#60 January 2004

CLUB NEWS
JUST READ ALL THE CLUB NEWS

TV NEWS
FINDING LIFE AFTER FIREFLY 
ANGEL’S HARMONY 
MARSTERS OK WITH ANGEL 
CELEBRATE!
COL. AUSTIN JOINS JAKE 2.0 
EARTHSEA GETS GREEN LIGHT 
LOWE STAKES CLAIM IN SALEM 
GALACTICA HIGH 
ENTERPRISE SEASON TRIMMED?
FARSCAPE MINI SERIES IN WORKS

EVENT NEWS
January 9 - 11 Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors
January 24 - ICS ANNIVERSARY BASH
February 13-15: Farpoint 
February 13-14: Katsucon 
April '04: Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2004
May 28-31: BALTICON 38

LITERARY NEWS
DA VINCI SPARKS BOOK SALES 
UP ON THE ROOFTOP 
PKD NOMINEES NAMED

MOVIE NEWS
AFFLECK GEEKS OUT
RIGHTS HANG UP HOBBIT? 
BARKER BACK IN DIRECTOR’S CHAIR 
2003's PEOPLES CHOICE NOMINATIONS
JACKSON GETS THIRD DGA NOMINATION 
WOO HONORS HITCHCOCK 
SAM IS AN ANCHOR IN KING 
McKELLEN EAGER FOR XMEN 3 
MORTENSEN UP FOR BATMAN? 
SPIDEY 2 SPINS WEB TEASER

ACTION FIGURE NEWS
COLLECTIBLES CORNER

IMAGINATIVE CINEMA
Jan 7th   BIG FISH 
Jan 23th   THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 
Jan 23rd  MINDHUNTERS 
Jan 30th   THE BIG BOUNCE 
Feb 25th   THE PASSION OF CHRIST

DVD NEWS
LOST IS FOUND
THE BATTLE GOES ON 
DVD WITH SNAKE COMIC 
SPIDEY ANIME HITS THE SHELVES
ANIME DVD AND WHAT’S COMING SOON!

FAREWELLS

THE LAST "WARD"
 

ICS CALENDER

TAKE THIS PAGE,
PRINT IT 
THEN POST IT
ON THE FRIDGE!!!

Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani,
Tim Fleming, Taylor Sherblom Woodward,
Mike Laird, Jeanne Matcovich,
Gary Roberson, Charles Wittig,
Joe Plempel, John Ward

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DECEMBER MEETING SWAP – HULK SMASH TEK MONEY
 The December meeting opened with an energetic round of the annual ICS Christmas Yankee Swap.  Coveted LOTR figures exchanged hands several times as did the CASABLANCA DVD while a very cool pair of HULK HANDS and a copy of William Shatner’s Tek Money (autographed by none less than The Minimum Bid Kid) remained with their original giftees throughout the hour long swap session.  Honorable mention goes to the Michael Ripper book gag gift – great idea!  
 However, some club members expressed dissatisfaction with the swap, so we will discuss the future of the Yankee Swap and alternative ideas for a Christmas Gift exchange at the January meeting.
 
DECEMBER MEETING CINEMA – DAFFY, BILLY AND FAYE WRAY
    Once again, John Ward gave us a taste of the days when cartoons preceded the main feature.  The ‘toon du jour was DUCK AMUCK.   Then, after laughing at Daffy’s antics, we next laughed at those of Billy Batson and Captain Marvel as they escaped one cliffhanger only to fall into another one 10 minutes later (D’OH!).  Suddenly, the room grew quiet as chants of ‘Kong!  Kong!  Kong!’ filled the air.  Yes, it was time for the uncensored 1933 classic KING KONG (again, courtesy of Mr. Ward).  Special thanks goes to Charlie Wittig who pointed out the scene where the ‘native’ lost his wig.  And thank you, John, for coming to the rescue with your films!
 
VISITORS FROM BEYOND (BEYOND THE EAST COAST, THAT IS)
    Life-time members Tim and Heather Fleming flew in for the holidays and spent an evening at ICS to join in the Yankee Swap, watch a flick and visit with friends.  It was great to see the both of you – we hope you can make a repeat visit in December 2004!

A BOOK FOR THE LITERATURE CORNER 
 Anyone who remembers poetry night can not forget the creepy verses from Norman Prentiss.  Omitted from the previous newsletter was mention of his literary accomplishment.  One of Norman’s short stories is going to be published in an anthology called Tales from the Gorezone.   All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Protect, a charity for abused and neglected children.  Norman will let us know the release date of the book (it is not yet available).  Check out webpage http://webpages.charter.net/tftg/index.htm for more information.  And props to Norman!
 

CLUB DIRECTION
 At the December meeting, Dave Willard brought up the topic of the club’s future and goals for the future.  Over the past 5 years, we have established ourselves as a stable club, have a reasonable priced facility, a video projector, a website, an on-line message forum, 60+ members and a nice cushion in our budget.  Because it is important to anticipate future wants, needs and growth of the overall club, the topic of the club’s future was opened for discussion.
 It was noted that our club is growing and in the next few years, we may outgrow the church hall.  Although we have always jokingly wished for our own clubhouse, in reality we are looking at $300-$400K for a facility and a membership base of well over 200 (we currently have 64 members) to support a mortgage.  Achieving this goal would require a heavy emphasis on recruitment and advertising.
 An alternative would be to find another facility to rent once a month.  Because we are getting a reasonable price ($50 per night) and have kitchen facilities at the church, finding a comparable place may be difficult.
 The idea of having an ICS Convention came up as a way to gain more members and/or to increase our bank balance.  However, several members raised objections, stating that they did not wish to belong to a convention club.  Then, the idea of convention was changed to a ‘one day film festival’, which garnered more support.
 Another approach was to re-evaluate the word growth and redefine it as making the actual experience of the club better for the existing members.  After all, there is something to be said for the intimacy and friendships one can make in a smaller club.  Instead of putting the major focus of the club on increasing the membership ranks and moving into a larger place, the club can concentrate on other activities and outings to make the current club better.  For instance, we could rent out the hall on alternate evenings to watch special event TV shows (i.e. last ANGEL episode, the extended versions of LOTR, a New Year’s Eve movie all-nighter).  Also, because we have been responsible tenants, we have flexibility in scheduling early starts and all nighters at our present location.
 Once we set our goals, we may need to form committees who can work on reaching them.  This issue will be an on-going one and we will discuss it more at the next meeting.
 If you have more thoughts or ideas on what goals the club can have for the next five years, please contact one of the board members.  This club can only survive if it goes in a direction mandated by the majority.  Your feedback is important.
 

ICS ANNIVERSARY BASH – JANUARY 24, 2004
 ICS is turning 5!  We are renting out the balcony at the Senator Theater on Saturday, January 24, 2004 to celebrate.  Although we can’t be certain, it is probable that the film showing that evening will be RETURN OF THE KING.  It begins at 8:00 and attendees can begin arriving at 6:30.  We will provide a luncheon platter, drinks and cake.  
   The entrance is inside the inner lobby to the left as you go in. Usually, when there is a party, they will prop the door open.  We can look right over the rail and see folks as they arrive.  The doorman or whoever is in charge will have the guest list.  All 40 tickets have been sold.
Directions to the theater will follow in the next section.

Please note that our regular January meeting will be held on the following Saturday, January 31st.

DIRECTIONS TO THE SENATOR 
From I-95
  Take Baltimore Beltway I-695 to Towson
   Take I-83 South to Baltimore (exit 23)
   Take the NORTHERN PARKWAY EAST exit (exit number 10A)
   Merge onto W NORTHERN PKWY.  and go approx 2 miles
   Turn RIGHT onto YORK RD.-MD 45 (right hand turn lane)
      The Senator is on the right.  
Parking is available if you make the next immediate left past the Senator,
then a right into the parking lot (Senator patrons parking)

ATTENDING THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

   The attendees to the Senator party are: 
Joe Auslander  Lisa Casper  Betsy Childs  Jim Childs
Linda Conrad  Linda Conrad’s 2 guests              John Clayton 
Suzanne Cooper  Sue Feder  Diane Gervasio       Peggy Gervasio
Dave Henderson  Andrew Kent  Kelly Klein  Mitch Klein
Mike Laird        Jeanne Matcovich Barry Murphy Skip Phillips
Joe Plempel          Norman Prentiss Justin Proveaux       Tom Proveaux
Gary Roberson  Mike Schilling Dava Sentz  Donna Sentz
Blake Sherbloom-Woodward  Taylor Sherbloom-Woodward
Regina Vallerani             Beth Vaught  Steve Vaught          Neil Wagenfer
Tom Woodward  John Ward  Terri Ward   Dave Willard
Charlie Wittig  Jeanette Wolfe

NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING
 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday January 31st at 5:30 P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road. Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn left into the parking lot. If you get stuck call 443-570-6455. That's Dave Willard’s cell phone. He'll talk you in.   

DECISION ‘04
 At the January meeting, we’ll have our annual election for the ICS board.  The candidates are:
Jim Childs   Dave Henderson  Andrew Kent 
Joe Plempel   Regina Vallerani  John Ward  
Dave Willard   Charlie Wittig
   Dave Henderson is developing an absentee ballot for those of you who wish to vote but cannot attend the January meeting.

