OUTLOOK: Latifah's been on a roll lately, but if she makes too many movies that sound almost exactly the same as Barbershop (up next: Beauty Shop), people may stop coming. The premise of The Cookout is extremely basic -- the degree to which the vast ensemble cast has any kind of chemistry together is going to make or break it.
WRITERS: Mak, Felix Chong (Gen-X Cops 2)
PREMISE: The first film in a popular Hong Kong action franchise, Infernal Affairs follows the parallel stories of a gang mole in the police force and an undercover cop infiltrating the mob, both of whom find themselves seeking similar objectives.
OUTLOOK: Miramax finally seems to be learning that dubbing is not the way to go. If the movie does well, there are already two sequels available to import.
DIRECTOR: David Ellis (Final Destination 2)
PREMISE: A young man (Evans) gets a random cell-phone call from a woman (Basinger) who has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. Her phone battery is dying, and he's her only hope.
OUTLOOK: Looks like the cell-phone propaganda lobby is at it again! Just as all manner of businesses start to ban loud cell-phone conversations, those Hollywood liberals conspire to indoctrinate us with positive images of the inexpensive communication devices saving lives, damn them! Of course, any movie that cell-phone users can relate to is likely to make heaps of cash.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Mamoru Oshii
PREMISE: Sequel to the highly influential anime about downloading human souls ("ghosts") into robot bodies. The original film was one of the most obvious stylistic and narrative influences on The Matrix.
OUTLOOK: DreamWorks did right by its last anime release, Millennium Actress, which didn't make a whole lot of money. Everyone who knows the name Mamoru Oshii will likely see this sequel and love it, but will anyone else?
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