Is That Excitement or Dread?

There are a bunch of films coming out in the next several months that are what we at Quality Time call "opening night films." These are movies that we have been discussing for so long that we have to go and see them the instant they open. You’d think that would mean we think these films will be beyond wonderful but that is not always the case. Sometimes we fear these films are going to be so terrible they go down in history.

Most of them are adaptations of beloved favorite books or radio shows or even both. How well do we think these particular incarnations will work? Let's take a look.

The brand new revamped version of War of the Worlds is brought to us by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise. It looks a great big expensive extravaganza and we know Spielberg can be very good at those. If we want thrills and chills and explosions I am sure he will deliver. But what about Tom Cruise? I wish I could say I think Cruise is a splendid actor but I can't. I'm thinking back to the last films I have seen him in (oddly they all seem to be remakes, Vanilla Sky, Mission Impossible) and he just does not have the charisma I would like to see in a lead. The beginning of the TV spot looks like the film is about a guy who is running late for work trying to load the kids in the car. So far it doesn't look terribly exciting. This trailer is a little better but still looks like it starts with the morning rush hour. Does the tag line "They're already here" remind anyone of the "They're here" from Poltergeist, another Spielberg film? This version of War of the Worlds has been moved from the late 1800s to modern times, which could work quite nicely. Can this film possibly be as good as the original book, infamous radio broadcast or even the 1953 version? I hope so but I am not yet convinced. In theaters everywhere June 29th.

Who is hotter than hot, slicker than slick, witty and wisecracking and generally utterly swoony? Why John Constantine, lead of Hellblazer and guest star of many other fine comics in the Vertigo universe. Why then is Keanu Reeves playing him in the upcoming Warner Brothers film, Constantine? Why? I don’t understand it. Why not Tim Roth of Pulp Fiction fame? Why not, well, just about anyone but preferably a Brit? Apparently he is no longer even British. Nothing in the trailer or the spot that ran during the Super Bowl indicates that he is still either charming or witty. He mostly seems to be surrounded by what a Quality Time reader calls the "discordant melody of scary." Is there any way for this film to be as good as the Garth Ennis scripted comics? It does have the ever cute Rachel Weisz in its favor. To quote Mulder, "I want to believe." Film opens next week! February 18th to be precise.

What do you get when you take a book by Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity), make it into a film with Colin Firth (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) and then make it into an American film with Drew Barrymore? Fever Pitch of course. Just in case this book has not been sufficiently Americanized, it's no longer about football (soccer); it's a romantic comedy about a girl (Barrymore) whose boyfriend (Jimmy Fallon of SNL fame) is obsessed with baseball (baseball). Not only that but the word on the streets is that the script was rewritten after the Red Sox won the Series last year and now the film will have a new ending. Oh and guess who is directing it? The Farrelly Brothers of Something About Mary fame. Is this going to be a good movie? I have no idea but it sure is going to be interesting to see how a brilliant book about British football addiction becomes a light and fluffy Rom Com. Opening October 7th. (This film is still deep in pre-production so the opening date is subject to change. I can't even find a trailer for you guys, that's how pre the production is.)

Now we have a movie that started out as a radio show. Since then it has been a television show, a series of very popular books, a musical and what can really only be called a phenomenon. However The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has resisted all efforts to make it into a film for years. Fans of THHGG have been all doom and gloom at the prospect of just what Hollywood would do to their beloved Guide and I have been among the doomiest and the gloomiest. But, and this is really quite a big but, the script for this film was originally written by Douglas Adams, who is of course the man behind THHGG, so blue and sunny skies may be ahead. In an intriguing casting twist Mos Def has been chosen to play Ford Prefect. Mos Def was extremely good in Something the Lord Made and in the Pulitzer Prize winning Topdog/Underdog. I am quite looking forward to seeing him in a comic role. Alan Rickman is playing Marvin the Paranoid Android. Alan Rickman starred in Something the Lord Made with Mos Def. Here they are reunited in a very different sort of film. Opens May 9th, and don't forget your towel!

We’re looking for feedback here at Quality Time. We’re working on a letters to the editor page but in order to do that correctly we really should have some letters. Do you think I'm horribly mean to Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves? What are your opening nights films? Which opening night films have lived up to the hype and which ones have made you curse the day you spent a penny of your money and a moment of your time on that tripe? Write to and let me know and I’ll publish the most interesting responses.