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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

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Ratings
Ratings are based on a four star system.
One star means that the commercials are more entertaining than the program.
Two stars watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars is good solid entertainment.
Four stars means you never dreamed television could be this good.

Here are my predictions, based entirely on the writers, for which genre films in 2004 will be worth watching. For completeness, I include three films already released.

March:

Dawn of the Dead by James Gunn from a screenplay by George A. Romero.
Gunn brought us Scooby Doo. Now that's scary.

April:

Hellboy by Guillermo del Toro from a comic book by Mike Mignola.
Del Toro wrote Blade II.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth.
Kaufman brought us Being John Malkovich and Adaptation.

The Punisher by Michael France and Jonathan Hensleigh.
France wrote Cliffhanger, Goldeneye, and The Hulk, all fairly good, none spectacular. His next project is The Fantastic Four. Hensleigh wrote Jumanji, which I liked, and Armageddon, which I didn't. Prediction: worth seeing but not great.

Godsend by Mark Bomback. He wrote a real turkey called The Night Caller.
Prediction: not worth watching.

May:
The Day after Tomorrow

Van Helsing by Stephen Sommers.
He wrote The Mummy films. Prediction: mildly entertaining.

Godzilla by Ishiro Honda, Shigeru Kayama, and Takeo Murata.
A re-release of the 1954 original. Ah, so, banzai, preese. Honda wrote such diverse films as All Monsters Attack and two segments of Akira Kurasawa's Dreams. Who could resist. Get plenty of butter popcorn and a big box of Junior Mints.

Shrek 2 by J. David Stem, Joe Stillman, and David N. Weiss based on characters created by William Steig.
Stem and Weiss wrote Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Stillman is the only holdover from the original. Prediction: disaster.

The Day after Tomorrow by Ronald Emmerich and Jeffery Nachmanoff.
Emmerich wrote Stargate, Independence Day, and Godzilla. This is Nachmanoff's first feature film. He wrote and directed a well-loved short, The Big Gig, in 1993 and has laid low ever since. He may bring something to this movie that Emmerich's other blockbusters lacked.

June:
Hellboy

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Stephen Kloves from a novel by J. K. Rowling.
Same author as the first two films. Prediction: the best genre film of the year.

The Chronicles of Riddick by David Twohy.
A sequel to Pitch Black. I didn't care for Pitch Black, but Twohy also worked on The Fugitive and Waterworld. What the hay. You're going to see it for Vin Diesel, and it might be fun.

The Stepford Wives by Paul Rudnick from a book by Ira Levin.
Rudnick wrote Adams Family Values. Don't bother.

Darkness by Jaume Balaguero and Fernando de Felipe.
A 2002 Spanish film finally getting American release. Just might be good.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow by Kerry Conran.
The one 2004 film we are all going to see. Conran is a complete unknown, so it could be the new Star Wars. Or not. Nobody knows.

July:

I, Robot Spider-Man 2 by Michael Chabon, Alfred Gough, David Koepp, Miles Miller, and Alvin Sargent from characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Too many cooks. Chabon wrote Wonder Boys, which was fairly good. Gough and Miller are doing a great job with Smallville, and I liked their Shanghai Noon. Their next project is Iron Man. Koepp wrote the first Spider-Man film single-handed and also (with Michael Crichton) Jurassic Park. I wonder why he needed so much help this time out. Miller Sargent wrote Ordinary People, an Oscar-winning bore, and the classic TV shows Route 66 and Ben Casey. Prediction: a lot of fun.

I, Robot by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Vintar, from classic SF stories by Isaac Asimov, who must be spinning in his grave.
Goldsman worked on A Beautiful Mind, but also on Batman and Robin and Lost in Space. Vintar wrote Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Expect good special effects but a dreadful script.

A Cinderella Story by Leigh Dunlap, who has no other professional credits.
Looks like an attempt to cash in by imitating Shrek 2. Forget it.

Catwoman by John D. Brancato. Michael Ferris, and John Rogers based on a character created by Bob Kane.
Brancato and Ferris wrote The Game and Terminator 3, which were fun. Rogers wrote The Core, which wasn't too bad. And he has a degree in physics, which is a plus. May be better than you expect.

The Village by M. Night Shyamalan.
I don't care as much for Shyamalan as most people, though I liked Unbreakable. Might be entertaining.

August:
Van Helsing

Thunderbirds by Peter Hewitt, William Osborne, and Michael McCullers based on characters created by Gary and Sylvia Anderson.
Hewitt wrote The Borrowers. Osborn worked on The Scorpion King. McCullers worked on a couple of Austin Powers films. You couldn't drag me into the theater, but if you are a Thunderbirds fan, nothing could keep you away.

Code 46 by Frank Cottrell Boyce who wrote a bunch of movies you never heard of.
Forget it. Unless, of course, a little full frontal nudity is enough to make you reach for your wallet. Already released at film festivals.

Alien vs. Predator by Peter Briggs, Paul W. S. Anderson, and Shane Salreno, based on characters created by Dan O'Bannon and H. R. Geiger and Jim & John Thomas.
Anderson wrote Resident Evil. Briggs wrote Hellboy. Salerno worked on Armageddon. A guilty pleasure. Every now and then I just gotta see a really bad film.

Exorcist: The Beginning by William Wisher, Jr., Caleb Carr, and Alexi Hawley.
Wisher wrote Judge Dredd and did a little bit of writing for the first two Terminator films. The other two have never written anything you ever heard of. William Peter Blatty doesn't even get "created by" credit, for which he is probably grateful. Sorry, guys, I've already seen my one bad movie for this month.

Venom by John Claflin, Michael Miner, Edward Neumeier, and David Zelman.
Miner and Neumeier worked on the original Robocop, but it doesn't look like anything of theirs made it onto the screen. Claflin and Zelman wrote "They Nest". Say no more. (I can say no more.)

September:

Resident Evil: Apocalypse by Paul W. S. Anderson.
See my comments on Alien vs. Predator above.

October:

Cursed by Kevin Williamson.
Author of the Scream series. Yucch!

Seed of Chucky by Don Mancini.
Author of the Chucky series. Give me a break.

November:

The Incredibles by Brad Bird, author of The Iron Giant.
I'm really looking forward to this one.

The Brothers Grimm by Terry Gilliam.
Terry Gilliam! I knew somewhere in this list there would be one writer who needs no introduction. And now for something completely different. Written with Tony Grisoni and Ehren Kruger.

The Polar Express by Robert Zemeckis and William Broyles, Jr. from a book by Chris Van Allsberg.
Can we forgive Broyles for Planet of the Apes? Sure we can, since he also worked on Apollo 11. And Zemeckis, of course, created Back to the Future. This will be the big Christmas movie of 2004.

My Picks:

Best of the year:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Spider-Man 2, The Incredibles, The Brothers Grimm, and The Polar Express.

Mildly entertaining:
The Punisher, Van Helsing, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, The Chronicles of Riddick, Catwoman, Alien vs. Predator, and The Village.

Forget it:
all the rest.

Copyright © 2004 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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