Films to look for in 2010 – through September
Upcoming Films – Dates are Subject to Change
The Wolfman –Hugo Weaving and Sir Anthony Hopkins costar in this film about Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), a nobleman who returns to his ancestral home after his brother goes missing. What could be behind the disappearance and the attacks on the town’s villagers? Why only a “nightmarish beast,” a lycanthrope if you will, that eventually attacks Lawrence. And we all know what happens next. Watch out full moon. Directed by Joe Johnston, whose previous films include Hidalgo and Jurassic Park III. What’s gonna get my butt into the cinema? The fact that Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) wrote the screenplay.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – Based on a popular series of novels aimed at youngsters, this film gets my attention because it marks the cinematic return of Greek mythology to the big screen. And I love Greek mythology. It doesn’t hurt that Logan Lerman is in the lead – he made a big impression in 3:10 to Yuma – and supporting performances come courtesy of Pierce Brosnan, Kevin McKidd and Sean Bean, sporting very sexy facial hair.
Shutter Island – Martin Scorsese’s much anticipated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo is set in a mental institution that is overseen by Max Von Sydow. Let’s face it, all you need to do is set a murder mystery in an asylum and I’m on board. Supporting cast includes Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Jackie Earle Haley. See why I’m salivating?
The Ghost Writer – Directed by Roman Polanski, this film stars Ewan McGregor as a ghostwriter (uh, duh) who is hired to complete a prime minister’s (Pierce Brosnan) memoirs. Secrets are revealed, leading to potential danger for the writer. It’s tempting to say that I want to see this because of the controversy surrounding Polanski’s arrest, but truth is it all has to do with Mr. McGregor. If he’s in it, I’ll see it.
The Crazies – Remake of George A. Romero’s 1973 horror flick about an Iowa town in which the residents go insane and then die. Timothy Olyphant plays the sheriff in charge. Also stars Radha Mitchell. The team behind this can’t boast of too many past winning projects – let’s see we have Sahara, and the Amityville Horror and Pulse remakes, um yuck – but Olyphant, guys. Olyphant.
Alice in Wonderland – Tim Burton directs. That’s probably all you need to know. But in case it isn’t, how about the fact that it’s in 3-D, and it has a marvelous cast, including Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, and Mia Wasikowska (Sophie in In Treatment) as Alice. And did I mention that TIM BURTON directs?
Green Zone – A U.S. army officer (Matt Damon) goes rogue, hunting for weapons of mass destruction in an unstable region. Directed by Paul Greengrass, and costarring Jason Isaacs and Greg Kinnear. From the trailer this looks like another Bourne film, and that makes me very happy.
Repo Men – Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star in this futuristic film about people who can purchase new organs, but when they can’t make their payments, the repo men come to reclaim company property. From the trailer it looks like it starts out as a black comedy but quickly turns serious when Law, himself, is outfitted with a heart that he can’t afford. Also stars Liev Schreiber. From the novel The Repossession Mambo.
Clash of the Titans – A remake of the cheesy 1981 film of the same name. Instead of a long-haired Harry Hamlin as Perseus, you get a clean shaven, gladiatorial-looking Sam Worthington. And instead of jerky Ray Harryhausen effects, you have CGI. The trailer promises giant scorpion attacks, and I do mean giant; and fights with the Kraken, Medusa, and villains that look like they stepped out of both 300 and Pan’s Labyrinth. I say “bring it on!” The cast includes a trifecta of greatness in Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades, and Danny Huston as Poseidon. If you need yet another reason to see it – you get Mads Mikkelsen as Draco. With Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2) directing, it should be action packed.
A Nightmare on Elm Street – I’m not a fan of remakes and, believe it or not, I’ve never seen the original Nightmare films, so why would I care about this “reimagined” portrait of Freddie Krueger, a burned up serial killer with knives for fingers? One name – Jackie Earle Haley. I’m intrigued to see his take on the character.
Iron Man 2 – I was surprised how much I enjoyed Iron Man. I saw it and then saw it again. Needless to say, I’ve been hankering for a sequel. From the trailer, it looks as if Robert Downey Jr. is having even more fun in his role as Tony Stark. (Is that possible?) Somehow he just slips right into the shoes of this sarcastic, very intelligent and charismatic character. Gwyneth Paltrow is back, if anyone cares. The jury is still out as to whether or not Mickey Rourke will make a decent villain. I like the idea of him being equipped with electricity charged whips – one on each arm – and the fact that Don Cheadle, taking over for Terrence Howard, dons an Iron Man suit and fights alongside Downey. Double your pleasure, double your fun. Unless I’m mistaken, didn’t I also spy and eyepatched Samuel L. Jackson in the trailer?
Robin Hood – Even though Ridley Scott has disappointed me more often than not with his choice of projects – he will never live down White Squall – and I’m a bit tired of the Robin Hood mythology, I will still find my way into the cinema for this new take on the British archer who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. Russell Crowe is the draw as are Danny Huston as King Richard, and Kevin Durand as Little John. If anything could dissuade me from seeing it, it would be the fact that it was written by Brian Helgeland who embarrassed himself beyond belief with The Order (even the DVD commentary was dire!). Cate Blanchett plays Maid Marian. (Is she somehow incapable of not working non-stop?)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – I’m not all that familiar with the video game on which this is based, but it seems a bit strange that instead of casting a Persian (you know, a guy from IRAN) they plopped Jake Gyllenhaal (a Swedish/Russian Jew) into the lead as a “rogue prince who joins a mysterious princess (Gemma Arterton, a red-haired Brit) to prevent a dark force from obtaining an ancient dagger.” I’m assuming that Ben Kingsley, British but at least of Indian extraction, is the “dark force” as the publicity photos show him sporting menacing looking facial hair. (Kind of Ming the Merciless meets Anton LaVey.) I guess I shouldn’t really expect “authenticity” in casting decisions, when the film is made by Walt Disney Studios. Another perplexing thing about Prince of Persia? Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) directs. This thing has “crack taking” written all over it, but maybe that’s what makes it so intriguing. Just how is this going to turn out?