THE ANNUAL AUDIT 
 At the January meeting, we’ll also have the annual audit of our books.  Tom Woodward, our resident Economics in the Star Trek universe expert, will give our books the once-over for accuracy.  Thanks, Tom! 

WTHWTT? 
 We can thank Barry Murphy for our newest acronym – What The Hell Were They Thinking?   Be prepared for one of Murph’s classic presentations and film selections in January as we learn more about low-budget filmmaking and shoddy production values and the delightful cinematic offspring that they produce.

DUES ARE COMING
    This is just a reminder that 2004 dues are, well, due.  Individuals are $25. Couples are $40. Extra family members who reside at the same address are $15 each added the primary membership.  We hope that you decide to join us for an exciting year ahead.

   The following is a list of renewed members for 2004.  If you are not listed, please see Regina.
Lisa Casper  Betsy Childs   Jim Childs
Suzanne Cooper  Heather Fleming (honorary) 
Tim Fleming (honorary) Dave Henderson   Andrew Kent
Barry Murphy  Tom Noll   Joe Plempel
Rick Rieve  Gary Roberson  Ruth Roberson
Mike Schilling  Sue Ellen Sherblom  Blake Sherblom-Woodward
Taylor Sherblom-Woodward    Patricia Smith
Richard Smith  Jack Tydings   Regina Vallerani
Neil Wagenfer  Michael Wilder                Paula Wilder
Dave Willard  Charlie Wittig   Tom Woodward

CALENDARS ARE STILL HERE!
 The theme for the 2004 calendar is TV Shows of the 60’s and is now available.   The calendar is $15 and while most of them are reserved, we have 2 or 3 extras.  If you want one, please see Regina.  It’s worth it for the cover alone.  See how many ICS members you can spot!

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FINDING LIFE AFTER FIREFLY 
   Morena Baccarin, who stars in the upcoming Fox supernatural series STILL LIFE said that the show has a surprisingly lighthearted tone.  "It's really just a beautiful show about humanity," the former Firefly star said in an interview at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention.  "I think it can be dark at times, but in those moments of sorrow we really find a lot of comedy, and it has a good combination of both."
   Baccarin is best known for her role as high-class interstellar prostitute Inara Serra on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER creator Joss Whedon's canceled SF western FIREFLY.  STILL LIFE is a one-hour drama from BUFFY executive producer Marti Noxon and centers on a family dealing with the death of their oldest son, Jake, who watches over them from beyond the grave.  Baccarin plays Jake's former fiancee. She recently completed filming the first seven episodes on location in Vancouver, B.C.
   Baccarin said the show has been favorably compared to HBO's critically acclaimed series SIX FEET UNDER, which also examines the subject of death, albeit from a less grave point of view.  "A lot of people have been comparing it to Six Feet Under, because it's somewhat dark, but it's not depressing," she said.  "It's very lifelike.  You wouldn't just necessarily be crying your eyes out all the time." STILL LIFE is expected to debut on Fox at midseason.

ANGEL’S HARMONY 
   Jeff Bell, co-executive producer of The WB's ANGEL said that the series will resume original episodes with "Harm's Way," an episode devoted almost exclusively to the character of Harmony, played by Mercedes McNab.  "It's just Mercedes front and center," Bell said. "I think it's really funny.  It's sort of the working girl, but the working girl happens to be an evil vampire trying to walk the straight and narrow."
   Bell described "Harm's Way" as pretty much a stand-alone episode.  But observant fans will notice that Angel (David Boreanaz) and Spike (James Marsters) still sport the bruises and cuts that resulted from their fracas in "Destiny."  "We rarely play those holding-over [bits] when it's been a week, because vampires heal quickly," Bell said.  "But we just really want you to remember that Angel and Spike had beaten the crap out of each other in episode eight.  So those marks are all over both of their faces."
   Bell added, "What we're playing in ['Harm's Way'] in terms of our arc is Angel is wondering if he's the guy or not, because Spike just came along and beat him.  And so Angel is back on his heels a bit.  So you sort of feel that, though there's not a lot that's explicitly about that.  The story is really told from Harmony's point of view.  She's in pretty much every scene we see, and so you're limited to how she perceives everybody. It's all about Harmony, and Mercedes did a great job."  "Harm's Way" will likely air in Angel's regular Wednesday 9 p.m. ET/PT timeslot on Jan. 14, 2004.

MARSTERS OK WITH ANGEL 
   James Marsters, who plays Spike in ANGEL, dismissed any perceptions that his vampire-with-a-soul character is taking over the show from David Boreanaz's other vampire-with-a-soul.  The tension between Spike and Angel "was in there from the very first, from the 'School Hard' [episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, in which Spike was introduced," Marsters said.  "I think because there's tension between the characters is why this character and not another one from Buffy came over to the show. But yeah, between David and me functionally, there are no sparks at all."
   Marsters added that he's a big fan of Boreanaz.  "He directed a show this year, and he's so good," Marsters said. "I mean, he doesn't know this really, but he's so good that we forgot that he's a first-time director, and we all got lazy with him, and we kind of left him in the ditch a little bit.  We had to remind ourselves, 'S--t, David, we should be here for David, because he's really a first-time director.'  But he had the quality of such confidence in knowing what he wanted to do one step at a time."
   For his part, Marsters said that he's not interested in directing an episode of ANGEL himself.  "I'm more interested in producing, frankly," he said. "As I see how things work in television, specifically, I think the things that interest me as far as larger arcs of characters.  Togo to finding larger components to put to each other, as far as deciding what the story is that we're going to tell and how we tell it.  I'm kind of leaning towards wanting to do that and hire a director." 

CELEBRATE!
   The 100th episode of The WB's ANGEL, "You're Welcome," featuring the return of former regular cast member Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia, is slated to air Feb. 4, 2004. 

COL. AUSTIN JOINS JAKE 2.0 
   Former Six Million Dollar Man star Lee Majors said that his upcoming guest appearance on UPN's similarly themed Jake 2.0 was like a bionic jog down memory lane. Jake star Christopher Gorham "was full of questions, and the whole cast was very excited that I was there, which I found very flattering," Majors said.  "And of course a lot of the crew brought out all their old stuff, and I think I was signing lunch boxes and coloring books and record albums and all kinds of things—some things I never knew existed.  But anyway, we had a ball."
   In the Dec. 17 episode, "Double Agent," Majors plays retired NSA agent Dick Fox, who's pulled out of retirement to help Gorham's Jake hunt down an ex-KGB operative planning a deadly attack on the United States.  Major said he spent about 10 days last month shooting his role in Vancouver, B.C., much of it at night and in lousy weather.
   But Majors said that he was pleased to be on a show in which the hero acquires superhuman powers through technology, much like his Col. Steve Austin in the 1970s series Six Million Dollar Man.  "Actually the original talk was about maybe playing [Jake's] father," Majors said.  "And then they came up with a wonderful idea of his becoming an agent that had been retired, being called back in for a job.  And so that's the way it kind of comes about. ... You don't know at the end whether he was in this program ... where they tried to create these Six Million Dollar Men-type effective agents."
   As for another shot at Jake 2.0? "They said they would love to have me back, and I guess if the show does well, they'll have me back, hopefully," Majors said. 

EARTHSEA GETS GREEN LIGHT 
   SCI FI Channel announced that it has given a green light to the original miniseries Ursula K. Le Guin's EARTHSEA, which is set to begin production in New Zealand this spring.  Adapted from Le Guin's popular book series, the four-hour EARTHSEA miniseries is written by Gavin Scott (The Mists of Avalon), with Robert Halmi Sr. (Dreamkeeper, Merlin), Lawrence Bender (Kill Bill) and Kevin Brown (Roswell) executive producing. EARTHSEA is slated to debut on SCI FI in December.
   An adaptation of the first two books in Le Guin's trilogy, A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, the EARTHSEA miniseries tells the story of a reckless youth destined to become the greatest sorcerer in the mystical land of Earthsea.  On his journey to manhood, he will combat dragons, fall in love, cross death's threshold and ultimately wield the power to reunite a kingdom.

LOWE STAKES CLAIM IN SALEM 
   Rob Lowe, who stars in TNT's upcoming new miniseries based on Stephen King's Salem's Lot, said that he was a fan of King even before starring in a TV adaptation of THE STAND 10 years ago.  "I love Stephen King," Lowe said. "When he's adapted well ... and this script is a really great adaptation ... and when the filmmakers spend time on the characters and don't rush right into the horror, I think he's one of the greatest people on the screen."
   Lowe added, "I was really excited to be a part of it, because it's also part of the holy trinity: The Shining, The Stand and Salem's Lot. So I've done two out of three."
   In the new version of LOT, which has been previously adapted for television, Lowe plays Ben Mears, a successful writer who returns to his small hometown of Jerusalem's Lot and uncovers sinister doings involving vampires.  The miniseries also stars Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer, James Cromwell, Samantha Mathis, Andre Braugher and Rebecca Gibney.
   Dealing with vampires proved difficult for Lowe in real life.  "When I got back from Australia, where the show was filmed, my right wrist was in pain," he said.  "Anytime I shook somebody's hand, it was excruciating, and I couldn't figure out what I had done.  And then as I was watching the dailies in post-production, I realized it's from staking people. ... I've got staking elbow. ... Vampire elbow."  The two-part, four-hour Salem's Lot is slated to air on TNT in June.
 
