In case you were wondering, that’s skinny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans + CGI) above, and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) apparently enjoying some downtime below.
Also not to be forgotten, we have another official pic of Marc Webb’s Amazing Spiderman. Looks good in a dark room, at least.
Update: Just as I finished posting this, a promo image leaks from Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men First Class. From left to right: “Michael Fassbinder as Magneto, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, January Jones as Emma Frost, Jason Flemyng as Azazel, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Lucas Till as Havoc, Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and James MacAvoy as Charles Xavier.” Looks…crowded.
“James’s charm, warmth and wit are legendary as is his range as an actor in both comedic and dramatic roles. We feel very lucky to be able to welcome him as one of our cast.” Peter Jackson fills out his Dwarf Company with James Nesbitt and Adam Brown as Bofur and Ori respectively. “Adam is a wonderfully expressive actor and has a unique screen presence. I look forward to seeing him bring Ori to life.“
And, elsewhere in fanboy casting news, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker (and Marc Webb’s Spiderman) may soon have some caretakers in Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Sally Field as Aunt Mary. Compared to Rhys Ifans as The Lizard, that casting seems pretty by-the-book. Still not bad…but do we really have to sit through the origin story again?
“On selecting Garfield, director Marc Webb said, ‘Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.‘”
I’m inclined to agree — this is really great casting. Better than Tobey Maguire, in fact. Sony’s Spiderman reboot finds its friendly neighborhood webslinger in Andrew Garfield of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and Red Riding ’74 (and soon of Never Let Me Go and The Social Network.) And given the Peter Parkerish sensiblity at work in Webb’s (500) Days of Summer, this project actually seems to be coming together quite nicely.
“Webb said, ‘This is a dream come true and I couldn’t be more aware of the challenge, responsibility, or opportunity. Sam Raimi’s virtuoso rendering of Spider-Man is a humbling precedent to follow and build upon. The first three films are beloved for good reason.’” Well, actually, not many care much for Spidey 3. In any event, the post-Raimi reboot of Spiderman at Sony has found its director in Marc Webb, previously of (500) Days of Summer.
A solid choice, although two things give me pause: 1) It’s hard to escape the sense that Webb was picked mainly because the studio suits think that, unlike Raimi, he’ll be more malleable than a lot of the A-list names floating around (Fincher, Cameron). 2) The ramifications of the following sentence might just end up being terrible: “The touchstone for the new movie will not be the 1960s comics…but rather this past decade’s ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ comics by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley where the villain-fighting took a back seat to the high school angst.”
“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three ‘Spider-Man’ films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise.“
Um, ok. Apparently as a result of continuing tensions between Sam Raimi (still gunshy after being forced to include Venom in Spiderman 3) and the studio suits (who wanted him to move ahead anyway), Sony puts the kibosh on Spiderman 4 and sends Raimi, Maguire, et al on their way. Next up is a reboot, scripted by Zodiac‘s James Vanderbilt and slated for 2012. (Here’s a tip — Don’t give the Green Goblin a cruddy mask this time.)
Also, in much less interesting Marvel firing news, Stuart Townsend is out as Fandral in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, and has been replaced by Joshua Dallas of the forthcoming Red Tails and The Descent 2. Hmm…Perhaps he was still bitter about the whole Aragorn thing.
Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3, which I saw a week ago, before this recent illness descended in earnest, is — as you likely already know — a disappointment. Both undercooked and overstuffed, it oftens feels like a Sequel-By-Numbers, the creation of a boardroom of comic-book-ignorant Sony suits who sat down and watched the splendid Spiderman 2, brainstormed for two hours about what its main selling points were, and tried to add 20% more of each to Spidey 3. The end result, as Joseph II might say, has too many notes. There occasionally seems to be a decent, heartfelt Sam Raimi Spidey foray struggling to get out in here somewhere, but it’s mostly wrapped up and powerless against the black suit of the corporate bottom line. I highly doubt this film will be the end of Spiderman, after that outrageous opening weekend take, but it does sadly suggest that it may be time for Raimi & co. to escape Spidey’s web and take a break from the franchise.
