The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
Looking ahead to the good and the bad for 2005

December 30, 2004
By Franklin Harris

The coming year promises to be my busiest since I began writing this column more than six years ago. Here is a sampling of what we can anticipate in 2005:

"House of Flying Daggers": There is no better way to start the year than with this martial-arts epic, currently making its way across the country in limited release, from the director of Jet Li's "Hero." It stars Andy Lau and Zhang Ziyi ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon").

"Battlestar Galactica": This revised edition of the campy 1970s space opera debuts Jan. 14 on the Sci-Fi Channel, but I've already seen the first five episodes, and it looks like one of the best sci-fi TV series ever produced. Executive producer/head writer Ronald D. Moore ("Deep Space Nine") hits all of the right notes, capturing the sense of impending doom that hangs over the roughly 49,000 survivors of the human race as they flee from the Cylon fleet.

"Batman Begins": Director Christopher Nolan ("Memento") shows us how a young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) trains his mind and body to become the world's greatest detective, striking fear into the hearts of criminals as Batman. With a respected director at the helm and a top-notch cast (including Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine) in front of the cameras, this could raise the bar for superhero movies.

"Sin City": Robert Rodriguez's big-screen adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels may go down as the most faithful translation ever of a work from page to screen. Appropriately, Miller is credited as co-director.

"Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith": With the final installment in the "Star Wars" saga, George Lucas can redeem his otherwise disappointing prequel trilogy. It's taken him three movies to get here, but this is what fans have waited 28 years to see: the climactic duel between Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and his former mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. If Lucas nails this, all else may be forgiven. And I must admit that the preview footage has raised my hopes.

"King Kong": Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings") takes on another timeless classic with this remake of the 1933 film starring Fay Wray. This time, Naomi Watts ("The Ring") is the damsel in distress. Jack Black, meanwhile, finally gets a chance to play a character who is something other than a thinly veiled version of Black himself.

"War of the Worlds": Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise team up for this latest take on H.G. Wells' science-fiction novel.

"All-Star Superman": Under normal circumstances, I'd say the world needs another Superman comic almost as much as it needs another "reality" TV show. But this upcoming series from DC Comics will reunite writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely ("JLA: Earth 2") for tales that return a sense of wonder to the Man of Steel's adventures.

Of course, not everything on the schedule for 2005 fills me with hope. Here are a few things I dread seeing next year:

"Fantastic Four": The first family of Marvel Comics rockets onto the big screen under the direction of Tim Story, whose previous credits include "Barber Shop" and "Taxi." Be afraid.

"Elektra": Jennifer Garner ("Alias") stars in this spinoff of "Daredevil," which is a movie I'd just as soon forget.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy": I gave up on this adaptation of Douglas Adams' novel as soon as I heard Mos Def has been cast as Adams' "anti-Doctor Who" Ford Prefect.

The new year is also flush with unnecessary remakes: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "House of Wax," "The Amityville Horror," "The Pink Panther" and "The Fog."

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