Excess Hollywood

In the season of sequels and Happy Meal toys, 05 may be a pleasant surprise.

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Written by: David Goyer (Blade)

What it's about: This relaunching of the moribund franchise tells how Bruce Wayne (Bale) became the Dark Knight after seeing his parents executed in a Gotham City alley. In this version, Bruce heads to the Himalayas to train (with Neeson, shades of The Phantom Menace) and returns to Gotham to find a bad city run by a good cop, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), and overrun with creepy villains, chief among them The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy).

Why it will be fabulous: No Joel Schumacher, no Alicia Silverstone, no Batnipples. Did I mention no Joel Schumacher?

Why it will be dreadful: Because origin stories are boring, and because the idea of sitting through one more Liam Neeson "training session" is about as appealing as sliding down the Batpole naked.


Starring: Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt and Paddy Considine

Written and directed by: Paul Pavlikovsky (Last Resort), from the novel by Helen Cross

What it's about: A working-class Yorkshire girl (Press) befriends a rich girl (Blunt). Lesbian hijinks ensue. Considine is a born-again ex-con who comes between them.

Why it will be fabulous: That one shot in the trailer of the two leads in wet underwear. Yeow!

Why it will be dreadful: It's called My Summer of Love.


Starring: Heather Locklear, Hilary Duff and Chris Noth

Directed by: Mark Rosman (A Cinderella Story)

Written by: Gina Wendkos (Jersey Girl)

What it's about: A teenage girl (Duff) and her best friend try to invent the perfect man for Mom (Locklear) by using the best friend's uncle (Noth) as a prototype.

Why it will be fabulous: Styx lead singer Dennis De Young plays a Dennis De Young impersonator. Props for that, at least.

Why it will be dreadful: Hilary Duff and good movies simply don't interact.


Starring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine

Written and directed by: Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally)

What it's about: A spin-off of the sitcom: A TV producer revives the classic show and inadvertently casts a real witch in the title role. Enter Kidman.

Why it will be fabulous: If the acidic journalist and fictioneer Ephron has put some punch into it, this could prove to be dark fun. The cast is certainly high-octane, and the plot-tinkering sounds interesting.

Why it will be dreadful: The reason this was canceled is that the one-joke premise grew stale. It's no fresher today.


Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer and Michael Keaton

Directed by: Angela Robinson

Written by: Thomas Lennon & Ben Garrant and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar

What it's about: Maggie Peyton (Lohan) is the latest owner of the possessed Volkswagen Beetle, which first appeared in 1968's The Love Bug. With her old man (Keaton) cheering her on, and with the competition (Dillon) doing everything he can to sabotage the antique, Maggie enters Herbie in a NASCAR race against the likes of Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gee, wonder who wins.

Why it will be fabulous: It's written by Lennon and Garrant, creators of Reno 911!, and Gough and Millar, responsible for Smallville and Spider-Man 2 story.

Why it will be dreadful: Written by Lennon and Garrant, who penned The Pacifier and Taxi, and Gough and Millar, responsible for Lethal Weapon 4 and Showtime.


Starring: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento and ZOMBIES!

Written and directed by: George Romero

What it's about: The creator of Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead finally gets to make a new big-budget zombie movie, after the mediocre Dawn remake made a pretty penny. Continuing the Romero Dead saga, the film envisions a post-apocalyptic world in which humans live in fortified cities while trying to ignore the fact that every place outside their walls is inhabited by flesh-hungry zombies.

Why it will be fabulous: It's a sequel that's been requested for 20 years -- almost as long as Revenge of the Sith. And Romero is not the kind of director who will go soft.

Why it will be dreadful: John Leguizamo? Why?


Directed by: Luc Jacquet

Written by: Jacquet and Michel Fessler

What it's about: Documentary that follows a year in the life of a flock of emperor penguins at the North Pole.

Why it will be fabulous: Penguins are well-liked birds, and some of the footage looks amazing.

Why it will be dreadful: Giving them French voices sounds like a bad idea...let's hope it's done sparingly and tastefully.


Starring: John Hawkes (The Perfect Storm), Miranda July (Jesus' Son), Myles Thomson and Brandon Ratcliff

Written and directed by: Miranda July

What it's about: An uptight single father (Hawkes) freaks out when he meets a wild and spontaneous woman (July). Meanwhile, his seven-year-old son is having an Internet romance with a stranger, and his fourteen-year-old son has problems of his own.

Why it will be fabulous: Uhhhhh...

Why it will be dreadful: When a little-known actress makes her directorial debut and casts herself as the spontaneous free spirit, watch out. Sounds an awful lot like ego gratification.

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