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The Force is with this spring’s movies

Spring is chock full of good movies, but the one everyone is talking about is “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” Will George Lucas end his Jedi saga in triumph or will fans walk away disappointed? May 19 is the day viewers will finally find out the answer to that question.Spring is becoming the new summer as studios release their big films earlier and earlier in the year to avoid th
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Spring is chock full of good movies, but the one everyone is talking about is “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” Will George Lucas end his Jedi saga in triumph or will fans walk away disappointed? May 19 is the day viewers will finally find out the answer to that question.

Spring is becoming the new summer as studios release their big films earlier and earlier in the year to avoid the summertime glut. Beyond “Revenge of the Sith,” there's also the remake of “The Longest Yard” starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock; the film version of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”; Ridley Scott's “Kingdom of Heaven”; and even some very early Oscar bait with Russell Crowe in Ron Howard's “Cinderella Man.” So, for those who've suffered through the bleak movie months of January through March, don’t despair, spring has finally arrived.

“Sin City”

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Dimension Films

1PfalsefalseStarring: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Jaime King, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Nick Stahl, Michael Clarke Duncan, Michael Madsen, Michael Douglas, Christopher Walken

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller

Story: Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller, this film tells three stories set in the violent “Sin City.” In one, Rourke stars as a street fighter trying to find the killer who murdered his girl (King). Another features Willis as a cop with a bum heart who has vowed to protect a stripper (Alba). The third stars Owen, the secret lover of Murphy, who spends his night protecting Rosario Dawson and her girls (Devon Aoki and Alexis Bledel) and battling bad guy Del Toro.

Buzz: While, other books based on comic books, like “Spider-Man” and “Hellboy,” go for the mainstream Hollywood treatment, “Sin City” does it with a bit more indie panache. Robert Rodriquez (“El Mariachi,” “Spy Kids”) gives the movie a distinctive look with a mix of black and white and color. Rodriguez also opted out of the Director’s Guild to get Miller a directorial credit on “Sin City.” This is said to be one of the most faithful comicbook adaptations ever made — but will it be able to draw a big mainstream audience?

Web site:

“Fever Pitch”

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20th Century Fox

1PfalsefalseStarring: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Lenny Clarke, Jack Kehler, James B. Sikking

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly

Story: A romantic comedy about a businesswoman (Barrymore) who falls in love with a high-school teacher (Fallon). Everything seems perfect until baseball season starts. It turns out that Fallon is a rabid Boston Red Sox fan. Will their love survive his obsession?

Buzz: Even in their raunchiest films, the Farrelly Brothers (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Kingpin”) never ignore the sweet side of the story. This film gives them ample opportunity to indulge their softer sides. Yet feel sure they’ll manage to cram some toilet humor in there somewhere. The real question: Can Jimmy Fallon become the next Adam Sandler? It seems unlikely, though his 12-year-old-boy looks may endear him to the tween set. This year’s World Series outcome changed the film’s original ending.

Web site: NA


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Paramount Pictures

1PfalsefalseStarring: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz, Lambert Wilson, Glynn Turman, Delroy Lindo, William H. Macy

Director: Breck Eisner

Story: McConaughey stars as Clive Cussler’s master explorer Dirk Pitt in this story about his quest to save the world from an environmental catastrophe, woo the lovely Dr. Eva Rojas (Cruz), and maybe find some gold in the process. Zahn plays McConaughey’s wise-cracking sidekick.

Buzz: The peak of McConaughey’s career came early with his role in 1993’s “Dazed and Confused.” Since then he seems miscast in almost every film he’s been in. He’s a bit too quirky for these stock leading-man roles, but too good looking to play the sidekick roles (in which he’d probably flourish). Instead, be prepared for the always funny Zahn (“Out of Sight,” “Happy Texas”) to steal scenes with relish. This film wants to be “Romancing the Stone” — but it’s doubtful it will even be as good as “Jewel of the Nile.”