Jonah Hex – Another “it came from a comic book” film, Jonah Hex is about a bounty hunter (Josh Brolin) who must stop a voodoo practitioner (John Malkovich) from raising an army of the dead. This Confederate soldier, a cynical antihero, got his start in the pages of All-Star Western, later named Weird Western Tales during the 1970s, but he’s since been given an update. Those excited to see Brolin’s handsome mug again will be sorely disappointed as half of the character’s face is horribly scarred. Boo hoo. Guys will fare better in the “hottie” department as Brolin’s costar is Megan Fox, who plays, yes, you got it, a “beautiful gun-wielding prostitute.” So a big stretch for her there. Additional selling points? Michael Fassbender and Michael Shannon costar. (My primary concern about this film is that the writers, Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine, also scripted Gamer and Crank.)
The Last Airbender – Based on Nickelodeon’s Emmy-winning animated series, the film chronicles the journey of Aang, a young man who discovers himself to be an avatar, a rare being who can manipulate the four elements – Fire, Water, Air and Earth – and restore peace to the planet. The posters look great. The trailer looks good. The only problem is that M. Night Shyamalan directs. This guy hasn’t made a good film since Unbreakable, which was 10 years ago. But as it, too, was about a reluctant superhero, maybe Airbender has a chance. (I’m already preparing to be disappointed.) If there’s any reason to get some support behind this film, it’s for the fact that a lot of the cast members are Asian, an ethnic group that gets short shrift in the “Hollywood blockbuster” machine. I’ll see it for Cliff Curtis, who plays Firelord Ozai. The always solid Aasif Mandvi, Dev Patel, and Randall Duk Kim also costar.
Predators – You don’t often see names such as Adrien Brody and Topher Grace attached to films about giant alien psychopaths with bizarre insect-like mouths, but this one does. So color me intrigued. Nimrod Antal (Kontroll) helms the film that lists Robert Rodriguez as one of the three screenwriters. As I said, “hmmm. What is going on here?”
Inception – Lots of secrecy surrounds Christopher Nolan’s new film, which is listed as a “sci-fi/thriller set within the architecture of the mind.” And that’s fine by me. All I need to see is that it stars a veritable who’s who of fine actors, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, and Ken Watanabe! Save me a seat. I don’t care what this film is about, I’m there.
Beastly – Ok, this film looks like it’s totally aimed at the CW crowd, because it features Disney doll Vanessa Hudgens and Mary-Kate Olsen, but it also features Alex Pettyfer, who plays a young, wealthy and cruel Manhattanite who gets his comeuppance after pranking a girl who can cast spells. Disfigured, he learns that to break the spell, he must find someone who loves him for who he is. Yes, the plot reads like Beauty and the Beast for tweens. Yes, it’s a romance, which I despise, but have you seen Pettyfer lately? Four years ago, he played Alex Rider in Stormbreaker and looked like a typical well-scrubbed teen-ager. At 20 years old, the guy looks like something out of a Greek mythology text. Wow. Inappropriate? Maybe. Do I care? No. Let’s push it even further. Stills for the film show him shirtless. Ladies, get your drool cups ready.
Priest – Based on Min-Wood Hyung’s graphic novel, the film centers on a priest (Paul Bettany) who disobeys church law to track down the vampires who kidnapped his niece. Hmm. I wasn’t aware that the church had clear cut rules against hunting vampires, but there you go. Learn something every day. Bettany disappointed in Legion, the film about angels intent on annihilating humans, but I’ll give him another chance especially if he looks as good as he did in Legion. Growl. He’s not the only pretty thing in Priest, either. He is joined by Cam Gigandet (Twilight), Karl Urban (LOTR) and Stephen Moyer (True Blood). Triple growl.
Piranha 3-D – Flesh-eating fish in 3-D. If you read that line and shout, “hell, yeah” you will probably be sitting next to me in the cinema when this comes out. Director Alexandre Aja has yet to fail me – High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes were both unnerving as hell; Mirrors was better than a lot of Asian film remakes – so I’m on board with his latest effort. Doesn’t it seem ironic that Richard Dreyfuss joined the cast? After all his track record with flesh-loving marine life hasn’t been all that great.
Warrior – An ex-Marine (Tom Hardy) returns to his hometown to train for a mixed martial arts tournament. He looks to his father (Nick Nolte), an alcoholic former boxer, for guidance. I’m assuming that this film will serve up plenty of angsty conflicts – always good – and some fighting – ditto – but the only real reason I care is Hardy. Love him.
Guardians of Ga’Hoole – Based on a series of books, this animated film is about a barn owl who is kidnapped by other owls who are intent on brainwashing their victims into becoming soldiers. Sounds a bit unusual, I know. But, it is helmed by Zach Snyder, one of my all-time favorite directors, and features voices by Hugo Weaving, Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Sam Neill, David Wenham … the list goes on and on. Seeing who’s involved makes me very anxious for this film.