1. Prometheus (20th Century Fox - June 8) - With the most recent trailer, I've become more pumped for the new movie from Ridley Scott than I have for any other movies this year. I loved Alien with a passion--it's probably in my Top 10 movies of all time--and I've generally either liked or loved everything he's done in the last few years. I may be an admitted Ridley Scott apologist but to think he's returning to familiar territory and doing so with such a great cast (Noomi Rapace! Michael Fassbender! Charlize!) makes me more excited about this movie than anything else this year.
2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (New Line/WB - Dec. 14) - Peter Jackson's original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy remains among my top movies of all time--above the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movies mind you--and I'm super-excited for his return to Tolkien with two more movies featuring some of the characters. Sure, the new teaser doesn't have any of the creatures or ferocious battles, but believe me, sometime in the future, once they've gotten some of the CG done, we'll start seeing how epic the movie's going to be and that's when everyone else's excitement will match mine.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony - July 3) - It kind of surprised me that of all the big superhero movies coming out next year, this is the one I'm anticipating most, but that's because I've been the biggest Spider-Man fan since I was a kid. It's one of the few comics that I buy and read every single month without fail and regardless of who is writing and drawing it and frankly, I was never a HUGE fan of the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire movies. I'm excited to see what Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) does and how the new cast works out, but just the thought of another Spider-Man movie after five years makes me very happy.
4. Marvel's The Avengers (Marvel/Disney - May 4) - Considering how much I loved the "Iron Man" movies and Thor and how Marvel Studios can do no wrong in my book, I'm excited to finally see one of my favorite comic superteams brought together, and I hope it delivers the type of mega-epic action we've come to expect from the comics. From what we saw while visiting the set earlier this year, we're really excited and we hope the movie gives Joss Whedon the chance to do even bigger movies of his own creation down the road.
5. Skyfall (MGM/Sony - Nov. 9) - Major James Bond fan. Big time Sam Mendes fan. (The Road to Perdition is one of my favorite comic book movies of all time.) The idea of the two things brought together and what Mendes can bring to the table in terms of the drama makes me very excited for 007's return in far too long. This is probably going to be the year's sleeper since everyone's going to be so focused on the summer and before you know it, September will come around and those looking for action will realize this is only two months away.
6. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.- July 20) - Looking forward to this movie has become such a cliché--and anyone who reads my reviews knows how much I hate clichés--so I've allowed my excitement for Nolan's follow-up to The Dark Knight and Inception to settle down slightly so I won't be setting myself up for disappointment. I like what I've seen so far and I'm sure it's going to be great, but we need to moderate and temper our excitement as to not go completely nuts waiting seven and a half more months to know for sure.
7. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate - March 23) - I love Suzanne Collins' novels and I can't wait to see them brought to the big screen because they're written in such a cinematic way that if they can get half of what I love about the books into the movies, these movies will be terrific. Fingers (and other appendages) crossed that Gary Ross' first movie delivers and we get to see the entire epic.
8. The Bourne Legacy (Universal - Aug. 3) - While I was a bit lukewarm on the earlier Bourne movies and I'm not 100% sure starting over without Matt Damon was the best idea, Jeremy Renner's a great actor (he really delivered in Mission: Impossible) and I'm a big fan of Tony Gilroy's previous two films (Michael Clayton, Duplicity) so I'm convinced this reboot should be just as intelligent a spy-thriller as the previous two by Paul Greengrass.
9. Looper (Sony/TriStar - Sept. 28) - Probably the closest we come to an indie on this list is the new movie from Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), which takes him further into genre territory with a sci-fi crime thriller starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We're going to be waiting a long time for this one but it's gonna make September a lot easier to get through knowing we'll finally get to see the movie that we first heard about almost five years ago.
10. This is Forty (Universal - Dec.21) - Judd Apatow's Funny People was a bit disappointing since it was essentially two movies in one, but with his latest, a spin-off from Knocked Up, he seems more focused again and dealing with something that this writer's probably going to relate to even more than The 40-Year-Old Virgin (one of our favorite comedies of all time) and definitely more than Knocked Up. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are reprising their characters from the latter and we hope he invites her to see The Amazing Spider-Man this time around!
11. Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company - Dec. 25) - It's Quentin Tarantino doing a Western. Need we say anymore? Probably not.
12. The Gangster Squad (Warner Bros.- Oct. 19) - I've been a fan of director Ruben Fleischer since his first movie Zombieland, and I also kind of dug 30 Minutes or Less, so I'm excited to see what he can do with a period crime-drama that harks back to Michael Mann's Public Enemies and an era of gangsters I've been obsessed with since I was a kid. (While we're thinking about it, when is Brian Bendis and Marc Andreyko's Torso gonna be made into a movie?)