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“Winter Solstice”

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Paramount Classics

1PfalsefalseStarring: Anthony LaPaglia, Aaron Stanford, Mark Webber, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Michelle Monaghan, Brendan Sexton III, Ebon Moss-Bachrach

Director: Josh Sternfeld

Story: LaPaglia stars as a widower coping with his two sons, Gabe and Pete. Gabe (Stanford) wants to leave home for the warmer climes of Miami, despite his girlfriend’s (Monaghan) objections. Pete (Webber) is helped out of his anti-school funk by teacher Livingston. Janney is on board as the slightly off-beat neighbor.

Buzz: This is a small film by a first-time director that tells a simple, human story. LaPaglia, who shines each and every week on “Without a Trace,” knows how to do the tormented thing well — he spends much of this film longing for his dead wife. This film may not make a big splash, but could be one of those quiet little gems to watch for.

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Warner Independent Pictures

1PfalsefalseStarring: Alan Arkin, Christopher Buchholz, Chen Chang, Robert Downey Jr., Li Gong, Ele Keats, Cecilia Luci, Regina Nemni, Luisa Ranieri

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh, Kar Wai Wong

Story: Three great directors each contribute a small film to form a trilogy about love and sex. Antonioni’s story focuses on a ménage-a-trios in Tuscany. Kar Wai Wong’s film features Gong Li as a high-end call girl. Finally Soderbergh’s story focuses on an overworked executive (Downey Jr.) who tells his erotic dreams to his psychiatrist (Arkin).

Buzz: It seems like these types of collaborations never produce films that are the least bit interesting (“New York Stories,” “Four Rooms”). Yet, with filmmakers like Antonioni (“Blowup,” “Zabriskie Point”), Kar Wai Wong (“In the Mood for Love,” “Chungking Express”) and Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “Ocean’s Twelve”), it’s hard not to get hopes up just a little. Soderbergh stepped in for Pedro Almodovar (“Talk to Her,” “Bad Education”) who wasn’t able to participate.

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“The Amityville Horror”

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jimmy Bennett, Melissa George, Philip Baker Hall, Jesse James, Chloe Moretz, Rachel Nichols

Director: Andrew Douglas

Story: One year after an entire family is slain in their beds, George (Reynolds) and Kathy (George) move into the infamous Amityville house where the murders took place with their two children. Immediately, bizarre events begin to occur. The family survives for 28 days before fleeing the house. The story issupposedly based on real-life events.

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1PfalsefalseBuzz: One thing’s certain, this movie will win the weekend of April 15 — of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good. The best viewers can hope for is that this film will actually be frightening — the R rating bodes well for this. Reynolds (“Van Wilder”) seems to be abandoning his comic roots in favor of action roles. George is best known for her role on as Lauren on “Alias.” Douglas has only made one prior film and it was a television documentary.

Web site:

“House of D”

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Lions Gate Films

1PfalsefalseStarring: Robin Williams, Erykah Badu, David Duchovny, Gideon Jacobs, Orlando Jones, Frank Langella, Adam LeFevre, Téa Leoni, Mark Margolis, Stephen Spinella, Anton Yelchin

Director: David Duchovny

Story: Duchovny makes his directorial debut with this coming-of-age story about a boy (Yelchin) growing up in Greenwich Village in the 1970s. Mourning the death of his father and coping with his single mom (Leoni), the boy bonds with his best friend, a mentally challenged janitor (Williams). Badu co-stars as a woman locked up in the Greenwich Village correctional facility who gives the boy advice. Duchovny plays the adult version of the boy, who now lives in Paris.

Buzz: Well, the thought of Robin Williams playing a mentally challenged janitor is enough to keep me far, far, far away from any theater playing this film (wasn’t “Patch Adams” bad enough). Duchovey (“The X Files”) also penned the screenplay.

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“Rock School”

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Newmarket Films

1PfalsefalseStarring: Documentary

Director: Don Argott

Story: First-time documentary filmmaker Argott takes us behind the scenes at a real rock-and-roll high school. Students aged nine to 17 come to the Paul Green School of Rock to learn the ins and outs of rock. The film follows the larger-than-life Paul Green and his relationship with students including CJ, a rock guitarist who has to overcome a disability, the clinically depressed Will, and Quaker-turned-rocker Madi.