In true comic-book fashion, Spiderman 3 begins basically where the last installment left off, with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson (Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, both of whom seem bored) in love, his secret identity out to her. But, just as our friendly neighborhood webslinger begins to contemplate wedding bells in his future, a slew of supervillains rise up to disturb Spidey’s domestic peace: The Green Goblin II (James Franco, putting in his best work of the series), who’s also aware of Spidey’s identity and is out to avenge his father’s death; The Sandman (Thomas Haden Church, good with what he’s given), who’s out to find his daughter some quality affordable health care (good luck! Even fantasy has limits); and, most troubling, Venom (ultimately, Topher Grace, a likable actor that sadly doesn’t work here), an oozing alien symbiote that first draws out Spiderman’s dark side before congealing with his biggest rival at the Daily Bugle, photoshop expert Eddie Brock. Eventually, Spidey must find a way not only to beat back this rogues’ gallery before doom befalls Ms. Watson high above Manhattan, but also come to terms with his darkest impulses, grapple with his deepfelt desire to cut a rug in a jazz club, and make Mary Jane feel important and special despite her withholding secrets from Peter most of the movie for unexplainable reasons. Can he pull it off, Spider-fans?
Maybe so, but the movie sure can’t. If that litany of villains put you in mind of the later installments of the Batman franchise, Batman Forever or Batman and Robin, you’re in the right ballpark. Basically, Raimi has too many balls in the air this time around (I haven’t even mentioned Gwen Stacey, who’s also in here for some reason), and the film just can’t do justice to all of them. The Sandman in particular is given short shrift — much time is devoted to giving him a backstory, but it gets dropped halfway through and never amounts to much. Meanwhile, other important plot points, such as how Spidey’s enemies decide to gang up on him, are handled perfunctorily, apparently to make room for more wet blanket Mary Janeisms or badly-conceived comedy involving J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons). By the end of the film, when Harry Osborne’s butler becomes Basil Exposition and Spiderman runs around without a mask in front of hundreds of cameras, the carelessness taken with this installment of the franchise becomes manifest. Raimi would likely have done better to leave Venom out of this episode and saved him for the next one (and, indeed, circumstantial evidence suggests that Venom was foisted on him by Sony — Raimi wanted the Vulture.) As it is, though, Spiderman 3 is a swing-and-a-miss — not as bad as X3, mind you, but definitely the worst outing thus far in the Spidey franchise. ‘Nuff said.
Venom (Topher Grace) comes to the fore in the final, very spoilerish, and Comcastic trailer for Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3 — really, it seems like more of an executive summary than a preview. And, also up this weekend is the trailer for Matthew Vaughn’s version of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, featuring, among others, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Ian McKellen, and Peter O’Toole. Not a bad cast, that, and with Layer Cake‘s Vaughn at the helm, I’ll go see it, even if this trailer is a mite underwhelming.
It‘s official: Maggie Gyllenhaal takes Katie Holmes’ place in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. And, with Tobey Maguire appearing to beg off any future webslinger installments after Spidey 3, the door is now wide open for Maggie’s brother Jake…
I’m talking about the man in the mirror…Two new posters for Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3 make it online, showcasing the Spidey-Venom duality.
The new Sandman-heavy trailer for Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3 is now online. To be honest, I think I preferred the teaser — this one doesn’t really grab me (and it seems to give away too many plot points.) Nevertheless, here it is.
As most of y’all likely already know, this past weekend was Comic-Con 2006 in San Diego, which means an exceedingly large amount of news in the fanboy department. To wit:
Elsewhere, Michael Bay’s big-budget version of The Transformers gets a teaser (hopefully the robots work better than the website), and Spiderman 3 gets spoiled rotten over at Dark Horizons — Seriously, don’t go if you don’t want to know.
