progThe third installment of The Prognosticator,’s look at your movie future, is here. And it’s only two days late! Around these parts that’s a miracle, lemme tell you.

As the year gets older, the movies gets better and more interesting, and the month of March has some really solid stuff coming, especially if you’re as enamored of ducks and weightlifters as we are. In the meantime, this column is here to stay, and we’d love to hear from you in regards to what you like, what you don’t like, or what you’d want to see added to the future installments of The Prognosticator. Email me at or leave a message in this thread right here on our message board.

March 4

fweThe Jacket

Devin says: Adrien Brody, who is mysteriously considered hot, plays a Gulf War vet who comes home from Iraq with some mental problems. Or does he? It seems that when placed in a straight jacket and into a cabinet, he can travel into the future. Or does he? It’s a movie that you’ll be talking about for hours afterwards. Or will you?

Prognostication: The Jacket is not a great film by any means, but it does offer a couple of creepy moments, and a braintwister perfect for those who though that Primer was just too obtuse. Be warned – do not watch 12 Monkeys before going to see this one. Important note: Keira Knightley has a couple of topless scenes in this. So does Brody, unfortunately.

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 Be Cool

Dave says: This sequel, adapted from Elmore Leonard’s novel, follows the continuing adventures of John Travolta’s gangster-turned-Hollywood player Chili Palmer, now working in the music industry where he’s promoting a feisty female singer (played by eyeball-melting singer/actress Christina Milian) while dealing with homicide detectives, indignant rappers and the Russian mafia.  Travolta is surrounded by some fine talent in the Get Shorty follow-up, including a reunion with his Pulp Fiction dance partner Uma Thurman, who plays a widow taking over her late husband’s record label.  The Rock, Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, Harvey Keitel, Outkast’s Andre 3000, Danny DeVito and a cavalcade of famous faces wander through the frame at some point as well. The original film’s director Barry Sonnenfeld isn’t pulling the strings, however, as that task was assigned to F. Gary Gray, hot off his surprisingly robust remake of The Italian Job.

Prognostication: If there was ever a film that may not be the sum of its parts, it’s this one.  Which would be a damn shame, but a very real possibility.

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 The Pacifier:

Dave says: Meatman Vin Diesel can handle international terrorists and nocturnal aliens… but how is he with kids?  Should you essentially choose to throw your money into a high-concept shredder, you can find out the answer to this pressing question in The Pacifier.  Originally intended as a Jackie Chan project, the film now has Diesel as the beefy babysitter, a shaved special operative who fails to protect a government scientist and tries to redeem himself by guarding the man’s brood of rambunctious adolescents (and one duck).  Director Adam Shankman, who practiced facile humor with Bringing Down the House, helms the family-oriented fish-out-of-water tale. The vomit and/or bowel movements of children (and one duck) are sure to provide endless amusement. 

Prognostication: Diesel is picking up projects discarded by Jackie Chan, which certainly doesn’t have my innards leaking with confidence.  I can appreciate his desire to show his lighter side, but I just really wish he’d make another attempt at Real Acting.  The only thing in the plus column here is a script from Reno 911! and The State guys Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon.  And one duck.

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fweGunner Palace

Devin says: When the 2/3 Field Artillery took over one of Usay Hussein’s old pleasure palaces they renamed it Gunner Palace. From that base of operations they patrol the surrounding area, and filmmaker Michael Tucker spent two months with them. A documentary not about the rationale or right and wrong of the war but about the grunt’s eye view, Gunner Palace takes you away from the press briefing rooms into the dust of some of Baghdad’s most dangerous areas.

Prognostication: It’s a Rorschach test of a movie, but it also forces you to re-evaluate your own stance on the war – whatever side you fall on. Everybody, pro or con the Iraqi War, needs to see this movie to get an understanding they won’t get from the news channels. This movie gives you a better understanding of what a US soldier goes through in Iraq in 85 minutes than Fox or CNN do in 24 hours.

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March 11

feqThe Passion of the Christ – edit

Devin says: If you’ve ever thought that the curbing scene in American History X just didn’t last long enough, here’s a movie for you. Mel Gibson obsessively focuses on the torture and brutality visited upon the man many, many millions believe was the Messiah.

Interestingly, new scholarly research indicates that the idea that Jesus was Messiah is based on an error in some early texts. Turns out that Jesus was Meshuggenah, which means crazy. He earned that nickname from his involvement in the early Xtreme scene, where he was an Xtreme Walking champion. 

Prognostication: The film is being rereleased in a slightly edited version, to take some of the violence out, creating a PG-13 Passion. Too bad, so sad, the MPAA still said it featured excessive dwarfism, and so Gibson is just releasing the film unrated. Which doesn’t mean the same thing as American Pie unrated, although this does feature more Shannon Elizabeth poon too.

