Ten Movies You Should Or Shouldn't Look Forward To
With the summer movie season now officially over, I feel it is time to look ahead to the blockbusters of tomorrow. I have compiled a list of ten movies that I am intrigued by and will provide you with reasons to share my excitement and reasons to not. Then you can decide whether or not the movie in question is the next Dark Knight or the next Mummy 3. Or however you want to put that.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Release date: June 26, 2009
Cast: Shia Labeouf, Megan Fox
Director: Michael Bay
Why You Should Be Excited: Giant robots will once again kick the almighty crap out of each other. One can only hope that the story will be an improvement on the last one, perhaps possessing a modicum of intelligence and sensibility. Plus, Bay has promised more giant robots this time around and that can only be a good thing.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: It's directed by Michael Bay, which means giant robots kicking the crap out of each other while the camera spins incoherently and people prance around looking serious and sweaty. Damn. Bay has only directed one sequel in his career (Bad Boys II) and it completely sucked. According to female lead Megan Fox, Bay's direction to her is to just look "hot." What little we know about the story makes it sound like a basic retread of the first one (except now the Shia Labeouf character is in college!). So clearly, there are lots of reasons to not be excited about this one.
Release date: August 7, 2009
Cast: Channing Tatum, Ray Park, Dennis Quaid
Director: Stephen Sommers
Why You Should Be Excited: It's a GI Joe movie! With all things 80s being dug up from the grave (not only is Transformers a mega movie franchise now, but there are movies in development based on such properties as He-Man, Voltron and Thundercats as well), GI Joe was an inevitability. But more than that, GI Joe is a property ripe for the big-screen live action treatment. With less fantastical elements than most of its 80s relatives and a stronger emphasis on explosions and fast-moving vehicles, GI Joe is the kind of over-the-top action-packed entertainment that Hollywood has done quite well over the years.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: It's directed by Stephen Sommers, best known for making the first two modern Mummy movies. And while the first Mummy flick was forgettable fun, the sequel was quite poor and Sommers followed that one up by directing the similarly themed Van Helsing, which was laughably awful. Sommers has a habit of over-using CGI (see: pretty much all of his movies) and seems far more interested in special effects than in pesky distractions like characters and plot.
Release date: May 22, 2009
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard
Why You Should Be Excited: This Terminator flick (the fourth in the franchise) finally takes us into the future, where we will witness the early stages of the massive post-apocalyptic war that was first mentioned way back in 1984, when the first Terminator was released. Post-apocalyptic mayhem is always worth a look in my opinion, so that's a plus. Also, Christian Bale shows up all grizzled and angry to play the resistance-leading version of John Connor. Bale is one of the best actors out there right now and so his involvement with this movie is very encouraging.
Why You Should Not Be Excited:It's directed by McG (are you seeing a pattern here?). To be fair, I actually enjoyed both of the Charlie's Angels movies that he made, so at least he knows how to provide cotton candy-style entertainment. But this is a Terminator flick and so McG is going to have to work hard to produce an action movie with dramatic weight AND collossal action set pieces. We'll have to wait until next summer to see if McG can deliver the goods, but there is another reason to be worried about this flick. Rumours are swirling that the movie will be rated PG-13, which is a little like castrating a bull and then poking it with a stick. All of the Terminator movies have been rated R for excessive violence and flippant use of the F-word. Doing a PG-13 Terminator movie is as lame as doing a PG-13 Die Hard flick (wait a second, they already did that). Then again, that PG-13 Die Hard flick was still quite a bit of fun, so who knows.
The Princess and the Frog
Release date: December 25, 2009
Cast: Anika Nona Rose, Angela Bassett
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Why You Should Be Excited: Back in 2004, Disney shocked animation lovers when it announced that it was closing the doors on traditional 2D animation, instead choosing to focus entirely on 3D computer animation. Many people lost their jobs and it seemed that hand-drawn animation in the West was drawing closer to extinction. But then in 2007, Disney bought Pixar and named John Lasseter (one of the main people behind Pixar) the Chief Creative Officer of the company. One of the first things he did was announce the companys return to traditional hand-drawn animation. The Princess and the Frog will be the first traditionally animated movie since Lasseters announcement. As if that werent enough, it will also feature the first African American princess, a young woman named Tiana. Oh, and its directed by the guys who helmed The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: The movie has already been hit with controversy, as some African American rights groups have complained about the lead character simply being a collection of stereotypes. Disney has gotten in plenty of trouble before, so this is nothing new. But hopefully the they have something more in store for audiences than racial stereotypes. Also, the last truly great 2D animated movie from Disney was The Lion King (1994). It's been a while.
Star Trek XI
Release date: May 8, 2009
Cast: Christopher Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban
Director: JJ Abrams
Why You Should Be Excited: With a hefty budget and one of the most promising filmmakers in Hollywood right now at the helm, this has the potential to be the biggest and best Trek film since the franchise entered truly classic territory with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. For years, the Trek movies have been the product of small-minded directors being handed moderate budgets, an approach that has resulted in multiple films feeling like extended episodes that belong on the small screen. Now, finally, the producers seem to have woken up. Abrams is a hugely talented storyteller and he knows what's at stake.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: We don't know much about the plot, but we do know that this Trek film will be an origin story focused on the original series crew. That means we'll be seeing the beginning adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekhov, and Uhura aboard the Enterprise. It's an interesting plan (especially because the Next Generation crew have never fared all too well on the big screen), but it could easily backfire. As much as I trust Abrams, I am fearful that the cast will simply resort to impersonations of the famous characters they are trying to bring to life. And then there's the casting of Karl Urban (Eomer from the Lord of the Rings movies) as "Bones" McCoy. I have no idea what the hell is going on there. Also, lead actor Christopher Pine is a relative newcomer who has to step into the sizable shoes of William Shatner. He may look the part, but whether or not he can deliver a convincing and charasmatic performance remains up in the air.
