Tuesday, January 09, 2007

MSN 2007 Movie Previews

We list our top 10 films of 2007 -- we hope!

By Gregory Ellwood
Special to MSN Movies

Hollywood took a collective sigh of relief when moviegoers came back to theaters in droves this past year after a disappointing 2005. To keep audiences happy, the studios have put more than 20 major sequels on the 2007 schedule, including "Live Free or Die Hard," "Spider-Man 3," "National Treasure 2" and "Mr. Bean's Holiday." Once you throw in the returns of Tim Burton, Tom Hanks, David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino, 2007 looks very promising indeed.

Here's a peek at what excites us most in 2007:

10. "Charlie Wilson's War"
Mark Your Calendar: Dec. 25
Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
The Story: Hanks plays Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who oversaw covert funding of the Afghan rebels in their battle with the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
The Lowdown: "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin takes a break from TV with his first screenplay in more than 10 years ("The American President").
Big Question Mark: With so much award-winning talent on board, how early is too early to declare it the Oscar front-runner?

9. "Sweeney Todd"
Mark Your Calendar: December TBD
Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman
The Story: Stephen Sondheim's celebrated musical tells the story of the notorious Benjamin Barker, aka Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barbershop in 19th-century London to seek revenge on those who have done him wrong.
The Lowdown: This is the sixth collaboration between Depp and director Tim Burton. Burton's partner, Carter, beat out Annette Bening and Toni Collette for the coveted role of Mrs. Lovett, Todd's sinister partner.
Big Question Mark: Johnny Depp has shown he can do almost anything, but can he actually sing?

8. "Grindhouse"
Mark Your Calendar: April 6
Stars: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Danny Trejo
The Story: Directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's homage to genre movies features two full-length pictures: the zombie-filled "Planet Terror" and the slasher flick "Death Proof." How much more do you need to know?
The Lowdown: Tarantino has stated that in-between each feature will be fake trailers including one for a blaxploitation film, a kung fu movie, a sexploitation flick and a spaghetti Western. Rob Zombie is supposed to supply a werewolf movie trailer featuring Nicolas Cage, and director Eli Roth is making a promo for a slasher-fest entitled "Thanksgiving."
Big Question Mark: Will anyone but diehards sit through more than three hours of this?

Watch the trailer

7. "Transformers"
Mark Your Calendar: July 4
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson
The Story: Two alien robotic races — the Autobots and the Decepticons — bring their battle to Earth. Can humanity survive when our fate partially rests in the hands of Shia LaBeouf?
The Lowdown: Fans of the franchise, who have been chomping at the bit to criticize anything and everything about the production, won one battle when it was announced Peter Cullen would voice Autobot hero Optimus Prime (he was the voice of the character in the '80s animated series).
Big Question Mark: If director Michael Bay can do anything, it's deliver action. And the robots look cool ... but what happens when they start talking?

Watch the trailer

6. "His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass"
Mark Your Calendar: Dec. 7
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Dakota Richards, Eva Green, Daniel Craig
The Story: A 12-year-old girl starts out trying to save a friend whose been kidnapped by a mysterious organization in an alternate world but ends up on an epic quest to save our own world as well.
The Lowdown: New Line Cinema hopes the first installment of author Philip Pullman's "Dark Materials" trilogy will be the beginning of their next big franchise after "Lord of the Rings" and not the disappointment "Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events" turned out to be for Paramount.
Big Question Mark: "About a Boy" director Chris Weitz, who helms this, is a talented guy, but does he have the artistic chops to oversee a fantasy picture?

5. "Shrek the Third"
Mark Your Calendar: May 18
Stars: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Justin Timberlake
The Story: When King Harold suddenly croaks, Shrek and Fiona discover that ruling over a kingdom isn't all it's cracked up to be. If Shrek can find another suitable heir to the throne, he and Fiona can return home to happiness in the swamp.
The Lowdown: Timberlake plays Fiona's slacker cousin Artie, who may be just as disinterested in running the land of Far, Far Away as Shrek is.
Big Question Mark: DreamWorks Animation had a rough year with disappointing returns for "Over the Hedge" and "Flushed Away." Can "The Third" be a big enough hit to make the stockholders happy?

