November 8, 2001

Coming Soon…. To a Theater Near You

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by Cory Sinclair

The movie industry has been affected directly by the September 11 terrorist attacks. The up-and-coming new Martin Scorsese period epic Gangs of New York has had its release date — which was originally set for December 21 — pushed back until next spring or possibly even next summer.

Filmed for the most part in Rome and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, and Cameron Diaz, Gangs takes place in 1860’s Manhattan. The story line follows the son (DiCaprio) of a murdered gangleader who is out to get the man who killed his father. This nearly $90 million film also addresses strong themes of immigration and love.

The film contains many graphic and violent scenes during the 1860’s draft riots in New York. Due to sensitivity issues, Miramax views the rumbling plot line as inappropriate since the recent tragedies. Upon the request of Harvey Weinstein, Scorsese is taking a half-hour slice out of the Irish and Italian gangster film due to possible audience ennui rather than sensitivity.

This film has not had the best luck even before the release date came into the makers’ minds. Robert De Niro originally was considering Gangs, but due to his dislike for traveling to Europe (because of his unfair detention in Paris in connection to an international prostitution ring two years ago), he dropped out. Also, Liam Neeson’s motorcycle crash, not even a week after signing on to the movie, did not help the production schedule. And reported disagreements between veteran Scorsese and pretty-boy DiCaprio prolonged filming — due to Leo’s late arrival for morning shoots because of late-night partying.

Miramax was rumored to be pushing a quick December 31 partial release in New York and Los Angeles to try to squeeze in some Oscar hopefuls. This idea has been scratched and it looks like Gangs won’t be fighting the crowds until 2002.

by Julia Ramey

Clooney! Damon! Roberts! Pitt! Garcia! Past covers of People’s 50 Most Beautiful People Issue? No, just the cast of the upcoming movie Ocean’s Eleven. One of Hollywood’s most highly anticipated movies, thanks largely to its star power, Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of the 1960 classic starring the Rat Pack. The plot involves a gangster named Danny Ocean (George Clooney) who rounds up eleven expert criminals to pull off a heist of three Vegas Casinos on the night of a big boxing match. Brad Pitt plays Ocean’s accomplice and best pal, Matt Damon plays an accomplished pickpocket, and Andy Garcia plays the casinos’ owner. A nifty subplot introduces Julia Roberts as Ocean’s ex-wife and current girlfriend of Mr. Garcia. Also included among the Eleven are Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, and Carl Reiner.

The trailer is hip and jazzy, with a definite retro feel that hearkens back to the Rat Pack era. But the action is up-to-date: the heist itself involves getting past a state-of-the-art security system, and so the film will have plenty to offer to action buffs as well as those seeking eye candy.

So was there any ego-clashing on the set? It hasn’t been reported, and in fact rumors are already beginning to emerge about George Clooney’s on-set practical jokes. In addition, all the stars are reportedly getting paid much less than normal: Roberts, who usually makes $20 million a picture, could be taking home less than $5 (quel horreur!). One of the reasons behind the financial leniency might have been that red-hot director Steven Soderbergh, the director-of-the-moment since the success of Erin Brokovich and Traffic, is behind the camera.

Although the film has gotten a few negative preliminary reviews, most insiders are predicting a smash. Warner Brothers seems to have all the pieces in place: more than enough superstars, a hot director, and even a holiday release date … it’ll be interesting to see whether they, and Danny Ocean’s Eleven, can pull it off.

by Barbara Seigel

Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones is the second full-length feature in this six-episode series. After The Phantom Menace took the helm as the delayed initiatory episode of what was once the Star Wars trilogy, the creators of the popular series expect Episode II to successfully follow as the next step in this sci-fi saga. Directed by George Lucas, the cast includes megastars Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, and soon to be megastar Hayden Christensen. Set ten years after the events of The Phantom Menace, these familiar heroes are reunited to fight for the destiny of the galaxy and defeat the forces of the Dark Side who threaten to take control of the Republic.