Superhero Hype! procures an impressive new pic from Spiderman III, and it’s official: Peter Parker is donning the black garb…which means the long-swirling rumors that Topher Grace is playing Venom seem to be on the money. Hmmm. Even with the Sandman involved, I’d have preferred to see more of Spidey’s classic rogues’ gallery before Raimi & co. got to the peeved symbiote in question. Update: As a keen-eyed AICN fanboy noted, is Parker asleep in this pic? That’d dovetail nicely with the comics, when, pre-Venom, the costume started getting a mind of its own.
Clone Wars and Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky will helm The Power of the Dark Crystal. And, in other fanboy news, Bryce Dallas Howard shows off the Gwen Stacey tresses while promoting Manderlay, and Dark Horizons obtains a pretty large spoiler about James Franco’s role in Spiderman 3.
Curiouser and curiouser…The Village‘s Bryce Dallas Howard joins Spiderman 3 as none other than Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s doomed childhood sweetheart. I find this somewhat strange, since they’d basically turned Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson into Gwen Stacy in the first film (#6). (Plus, they’ve switched hair-colors, but ah well.)
The first official pic of Thomas Haden Church in Spiderman 3 is released, and, sure enough, he’s that candy-coated clown they call the Sandman.
That ’70s Show and In Good Company star Topher Grace joins the cast of Spiderman 3, likely as a villain. It seems pretty clear Thomas Haden Church is The Sandman, but I can’t think offhand of who Grace might be playing. Electro, perhaps? Or will he be Venom?
Sam Raimi declares he’s up for directing a whopping six Spiderman movies in total. That’s a bold statement. I mean, has he seen Superman IV: The Quest for Peace? (And speaking of the Big Guy, Blue Tights has posted an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at Supes’ three-axis flying rig.)
In Marvel film news, the Fantastic Four trailer from ShoWest makes it online (nope, still not feeling it), and there’s more talk of the villains for X3 and Spidey 3: Dark Phoenix and (as I guessed…booyah) The Sandman respectively.
Thanks to ShoWest and otherwise, there’s been quite a bit of fanboy news to come down the pike in the past few days…
“Absolutely we wanted to have a villain not only who would fulfill the character needs but somebody who could entertain the audience on a visceral level and provide great visuals, something we haven’t seen before, and create a real challenge and great foe for Spider-Man and his unique spidery, spider-like powers.” Sam Raimi announces he’s picked a villain for Spiderman 3, but won’t say who it is. After the Green Goblin/Hobgoblin and Dr. Octopus, Spiderman doesn’t have all that many more culturally resonant arch-nemeses in his Rogue’s Gallery: It’d be hard to see them building a movie around Mysterio, Electro, The Vulture, The Sandman, or Kraven the Hunter. And, while Green Goblin II, The Lizard, and Man-Wolf were all alluded to in Spidey II, only the Harry Osborne/James Franco storyline seems weighty enough to build a third feature around, and I’m not sure they’d want to repeat the Goblin so quickly. So, unless Webhead takes on the entire Sinister Six, I think it’s a pretty good bet we’ll be seeing Venom in the next installment. He got really quickly overused in the McFarlane era, which is right around where I stopped reading Spidey (give or take a few issues of the Straczynski run.) But he should also be an FX dream on film if done right.
Here he comes, watch out bud. He’s got genetically engineered blood…and a frozen run of bad luck like you read about. After a series of underwhelming summer films so far, Spiderman 2 is a happy surprise, and a distinct improvement on the decent original (#6). After an up-and-down first outing, both Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire (as well as the gaggle of writers on board, among them Michael Chabon) have clearly settled into the rhythm of Peter Parker’s struggle-filled existence, and the result is the most enjoyable and faithful comic book adaptation this side of X2.
Besides the renewed sense of confidence on display, Spidey 2 is already four tentacles up on its predecessor thanks to both Alfred Molina and the production design of Doc Ock. While Willem Defoe seemed like a great idea for the Goblin, he came off way too hammy in the final product, and that stupid mask eliminated most of his strengths as an actor anyway. Here, however, Otto Octavius is realized to perfection, and as such every fight between Ock and Spidey (particularly the sequence at the bank) carries the visceral thrill of seeing a comic book come to life. (Plus, nobody does evil demented appendages quite like Sam Raimi.) And, if that wasn’t grist enough for the fanboy mill, J.K. Simmons gets to chew the scenery unabashedly again as J. Jonah Jameson, and there’s plenty of nods to the webslinger’s considerable rogues’ gallery, including GG II, the Lizard, and — digging real deep in the well — the Man-Wolf.
