BOP 25 of Holiday Season 2005: 5-1

By BOP Staff

November 7, 2005

Please, oh please, let King Kong eat her. 5) King Kong

When you've created one of the longest, most beloved and most successful fantasy trilogies in film history, what's left as an encore? Why, a remake of one of the classic Golden Age monster movies, of course. Peter Jackson's follow-up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy is King Kong, which originally debuted on film in 1933. Of course, we all know the basic story, that Kong is a giant ape hidden away on an island that has escaped notice by civilization forever. Captured by explorers and brought back to New York, the giant beast can only be soothed from his violent and destructive rampages by a beautiful young actress (played here by Naomi Watts), but how long can he really survive amidst a civilization that wants to exploit him? And of course, there's plenty of mayhem and destruction when the ape breaks free.

What Jackson can bring to this film is his grandeur with adventure, along with his deft ability to create real characters in his films in the midst of chaos. Mindless destruction it (hopefully) won't be, and there's bound to be a healthy dose of humor in there. He's also made the decision to set the film in the 1930s, keeping true to the original setting and the spirit of spectacle films. In addition to Watts, we also have Adrien Brody and Jack Black in major roles, as the leading man and head explorer, respectively.

Jackson can do little wrong in most of our opinion, and sure, we've been let down by some of these remakes before (*cough*Godzilla*coughcough*) but it's hard not to get excited by the prospect of watching King Kong do battle with dinosaurs on Skull Island, and to see him climb the Empire State Building in an attempt to escape (I really hope I didn't give anything away there). This is one of those experiences that the big screen is all about, with action and effects galore.
Danny Ocean has really let himself go. 4) Syriana

The writing of Robert Baer underscores the fact that Washington political intrigue is a zero-sum game played against the world of Arabian money and oil negotiations. The author's See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism demonstrates the events that impacted the 9/11 terrorist attack, the ones never discussed by major news organizations. His behind-the-scenes depiction of the way money and politics made America vulnerable to such a dramatic attack is the basis for the movie Syriana. Re-teaming Ocean's 11/12 heavyweights George Clooney and Matt Damon, this Stephen Gaghan project is one of the buzz films of the year. Along with Good Night, and Good Luck, it's Clooney's second attempt to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem the makers of Team America: World Police would have you believe him to be. Like Jarhead, Syriana is neither pro-war nor anti-American. Instead, it's a neutral treatise on the dangers of back-door negotiations and political favors as told by a 20 year veteran of the CIA. The climate in this country feels right for a project like this to become a major end-of-year awards contender, and BOP considers it to be quite possibly the most important title of the holiday season.

Stay away from us, crazy PETA supporter! 3) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Far be it for Hollywood to miss a trend. After the mega-success of the Lord of the Rings, fantasy is huge again. It certainly didn't take long for someone to find the next big series of novels in this genre to adapt, namely the Narnia series from J.R.R. Tolkien's contemporary C.S. Lewis. There are seven books in all set in this fictional land, with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe being the traditional starting point and a natural for the first to reach the big screen.

Sent away to the countryside of England for protection during WW II, four children discover a gateway to a magical land called Narnia, which is ruled by the White Witch and is in perpetual winter. Talking animals and magic abound, with a majestic lion named Aslan looming large among them. The four children find themselves in the middle of prophecies and battles over this land, with nothing less than the fate of good versus evil as the stakes.

The books are filled with action and adventure and are classic example of fantasy storytelling that has influenced, inspired and thrilled many, making this film adaptation a must-see for any with even a passing interest in the material. For those that do know it, it's hard to imagine many other films surpassing it for anticipation.
Ron! What are *you* doing here? 2) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

We just can't help it. We love that young wizard. We're like kids on Christmas morning whenever J.K. Rowling releases a new book in the series, and we react the same way to the movie adaptations of her work. Most people consider Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to be the best book in the series to date, and footage and previews from the film look to have perfectly captured the essence of what takes place. The story took a turn for the dark in Prisoner of Azkaban, and it goes even further in that direction in the fourth segment of the story. Harry, Hermione and Ron are well into their teens at this point, with all of the problems attendant on becoming that age starting to emerge. Future romances are hinted at, but some very serious stuff takes place, too. And of course, there's always the ever-present threat of Lord Voldemort. The showcase of the story, though, is the big Tri-Wizard tournament, an event in which Harry is an unexpected participant. We know how it ends, but we still are eagerly anticipating seeing the bigger-than-life tale in the movie theater.
Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho. 1) Jarhead

The pounding Kanye West percussion invades the senses. The lyrics drive home the moral ambiguity every soldier faces during their time on the frontline. As the assault on the senses continues with explosion after explosion cut against the cherubic, impossibly youthful face of Jake Gyllenhaal, the hypnotic trailer captures the complete focus of the mind's eye. Then, Jamie Foxx looks at you and chillingly says his line for the camera. "I thank God for every second in the Corps. Hoo-rah." Is the statement sincere or satirical? Has Foxx gone mad from all the fighting or is he punctuating the irony of his profession's mantra? The inscrutable delivery makes it impossible to tell. All BOP knows for certain is that Jarhead is the single best marketed movie of 2005 to date. The vote was close, but the decision was ultimately clear cut. The captivating trailer forces us to choose Jarhead as the most anticipated film of the holiday season



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