Happy New Year to all, and with the New Year comes a brand new slate of movies to look forward to and subsequently spend months getting over crushing disappointment when they end up sucking (see: Indiana Jones 4, Green Lantern). Er…anyway, let’s try to stay optimistic and kick things off with my top ten most anticipated films of the New Year.
10. World War Z
A friend of mine recommended Max Brooks’ World War Z to me a couple years back, but I never remembered to pick it up. Looks like my first exposure to the material will be the film adaptation starring Brad Pitt. And since zombie flicks happen to be something of a guilty pleasure of mine, I look forward to seeing just what all the fuss is about. Director Marc Forster seems like an oddball choice, considering how botched the action shots were in his mediocre 2008 James Bond outing, Quantum of Solace. Still, I have faith the novel’s reported merits will ultimately shine through.
9. Total Recall
To put it lightly, the director of Underworld and Live Free or Die Hard would not have been my first choice to helm this film, but I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt as well. As a fan of the original Schwarzenegger/Verhoven flick, and an even bigger fan of Phillip K. Dick’s work, I very much hope this remake keeps a bit closer to Dick’s original We Can Remember it for You Wholesale short story. Unlikely, but if nothing else, a catfight between Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel will suffice.
8. The Expendables 2
Chalk this one up to guilty pleasure. Say what you will about the first movie, it did its job, never claiming to be anything more than a stupid, 80s-style action flick starring a myriad of action movie icons coming together to do what they do best – blow shit up. And that’s all I expect from the film’s upcoming sequel as well, which is looking to be even more epic. Not only will it feature a welcome change in director from leading man Sylvester Stallone to Simon West (Con Air), but the addition of legendary pulp icons Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris to the roster of stars, as well as significantly larger roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, who only made brutally minute cameos in the first film. It all makes out for what will hopefully be the manliest and most awesomely dumb movie of the year, and I can’t fucking wait.
7. Men in Black III
I can dream, can’t I? Yes, it’s no secret that things haven’t exactly been boding well for the third installment of the beloved Smith/Jones-starring franchise. With reported script issues, delays, an overinflated budget, clashes between Sony and director Barry Sonnenfeld, and Will Smith’s uncomfortably inflated ego, it’s a wonder this thing got off the ground to begin with. But hey, it’s Men in Black, and it’ll sell even if it turns out to be a chopped-up, muddled mess. Thus, here we are ten years after the disappointing Men in Black II, hoping that the long-anticipated third movie will recapture the magic of the original film. The film’s recently released teaser trailer, though brief and without so much as a glance at the film’s partly 1960s setting, seems to be channeling a lot of the imagery and humor of the 1997 original. Is the magic back after all? Here’s hoping.
I remember seeking out and reading books about Lincoln and the Civil War when I was still in grade school. The man is truly one of the most fascinating figures ever in American politics. Sadly, I wish I could still back that up with an interesting, little-known fact or two, but it stands that one of the few remaining tidbits I can remember reading about was that Lincoln’s accent led him to pronounce “can” as “kin”. I guess you could say I’ve been looking to Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating film for a bit of a refresher course.
Originally, Liam Neeson was signed on to play the 16th president, but announced last year that he’d dropped out, citing his contract expiration and his age. Daniel Day-Lewis signed on months later and, as pictured above, seems to have been preparing for the role ever since. Although I’m still a little bitter over Neeson’s departure, given the fact that the man was practically born to play the role and could’ve easily made it one of the best of his career, Day-Lewis is a more than suitable replacement and will no doubt disappear into the character as he does with all his roles. A must-see for sure.
Finally. With MGM’s financial troubles, it looked like the James Bond franchise might get tangled up in bankruptcy court for years. But, as he always is, James Bond has returned, and in a much-needed return-to-form, reportedly. American Beauty director Sam Mendes, along with returning Bond favorite Daniel Craig, the bafflingly-titled Skyfall has been hinted to be bringing back some of the style, the gadgets, the puns, among other classic Bond-isms that made films like Goldfinger (my personal favorite of the series) so great. I certainly hope so. With a star-studded cast and crew, even featuring No Country For Old Men cinematographer Roger Deakins, Skyfall could very well make Craig’s third outing as good as Sean Connery’s. Fingers crossed.
Marking Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to science fiction, little is known about Prometheus apart from what its mythology-derived title may suggest. The film’s teaser makes it appear larger in scope, yet still visually similar to Scott’s original 1979 Alien, to which Prometheus is a prequel. And as someone who only really dug Scott’s installment of the Alien franchise, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see him return to his roots. Already Prometheus has been garnering a good deal of buzz – after early footage wowed audiences at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, Scott announced that his goal with the film is to “scare the living shit out of you.” I wouldn’t bet against it.
3. The Avengers
Four years and five films of build up is now finally paying off in May. For the first time ever, a shared universe of characters will culminate in a film so epic, we don’t even know for sure what supposed alien threat the group will be facing off against. While diehard Marvel Comics fans debate whether or not Cap will wield Thor’s hammer, or if Hulk will go rogue and fight the rest of the team, personally, I’m actually looking forward to more quieter, character-driven moments of interaction, where the heroes are given a chance to play off one another and exchange bits of wisdom. Cult favorite writer/director Joss Whedon seems tailor-made to take on such a monumental production, and I have every bit of confidence in his eventual delivery.
2. The Dark Knight Rises
I’m a bit torn on this one at the moment. While Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are just about as good as superhero movies get and which I happen to love unconditionally, at present, the highly-anticipated trilogy-capper from Christopher Nolan doesn’t so much intrigue as it does confuse me.
I may go into a bit more depth about this in a future blog post, because I have a lot to say about the IMAX prologue, the two trailers, and my concerns with how Nolan may be moving too far away from the roots of the mythology as well as his own talents as a storyteller. It could just be the really outlandish, unclear marketing campaign that’s throwing me off. A football game? A giant wall of stairs? Incomprehensible dialogue? An over-budgeted, indulgent, non story-driven opening sequence? I don’t have the slightest idea what’s going on with this movie and, unlike the hype for its predecessor four years prior, I don’t really even care enough to speculate.
So, why is it number 2 on my list? Well again, I loved what Nolan did with the first two movies, and apart from the marketing, I’m more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. Not to mention, I’m a huge fan of both the character and of Knightfall, the comic book arc that introduced this film’s primary antagonist, Bane. We’ll see I suppose…I just wish I could be excitedly checking my watch every so often in anticipation of the July release, as was the case with The Dark Knight.
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Hell yes. As you may have read in my last post, The Hobbit happens to be one of my favorite books of all time, so it comes as no surprise that it’s number 1 on my list. Anyone who’s been following this production knows it’s been a long, hard road to get to this point – legal problems with the Tolkien Estate, more legal problems with MGM declaring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the ominous hiring of Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro on writer/director duties, the subsequent departure of Del Toro which left the project without a director, the sigh of relief when begrudged producer Peter Jackson graciously stepped up and announced he would direct, and the threat of a New Zealand actors’ strike potentially forcing the film to shoot elsewhere, among several other issues.
With filming safely underway and already an amazing teaser trailer online, it’s relatively safe to say that this will be well worth the long toil. I’m hugely excited to see Jackson return to Middle-Earth. The only downside to all this is of course the fact that we have just under a year until release, and another after that for Part II. It’s going to be a long year, but hopefully not an altogether unexciting one.