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2004: A Look Ahead...
Date: 21st December 2003
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

This week I have been far too busy stuffing myself with mince pies and Christmas pudding to go and see any films, so instead I thought I'd tell you about some of the exciting films we can expect to see in the cinemas in 2004.

 

Kicking off the New Year will be the release of Ed Zwick's The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, out on the 9th January. The Cruiser spent two years preparing for this role, in which he hunts for Oscar glory as an American Civil War Veteran who is hired by the Japanese Emperor to train an army to use modern weapons.

The Last Samurai
 

However, when he gets captured by the Samurai enemy, he begins to doubt which side he should be on. Think Dances With Wolves in Japan.

Also out in January is Sofia Coppola's critically acclaimed Lost In Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. Murray plays an ageing and unhappy Hollywood actor who finds himself in Tokyo to shoot a Whiskey advert, purely for the money. Written and directed by the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now), we can expect a touching and funny story the likes of which don't come along often enough.

If more outrageous comedy is your thing, though, then look out for School Of Rock, due out in February, starring Jack Black of High Fidelity and Tenacious D fame. Black plays a hard-up aspiring musician who poses as an unorthodox substitute teacher at a prep school, and turns his class into a rock band.
We can also expect the second half of Tarantino's kung-fu homage in February next year, and if you've seen the first part, I'm sure you'll be as keen to see Kill Bill: Vol. Two as I am.

 
The Girl Next Door

There are a few smaller releases to look out for before the summer blockbusters come round, starting with Gothika in April. Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz and regular jailbird Robert Downey Jr. star in this dark chiller set in an asylum.
Fans of the TV series 24 might also want to keep an eye out for Elisha Cuthbert's first starring role in The Girl Next Door, and I will certainly be supporting the career of the highly entertaining Owen Wilson by going to see The Big Bounce, an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard thriller – and let's not forget that Jackie Brown and Out of Sight were both based on Elmore Leonard's books.

The summer will see a fair haul of blockbusters in 2004, and first to arrive will be Troy, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Bean and Canterbury's very own Orlando Bloom, who seems to star in every movie that has sword fighting or bows and arrows in these days. Ex-model Diane Kruger will play Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships, in Wolfgang Petersen's adaptation of Homer's work.
If adaptations are your thing, or if you're a fan of the series, you'll want to catch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in which Gary Oldman attempts to polish off the Hogwart's wizard for good, although as there are more Potter movies planned, we can probably assume he doesn't manage to.

 

At long last there is to be a sequel to the very funny Shrek next summer too, which I would like to be called Shrek 2: Bless you, although the people in charge are so far opting for the less imaginative Shrek 2. All the principal cast members are back for part two, which sees Shrek and his new bride visiting the in-laws for dinner – let's hope it's another feast of film spoofs and sparkling dialogue!

 

There's more animated fun due out at the end of next year, as Pixar release The Incredibles, with voices provided by Samuel L. Jackson and Holly Hunter. The people behind Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo will try to recreate the magic with this story about a family of undercover superheroes who try to save the world.

The Incredibles
 

All in all, there's plenty to look forward to in 2004, and I'll be here each week to let you know what I think about the latest releases!

 

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