Buzz: The Hollywood Reporter calls this film “a kick-ass documentary.” The film received a standing ovation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Documentaries continue to be the most vital storytelling form around. This looks to be another audience pleaser.

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“The Interpreter”

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1PfalsefalseStarring: Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Maz Jobrani, Tsai Chin

Director: Sydney Pollack

Story: Kidman stars as an African-born interpreter who overhears a murder plot against an African head of state who’s scheduled to address the United Nations. Penn is the Secret Service agent assigned to protect Kidman, but he’s not sure if he believes her story.

Buzz: Though it may seem a bit strange to see Sydney Pollack (“Tootsie,” “Out of Africa”) helming a thriller, he is the man who directed one of the better nail-biters, “Three Days of the Condor.” This film seems a little mainstream for the always off-beat Penn, and he and Kidman seem like an unlikely combo. Pollack had to persuade Secretary-General Kofi Annan to let him shoot in the U.N.

Web site:

“King’s Ransom”

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New Line Cinema

1PfalsefalseStarring: Anthony Anderson, Leila Arcieri, Larry Day, Loretta Devine, Brooke D'Orsay, Ilona Elkin, Donald Faison, Regina Hall, Jay Mohr

Director: Jeff Byrd

Story: A wealthy man (Anderson) on the verge of divorce plans his own abduction to keep his gold-digging wife from taking all of his money. Mohr plays his dim-witted sidekick. Hall plays Anderson’s ditzy mistress.

Buzz: “Chappelle Show” fans take note: Charlie Murphy has a small role in this film. Anderson is probably best known for the TV sitcom “All About the Andersons.” This looks like your standard broad comedy — with Mohr doing his best Owen Wilson impersonation. Could the filmmakers not afford the real thing?

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“A Lot Like Love”

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Touchstone Pictures

1PfalsefalseStarring: Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet, Kal Penn, Ali Larter, Taryn Manning

Director: Nigel Cole

Story: This romantic comedy traces the relationship of Oliver (Kutcher) and Emily (Peet) over the course of seven years. They keep coming back together and splitting up again, but the timing never seems to be quite right. Will they end up finding true love together? People, this is a romantic comedy, which automatically makes that question rhetorical.

Buzz: This marks a change of pace for Kutcher who usually is known more for broad comedy (“Dude, Where’s My Car”) than the romantic sort. Peet (“Whole Nine Yards”) is one of those underrated comic actresses, who really has the timing to be great if she gets a well-written script. Grace is known for directing small British comedies like “Saving Grace” and “Calendar Girls,” so he should bring a bit of sweetness and subtlety to the party.

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“The Game of Their Lives”

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Vince Bucci

Getty Images North America

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2002 Getty Images

Wes Bentley

410558_05_fourWestwoodCAUnited States6316781760000000001PfalsefalseStarring: Wes Bentley, Gerard Butler, John Rhys-Davies, Patrick Stewart

Director: David Anspaugh

Story: This film tells the true story of the 1950s American soccer team, who against the odds beat the British in a preliminary World Cup match in the small town of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The U.S. team was a mishmash of ethnicities, featuring an Irishman, five Italians, two Portuguese players, one German, one Scot and one Haitian.

Buzz: Director Anspaugh and screenwriter Angelo Pizzo both know their way around a sports film; they were the team behind “Hoosiers” and “Rudy.”

Web site:

“The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, John Malkovich, Warwick Davis, Steve Pemberton, Stephen Fry

Director: Garth Jennings

Story: Based on the book by Douglas Adams (not to mention the BBC series), this film tells the story of Arther Dent (Freeman) who one day finds out that his house is scheduled to be demolished to make room for a new freeway. He then learns that his best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) is an alien and that the earth is scheduled to be demolished. Deschanel is on board as Dent’s love interest Trillian, who travels with two white mice. Rockwell is on board as the two-headed president of the universe Zaphod Beeblebox. Malkovich plays cult leader Humma Kavula.