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efqwIn My Country

Devin saysThe South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission brings the people who perpetrated brutalities and murder during the apartheid era forward to admit to their crimes and be forgiven. There is some rumor of a Hollywood Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and surely In My Country director John Boorman would get a spot for his 1974 atrocity Zardoz (the stupid name is even stupider when you find out what it means).

For now we must live in the present, which isn’t where this film is from. Released last year in South Africa, this movie finds Samuel L Jackson as a Washington Post reporter sent to cover the Commission (I wish it was the Washington Times so I could make a "Bad Moonie Fucker" joke). He doesn’t believe that such a thing can bring healing… but maybe.. just maybe!… it can.

Prognostication: This movie stars a man named Menzi ‘Ngubs’ Ngubane, making it already better than all the 2004 Oscar nominees, each of which was Ngubs-free. Boorman’s a director who has been taking his time between projects, but I don’t think he’s out of his prime yet. His last film, 2001’s The Tailor of Panama, was pretty good and features a crucial Harry Potter appearance. Samuel L Jackson has ceased to be any indication of a movie’s quality, but audiences looking for more white guilt after Hotel Rwanda probably won’t be too disappointed.

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Devin says: This movie was supposed to come out in January. Being lazy, here’s what I said then:  When Bruce Willis can’t stop a madman from killing a child in a hostage standoff, he moves away from LA and his wife and child. Now chief of police in a small town, he finds himself embroiled in a new hostage crisis – but it gets worse when shadowy figures take HIS family hostage because they need something out of the house where the original hostage takers are holed up. You following this?

Prognostication:  How many movies are in this one? It looks like Panic Room meets The Negotiator with some Die Hard in a House thrown in for good measure. Nobody plays the emotionally damaged action guy better than Bruce Willis did in the last decade, but these days it’s coming across as schtick.

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Dave says: Now that traditional animation has apparently been murdered by technology (or at least put in cryo-stasis), Dreamworks and Fox are trying to challenge Pixar for the throne of CGI animation kings.  Fox had their Ice Age guy Chris Wedge crank out this futuristic tale, with a voice cast that boasts Ewan McGregor, Greg Kinnear, Drew Carey and Robin Williams.  The movie follows a young mechanical dude who ventures to a robot metropolis and dreams of making the world a better place through broad humor (so it would seem).

Prognostication: I hate to sound like a Pixar snob (there’s an interesting new term for you), but what I’ve seen of this so far hasn’t especially moved me (and The Incredibles hits DVD a few days after this ratchets into theaters).  Also, even as a CG animated automaton, Robin Williams seems annoying. 

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Dave says: Trainspotting and 28 Days Later guy Danny Boyle goes McGregorless and monkey-free for this whimsical heist comedy, which takes place while Ol’ Blighty is about to transition from Pounds to Euros. When two young lads find a whole bunch of (where’s that damn symbol) notes from a bank robbery, they only have a few days to figure out what to do with it before it becomes obsolete. 

Prognostication: Danny Boyle without heroin, excessive profanity or rage-infected humans?  Hmmm, I dunno… I’m sure he can do the saccharin stuff, but I’d prefer his films with at least one of those three ingredients mentioned above.

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March 18

 The Ring Two

Dave saysDreamworks has gone straight to the source for their sequel of a remake, with the original Ringu’s director Hideo Nakata (also of the dark-hair horror film Dark Water — the original, not the impending remake, guh) stepping in to shoot writer Ehren Kruger’s story for The Ring Two, which is not a remake of Ringu 2.  Yep.  After the face-shattering events of the first movie, lovely Naomi Watts has packed up her creepy kid and moved to a new town, but soggy well-dweller Samara returns to menace her and anyone else who hasn’t upgraded to DVD.

Prognostication: The sequel looks to have much of the same weird unnerving atmosphere as Gore Verbinski’s first Americanized update of the terminally creepy Japanese film, and the fair success of recent movies like Boogeyman, White Noise and Hide and Seek show that it doesn’t really need to be October (or a very good movie) for a successful genre release. Also, Naomi Watts is hot.

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 Ice Princess

Dave says: The now-legal Michelle Trachtenberg steps out from behind the undernourished shadow of the Slayer to strap on her own kind of blades in this Disney skating flick.  Trachtenbod plays a gawky high-schooler who, thanks to some coaching from a former skating champ (version 4.3 of Kim Cattrall) and the magic of Standard Disney Product, becomes a whiz on the ice (ahem) and makes her way to a major competition.  The film also features Joan Cusack, a hunky Zamboni driver and (I’m speculating) a reasonably happy ending.