While the plot of Episode II is not exactly a secret, there are several essential details that are being withheld. It is known, though, that this film centers on the developing relationship between Anakin (Christensen), who has become the accomplished Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan (McGregor), and Padme (Portman), who must be protected by these two Jedi knights. Although Anakin and Obi-Wan engage in separate adventures in the film, they are reunited at the end. And, as can be expected from the title, information about the Clone Wars, mentioned in A New Hope, becomes pertinent.

Aside from the special effects characteristic of any sci-fi drama, Lucas wants SWII to be one of the first films to be done digitally (although it has been rumored that cost and capabilities may prevent the film from encompassing exclusively digital photography). For more information visit places such as If not, you’ll have to wait to see the outcome in May 2002 when Star Wars Episode II is scheduled for release in theaters nationwide.

by Cory Sinclair

With cult fans and all Tolkien-loving humans patiently awaiting the first installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the wait is coming to an end. Opening December 19 in North America (but premiering a week earlier in London), The Fellowship of The Ring is poised to sweep the world.

With a cast of young and old, Rings will appeal to all generations. Starring Elijah Wood and Liv Tyler, as well as veterans Sir Ian McKellen and Ian Holm, and sexy stars Viggo Mortensen and Cate Blanchett, the box office will be booming.

As the first part of three (The Two Towers and The Return of the King are looking at December 2002 and December 2003 release dates, respectively), this Tolkien tale follows the young Frodo Baggins (Wood) on an adventure into the Cracks of Doom to destroy an ancient Ring given to him by his elder cousin Bilbo Baggins (Holm). With the help of Gandalf the Wizard (McKellen) and friend Samwise Gamgee (Astin), Frodo encounters a mixture of hobbits, elves, dwarves, trolls and orcs in Middle-earth on his quest to destroy the ancient Ring before it falls into the clutches of the Dark Lord Sauron.

Of course, no big blockbuster could be successful without a love story, this one between Elven princess Arwen (Tyler) and Aragorn (Mortensen). Blanchett rounds out the cast as the Elven queen Galadriel.

Directed by Peter Jackson, Fellowship was filmed in New Zealand and includes the most advanced special effects and CGI technology. The soundtrack, featuring two new Enya tunes, is available November 20 and was composed by Howard Shore.

With a budget of around $90 million, The Fellowship of The Ring is looking at breaking some records. Said to be a ride that is “true to the spirit of the books” and with “its characters so grounded in a totally convincing reality — psychologically, morally, and narratively” by executive producer Mark Ordesky, this fantastical journey is sure to be a holiday hit.

by Ed Howard

Perhaps no movie (with the possible exception of Star Wars) has quite as much hype as the first sequel to the gro
undbreaking film The Matrix. The first film gathered much-deserved critical and popular acclaim for starring Keanu Reeves and somehow still being an entertaining and revolutionary piece of cinema. The two sequels are currently in the works simultaneously, and the current plan (after months of machinations and changes) is for Warner Brothers to release both films in the summer of 2003.

The Matrix Reloaded will be the direct sequel to the first movie, following Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) and a host of their allies as they continue their fight against the Matrix’s evil creators. In addition to those three actors from the first movie, returning characters will include Tank (although with a different actor playing the role) and The Oracle (although actress Gloria Foster died from diabetes shortly after finishing most of her part). New characters will include Niobi (played by Jada Pinkett-Smith), a love interest for Morpheus, and a new character named Zee, who was originally slated to be played by Aaliyah before her death a few months ago in a plane crash. Aaliyah apparently did some preliminary work on the film, but it is still not known whether the role will be recast or not.

Naturally, exact details of the sequels’ plot are very sketchy, as the producers are keeping a tight lid on the proceedings. All that is really known so far is that The Matrix Reloaded and the as-yet-untitled Matrix 3 will be very closely connected — in fact, producer Joel Silver says that the films are really one longer film, with the first sequel ending in a sudden cliffhanger. At the moment, though, fans will just be waiting anxiously for the next installments in Neo’s continuing adventures.

Archived article by Cory Sinclair