The romantic fantasy of every North American teenage boy choosing to
backpack across Europe was the backdrop for Before Sunrise. The film told
the story of Jessie, an American boy bewitched by a French girl during
their brief chance encounter on a European train. The boy mustered up all
his courage and put on a false bravado as he invited this vixen, Celine, to
get back onboard and spend more time with him on a journey to his
destination to Vienna. Surprised by the potent sexual energy of the moment,
Celine was stunned to find herself accepting, and a romantic adventure began.
Thanks to the magical writing and direction of a then-unknown named Richard
Linklater and brilliant performances by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the
lead roles, Before Sunrise became a video store classic. The film's most
ardent admirers have frequently mentioned to the three notables that a
sequel would be much less forced than normal. After all, the movie played
out as a real moment in the lives of two people not unlike reality TV cast
members rather than like artifical movie characters. What better
opportunity is there than to wait a period of time, then have the doomed
lovers serendipitously rendezvous once more?
Linklater, Hawke and Delpy agreed, so we now stand on the cusp of a sequel
to one of the best films of the 1990s. BOP recognized Before Sunrise as one
of the most underappreciated films of that era, so it's not the least bit
surprising to hear how excited we are to watch the sequel.
14) Shrek 2
The original CGI-animated production was a classic tale of the triumph of
true love as a princess picked an ugly troll to be her groom. Shrek
preached tolerance of one and all...as long as the person wasn't short.
Trolls may be good people, so it is imperative to look beyond the surface.
Napoleonic Farquaads are bad, so it's fine to judge them by their
appearance/lack of height. We are guessing Verne Troyer is no longer on
speaking terms with Shrek's lead voice actor, Mike Myers. Nonetheless, in
the process of the hypocritical doublespeak, something unexpected occurred.
Shrek became the underdog champion of Summer 2001 as the DreamWorks release
became the people's choice for repeat business.
Not one to look a gift cash cow in the mouth, the studio quickly
greenlighted a follow-up to the $470 million worldwide earner. While the
process of gestation for a CGI film usually takes as long as five years, only
three years was given to return the bugle-horned troll to the big screen.
The concept is a simple one, as the butt-kicking princess Fiona, now a
troll herself, faces the difficulty of taking her foul-mouthed hubby home
to meet the parents. BOP (and Ben Stiller) doesn't find the storyline
original, but we find Eddie Murphy's donkey antics just as funny as
everyone else did. Knowing that the Gingerbread Man, the scene stealer from
the original project, is making a return simply seals the deal.
Shrek 2 is the movie most likely to send kids off into hysterical crying
jags if Mommy and Daddy fail to come up with tickets. The thought of
taunting these unfortunate souls and their small children with our tickets
to sold out shows is reason enough to be there opening weekend.
13) Van Helsing
We here at BOP love vampire mythology, and we also have an affinity for lycanthropes. Van Helsing has both Dracula lore and a giant CGI werewolf, so it caught our attention almost the very day the project was announced. Throw in a Frankenstein's monster and the smoldering sex appeal of one Hugh Jackman, and it's easy to see why this celebration of the classic Universal movie monsters has been on our radar for so long. At the very least, Van Helsing appears to be full of eye candy and at least makes motions toward an intriguing connection between the vampire hunter and his ancient nemesis. Even if some of the effects look rather cheesy, we're staying optimistic and hoping for a film that's closer to The Mummy than The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Unless it's just another Miramax tease, the lush Zhang Yimou epic Hero will at last be released in North America. Now that a spectacular, buzz-generating trailer has premiered in front of Kill Bill Vol. 2, the studio is almost locked in for a commitment, which will at least temporarily stave off another Dear Harvey letter from our very own Chris Hyde. And really, the preview barely does the film real justice. Hero is a feast for the eyes, a painting come to life on the big screen featuring some of Hong Kong's finest young performers. While Jet Li is clearly the most familiar name to North American audiences, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and Donnie Yen also lend their considerable talents to some exquisite martial arts scenes and a deeply emotional back story. The film's unique narrative structure may prove challenging, but it's certainly worth the effort.
11) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Ben Stiller is an actor/comedian who is either hit or miss. When he hits, he really, really hits (There's Something About Mary, Zoolander, Meet the Parents, The Royal Tenenbaums), and when he misses, he misses badly (Duplex, Along Came Polly, Envy). So far, we have reason to be optimistic about Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, though. The trailer is incomprehensibly hilarious, with humor that just works in the weirdest of ways. The film once again pits Stiller against Vince Vaughn, which is good news since their opposition in Starsky and Hutch was flat-out hilarious. And really, for anyone who was ever one of those kids in gym class that constantly had to duck the powerfully thrown rubber balls of peers, this tale of redemption sure looks to settle the score.
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