Problems? Sure, there’s a few. Kirsten Dunst still screams Gwen Stacy, but makes for a rather implausible MJ. (Y’all webheads out there know what I mean.) As my brother pointed out, Spidey should be quicker with the quip…it’s half of his battle strategy and most of his charm. Most of the saving-the-train sequence, from Tobey’s uber-clenched look to the Passion of the Spider ending, was just plain goofy (and why fashion this elevated train sequence anyway? Spidey lives in NYC, not Gotham City or Metropolis, and the writers should’ve stuck to the real Big Apple.) And perhaps some of the longer heartfelt speeches (Aunt May’s in particular) were overdone. All in all, though, Spidey 2 is a rollicking success, one that gives me hope that Marvel’s movie run may not be over quite yet. Now how we’re doing with FF…?
AICN reports some (somewhat dubious) rumors on a slew of comic book sequels, including Hellboy 2, Spiderman 3, and X3/X4. Also in the sequel department, Episode 3 — now apparently titled Rise of the Empire — gets the Latham Film treatment. (They previously made the Hobbit and RotK fan teasers, although this one, frankly, isn’t quite up to snuff.)
Sony releases the full trailer for Spiderman 2. The Doc Ock v. Spidey stuff looks swell (if a bit CGI-ish), but it seems we’re going to have to wade through inordinate amounts of Peter Parker angst to get to the good stuff. By the way, this trailer does seem to give away most of the plot, if that’s a problem for you.
It’s been a quiet January as usual for fanboy and fangirls, and particularly in the wake of the Grey Havens last month. But lots of news out and about today: Terry Gilliam and James Cameron both discuss their next projects (The Brothers Grimm and Untitled Big Idea CGI Sci-Fi respectively), USA Today looks at a number of fantasy projects (including Lemony Snicket, Narnia, Elric, Artemis Fowl, and The Hobbit), and a longer trailer premieres for Frodo (and Charlie Kaufman’s) next project, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, also featuring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst, and Mark Ruffalo (previous trailer here.) Also, we’ve got a few more new Spidey II pics, some small Episode III tidbits, and The Ring‘s Martin Henderson possibly up for Superman. (Hmm…I hope not.)
It’s a bad day for Spidey in this collection of new images from EW’s 2004 preview, which includes shots from The Aviator, Michael Mann’s Collateral, and a ridiculous-looking Halle Berry as Catwoman, the film currently competing with The Punisher to finish what The Hulk started and end the recent comic-book-movie streak in flames.
creeps about this petty pace ’til Summer 2004, as three sci-fi/fantasy trailers are released in the wake of the King: Vin Diesel returns in The Chronicles of Riddick, aka Pitch Black 2. I enjoyed the first one decently enough, but this teaser doesn’t do anything for me. Meanwhile, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie fight giant robots in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which looks like a great idea for a short film but may be hard to sustain for a full two hours. (And Jolie looks ridiculous.) Finally, Spiderman 2 gets the Quicktime treatment (I already commented on this one here.)
The friendly neighborhood trailer for Spiderman 2, soon to sling in on the coattails of RotK, shows up online. I didn’t much care for the long set-up, but Alfred Molina seems pitch-perfect as Doc Ock.
Lost in the hubbub over yesterday’s RotK footage were these two fanboy nuggets: the new Spiderman 2 poster and lots of new shots from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban. Well, ok then.
Also released at Comicon this past weekend was the first look at Alfred Molina as Doc Ock in Spiderman 2. The trenchcoat’s a bit generic, perhaps, but at least they didn’t completely screw up the look as with Willem DeFoe’s Green Goblin. And I betcha Alfred Molina will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys to boot. His origin moment (previewed at Comicon) sounds like vintage Sam Raimi.
