Spring movie preview
Good news, filmgoers: The dog days of the movie season are over!
Spring is the time of year when Hollywood unveils its first blockbusters and prestige flicks — and tries to keep most of the dreck to a minimum.
Here’s a look at 10 of the most highly anticipated movies of the next few months or so:
10: SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED
All together now: Rooby-rooby roo! The animated mutt and the rest of the Scooby gang are back together again, this time to face old enemies from their past, including The Pterodactyl Ghost, The Black Knight and The 10,000 Volt Ghost.
CREDITS: Lovers of the original, don’t despair: We doubt they’ve changed anything about the first Scooby’s formula.
DEBITS: Haters of the original, despair: We doubt they’ve changed anything about the first Scooby’s formula.
WE SAY: Hey, somebody’s gotta give Matthew Lillard and Freddie Prinze Jr. some work, don’t they? Uh, don’t they? (Cue sound of crickets chirping)
RELEASE DATE: March 26
9: 13 GOING ON 30
In this body-switch movie, a 13-year-old girl in 1987 wakes up one day to discover she’s now 30, living in the year 2004 and inhabiting the hot body of TV siren Jennifer Garner. Love comes in the form of a boyhood pal who’s grown up to be Mark Ruffalo.
CREDITS: Even if the movie turns out to be a headache-inducing, saccharine mess, at least you can still watch Garner; the popularity of body-switch movies may have jumped since last year’s Freaky Friday.
DEBITS: Then again, are we really clamouring for a return to the days when Big, Vice Versa and Dream A Little Dream came out back-to-back-to-back?
WE SAY: Sure, we’ll bite … Garner’s earlobes. This is one for the tweens, who should find it an “out-of-body experience.” Ouch.
RELEASE DATE: April 23
8: THE LADYKILLERS
Those dastardly Coen brothers are at it again — this time remaking an old British black comedy of the same name. Tom Hanks plays Professor Goldthwait Higginson Dorr III, a conman who plans a heist with his incompetent cohorts. But when his elderly landlady (Irma P. Hall) discovers the scheme, the gang plots to kill her. Incompetently, of course.
CREDITS: The Coens are back to their deliciously misanthropic ways after the disappointing Intolerable Cruelty.
DEBITS: Will people buy Hanks as a cad? Come to think of it, they did back when he was doing Bosom Buddies …
WE SAY: Hanks + Coens = A big killing with audiences. Or Hankoens.
RELEASE DATE: March 26
7: VAN HELSING
Fearless vampire killer Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) not only has to hunt down Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and assorted vampires, but he’s also pitted against the likes of the Wolf Man (Will Kemp) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Shuler Hensley) in 19th-century London.
CREDITS: The hyperkinetic, FX-laden trailer promises that this definitely isn’t your father’s Dracula.
DEBITS: This smacks a little too much of that awful movie version of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen; co-star Kate Beckinsale’s other trip into the supernatural, Underworld, was bloody bad.
WE SAY: You should stake your reputation on this becoming a monster hit.
RELEASE DATE: May 7
6: THE STEPFORD WIVES
In this remake of the 1975 cult classic based on the book of same name, the Eberharts (Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick) move to the swanky new community of Stepford, Conn., where everything seems a little too perfect. Why are all the wives so bland, characterless and subservient to their husbands?
CREDITS: The good cast also includes Glenn Close, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill, Bette Midler and Jon Lovitz. Okay, maybe not the last two so much.
DEBITS: Can this relatively high-concept flick catch on with audiences more used to big explosions, car chases and window-shattering shootouts?
WE SAY: A chick flick that guys can enjoy? Sign us up. And grab us a sandwich while you’re at it.
RELEASE DATE: June 11
5: KILL BILL: VOL. 2
In the second part of Quentin Tarantino’s bloody revenge saga, we finally get to see whether the Bride (Uma Thurman) avenges herself against Bill (David Carradine) for trying to assassinate her on her wedding night.
CREDITS: While the first was a satisfactorily bloody romp, there’s been buzz this half is more akin to the Tarantino of Pulp Fiction — either way, it’s all good.
