Top 12 promising titles

Category: Phantom of the Opera News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 28, 2004 | Publication: The Ottawa Citizen | Author: Jay Stone
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Now that we've said goodbye to summer, with its litany of film failures and cinematic disappointments, it's time to get excited about what's ahead this fall, writes Jay Stone.

Pride cometh before a fall except in the movie industry, when it's not fall until a lot of summer disappointments cometh and goeth in a hurry.

Not that there weren't worthy summer entries -- the Spider-Man sequel leaps to mind -- but the summer of 2004 will be remembered as the season of Van Helsing, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Stepford Wives, Around the World in 80 Days, King Arthur, Catwoman, Alien vs. Predator ... had enough?

Which brings us to the fall movie list, which gleams on the shelf with all its virgin promise, a litany of Oscar hopefuls, stories about people coming back from the dead, and movies featuring Jude Law and Angelina Jolie, who are unavoidable between now and Christmas. Autumn is the best movie season: it's the time the studios haul out their quality products just in time for the Academy Award eligibility. Among the untarnished jewels are these dozen films of special interest.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Finally, a chance to make a movie without all those annoying sets and locations. In this adventure, newspaper reporter Gwyneth Paltrow and ace aviator Jude Law investigate the disappearance of famous scientists around the world, while Angelina Jolie plays the commander of an all-female amphibious squadron. Her lips are only one of the movie's special effects: director Kerry Conran, who spent 10 years developing the project, filmed the whole thing against a blue screen, and every frame was digitally filled in later. Bottom line: Can it be more than a computer-generated novelty? (Opens Sept. 17)

Shark Tale

Just call this one The Codfather. A computer animation from DreamWorks that features the voice of Will Smith as Oscar, a fast-talking little fish who runs afoul of the mob: gangster sharks voiced by Robert De Niro, as Don Lino, and Martin Scorsese, no less. Jack Black plays Don Lino's son, a gentle sort who's a vegetarian, and -- ahem -- Angelina Jolie is Lola, the fin fatale. Bottom line: Looks like Shrek underwater. (Opens Oct. 1)

I Y Huckabees

Just when you think they've done everything, along comes someone like director David O. Russell (Flirting With Disaster, Three Kings) with a plot you've never imagined.

Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin play "existential detectives" helping environmentalist Jason Schwartzman unravel several coincidences in his life, including his conflict with corporate executive Jude Law (!). The cast also features Naomi Watts as Schwartzman's model-girlfriend, Isabelle Huppert as a French radical and Mark Wahlberg as rebel firefighter Tommy Corn. Also look for cameos by Tippi Hedren and Shania Twain. Bottom line: Well, it'll be different. (Opens Oct. 1)

Team America: World Peace

Let's see if we can explain this one coherently. Troy Parker and Matt Stone, the naughty imps behind the brilliantly subversive South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, have created a satiric action movie with a difference. The plot: an international police force learns that a power-hungry dictator is selling weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. Yes, it sounds familiar, but this time, the adventure is performed by marionettes. Bottom line: And we thought I Y Huckabees was going to be different. (Opens Oct. 15)


Everyone was intrigued by the news that scenes showing Colin Farrell's penis were deleted from A Home at the End of the World because its size was too distracting, so you shouldn't be surprised that he's starring as Alexander The Great. Alexander conquered 90 per cent of the known world at the age of 27 and led his Greek and Macedonian armies through 38,000 kilometres of sieges and conquests in eight years. Oliver Stone directs this action adventure that also stars Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins and ... Angelina Jolie. Bottom line: Could be the quality epic that summer never delivered. (Opens Nov. 5)

The Polar Express

Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis, who made Forrest Gump and Cast Away, re-team in this family film based on the story of a boy who takes a magical train ride to the North Pole. The film is totally computer-generated: actors were filmed and their actions are transferred to computerized figures. That helped Hanks play five roles including the train conductor, the boy, the boy's father, a hobo, and Santa Claus. Bottom line: You can't get too much Tom Hanks. (Opens Nov. 10)


In 1948, academic Alfred Kinsey shocked the world with his book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, based on interviews with thousands of people and starting a debate that continues today. Liam Neeson plays Kinsey and Laura Linney plays his wife, Clara. Among the controversial scenes: images of the genitals of Peter Sarsgaard, who plays Kinsey's assistant. Bottom line: Can Peter Sarsgaard play Alexander the Great, if you catch my drift? Real bottom line: You can't get enough sexual behaviour in the human male. (Opens Nov. 12)

