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Movies 2002: The A-List

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The Scorpion King

Starring Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu Written By Jonathan Hales, Will Osborne, Stephen Sommers Directed By Chuck Russell

Buzz-O-Meter [9]

Could this be the next action hero? the WWF champion put his enormous toe in the water last year with a supporting part in The Mummy Returns (in which he turned into a giant arachnid and got squished by Brendan Fraser). Now he’ll reprise the role for a spin-off prequel set in 3000 B.C. ”You get to see how my character rose to be a king,” The Rock explains. ”He starts out as an assassin, but then he sees that the gods have chosen him, so he has to go on this journey of discovery….” He wasn’t going anywhere, though, without some acting lessons first. Larry Moss, who coached costar Duncan for The Green Mile, did a lot of the heavy lifting, but Russell (who directed another behemoth-turned-actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in 1996’s Eraser) also helped The Rock get in touch with his inner core. ”I’m not saying that he’s Olivier,” Russell says, ”but he’s one of the quickest studies I’ve ever met. He’s willing to go wherever he has to go emotionally in order to give a full performance.” BOTTOM LINE We can smell what Universal is cooking, and it appears to be a franchise. (April 19)

Rollerball

Starring Chris Klein, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, LL Cool J, Jean Reno, Naveen Andrews Written By Larry Ferguson, John Pogue Directed By John McTiernan

Buzz-O-Meter [8]

Okay, we get the idea that sci-fi films are supposed to take place in the future. But maybe MGM’s been taking that concept a little too seriously, since the release date of this remake of James Caan’s 1975 death-sport actioner has been pushed around like a tackling dummy. Originally scheduled for last August, Rollerball stars Klein as a hunky loner who excels in a rock ’em-sock ’em arena sport where motorcycle-riding thugs pop wheelies and jawbones. ”I wasn’t even alive when the first Rollerball came out,” says the 22-year-old actor, ”but it’s a killer film. For that time, it was the brink, so we’ve got a big challenge.” It may be bigger than he thinks. Norman Jewison, who helmed the original, has reportedly bad-mouthed the new version. And after director McTiernan (Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October) screened an early cut of the remake for Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles — which the Internet movie guru proceeded to savage on his website — studio execs asked McTiernan to trim the movie’s violence and nudity in order to earn a PG-13. In other words, we’ll be seeing a lot less of Romijn-Stamos, who stripped down in a once-touted sauna scene. Not that she minds keeping her clothes on. ”I mean, everyone’s already seen that side of me,” the sometime swimsuit model says. ”They know what I look like.” Bottom Line The poster trumpets a ”special appearance” by pop star Pink. Sure this isn’t Roller Boogie? (Feb. 8)

Blade 2

Starring Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Norman Reedus, Leonor Varela, Ron Perlman Written By David S. Goyer Directed By Guillermo del Toro

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