DEBITS: We mourn what likely will be the absence of morning star-wielding, psycho schoolgirl Go Go Yubari, who was killed off — in a pretty permanent sort of way — in Vol. 1.
WE SAY: We wouldn’t want to be in Bill’s shoes on opening night — but we’ll certainly relish seeing what happens to him.
RELEASE DATE: April 16
Meet Hellboy (Ron Perlman), a demon who was summoned by Nazis in the ’40s but is now dedicated to keeping the world safe from paranormal menaces. Now he and his band of super-powered freaks must save us from the evil machinations of Nazi wizard Rasputin (Karel Roden).
CREDITS: Movies based on comic books are all the rage — and this is a good one to adapt; the fine cast (Selma Blair, John Hurt and David Hyde-Pierce) and impressive effects are good signs the filmmakers are going for quality here.
DEBITS: A potential franchise-starter rests on the shoulders of … Ron Perlman?!
WE SAY: Looks like this is gonna be a hell of a ride.
RELEASE DATE: April 2
3: HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
The third instalment takes a darker turn, as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and pals Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) face a potential new threat to the titular boy wizard’s life: Titular escaped prisoner Sirius Black (Gary Oldman).
CREDITS: The buzz is that new director Alfonson Cuaron has really done some wondrous things with the franchise; more classy British actors — including Oldman, Emma Thompson and David Thewlis — have joined the cast.
DEBITS: At the rate he’s growing, girls will soon find out exactly what it means to be subjected to Harry’s “magic wand and bag.”
WE SAY: Somebody has to fill the fantasy epic void — who better than Harry Potter?
RELEASE DATE: June 4
2: SHREK 2
Irascible ogre Shrek (voice of Mike Myers), his bride Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their donkey pal Donkey (Eddie Murphy) meet her horrified parents. Disapproving papa King Harold (John Cleese) then decides to band with Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) to break up the happy couple.
CREDITS: The new additions to the stable of fairy-tale characters look like winners; an animated Eddie Murphy is the only good Eddie Murphy these days.
DEBITS: This sequel has a lot to live up to — the original was a critical success and blockbuster hit.
WE SAY: Rival studios are going to turn green with envy when Shrek 2’s box office is tallied up.
RELEASE DATE: May 21
This retelling of the ancient tale features Brad Pitt as Achilles, an apparently invulnerable Greek warrior charged with bringing the kidnapped Helen (Diane Kruger) back from the impregnable city of Troy.
CREDITS: Those looking for a Gladiator-style epic are sure to be wowed by Troy — it’s got everything, including battles, a love story, more battles, shadowy politicking and, yes, even more battles; the solid cast features Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Sean Bean and Peter O’Toole.
DEBITS: There’s always the possibility this is just one of those cheesy, old, ’50s sword and sandal “epics” just dressed up with modern-day effects and sensibilities.
WE SAY: Where do we enlist? Troy has a chance to be the hit of the spring — if it can fend off that grumpy Shrek dude.
RELEASE DATE: May 14
COMPLETE RELEASE SCHEDULE (all dates subject to change)
* Agent Cody Banks 2
* Monsieur Ibrahim
* NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience
* Secret Window
* The Reckoning
* Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra
* Dawn Of The Dead
* Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
* Taking Lives
* Jersey Girl
* The Ladykillers
* Kitchen Stories
* Scooby-Doo 2
* Home On The Range
* The Prince & Me
* Walking Tall
* The Alamo
* Broken Wings
* Ella Enchanted
* The Girl Next Door
* Mayor Of Sunset Strip
* Tibet: Cry Of The Snow Lion
* The Whole Ten Yards
* Connie And Carla
* I’m Not Scared
* Kill Bill: Vol. 2
* The Punisher
* 13 Going on 30
* Bon Voyage
* The Cremaster Cycle n Man On Fire
* Shaolin Soccer
* Without A Paddle
* Breakin’ All The Rules
* Laws Of Attraction
* Mean Girls
* The Saddest Music In The World
* Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … And Spring
* Crimson Gold
* New York Minute
* Van Helsing
Spring movie preview