Wednesday, November 14, 2007

(Not Quite) 50 Movies I'm Looking Forward To

I know I've already hit my 50th post, but sticking with that theme, this entry will list 50 movies that I'm looking forward to seeing in the next year or so. It'll give you guys a glimpse of what is to come in case you aren't already privy, and when you see the trailers for these movies in three or four months, you'll be like, "Oh yeah, Ben was talking about that one." These are in no particular order, by the way. (Editor's note: 50 is too many. So here's what I've got for you. I think it's 28.)

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
Sidney Lumet is 83 years old and still making movies. He has directed over 50 movies in his career, the most prominent being 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, and Network. His most recent movie will star Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke as brothers who rob their parent's "mom and pop" store. The trailer is to your right. Marisa Tomei also stars.

Juno
Written by Diablo Cody, a stripper and famous blogger, this cheery-looking dramedy about a pregnant girl stars Ellen Page, Michael Cena, and Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight from "The Office"). It looks pretty lighthearted and it's directed by Jason Reitman, the same guy who did Thank You For Smoking, which was great. The movie has such good buzz that Cody has been churning out scripts left and right, the most ridiculous being one set to star Megan Fox (from Transformers) as a cheerleader who gets possessed and starts eating boys in Jennifer's Body.

I Am Legend
Granted, this Will Smith thriller looks kind of out there. I think the idea of vampires being around and actually seeing them are two different things, and the filmmakers probably should have taken the route of not showing the vampires, or at the very least made us wait until we were sitting in the theater to see them. Hopefully they won't suffer the same fate as M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, where the movie was great until they showed us the monster. That said, it's a Will Smith movie, so there's a 97% chance I'll see it.

The Happening
Speaking of M. Night, his next flick revolves around Mark Wahlberg and his family as they must survive a global environmental crisis or some sort of natural disaster (details are foggy at this point). The studios are purposely releasing this on June 13th, which just so happens to be Friday the 13th. I love Night's movies, so I'm definitely seeing this. By all accounts I've heard, this is his best script since The Sixth Sense.

Be Kind, Rewind
Jack Black and Mos Def star in this comedy about videotapes getting erased and those two doing remakes all of the movies using little to no budget. Looks like a lot of fun. From Michel Gondry, the guy who directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
I don't care what you say, I loved the first one. I'm totally in for this. Coming December 21st.

There Will Be Blood
This movie will not be for everybody, as it looks really long and probably won't have a lot of action in it. Think The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, but the plot revolves around an oil baron taking land in early 1900's America. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, who only comes out of semi-retirement for great scripts nowadays, so I'm interested to see his performance. The movie is based on Upton Sinclair's novel "Oil!" and is written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights).

Cassandra's Dream
I haven't ever seen a Woody Allen movie, but this one looks like it could break that streak. Starring Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor as brothers who get in over their heads, this one can't really be explained because I'm not 100% sure what it's about. Check out the trailer if you're interested, but in any case it comes out on January 4th.

1-18-08/Cloverfield
Apparently the real title for this movie is going to be revealed sometime in the very near future, and after a wave of online marketing, it's about time. The movie is framed around people who somehow stumble across a personal video camera in Central Park and watch the tape, which takes up most of the movie, and documents a monster attack on New York City. Details are really hard to come by, as the project is being kept top secret. But they've done a good job of making the trailer look interesting, and J.J. Abrams (creator of Alias and Lost) is producing, so maybe it'll be good. Who knows. If you can't figure out when this hits theaters, you should probably smack yourself really hard in the face and look again.

Untraceable
This Diane Lane technological thriller looks pretty good from what I can see. The plot centers on her and Colin Hanks (I loved him in Orange County) as FBI agents searching for a serial killer who kills people based on the number of hits he gets on his website, which shows the victim being tortured with every click. Cool premise, but I'm going to go ahead and guess that Diane Lane's ex-husband is the killer. Don't you get that impression from the trailer?

Killshot
And speaking of Diane Lane, she and Tom Jane star opposite Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon Levitt in this suspense thriller based on an Elmore Leonard novel. Lane and Jane (ha!) play a husband and wife who witnessed a murder, and Rourke and JGL play the assassins out to get them. It also stars the not-terrible Johnny Knoxville and Rosario Dawson, if I'm not mistaken. I have no idea when it's going to be released, since it was supposed to come out mid-way through 2007. The trailer for it is here, though.

Rambo
This movie has been in development for a while, and it's good to see that Stallone is still pumping stuff out these days. After that R-rated trailer hit the internet with excessive violence showcased at every corner, I was really excited for this movie. But Lion's Gate has revamped the trailer into a more kid-friendly version that looks like the movie could go straight to DVD and be right at home next to Pterodactyl on the shelves of Blockbuster. Hopefully when the movie actually comes out it'll be more like the first trailer, but the prospect of seeing Stallone decked out as Rambo in the theaters has already guaranteed 6 dollars from me.