13. 47 Ronin (Universal - Nov. 21) - I'm not so much looking forward to this to see what Ridley Scott's son-in-law Carl Rinsch can do in his first feature film outing but because I absolutely love love LOVE samurai movies and any movie that makes an effort to revive them is okay by me. Rinsch has a great Japanese cast including Rinko Kikuchi (swoon) and we're even kind of excited to see the former Neo Keanu Reeves back in battle mode. We visited the set earlier this year and can't wait to tell you about it.
14. Rock of Ages (New Line/Warner Bros. - June1) - Another one where I visited the set, but this Broadway musical holds a special place in my heart 'cause I saw it with my good friend (and former CS contributor) Heather Newgen. I liked it a lot more than she did. Yeah, I wasn't that big a fan of Adam Shankman's Hairspray, but this one feels more my speed.
15. Total Recall (Sony - Aug. 3) - I'm hopefully optimistic that Len Wiseman's take on the Philip K. Dick story previously adapted in a classic '80s sci-fi film that teamed director Paul Verhoeven with Arnold Schwarzenegger. First of all, it's got a much better cast including Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, and the super-hot duo of Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. Oh, and this is another one where I visited set. (Notice a pattern?)
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Sony - Feb. 17) - We're holding out hope for what Neveldine/Taylor bring to their first comic book movie (we'll pretend Jonah Hex never happened and they weren't involved).
Dark Shadows (Warner Bros. - May 11) - I wasn't that big a fan of the old television show, but I'm always interested to see what the 21st Century Adams Family of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter do in their movies. Hopefully we'll see a trailer soon.
Wrath of the Titans (Warner Bros. - March 30) - I kind of liked the remake of "Clash of the Titans" (bad converted 3D aside) and I can't wait to see Sam Worthington return as Perseus and Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes back as the Gods, plus lots of the great mythical creatures I've loved since childhood. Maybe this can wash the taste of Immortals out of my mouth.
American Reunion (Universal - April 6) - Not a huge "American Pie" fan but have high hopes that the reunion will bring back some of the magic of the first movie, and just the thought of seeing Alyson Hannigan and Jason Biggs back together on screen, plus some of the other characters who've been absent since the first movie makes us excited that they'll up the game on the R-rated comedy. (Incidentally, this will be the subject of our next "Long Distance Box Office.")
The Raven (Relativity Media - March 9) - I really liked James McTeigue's V for Vendetta and I think he's a smart director with a lot of cool ideas who has been slightly overshadowed by his connection to the Wachowskis. Here, he tackles Edgar Allen Poe along with John Cusack.
Argo (Warner Bros. - Sept. 14) - Ben Affleck's third movie as a director has a terrific premise and a great cast that could make it a fun follow-up to The Town and Gone Baby Gone. Another September movie that should keep us sated between summer and the holidays.
The Movies of 2012
Posted 29 December 2011 - 05:28 AM
Posted 26 January 2012 - 04:43 AM
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars:Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day-Lewis
Lincoln is an upcoming 2012 biographical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The film is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
DreamWorks has announced that the film "will focus on the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War." According to Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin's entire book about Lincoln's presidency is "much too big" for a film, and said that the film will focus on the last few months of Lincoln's life, the ending of slavery and the Union victory in the Civil War. Spielberg said that "what permanently ended slavery was the very close vote in the House of Representatives over the 13th Amendment - that story I'm excited to tell." Spielberg plans to show "Lincoln at work, not just Lincoln standing around posing for the history books...arguably the greatest working President in American history doing some of the greatest work for the world."
With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz
An adaptation of the successful stage musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel set in 19th-century France, in which a paroled prisoner named Jean Valjean seeks redemption.
Director: Tom Hooper
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter
A 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as "the Master" whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Laura Dern, Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman
The lone survivor of a space mission to repair the Hubble telescope desperately tries to return to Earth and reunite with her daughter.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Stars:Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit, journeys to the Lonely Mountain accompanied by a group of dwarves to reclaim a treasure taken from them by the dragon Smaug.
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis
A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars:Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis
A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.
Director: Mike Newell
Stars:Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Jeremy Irvine
The Great Gatsby
Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby's circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire
Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:14 AM
I would like to see the Iron Lady at some point.