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1PfalsefalseBuzz: Before his death in 2001, Douglas Adams penned the screenplay. He reportedly added new material and characters that don’t appear in the books, including the Malkovich character. Martin Freeman is best known for his role as Tim Canterbury on the British TV series, “The Office.” Great cast here and potentially great screenplay — look for sequels if this film does well.

Web site:

“XXX: State of the Union”

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Columbia Pictures

1PfalsefalseStarring: Ice Cube, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Scott Speedman, Michael Roof, Nona Gaye, Peter Strauss

Director: Lee Tamahori

Story: Ice Cube steps in for Vin Diesel in this sequel to “XXX.” He stars as a special-forces officer sprung from a military prison and recruited by Jackson’s Agent Augustus Gibbons to become a super field agent. He’s sent to Washington D.C. to stop a government coup. Williem Dafoe plays a five-star general.

Buzz:  Director Tamahori (“Die Another Day”) steps in for Rob Cohen. This is the second high-profile sequel Vin Diesel hasn’t participated in, but that fact didn’t stop “2 Fast 2 Furious” from achieving moderate success. Screenwriter Simon Kinsberg is having a busy year: he also helped pen the screenplays for 2005’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “The Fantastic Four” and 2006’s “X-Men 3.” The man is like the Jude Law of screenwriters — he’s everywhere.

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“House of Wax”

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Warner Bros.

1PfalsefalseStarring: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Story: Based on the 1953 film that starred Vincent Price, this movie tells the story of a group of kids that stumble upon a wax museum where the figures seem oddly lifelike.

Buzz: The Paris Hilton feature you’ve been waiting for, right? Personally, I’m a bit miffed that they named her character Paige. The casting director mined the WB teen soaps to find Murray (“One Tree Hill”) and Jared Padalecki (“Gilmore Girls”). This is Collet-Serra’s feature debut. For the men out there, that R-rating might mean that you’ll get to see either Cuthbert or Hilton topless — but no guarantees.

Web site:

“Kingdom of Heaven”

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20th Century Fox

1PfalsefalseStarring: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Marton Csokas, Liam Neeson

Director: Ridley Scott

Story: Set during the Crusades of the 12th century, this film tells the story of Jerusaleum blacksmith Balian of Ibelin (Bloom), who finds himself swept into a war to protect his people from foreign invaders. Eva Green (“The Dreamers”) plays the exotic queen who captivates Bloom.

Buzz: Orlando Bloom faces the test that Colin Farrell and Brad Pitt didn’t pass. Can he carry a period film — or as Chris Rock joked in during the Oscars: is Russell Crowe really the only actor who can do period films? The good news is director Scott also directed “Gladiator,” which bodes well. Scott is a visual director, however, and character development has been known to get sacrificed for imagery and spectacle.

Web site:

“Jiminy Glick in La La Wood”

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Business Wire

COMEDY CENTRAL**XBWM** Contact: Lisa Chader (310)201-9566 ( OR Marie Raubicheck (212)767-8561 (marie.raubicheck@come050303_spring_movie_jiminyNEW YORKNYUSA6312729600000000001BW1PfalsefalseStarring: Martin Short, Jan Hooks, Linda Cardellini, Janeane Garofalo, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Perkins, Corey Pearson

Director: Vadim Jean

Story: An entertainment critic (Short) from a small town finds fame at the Toronto film festival when he lands an interview with an elusive megastar (Pearson). Every actor suddenly wants to be interviewed by Jiminy Glick. But when an aging actress (Perkins) is found dead in [his?] hotel bed, Glick becomes embroiled in a murder mystery.

Buzz: The Jiminy Glick character hardly seems amusing enough for the half-hour Comedy Central show he inhabits, let alone a whole movie.

Web site: NA

“Kicking &  Screaming”

Starring: Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Mike Ditka, Kate Walsh, Jim Turner, Jarrad Paul

Director: Jesse Dylan

Story: When father-in-law (Duvall) trades Ferrell’s son (Lawrence) to an opposing soccer team, Ferrell decides it’s time to coach the boy’s new misfit team himself. He enlists the help of former Bears coach Mike Ditka (playing himself) to get the boys into shape. But Ferrell finds himself more and more caught up in winning — will he become as competitive as his father-in-law?

