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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.

Each year I predict which genre films will be best, based on the people who write the screenplay, people who have more to do with how good a film is than anyone else, people largely neglected by the popular media.

According to the IMDB, 102 science fiction movies will be released in 2011 and 92 fantasy movies. (There is a lot of overlap.) Most of these will never make it to your local multiplex. Most will not be worth seeing. A random example: Evil Bong 3-D: The Wrath of Bong, written by August White, who also wrote the first two Evil Bong movies.

In the mid-February SF Site, I looked back on my predictions for 2010. Here are my predictions for 2011. Disclaimer: I don't like splatter horror or talking gerbil movies.

Season of the Witch by Bragi F. Schut, writer for the tv series Threshold.

Mars Need Moms by Simon & Wendy Wells from the book by Berkeley Breathed. Simon Wells drew storyboards for Shrek 2 and Madagascar. This is Wendy Wells' first film. Berkeley Breathed created the comic strip Bloom County.

I Am Number Four by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Marti Noxon, from the book by Pittacus Lore. Gough and Millar created Smallville and wrote Shanghi Noon and Spider-Man 2. Marti Noxon wrote for Buffy and writes for Mad Men. Good writers. A teen with superpowers lives in a small town. Where have we seen that story before?

The Adjustment Bureau by George Nolfi from a story by Philip K. Dick. Reviewed in this issue. George Nolfi wrote Timeline and The Bourne Ultimatum.

Battle: Los Angeles by Christopher Bertolini. Bertolini wrote The General's Daughter, a John Travolta vehicle that bombed. This movie sounds like another hundred million dollars down the drain.

Source Code by Ben Ripley. Ripley has previously written only video games and a tv movie called The Watch. A soldier is sent back in time to avert a disaster. Didn't we see that before with Denzel Washington?

Sucker Punch by Zack Snyder & Steve Shibuya. Snyder wrote 300 and Tales of the Black Freighter. This is Shibuya first film credit as a writer. A mistreated girl becomes a hero in a fantasy world.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
X-Men: First Class
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two
Cowboys and Aliens
Captain America: The First Avenger

Thor by Ashley Miller & Jack Stentz and Don Payne from a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosievich, based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Miller and Stentz are tv writers who did excellent work for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and also wrote episodes of Andromeda and Fringe. Payne wrote 4: The Rise of the Silver Surfer and has written many episodes of The Simpsons. Straczynski created Babylon 5 and has recently written for comics, including Thor. Protosievich wrote the remakes of Poseidon and I Am Legend. Good writers, but too many of them.

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 by John Aglialoro and Brian Patrick O'Toole from the novel by Ayn Rand. Aglialoro's first script. O'Toole wrote Cemetery Gates and Evilution.

Apollo 18 by Brian Miller and Cory Goodman. Miller wrote the short sf film Paracusia. Goodman wrote the sf horror film Priest. "Discover the reason we never went back."

Melancholia by Lars von Trier, who wrote Antichrist and episodes of the tv series Kingdom Hospital. "Two sisters find their relationship challenged as a nearby planet threatens to collide into the Earth."

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides by Ted Elliott & Terry Russio. Elliott and Russio wrote the good Zorro movie, did an absolutely fantastic job on the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, rather overdid it on movies 2 and 3, and wrote too many famous films to list. It is a rather uneven list.

The Tree of Life by Terrance Malick, who wrote The Thin Red Line and The New World. This film, which has been delayed for years, is about loss of innocence.

X-Men: First Class by Jane Goldman, Ashley Miller, Jamie Moss, and Zack Stentz, from the comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Goldman wrote the excellent Stardust and the entertaining Kick-Ass. Miller and Stentz are tv writers who also wrote the Thor movie. Moss's only previous film work was on Street Kings.

Green Lantern by Greg Berlanti, Michael Goldenberg, Michael Green, and Marc Gugenheim, based on the comic book by Gil Kane and John Broome. Berlanti is a tv writer who wrote for No Ordinary Family and Brothers & Sisters. Goldenberg wrote Contact and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Green is a tv writer who worked on Heroes and Smallville. Gugenheim is a tv writer who wrote for Brothers & Sisters and FlashForward. Too many writers, a bad sign.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon by Ehren Kruger, who wrote Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and also The Ring, The Ring Two, and The Brothers Grimm.

Captain America: The First Avenger by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, based on the comic book by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Markus & McFeely worked on the scripts of all three The Chronicles of Narnia films.

Cowboys and Aliens by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Furgus & Hawk Otsby, and Steve Oderkerk, from a comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Orci & Kurtzman wrote the recent Star Trek film, along with the first two Transformers films and the bad Zorro film. Lindelof wrote Lost. Furgus & Otsby wrote Iron Man and Children of Men. Oderkerk wrote Patch Adams and Bruce Almighty. Sounds like the script doctors needed script doctors.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two by Steve Kloves, who wrote all but one of the earlier Harry Potter films.

The Smurfs by J. David Stem and David Weiss, from the comic by Peyo. Stem and Weiss wrote Shrek 2 and Daddy Day Care. Read the comic.

The Darkest Hour by Jon Spaihts and Leslie Bohem & M. T. Ahern. "In Russia, kids try to survive after an alien invasion." Spaihts has never had one of his scripts filmed before, but is well-known in Hollywood for his unproduced scripts. This is Ahern's first script. Bohem wrote Dante's Peak and The Alamo.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World by Robert Rodriguez who wrote and directed the previous Spy Kids movies, also Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Machete.

Conan the Barbarian by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, and Sean Hood, from the stories by Robert E. Howard. Donnelly and Oppenheimer wrote Sahara and A Sound of Thunder. Hood wrote Halloween: Resurrection.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island by Richard Outten and Brian & Mark Gunn. Outten wrote Pet Sematary II. Brian Gunn wrote Gayosity and PGPorn. Mark Gunn wrote 2gether.

The Thing by Eric Heieserer and Ronald D. Moore from the story "Who Goes There" by John Campbell. Heieserer wrote the recent remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Moore wrote some of the best Star Trek, including Star Trek: First Contact, and was the head writer for Battlestar Galactica. This is the third time the Campbell story has been filmed.

Prince Vaali by Vishnu Tanay, his first film

Rise of the Apes by Rick Jaffa, Jamie Moss, and Amanda Silver, from the novel by Pierre Boulle. Jaffa and Silver wrote The Relic, Moss worked on X-Men: First Class.

Dredd by Alex Garland, from the comic by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. Garland wrote The Beach and 28 Days Later…

Immortals by Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides. Lots of work in films doing jobs that didn't involve any writing. This film is about Theseus vs. the Titans

Also in December, but not, strictly speaking, fantasy or science fiction:

The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Kornish from the comic by Herge. Moffat has won three Hugo Awards for Doctor Who. Edgar Wright wrote Shaun of the Dead. Joe Kornish wrote for The Adam and Joe Show.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows by Kieran Mulroney and Michele Mulroney, from the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Mulroneys wrote Paper Man.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec from a story by Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams. Appelbaum and Nemec wrote for the tv show Life on Mars. J.J. Abrams created Lost and wrote Star Trek. Tom Cruise wrote Days of Thunder.

My top picks:
  •  Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  •  X-Men: First Class
  •  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two
  •  The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Long shots:
  •  Thor
  •  Captain America: The First Avenger
  •  Cowboys and Aliens
  •  The Tree of Life
  •  The Darkest Hour
  •  Prince Vaali

I have a bad feeling about this:
  •  Green Lantern

Coming in 2012, Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins.

Copyright © 2011 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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