Lincoln I am not so sure of- into the subject matter but never read Goodwin's book. I would like to see something that dealt with all of the conflicts the man faced from refusing to fire Grant "I can't spare this man, He fights!" to his conflict with McClellan (whom he fired and had to run against in 1864) or even some of the family conflict. His brother in laws were fighting for the other side of the war and Lincoln felt like his son was haunting the White House.
Spielberg also mentioned wanting to do an updated and grittier version of the Ten Commandments.
Another Ghost Rider movie? Best character in the first one's was Sam Elliot's character and he ain't coming back.
Posted 20 March 2012 - 03:03 AM
Opens: November 21st 2012
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi
Director: Carl Erik Rinsch
Analysis: A 3D fantasy-adventure, the first full feature from acclaimed commercials and short helmer Rinsch, 'Ronin' fuses Japanese-influenced magical elements including giants and witches to the titular true story.
The tale of outcast samurai who together seek vengeance upon the treacherous warlord who killed their master is a costly $170 million gamble considering the likes of "Sucker Punch" and "Immortals" have fizzled at the box-office.
The presence of Reeves and a mostly authentic Japanese cast does make one curious, while Rinsch's shorts demonstrate he can make a little money go a long way.
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott
Director: Leslye Headland
Analysis: No doubt drawing many comparison to this year's "Bridesmaids", this story follows a trio of women asked to be the bridesmaids to a woman (Rebel Wilson) they used to bully back in high school. Cast member Marsden calls it an R-rated comedy which is "just a good 'Bridesmaids,' sort of 'Hangover'-type movie" with the focus very much on the female cast members.
Don't make the mistake of dismissing this as cookie cutter studio fare though - this is premiering at Sundance, boasts a strong cast of great young talent, and comes from the mind of Leslye Headland who made a name for herself as a writer on FX's short-lived but highly acclaimed "Terriers".
Reviews out of Park City will play a big part in determining what kind of release to expect for this, but I'd expect something with a darker edge and more bite than the usual sentimental Judd Apatow-produced schtick.
Opens: May 18th 2012
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker
Director: Peter Berg
Analysis: It's the film you can't really believe they're making - a whopping $250 million action epic based on the Hasbro game of the same name. In concept, the idea is laughable, in execution though the first teaser trailer confirmed this owes plenty to "Transformers".
Say what you will about director Peter Berg, the man can direct action and the money does seem to be up there on the screen, even if the plot is just an excuse for a cast of hot young things (Kitsch, Skarsgård, Rihanna) to dress up in Navy uniforms and shoot at aliens in epic battles. The only thing that'll get me excited? Gruff boat captain Liam Neeson hopefully growling the line "You sunk my battleship".
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Jim Sturgess, Jayne Heitmeyer, Larry Day, Holly O'Brien
Director: Juan Solanas
Analysis: Every now and then a big budget sci-fi film slips through the cracks in terms of early awareness. Usually it's because it's made outside the Hollywood system as a foreign co-production of some sort and often won't fit the action-adventure formula that dominates the genre. Ultimately though some of these films do break through like "District 9", while others stumble such as the Jared Leto-led "Mr. Noboby".
One film that suddenly seemed to arrive out of nowhere recently was this $60 million sci-fi romance starring Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess. Beyond their casting back in late 2009, not much was reported about the project until a few weeks ago when a highly impressive French promo trailer (with a ton of completed visual effects) was revealed and sadly pulled shortly after.
A French production shot in Canada for the English language market, the story is set in an alternate reality where there are two separate worlds. One is inverted, affluent and hovering over the other. A humble guy from the world below holds onto the memory of a girl he met in his youth from the world above. When he catches a glimpse of a grown up version of her on television, nothing will stop him from getting her back - not even the laws of physics.
The project was originally taken to Hollywood and shopped around but ultimately European partners were brought on instead as they wanted the film to be driven primarily by its director and not studio executives. Argentinean director Juan Diego Solanas helms the film which is already drawing comparisons to high-concept but smart sci-fi tales like "Inception" and "Gattaca".
Not only is there the physical difference of a world hanging above one's head, the filmmakers also explore issues of a class system - the residents of 'Down Below' are seen as lesser people and a widespread xenophobia on both sides makes it illegal for people to have contact with those from the other world. There's also some highly impressive action on display which plays about with gravity in all sorts of inventive ways. I hope it finds an audience.
Opens: August 10th 2012
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, John Malkovich
Director: Jonathan Levine
Analysis: The critics love him, but the public is still only slowly waking up to filmmaker Jonathan Levine. His first film, "The Wackness", was the toast of Sundance but also the text book example of a film in the Park City bubble - upon release reviews were far more mixed and the box-office was disastrous. His follow-up last year however, the cancer comedy "50/50", drew rave reviews across the board and a decidedly more impressive box-office result.