GALACTICA HIGH 
   SCI FI Channel's original miniseries BATTLESTAR GALACTICA averaged a 3.5 rating (2.9 million households) in its Dec. 8 and 9 premiere, the biggest audience for any original miniseries on cable for the year.  The four-hour miniseries also achieved SCI FI's best ratings for 2003, the network reported.
   The prime-time premiere of part two of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA outperformed part one, with 3.8 rating (3.16 million households).  The miniseries ranked third among the highest-rated original programs in the channel's history, behind only Steven Spielberg Presents TAKEN and Frank Herbert's DUNE.

ENTERPRISE SEASON TRIMMED? Rumors or Truth?
   The rumor is out that UPN has trimmed its order for Star Trek ENTERPRISE to 24 episodes this season from the original 26.  The Paramount network wanted to cut the number of episodes, possibly as a prelude to the show's cancellation next year.
   Another rumor said that UPN is considering moving the struggling series to Fridays from its current berth on Wednesday nights.  That would help some households since SMALLVILLE came on opposite it. There is always that battle of which show to tape and which to watch

FARSCAPE MINI SERIES IN WORKS 
   Production will begin Dec. 15 in Australia on a new four-hour FARSCAPE miniseries, with stars Ben Browder, Claudia Black and others reprising their roles.  Series creators Rockne O'Bannon and David Kemper are readying a script for the miniseries, which as yet has no air date and no TV distribution deal.  The SCI FI Channel, which originally aired four seasons of Farscape, had no comment on the report.  A spokesperson for Jim Henson Co., which produced the series, also had no comment.
   The proposed miniseries will probably wrap up the events of the show, which ended with a cliffhanger. The source added, "I believe it will certainly air on television. At this point, it's in the early stages of finding that home."

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QUOTES FROM BABYLON FIVE   SEASON 3 NOW ON DVD

A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from the bristles. Kosh Naranek:

Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future and it changed us. It taught us that we have to create the future or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for one another, because if we don't, who will? And that true strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely places. Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope, that there can always be new beginnings. Even for people like us. Susan Ivanova:

: Six months ago hardly anyone knew my name. Now everyone wants to be my friend. I wanted respect. Instead I have become a wishing well with legs. Ambassador Londo Mollari

The Earthers have a saying: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." I believe they stole it from us. Citizen G'Kar:

If I live through this, without completely losing my mind, it will be a miracle of biblical proportions. Susan Ivanova:

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January 9 - 11: CHILLER THEATRE presents Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors

January 24 - ICS ANNIVERSARY BASH AT THE SENATOR
  ICS is renting out the balcony at the Senator Theater on Saturday, January 24, 2004 to celebrate our 5th anniversary.  Admission is $10 and is limited to 40 members – turn in your money to Regina at the next meeting.  The reservations are held when the payment is received.   Spaces will be held for ICS members until Dec 31

February 13-15: Farpoint is a Baltimore-based, Science Fiction Media Convention, held each February at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.  We're a Fan-Run, Fan-Friendly Con, with a lot more to offer than your basic Autographs-And-A-Dealers-Room "Show." 

February 13-14: Katsucon is an annual festival of Japanese animation. For our tenth anniversary year, we will return to the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, where we will bring you the latest anime straight from Japan, plus great guests, panels, dealers, cosplay, gaming and much, much more!

April of 2004: Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2004.
For information about submitting films, check out the submissions page.
Please note that the submission address and JHFF phone number have changed since last year. The fest will be held during.
Exact dates will be posted as April approaches. 
Prices : $3 – Show   $5 - Day Pass   $15 - Festival Pass
*Free admission for JHU students, faculty, and employees with valid Hopkins ID..

May 28-31 2004: BALTICON 38 At the Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel.
Maryland's Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention
Guest of Honor: Lois McMaster Bujold
Artist Guest of Honor: Dave Seeley
Music Guest of Honor: Heather Alexander

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DA VINCI SPARKS BOOK SALES 
   The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown's supernatural-tinged thriller novel, is spurring interest in similarly themed books.  The best-selling Da Vinci supposes a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene that produced a royal bloodline in France, and its sales are topped only by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
   The book has also triggered debates about early Christianity and a prime-time special on ABC last month.  Nine months after publication, there are 4.5 million copies in print. Its popularity shows that "readers are clamoring for books which combine historic fact with a contemporary storyline. 

UP ON THE ROOFTOP 
   Jeff Guinn, author of The Autobiography of Santa Claus, said that the book mixes fact and fiction.  Nine years ago, Guinn, books editor of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, wrote a feature story about the origins of Christmas traditions.  Guinn learned a lot of history, back to the year 280 and the birth of a generous boy who would become a bishop and ultimately St. Nicholas.
   Guinn says he learned more than he could fit into a newspaper article "about all the things we take for granted.  Everything comes from somewhere.  History is a big part of Santa Claus."  So he decided to write a book, but didn't want to "spoil the magic." "I wanted something that someday I could read to my grandchildren," he said.
The book blends fact (St. Francis of Assisi's idea for manger scenes in homes as a reminder that Jesus was born poor) and fiction (Leonardo da Vinci's aerodynamic instructions, helping reindeer fly.

PKD NOMINEES NAMED 
   The judges of the 2003 Philip K. Dick Award and the Philadelphia SF Society announced the final ballot for the award, which honors distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. First prize and any special citations will be announced on April 9 at Norwescon 27 in Seattle.
   The award, named for the legendary SF author, is presented annually and is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. The ceremony is sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society. 
The list of nominees follows.
•Hyperthought by M.M. Buckner
•Clade by Mark Budz
•Dante's Equation by Jane Jensen
•Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
•Spin State by Chris Moriarty
•Steel Helix by Ann Tonsor Zeddies

If any ICS members would like to share their view on a recent book that they’ve read – fiction or non-fiction, please email it  attn betsy at ICSBETSPOTS@aol.com.

We are a cinema club, but many movies we watch were started in book form with our own imaginations creating the images that come to life in the films we love.
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AFFLECK GEEKS OUT  
   Avowed movie geek and John Woo fan Ben Affleck, who stars in Woo's upcoming SF movie PAYCHECK, said that he had to beg the director to let him do one of his signature moves: pointing a pistol at the face of another man pointing one at him.  Woo relented, putting in not one, but two scenes in which Affleck pulls the gun trick.
   "This ... was the high point for me, I have to admit," Affleck said with glee during an interview to promote the movie. "I was like, 'Please, John, let me do it!' I was like a little kid. ... I was begging him. Woo said, 'OK, you go like this, then.' He's forever giving me the beleaguered grunt."
   In a separate interview, Woo admitted that Affleck had to plead for the scenes. "That was true," the Hong Kong action director said. "Originally, [it was] just run, run, run, you know, ... and just shoot back. ... So I just came up with the move ... in the subway tunnel, pointing the gun with [co-star] Colm Feore. And ... at the end of the movie, just using the same thing with [co-star] Aaron [Eckhart], you know?" Woo said that Affleck told him he was a fan of Woo's films HARDBOILED and THE KILLER.  "He had the posters and all.  He's sometimes just like a kid, you know?"
   Boston native Affleck added that Woo allowed him to change the film's original script to make his character, Michael Jennings, a Red Sox fan. "He did, he did!" Affleck said. "I love him forever.  Well, I mean, I got the script, and it was the Mets.  And I got family in Boston.  Houses [would] be burned down.".

RIGHTS HANG UP HOBBIT? 
   A dispute over the film rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit could wreck plans for a prequel to director Peter Jackson's blockbuster LORD OF THE RINGS film.  Jackson has expressed interest in filming Tolkien's first book.
   But the legalities over the film and distribution rights are threatening to derail the project.  New Line Cinema, the company that made the RINGS films, owns the movie rights to THE HOBBIT.  But the distribution rights governing the release of the film belong to United Artists, although New Line has first refusal on producing the movie.
   Meanwhile, Tolkein's great-grandson, Royd Tolkien, 34, said, "I would love to see Peter Jackson make a film of The Hobbit.  That would be the perfect ending."

BARKER BACK IN DIRECTOR’S CHAIR 
   Clive Barker will return to the director's chair after an eight-year absence to helm Universal Pictures' horror movie TORTURED SOULS.  Barker last directed 1995's LORD OF ILLUSIONS, a Scott Bakula supernatural horror movie released by MGM.
   TORTURED SOULS is based on Barker and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's line of action figures, which debuted at the International Toy Fair in New York in February 2001.  Each of the six grisly Tortured Souls—Talisac, Lucidique, Scythe-Meister, Agonistes, Mongroid and Venal Anatomica—was sold with a chapter of an original Barker-penned storyline, forming the chapters of a novella outlining the Souls' origin.
   For the big-screen adaptation, Barker said that the Souls storyline centers on a man who exchanges his wife for a demon goddess from another world, throwing her into a shadowy world of monsters from which she must escape.