“It seems a pretty sunny and conservative and confident moment, despite a hangover of vulnerability from 9/11 and the recently stalled economy…That’s precisely the time when antiheroes are needed and comprehensible.” How the Dubya era paved the way for Marvel’s movie ascendance. A bit goofy, but ok.
The Amazing Spiderman, which was filming on campus this past weekend, gets better with the addition of Dylan Baker (Happiness, Thirteen Days) as Dr. Curt Conners, a.k.a. The Lizard. Chameleon-like character actors like Baker and Alfred Molina are definitely preferable as villains than the hammy A-listers WB brought to the Batman films. Let’s just hope they find a way in Baker’s makeup to atone for the idiotic decision to put a mask on Willem DeFoe the first time around.
The casting powers-that-be over at Sony officially announce Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus in The Amazing Spiderman. This isn’t bad casting at all, although I still think Stellan Skarsgaard or Phillip Seymour Hoffman (if he could be induced not to go too far over the top) would have been great fun. Also, the new, Michael Chabon-penned script is rumored to only feature Doc Ock here as the main villain – they have wisely decided to forego the Batman route and instead will use one Spidey arch-nemesis at a time. Update: In a similar long-rumored casting call, WB announces that Michael Gambon will play Dumbledore in the next Harry Potter film. With Gary Oldman, Timothy Spall, and most importantly Alfonso Cuaron, this one could be a definite improvement over the first two.
Happy New Year, y’all…and I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. After a hectic past couple of days (which included spending most of my 28th birthday (12/29) driving up the East Coast in holiday traffic and entertaining some old DC friends for a pre-New Years get-together on the 30th), I decided to spend the evening with Berkeley, DoD, and a 4-pack of Guinness. All in all, I quite enjoyed 2002 (Year in Pics), even if the leadership deficit in Washington often seemed despairingly large this past year. But, at any rate, here’s looking to a peaceful, fun-filled, and productive 2003 the world over.
Of course, as in the past two years, a 2003 post means it’s now time for the 2002 Movie Roundup. (As per usual, movies I haven’t seen yet aren’t listed, which this year include The 25th Hour, About Schmidt, Bowling for Columbine, Bloody Sunday, Catch Me If You Can, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Far From Heaven, Frida, The Hours, Jackass, The Ring, and Chicago.) So without further ado, my
3. About a Boy. A surprisingly good translation of Nick Hornby‘s third book. A bit fluffy, perhaps, and as I noted here I’m not sure how I feel about some of the underlying premises, but very well done nonetheless. After all, making both Hugh Grant and a precocious young British lad palatable at the same time is no easy task.
4. Secretary. A heart-warming romantic comedy about a boy, a girl, and the spankings that brought them together. Both James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal are great in this pic, although I’m getting kinda sick of Jeremy Davies (his overly mannered performance in Solaris was distracting too.) While critics are falling all over themselves about the admittedly good Y Tu Mama Tambien for its frank look at sex, I found Secretary the better, and sexier, film of the two. (I thought Y Tu Mama Tambien was more explicit than it was erotic, which is a small difference but a difference nonetheless.) A lot of the people I’ve spoken with had trouble with the ending, but I thought that it ended the only way it really could…any other way would’ve given the audience the out they wanted to condemn these people as sideshow freaks. By treating this bizarre couple as just another relationship in a weird wide world, Secretary offers a portrait of two people “just right” for each other that is much more touching than the average, vanilla romantic comedy.
5. Adaptation. Despite what the sidebar says, I sense this one slipping in my mind while Gangs of New York moves up. Nevertheless, Adaptation was an interesting and fun mind twister for the first two acts (worth the price of admission for the nut muffin reward monologue alone, not to mention Meryl Streep‘s stoned dial tone.) Like Secretary, I see how the movie had to end the way it did, but still…I think there’s something to be said for Stephanie Zacharek’s position that, in a year when some very good adaptations were made (2 of the top 3 here, for example), Kaufman’s self-referential, Hollywood-hating story here is a trifle indulgent. But, for now, it holds the five spot.
