New ‘Indy’ tops ’08 film preview
Crack wise all you want about curmudgeon Harrison Ford’s creakiness as he takes one last crack at the bullwhip.
Fact is, for all the comic book adaptations, sequels and retreads storming theatres in 2008, it’s the shadow of Ford’s 65-year-old Indiana Jones that looms over them all.
And why not? Nineteen years after The Last Crusade, the Steven Spielberg-helmed, George Lucas-produced trilogy remains the standard by which cinematic thrill rides are measured.
This alone makes the character’s return an event and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the year’s front-runner for box-office fortune and glory.
Not that the makers of the other entries listed in our rundown of the 20 most-anticipated films of 2008 won’t try to prove Ford’s archeologist-adventurer, like the artifacts he pursues, is a dust-covered relic.
Note, though: All release dates are subject to change.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull May 22
The Pitch: In the 1950s, Jones races Soviet agents to an ancient — and alien — temple in South America.
The Upside: Ford back in the hat. The hummable theme song.
The Downside: Is Shia LaBeouf, as Indiana’s son, this franchise’s Jar-Jar Binks?
The Dark Knight July 18
The Pitch: The Caped Crusader (Christian Bale) confronts a red-lipped sociopath known only as The Joker (Heath Ledger).
The Upside: Bale, back for more. Ledger is more reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange than Jack Nicholson’s mugging clown.
The Downside: We can’t think of a thing. They even ditched Katie Holmes for Maggie Gyllenhaal.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian May 16
The Pitch: The Pevensie siblings venture back into Narnia, but find it a darker, more savage realm than they remember.
The Upside: Purportedly more action-packed than the original.
The Downside: Does the collapse of The Golden Compass indicate fantasy-film fatigue?
Wall-E June 27
The Pitch: A lonely robot tries to clean up Earth all by himself. No, it’s not the Al Gore story. Set 700 years in the future, director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) has described it as R2-D2: The Movie.
The Upside: The unstoppable Pixar brand-name.
The Downside: Could it suffer from a case of the cutes?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Nov. 21
The Pitch: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) explores Lord Voldemort’s sinister past.
The Upside: Another year, another J.K. Rowling adventure off the well-oiled assembly line.
The Downside: That Order of the Phoenix’s David Yates is back behind the camera underscores how workman-like these films have become.
Bond 22 November
The Pitch: Daniel Craig pursues the SPECTRE-esque organization responsible for the events of Casino Royale.
The Upside: Craig’s the best Bond since Connery (and blasphemers might argue he’s better). Rumour has it the sequel will simply be entitled 007.
The Downside: Can the Bond camp avoid falling back on the crutches of over-the-top stunt-work and gadgetry?
Hancock July 2
The Pitch: Will Smith yuks it up as an alcoholic superhero who gets a publicist (Jason Bateman) to overhaul his image, then starts an affair with the publicist’s wife (Charlize Theron).
The Upside: Bateman. The superhero genre seems overdue for a sendup …
The Downside: … but wasn’t that movie called My Super Ex-Girlfriend? And didn’t it suck?
The Lovely Bones October
The Pitch: Oscar-winner Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) directs this adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel, which is told from the perspective of a murdered 14-year-old girl. Mark Wahlberg replaced Ryan Gosling at the last minute as the girl’s father.
The Upside: Jackson returning to Heavenly Creatures territory.
The Downside: Jackson’s pre-disposition for self-indulgence.
Pineapple Express August
The Pitch: A stoner (Seth Rogen) and his drug dealer (James Franco) go on the run from crooked cops. Producer Judd Apatow describes it as Superbad meets Bad Boys.
The Upside: The Apatow connection.
The Downside: As Walk Hard demonstrated, not everything Apatow touches turns to box-office gold.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button November
The Pitch: In this romantic fantasy, Brad Pitt plays a man who is born old and grows young. Cate Blanchett is the woman he loves.
The Upside: Director David Fincher is a master technician.
The Downside: The premise is easily botched.
Cloverfield Jan. 18
The Pitch: The Blair Witch Project meets Godzilla.
The Upside: Ingenious premise — and online marketing. Could be 2008’s first through-the-roof blockbuster.
The Downside: Can the cool concept sustain an entire movie?
Forgetting Sarah Marshall May 30
The Pitch: Jason Segel winds up at the same resort as the ex-girlfriend he’s desperate to get over (Kristen Bell).
The Upside: Yet another one from Judd Apatow. Is Segel this year’s Seth Rogen?
The Downside: Sounds a little too much like a Ben Stiller movie.
The Happening June 13
The Pitch: Signs with plants. M. Night Shyamalan directs this end-of-world ecological thriller. Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel star.
The Upside: Shyamalan trying to scare us.
The Downside: Shyamalan’s last two films, the products of an unchecked ego.
Star Trek Dec. 25
The Pitch: The early adventures of Kirk and Spock, now embodied by Chris Pine and Heroes villain Zachary Quinto.
The Upside: Director/producer J.J. Abrams charged with re-energizing the long-sagging space opera.
The Downside: Star Trek has been synonymous with nerd-dom for so long, can this reboot muster interest from the non-pointy-eared masses?
The Love Guru June 20
The Pitch: Mike Myers stars in this comedy as Pitka, an American raised in India, hired to solve the romantic woes of a Toronto Maple Leafs player whose professional performance has suffered since his wife left him for a rival (Justin Timberlake). Jessica Alba co-stars.
The Upside: Myers has been work-shopping his character for years.
The Downside: If he’s so meticulous, why didn’t he know how god-awful The Cat in the Hat was going to be?
Get Smart June 20
The Pitch: Adaptation of the spy spoof series with Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart.
The Upside: Anne Hathaway as Agent 99. Carell can be hilarious, Evan Almighty notwithstanding.
The Downside: The director’s credits include Tommy Boy.
The Incredible Hulk June 13
The Pitch: Marvel and Universal are starting from scratch again rather than make a sequel to Ang Lee’s 2003 bomb.
The Upside: Edward Norton, perfectly cast as Bruce Banner.
The Downside: Will Norton’s alter-ego be more convincing than the digital Gumby from Lee’s film?
The Pitch: Angelina Jolie is a mother whose infant son is abducted in 1920s Los Angeles. When he’s returned, she suspects the baby is not hers.
The Upside: Clint Eastwood. The last time he directed a movie with a strong female lead, everyone went home with Oscars.
The Downside: She doesn’t box.
The Pitch: Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann channels Lawrence of Arabia’s David Lean for this epic set in Australia prior to the Second World War.
The Upside: Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman paired in a big sweeping romance.
The Downside: Kidman is hit-starved.
The Pitch: A German colonel (Tom Cruise) plots to assassinate Adolph Hitler.
The Upside: Director Bryan Singer re-teaming with his Usual Suspects scribe.
The Downside: You can probably guess how the story ends.
New ‘Indy’ tops ’08 film preview