2003's PEOPLES CHOICE NOMINATIONS 
   Some of 2003's biggest film hits, including FINDING NEMO and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Curse of the Black Pearl, led the best picture nominees on Tuesday for the fan-driven 30th People's Choice Awards.  NEMO and PIRATES were both nominated for Favorite Motion Picture on the list, along with LORD OF THE RINGS: The Two Towers, which was released at the end of 2002 but played for much of 2003
   Nominees for Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture were THE TWO TOWERS, the Russell Crowe seafaring epic MASTER AND COMMANDER: The Far Side of the World and Clint Eastwood's MYSTIC RIVER.  As opposed to most other awards shows, the People's Choice Awards are determined by public polling by the Gallup Organization.  They will be handed out during a Jan. 11 live broadcast on CBS.

JACKSON GETS THIRD DGA NOMINATION 
   LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING earned Peter Jackson his third-straight nomination for the Directors Guild of America Awards, the first filmmaker ever nominated three years in a row.  Also nominated were Sofia Coppola for LOST IN TRANSLATION, her tale of unlikely friendship in Tokyo; Clint Eastwood for MYSTIC RIVER, a brooding drama of murder and revenge; Gary Ross for SEABISCUIT, the story of the Depression-era racehorse; and Peter Weir for the Napoleonic naval adventure MASTER AND COMMANDER: The Far Side of the World.  The winner will be announced at the guild's 56th annual awards dinner Feb. 7.

WOO HONORS HITCHCOCK  
   John Woo, director of the upcoming SF movie PAYCHECK, said that he sprinkled the thriller with homages to legendary director Alfred Hitchcock.  "After I read the script, I thought it could be a very suspenseful, romantic and fun movie," Woo said. "Since they had so many clever designs and so many good gags and so many big surprises, and the whole story was about finding the truth, ... it made me feel ... I could make a movie in Alfred Hitchcock style."
 PAYCHECK, starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman, is based on Philip K. Dick's 1953 short story of the same name.  But for Woo, the movie was an opportunity to echo Hitchcock, particularly his films THE 39 STEPS and NORTH BY NORTHWEST.  "I always loved Hitchcock's movies," Woo said.  "I'm a great admirer of his, and I must say that I also have learned so much from him."
   In one scene, Affleck's Michael Jennings finds himself being pursued by a subway train in a darkened tunnel.  Woo intentionally shot the scene to echo the famous NORTH BY NORTHWEST sequence in which Cary Grant is pursued by a crop duster.  In another scene, Thurman holds a cage of lovebirds, an image similar to one in THE BIRDS.  And there's even a shower shot, a la PSYCHO.

SAM IS AN ANCHOR IN KING 
   Sean Astin, who reprises the role of Sam Gamgee in the third LORD OF THE RINGS film, THE RETURN OF THE KING, said that the last installment brings his character to the forefront.  "Sam becomes important to the spine of the story at the end of the books, and the climax of what is the third film, because at a certain point the Ring can't go forward anymore without Sam," he said.  "So to that extent I knew there was going to come a time, while shooting and while viewing the movies, where everyone's attention would be directed towards Sam.  So you just want to be equal to the moment."
   Astin added that he and star Elijah Wood shot their emotionally charged scenes over months, with some scenes separated by several years of production.  "We were filming one of those scenes—the scene on the ledge of Cirith Ungol, where Frodo sends Sam away—we filmed my closeups of that in November of '99. And then we filmed Elijah's closeups, the reverses of those, in August of 2000. ... It was a quirk of production logistics."
   Astin said the scenes were intense. "You're only seeing, like, a hundredth of the emotion that we did," he said. "We filmed so many crying scenes, so many more crying scenes than ended up in the movie. ... It was kind of like a tidal wave of emotion”.

McKELLEN EAGER FOR XMEN 3 
   Ian McKellen said that he's planning to reprise the role of Magneto in a proposed third X-MEN movie—mainly because he just saw the second film, X2, on DVD and liked it more than he expected.  "I'm going to talk about it tonight to [director] Bryan Singer," McKellen said just before the LORD OF THE RINGS: The Return of the King premiere in Los Angeles on Dec. 3.  "I've only just seen X2 on DVD, because I was fearful that I wasn't going to enjoy it as much as the first, and I enjoyed it more."
   McKellen added, "I e-mailed Singer and said, 'Are you making number three, and am I going to be in it?'  And I sent the same thing off to the writers Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter.  And I am glad to say positive replies came back.”

MORTENSEN UP FOR BATMAN? 
   Michael Caine, who will play Alfred the butler in the upcoming new BATMAN film, said that director Christopher Nolan is eyeing LOTR star Viggo Mortensen to play the villain in the film, which is slated to begin production in April 2004.  
   When questioned, Caine wouldn't specify which villain role Mortensen (Rings' Aragorn) is up for.
   Meanwhile, word is that Katie Holmes is close to being cast opposite star Christian Bale as Rachel, the love interest, contingent on a screen test.
   Caine said Nolan's BATMAN script creates a deeper role for Alfred than previous films. "We start when Batman is a baby, so I'm more like a father," Caine said.  "I'm a father who knows how to lay a table with the knives and forks in the right places."
   Caine said he spoke with Nolan for three hours about his vision for the film, which included some similarities with and some variations on the previously established Batman canon. " Nolan said, 'We're going to have a human hero in Batman. We are going to answer questions that have come up.  
   “Batman has always been a mystery.  Now we will learn about him.  He's powerful because he does pushups.  Where does he get all his weapons?  Because he's a multibillionaire, and he's in the arms business, so he gets the secret weapons instantly. Why does he wear the bloody suit? To scare the s--t out of people, because he doesn't really want to fight.'"

SPIDEY 2 SPINS WEB TEASER 
   Columbia Pictures debuted its first theatrical trailer for the upcoming sequel film SPIDER - MAN 2 exclusively on—where else?—the Web, at 12:01 a.m. ET Dec. 15. The studio unspooled the trailer on the Yahoo! Web site.  The trailer also appeared on Yahoo!'s international Web sites simultaneously.
   "This will be the first wave of our global launch for one of the most anticipated films of 2004," Geoffrey Ammer, president of worldwide marketing for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, said.  "The worldwide demand for images and materials from SPIDER - MAN 2 is nearly insatiable and, given that such a large segment of the opening weekend audience for the first film was influenced by our interactive campaign, what better way to reward that loyalty than by sharing these exclusive images with fans around the world on the Internet?"
   Following its online premiere, the new trailer has appeared in U.S. theater.
   SPIDER - MAN 2 reunites director Sam Raimi with stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in a story that sees Peter Parker juggling his dual life as a college student and a superhuman crime fighter.  The movie also features Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius, aka the nefarious Doctor Octopus.
 
 

DID YOU KNOW? 

In Frankenstein meets the Wolfman, the Monster is both blind and mute. When The Monster's dialogue was deleted, also removed were any references to The Monster being blind - a side-effect of Ygor's brain being implanted into The Monster at the end of Ghost of Frankenstein. As a result, Lugosi's sleepwalker-like lumbering gait with arms outstretched is not explained and became the subject of ridicule. It also established the Frankenstein Monster-walk stereotype.

Contrary to popular belief, Godzilla is 50 meters (164 feet) tall, not 400 feet, as stated in the edited American version.
Also contrary to popular belief, Godzilla is charcoal gray, not green.

Tomoyuki Tanaka originally wanted Godzilla as a giant fire breathing ape.

The name Gojira is a combination of the Japanese words for gorilla (gorira) and whale (kujira). It was originally a nickname given to an immense man who worked as a press agent for Toho.