6. Spiderman. Probably the second-best foray in yet another lousy crop of summer films (after Minority Report), but at first viewing much more fun than Spielberg’s film. Spidey was a great movie for the first hour, but got a bit perfunctory in the second. On the plus side, I don’t think you could have handled the origin story (or J. Jonah Jameson, for that matter) any better, but the Green Goblin still seems grossly misconceived. (Casting Willem DaFoe, who looks just like the Goblin without the mask on, and then fitting him with a static, sterile green faceplate, is just a mistake of monumental proportions.) And I’m still not too big on Kirsten Dunst as MJ – she screams Gwen Stacy at me. But, fanboy issues aside, Sam Raimi‘s movie was still probably the most satisfying summer film this year.
7. Gangs of New York. I find my thoughts dwelling on this one, so much so that I’m probably going to end up seeing it again. Ultimately, I think Gangs is an almost-great but deeply-flawed film. When you see Daniel Day-Lewis, Jim Broadbent, Liam Neeson, John C. Reilly, or the wonderful recreation of Five Points, you get a sense that this could be one for the ages. But then the film just flounders around for too long with no sense of purpose, other than a meager and barely compelling revenge story. Scorsese‘s beautiful tracking shot of Irish immigrants disembarking in NY harbor and promptly entering the Union army (as coffins are unloaded from nearby ships) gives you a sense of how amazing this film could have been. But, most of the time, you’re just wondering how much longer it’s going to take for Amsterdam DiCaprio to get his act together. And the draft riots issues have already been discussed at length here.
8. Solaris. Like GONY, this film feels like a missed opportunity (and like GONY, I would very much like to see the rumored 45-minute-longer cut.) I liked Solaris more than most people I’ve talked to, but in the end it seemed a bit narrowly conceived. It was a very interesting rumination on relationships and memory – you ultimately know and love the stylized people created in your head more than the actual persons in front of you – but after awhile, I felt like shaking George Clooney and saying “Look, I know it’s weird to see your dead wife again and all, but there’s an alien intelligence trying to communicate with you outside the ship.” That sense of wonder that should have accompanied much of the film is lost by the time Clooney arrives on the space station. And like I said before, Jeremy Davies is distracting.
9. Minority Report. This film was probably the best of the summer movies, even if Spiderman was more satisfying. I liked the brooding atmosphere of this film – if anything, Spielberg‘s vision here makes AI look better too. But, sadly, the film completely falls apart at the end. As I said here, I’m of the school that everything that happens after Tom Cruise is placed in Tim Blake Nelson‘s jail is a Brazil-like vision. This view might explain the ending but, if the picture were better, it wouldn’t need explaining.
10. Y Tu Mama Tambien. As noted above, I think this film is getting overrated in many critics’ end-of-year lists, but it was still quite good. Like Secretary, the way sex is handled in the picture makes your realize how cartoonish it’s become in most American films (where, as Ebert notes here, the closest thing one gets to mature handling of sexual themes is in throwaway garbage like American Pie.) And Maribel Verdu makes for a intriguing Mrs. Robinson of sorts. But, to me much of the voice-over throughout, and particularly in the “two years later” final scene, was hamhanded. For example, when our trio is driving through Mexico and pass a car wreck which is then contextualized by our Amelie-esque narrator, I was completely taken out of the picture. Good, but not as good as it’s currently being made out to be.
11. Blade 2: Bloodhunt. A popcorn film that delivered on exactly the level I wanted it to, from iconic Reservoir Dogs-type shots of Blade and the Bloodpack to an Aliens-like “we’re not all going to make it” rampage in the sewers of Prague. There’s no scene in the movie as good as the meatpacking plant vampire rave that kicks off the first film, but that’d be a hard moment to top anyway. Well-done throughout as a bubble-gum, comic book movie.
