paul Schrader film that got shit-canned by Morgan Creek, who preferred to have Renny Harlin--excuse me for a moment--helm their 'official' third sequel to William Friedkin's overrated hymn to the mystical marvels of the Catholic Church. Without seeing a moment's footage from either film, I can already tell you which one is better - Schrader is one of my favorite writer-directors, and I can't wait to see Dominion.
I'm always in the mood for a good anti-capitalism rant, and this German film about anti-globalization pranksters who like to play head games with the rich sounds like it will fit the bill. Now if they could only get some edumacation so they could stop mispelling wurds in the titel.
Fighting Tommy Riley
Sure and I'm thinkin' this is one o' them boxing movies about a blarney-spouting Irishman mentoring some wayward rapscallion and diverting his negative energy into the ring--you know, something along the lines of Fighting Father Dunne (1948), featuring Hollywood's favorite Irish-American actor of the day, Pat O'Brien. But no, though the tired story of the troubled lad and the fatherly coach has been told many times before, this time the character is apparently Jewish. But bless me lucky charms, the director IS a chap named Eddie O'Flaherty. Faith and begorah!
Jiminy Glick In La La Wood
It's not an SNL spin-off, but it should be. Only suitable for viewing at a bargain matinee--on dollar Tuesday.
This British gangster flick drew mixed reviews on its UK release, but it stars world-weary actor Daniel Craig, recently added to the long list of 'next James Bonds'. I'm a huge fan of Craig, but neither Paul Bettany nor Malcolm McDowell could rescue the similarly themed Gangster No. 1, and American-born director Matthew Vaughn had a hand in producing abominations like Swept Away and Mean Machine for Guy Ritchie, so the signs are not exactly auspicious.
Looks to be a well-made but dry biopic, and any film with Udo Kier and Lance Henriksen in it piques my interest. But even though I quite like star Andy Garcia, I can't really see him as the titular Italian artist. And a note to filmmakers: saddling your English-language production with a hard to pronounce title is not going to encourage moviegoers to part with their ten bucks. If you must include the artist's last name in the title, give it some pizzazz: in this case, calling your film Modigliani vs. Picasso would accurately represent its story whilst ensuring that moviegoers who loved Ecks vs. Sever would check out this, erm, prequel. Yeah, prequel. Contact me for more great marketing ideas.
Finally, the true story of the Doublemint girls comes to the big screen. Bet you didn't know they were Dutch.
Michael Bentley's May Forecast
Marty Doskins's May Forecast
John Hamann's May Forecast
David Mumpower's May Forecast