After the Crownless was Crowned     A Movie Review By: Dava Sentz

   With the movie going public in such frenzy over THE LORD OF THE RINGS, I felt it only fitting to compose a follow-up review of my previous article.  Since my first viewing of THE RETURN OF THE KING, I have quite a lot to say on the movie's highlights, its performances, as well as its drawbacks.  The following reflects my personal opinion concerning the final chapter of the trilogy.  Because it contains detailed descriptions of my favorite scenes, (spoilers) be warned if you have not seen the film, stop reading beyond this point, details of the movie are disclosed.
   I would like to begin with a minor retraction.  Those who've read my last article know that I heavily discussed the fate of Saruman the White and his whipping boy Grima Wormtongue.  When I saw ROTK, I learned that these villains did not meet their ends in the manner that I described.  Regrettably, they did not meet any end at all. 
   Christopher Lee (Saruman) and Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) are sorely absent from this third installment.  It is a mystery to me why this decision was made.  The fact that their whereabouts were left wide open, left plenty of room for confusion among the audience. If I hadn't have read the books before hand I probably wouldn't have understood what became of them.  
   This was quite a disappointment to me and I do apologize for the error. My previous research has made me believe that these actors weren't 'absent' but rather 'cut'.  So, I am quite confident that these crucial events will take place on the extended DVD, due out in November. I am very much looking forward to seeing these troublemakers getting the fate they have so well earned. 
   Other than this major injustice, however, the movie was first rate.  And, I cannot think of a better way to kick off the movie's many highlights than with its gripping opening, The transformation of Smeagol into Gollum.  What an unexpected treat this was for me! Being as this flashback takes place early on in the novels, I assumed that any hope of seeing it on screen would've been lost two years ago.  But, Gollum's story was told, and it was told in a brilliant manner.  
   Andy Serkis is a man of many talents and this was, perhaps, his finest moment.  Watching as he choked the life out of his on screen brother, Deagol, was truly a bone chiller.  This, coupled with the slow and steady change of the former hobbit, made for a very exciting prelude. A reminder of just how sinister the ring can be was just what the audience needed. Mr. Jackson had my attention and he was not about to let go.
   But, Andy Serkis was not the only man who moved me to such a degree.  There were certainly others who achieved this feat, in a much different way.  The first of these men was Billy Boyd.  No one, in their right mind, can argue how much Peregrin Took has grown over the last three installments.  He has gone from being nothing but a source of comic relief, to a brave and gallant servant of Gondor.  Pippin is, as Gandalf puts it, "an honest fool" with a lot of heart.  I defy anyone to keep a dry eye when he steals the Palanir from a sleeping Gandalf, and finds himself face to face with The Dark Lord.  The pain, remorse, and terror in his expression as the wizard interrogates him was enough to pierce the soul. 
   And, his service to an undeserving Denethor was simply remarkable.  But, perhaps even more impressive, was Boyd's shockingly, beautiful singing abilities. The hobbits were widely regarded throughout the books as having a great love for poetry and music.  Yet, I never dreamt that the actors who portrayed them would have such hidden talents.  Pippin's ballad in the Steward's halls was both haunting and proper.  It gave a whole new depth to the character, and is certainly not to be missed while waiting at the concession stand.
   Next on my list of honors is Frodo Baggins, the ring bearer himself.   I personally believe that Elijah Wood is one of the most gifted young actors on the movie scene. This has nothing to do with his deep blue eyes and charming smile.  Seeing beyond that, I honestly cannot picture anyone other than he playing the role of the courageous halfing. Wood simply IS Frodo and in this final installment, he proves his abilities one thousand times over.  For me, his shining moment occurred at the edge of Mount Doom.  Watching the infamous ring dangle from his fist, seducing him with every tick of the clock was a terrible thrill.  Standing there, he was a broken soul.  In his decision to keep the weapon of darkness, Frodo was lost forever.  You could see into Elijah's eyes.  The character was empty, a shadow of his former self.  This is an actor who can say everything while hardly uttering a single phrase.  It is a craft that many actors, twenty years his senior, have never achieved.  For this, I will always sing his praises.
   Finally, what kind of person would I be if I left out one of the chief characters?  Of all the wonderful performances given in this film, it was that of Sean Astin's that had the most impact on me.  Though a Baggins is the central character of the story, it is a Gamgee who is the real hero.  "Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam." 
   Throughout ROTK, the fat hobbit certainly earned his title of "Samwise the Brave."  Far and away the most emotional scene came when Frodo did the unthinkable.  Choosing to believe the ghastly Gollum's word over his own, the ring bearer orders Sam to "Go home", casting away his loyal companion.  At that point, it seemed as if the world of Middle Earth had come to a grinding halt.  The pain of that loss magnified in Sean Astin's weeping eyes.  Truly a grief such as the real world should never have to endure, though sadly that is not the case. 
   Yet, even in the face of a great and twisted betrayal, Sam manages to remain loyal, kind, and just toward his friend/employer.  His miraculous defeat of the enormous spider, Shelob, was proof enough of that.  As I've always loved when characters refer to their enemies in such manners, I grinned and clapped silently as he boldly stated "Let him go, you filth!"  Yet, this was merely the beginning for the humble gardener, as he rescued Frodo from certain death, took the ring for safe keeping, sprung his friend from his orcish prison, and carried him up the steep depths of Mount Doom.  
   Sean Astin's portrayal of Samwise Gamgee gave new meaning to the word "friendship". We should all be so lucky as to have a fat hobbit in our lives. I offer my eternal love and respect to Mr. Astin for giving my favorite character life in such a remarkable way.
   I could, quite easily, go on for pages about the glorious splendor of Aragorn's coronation, the humorous battle of Legolas versus the Oliphaunts, and the chilling, inhuman qualities of Lord Denethor.  But, there is simply not enough time or space to do so.  However, just because these details are not mentioned, along with countless others, does not mean they are not near and dear to my heart. 
   Peter Jackson has ended his tale with a resounding bang.  Long live the King!

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 COLLECTIBLES CORNER  by Garyzilla…oops, I mean Diecast Dave

Diecast Dave here, pinch-hitting again for Garyzilla! This time we’re going to focus on some of the latest offerings of diecast metal toys out there.

   Now diecast is a best associated with toys like Hot Wheels, although they also come in larger sizes. There’s a lot of cool sci-fi related diecast stuff out there! Diecast toys are rugged, well made, nicely detailed items that can double as toys or display pieces.

   Holy Bat-toys Batman! One of the most popular diecast model subjects is the Batmobile. Almost any version can be found. From the comic book depictions to the TV show’s to the WB movie ones- all are available. Newest on the block is a nice sized version (about 12 inches) of the so-called “Keaton car”, which comes complete with a detailed cockpit. Hot Wheels has also come out with a version of the Keaton car in its series. 

   For those who read the comics in the 50s (or those wonderful “80 page Giants” in the 60s), Polar Lights makes a wonderful model of the 1950s comic version Batmobile ($17.00)! A brutish car with a huge bat head on the front, single batfin, and spotlight on the roof. Coming in June there will be a two Batmobile display set, featuring the Kilmer car and the Clooney car ($27.00). Both are about the size of a Hot Wheels car. 

   For those BACK TO THE FUTURE Fans (are there any?) there’s a 5 inch diecast model of the DeLorean Time Machine, complete with Doc Brown ($25.00). There’s also a larger 9 1/2 inch highly detailed version available ($38.00), with a breast-implanted Lea Thompson! (just kidding). Hot Wheels also makes a version of this car ($12.00).

   Now comes one of my favorites, and frankly one I never thought I’d see! And I know Tim Fleming will want to run right out and order this one! Yes, friends, it’s a model of THE CAR ($40.00)! A whopping 13 inches long, complete with NO DRIVER! But it does have a fully detailed interior, a steering wheel that turns the front wheels, detailed motor and trunk (to put Mr. Barbara Streisand in). 

   As I said, some diecasts are considered “collectibles”. One in point is the Limited Edition model of TV’s “Fireball XL-5” (one of Diecast Dave’s favorite TV shows when I was a kid). Only 100 are being made of this precision 10 inch model, which carries a hefty price tag of $400. Heck, put me down for two!

   Right up there with the Batmobile in quantity available are the James Bond diecast toys. There are almost too-many-to-mention versions of the 1964 Bond Aston Martin DB5 from GOLDFINGER. One of the best detailed ones is from Danbury Mint ($150), that has all the details- the ejector seat, the tire slashers, the dashboard tracking device (sci-fi then, fact now with GPS), and even some of the “extras” that were not seen in the film, like the underseat weapons tray. There is also a popular version made by Corgi that’s been around for 40 years that comes with pop-out machine guns and working ejector seat. Corgi also makes Bond’s Lotus, Volante, Vanquish and the auto-gyro “Little Nelly”. Nicely detailed and affordable (usually under $20).

   If you’re into Gerry Anderson shows, there’s two new diecasts out that may appeal to you! One is a 12 inch model of the Eagle Transporter from SPACE 1999 ($70.00). Another is a 9 inch model of “Supercar” ($75.00), complete with a Mike Mercury figure behind the wheel (another one of Hendo’s old favorites). 

   These are some of the newest diecast models coming out. Websites like “Monsters in Motion” have them available, along with some of the older diecast models such as the Black Beauty, KITT the car from KNIGHT RIDER, and the MUNSTERS Coach. Diecasts have always been my favorite type of toy, because of their collectibility, quality, durability and detail. Not to mention that they usually appreciate in value.

MOVIE TRIVIA - YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT KNOWING THIS 

UNDERWORLD

At the start of the movie when Selene encounters a werewolf in the train tunnel, you hear a wolf howl - the sound effect is taken directly from American Werewolf in London, An (1981).

Michael Corvin, played by Scott Speedsman, was named after Ashe Corven from Crow: City of Angels, The (1996). The character name of Ashe Corven was previously named Michael Corvin.

LOTR – RETURN OF THE KING

While filming the trilogy, Viggo Mortensen got so into character that during a conversation, Peter Jackson referred to him as "Aragorn" for over half an hour without him realizing it

Viggo Mortensen estimates that, during the course of filming the entire trilogy and including all takes, he killed every stuntman on the production at least fifty times.
Cameo: [Royd Tolkien] (the author's great-grandson) as a Gondorian Ranger.

Andy Serkis and 'Elijah Wood' were given prop rings used in the movie by director Peter Jackson. They each thought they got the only one.

Pippin's song in Denethor's hall was composed and sung for the film by Billy Boyd.

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MUST SEE MOVIES FOR YOU!

Jan 7th   BIG FISH   Rated PG-13
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup, Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman
The story is about a William Bloom (Billy Crudup) trying to learn more about his dying father (Albert Finney) by reliving stories and myths his father told him about himself. Storyteller Edward (Albert Finney) is on his deathbed. His son, Will (Billy Crudup), who long ago discarded his dad's fabulous stories and his dad, now tries to understand who his dad is underneath those lies by questioning dad and searching family history for clues. 
The question about the truth of the stories becomes academic because son must meet dad on his fabulous terms or forever hold his peace.