Vantage Point
I'm normally not into all those Crash-esque types of movies with different storylines going on at the same time, but this one looks really action packed. Granted, it'll probably be really political (that's the nature of the beast when you're dealing with a movie about a presidential assassination), but I think it should be worth it. Dennis Quaid makes his triumphant return to film (just a joke - he hasn't been gone that long) alongside veteran actors Forest Whittaker and Sigourney Weaver.

Drillbit Taylor
From super-creator Judd Apatow comes something completely different - a comedy. That was sarcasm, by the way. Owen Wilson stars as a homeless man who gets hired to be some high school kids' bodyguard because they think he's in the military. It could be really terrible, but it looks like it's good for a few laughs.

Iron Man
This one looks like it could be Superman Returns with explosions and Robert Downey, Jr. From the trailer alone we can already tell there will be a lot more action than the previously mentioned DC movie (this one is Marvel-based), and even though I'm generally a fan of DC content, I'm hoping this one will be better than Bryan Singer's most recent attempt at the genre. After all, Robert Downey, Jr. playing a drunk is a no-brainer. They couldn't get Billy Bob Thorton for the role, so he was the next logical choice. (Sigh. That's a joke, too. I just wanted to clarify so no one was actually picturing Billy Bob as a superhero.) I have heard, though, that this will be similar to Superman Returns in that all of the action is supposed to be in the sequel, so this is another origin story. But the cast is good (Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges round it out), so I'm looking forward to it. Hits theaters May 8th.

The Dark Knight
Holy crap, I can't wait for this movie. I thought that Batman Begins was the best comic book movie ever made, and this sequel should be amazing. I've been a supporter of Heath Ledger as the Joker since they first announced he was cast, and I've been hearing a lot of great things about his performance ("he has zero empathy," "he's absolutely maniacal," "it's the scariest performance [Michael Caine] has ever seen"). The only downside I can see is if they get a case of Spider-Man 3 syndrome and try to fit too many things into one movie. The cast has already grown to Aaron Eckhardt as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Anthony Michael Hall as Edward Nygma/The Riddler, and a possible cameo by The Scarecrow from the last film. I'm sure Christopher Nolan learned from Sam Raimi's mistakes, and I have high hopes for this one. In theaters July 18th.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
With the exception of The Dark Knight, this is the one I'm looking forward to the most. The title's a little excessive, Cate Blanchett is in it, Sean Connery won't come out of retirement to reprise his role as Dr. Jones, and Marcus Brody and Sallah won't be in it (Denholm Elliot died of cancer in 1992 and John Rhys-Davies wasn't asked to return), so those are some huge downers. Hopefully the presence of Shia LaBeouf will add to the magic of seeing Harrison Ford with that fedora and bullwhip on the big screen for the fourth time. Once again, the plot is being kept really secret, but I'd prefer it that way. Spielberg is refusing to use a lot of computer generated technology in order to keep that action pulp feel to the movies and keep them in continuity with the three previously released films, which I think is a great decision. Set to whip into theaters on May 22nd.

Crank 2: High Voltage
Jason Statham returns as Chev Chelios, and I couldn't be happier about it. Logic be damned, this is going to be a hell of a fun movie. Apparently the plot is loosely based around the Chinese replacing Chev's heart with a synthetic heart that requires jolts of electricity for him to stay alive this time. The writers/directors of the first one are back for the sequel, and they said something like "if you are going to do a sequel to a movie like Crank, it's gotta be 20 times more outlandish." Statham read the script and said it was so outrageous that he HAD to be in it. The only sad part is that we won't see this crank into theaters until late next year.

Game/Unknown Title
From the same writer/directors as Crank and Crank 2 comes a high concept futuristic thriller in the vein of The Running Man. In the future, people play video games - but the way they play is by controlling other people in a dangerous environment like a gladiator. The number one ranked player in the world, Kable (played by Gerard Butler), has to overthrow the game and discover his own true identity. Michael C. Hall (who plays the title character in my favorite show right now, "Dexter") has signed on to play Ken Castle, the main antagonist and creator of the gaming world. They are currently filming this, and I've heard they are filming Crank 2 back to back with it, so I'm guessing this will be out sometime in the summer. It SOUNDS like a summer movie. It was called Game, but I guess they've recently changed the title to something else. We'll see what it turns into.

Fanboys
This looks really funny. It's about a group of guys who travel across the country to "Skywalker Ranch" to steal a copy of Star Wars: Episode I before it comes out as their dying friend's last wish. It looks like Harold and Kumar for sci-fi fans, as the guys have run-ins with Trekkies, conventions, and celebrities (including Shatner!). The trailer is here, and the movie hits theaters on January 18th.