His third outing however is unlikely to score the awards nominations of his last film, but could well be a bigger earner than his previous two films combined. Based on the novel by Isaac Marion, 'Warm Bodies' is described as a zombie romance set in a post-apocalyptic world and following a zombie named R ("Skins" and "A Single Man" star Nicholas Hoult) who eats the brain of a suicidal teen. R is soon overcome with love for the teen's girlfriend Julie (Teresa Palmer), rescuing her from certain death at one point which leads to a blossoming romance. Cue distinct allusions to "Romeo and Juliet" throughout.
Levine's work is said to be quite faithful to the book, but more importantly he gets to change up the mythology of zombies as seen in the various films and shows which usually have a 'Dead' in the title. For starters he says the tone will be a romantic fantasy one and therefore a PG-13, so the zombies themselves are actually decent lookers and there's no exploding body parts.
The zombies also only grunt or make the occasional sound, but there'll be a "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" style locked-in syndrome approach with Hoult providing a lot of voiceover conveying his character's thoughts. Shot in Montreal over the Fall, it'll be interesting to see how audiences will react to a film that could well shake-up the familiar undead formula.
World War Z
Opens: December 21st 2012
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Lucy Aharish, Julia Levy-Boeken
Director: Marc Forster
Analysis: With zombie apocalyptic tales, the story is almost always kept to a small scale with only minor glimpses of the larger event. The focus sticks with a group of people, usually somewhere in a non-coastal American city, hiding out in suburban and rural locales to keep away from the undead hordes. It's also often a deadly serious affair with the occasional bit of black comedy or satire snuck in.
Max Brooks' "World War Z" novel on the other hand was a fun and clever read because it was all about the bigger picture. Fusing horror with political satire, the book consisted of several dozen chapters with each being an interview of a different subject about their experiences relating to the event. Through these recollections from civilians, soldiers and officials from around the globe we learn how the outbreak started, how different countries and religions reacted to the problem, how a solution was found, and how the world order was affected in the process.
It's the perfect material for a big budget anthology TV series with each episode based on one of the short stories. Instead, Brad Pitt's Plan B production company secured the rights and hired "Babylon 5" creator J. Michael Straczynski to turn it into a feature. It's a challenge as it essentially requires a massive re-write and shift in focus from the book, turning the barely discussed UN interviewer character into the main lead. Matthew Michael Carnahan also came onboard to do a polish.
Budgeted at a considerable $125 million and shot over the course of much of last year in various European locales, those involved have planned this out as a trilogy which means it's likely we'll only see some of the stories from the book make the translation to screen in this film. Reviews of early drafts of the script paint it as something potentially ground breaking in the genre with comparisons made to Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men".
Whether the fun of the book survives the translation, we'll see. The political elements of how countries like the U.S., Israel, North Korea, Russia, South Africa and the like deal with the crisis was the most enjoyable aspect, however it could well be neutered for the film version so as not to offend potential international audiences. More likely to stay in is the twists on survival elements such as the annual thawing out of zombies as Spring returns to Canada. If it works, this could be great.
Posted 20 March 2012 - 03:09 AM
Cast: Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving
Director: Tom Tykwer, The Wachowskis
Analysis: One of the singularly most ambitious projects to hit next year, and one that will likely catch many by surprise, is this ensemble historical sci-fi anthology film from "The Matrix" helmers the Wachowskis and "The International" director Tom Tykwer. Adapted from David Mitchell's 2004 novel, the film spans six different story lines over a millennia. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or watched) by the main character in the next.
The stories in order include an American notary's voyage across the Pacific in 1850, a young English musician working as an amanuensis in 1930's Belgium, a 1970's Californian journalist investigating corruption around a nuclear plant, a modern day British publisher who becomes confined to a nursing home, a clone political prisoner being executed in a dystopian near future Korea, and a Hawaiian tribesman in a post-apocalyptic distant future telling a story around a campfire.
The massive cast includes those above plus Jim Sturgess, James D'Arcy, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon and Keith David. All play multiple characters in the project and amusingly all sorts of characters of differing races, genders and more. So far nothing has really showcased what the final film will look like so right now its anybody's guess as to how visually impressive this will be.
Cast: Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Analysis: A $25 million Montreal-shot action thriller from "The Counterfeiters" director Ruzowitzky which follows sibling fugitives (Bana, Wilde) on the run. Having split up to meet again later, the sister comes upon and falls for a troubled ex-boxer (Hunnam), while the brother heads cross-country leaving mayhem in his wake. The home of the ex-boxer's parents soon becomes ground zero for the climax which I'm guessing will deal with the sister having to choose between her brother and her new beau. Could be an effective little thriller if dark and grounded enough.
