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2004 Universal 1/2

01.14.2004

Only a couple of 2004 upcoming studio movie previews remain, and today was UNIVERSAL's turn to give us the skinny on their slate, a slate which, in my opinion, only looks about "so-so" up to this point. In fact, if it wasn't for THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK and VAN HELSING, I'm not sure that I could name too many of their films that interest me. Then again, a few of them haven't even started shooting yet, like MEET THE FOCKERS, so maybe I'll get more "into" them as time passes. You can get more info on each film by clicking on their pics, which will also lead you to higher-resolution pictures, or just visit our newly refurbished UPCOMING MOVIES section. Enjoy!

ALONG CAME POLLY

Director: John Hamburg

Starring: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing, Hank Azaria, Bryan Brown, Alec Baldwin

Plot: Stiller portrays risk-averse Reuben Feffer, whose best-laid plans for life and love careen wildly off track when his bride (Messing) dumps him on their honeymoon for a muscle-bound scuba instructor (Azaria). Stunned, humiliated and in the grip of acute indigestion, Reuben plans to play it safer than ever. But a chance encounter with an adventure-craving, childhood friend named Polly (Aniston) shoots him into a whirlwind of extreme sports, spicy foods, ferrets, salsa dancing and living in the moment.

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY

Director: Paul Greengrass

Starring: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Franka Potente

Plot: Following the smash worldwide success of 2002’s The Bourne Identity, Universal Pictures brings the second installment of best-selling author Robert Ludlum’s series to the screen with Matt Damon returning as trained assassin Jason Bourne in The Bourne Supremacy.

The Bourne Supremacy re-enters the shadowy world of expert assassin Bourne (Damon), who continues to find himself plagued by splintered nightmares from his former life. The stakes are now even higher for the agent as he coolly maneuvers through the dangerous waters of international espionage—replete with CIA plots, turncoat agents and ever-shifting covert alliances—all the while hoping to find the truth behind his haunted memories and answers to his own fragmented past.

CINDERELLA MAN

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Craig Bierko

Plot: Crowe stars in the story inspired by the life of legendary athlete Jim Braddock, a once-promising light heavyweight boxer forced into retirement after a string of losses in the ring. As the nation enters the darkest years of the Great Depression, Braddock accepts a string of dead-end jobs to support his wife, Mae (Renée Zellweger), and their children, while never totally abandoning his dream of boxing again.

Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, Braddock finds himself back in the ring against the second-ranked world contender—and to everyone’s amazement, Braddock wins in the third round. Despite being pounds lighter than his opponents and repeated injuries to his hands, Braddock continues to fight against challengers and win. Carrying on his shoulders the hopes and dreams of the disenfranchised masses, Braddock, dubbed the “Cinderella Man,” faces his toughest challenger in Max Baer (Craig Bierko), the heavyweight champion of the world, renowned for having killed two men in the ring.

THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK

Director: David Twohy

Starring: Vin Diesel, Thandie Newton, Karl Urban, Colm Feore, Linus Roache, Keith David, Yorick van Wageningen, Alexa Davalos, Judi Dench

Plot: Riddick has spent the last five years on the move among the forgotten worlds on the outskirts of the galaxy, eluding mercenaries bent on collecting the price on his head. Now, the fugitive finds himself on planet Helion, home to a progressive multicultural society that has been invaded by the Lord Marshal, a despot who targets humans for subjugation with his army of warriors known as Necromongers. Exiled to a subterranean prison where extremes of temperature range from arctic nights to volcanic days, Riddick encounters Kyra, the lone survivor from an earlier chapter in his life. His efforts to free himself and Kyra lead him to the Necromonger command ship, where he is pitted against the Lord Marshal in an apocalyptic battle with possibly the fate of all beings—both living and dead—hanging in the balance.

CONNIE AND CARLA

Director: Michael Lembeck

Starring: Nia Vardalos, Toni Collette, Stephen Spinella, Dash Mihok, David Duchovny

Plot: Vardalos and Collette play Connie and Carla, two struggling Chicago dinner theater performers who accidentally witness a mafia hit…and who subsequently hit the road, running for their lives. Assuming the killers will never look for them in a place devoid of culture, the pair head to Los Angeles, where they assume new identities and find their middling talent at song and dance perfectly suited to new careers—as drag queens.

Much to their surprise, they inadvertently become the toast of the cabaret circuit. As their ruse becomes increasingly difficult to maintain, they discover that it is indeed lonely at the top, especially after Connie meets Jeff (Duchovny), a guy she’d really like to be a real girl with. With the mafia zeroing in and the line separating their onstage/offstage personas blurring beyond the point of recognition, Connie and Carla soon discover the power of not compromising to pursue your dreams, fighting the good fight and never, never underestimating the transformative power of cosmetics.

DAWN OF THE DEAD

Director: Zack Snyder

Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer

Plot: An unexplained plague has decimated the world’s population and yet…the dead aren’t dying. They’ve become zombies, stalking endlessly in a constant quest to feed on the flesh and blood of the few remaining living. A ragtag group of desperate survivors in a Wisconsin town seek refuge in a large indoor mall, where they must learn not only to protect themselves from the ever-increasing zombie horde, but also to co-exist with each other as a last bastion of humanity. Sealed off from the rest of what used to be the world, the group uses every available resource (both within and without) in their against-all-odds fight to remain alive and human.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Director: Peter Berg

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton

Plot: Based on the best-selling book about high school football by H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights chronicles the entire 1988 season of the Permian High Panthers of Odessa, Texas, with football players, coaches, mothers, fathers, pastors, boosters, fans and families struggling with ongoing personal conflicts while the team fights for a state championship.

A town for sale, Odessa, Texas has seen better days—the financial bust evident in its boarded-up shops and broken lives. Yet one hope sustains the community where, once a week during the fall, the town and its dreams come alive beneath the dazzling and disorienting Friday night lights…when the Permian High Panthers take to the field. In a city where economic uncertainty has eroded the spirit of its inhabitants, nearly everyone seeks comfort in the religion of the Friday night ritual, where the unfulfilled dreams of an entire community are shifted onto the shoulder pads of a team of high school athletes.

< CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO >

< click here to see Warner Bros' 2004 preview >
< click here to see Paramount's 2004 preview >
< click here to see
20th Century Fox's 2004 preview >
< Click here to see Sony/Columbia's 2004 preview >
< Click here to see Dreamworks' 2004 preview >
< click here to see Lions Gate's 2004 preview >
< click here to see Fox Searchlight's 2004 preview >
< click here to see MGM/UA's 2004 preview >

Tags: Hollywood

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