Jan 23th   THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT   Rated R
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Elden Henson, Eric Stoltz, Ethan Suplee,
Melora Walters 
Premise:  A young man struggling with the psychological effects of sublimated childhood memories devises a technique of traveling back in time. He uses it to inhabit his childhood body, but he finds that every trip back has unintended results on his present self, leading him to travel back again and again, trying to repair the damage that he's only making worse and worse... 
 
Jan 23rd  MINDHUNTERS   Rated R
Cast: Val Kilmer (Harris), LL Cool J (Gabe), Christian Slater (J.D. Reston), Eion Bailey (Bobby Whitman), Clifton Collins, Jr. (Vince Sherman)
Premise : On a remote island, the FBI has a training program for their psychological profiling division, called "Mindhunters", used to track down serial killers. The training goes horribly wrong, however, when a group of seven young agents discover that one of them is a serial killer, and is setting about slaying the others. 
 
Jan 30th   THE BIG BOUNCE   Rated R
Cast: Owen Wilson (Jack Ryan), Morgan Freeman (Walter Crewes), Gary Sinise (Ray Ritchie), Scott Caan, Sara Foster (Nancy Hayes), Vinnie Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Bebe Neuwirth, Charlie Sheen (Bob Rogers, Jr.)
Premise: A charming drifter (and sometimes thief) named Jack Ryan (Wilson) takes a job taking care of an ailing Hawaii judge, Walter Crewes (Freeman), which leads him to getting involved with a beautiful woman (Foster) with a criminal agenda.
 
Feb 25th   THE PASSION OF CHRIST   Rating Unknown
Cast: James Caviezel (Jesus), Monica Bellucci (Mary Magdalene), Rosalinda Celentano (Satan), Sergio Rubini (Dismas the Good Thief); 
Premise: The last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ. 
Directed by Mel Gibson.

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LOST IS FOUND
   Finally, the Robinsons have found it to DVD.  LOST IN SPACE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON has hit the shelves.  This set includes the Space family Robinsons intergalactic travels including the never-aired pilot episode “No Place to Hide”, from which the villianous Dr. Smith (Jonathon Harris) is conspicuously absent. This is 24 hours and 38 minutes of great memories.

 THE BATTLE GOES ON 
   Two horror –film staples of the 80’s face off for the first time and the body count climbs.  FREDDY VS JASON -this DVD is complete with audio commentary from slashers Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger.  Not something to miss!

DVD WITH SNAKE COMIC 
   A special edition of the Snake Plissken Chronicles comic book is included in the two-disc collector's edition DVD of John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK movie. The set features a DVD-sized copy of Hurricane Entertainment's issue number one of the current Snake Plissken story arc.
   The custom comic edition contains a vellum pullout with brand new and unseen art from Snake artist Tone Rodriguez.  The first vellum contains a pencil and charcoal portrait of Kurt Russell as Snake.  The second vellum is Tone's personal rendition of the classic 1981 ESCAPE movie poster, with the printed signatures of director John Carpenter, producer Debra Hill and star Kurt Russell, as well as those of Snake writer William O'Neill and artist Rodriguez.

SPIDEY ANIME HITS THE SHELVES
   The first season of SPIDER-MAN: THE NEW ANIMATED SERIES is out on DVD.  This DVD runs 4hrs 38 minutes and features Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser) as the voice of the agile superhero and his nebbishly alter ego in a computer-animated series.  

TOP SCIENCE FICTION DVD SELLERS  2003
      1. The Two Towers extended edition
      2. Fellowship of the Ring extended edition
      3. Pirates of the Caribbean
      4. Finding Nemo
      5. Babylon 5 season four
      6. Underworld
      7. Buffy season five
      8. Stargate SG-1 season five
      9. Firefly
      10. Adventures of Indiana Jones
     
ANIME DVD AND WHAT’S COMING SOON!

Princess 9 Complete Collection, released by ADV Films 01/13/04, SRP 59.95
   If you were to look at all the anime shows released in the US, you would never know just how popular the sports genre is. There’s a lot of shows revolving around athletics made, but so few of them come to the US. In fact, PRINCESS 9 and BATTLE ATHLETES are pretty much it, and even BATTLE ATHLETES is more of a weird sci-fi comedy than a true “sports” anime.
   Ryo Hayakawa’s father passed away when she was very young, but she still remembers his lessons to her about playing baseball. Since then things have not gone well for her family and it looks like she’s even going to have to skip high school just so she can’t help her mother out. The chairwoman of the nearby high school, Himoru is an old friend of  Ryo’s father  and she’s determined to get Ryo to join the girls baseball team that she’s trying to start up. She’s even willing to offer Ryo a full scholarship to the school, just so that the team may have a chance to play in the nationwide competition, the Koshien. But baseball is a boy’s sport and girls aren’t allowed to compete in the Koshien- can Ryo and the other eight girls prove that women can be just as good at sports as men?

Crying Freeman Complete Collection, released 01/27/04. 300 min,  $44.98
   Yo Hinomura had been an ordinary man until he was brainwashed by the powerful crime syndicate known as the 108 Dragons into becoming an assassin. ut even though he is now a brutal killer he still retains some of his past self, shown by the tears he sheds for his victims.
   There are many stories that manage to use sex and violence to explore a deeper theme, but for the most part CRYING FREEMAN isn’t considered to be one of them. One of the earlier titles brought over to the US by Streamline pictures, this show helped to establish anime’s reputation as being full of gratuitous sex and violence.

Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) OAV Collection, released by ADV Films, 01/27/04. 205 min, SRP 69.95
   The complete collection of the dark OAVs meant to expand on the classic Samurai anime RUROUNI KENSHIN. Contains the two dark and stunning prequels TRUST and BETRAYAL, as well as the sequel to the TV series, REFLECTION.
   TRUST and BETRAYAL tell the dark and violent story of the orphan Shinta, who is later known as Himura Kenshin. Captured by slave traders, he is freed only when he is the only survivor after a brutal attack by bandits. Taken in by a master swordsman, Shinta studies the deadly Hiten Mitsurugi style of swordsmanship. However he leaves before he has completed his training so that he may join the Meiji Restoration in an attempt to bring peace to Japan and to prevent tragedies like his own. But during this war he encounters a  mysterious woman named Tomoe, who may be connected to his past, and despite their feeling for each other, she seems likely to introduce Shinta to even more sorrow.
   REFLECTION is a sequel to the events in the TV series, and despite the fact that Kenshin’s future should have been brighter than his past, the storytellers felt the need to replicate the darkness of the two prequels.  Released under the name SAMURAI X (probably to lure in more mainstream viewers) the OAVs are extremely popular, even with people who have not watched the more light-hearted TV series. It’s hard to say whether it’s a good idea to watch the TRUST and BETRAYAL without having seen the original show or to have read the manga, but there is a reason why the OAVs are so revered- the animation is stunning and fights are beautifully choreographed, and that may be reason enough for some people.
   For this release, ADV has redone the audio so that both English and Japanese audio tracks are in 5.1, but you should watch it Japanese.  The English dialogue has many significant changes made to the script and quite frankly the idea that anyone else could play Kenshin except Mayo Suzukaze is just…wrong.

Neon Genesis Evangelion Director’s Cut  episodes 21-23, released by ADV 
Films 01/16/04, 150 minutes SRP 29.98
   It’s time to milk that franchise for all it’s worth! The Director’s cut of the final episodes of the revolutionary TV series. Also has an interview with Richard Taylor, the co-founder of WETA workshop, which will be doing the special effects for the upcoming live action movie.

Robotech Remaster volume 1, released by ADV Films, 01/27/04. 300 minutes, $29.98
   Remastered footage and audio of the first 12 episodes of the Sci-Fi classic. If you don’t know the story already, chances are good you won’t be too interested in this release anyway. If you do know the story, and you’re wondering what makes this DVD set better than the one already out, here it is- the picture quality is amazing. This is a remaster done using the source material for the original shows that ROBOTECH came from. The picture is so clean, it almost looks like a new show, not something done in the eighties.

   A lot of repricing and rereleases are starting this month as well. Pioneer/Geneon entertainment are repackaging many of their older titles as ‘Geneon Signature Series” and lowering the SRP to 19.99. This months releases are- AKIRA, CATNAPPED, PANDA GO PANDA, ARMITAGE III POLYMATRIX, the  SAILOR MOON movies and the TENCHOI MUYO movie. The first disc of several series are also being repriced, presumably the other discs will be repriced throughout the year. These discs include the first volume of TRIGUN, GATEKEEPERS, SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN, TENCHI UNIVERSE, TENCHI IN TOKYO, TENCHI MUYO OAVs, and SAILOR MOON S. Wow.  That’s a lot of Tenchi Muyo…

   Central Park Media is also repricing a lot of the discs, mostly for the short OAVs that they have. This month includes GENOCYBER COLLECTION, VIRTUAL FIGHTER GOWCASIER, PHOTON:THE IDIOT ADVENTURES, LABYRINTH OF FLAMES, AYANE’S HIGH KICK, LEGEND OF LEMNEAR, and the strange sci-fi classic THEY WERE 11. If you like short crappy stand alone anime movies, this is your month.