The Bourne Legacy
Opens: August 3rd 2012
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Albert Finney
Director: Tony Gilroy
Analysis: How does one continue a star-driven franchise without its main star or his character appearing on screen? Universal intends to answer that very question with this fourth entry in the Jason Bourne series. Originally planned as a straight forward sequel, director Paul Greengrass opted out of doing it and his loyal leading man Matt Damon followed him.
Rather than letting a valuable franchise sit idle, Universal instead announced mid-last year that it's opting to make essentially a spin-off film set in the same continuity, with the likes of Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn reprising their roles from the previous films alongside new to the franchise stars like Renner, Weisz and Norton. This option gives them a 'Bourne' film of sorts, but also leaves it open for Damon and Greengrass to come back in the future if they wish.
While it is expected to deal with the fallout of the Treadstone conspiracy's exposure and demise, the big question here is in regards to writer/director Tony Gilroy. Gilroy is famously not a fan of what happened to his scripts for the first two films and seemingly turned his back on this franchise. To get him back as writer/director here not only took a lot of cash but likely the studio has had to give him a lot of freedom to do what he wants - the end result, even if it doesn't work, should prove both amusing and interesting.
Bullet to the Head
Opens: April 13th 2012
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Sarah Shahi
Director: Walter Hill
Analysis: An adaptation of Alexis Nolent's French graphic novel "Du Plomb Dans La Tete", Stallone plays a hitman who teams with a young NYPD detective (Kang) to seek revenge on various New Orleans power brokers responsible for two vicious murders that connect them.
The $40 million project marks the return to the genre of Walter Hill, a seminal director of action films like "48 Hrs.", "The Warriors," "Red Heat," "Streets of Fire," "Last Man Standing" and his last film as director - 2002's "Undisputed". Teaming with someone like Stallone is a good fit for both parties, and while the synopsis is decidedly ordinary the tone is said to be a mix of crime noir, action, and an ever increasing body count.
The project saw two notable departures before filming. "Running Scared" helmer Wayne Kramer was attached to direct but ultimately left as his vision for the film was reportedly too dark. Later, Thomas Jane had to drop out of the detective role due to producer Joel Silver's insistence of casting a "more 'ethnic' actor" to reach a wider audience. In both cases it has made the project seem more generic, hopefully what remains is still strong enough to be worth a look.
The Cabin in the Woods
Opens: April 13th 2012
Cast: Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kran
Director: Director: Drew Goddard
Analysis: It took several years due to the whole MGM bankruptcy fiasco but finally Joss Whedon's long awaited 'Cabin' is set to get a theatrical release this Spring. For years many thought this would be a John Carpenter-era horror tale mixed with "Buffy" style black comedy lashings, but the first trailers show an unexpected sci-fi bent to the familiar slasher film model of a group of young people stranded in a forest cabin and terrorised.
Originally delayed due to a proposed 3D conversion being done on the film, that plan was abandoned so thankfully only a regular release has been scheduled by new distributor Lionsgate. "Thor" star Chris Hemsworth, who filmed a major role in the "Red Dawn" remake which was also vaulted for years by MGM and is finally hitting in 2012, joins a cast of mostly "Buffy" and "Dollhouse" alums in what promises to be a fun ride.
Script reviews were strong, the story containing trademark Whedon witticisms and twists, along with a non-traditional ending. A secret screening at the recent Butt-Numb-a-Thon festival in Austin, Texas seemingly stole the show against some stiff competition including numerous early 2012 films. Hitting just three weeks before "The Avengers", Whedonites are set to be doubly spoiled going into the early Summer.
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Jay Baruchel, Juliette Binoche, Kevin Durand
Director: David Cronenberg
Analysis: After reinventing himself with 2005's "A History of Violence", David Cronenberg's second coming has kept up its strong track record with both "Eastern Promises" and this year's "A Dangerous Method" scoring very good notices.
Now comes this high-concept adaptation of Don DeLillo's popular novel in which "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson plays a financial whiz who risks his immense fortune by betting against the yen on one particularly chaotic day.
Much of the action is set inside a limousine with Pattinson's character transported from one location to another so expect a fairly tight little piece akin to "Phone Booth" - a deliberate comparison considering Colin Farrell was originally cast in the lead role.
Pattinson has yet to really tackle a film not primarily aimed at women, and it'll be an interesting experiment to see if both critics and Cronenberg fans can get over their issues with a "Twilight" star being in this and judge it fairly.
Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:59 AM
Opens: September 28th 2012
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels
Director: Rian Johnson
Analysis: Johnson has scored a lot of love in the critical community due to his first two quite strong if occasionally over-praised features. "Brick" was a film noir tale, complete with that overcooked language of 30's pulp detective novels, done in a contemporary high school setting with students. It's a one trick idea but he milked it well, and all on a budget of next to nothing.
His followup, the caper film "The Brothers Bloom" was a fizzer, a well cast but often messy film which tried too hard to be quirky and ultimately came off boorish. Here though he has pulled together something with real potential, a time-twisting dark sci-fi tale with a great hook.
Gordon-Levitt plays a contract killer who works for the mob of the future. After their deaths, he disposes of corpses by sending them three decades back into the past - leaving no trace of them in his time and a body that can't be identified in the past. Things take a twist when he realises his next target is a future version of himself.
"Inception" parallels will no doubt be made as they were with another recent sci-fi effort from a new filmmaking wunderkid - Duncan Jones' "Source Code". While that film stumbled in its last act, Johnson's feature will hopefully avoid such problems as the helmer has demonstrated a better ability to be playful with his subject matter. One of the highlights of the Fall.
Opens: June 29th 2012
Cast: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Analysis: The world of female strippers has had various films in its honour, crowned with the pinnacle of camp that is "Showgirls". Now it is time for the guys to get their due with one of the hunkiest line-ups of beefcake ever assembled on film in Steven Soderbergh's latest project.
The story is loosely based on actor Channing Tatum's experiences as a teenage male stripper in Florida in the late 90's where he was mentored by the titular Mike. In the film, Tatum will take on the role of Mike with "I Am Number Four" star Alex Pettyfer playing the part of 'The Kid' which is essentially Tatum at a young age.
What's fun here is that Soderbergh has filled out the thongs, which much of the supporting cast are confirmed to be donning, with some very hunky men. The list includes "White Collar" star Matt Bomer, "True Blood" werewolf Joe Manganiello, "CSI" jock Adam Rodriguez, wrestler Kevin Nash, and finally Matthew McConaughey as an ex-stripper who is now the owner of the club Xquisite. Sadly none of them will go full frontal.
The genre lends itself to comedy and some of Reid Carolin's script lines are real zingers, yet Bomer says that when he was filming he felt like they were almost doing a documentary. Soderbergh's shooting style is often so different from regular comedy that it will result in something either fresh and original, or a film with a disastrously mismatched tone and execution. Even though Warners is releasing it, the movie was filmed and financed independently which meant Soderbergh had essentially no studio interference. Bring on the baby oil.
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Rami Malek
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Analysis: Many have been keenly anticipating Paul Thomas Anderson's first effort since his much acclaimed 2007 drama "There Will Be Blood", but they've had to wait a while as development stalled and started again more than once with differing reasons as to the cause.
At $35 million, several studios were suggested to have gotten cold feet about the potential backlash from organised religious groups. At another point Anderson himself wasn't quite ready to shoot in the timeframe given. The project was all but dead until indie financier Megan Ellison stepped in followed by the Weinstein Co. who is distributing.
Reviews of early script drafts had this painted as a skewering of Scientology and creator L. Ron Hubbard's life and early teachings, but said script has since undergone major overhauls so no-one is entirely sure how much of that remains.
The plot now has Hoffman playing a charismatic man who returns after witnessing the horrors of WWII and creates a new religion which pulls in Phoenix's alcoholic sailor who is at first a devout convert and later begins to question the founder's true motives.
The relationship dynamics between religious leaders and their followers and how trauma affects people's outlooks on spirituality are just some of the issues PTA will no doubt explore. Yet with conflicting reports about just what we're in store for and even how he's shooting the film, we're really not going to know until a festival premiere later in the year.
On the Road
Cast: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams
Director: Walter Salles
Analysis: The term 'long gestating' film takes on a whole new meaning with this adaptation of the definitive novel of the Beat Generation. For over five decades now there's been talk of a film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's autobiographical book about his time spent traveling America in the 1940's with his friend Neal Cassady. Kerouac wanted to play his literary counterpart Sal Paradise himself alongside Marlon Brando as the Cassady-inspired Dean Moriarty back in the late 50's when the book first came out.
It wasn't until six years ago that Francis Ford Coppola, who attempted to adapt it himself and failed, convinced Brazilian director Walter Salles to direct and this $25 million production got underway at last. In preparation, Salles shot a documentary taking the same road trip as Sal Paradise and speaking to other Beat poets who knew Kerouac.
