PREMISE: Stoner Indian student and stoner Korean student quest for burgers.
OUTLOOK: Sometimes the title says enough.
The Manchurian Candidate
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme
PREMISE: John Frankenheimer's Cold War suspense film gets an update, with Washington stepping in for Frank Sinatra and Streep for Angela Lansbury. The actual region of Asia referenced by the title is no longer part of the story; this time it's a big company called the Manchurian Corp. that plans to install a puppet president (Schreiber) mentally programmed to do their evil bidding.
OUTLOOK: A president who automatically does whatever a big corporation tells him to do? Isn't that a little far-fetched?
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Frakes
PREMISE: Live-action rendition of the 1960s U.K. "Supermarionation" sci-fi show in which wooden string puppets saved the day from danger in, yes, some big, colorful spaceships. It remains to be seen which is creepier -- a vintage marionette or Bill Paxton.
OUTLOOK: Likely to do well in the U.K., but here? Frakes' track record is questionable: Other than Star Trek movies, the erstwhile Cmdr. Riker is best known for directing the horrible kiddie sci-fi movie Clockstoppers.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: M. Night Shyamalan
PREMISE: A 19th-century Pennsylvania village, hermetically sealed from the rest of civilization, is disturbed by an outside menace.
OUTLOOK: While The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable smartly mixed dank moodiness with semi-unpredictable "twist" endings, the flailing Signs dumbed things down into eye-rolling territory. This project appears to follow suit, with nice production values and cast but a lame, sub-sub-Twilight Zone "twist" even Webheads have long since sussed. If you can't figure it out from the red paint marks on the villagers' doors, you are exactly the designated audience for this movie. Catch it in an Amish town for extra fun.
WRITER: Frank Cottrell Boyce (24 Hour Party People)
PREMISE: A love story set in a near future in which travel is restricted to residents of cities, and even then only to those who purchase a special type of insurance. Outside the cities, the world has become a desert filled with shantytowns and illegal immigrants.
OUTLOOK: Combining cautionary global politics with character-based drama is a Winterbottom trademark, but the sci-fi hook may garner him a new audience. And if that's not enough, the film's R-rating descriptive also promises "brief graphic nudity."
DIRECTOR: Michael Mann
PREMISE: Foxx plays an L.A. cabbie forced into service by a killer Cruise.
OUTLOOK: Frankly, this sounds less like a movie than a template for a screenwriting workshop. Mann's affection for L.A.'s mean streets (Heat, TV's Robbery Homicide Division) may score him another hit, but -- baddie or otherwise -- isn't the entire world completely sick of Tom Cruise by now?
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Chris Kentis (1997's Grind, not to be confused with the recent skateboarding flick of the same name)
PREMISE: A vacationing couple goes on a scuba-diving trip and is accidentally left out to sea, surrounded by sharks. Based on a true story.
OUTLOOK: The filmmakers used real sharks. Real. No one's gonna be bitching about how fake they look, like with all the Jaws movies. Audiences jaded by megabudget computer-generated stuff who want a good water-based scare are gonna eat it up like Jaws at a beach party.
She Hate Me
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Spike Lee
PREMISE: A corporate whistle-blower (8 Mile's Mackie) loses his job on Wall Street and winds up selling his sperm to rich childless lesbians who pay big bucks to get impregnated the old-fashioned way. Yes, it's a comedy.
OUTLOOK: Lee is often on shaky ground when it comes to comedies, and it'll be ironic if vocal minority groups (lesbians, in this case) start protesting him.
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall
WRITER: Gina Wendkos
PREMISE: Last time around, she found out she was a princess. Now our heroine learns that she has 30 days to find herself a prince or give up the throne. There's something like seven of these books already in print, so this cinematic series has only just begun.
OUTLOOK: The first Princess Diaries was surprisingly appealing, and all the same people are back, including Heather Matarazzo as the less attractive best friend. John Rhys-Davies joins the cast on this outing, and he knows a thing or two about picking franchise projects.
Alien Vs. Predator
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