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British actor David Hemmings, whose portrayal of a hip fashion photographer in Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 BLOWUP made him an icon of the swinging 60s, died. Hemmings had appeared in more than 50 movies since the early 1950s, including BARBARELLA, CAMELOT, ALFRED THE GREAT, ISLANDS IN THE STREAM, and more recently, Martin Scorsese's GANGS OF NEW YORK and Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR. He was also a prolific director, who worked largely in television on such popular series as The A-TEAM, AIRWOLF,and IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. He was 62.

Michael Small, a film composer best known for his work on thrillers, including KLUTE, THE PARALLAX VIEW, MARATHON MAN, THE DROWNING POOL, THE CHINA SYNDROME and THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, has died. He was 64.
Small composed for a number of genre films such as THE STEPFORD WIVES, AUDREY ROSE, LATHE OF HEAVEN. He also wrote the music for PUMPING IRON, the 1977 bodybuilding documentary featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Hope Lange, who won two Emmys for her charming turn as Carolyn Muir on the popular television series THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, has died. She was also nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 1957 film, PEYTON PLACE.
Her other movie roles included BUS STOP, THE YOUNG LIONS, DEATH WISH, BLUE VELVET and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. She was 70 years old.

Les Tremayne, one of the best-known actors on radio in the 1930s and '40s, has died. He starred as the voice of THE THIN MAN and THE FALCON but is best remembered by radio fans as the longtime leading man on THE FIRST NIGHTER series. Tremayne once estimated that he had worked on more than 30,000 broadcasts, with as many as 45 radio shows a week in the 1930s. He was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.
   However for us ICSers, Les Tremayne will always be remembered as the no-nonsense Maj. Gen. Mann in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. Other of his genre appearances include, MONOLITH MONSTERS, ANGRY RED PLANET, THE SLIME PEOPLE and SNAKES, and uncredited voice overs in FORBIDDEN PLANET and KING KONG VS GODZILLA. Among his many other credits are roles in IT GROWS ON TREES, FRANCIS GOES TO WEST POINT, THE STORY OF RUTH, THE FORTUNE COOKIE and as the voice of a radio newsman in GOLDFINGER. He also worked extensively in television. He was 90.

Ellen Drew, who started as a contract actress at Paramount and rose through the ranks to star with such actors as Joel McCrea, Dick Powell, Bing Crosby, Donald O’Connor and Rudy Vallee during the 1940s and '50s, has died. She was 89.
   After winning a beauty contest as a teen she moved to Hollywood to try the movies, but soon realized that she was just one among thousands of young women with the same dream. She took a job as a waitress at C.C. Brown’s on Hollywood Blvd. and was
discovered there by William Demarest. 
   Drew appeared in such movies as BLUEBIRD’S EIGHTH WIFE, THE GRACIE ALLEN MURDER CASE, THE MAD DOCTOR, MY FAVORITE SPY, THE GREAT MISSOURI RAID and OUTLAW’S SON. 

Madlyn Rhue, a veteran television character actress has died after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. She was 68.
   Rhue appeared in only a few movies, including OPERATION PETTICOAT, THE LADIES MAN, A MAJORITY OF ONE and IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD.
However, she had a long and busy career in television with regular roles on BRACKEN'S WORLD, EXECUTIVE SUITE and HOUSTON KNIGHTS, and recurring roles on FAME and DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Other T.V. credits include HAVE GUN – WILL TRAVEL, CHEYENNE, GUNSMOKE, BONANZA, ROUTE 66, I SPY, and MURDER SHE WROTE plus such Imaginative series as STAR TREK, WILD, WILD WEST, LAND OF THE GIANTS, GHOST STORY and THE NIGHT STALKER.

Wah Ming Chang, one of Hollywood's top special-effects masters who was part of the team whose work on the 1960 science fiction film THE TIME MACHINE won an Academy Award, has died. 
   Because of the way the credits were submitted for the award, Chang was not named. "He was up there with them on stage, and he got a plaque for it, but he didn't actually get the award", said film historian Bob Burns. The oversight rankled many but according to Burns, Chang took it in stride. "He said he was just doing his job," Burns reported. "He was the most humble, gentle man I've ever known in my life. He never boasted about anything he did, and he just did remarkable stuff". It was Chang who built the miniature model of the time machine.
   At 21, Chang joined Walt Disney Studios' effects and models department, where he carved a model of PINOCCHIO for the 1940 animated film and made articulated deer models for BAMBI. After recovering from polio in the early 1940s, Chang became head of the model department for the George Pal studio, which produced the Puppetoons. In 1956 with Gene Warren Sr. and Tim Barr, Chang established Project Unlimited. That company produced special effects, masks, props and animation for many TV shows and films, including TOM THUMB, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM, THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO and SPARTACUS. Chang also made creatures for the TV series THE OUTER LIMITS and STAR TREK.  His STAR TREK credits include making the model for the phaser, and designing and creating the tricorder and communicator. He also made masks for the ballet sequence in THE KING AND I and created the massive headdress worn by Elizabeth Taylor in CLEOPATRA. And he sculpted a series of heads to animate the first Pillsbury Doughboy.
   Other Imaginative films that Wah Ming Chang worked on were CAT WOMEN ON THE MOON, DINOSARAUS, MASTER OF THE WORLD, JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET, VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN and THE POWER. He was 86.

Marguerite McClure Bradbury, wife of writer Ray Bradbury has died at age 81.
They were married in 1947 and had four daughters and eight grandchildren.

THE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARD
THE LAST WARD…
by John Ward
 2003 was a wonderful year for movies, no doubt about it.  Most years, I really have to work hard to fill a list of ten excellent films.  By the time I get to the tenth one, I feel hard-pressed to justify my choices, and a little defensive in the process.  Let’s face it, folks; if FREDDY VS. JASON is your cup of tea, then you’re going to get defensive.
 But this year just past was an exception.  Not only did I have an easy time picking ten films, their pecking order fell into place so smoothly that, for the first time in years, I didn’t have to dodge arguments by listing my picks in alphabetical order.  Not only that, there were enough good films left over this year that I felt compelled to put together a list of  “honorable mentions,” films that, in other years, might have made my top ten.  This year’s list had a one-two punch at the top that was stronger than any year since 1997, when L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and BOOGIE NIGHTS led my list.
 But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I want to take a moment (or two) to savor my favorite films of 2003 one more time.  I’ll list them in reverse order, starting with no. 10, leading all the way up to a film that will not surprise anyone at all who knows me that well.  And I think what made me happiest of all is that, with one very notable exception, the best films of 2003 were all top-quality genre pictures.  Nicole Kidman was nowhere to be found.

10.  PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN:  THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL

 2003 was truly the year of the long titles.  The first PG-13 film released under the Walt Disney logo was better than anyone had a right to expect a movie based on a theme park ride could be.  But PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN surprised a lot of folks.  It was blessed with a rollicking performance by Johnny Depp, channeling Keith Richards as the swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow.  Depp was so good in the central role that I often found myself watching him in the frame even when other actors were talking; his eyes would roll, his mouth would sneer, and his face would come alive with expression.
 There was plenty of action in PIRATES, and in the odd moments when I felt exhausted from so much swordplay and derring-do, there was Depp again, not taking himself seriously at all, skewering his “indie film” rep on that trusted cutlass of his.  He was ably supported by Geoffrey Rush as the villainous leader of the ghost pirates, and Orlando Bloom proved that he didn’t need a long blonde wig and the blessing of Peter Jackson to help carry a movie.  PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN was one of the best family pictures of the year, and one of the most exciting, too.

9.  DARK BLUE

 It seems like such a long time since I saw this film, and indeed, it was last winter when Ron Shelton’s searing cop drama came and went in local theaters.  It died so quickly that I noticed just today that Circuit City was offering the DVD of DARK BLUE at a discounted $8.  Talk about falling off the radar.
 But people who skipped this film missed one of the most searing police procedurals in years.   It was profane and in-your-face with its expose of dirty L.A. cops at the time of the Rodney King trial.  Kurt Russell, who seems to be aging just about as gracefully as any actor this side of Clint Eastwood, ruled the screen as a jaded, on-the-take cop who knows exactly how far he can bend a rule without breaking it – or at least without getting caught.  British actor Brendan Gleeson was able to bury his accent as Russell’s superior, the slimiest police captain since James Cromwell in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL.  Interestingly, Gleeson would show up again on my list, one of only two actors (Ian McKellen being the other) to do so.

8.  X2:  X-MEN UNITED

 Comic fans eager for a rousing sequel to the first X-MEN were rewarded with a follow-up that topped its predecessor in many respects.  X2 was not saddled with any need for exposition; it could jump right into the plot.  Director Bryan Singer steered his spot-on cast (Alan Cumming was the most welcome addition as Nightcrawler) through the amped-up storyline with ease.  Lots of nice action set pieces, and respect was shown for the source material, a little detail that just about every Hollywood director (with the exception of Singer and Sam Raimi) usually seems to get wrong.  Here’s hoping that Singer can be lured back for a third round, and he can convince most of the cast to come back, too.  Or at least Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart.  Besides, I’d like to see what CGI can do with the Sentinels.