Using much of the same crew who shot "The Motorcycle Diaries", filming got underway in August in Montreal with the cast undergoing a month-long "beatnik boot camp" where they all learned about the Beat Generation. Shooting also took place in New Orleans, San Francisco, Calgary, Arizona, Mexico and Argentina with minimal crew members on hand to lend an almost documentary feel to the proceedings.
Reviews of the script have been raves and Salles will certainly bring his A-game to the material. The only question now is will this stand up to the scrutiny that comes when any film is adapted from a beloved novel that's considered one of the defining works of a generation.
Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:23 AM
I have not read the last WoT book. Please have mercy on my soul.
Souvra Bonded to Ahmoondah Sedai / Cour'Souvra Bonded to dapianoplay3r
Posted 23 March 2012 - 03:12 AM
Rock of Ages
Opens: June 15th 2012
Cast: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand
Director: Adam Shankman
Analysis: Chris D'Arienzo's 2006 rock musical is a tribute to 80's glam metal and rock ballads, not the most acclaimed songs of the time but certainly amongst the most popular and memorable even if it is in often embarrassing ways. A time of big hair, theatrical make-up, skin tight leather pants, and bands like Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Jefferson Starship, Styx, Journey and Poison.
More upbeat, comedic and self-aware than other shows at the time of its original production, it became something of an international stage hit. Warners & New Line snapped up the film rights and planned to produce it in 2010 for a mid-2011 release, however various factors delayed shooting until last Summer with Miami ultimately standing in for the various Los Angeles locales.
Shankman has assembled a hell of a cast for this ensemble piece, though Cruise's casting as fictional rock god Stacee Jaxx has certainly raised a few eyebrows. At a costly $80 million it ain't cheap, but the studio obviously has high hopes for this, and certainly the first trailer last month showed that it looks like a lot of silly fun. Certainly it works as an excellent bit of counter programming to the expensive fantasy tentpoles that are crowding June.
Cast: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Judith Lucy
Director: Wayne Blair
Analysis: An Australian "Dreamgirls"? Tony Briggs created the original stage play which ran in 2004 & 2005 before a revival in 2010 and tells the true story of the MacCrae sisters, Aboriginal singers in the late 60's. It's an interesting point in history to set the film, a time in Australian culture when discrimination was rife but intense lobbying for equal rights and legislative change was also taking place.
Set in 1969, a year after the referendum gave citizenship rights to Aborigines, it follows a singing group of four Koori women and singers who toured Vietnam for U.S. troops during the war. Though political at points, the play is mostly focused on the personal story of these women and mixes both fact and fictional events into a celebratory and upbeat tale.
The songs of this musical are mostly Motown hits with covers of numbers by Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and James Brown. One traditional Aboriginal number, Ngarra Burra Ferra, is slipped in and ties in with a major character moment - one of the few somber numbers in the otherwise energetic albeit predictable little story.
"Bridesmaids" and "The IT Crowd" actor Chris O'Dowd plays the group's manager while frequent Aussie TV actress Deborah Mailman, who played a role in the original 2005 stage production, reprises it here. With its big crowd-pleasing tone, the hope is to lure audiences in the same way that 2010's Geoffrey Rush-led musical "Bran Nue Dae" proved a surprise hit in Australia.
Opens: September 28th 2012
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro
Director: Oliver Stone
Analysis: Oliver Stone tackles a crime drama with his latest project, a film adaptation of Don Winslow's well-received and best-selling novel. Stone is actually more suited to this genre than some of the other ones he's been diving into lately, so there's definite interest in what he can do with the material.
Winslow and Shane Salerno adapted the script which follows two best friend pot growers (Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch) in Laguna who share a trippy girl named 'O' (Lively). The duo are so good at their job that an enforcer (Benicio Del Toro) demands they work for his boss, a Mexican drug cartel matriarch (Salma Hayek).
When they refuse, 'O' is kidnapped and they're forced to come up with a fortune in ransom. So they set out to hijack the cartel's drug supply. Stone has been so keen on the project he began adapting the script before the book was published and is personally investing in this film. Certainly a film exploring a battle between well-funded Mexican cartels and independent California growers could make for both a fun and thrilling tale.