12. Below. Speaking of popcorn flicks, David Twohy‘s Below got undeservedly buried by Dimension films when, at least for the first hour and a half, it was quite a spooky ghost story in the Twilight Zone tradition. Like Minority Report, it completely fell apart in the end, of course, but I always like to see Bruce Greenwood and Olivia Williams get some work, and Holt McCallany‘s scene in the mirror still gives me the shivers.
13. The Bourne Identity. Another surprise. While the new Bond flick only stayed intriguing for the first thirty minutes or so, this film managed to hold my interest throughout. Matt Damon is believable, Chris Cooper and Brian Cox do excellent character work here, and Franka Potente and Clive Owen help lend the film an authentic European flavor that’s gone completely AWOL over in the Bond series. (Sadly, though, Columbia’s own Julia Stiles seems grossly miscast.) If the first film’s any indication, I’d rather see another Bourne than another Bond.
14. Undercover Brother. For that matter, I’d rather see another Brother than another Bond too. An Austin Powers ripoff, perhaps, but I found it funnier than Goldmember. The scene with Doogie testing Eddie Griffin‘s grasp of whiteness by asking him Friends trivia was a classic in and of itself.
15. Blue Crush. Laugh if you want, but Blue Crush was a surprisingly solid grrl power film, with appealing characters, realistic interactions, and beautiful Hawaii scenery. The 8 Mile for the X-Games set, Blue Crush was a much better film than I had expected, even if some of the CGI surfing effects are pretty lame. Extra points for the Blestenation hip-hop remix of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” which really should have been the summer joint of 2002.
16. Insomnia. Like Minority Report and Below, Christopher Nolan‘s third effort starts well but peters out by the end. I liked it, but didn’t find Al Pacino half as good as everyone made him out to be. As for Robin Williams, he’s good in this, as he was in the rather stilted One Hour Photo, but you don’t get points for simply not being zany. An ok film that falls in the rankings for the insipid ending and for wasting the lovely Maura Tierney.
17. 8 Mile. It’s Rocky for skinny white guys! Flashdance without the welding! Yeah, this film is predictable, but like Curtis Hanson‘s earlier Wonder Boys, it evokes an air of authenticity that carries the picture through its rough spots. I particularly liked the banter between “Rabbit” and his friends, even if some of them, most notably Sol (Omar Miller, the big tubby playa) and DJ Iz (De’Angelo Wilson, the earnest black power guru) seem like direct lifts of Stacy and Sharif from the much-better Menace II Society. And, although he’s pretty good in this film as himself, I still can’t really see Eminem having much of a movie career, even if his name was being bandied about for Bruce Wayne in Batman: Year One.
18. Austin Powers in Goldmember. Goldmember wasn’t bad, either. In fact, I liked it more than the second one and found the character of Goldmember inexplicably funny (must have been the youth in Belgium.) That being said, Mike Myers is still throwing the kitchen sink at you in these films. It’d be a better film if some of the unfunnier stuff was pared down.
19. Amelie. An interesting update on the romantic comedy and assuredly a better Jeunet film than Alien: Resurrection, but in the end it left me a bit cold. Would you really want this doe-eyed French girl interfering in your life the way she so often does? I doubt it. The “new” letter from the long-dead husband seems particularly jarring.
20. Red Dragon. A completely unnecessary film, tantamount to remaking Silence of the Lambs with Ed Norton as Clarisse. That being said, it was much better than Ridley Scott’s bloated, boring Hannibal, and there is plenty of good character work here, particularly from Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Harvey Keitel, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Biggest Disappointments: Road to Perdition, Signs, and, yes, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
Most Annoying Phenomenon: My Big Fat Greek Wedding All I can say is, been there, done that.
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, Gangs of New York. Runner-Up: Tom Wilkinson, In the Bedroom
Best Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Secretary. Runner-up: Maribel Verdu, Y Tu Mama Tambien
Best Supporting Actor: Andy Serkis, LOTR: The Two Towers. Runner-Up: Jim Broadbent, Gangs of New York.
Best Supporting Actress: Meryl Streep, Adaptation. Runner-up: Toni Collette, About a Boy.