7. OPEN RANGE

 A welcome comeback for the western, when most folks seemed to think the genre had brought down its final curtain with UNFORGIVEN.  Little did we know that it was simply Eastwood saying goodbye to the genre.  Kevin Costner had no such intention; he reinvigorated the western (and his career) with this solid look at friendship, honor, and frontier justice.  Costner and Robert Duvall were outstanding as two old saddle bums who run afoul of the local town boss, played by Michael “Just call me Dumbledore” Gambon.  Costner wisely let Duvall chew the scenery, and the whole film evoked wonderful memories of LONESOME DOVE.  This was especially true of the casting of Annette Bening, who played her spinster role much like DOVE’S Anjelica Huston did.  The climactic showdown was brutal but refreshingly free of genre clichés.

6. THE SCHOOL OF ROCK

 With all due regard to Pixar’s fish, this was the family film of the year for me.  Jack Black, the live wire whose record store employee stole HIGH FIDELITY right out from under store owner John Cusack, nailed one of the performances of the year as Dewey Finn, a slacker forced by circumstance (and his own finagling) to substitute teach at a snooty elementary prep school.  Within hours, he has tossed the books out and brought in the curriculum he really knows:  rock music.  Under the guise of a “school project,” he corrals his 5th graders to form an actual rock band, and it is one of the film’s many pleasures that the students in the class can actually play music.
 Another pleasure of the film is that it was so damn funny without having to resort to raunchiness, which Black has been known to dabble in before.  I’d have to go back to the TOY STORY movies for a film that catered so equitably to both adults and kids.  THE SCHOOL OF ROCK is my only non-genre film on the list.

5. MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD

 Russell Crowe has become a strange hybrid of movie star, a combination of Tom Cruise’s matinee idol looks and Sean Penn’s willingness to bury himself inside a character.  Crowe does it again with his understated portrayal of Capt. Jack Aubrey, the hero of a series of British naval war novels.  In other hands, it could turn into an overbearing swashbuckler of a role, but Crowe finds the human qualities inside the larger-than-life figure of Aubrey.  This endears him to his men and carries the lion’s share of Peter Weir’s exciting sea epic.
 Crowe’s importance to the film gains strength when one realizes there are only two major battle scenes that bookend the picture; the rest of the movie focuses on the crew of the ship and their struggles to chase down the French frigate that ambushed them early on.  The stirring account of shipboard life is what really makes this film, and places it firmly in my top 5.

4. 28 DAYS LATER

 The best horror film of the year absolutely knocked me out.  It broke so many of the rules associated with the genre, giving itself an incredible shot of adrenalin in the process.  A viral outbreak decimates the population of England, leaving London a ghost town (shown in a haunting opening scene) and the remaining normal humans fighting for their lives against the virus victims, who aren’t strictly dead; they’re bloodlusting automatons who move at lightning-fast speeds.  Director Danny Boyle uses videocam technology effectively to create a nightmarish strobe effect during the most frightening attack scenes.
 The cast is basically no-name right down the line, with the exception of Brendan “DARK BLUE” Gleeson as a father trying to protect his teenage daughter.  I enjoyed this film very much, but I haven’t seen the advertised “new ending,” and now that I’ve secured my own DVD copy under the Christmas tree, I’m not sure I want to see it.  Why mess with success?

3. MYSTIC RIVER

 I know Clint Eastwood has no intention of retiring, but if this film turned out to be the last entry in a long, distinguished career, it would be the perfect ending.  MYSTIC RIVER is my favorite Eastwood-directed film that doesn’t feature ol’ Clint as the star.  It’s not necessary, since he has put together the most perfectly-cast acting ensemble of the year.  Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon play three men from South Boston who share a tragic past; as kids, Penn and Bacon watched helplessly while the Robbins character was kidnapped by pedophiles masquerading as cops.  Flash forward 30 years, and Penn is the neighborhood “boss,” Robbins is a quiet, conflicted husband, and Bacon is a homicide detective.  When Penn’s daughter is murdered and Robbins is fingered as a suspect, all the pieces are in place for a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy.
 The three leads are ably supported by Laura Linney, Laurence Fishburne, and Marcia Gay Harden.  Harden is especially convincing in her role of the confused wife; her final scene at the street parade is heartbreaking.  MYSTIC RIVER, based on the superb best-seller by Dennis Lehane (If you’ve never read this guy, please do) is not a happy film by any stretch of the imagination; its moments of levity are few and far between.  But it still ranks as the most well-acted film of the year, and for that, it deserves a high ranking.

2. KILL BILL VOLUME 1

 Quentin Tarantino came back in a big way with this loving (Yes, I said loving) homage to the “grindhouse cinema” of his youth.  Short on plot development but incredibly long on style – blood-soaked, sensational style – KILL BILL VOL. 1 hit all the right notes for me.  Uma Thurman, making a mini-comeback of her own, was outrageously convincing as the wronged heroine, left in a coma on her wedding day, but waking 5 years later with a thirst for revenge.  And brother, does she get it.
 Like I said, short on plot, but this film had the most staggeringly brilliant action set piece of the year, with Thurman taking on the “Crazy 88,” a squad of professional assassins working for Lucy Liu’s Oren Ishii, crime boss of Tokyo.  Body parts went flying all over the place, and Tarantino was firing on all cylinders, switching from color to black and white in mid-stroke for heightened effect.  He even broke into the narrative (such as it was) for an extended anime sequence explaining Oren Ishii’s origins.
 Folks walked into the theater knowing they wouldn’t get the whole story; after all, the title ended with “Volume One.”  But Tarantino had a surprise ending (more of a line, actually) for even the most knowledgeable of fans.  People immediately started marking their calendars for Feb. 20, the date for KILL BILL VOL. 2.

1. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

This was Peter Jackson’s crowning achievement.  It was the closest thing to a sure-fire success story this year, since Jackson had filmed all three parts of Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy simultaneously, and the first two parts had been so warmly received.  There was the usual minor nitpicking; plot elements and characters might have been given short shrift here and there, but no one could deny that Jackson had arguably crafted the greatest fantasy film ever made.  THE RETURN OF THE KING was simply the final piece to an extraordinary puzzle.  It boasted breathtaking cinematography (a travelogue bonanza for New Zealand tourism), a musical score both rousing and haunting, state-of-the-art special effects, action set pieces without equal, and a flawless cast.
     It’s a shame that so many members of the cast have been slighted for acting award recognition, because they truly lived their roles; Sean Astin’s Sam Gamgee was especially memorable this time around.  Other standouts were Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, and Miranda Otto.  Not to mention Andy Serkis’ contributions to the character of Gollum, a marvel of computer technology.
 THE RETURN OF THE KING represents the finest achievement in movie entertainment this year, and I believe the trilogy will stand the test of time as one of the greatest film experiences ever, the kind that’s remembered fondly for generations.  Long after recent award winners like A BEAUTIFUL MIND and CHICAGO fade from view, THE LORD OF THE RINGS will be there to remind us of the lasting power of the cinema. 

ELEVENTH PLACE

 As I said early on, this was a wonderful year for movies, and in a weaker year, any of the following films might have made my list.  These all tied for “11th Place”:  PHONE BOOTH, IDENTITY, BRUCE ALMIGHTY, FINDING NEMO, HULK, TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, SEABISCUIT, CABIN FEVER, and ALIEN: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT.

GOOD THINGS IN LESS-THAN-STELLAR PACKAGES

 And beyond the good films, there were quite a few more that had some redeeming qualities, enough to send me out of the theater with a smile, and not with the feeling that I had wasted my time and money.  For one reason or another, for good or ill, I found something interesting about:  FINAL DESTINATION 2, THE HUNTED, WILLARD, THE MATRIX RELOADED, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, AMERICAN WEDDING, FREDDY VS. JASON, THE RUNDOWN, and THE MISSING.  And let’s not forget the special theatrical runs for the extended editions of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and THE TWO TOWERS.

THE WORST

 This wasn’t a hard choice at all.  Without question, the worst film I saw in movie theaters this year was… THE CORE.  I took my son and his friend to see it at the Tollgate Cinemas in Bel Air, where you could get a ticket, bottomless popcorn, and bottomless soda for $3.99.  I still felt gypped.  The place is closed now, so the last movie left me with a sour taste; there wasn’t a shred of originality in its doomsday plot about a group of scientists trying to save the planet from certain destruction by tunneling down to the molten core and… well, frankly, I don’t remember what they were trying to do.  The special effects were the cheesiest I’d seen in a long time, and what can you say about a plot when I found myself pointing at various characters in the first 15 minutes and predicting aloud, “He’ll die…he’ll die…she’ll live…he’ll live…he’ll die…” and nailing every single prediction right down the line?  The movie stunk like rotten cheese.

 Which brings us back around to the movie year in review…and 2003 was quite a year.  Here’s hoping that 2004 will feature more of the same.

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ICS CALENDER –the Month in review

Jan 23   THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT OPENS
Jan 23  MINDHUNTERS OPENS
JAN 24  ICS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Jan 30th   THE BIG BOUNCE
JAN 31   ICS MEETING – 5:30PM