Jennifer Lawrence was originally cast as O, but dropped out to do "The Hunger Games" and was replaced with "Green Lantern" love interest Blake Lively. She's surrounded by two hunks (John Carter's Kitsch and Kick Ass' Johnson) along with a strong supporting cast including Emile Hirsch, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Trevor Donovan and Demián Bichir. Stone recently claimed he's hoping it will get an earlier release than the late September bow it's currently scheduled for.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Opens: April 20th 2012
Cast: Keira Knightley, Steve Carrell, TJ Miller, Melanie Lynskey, Adam Brody
Director: Lorene Scarfaria
Analysis: Playwright and "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" scribe Scarfaria makes her directorial debut on this apocalyptic comedic road trip film which features the decidedly unusual pairing of Keira Knightley and Steve Carrell.
Shot in Los Angeles early last Summer, the story has an extinction-level meteor shower headed for Earth and a man (Carrell) finding himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He ends up going on a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart with the help of a neighbour (Knightley) who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.
The character piece is said to explore these two people who were trapped in unassuming mundane lives who suddenly find themselves living larger in these few days than they ever have before. Of course there's a bunch of colourful characters along the way played by the likes of William Petersen, Patton Oswalt, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry and Mark Moses.
Universal's prestige label Focus Features is releasing it in late Spring, not exactly a slot that shows a vote of confidence but it's the kind of film that could hold its own on the art house circuit while the early Summer blockbusters dominate the multiplexes.
Opens: March 9th 2012
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Haley Murphy
Director: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Analysis: This will take a little explaining. In 2010 came "The Silent House" (La Casa Muda), a 79-minute Uruguayan haunted house thriller filmed entirely in what's reported to be one uninterrupted shot from a Canon DSLR camera - and done so with surprisingly stylish cinematography for such a low-budget feature.
Reviews from the fests painted the film as beautifully atmospheric but narratively suffering some major flaws - especially in terms of the credibility of some of the character behaviours. The most obvious is that the main character, knowing there's dangerous people in the house, doesn't try and get away right from the get go. It's a flawed film but interesting experiment nonetheless.
American filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau ("Open Water") however were keen enough they decided to do a remake with "Martha Marcy May Marlene" star Elizabeth Olsen in the lead. Olsen plays a young woman who finds herself sealed inside her family's secluded lake house. With no contact to the outside world, and no way out, panic turns to terror as events become increasingly ominous in and around the house.
So quick was the turnaround that the remake premiered at Sundance last year and sold for an impressive $3 million. The filmmakers have avoided talking about how many shots were cleverly edited together here to deliver what appears to be a single shot. They are however sticking by their sales pitch that the film contains "meticulous camera choreography to take the audience on a tension-filled, real time journey".
Opens: November 7th 2012
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris
Director: Sam Mendes
Analysis: Six years ago "Casino Royale" introduced Daniel Craig as James Bond and successfully rebooted the franchise with one of its strongest films to date. Four years ago came "Quantum of Solace", an over-edited and turgid little revenge movie that worked as a decent Bourne-esque action film but stunk as a Bond movie.
Reviews were decidedly mixed for QoS at the time and reaction hasn't aged well, to the point that even Craig himself has gone on the record about how disappointed he was with that film. Now, after MGM's financial difficulties led to some delays and hiccups, Craig returns as 007 for a third time in an entry for the franchise that promises great things - a film both old school Bond enough to satiate classic fans while still retaining what has worked about the Craig-era.
Said to be a stand alone entry, the whole Vesper and Quantum subplots done and over, this sees a past secret of M's coming back to challenge Bond's loyalty to her - something bad enough to lead to a full on attack of MI6. British politics definitely plays a big part here with various high profile actors like Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Helen McCrory playing government agents or cabinet ministers with key roles in the storyline.
While it's still not entirely sure if Miss Moneypenny is actually returning or not, the hiring of a brilliant young actor like Ben Whishaw as the new Q is an inspired choice. Same with scoring Javier Bardem for the villain and, if rumours are true, Fiennes for the role he's set to be used in.
The hiring of "American Beauty," "Road to Perdition" and "Revolutionary Road" director Sam Mendes has been a much debated one. Fans of the series are worried some of his worst excesses will be brought to bear here, on the flip side this is a franchise that restrains its helmers from going too far one way or another. More importantly, unlike Swiss helmer Marc Forester, Mendes has an immeasurably better understanding of the Bond character and the films.
He's also surrounded himself with far better talent behind the scenes - Roger Deakins as D.O.P., John Logan polishing the script, and the return of 'Royale' editor Stuart Baird & second unit director Alexander Witt. Whereas the script for 'Quantum' was heavily impacted by the writers strike, this one has been worked on for well over a year and Craig has already been calling it better than 'Royale'. One of my three most anticipated films of next year (alongside 'Prometheus' and 'Dark Knight Rises').
Posted 17 June 2012 - 06:51 PM