Release date: March 6, 2009
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Carla Gugino
Director: Zack Snyder
Why You Should Be Excited: As the trailer exclaims, this big-screen superhero saga is based on "the most celebrated graphic novel of all time." The story really is fantastic and could make a very interesting movie. Based on the trailer, the characters and environments of the movie have been very closely adapted from Alan Moore's graphic novel. Coming so soon after The Dark Knight, another serious, dramatically charged look at the lives of superheroes should be very welcome right now.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: While I do believe that the Watchmen could make a great movie, it is certainly going to be a grand challenge to pull off. There are numerous subplots and side-stories (often dealing with the history of specific characters in different times) that will be hard to include in the movie without distracting from the main narrative. I figured that some of that stuff would be left alone and that the movie would simply focus on the primary thread that links the characters throughout the whole story. But as evidenced in the trailer, a whole ton of that extra stuff has indeed been shot. At this point, I love the look of the movie and have high hopes for it, but director Zack Snyder has to keep everything tightly wound together so we don't end up with a bloated mess.
Angels & Demons
Release date: May 15, 2009
Cast: Tom Hanks, Stellan Skarsgard
Director: Ron Howard
Why You Should Be Excited: It's the sequel (but really a prequel) to The Da Vinci Code. The book that this flick is based on is arguably the best of Dan Brown's four novels. Revolving around a terrorist attack on the Vatican, it features a lot of cryptic, high-octane adventure that could translate to film very well.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: The Da Vinci Code movie was terrible. A total piece of garbage that sucked all the fun out of Brown's engaging yarn. For Angels & Demons, the same people responsible for making Code so horrendous are back. With Akiva Goldsman as writer and Ron Howard as director, how can this movie be any better than the crapfest that was The Da Vinci Code? The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this movie is going to stink. So stop getting excited about it.
Release date: May 29, 2009
Cast: Ed Asner
Director: Pete Docter
Why You Should Be Excited: It's a Pixar movie. It's about an old man named Carl who attaches a bunch of balloons to his house and then floats off to the jungles of South America, where he embarks on a crazy geriatric adventure. And I repeat: it's a Pixar movie.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: Pixar filmmakers are always talking about how tough a sell their latest movie is (be it a rat who dreams of becoming a gourmet chef or a robot who barely speaks), but while those always seemed like guaranteed hits to me, Up really is going to be a tough sell. Or at least, a moderately challenging one. Pixar has only made one movie with a human protagonist (The Incredibles) and that was about superheroes. This is about an old man and a lot of balloons. It sounds like a crazy idea. Perhaps too crazy? Oh forget it. Im just pulling stuff out of my ass here. This is a Pixar movie. It will make over $200 million domestically and get rave reviews. So you might as well get excited now.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Release date: May 1, 2009
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schrieber
Director: Gavin Hood
Why You Should Be Excited: Wolverine has long since been a favourite X-Men character of mine and Hugh Jackman is a perfect fit for the role. The last time we saw the furry clawed hero was in the rushed, stuffed turkey X-Men: The Last Stand, which represented a pretty moronic way of capping off a trilogy. A Wolverine-centric movie means more time spent on Wolvie and no time spent on X-characters that no one cares about (like Storm, as played by Halle Berry).
Why You Should Not Be Excited: As usual, very little is known about the story, but it sounds like this movie will delve a little deeper into the Weapon X project, the top-secret experiment that gave Wolverine his unbreakable adamantium skeleton. Because this subject was already explored quite a bit in X2, I question how much more story can be squeezed out of this idea. Also, Sabretooth is back this time around (now played by Liev Schrieber, replacing Tyler Mane from the first X-Men movie), but despite all the interesting things that could have been done with his physical appearance, recent footage shows that he is just another dude with mutton chops and long fingernails. This may seem like fanboy bickering (and it is), but fears that this movie will have a tired story and a lame villain are certainly warranted.
Release date: December 18, 2009
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana
Director: James Cameron
Why You Should Be Excited: Well, if you are to believe the hype and buzz online, then this might be one of the craziest and most groundbreaking things ever made by man. I mean, I'm talking about "inventing the wheel" good. Okay, so that might be a bit ridiculous. But really, the word on this movie is that Cameron has something truly special in store for us. This will be his first non-documentary feature since Titanic, which means that the gap between his big boat movie and Avatar will be a single day shy of 12 years, putting the gap in a similar timeframe to the space between Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut. Cameron's absence from big-budget Hollywood material (after making the biggest movie ever) only adds to the excitement and mystery surrounding this project. Also, the fact that Avatar is firmly planted in the sci-fi genre is intriguing, because some of Cameron's best movies are works of science fiction (like Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day). Finally, Avatar will be presented in 3D where available and the buzz right now is that what Cameron is doing with the technology will convince everyone with a pulse that 3D is the way of the future.
Why You Should Not Be Excited: Unless you hate science fiction, hate James Cameron, and hate 3D, then you have no reason to not be excited about this movie. In fact, even if you do hate all these things, then you still have no excuse. So get excited, because I promise you that this will be the most talked-about movie of 2009.