Fantastic Four (directed by Tim Story, 105 min)
Just when you thought movie fans were all comic book superhero'd out, along comes this promising adaptation of the first Marvel Comics superhero franchise. Ioan Gruffudd (TV's Horatio Hornblower), Michael Chiklis (The Shield), Jessica Alba (Sin City) and Chris Evans (Cellular) play astronauts who gain superhuman powers after being exposed to radiation, while Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon plays the evil Doctor Doom.
It's a solid cast of up-and-comers, with Alba and Evans upping the hottie factor and Gruffudd possibly breaking through (like Hugh Jackman in the X-Men films). Chiklis's Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) is getting the strongest buzz.
The only drawback? Director Tim Story has a bomb called Taxi on his resumé.
Dark Water (directed by Walter Salles, 105 min)
This doesn't look like just another American remake of a Japanese horror film. Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly plays a woman who moves into a mysterious apartment with her five-year-old daughter, only to find the place haunted by... water! The supporting cast ain't dripping: John C. Reilly as a real estate agent, Tim Roth as a lawyer.
This could be director Walter Salles 's (The Motorcycle Diaries, Central Station) big American breakout. Both open Friday (July 8). See Movies, page 93. Screened after press time. See reviews July 7 at www.nowtoronto.com/film.