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Column
New Trailers and a Controversial Dutch Short
by Scott Holleran
Abigail Breslin and Jodie Foster in Nim's Island
March 28, 2008

Burbank, California—Watching new trailers with the packed house at the Grove's Pacific Theater—which employs some of L.A.'s finest ushers and concessionaires—gave a preview of coming attractions. Surprisingly, 300's popular Gerard Butler is practically concealed in Walden Media's peek at Nim's Island, which puts child actress Abigail Breslin (No Reservations) and former child actress Jodie Foster (The Brave One) up front.

The movie looks like the sort of family adventure that played in theaters back when Miss Foster was portraying characters like Becky Thatcher in MGM's musical adaptation of Mark Twain's novel, Tom Sawyer. As Nim, Breslin romps in long, blonde locks while prim Miss Foster helps the girl find her lost dad (Butler) as we learn in an old-fashioned narrative. Nim's Island looks like it might be fun, but it's made by Walden Media, which tends to produce schlock.

Walden's new Chronicles of Narnia movie for Disney, Prince Caspian, looks sufficiently thrilling—but so did the first installment, which turned out to be a bust. The four British children return to the fantasy land—that much is clear—and so do Liam Neeson and Tilda Swinton as variations on God and the Devil, and an evil king, referenced in a voiceover, fails to appear. No sign of James McAvoy (Atonement), who is excellent in Penelope by the way, as the faun. Prospects for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian may hinge on newcomer Ben Barnes' ability to connect as lead Caspian, who may add a bit of daring to this outing.

A teaser for Fox's third Ice Age picture, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, slated for release next year, looks promising. Another episodic introduction by Scrat, chasing that acorn, leads to a cartoonish dinosaur, which may signal that villains in Dawn of the Dinosaurs will be less sinister than those scary underwater monsters in Ice Age: The Meltdown. Now if only Fox scales back or scotches Queen Latifah's clunky character and restores the Three Godfathers bonding vibe of the original picture.

Warner Bros.' Speed Racer trailer also has torque, though it looks like the cheesy Japanese cartoon's family racing garage is changed to a team of corporate types. That may make Speed—a rebellious hero in the series—more of a cog but a lot depends on how lead actor Emile Hirsch fares in the role. Racing scenes look like a video game but, with flashes of Trixie (Christina Ricci in a pageboy), Racer X (Matthew Fox) and mom (always terrific Susan Sarandon), it does look like there might be a story. The bizarre TV show had appeal as an alliance of unique individuals and there's some evidence of that in this theatrical advertisement.

World Wide Web

Shame on Web registrar and host Network Solutions. The U.S.-based business has disabled the Web site for a 15-minute Dutch motion picture, Fitna (an Arabic term for strife), apparently because the picture—scheduled for release in Holland and recently made available on another Web site—criticizes the Koran. Repeated requests for comment to Network Solutions—which is acting like a cowardly, un-American company—went unanswered.

By what standard did Network Solutions suspend Fitna's Web site? Is it based on fear that radical religionists will be offended by the site's content and attack the content's producers and the site's host? Censorship occurs when the government violates free speech, not when an individual or business exercises a judgment, so this is not an example of censorship. But everyone who values man's rights—and is alarmed by the rising threat of religious totalitarianism—should be outraged by the action.

The country in which the movie was made is Holland, a civilized nation once occupied by the Nazis which has been plagued in recent years by Islamic fundamentalists. Holland's prime minister, in an effort to stifle the motion picture, denounced Fitna. By doing so, the Dutch state is equivocating on the freedom of speech. To paraphrase Sinclair Lewis, the Network Solutions arbitrary action against Fitna demonstrates that what's happening in Holland—state-sponsored suppression of free speech—can happen here.

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RELATED COLUMNS by Scott Holleran
• 2/16/07 - Walden Media Lays an Egg
• 8/24/06 - Beware of Walden's 'Bridge to Terabithia'
• 10/15/05 - Censorship on the Rise in Hollywood

RELATED ARTICLES
• Review - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
• Review - Ice Age
• Review - Ice Age 2
• Interview: Blue Sky Animation's Jerry Davis
• Interview: Walt Disney Pictures Chairman Dick Cook

RELATED LINKS
Network Solutions Prohibits Anti-Religious Movie Site
'Fitna' Available on the Web
'Fitna'
Fitna (Disabled Movie Web Site)

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