Articles: 2001 Movies That Matter




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Laurence Washington

   Before buying tickets for The Greatest Show On Earth – the 2001 movie season – here’s a preview of the top 11 most highly anticipated films of 2001.

Bottom Line: Sorry, the suits at Fox pictures have kept the Ape’s plot line one of most closely guarded secrets in Hollywood. Rumor has it that a wayward astronaut finds himself in a world turned upside down where apes rule and humans are hunted animals. [Surprised?]
Most Valuable Players: Director Tim Burton (Batman/Ed Wood)
Selling Points: Tim Burton. Rumor persists that Burton’s Ape flick isn’t a remake. Rather it’s a "re-imagining" of the original planet dominated by monkeys flick. If anyone can pull off an ambitious remake (or re-telling) of a beloved classic, it’s Burton. Remember Burton turned 1989’s Batman from a 1960’s television farce into a dark genre unto itself? Expect great things.
Downside: The original Planet of The Apes screenplay was written by Twilight Zone’s guru Rod Serling. The original film’s ending was chilling, and 30 years later, it still sends chills straight up the spine. Film critics and Ape fans will certainly use Serling’s version as a measuring stick for Burton’s vision. (Summer)

Bottom Line: Laura Croft, the daughter of famed archaeologist Lord Henshingly Croft, is brought up in British aristocracy. After her father’s death, Croft comes to the realization that the only time she’s truly alive is when she’s pillaging the remnants of long lost civilizations for Sony Play Station, or at your local bijou.
Most Valuable Players: Jiggling Angelina Jolie in hot pants and a bushel of bullets.
Selling Points: Fourteen-year-old boys with active hormones are going to love it.
Downside: This isn’t the first time that Hollywood, desperately searching for ideas, has transformed a popular video game into a motion picture. And unless the plot involves more than Angelina Jolie's bust size and her two .44 caliber Desert Eagles pistols, by the end of summer, like The Mummy Returns, Tomb Raider will be a dusty memory and an answer to a trivia question. (Summer)

Bottom Line: A young singer who overcomes a turbulent childhood begins an exciting but often volatile journey to superstardom.
Most Valuable Players: Mariah Carey
Selling Points: Mariah Carey will be providing the music. ‘Nuff said.
Downside: The story idea (though not to be autobiographical) was conceived by Carey. Maybe the chanteuse should stick to song writing, and let the screenplay writers do their job. (Fall)

Bottom Line: Sorry fans. There’s hasn’t been any officially announcement regarding the plot. However, you can bet the story probably involves people who didn’t see the Jurassic Park 1 and 2, who suddenly find themselves lining up to be a hot lunch.
Most Valuable Players: Leapin’ lizards! Original cast members Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant) and Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler).
Selling Points: Leapin’ lizards!
Downside: Steven Spielberg has bailed out of the director’s chair after the first two dino flicks. His absence should be our first clue that this film could be a stinker. In addition, we’ve already seen dinosaurs break out of the original Jurassic Park and terrorize visitors and staff of Isla Nublar (Which by the way was cool). Then we’ve seen dinosaurs escape Isla Nublar II and make their way to San Diego. So it’s doubtful that the filmmakers can show us something we haven’t seen before. (Summer)

Bottom Line: Set in the future where gladiators on rollerskates and motorcycles, play a violent game for businessmen who are willing to kill for high ratings.
Most Valuable Players: LL Cool J, Chris Klein
Selling Points: Plenty of high-speed action and a perfect action-thriller for the summer crowd.
Downside: Could be a flop if this version follows the original too closely. In addition, Rollerball is the second film in a row that director John McTiernan has remade from Norman Jewison, i.e. Thomas Crown Affair that paled in comparison to the Steve McQueen original. (Summer)

Bottom Line: Based upon the popular Harry Potter children books, the film follows the exploits of a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own.
Most Valuable Players: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, John Cleese
Selling Points: A million readers can’t be wrong. Can they? Harry Potter has a strong presold audience that line up at book stores over night when a new story is published. You can imagine what’s going to happen when the film is released.
Downside: Actually, there’s not really a downside if the film is faithful to the books. If not, director Chris Columbus (who is a good director) stands a pretty good chance of being tar and fethered by Potter disciples. (Fall)

Bottom Line: Dolittle (Eddie Murphy) finds himself in the midst of the animal kingdom’s first labor strike.
Most Valuable Players: Eddie Murphy, Kevin Pollak, Jeffrey Jones
Selling Points: Murphy did a great job with the original (which was really a remake). If Murphy can capture the same energy and spirit of the first film, he’ll have another hit.
Downside: It’s been our experience that the only thing worse than talking animals in most of these flicks, is a talking man. (Summer)

Bottom Line: A sequel to the1999 hit, the remains of Imhotep and Anck-su-Numam are brought back to a London museum (How smart was that?).
Most Valuable Players: The Rock, Arnold Vosloo, Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz
Selling Points: The Rock and special effects should fill seats on this retread.
Downside: Oh, hum. Haven’t we’ve seen this all before? (Spring)

Bottom Line: It’s Hollywood vs. history in the retelling of the Japanese attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor Naval Base.
Most Valuable Players: Ben Affleck, Dan Aykroyd, Alec Baldwin, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore
Selling Points: Dec. 7, 1941, the infamous day that jolted America from peaceful isolationism to total war altered the course of history is relived by high-octane guru Jerry Bruckheimer (The Rock/Con Air). This A-list star popcorn muncher opens on Memorial Day. Pearl Harbor should draw huge box office receipts.
Downside: Bruckheimer can deliver too much of a good thing. As long as there are car chases and bombs are going off Bruckheimer is in his element. If Bruckheimer can’t handle the catastrophic drama of Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor could end up looking like a typical Bruckheimer high-speed summer action flick. (Spring)

Bottom Line: The story of Heavyweight Boxing champion Cassius Clay, who went on to become Muhammad Ali.
Most Valuable Players: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mario Van Peebles
Selling Points: Will Smith, who has beefed up for the role (225 pounds), is as charismatic and as energetic as the Champ. In addition, Ali is the only biopic the champ has given his official blessing and full support.
Downside: Smith needs a hit after the beleaguered Wild Wild West and The Legend of Bagger Vance and Ali could very well be it. However, trouble usually happens in threes. Cross your fingers. (Fall)

Bottom Line: Based upon the first novel of the classic trilogy of books by J.R.R. Tolkien that nearly single-handedly established the modern genre of fantasy fiction.
Most Valuable Players: Elijah Wood, Sir Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett
Selling Points: Pre-sold audience. There only a few books in the last 100 years which are as universally hailed and revered within the realm of fantasy and science fiction as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Downside: The film seems to be plagued with production problems. First, Lord of the Rings was announced for release in December, 2000. Then it was then pushed back to the Summer of 2001. Now the suits at New Line Cinema have announced Lord of the Rings will be seeking a "Christmas, 2001" release. (Fall)

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