Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
It’s finally here. After decades in development, years in the making, and months in the pre-publicity hyping, James Cameron’s 3D sci-fi epic has already generated a decade of indecipherable marketing buzz. When the teaser trailer hit last month, few were impressed. The next day, Fox unveiled a 15-minute in theater IMAX preview, and jaws dropped considerably. This could be either the biggest hit of 2009, or the most talked about underachiever since Zack Snyder took on a certain graphic novel. This will be a hard sell outside the already anxious geek community. The movie is a combination of live action and hi-res CG, Cameron mixing the story of a paralyzed soldier with a far off planet’s struggle for independence with the scientifically created “creatures” in the middle. With its wide open ambitions, desire to excite as well as entrance, and the unsure nature of most examples of speculative fiction, Cameron has quite the obstacles to overcome. Last time he faced such impediments, he delivered a little something called Titanic.
Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Rupert Evans
How do you counterprogram against what promises to be the biggest bang (or bust) at the box office all year. You offer up an intriguing period piece with Oscar winner Rachel Weisz as astronomer-philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria. Set up as a battle between man vs. religion (the rising tide of Christianity in the ancient world plays an important part in the central dramatic conflict), there is also a romantic element as Max Minghella plays a slave who loves Hypatia, but turns to faith as a means of earning his freedom. Thanks to the advances in special effects, the classical setting really comes alive, and Weisz is always good, even in pointless popcorn fluff like The Mummy movies. The wild card here? Co-writer/director Alejandro Amenábar. While both 2001’s The Others and 2004’s The Sea Inside were solid bits of filmmaking, the scope suggested here might throw the Chilean auteur.