Speed Racer
The Wachowski's are back, this time directing a family friendly version of the 60's anime Speed Racer. Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, and Susan Sarandon star. Always searching for new ways to break boundaries, the Wachowski's have invented a completely new camera apparatus which supposedly focuses on multiple planes at the same time. You know how when you stare at your finger directly in front of your face, everything in the background goes blurry? This camera has two cameras built into it that focuses on both planes simultaneously, which will make the movie seem more like the original 2-D cartoon. This sounds revolutionary, and I'm really anxious to see a clip of what it actually looks like on film. Races into theaters May 9th. (OK - I'll stop with the puns now.)

John Hancock/Hancock
Another Will Smith movie, this time costarring Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman. Smith is a drunken superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public and enters a questionable relationship with his publicist's wife as the publicist tries to repair his image. Sounds like it could be a new take on some old subject matter. I like all the actors involved, and once again it falls under the 97% rule previously mentioned about I Am Legend. Coming to theaters July 2nd.

Tropic Thunder
Directed by Ben Stiller, this one sounds awesome: a group of actors shooting a war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are playing through a series of freak occurrences. Starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Nick Nolte, and Matthew McConaughey. Owen Wilson was originally intended to play McConaughey's part, but due to that pesky little attempted suicide thing, he had to drop out. Seriously though - all the best for a speedy recovery, Owen. In theaters July 11th.

Eagle Eye
Another DJ Caruso/Shia LaBeouf team-up (the first being Disturbia), this one has a great cast lined up as well. Shia plays a young slacker (nobody does it better right now) whose twin brother mysteriously dies. He and his single mom find out they have been framed as terrorists, so they must work together to extricate themselves from a cell plotting a political assassination. Billy Bob Thorton, Rosario Dawson, and Michelle Monaghan also star. Comes out August 8th.

Y: The Last Man
This one is more rumor than anything at this point, but I'm still really looking forward to it. DJ Caruso has been tapped to direct this one too, but this is based on a comic about Yorick Brown, the last man on earth after a plague kills every male man and animal except him and his pet monkey Ampersand. Attempting to keep his identity a secret from the women who are left on the planet, Yorick travels the globe in search of his girlfriend Beth and searches for the truth behind his survival of the plague. Due to the good working relationship between Caruso and Shia LaBeouf, I'm REALLY hoping that Shia gets the role of Yorick in this film. He's publicly stated his interest in the project, so if things go well, it just might happen. He would be absolutely perfect for this character. Check out this link to read the first issue of the comic for free here. The series is one of the best things (books included) I've ever read. There's no release date yet, but I'm guessing sometime in 2009.

Nottingham
Another team-up between Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott, this movie tells the story of Robin Hood from the Sherrif of Nottingham's (Crowe) perspective. Written by the guy who wrote Mystic River and L.A. Confidential, this should be a really interesting flick. No release date yet.

Max Payne
Anyone who has ever played this game will be thrilled with the news that Mark Wahlberg has been cast as renegade cop Max Payne. Man, talk about perfect casting. This movie should be a combination of Sin City and the Matrix in the way it's shot, so if they stick to the storyline that went down in the game (which was really good), this movie should rock pretty hard.

Avatar
I left the biggest one for last. This isn't coming out until May 22nd, 2009, but start getting ready for it. It's going to change the way we watch movies. The premise is pretty out of this world (literally), as it follows a young man injured in a war in the future is forced to take over an exotic planet rich in bio-diversity, but eventually crosses over and protects the indigenous people from the very people who sent him there in the first place. It may not sound that great, but the technology involved is going to blow some minds. James Cameron is directing, and he has taken it way beyond any normal production. He and a linguist from the University of Southern California developed an entire language and culture for the indigenous alien race, the Na'vi. Like the Wachowski's, Cameron is also innovating new ways to shoot his movie. He is putting two high definition cameras into the body of one camera to create high-def depth perception. And most incredibly, he has created a virtual reality camera. Get this - he wants his actors to use motion capture technology, but instead of old motion capture where the environment is added after the actors have done their parts, Cameron's virtual reality camera allows him to directly see how the actors' virtual personas interact with the movie's digital world in real time and direct the scenes as if he were shooting the entire thing live action. He's also created a performance-capture technology that allows for improved capture of actors' facial expressions and eye movements. This should put Beowulf to shame. This is really unbelievable stuff that he's working on, here. Leave it to this guy to be the innovator - the T-1000 metal melting in Terminator 2, the crossfades from the sunken ship to the CGI ship in Titanic: James Cameron knows what he's doing. I can't wait to see what this looks like.

In similar news, Variety reports that half of all movie screens are set to be digital by 2013, with 3-D capabilities, and Jeffrey Katzenburg (the head of Dreamworks) predicts as many as twelve to eighteen 3-D movies per year by 2010. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of effect all this has on the industry. Until next time...

P.S. - If you hated this article, then suck it up and come back again. I won't be doing it again for a long time. If you loved it, sorry. I covered about as much as I could cover for 2008, so it'll be a while before you see another one of these types of posts.

2 comments:

the boom said...

Excellent work sir!

tee breezy said...

hmmm....the na'vi? I remember Link's companion in Ocarina of Time being called Navi...perhaps they should make that game a movie