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1PfalsefalseBuzz: This feels a bit too much like “The Bad News Bears” (and there's already a remake of that film coming in June) or “The Mighty Ducks.” It’s a bit disheartening to see Ferrell already giving into the “family comedy” genre, let’s just hope he still adds a little bite to all this potentially feel-good sweetness. Director Dylan helmed “American Wedding” and “How High” — not exactly stellar credits.

Web site:


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Lions Gate Films

1PfalsefalseStarring: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Dashon Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Larenz Tate, Nona Gaye

Director: Paul Haggis

Story: No, this is not a remake of David Cronenberg’s really strange 1996 film. Set during 36 hours in Los Angeles, this film brings groups of wildly divergent people together in unpredictable ways. This film forces its characters to confront their own fears and racism as they literally collide into each other. Cheadle stars as a police detective; Esposito plays his partner. Fraser and Bullock play a husband and wife who get carjacked. Dillion plays a racist cop who harasses Newton and Howard.

Buzz: Haggis is best known as the screenwriter for the Academy Award winning film “Million Dollar Baby.” He pens the screenplay here as well. Though he’s done some television directing, this is his feature film debut. Incredible cast here. It would be great to see Bullock finally break out of the romantic comedy box. Cheadle proved with “Hotel Rwanda” the he has the stuff to carry a film.  

Web site: NA


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New Line Cinema

1PfalsefalseStarring: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes, Adam Scott

Director: Robert Luketic

Story: Professional dog-walker Lopez thinks she’s met the man of her dreams in Vartan. And though he may indeed be dreamy, his mother, Fonda, definitely isn’t. When Vartan surprises both women by asking Lopez to marry him, Fonda ends up declaring war on Lopez. Sykes plays Fonda’s longtime assistant.

Buzz: This is Jane Fonda’s first film since 1990’s “Stanley and Iris.” Luketic knows his way around a romantic comedy, as he directed the original “Legally Blond” and “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.” Fonda and Lopez should be fun to watch — but the danger is that they’ll both be too hammy to be either sympathetic or believable. Also Lopez does have a chemistry problem with her male co-stars. Ralph Fiennes and Matthew McConaughey were able to create few sparks with her in the past.

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Rogue Pictures

1PfalsefalseStarring: Morgan Freeman, Jet Li, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon, Christian Gazio, Silvio Simac

Director: Louis Leterrier

Story: Martial-arts star Jet Li plays a man who’s been raised by Bob Hoskins to be a killing machine. He fights in illegal gladiator clubs and Hoskins treats him like a dog, including making him wear a collar around his neck. But when Li escapes and stumbles on blind piano tuner Freeman, he learns that people can be kind. And he finds that he must protect his new friends from the gangsters he left behind.

Buzz: The premise of this film sounds so campy and silly, but the film is written by Luc Besson (“La Femme Nikita,” “The Professional”) which means there may actually be a good thriller beneath the laughable premise. Freeman classes up any project he’s in and Hoskins should be a kick as the villain. This may be one of those films that ends up being much better than you might expect.

Web site: NA

“Layer Cake”

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Sony Pictures Classics

1PfalsefalseStarring: Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Louis Emerick, Sienna Miller

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Story: Craig plays a cocaine dealer who’s ready to retire, but first Cranham has one last job for him — to track down the missing daughter of a powerful businessman. Complicating the situation are two pounds of Grade A ecstacy, neo-Nazis and many double crosses.

Buzz: Mackenzie was a producer on “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” and this film looks to have that same quick-witted, violent, British flavor. However, this is his directorial debut. Craig is best known for playing opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in “Sylvia.”   

Web site:

“Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”

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20th Century Fox

1PfalsefalseStarring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Jimmy Smits, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew

Director: George Lucas

Story: Anakin Skwalker (Christenson) begins his journey to the dark side in this film that serves as a bridge to the original “Star Wars.” The clone wars are nearing an end and Obi-Wan (McGregor) must bring Clone General Grievous to justice. Meanwhile Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid) proclaims himself emperor, turning the Republic into the Galactic Empire. He draws Anakin into embracing the dark side of the force. Anakin finds himself at odds with Senator Amidala (Portman), his secret and very pregnant wife.

