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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.

Each year about this time, I predict the best sf or fantasy movies of the year, based entirely on the reputation of the writers. I leave horror movies to those who like horror movies.

Last year, I picked Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and The Water Horse, and held out hope for Fantastic Four 2, Harry Potter 5, and Beowulf. How did I do? If I had it to do over again, I'd add Stardust and The Golden Compass. I missed listing Sunshine entirely. The vote on www.sfsite.com/forum is a tie between Sunshine and The Golden Compass, but the vote is just getting started. Register for the forum and cast your vote (e-mail me if you need help: f.norwood@att.net).

My favorite films of 2007 were not really science fiction or fantasy, unless rat chefs and demonic barbers count as fantasy. I loved Ratatouille, No Country for Old Men, Juno, and Sweeney Todd and liked Hairspray quite a bit, especially John Travolta's sweet performance. Funniest film of the year: Charlie Wilson's War.

Coming up in 2008:
January
Cloverfield (notice the meter? Clo-ver-field, God-zill-a. Coincidence? You decide. Written by Drew Goddard (Buffy and Lost).

February
Iron Man
 
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
 
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
 
The Incredible Hulk
 
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
 
The Dark Knight
 
The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Karey Kirkpatrick (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), David Berenbaum (Elf), and John Sayles (The Brother from Another Planet, Clan of the Cave Bear, and The Secret of Roan Inish), from the books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

Jumper, by David S. Goyer (Ghost Rider, Dark City, and the Robert A. Heinlein version of The Puppet Masters), Jim Uhls (Fight Club), and Simon Kinberg (X-Men 3), from the novel by Steven Gould.

March
10,000 B.C., by Roland Emmerich, (The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla (1998) and Independence Day), and Harald Kloser, who wrote the music for The Day After Tomorrow. This is his first screenplay.

Doomsday, by Neil Marshall, who wrote and directed some movies I've never heard of.

May
Iron Man, by Art Marcum, whose only previous credit is something called Shadow of Fear, Matt Holloway, sound man trying out as writer, and Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, who wrote the excellent Children of Men, based on the comic book by Stan Lee, Larry Leiber, Jack Kirby, and Don Heck.

Speed Racer, by Larry and Andy Wachowski, (The Matrix, V for Vendetta), Patrick Reed Johnson (Dragonheart), and Christian Gudegast and John Lau, who each wrote a couple of movies I haven't seen. Speed Racer was created by Tatsuo Yoshida.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, by Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely, based on the book by C.S. Lewis. These are the same writers who wrote the very good adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, by David Koepp and George Lucas, from characters created by George Lucas. David Koepp has written many excellent films, including Jurassic Park, Spider-man, and Zathura. George Lucas wrote Star Wars.

Starship Dave, by Rob Greenberg, a TV writer, and Bill Corbett, who wrote for Mystery Science Theater.

June
The Incredible Hulk, written by Edward Norton (best known as an actor) and Zak Penn (X-Men, The Last Stand, The Last Action Hero), from the comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I think Zak Penn is underrated. Look for a Tony Stark crossover.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Rebellion, a fan-made Star Wars film. No writers listed, but they're looking to hire a Special FX Supervisor, if you need a job.

Radio Free Albemuth, written by John Alan Simon (a producer, this is his first writing gig) from the novel by Philip K. Dick.

July
The Incredible Shrinking Man, written by Mark Burton (Madagascar, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were Rabbit), Billy Frolick (Madagascar), and Fred Wolf (Saturday Night Live), from the novel by Richard Matheson. So now it's a comedy.

The Dark Knight, written by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento), David S. Goyer (Batman Begins), and Jonathan Nolan (The Prestige, Memento), from the comic book by Bob Kane. I seem to be the only person in the world who did not like Batman Begins. I find the absence of the name Frank Miller from the credits ominous.

The X-Files, written by Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, and major X-Files writer Frank Spotniz.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, written by Michael Weiss (his first screenwriting gig), Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin (Madeline)

August
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, written by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough (creators of Smallville) from characters created by Lloyd Fonvielle and Kevin Jarre. I like Smallville a lot, and even enjoyed their Herbie movie.

November
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by Steve Kloves, from the book by J.K. Rowling. This year's Harry Potter movie was OK, but it does not stick in my mind like the first four, all written by Steve Kloves. I look forward to his return on this one.

Star Child: The Beginning, by Ernest Porter (A Dragon's Tale).

December
Ram, written by David G. Knappe, best known as Tom Hanks uncredited stand-in in Philadelphia.

The Day the Earth Stood Still, written by David Scarpa (The Last Castle). The Last Castle was a 60 million dollar Robert Redford film that grossed a total of 18 million. This is David Scarpa's first screenwriting job since. You've got to be pulling for him.

Star Trek, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, The Legend of Zorro) from the TV series created by Gene Roddenberry. Their Zorro was not the good Zorro, not the one with Anthony Hopkins as the original Zorro.

My picks, based on the record of the writers: Iron Man, Prince Caspian, Indiana Jones, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Files, The Mummy, and Harry Potter. It looks to be a good year.

Hope springs eternal department: Star Wars, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Star Trek.

Copyright © 2008 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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