Prognostication: Sadly, I’ve already seen as much of Trachtenbreasts as we’ll likely ever get in Eurotrip (at least until her career begins to dwindle and she follows fellow Whedon grad Charisma Carpenter to Playboy), and the premise tells me I may not be the audience this movie is shooting for, various perversions and taste for veal notwithstanding.  That said, I suppose it’s nice for younger girls to have something other than the latest Duff or Lohan movie to bother with, and Trachtenberg seems like she actually has some skating talent in those tight young legs.

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wdqMelinda and Melinda

Devin says:Is life a comedy or a tragedy? Two playwrights argue the point by spinning very different stories from the same scenario, both featuring a woman named Melinda. The comedy features Will Ferrell while the drama features a black leading man, a stunning rarity in a Woody Allen film. Of course he introduces himself as being from "Harlem, USA."

Prognostication: This is one of the best Woody Allen films in years, but that’s sadly not saying much. It’ll appeal mostly to fans of Woody, since it doesn’t really examine comedy and drama, but rather Woody’s comedy and drama films. That said, Will Ferrell is the best faux-Woody yet, never going over the top into an impersonation, as so many before him have felt the need to do. 

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Devin says: It’s the new movie from the guy who made Akira. That probably sells it to a lot of you. There’s more though – rather than standard scifi, Steamboy presents an alternate history, where giant steampowered machines and gadgets wage war in the skies over Industrial London. Young Ray Steam is gifted with a knack for machines, a ludicrous name and the voice of a girl, specifically Anna Paquin. He must join forces with his grandather, Captain Picard, to stop his dad, Doctor Octopus. Stuff explodes. A lot.

Prognostication: Stuff explodes. And it explodes some more. People talk more in grunts than in dialogue. Stuff just keeps blowing up – in fact many machines in the film seem designed just to explode. If you dug Akira, which I found rambling, dull and often incomprehensible, ignore my opinion that this is a film full of sound, fury, and some pretty cool machine designs.

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March 25

 Miss Congeniality 2

Dave says: Romcom queen Sandra Bullock returns to the role of rough-around-the-edges FBI Special Agent Gracie Hart who, as one might imagine, must now go undercover once again in some humorously awkward capacity to foil a dastardly new criminal plot: the kidnapping of The Shatner.  Benjamin Bratt had better things to do (Catwoman) than this sequel, so the increasingly laminated-looking Bullock teams with Regina King for added sass, and Vegas is the new backdrop, so showgirl outfits are expected.

Prognostication: If the utter hilarity of Miss Congeniality was simply not enough for you, then divine beings have seemingly heard your prayers.  All those nagging questions left from the first film will surely be answered.

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dqwGuess Who

Devin says: Guess who’s having a coronary? The original Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner took on race relations when Sidney Poitier (hint: a black) came to meet his in-laws to be, played by Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn (hint: very very white). In the new version Bernie Mac has to deal with his daughter’s new beau, Ashton Kutcher. So wait, this one’s about people marrying retards?

Prognostication: This is going to suck. Tremendously. And Bernie Mac deserves better than to star with Ashton Kutcher. Saddam Hussein deserves better than that, come to think of it.

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Devin says: One day Oh Daesu is snatched off the street. He spends the next fifteen years trapped in a small room. When he gets out the question he tries to answer is who put him there, and why.

The answers to those questions bring him unexpected places as the secrets of his past – and his present – slowly unravel in this winning Korean film from director Chan Wook-Park.

Prognostication: One’s top fifteen films of last year (it made my list, Nick’s list and Dave’s too), Oldboy is a masterpiece. A visual miracle with a dark and transgressive storyline to match the look, it’s guaranteed to be one of the best movies you see this year. It’s opening slowly – make sure to catch it when it comes near you.

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Dave says:  This is the feature version of a short film by writer/director Angela Robinson, following a group of sly female students whose test scores indicate a predilection for ruthlessness and deception, making them perfect candidates for a secret agency. The flick stars former MTV hostess Sara Foster as the leader of the gals, while supple sweetie Jordana Brewster plays an evil lesbian (woohoo!) named Lucy in the Sky (yes, really).  The movie also features unnervingly odd-looking Devon Aoki (2Fast 2Furious), Meagan Good (Biker Boyz) and Jill "I’m Kid Rock’s Sister" Ritchie as the other D.E.B.S. (and no, I have no idea what the acronym stands for), while thundering kingpin Michael Clarke Duncan plays the president of the academy.

Prognostication: Can there ever be too many movies about catty cliques of violent schoolgirls with lesbian tendencies?  I vote "nay".  Though I’m relatively sure I can wait until video.

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