Science fiction as a literary genre traditionally takes a back seat to everything save romance novels at your local Barnes & Noble, and its ranking among film aficionados normally fares no better. It's no wonder: For every hit like The Matrix, fans must suffer through any number of ill-conceived groaners like Virus, Supernova, Mission to Mars, or even worse -- Battlefield Earth. So why, pray tell, does Hollywood continue to crank out high-concept space vehicles composed of expensive intergalactic ships and horrendously costly special effects? The answer, of course, is that every distributor outside of 20th Century Fox aches to sink its incisors into a lucrative Star Wars franchise or add the cachet of a well-received Dark City to its filmography. As such, we find ourselves with another season of sci-fi warping into our time-space continuum, filled with out-of-this-world offerings, all wishing upon a star to create an Independence Day-sized presence at our local cineplex. X-Men (July 14) is the long-awaited big-screen adaptation of the ever-popular Marvel Comics series of the same name. With Star Trek's Patrick Stewart filling in as captain of the mutant crew, which also includes the sultry Halle Barry as Storm, the film will no doubt tractor in an enormous Trek fan base. Among hard-core fans, however, a backlash is already brewing against director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects), who apparently took liberties with X-Men costumery and appearance. Trailers for spookfest Hollow Man (Aug. 4) have already garnered positive Web buzz for the film's lead Kevin Bacon. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers), Hollow Man could very well scare up beaucoup coinage with its promising retelling of a deranged scientist's quest to become the Invisible Man.
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