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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

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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.

I've made two mistakes (that I know of) in this column, one of commission and one of omission. The one of commission first:

A writer's brain picks up stuff like a sponge, and does not footnote what it picks up. I thought I read a negative comment by J. Michael Straczinski about comic book writers -- made before he became a comic book writer himself. Where did I read I? In Peter David's column in Comics Buyers' Guide? Did I read it at all, or was it really about a couple of other guys?

In any case, JMS e-mailed me to let me know that he never said it. I apologize for the error.

My sin of omission? In a previous column, I got the number of Chuck Jones cartoons on the new Looney Tunes DVD wrong. There are really 14. Not as many as on the two previous collections, but more than I thought.

Every year, in this column, I make a list of genre movies scheduled for the forthcoming year, with my predictions as to whether they will be any good or not, based solely on the writers. But first, let's see how I did last year. I predicted that Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins, The War of the Worlds, Serenity, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and King Kong would be first rate. I said that Sin City was an unknown quantity. And I thought Robots, 3001, The Wallace and Gromit Movie: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Coraline would be mildly entertaining. And I doubted that any of the rest would be worth seeing. 3001 was never made, Coraline has been postponed until 2007. How did I do on the others?

V for Vendetta
Superman Returns
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Passion of the Clerks
Nanny McPhee
Lady in the Water
X-Men: The Last Stand

Movies 2006
In 2005, two of the three top grossing films were science fiction. The third was fantasy. Given that, the fact that no real SF films are scheduled for 2006 comes as a surprise -- at least, no films with spaceships -- there are a couple of films that may be SF, one set in the present day, the other in the near future. The only explanation I can think of is that movie studios are cautious, and the failure of the last Star Trek film and of Serenity have them searching for a sure thing. Wedding Crashers 2 is certain to make money and cost a lot less than a big SF film. Almost all the 2006 genre films are remakes or sequels.

An exception is V for Vendetta, written by The Wachowski Brothers, based on the comic book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It might be considered science fiction, since it takes place in a world where England has a totalitarian government. Whether that makes it SF depends mainly on what you thought of Maggie Thatcher. It could be as good as The Matrix, or as bad as Matrix Revolutions. Certainly it is one of the films I'm most looking forward to. I am afraid, however, that a film in which the hero is a terrorist is not going to be breaking any box office records.

Anyway, here is the list. I've included a lot of associational films and big action movies. If I stuck to "real" SF, fantasy, and superhero films, there would only be 8 films on the list.

Nanny McPhee by Emma Thompson, based on the books by Christianna Brand.
Emma Thompson has written some great scripts, but this wasn't one of them. If I hadn't already seen it, it would certainly be on my "must see" list.

V for Vendetta by The Wachowski Brothers based on the comic books by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.
I am certainly looking forward to it.

Ice Age 2, by Jon Vitti.
His previous credits are mostly for The Simpsons. My hunch is that the Scrat cartoon will be the best part.

The Da Vinci Code by Akiva Goldsman, from the novel by Dan Brown.
Goldsman wrote A Beautiful Mind. But he also wrote Lost in Space and Batman and Robin. My prediction: terrific box office, really dumb movie.

Mission: Impossible III by J. J. Abrams, who wrote Armageddon, Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, who wrote The Island and The Legend of Zorro.
Expect dumb but entertaining -- a far cry from MI II, written by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga.

X-Men: The Last Stand by Zak Penn, who wrote Electra and Inspector Gadget, and Simon Kinberg, who wrote Mr. & Mrs. Smith, based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Expect the curse of Superhero III movies to strike.

Poseidon by Paul Attanasio who wrote The Sum of All Fears (pretty good) and Sphere (pretty bad), Akiva Goldsman (again), and Mark Protosevich, who wrote The Cell, based on a novel by Paul Gallico.
Rent the version with Gene Hackman and Shelly Winters.

Superman Returns
This is the big one. Bryan Singer switches from X-Men to the Man of Steel. Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris also worked on the X-Men films. Both are currently at work on Ender's Game. Based on a comic book by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster.

Cars by John Lasseter.
He's only done a little bit of writing, on A Bug's Life and Toy Story II. What will happen to Pixar, now that it is owned by the mouse?

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, and Jay Wolpert.
These are the same writers who brought us Pirates of the Caribbean I. But a couple of them also worked on Godzilla. Keep your fingers crossed.

Lady in the Water by M. Night Shyamalan.
Your guess is as good as mine.

The Passion of the Clerks by Kevin Smith.
Don't miss it.

Casino Royale by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who wrote Die Another Day and The World is Not Enough, based on the novel by Ian Fleming.
Since I can't remember anything at all about the other two James Bond movies they wrote -- except something about speedboats -- expect routine Bond fare.

Eragon by Peter Buchman, one of the writers for Jurassic Park 3, and Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek VI, Superman IV, from the novel by Christopher Paolini.
Read the writer's credits and weep.

Sin City 2 by Frank Miller.
Can they do it again?

My predictions, based on the writers:
V for Vendetta
Superman Returns
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Passion of the Clerks
Sin City 2 (maybe)

Mildly Entertaining:
Nanny McPhee
Lady in the Water

Everything else.

Coming in 2007:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Fantastic Four 2
Batman Begins 2
Spider-Man 3
Shrek 3
Wonder Woman
Jurassic Park IV (maybe)
Young Hannibal
Alien vs. Predator 2
Ender's Game
Terminator 4
Indiana Jones 4
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!!!

Copyright © 2006 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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