Originally created 02/03/05

Movies on deck might dodge slump of season



There's no way to sugar-coat the issue: The first few months of any year are, historically speaking, the movie doldrums. Situated between the prestige of winter and the popcorn of summer, spring movies are mostly castoffs that studios are not quite sure what to do with.

There are exceptions - Silence of the Lambs, for instance, was released in the deadly month of February, and it went on to win a passel of Oscars. Looking for a masterpiece before the Masters Tournament, however, is, for the most part, a sucker bet. Still, the season does offer some intriguing prospects. Here's a look at some of the movies on the spring studio slate:

HITCH: News flash: Will Smith is in a movie where nothing explodes and the Earth does not require his intervention for its continued well-being. Instead, this romantic comedy casts the normally quite heroic Mr. Smith as a "date doctor" who, despite his successes with the love-lorn, can't quite pull his own romantic life together. Perhaps not a stretch for the comically gifted Mr. Smith, but it is a nice departure. Feb. 11

CONSTANTINE: Keanu Reeves plays a comic-book character - whoa.

Based on the long-running DC comic Hellblazer, Constantine stars the underemotive Mr. Reeves as a mysterious occult adventurer. While this movie has received some positive talk, purists might be disappointed. Evidently, the comic-book character was originally blond and British. Feb. 18

CURSED: This werewolf movie by horror master Wes Craven (Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street) was off to a rocky start before it hit the starting gate. During filming, "creative differences" emerged, pushing back completion by nearly a year, and causing many completed sequences to be discarded and reshot with a new cast. Hairy. Feb. 25

BE COOL: A sequel to the 1995 Hollywood send-up Get Shorty, Be Cool finds former mob enforcer and film fan Chili Palmer disenchanted with the movie industry and ready to try his hand at music. The film is based on the novel by the poet laureate of crime fiction, Elmore Leonard. March 4

ROBOTS: Sure, a computer-animated epic featuring an all-star cast of actors might have lost some of the luster it would have enjoyed back in the day - you know, three years ago. This film about a hero trying to save his mechanized world seems appealing enough. Featured voices include Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks and Robin Williams. March 11

RING 2: Just when you stopped having nightmares about the creepy video tape girl, this sequel to the 2002 surprise hit emerges with a brand new briefcase full of boos. Of course, in the two years since the first film, every horror movie to come down the pike has co-opted the signature Ring style, so it remains to be seen whether the sequel will be able to retain the original's visceral power. March 18

SIN CITY: A sort of neo-noir, this visually spectacular film painstakingly re-creates the graphic feel of it's comic-book origins. The movie stars Mickey Rourke as a street tough with vengeance on his mind, Bruce Willis as a wrongfully accused cop and Clive Owen as a photographer in trouble. The film was directed by Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) and comic book artist Frank Miller, who created the imagined world. April 1

FEVER PITCH: Another alert for purists. This film, based on the novel by British writer Nick Hornby, no longer has anything to do with the legendary Arsenal soccer, er, football club. In fact, it no longer takes place in England. Instead, the action has been transplanted to Boston and the team in question is the Red Sox. The movie stars Jimmy Fallon as a fervent fan who must choose between his beloved Sox and his girl, played by Drew Barrymore. Hmmm, uber-cute Barrymore or the Red Sox? You wouldn't think that would be much of a contest. April 8

SAHARA: For nearly 30 years, novelist Clive Cussler has been busting out adventure yarns featuring his ocean-faring hero, Dirk Pitt. Although perennial best sellers, these novels have not fared well in Hollywood. The one attempt, the criminally awful Raise the Titanic, well, sank. Sahara is an attempt to revive the character, cinematically speaking. April 8

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR: Proof positive that it pays to read the fine print, this purportedly true story about a couple who quickly buy a dream home only to discover it already is inhabited by vengeful spirits has become an iconic story of buyer beware. While much has been made over whether anything supernatural ever occurred in the house, it still makes for a (potentially) fine ghost story. April 15

THE INTERPRETER: A throwback to old fashioned thriller-making, this story of a United Nations interpreter who overhears a murder plot features Hollywood heavies Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. The real star, however, is not a person but a place. The film crew shot much of the movie at the UN. April 22

XXX: STATE OF THE UNION: Fans of the original XXX might be disappointed to discover that Vin Diesel chose not to reprise his role as extreme athlete-turned-super spy. Instead, hip-hop icon Ice Cube stars as an outsider brought in to track down a bunch of baddies led by Willem Dafoe. April 29

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.