Yes, it's true -- I'm going to play Anakin Skywalker.

No wait, I've gotten the rumor wrong. I'm going to play Spider-Man.Don't believe me? Well, you shouldn't. Nor should you believe any of the latest rumors making the rounds about the casting of the second in George Lucas's "Star Wars" prequels and for the upcoming "Spider-Man" movie.

Internet sources -- such as the increasingly inaccurate Ain't It Cool? News Web site -- are saying that they've got the inside scoop on both.

Even the usually reliable trade newspaper Variety has gotten into the act, with claims by its "dish" columnist that the leading candidates to play Marvel Comics' web-slinging superhero are Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Chris Klein, Ewan McGregor and Tobey Maguire.

Uh-huh. Right.

Though officials at Sony Pictures and Marvel Comics have been (wisely) tight-lipped about information, we do know two things: Sam Raimi ("A Simple Plan," "Darkman") is directing the film and, as written by scripter David Koepp, the Spider-Man character is supposed to be a somewhat nerdy American teenager.

That would seem to rule out most of Variety's candidates, as well as Ain't It Cool News? front-runner Jude Law (whose innate British-ness would also seem to preclude him).

Age discrepancies would also seem to eliminate some of the rumored Anakins, such as Brendan Fraser.

Though Lucas is being hush-hush about details for the second of the prequels, we do know that Anakin is still supposed to be -- or at least look -- younger than Queen Amidala in the movie.

And since forever-stuck-in-puberty star Natalie Portman is set to reprise her role, any would-be Anakins have got to be teenagers.

So "Dawson's Creek" heartthrobs James Van Der Beek and Joshua Jackson, Ryan Phillippe and Leonardo "my-living-hard-lifestyle-is-catching-up-with-me" Di Caprio, should be crossed off the list.

In any case, it'll be interesting to see all the false "I-told-you-sos" that appear once the casting is announced. Just don't believe what you hear between now and then.


Normally I'd be loathe to suggest that readers go elsewhere for movie critiques, but I've had more than a couple of requests lately for information about other review Web sites.

Believe it or not, I do read reviews from other critics, and here are a half dozen sites I check regularly:

Flick Picks

Billed as "The People's Choice," this site lets visitors submit their own reviews. And as a consequence, some of the writing that appears here is pretty amateurish. But it is interesting to see what the moviegoing public thinks of what Hollywood is offering up -- and some of their points are well-made.

The Internet Movie Database

This Web site -- which is an informational oasis for anyone writing about the entertainment industry -- doesn't really include movie reviews per se. However, in its detailed listings for upcoming, current and older movies are links to movie review sites, both for major daily newspaper and other entertainment outlets. It also has a feature that allows site browsers to grade films.

The On-line Film Critics Society Web site

Thanks to the rumor-mongering of some, there appears to be an industry bias against Web-based critics. However, this site includes links to reviews for more than two dozen "reputable" online critics, many of which are very well-written and thought-out.

Roger Ebert Reviews the Movies

It's impossible to get away from Roger Ebert. The Emperor of Movie Reviewing is everywhere these days, from newspapers to television to radio to the Internet. And although I don't always agree with him, I always read him -- and admire his writing . . . if little else.

Rotten Tomatoes

Probably the most entertaining review site out there, and not just because it includes snippets from reviews by yours truly. The Rotten Tomatoes staff samples reviews from several national critics and then ranks films on a corresponding "tomatometer" (with better-reviewed films receiving a "fresh" rating and worse-reviewed ones receiving a "rotten" mark).

Screen It!

Technically speaking, this site doesn't really "critique" films. But it does review them for content as a service to parents. In fact, it's one of the few places that gets more content descriptive than the Deseret News reviews, with such categories as "disrespectful/bad attitude" and "music (inappropriate)."


"I'm going at the end of the month for screen tests with the boys -- which they won't tell me anything about. I'm very sore about it. They're like, 'How are we going to get you to come out here if we tell you who it is?' So I'm like, (fake crying) 'You're mean. You're torturing me.' " -- Natalie Portman, talking about the selection process for casting the new Anakin Skywalker, her "love" interest in George Lucas' follow-up to "The Phantom Menace."

Deseret News movie critic Jeff Vice can be reached by e-mail at