2002 SF Movie Previews by David Marsh

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2 8 Rollerball
3 5 Time Machine
3 22 ET: Digital Enhance
4 ? Pluto Nash
4 ? Red Dwarf
5 3 Spiderman
5 16 Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
7 2 MIB III
8 2 Signs
8 30 Arac Attack (Eight Legged Freaks)
11 ? Star Trek X: Nemesis
12 ? LOTR: Twin Towers
? ? Barbarella (w Drew Barrymore)

2002 - Warner Brothers - All Rights Reserved

January starts out with a number of good films, including the Michelle Pfeiffer/Sean Penn story of a retarded man who wants to keep custody of his young daughter, I Am Sam. Try as I might, I can't make it SF though, and there really aren't any SF or Fantasy releases due for a bit. 

imageThere is one exception, though I don't know how wide the release will be for Metropolis, an Anime remake of the classic Fritz Lang (1927) Metropolis which I know we have planned for review next issue. So far the word is that the anime is excellent, living up to the standards set by Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Hopefully they're right, because those are high standards indeed.

That's not really a bad thing, as it gives you time to see Lord of the Rings again and to hunt up some younger relatives to make your watching Jimmy Neutron more plausible. Remember that you get six nominees for Dramatic Hugo, and don't forget to vote for both of these films. I had ten times more fun watching Jimmy Neutron than I did with the Harry Potter Movie, by the way.

I've laid out a list of films I know are slated for opening this year to give you an idea of what's ahead, starting in Feb. with a remake of the 1975 Action Sci-Fi Smashup, Rollerball, staring Chris Klein in the James Caan role. My guess is that while they've no doubt added more technical effects and a soundtrack fitted to "today's youth", the original film will hold up well due to James Caan's performance. If you have no idea what the film's about, you probably don't want to, but it's a near future (2008) version of roller derby including an oval skating track, motorcycles, rollerbladers, and a deathwish. I've heard fans of the movie defend it on the basis that the sport is actually depicted as a real sport, though the plot is that promoters are tampering with it to get the death count and viewer numbers up. I guess I'm just not a sports fan.

Then in  March comes what looks like a stunning remake of George Pal's 1960 version of  H.G. Well's The Time Machine, starring Guy Pearce as Alexander Hartdegen, the Time Traveler. The score they're playing with the trailer sounds an awful lot like something John Williams wrote for another project, and I suspect it may not be the final, which would be a pity, as it lends the whole thing the air of cause and adventure it needs. If they can keep the pacing up, I think this could do a great job introducing another generation to a great story, and incidentally a great writer, not to mention the original film.

Also in March, though not quite a remake, there will be a new digitally enhanced version of ET: Digitally Enhanced Spec. Ed., Which gives us the opportunity to see Drew Barrymore considerably before she was killed off in Scream, or dressed to kill in Charlie's Angels. 

And speaking of Drew, one of the hotter rumors is she's doing a remake of Jane Fonda's Sci-Fi Vehicle from the 1968 Barbarella. Though Jane's over the top pop film stands as an icon to bad taste and flaunted sexuality, the new film is said to have nothing to do with the plotline from the original, being based loosely on the comic books: series Le Semble Lune and Le Miroir au Tempetes by Jean Claude Forest in which "an innocent girl finds the source of her planet's good fortune before leading a rebellion." Why they're calling it Barbarella is anyone's guess.

By the time April rolls around, I guess the industry thinks we'll be in need of a laugh, as two SF Comedies plan to launch, Pluto Nash, starring Eddie Murphy as a Lunar nightclub owner with a mob problem, and Red Dwarf, the realization of one of Great Britain's best SFTV efforts, complete with original cast.

It's a sad comment that in May I'll be looking forward more to see Sam Rami as Spiderman, than Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. I have a bad feeling about the remaining two Star Wars films, partly because I suspect that Anakin will turn towards the dark side, and that can't be a good thing, and partly because I've lost faith in Lucas's vision about four films back. Spiderman looks like a lot of fun though, and the tweaking they've done to keep it contemporary seems like a good thing. Now Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically enhanced spider and shoots the webby stuff from his own body, rather than from overgrown squirt guns on his wrists. Interestingly, there was a news release the other day that web spinning genes have been grafted onto mammals in the hope that we can "manufacture" the high strength stuff ourselves. Good timing.

I'll let the summer films wait until the weather warms up a bit, but of the year in general, I don't expect to see anything break out as a super-blockbuster, a pity in a year with a new Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings movie in it. On the other hand, those franchises should give us some pretty good films and we can expect some pleasant surprises from upstarts along the way.

 David Marsh 

2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu