Tue, Feb 20, 2018 01:51 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-08-27 life & times
High profile films waiting in wings
Cletus Turner

"Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (click for larger version)
As the summer season of the movies closes, we get to look forward to the fall and winter season with anticipation. We have already looked at September and October, now, let's look at November and December.

In November, the movie industry is looking forward to a rather mixed bag with some very high-profile films waiting in the wings, and some rather unknown films vying to become the next break-out hit.

The most notable film for the month is the end of The Matrix trilogy, Revolutions. Neo, played by Keanu Reeves hits the big screen on Nov. 5. For those of us who went to see Reloaded, the explanation of some of the rather bizarre happenings is in order. Having walked out on the architect at the end in order to save Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, Neo might have set in motion a chain of events that could destroy the Matrix. Naturally, Mr. Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, is there to stop the whole process. Producers say that Smith is given an even larger part to play in the scenario. The final fight between Smith and Neo is said to be a superbrawl and could be the best fight scene ever in movies. Revolutions has a lot to live up to after many considered Reloaded to be a disappointment. There is, out of necessity, a new Oracle because the original actress died before the third film was completed. One scene which features the machine attack on Zion cost $40 million to create. This trilogy is one of the most costly series of films ever created, ranking right up there with Star Wars.

"The Cat in the Hat" (click for larger version)
Elf will star Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human raised as one of Santa's elves. When he grows up, he is unable to make the toys because they need to be worked on by small hands. So Buddy heads to the city to find his real father. James Caan portrays Buddy's father. While Ferrell can be funny, this film looks to be a dud. Ferrell is a one-note actor and that will certainly show through in this film. Director Jon Favreau wanted to make the North Pole scenes look like the old Rankin-Bass Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer films. In many ways, that is the best part of the film.

Russell Crowe returns to the big screen after his huge successes with Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind with an historical piece entitled Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Crowe's character, named Captain Jack Aubrey, is friends with the ship's doctor, Stephen Maturin, played by Paul Bettany. The film centers on that friendship with enemy warships, raging storms and political intrigue thrown in for good measure. The two friends actually enjoy music and play a violin and cello piece that the actors worked on for months. According to the director, the actors would finish filming for the day and then practice the piece for hours. The production is huge with a reported $135 million price tag.

With the success of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, was another Dr Seuss film far behind? Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat will star Mike Meyers, Sean Hayes and Alec Baldwin. Hayes will play the wisecracking fish, while Meyers plays the cat. Baldwin is a nosy neighbor who tries to figure out what is going on next door. The film is not supposed to follow the actual story but will give you the same feeling. Meyers as the cat is supposed to also be one of the best acting turns of the year. However, I don't think the cat is that big a stretch for Meyers.

"Elf" (click for larger version)
Radio is the story of a mentally disabled South Carolina man named Radio, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., and a high school football coach, played by Ed Harris. The director, Michael Tollin read a story in Sports Illustrated about the relationship and decided it would be a perfect movie. The story is condensed into one year and details how the coach encouraged Radio to read and write. Naturally, there was resistance from the community, but Radio was well-liked and was supported by some of the locals. The film is supposed to be one of those films the Oscar committee loves.

In December, the main headliner has to go to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The end of the hobbit caper is bound to pull in more than a few bucks. Really, The Matrix producers and distributors were smart not to put their trilogy ender up against this film. The two would have beat each other to death and comparisons would not have been favorable. After all, many considered Two Towers to be even better than Fellowship so that trilogy is building. Reloaded was considered to be a disappointment by many. Still, we get to see how the whole story ends and this will probably be one of the highest grossing films of the year.

Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett star in the Ron Howard film The Missing. Jones stars as a settler who abandoned his family to live with the Apache, then returns later to make amends. Blanchett is his resentful daughter who must make an uneasy truce with him when her own daughter is kidnapped. Howard has wanted to do a western and by all accounts does a good job bringing this story to the big screen.

Hayden Christiansen follows up his golden globe win for Life as a House with Shattered Glass. The film details the story of Stephen Glass, who was fired from his job when his bosses discover he has been making up his stories. The film is supposed to be one of the best artistically for the year. Christensen is also supposed to make everyone forget about Anakin Skywalker with this film. Good luck.

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