Buzz: In an informal survey of our readers, this film ranked as the most anticipated film of 2005. Lucas has a long journey to turn Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader in the course of two plus hours. The new trilogy has been rather disappointing, but fans aren’t ready to give up on Lucas or the “Star Wars” mythology just yet. The film will feature the Wookie homeland and Luke and Leia as infants.

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“The Longest Yard”

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Paramount Pictures

1PfalsefalseStarring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Nelly, William Fichtner, Burt Reynolds

Director: Peter Segal

Story: In this remake of the 1975 film that starred Burt Reynolds, Sandler plays a former college champion football player who winds up in jail. Reynolds plays a coach doing time in the same prison whom Sandler enlists to help put a team of inmates together to take on the guards. Rock co-stars as another inmate who assists Sandler. Cromwell plays the warden who wants Sandler’s team to throw the game.

Buzz: This film seems right up Sandler’s alley — he’s a comedian who appeals more to men than to women. The sports backdrop should serve him well. Rock hasn’t had much luck with big-screen comedies (“Pootie Tang,” “Head of State”), but sharing the duties with Sandler should help. Look for Segal (“Fifty First Dates,” “Tommy Boy,” “Anger Management”) to score another hit with this film.

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1PfalsefalseStarring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Gwen Stefani

Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

Story: This animated feature tells the story of four animals from the New York City Zoo. Rock voices a zebra who longs to get back to the wild. Stiller voices a fearsome lion who’s the zoo’s “star.”  Schwimmer and Pinkett-Smith voice a giraffe and a pregnant hippo. With the help of a mischevious band of penguins, Marty the Zebra makes his escape and the rest of the gang sets out to find him. But how will these pampered animals survive in the real world?  

Buzz: This film comes from DreamWorks, which produced last year’s “Shrek 2” and “Shark Tale.” This film heavily relies on its stars, as did the rather mediocre “Shark Tale.” Let’s hope the filmmakers have taken a lesson from the folks at Pixar that story should come first, stars later.

Web site:



Mark Mainz

Getty Images North America

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040316_scoop_kilmer_bcol1pHollywoodCAUnited States13020516PfalsefalseStarring: Val Kilmer, LL Cool J, Christian Slater, Eion Bailey, Will Kemp, Jonny Lee Miller

Director: Renny Harlin

Story: The story of FBI trainees learning to hunt serial killers, who, during a training exercise on a remote island, discover that there’s a killer in their midst. The trick is figuring out who the killer is. Kilmer stars as the agents’ trainer. 

Buzz: This film was originally scheduled for last June, but has been pushed back more times than I can count. Not a good sign. It’s hard to believe, looking at Renny Harlin’s list of credits that he was ever considered a “hot” director. He directed the weakest “Die Hard” sequel: the second, “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane,” and the impossibly bad “Cutthroat Island.” His only “good” movie was 1993’s “Cliffhanger.” On the plus side, the screenwriter, Wayne Kramer wrote the indie hit, “The Cooler.”

Web site:

“Cinderella Man”

Starring: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Bruce McGill, Paddy Considine

Director: Ron Howard

Story: This film tells the true story of Depression-era boxer Jim Braddock (Crowe), who’s forced into retirement after a series of losses. But he never gives up his dream to box and makes a surprisingly successful return to the sport. In 1935, he takes on his biggest fight against Max Baer (Bierko) in a 15-round slugfest for the title. Zellweger co-stars as Braddock’s wife; Giamatti plays his manager.

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1PfalsefalseBuzz: Word is that Giamatti may finally get his much-deserved Oscar nomination for his role here. This is a strange release date for a high-profile drama like this one — Oscar voters will have most likely forgotten the film by the time nominations roll around. Howard brought on “A Beautiful Mind” screenwriter Akiva Goldman to re-work the screenplay. Goldman and Howard will re-team again for “The Da Vinci Code.”

