We’re halfway through 2005 now, so I thought that this would be an opportune moment to look back and see what films I was looking forward to six months ago, and what I’m looking forward to now. Will I have managed to see everything I wanted to? Did they all turn out to be rubbish? Can I still enthuse about films after that awful Star Wars trilogy? Let’s find out!
First of all, let’s recap: here’s my original Shape of Things to Come article. I didn’t see The Polar Express but I can’t say I’m bothered about that. The Merchant of Venice and The Life & Death of Peter Sellers are both still on my ‘to-see’ list, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hasn’t been released yet but I still want to see it, particularly as the new trailer shows the Oompa Loompas — and what film isn’t complete without a bunch of Oompa Loompas?
Of the films that I did see, well, I loved Batman Begins, hated Revenge of the Sith and thought War of the Worlds was so-so (I’ll return to talk about that one at a later date). So, on reflection, I don’t think I did too well — I tended to see the films that stood the greater chance of being rubbish and left the better ones to fester. Will I learn my lesson for the next six months? Probably not.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to over the next few months, listed in the order in which I remember them.
This one’s not due out until Christmas, which is good — last Christmas didn’t feel right without a spectacular Peter Jackson film to look forward to. The film itself looks great from this trailer, which shows a surprising amount of the titular ape as well as some nice shots of dinosaurs. Jack Black looks to be not-annoying as one of the lead male roles and Andy Serkis is back as Kong; I’ve a good feeling about this one, but mostly that’s based upon Jackson’s Lord of the Rings track record — his works previous to that were generally only average…
Well, this one will probably be awful, though I do enjoy the trailers for it (which use the same music as the King Kong trailer, oddly). It looks to be badly-scripted with poor special effects, bad casting and a crap plot, but really, if I don’t see these films then how can we warn the rest of the world about them?
The Island could be either intelligent SF, along the lines of Blade Runner or Gattaca, or it could be a good idea ruined by the mass-market’s perpetual need for explosions. With a plot that reminds me vaguely of Michael Marshall Smith’s book Spares, featuring clones that JUST WANT TO LIVE GODDAMNIT, this could end up being dumbed down — director Michael Bay doesn’t have a particularly thoughtful portfolio (Bad Boys 2, anyone?), but it features a strong cast — Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi and Sean Bean. Not that that helped Star Wars, of course…
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Has to be great, it’s British.
The Dukes of Hazzard
Looks good from the trailer, though I’m beginning to tire of seeing Sean William Scott playing every single role in exactly the same way. Burt Reynolds is clearly not fat enough to play the part of Boss Hogg either. Hopefully this won’t be a Starsky and Hutch-style raping of childhood memories.
Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire
Ah, one of my guilty pleasures. I would have liked to have seen Alfonso Cuarón continue directing the Harry Potter series, but this time around the duty falls to Mike Newell, whose previous work (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pushing Tin, An Awfully Big Adventure) doesn’t strike me as the portfolio of someone well-equipped to take on big-budget children’s fantasy, but you never know — probably can’t be much worse than Chris Columbus. The usual cast of EVERY ENGLISH COMIC ACTOR EVER is bolstered this time around by Ralph Fiennes as Voldermort and a cameo by Jarvis Cocker. Could be good, but with the original source material this time being bigger than the first three books combined it could also be a complete hatchet job. On the plus side, maybe most of Harry’s tedious teenage banter will be lost in translation.
A Scanner Darkly
This looks interesting; so far as I can tell from the trailer, this is an animated film but the characters have been drawn to look exactly like the voice actors — Robert Downey Jr., Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson — in a highly-stylised way. Based on the novel by Phillip K. Dick of the same name, this looks fairly innovative and unusual, so will almost certainly not be showing at any cinema within walking distance of me.
Following on from the excellent (and thus cancelled) TV series Firefly, Serenity ties up some of the loose ends. If this is successful at the box office, I suspect it will lead to the TV series being renewed, except marketing execs will replace Nathan Fillion with, I don’t know, Charlie Sheen or someone, and introduce a cute-yet-precocious nine-year old girl. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this, even if it is simply an extended episode of the series.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
I devoured the Narnia books when I was a child, and I’m pleased to report that it was only years later that I discovered there was this whole Christian analogy running throughout them, which evidentally never did me any harm. This adaptation of the second book of the series (why does nobody ever want to hear about The Magician’s Nephew, eh?) looks impressive — will it give the Harry Potter series serious competition?