The Trick: Extreme Ops joins the already-growing-tired sub-genre of extreme sports mixed with action movies. A group of extreme athletes travel to the Alps to make a snowboarding and skiing movie, and they stumble across a terrorist plot. Never fear, as armed with puckish X-Games attitude, these athletes take on the terrorists without concern for life or limb or plot. May I please call a moratorium on sequences of skiers outracing avalanches?
The Treat: Bond, James Bond, may not quite be what he used to be, but he is still the granddaddy of all movie spies. Add in Halle Berry as a Bond girl and another interesting choice of director in Lee Tamahori, and you have enough reasons to stick with Bond (Weíll pretend that that Madonna theme song doesnít exist. LA LA LA, We canít HEAR you!). Die Another Day should ably continue the recent Bond tradition of propping up MGM.
The Trick: Brian De Palma - run away! Antonio Banderas - run away! Rebecca Romijn-Stamos - run away! So the list of people involved in this film that scream ďavoid at all costsĒ gives it three strikes already. Mrs. Stamos plays a model or something who steals some diamonds and then changes her identity and marries an ambassador or something. Antonio Banderas is the man who tries to figure out her identity or something. The movie-going public stays home.
The Treat: Before there was Barbershop, there was Friday, and after Friday there was Next Friday, and now after Next Friday is Friday After Next. The Friday movies have been rather quietly successful in the first two installments that give a comic look into African American communities. The series experienced a growth from the original to the first sequel, and the audience that made Barbershop a hit should be ready to come out for Ice Cube in Friday After Next as well.
The Trick: Half Past Dead stars Steven Seagal. Need I say more?
The Treat: Controversial rapper Eminem makes his acting debut in a semi-autobiographical tale of a young man trying to earn his ticket out of poverty through his rap skills in 8 Mile. Eminem is such a lightning rod that, of course, much of the attention has been focused on him and 8 Mile as the ďEminem MovieĒ, but that often causes people to overlook the fact that it is also a Curtis Hanson movie. Banking on his popularity in the music business to make a ďseriousĒ prestige-type film is a less obvious move than pandering to the teen-boy demographic that usually buy his CDs, but it looks to be a move that will pay off in the short- and long-run.
The Trick: I Spy. Well as tricks go, this might be a more gentle one (think some toilet paper in your tree). It looks like it might be mildly amusing and could catch on with audiences. Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson seem to work fairly well together and director Betty Thomas is pretty reliable. Still, the idea reeks of a lack of imagination, but it ultimately feels like a forgettable nuisance.
The Treat: An Oscar-winning director takes on a true sci-fi classic as Steven Soderbergh remakes Solaris, the 1972 film from Russian great Andrei Tarkovsky (or perhaps more accurately, makes another movie version of Stanislaw Lemís novel). The film may ultimately alienate viewers who are expecting a more wham-bam style science-fiction movie than one with a serious philosophical tone, but with the talent involved, including Soderbergh, James Cameron, and George Clooney, Solaris has the elements to be a truly memorable film.
The Trick: The Santa Clause was inexplicably a big box office hit and fared well on video, so I would just like to say, this is all your fault. Of course, it is now eight years later, Home Improvement is no longer on prime time, and Tim Allenís movie career has been sputtering, so there doesnít seem to be much worry that The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs Clause will repeat the success of the first film. In fact, by opening on November 1st, it runs the very real risk of being a Christmas movie thatís a faded memory even before Thanksgiving rolls around.
The Treat: Harry Potter and the Sorcererís Stone faced extreme amounts of expectation as fans of the book waited to get a look at the images that they had already envisioned in their minds. The anticipation alone guaranteed box office success, and the movie didnít disappoint. Fans seemed generally pleased but not quite ecstatic about the first film, so they are likely to turn out again for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Again, it looks like Christopher Columbus has delivered a very workmanlike performance, so fans should respond.
The Trick: Even while Adam Sandler is surprising critics with his acting ability in Punch-Drunk Love, Adam Sandlerís 8 Crazy Nights looks to make sure his more standard low-brow comedy is represented this holiday season as well. A Hanukkah animated musical actually sounds like a good idea to provide some counter-programming for the bevy of Christmas-themed movies that hit theaters this time of year. Unfortunately in this case, though, it looks like Sandler at his worst.
The Treat: Disney returns to November with an animated feature, but this time there is no Pixar in sight. Treasure Planet will be a harder sell than the Pixar computer-animated features that audiences have grown accustomed to from Disney around Thanksgiving. The film looks less cutesy than other animated films that have succeeded in recent years and more like the more serious in tone ones that have struggled. Still, the trailer features dizzying action and luminous animation that present a promising prognosis.