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“High Tension”

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Lions Gate

1PfalsefalseStarring: Cécile De France, Maïwenn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun, Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea, Marco Claudiu Pascu, Jean-Claude de Goros, Bogdan Uritescu, Gabriel Spahiu

Director: Alexandre Aja

Story: Alex (De France) and Marie (Le Besco) plan to spend a quiet weekend in the country outside of Paris. In the dead of night, a dangerous stranger knocks on their door and turns their idyllic weekend into a nightmare.

Buzz: Director Aja says that he created this film as an ode to the 1970s American slasher films that he loved. He even manages to employ a chainsaw as one of the weapons the killer uses. The film is being dubbed into English for its release in the U.S — Aja didn’t want subtitles to distract the audience from the movie’s horrors.

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“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”

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Warner Bros

1PfalsefalseStarring: Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, Bradley Whitford, Nancy Travis, Rachel Ticotin, Jenna Boyd

Director: Ken Kwapis

Story: Based on the novel by Ann Brashares, this film tells the story of four 16-year-old girls who are about to spend their first summer apart. On their last day together, they find a pair of jeans that fits each of them perfectly, so they decide to each spend a week in the jeans that summer and then send them on to the next girl. The film tells the story of each girl’s adventures.

Buzz: Tamblyn and Bledel are both take a break from their TV gigs (on “Joan of Arcadia” and “Gilmore Girls”) for this film. Ferrera played the lead role in the film “Real Women Have Curves.” Delia Ephron (“You’ve Got Mail”) penned the screenplay. The tween set should love this one.

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“The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D”

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Matthew Simmons

Getty Images North America

Getty Images file

2005 Getty Images

David Arquette

52197860MS009_turtleLos Angeles CAUnited States632441088000000000152197860PfalsefalseStarring: David Arquette, Kristin Davis, Taylor Dooley, Taylor Lautner, Cayden Boyd, George Lopez

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Story: The story of a 10-year-old outcast (Boyd) who, when forced to spend the summer on his own, ends up having adventures with his two imaginary friends Shark Boy (Lautner) and Lava Girl (Dooley). Arquette co-stars as the boy’s father.

Buzz: Rodriguez wrote and directed his film and has proved he knows his way around a children’s movie with his “Spy Kids” trilogy. With Rodriguez at the helm, expect something much smarter and more imaginative than your typical kid-friendly fare. Boyd played Tim Robbins' son in “Mystic River.”

Web site: NA

“The Bad News Bears”

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Paramount Pictures

1PfalsefalseStarring: Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear, Marcia Gay Harden, Timmy Deters, Seth Adkins

: Richard Linklater

Story: This remake of the 1976 classic that starred Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal tells the story of the misfits who make up the Bears' little league team and the misfit coach (Thornton) who tries to lead them to victory. He enlists the help of estranged daughter Amanda (Kraft) who just happens to be a great pitcher. Can the team pull it together?

Buzz: This may be one of those rare remakes that actually works. Thornton re-teams with “Bad Santa” screenwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa for this film, which means it should have plenty of bite. Linklater proved with “School of Rock” that just because you put kids in a movie doesn’t mean it has to be cloying.  Thornton seems perfectly cast as the washed up, drunken coach Buttermaker.

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“Mr. and Mrs. Smith”

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20th Century Fox

1PfalsefalseStarring: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Adam Brody, Vince Vaughn, Angela Bassett

Director: Doug Liman 

Story: This is the story of a married couple (Pitt and Jolie) who are bored with their humdrum lives together. What each of them doesn’t realize is that the other is an assassin. Then each is assigned to target the other. Will their marriage survive — and will they?

Buzz: It will be interesting to see if these two megastars are able to create on-screen sparks. Pitt showed in the “Ocean’s” movies that he does have the dry wit to carry this off and it’s always nice to see Jolie playing a character who’s as tough and smart as the actress seems to be. Liman directed “The Bourne Identity” and “Swingers” and should keep the action moving at a good clip. Vaughn should provide some comic relief as Pitt’s handler.

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