For the benefit of my meager readership as well as myself, I've had a look at the release calendar over at Greg's Previews page to see what the movie world has in store for audiences in 2005. The release dates, of course, are very fluid and are subject to change. I've picked twenty films that I'm looking forward too, and have categorized them according to the letters bellow:
(A) Is a remake of a film
(B) Is a sequel/prequel to a film
(C) Is based on a TV show
(D) Is based on a popular book
(E) Is based on a comic book series
January - This is usually a very lean month for films. Speaking of lean, the one notable film opening in January is "Assault on Precinct 13" (AA), a remake of the 1976 John Carpenter classic of the same name (which in turn was based on the 1959 John Wayne classic "Rio Bravo", thus the second "A"). There's a lot about this movie that reminds me of 2003's "Dawn of the Dead": It's a remake of a cult classic concerning a group of people fending off a siege. And like the remake of "Dawn", this one is working with a lower budget and smaller actors than most other films. I was totally wowed by the "Dawn" remake, and I also have high hopes for this one. Being released in a slow month, it could become a sleeper hit.
February - The upcoming comic book adaptation "Constantine" (E) brings to mind "The Matrix" in a lot of ways, not least of which from it starring Keanu Reeves. There's a lot of mindblowing effects strung together in the trailer in very much the same fashion as the original "Matrix" trailer. Let's just hope that as far as Keanu Reeves Sci-Fi films go, this is more "The Matrix" and less "Johnny Mnemonic".
March - As I mentioned in my review of "The Bourne Supremacy", if a book that is successfully made into a movie already has a second book continuing the story, then a second movie is a natural progression (as opposed to solely cashing in on the success of the first). Elmore Leonard's "Get Shorty" was a fun flick, and "Be Cool" (BD) promises more of the same. At the very least, it forced Travolta to drop those extra pounds he's been sporting lately. The result: The promotional photographs of him appear like he hasn't aged a day in the nine years since "Get Shorty". Very cool, indeed.
April - Rejoice! The first film to not have any letters! Of course, that doesn't guarantee that "The Interpreter" (none) will be any good. Still, some very intelligent actors such as Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn and Catherine Keener are being directed by Sidney Pollack. The international intrigue vibe in the trailer is giving me flashbacks to Pollack's "Three Days of the Condor", and that is a very good thing. Watch for it.
May - Although I loved the book "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" (AD), I'm unsure of the film. I wasn't as impressed as others were by the BBC adaptation that was done in 1981. It left me a feeling that this work should stay in printed form. We'll see if that opinion changes. "Kingdom of Heaven" (none) also has no letters to burden it, but it also has the distinct possibility of being a brainless Hollywood spectacle if handled incorrectly. Don't get me wrong. I've been waiting for a big film on the Crusades and that's why this is on my list, but I'm trying to stay grounded. Oh, and some film called "Star Wars: Episode III" (CCCCC) is opening, too.
June - "Batman Begins" (E) goes in with a lot of baggage. I only gave it an "E" because it is technically a new story, and therefore not a sequel, prequel or remake. Still, audiences might view it as such after seeing this character so often in the past fifteen years, played by three different people. Of course, that never hurt James Bond. I look forward to seeing what director Christopher Nolan ("Memento") and actor Christian Bale ("American Psycho") can do with this franchise. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Also, the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise collaboration on "War of the Worlds" (AD) will be released. Lord knows that after "Independence Day" did so well in 1996, Summer has become a great time for alien invasions. Let's see what two old pros like Spielberg and Cruise can do with this familiar story.
July - Although I was initially wary of the movie version of "Bewitched" (C), I then learned that the film's plot concerns the filming of a movie based on the series with a real witch cast as Samantha. It sounds like a more comedic version of "The Shadow of the Vampire", and that's a very weird vein to tap for such a mainstream movie. Still, it has me intrigued and wanting to see more. Then there is Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (AD), starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. For me, the unconventional casting of Gene Wilder was the best thing that the original film had going for it. As much as I love Johnny Depp, I'm not so sure about his casting. I'll take solace in the fact that he'll be getting back to Captain Jack Sparrow really soon. Finally, yet another comic book film, this time it's "The Fantastic Four" (E). It looks to be another adventure-type film in the vein of the "X-Men" series. That's a high standard to live up to.
August - Move along, people. Nothing to see here.
September - "The Mask of Zorro" surprised a lot of people as a really fun swashbuckler. So much so that we forgave it's occasional cliche as when all the heros run like hell from the big-ass explosion near the end. "The Legend of Zorro" (AB) will be reuniting all the principles, and I'll be pleased to see them together again. "Serenity" (C) is a feature film based on the now cancelled Sci-Fi series "Firefly". I have been meaning to borrow the DVD set from a friend of mine as I have heard such good things about the TV show. I'll be endeavoring to get caught up on the storyline before the film hits theaters.
October - As my wife and her grandfather will attest to, Nick Park is brilliant. His "Wallace and Gromit" shorts are pure genius, and his first foray into a feature length film, 2000's "Chicken Run", showed that he excelled even outside of his most famous characters. But that cheese-loving Brit and his hyper-intelligent dog are who we love most, so the approach of "The Wallace & Gromit Movie" (B) is very closely watched by many of us. We have every confidence that Nick won't let us down.
November - And speaking of unbroken track records of brilliance, we have Pixar's entry to the 2005 movie season: "Cars" (none). A short preview of this was shown before "The Incredibles" and it looks pretty good. Also upcoming are the rapidly maturing students at Hogwarts in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (BBD). Having not read past the second book, I won't pretend to have an informed opinion on this fourth installment. Instead, I'll just hope that it's at least as entertaining as the first three. Finally, that master of fantasy Terry Gilliam, who has been in hiding since his aborted "Don Quixote" three years ago, returns to the fold with "The Brothers Grimm" (D). To keep the studio suits from getting too nervous, Matt Damon and Heath Ledger star. Gilliam is currently directing a film called "Tideland" and after that...well...I've heard a lot of people voice their hope that he may soon take over a certain magical franchise.
December - The increasing popularity of fantasy films for the Christmas season was cemented over three straight Decembers with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. It's therefore appropriate that Peter Jackson's next project, "King Kong" (AA), also gets a December bow. People think Peter can do no wrong right now, but I'm under no such delusions. It's not that I wish him ill, but a remake of the B&W classic is not a sure thing. Here's hoping he pulls it off. Finally, there is the release of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe" (AAD), Disney's attempt to cash in on the "LOTR" success by bringing another beloved fantasy literary classic to it's full CGI splendor. Though "Lion" is considered the best of the books, I'm sure that Disney is very pleased that there are many other books to look to if this becomes a hit.
And there's your twenty. Of course, there are other just as big films coming up that I haven't included due to complete lack of interest. This includes some movie spinoffs ("Elektra", "Beautyshop"), sequels nobody asked for ("Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo", "Son of the Mask", "XXX: State of the Union", "The Fast and the Furious 3", "Jurassic Park IV"), remakes nobody asked for ("The Pink Panther", "Herbie: Fully Loaded"), another TV show based film ("The Dukes of Hazzard") and a big-budget adaptation of a 1983 arcade game (The Rock in "Spy Hunter"). There will also be little films that sneak under the radar: Independent and foreign films that no one saw coming. Let's hope enough of these will make it to the googoplexes so that our sanity may be kept in 2005.