Watch the trailer

4. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
Mark Your Calendar: May 25
Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Chow Yun-Fat
The Story: When we last saw our fabled crew at the end of "Dead Man's Chest," Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) had been swallowed by the nefarious Kracken, Barbossa (Rush) had surprisingly been resurrected from the dead and Davy Jones' heart was soon to be in the hands of the East India Trading Company. It's no secret Sparrow will survive, but how does a trip to the "literal" end of the world (according to director Gore Verbinski) fit into the mix?
The Lowdown: After years of speculation, word has it Keith Richards finally appears onscreen as Sparrow's father.
Big Question Mark: Can Verbinski and company appease critics who weren't impressed with "Dead Man's Chest"?

3. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
Mark Your Calendar: July 13
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and almost every British actor alive, although Helena Bonham Carter and Imelda Staunton are new to the fold.
The Story: Another year and more angst for our beloved Harry as the wizard world deals with the return of Voldemort.
The Lowdown: As the new stern Defense of the Dark Arts teacher Dolores Umbridge, is Staunton being typecast as an uptight baddie? It's her second go around after playing a similar part in "Freedom Writers."
Big Question Mark: Are there any other characters in the series left for famous Brits Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Daniel Craig, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins or Jude Law to play?

Watch the trailer

2. "Spider-Man 3"
Mark Your Calendar:
May 4
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Topher Grace, Thomas Haden Church, Bryce Dallas Howard
The Story: Our friendly neighborhood web-slinger battles one of his greatest villains, The Sandman (Church); is tempted by a new flame, Gwen Stacy (Howard); and discovers a new black suit that turns into something much worse — fan-favorite Venom.
The Lowdown: The picture has required a lot of additional shooting (we won't use the word "reshoots") and, although that's par for the course for a big blockbuster like this, it is a tad disconcerting.
Big Question Mark: Is this really the last one?

Watch the trailer

1. "The Simpsons Movie"
Mark Your Calendar: July 27
Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Albert Brooks, Kelsey Grammer, Erin Brockovich-Ellis
The Story: It's being kept tightly under wraps, but we're guessing it has something to do with Homer saving his family and his love of donuts.
The Lowdown: After 18 seasons, the series featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie is an undisputable cultural institution. The series creators don't want to mess with something good, so they spent years secretly working on the screenplay so that no fan will go away disappointed.
Big Question Mark: With generations of families having watched the show since its inception, is it going to make $100 million, $300 million or more?

Watch the trailer

10 More Reasons for Excitement

"Fantastic Four and the Rise of the Silver Surfer" (June 15) — Fox and Marvel try to add some excitement to the franchise by throwing in one of comic's most popular characters into the mix.

Watch the trailer

"Bee Movie" (Nov. 2) — Jerry Seinfeld blends his trademark comic style with CGI animation as he voices a bee that decides to sue human beings because they actually eat honey.

Watch the trailer

"Blades of Glory" (March 30) — Will Ferrell and Jon Heder play two rival ice skaters who are banned from men's ice skating only to discover there is a loophole that allows them to compete together as a pairs couple.

"American Gangster" (Nov. 2) — Director Ridley Scott teams up with Russell Crowe (again) and Denzel Washington in this long awaited epic on drug smuggling in the '70s.

"Ratatouille" (June 29) — Pixar and director Brad Bird ("The Incredibles") try to prove they can turn any premise into gold with this story about rats in a Paris bistro, with one of the most difficult titles since "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

Watch the trailer

"Stardust" (July 27) — Michelle Pfeiffer's comeback begins in the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's magic fable, but word has it Robert De Niro steals the show.

"The Golden Age" (Oct. 5) — This sequel to 1998's Oscar-nominated "Elizabeth" once again features Cate Blanchett as the first Queen Elizabeth. This time, she's in her later years, where she deals with the conspiratorial affairs of Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton) and Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen).

"Fred Claus" (Nov. 9) — Santa "Fred" Claus (Paul Giamatti) has an annoying and bitter older brother, Joe Claus (Vince Vaughn), who is forced to move to the North Pole during the holidays.

"300" (March 9) — This is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, which chronicles the epic Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., where the King of Sparta (Gerard Butler) led his forces of 300 warriors against the advancing and massive Persian army.

Watch the trailer

"I'm Not There" (TBD) — Seven actors, including Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere, embody a different aspect of Bob Dylan's life and work in this new film from acclaimed director Todd Haynes ("Far From Heaven").

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

I hadn't heard about the Aaron Sorkin movie, so thanks for the heads up ... If he can get back to the early days-style of West Wing, it should be great, because that's a subject ripe for exploration