Thursday, January 22, 2004
Los Angeles You'd think there isn't an original idea left in Hollywood with all the sequels, spinoffs and remakes crowding the 2004 movie lineup.
Yet fans are not likely to complain, considering the savory characters featured in this year's many retreads, which include about two dozen sequels and prequels and at least a dozen updates of old movies or TV shows.
The three heavy hitters arrive in quick succession during the busy summer season:
- "Shrek 2" premieres just before Memorial Day, as the animated ogre with the Scottish brogue (again voiced by Mike Myers) accompanies his princess bride Fiona (Cameron Diaz) to meet her parents, with their pal Donkey (Eddie Murphy) along for the ride. Julie Andrews and John Cleese join the voice cast as Shrek's disapproving in-laws, and Antonio Banderas provides the voice of crafty cat Puss-in-Boots.
- "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" debuts in June, with author J.K. Rowling's boy sorcerer (Daniel Radcliffe) and his chums (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) in their third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This time, the gang faces an escaped convict (Gary Oldman) who's coming after Harry for mysterious reasons. Michael Gambon replaces the late Richard Harris as wise headmaster Dumbledore.
- "Spider-Man 2," opening over Fourth of July weekend, reunites director Sam Raimi with Marvel Comics' anxious-teen-turned-superhero Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter's pal Harry Osborn (James Franco). Now a college student, webmaster Peter battles new super-villain Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), who has been transformed into the tentacled "Doc Ock."
Other big names
This year's nonsequel and nonremake highlights include a "Wedding Singer" reunion for Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the romance "50 First Dates"; Tom Cruise as a hitman in "Collateral"; Kurt Russell in "Miracle," the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team; Gene Hackman as an ex-president running for mayor in "Welcome to Mooseport"; the end-of-the-world thriller "The Day After Tomorrow," with Dennis Quaid; Nicole Kidman's "The Interpreter," a tale of United Nations intrigue; Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg reteaming for the drama "The Terminal"; and Will Smith in the sci-fi adventure "I, Robot."
Also: "The Village," the latest fright flick from M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense"); the epic "Troy," with Brad Pitt as Greek hero Achilles; the musical "Andrew Lloyd Webber's the Phantom of the Opera," directed by Joel Schumacher; Oliver Stone's "Alexander," with Colin Farrell as the great conqueror; Leonardo DiCaprio in the Howard Hughes biography "The Aviator," directed by Martin Scorsese; Russell Crowe as Depression-era boxer Jim Braddock in Ron Howard's "Cinderella Man"; and the comic-book adaptations "Constantine" with Keanu Reeves and "Catwoman" with Halle Berry.
Back to 'Barbershop'
Among the year's other sequels: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer and pals return in "Barbershop 2: Back in Business," which co-stars Queen Latifah, who gets her own spinoff, "Beauty Shop"; "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," with Anne Hathaway and grandma Julie Andrews on a hubby hunt; "Kill Bill -- Vol. 2," the conclusion to Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino's vengeance saga; and Renee Zellweger's return to romantic misadventures in "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason."
Also: Matt Damon's second time out as the amnesiac spy in "The Bourne Supremacy"; Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller's "Meet the Parents" followup "Meet the Fockers"; "Blade: Trinity," Wesley Snipes' third time as the vampire slayer; Frankie Muniz in "Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London"; "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed," with the Great Dane and his ghost-hunting gang; Naomi Watts in the horror tale "The Ring 2"; and John Travolta's "Get Shorty" postscript "Be Cool."
With "Ocean's Twelve," George Clooney reprises the title role from the heist hit "Ocean's Eleven," a remake of the Frank Sinatra flick.
The assassination thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," another Sinatra film from the '60s, gets an update with Denzel Washington in the lead.
Among other remakes and adaptations: Nicole Kidman in the comic thriller "The Stepford Wives," about a town of oddly obedient women; Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as cop partners in "Starsky & Hutch," updated from the '70s TV show; Tom Hanks in the Coen brothers' retelling of "The Ladykillers," about a gang of inept crooks; The Rock as a take-no-prisoners sheriff in "Walking Tall"; "Flight of the Phoenix," starring Dennis Quaid in the story of crash survivors scavenging their wrecked plane to build a new one; "Van Helsing," a new take on the "Dracula" saga, featuring Hugh Jackman; "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," which transplants the romance to 1950s Cuba; Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon in "Shall We Dance," based on the Japanese film; and "Dawn of the Dead," with Ving Rhames and Sarah Polley among survivors in a world of undead zombies.