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SNEAKS 2008

There's cause for excitement

Indiana Jones, Rambo, James Bond. The year's lineup sports plenty of action (and 'Sex' too).

January 13, 2008|Rebecca Ascher-Walsh | Special to The Times

Studios are currently consumed with Oscar campaigns for last year's films, and the ongoing writers strike leaves the slate for 2009 uncertain. Happily, 2008 promises to deliver a plethora of movies to keep audiences in the moment. Here, some of the anticipated highlights.

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND AGAIN: SEQUELS

This year brings expected smashes in franchises that seem like annual events, if they aren't in fact: The sixth "Harry Potter," which reunites the cast with their last director, David Yates (opening Nov. 21); the as-yet untitled new James Bond movie, starring Daniel Craig and directed by "The Kite Runner's" Marc Forster (Nov. 7), and "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," directed by Adam Adamson, who guided the first "Narnia" to a $300-million box office (May 16).

Two other sequels will test the adage about time and fonder hearts, or at least answer the question about action heroes and aging gracefully: Harrison Ford returns after 19 years to play Indiana Jones for the fourth time, starring in Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (May 22). And Sylvester Stallone, apparently not satisfied to check his nostalgia at the door with 2006's "Rocky Balboa" -- which earned an impressive $70-plus million -- returns as the star and director of the fourth "Rambo" (Jan. 25).

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, January 20, 2008 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 3 inches; 115 words Type of Material: Correction
Sneaks list: Last Sunday's roundup of this year's movies omitted stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Taryn Manning from an item about the comedy "Jack and Jill vs. the World."
Also, the Weinstein Co. drama "Boy A" was mistakenly listed as "A Boy."
And the listing for the comedy "College" described the main character as a university freshman. He is a high school senior. Finally, the title and description of this comedy were omitted: "Fool's Gold": Matthew McConaughey stars as a charismatic treasure hunter seeking the long-lost 18th century Queen's Dowry. With Kate Hudson and Donald Sutherland. Screenplay by John Claflin and Daniel Zelman, and Andy Tennant; story by Claflin and Zelman. Directed by Tennant. Warner Bros., Feb. 8.

SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES: THE REUNIONS

In days of uncertain box-office numbers, there's strength in returning to successful pairings. Joel and Ethan Coen turn again to George Clooney for their black comedy "Burn After Reading," in which Clooney plays a CIA operative who loses his memoirs.

Clooney -- who also directs and stars in the April drama "Leatherheads," about a 1920s football team -- has starred in two other Coen brother movies, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Intolerable Cruelty." He is joined by "Oceans" trilogy cohort Brad Pitt as well as "Michael Clayton" costar Tilda Swinton (release date TBA).

The CIA also figures in the project responsible for reuniting Russell Crowe with Ridley Scott, the director who led him to glory in "Gladiator." In the as-yet untitled film, Crowe plays an agent working with a journalist (Leonardo DiCaprio) to hunt down a terrorist (Oct. 10). Two other partners on the hunt for a bad guy are "Heat" costars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, two New York City cops looking for a killer in Jon Avnet's "Righteous Kill." (April 18).

No ammunition figures in the reunion of Jude Law and Natalie Portman, who played contentious lovers in 2004's "Closer" and now star in Wong Kar Wai's English-language debut, "My Blueberry Nights." Nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, the film stars singer Norah Jones in her acting debut as a heartsick woman on a cross-country journey (Feb. 13).

GOING FOR BIG LAUGHS: TENT POLE COMEDIES

For all of the studios' hand-wringing about what will attract audiences after a year of flat attendance, there is only one sure thing: Will Smith. Smith's "I Am Legend" grossed more than $200 million, becoming his seventh straight movie to make it well past $100 million. Smith has two projects this year -- Peter Berg's superhero comedy "Hancock" (July 2) and "Seven Pounds," about a man who falls in love with a woman as he tries to kill himself (TBA) -- but one man can only do so much.

That leaves 50 other opening weekends for the competition, which includes Jim Carrey's December comedy "Yes Man," in which a man decides to (you guessed it) say yes to everything. (Carrey himself said yes to one other project: Voicing the CGI Seussian elephant in "Horton Hears a Who!," due March 14.)

Adam Sandler and Owen Wilson are kidding around in their upcoming comedies, Sandler as a man who realizes that the stories he tells his young nephews are coming true in "Bedtime Stories" (Dec. 25), and Owen Wilson in "Drillbit Taylor," about children who hire a bodyguard to protect them on the schoolyard (March 21).

And in what seems like a slam dunk, Will Ferrell -- who scored on the ice with the $100-million-plus "Blades of Glory" -- plays an owner-coach-player of a basketball team determined to get to the NBA Finals in "Semi-Pro" (Feb. 29).

NOVEL IDEAS GET TO THE BIG SCREEN: ADAPTATIONS

After Diane Lane cuckolded Richard Gere -- and earned an Oscar nomination for her efforts -- in 2002's "Unfaithful," they return in September, she as a married woman who falls for him in "Nights in Rodanthe," George C. Wolfe's adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' heartstrings-pulling bestseller. (Lane, one of this year's busiest actresses, also stars in the upcoming films "Killshot," based on Elmore Leonard's novel; the thriller "Untraceable" and Doug Liman's sci-fi "Jumper.")

Also torn between two lovers is King Henry VIII in "The Other Boleyn Girl," based on Phillipa Gregory's novel and adapted by "The Queen" screenwriter Peter Morgan. Natalie Portman stars as Anne Boleyn, with Scarlett Johansson as her sister, Mary, and Eric Bana as the king (Feb. 29).

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