Finding Neverland

J.M. Barrie was once asked if all his plays were successful. No, he said. "Some Peter out and some Pan out." Such was the playful spirit of the eccentric Scottish author of Peter Pan, who is portrayed by Johnny Depp in this story of his friendship with a widow (Kate Winslet) and her sons, who inspired the play. Bottom line: There's already Oscar talk for Depp. (Opens Nov. 12)

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

The first three novellas in the series by Daniel Handler are telescoped into a story starring Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, the comic villain of many disguises who pursues the poor, orphaned Baudelaire children, bent on capturing their family fortune. Meryl Streep plays Aunt Josephine. Bottom line: It could be the new Harry Potter. (Opens Dec. 17)

The Aviator

Howard Hughes has been depicted on the screen before, most notably as an eccentric recluse in Melvin and Howard (1980), but Martin Scorsese's film looks at America's first billionaire during his heyday, when he was a world-famous aviator, movie mogul and ladies' man.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hughes; his movie star romances take place with Cate Blanchett's Katharine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. Bottom line: A fascinating life, but Leonardo DiCaprio? (Opens Dec. 17)


Based on David Auborn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, this drama stars Gwyneth Paltrow as a woman in deep mourning for the death of her father (Anthony Hopkins), even as she is courted by a cute mathematician (Jake Gyllenhaal). Paltrow played the role on stage in London for director John Madden. Bottom line: Sounds like one of those quality, end-of-year movies that wins Academy Awards. (Opens Dec. 24)

Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera:

After a decade and a half of false starts and unfulfilled rumours, the megamusical, which has run for 16 years on Broadway, comes to the big screen. Michael Crawford fans lobbied for years and Antonio Banderas was a hot prospect, but the lead role goes to relative unknown Gerard Butler (Timeline). Bottom line: Will fans want to see it again? (Opens Christmas Day)

All of the above dates subject to change by studios.

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Coming in September

Sept. 1

Vanity Fair: Mira Nair directs this adaptation of the Thackery novel about Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon), the 19th-century orphan who uses devious charm to rise in society.

Sept. 3

Paparazzi: A movie star plots revenge after he's hounded by a ring of tabloid photographers.

Wicker Park: In this remake of a French thriller, Josh Hartnett plays a man who mysteriously loses his girlfriend, then finds another one with the same name.

Sept. 10

Cellular: Kim Basinger stars in this thriller about a kidnapped woman who reaches a stranger by phone and asks him to save her.

Intern Academy: Dave Thomas directed this comedy about a group of interns in a hospital of last resort.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse: In this sequel, Milla Jovovich is one of the survivors of a biochemical disaster who must leave the City of the Dead.

Sept. 17

The Cookout: A newly rich NBA draftee gets his family together for a backyard celebration. Queen Latifah co-stars.

Silver City: In this John Sayles movie, Chris Cooper plays a George Bush-like politician who has a political crisis when he reels in a corpse while filming an environmental political ad. Richard Dreyfuss and Daryl Hannah co-star.

When Will I Be Loved: Neve Campbell stars in this noirish drama as a woman who takes revenge on two men who done her wrong. James Toback directs.

Wimbledon: In this romance of tennis and love, Paul Bettany plays a low-ranked tennis player who falls in love with American star Kirsten Dunst at Wimbledon.

Sept. 24

A Dirty Shame: John Waters' latest provocation stars Tracey Ullman as a repressed housewife who has a concussion that turns her into a sex addict.

Criminal: This remake of the Argentinian caper film Nine Queens stars John C. Reilly as a con man who takes a young acolyte (Diego Luna) under his wing.

First Daughter: Katie Holmes stars as the daughter of the U.S. president (Michael Keaton) who wants to get away from her parents.

The Forgotten: Julianne Moore plays a mother whose son has disappeared and everyone denies he even existed, until she meets a man who also has a missing child.

Mr. 3000: A baseball comedy about a retired hitter (Bernie Mac) who returns to the big leagues after he learns three of his 3,000 hits have been disqualified.

Shaun of the Dead: In this British comedy-horror film, a group of working-class Brits gets caught up in a zombie invasion.

Also in September

Bright Young Things: Stephen Fry's adaptation of the 1930 Evelyn Waugh novel Vile Bodies is a satire of the feather-headed young British twits of the age.