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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Movies To Be Aware of This Year (2008)

With the severe lack of news going on I thought I'd list a collection of films coming out this year that I find the most interesting and believe should get some attention. Good, bad or ugly, I'm going to try and focus on the positives for each. The list is as follows:

Chapter 27 - March 28
Reasons to be aware of it: Though it wasn't well received at previous film festivals, I felt the material was interesting enough to give a chance. The film's title suggests a continuation of "The Catcher in the Rye" (which ends with chapter 26). The movie is about Mark Steven Chapman and the days leading up to his murder of John Lennon. Chapman attempts to model his life after the character Holden Caulfield and the film looks at why he ended up killing Lennon. I think it's worth a look. Jared Leto stars.

Meet Bill - April 8
Reasons to be aware of it: Aaron Eckhart returns to his smarter comedic roots in this story about a guy who hits an all time low when his wife cheats on him and his job takes a turn for the worst. He reluctantly turns to a young teenager to regain his sense of worth. I'd put this in the "comedy with meaning" category, much like "Thank You for Smoking." Jessica Alba co-stars in this possibly overlooked indie flick.

Street Kings - April 11
Reasons to be aware of it: An indie cop movie staring Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie and Chris Evans. What's not to like? Reeves stars as a cop framed for a murder. He goes rogue to clear his name, but finds some bumps along the way. Reeves is a likable actor, and Whitaker, I'm convinced, can do anything. I'm very pleased to see Laurie and Evans getting more work. Both are fine talents that I wish to see more often.

88 Minutes - April 18
Reasons to be aware of it: Though it sounds a lot like Depp's, "Nick of Time" years back, it does star Al Pacino. The "real time" scenario rarely works on film as well as it does in "24," but as always it shows promise. Pacino plays an unethical forensic psychiatrist who is told he has 88 minutes to live-- Unless he can find out who his killer is first. The idea intrigues me even if similar story lines have been done countless times before. I wonder what the running time on this movie is?

Iron Man - May 2
Reasons to be aware of it: Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero? I'm in. Not only that but this hero has a very dark and intriguing back story. Instead of the tried and true, "someone important to me died and I'm going to be a superhero because of it" story, Downey's character is a jackass. He's a rich, womanizing weapons creator who sees war as an easy win. But when he gets a taste of it himself he turns around and uses his genius to create an armor that will protect the innocent instead of take their money. It looks like a fun, funny and overall enjoyable summer flick. Can't wait.

The Horsemen - May 9 (unconfirmed)
Reasons to be aware of it: Dennis Quaid is back again! While he's reason enough, this movie centers on the life of a recently widowed detective looking in to a case that connects him and the murder(s) with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The story feels like it has a "Seven" vibe to it. Though I doubt it'll be nearly as powerful, it may prove to be a loved cult flick.

Speed Racer - May 9
Reasons to be aware of it: I can already tell this is going to be one that will either be loved or hated. What is there to love though? The visuals look very different, but whether or not they will work is a judgment best reserved after I see it on the big screen. The cast is great and I've enjoyed everything the Wachowski Brothers have done. Yes, even the Matrix Sequels. It looks exciting and Matthew Fox as Racer X is too badass for words. Lets hope it lives up to the sound of its engine.

Midnight Meat Train - May 16 (unconfirmed)
Reasons to be aware of it: For those of you who have seen Ryuhei Kitamura's work ("Versus," "Alive," "Azumi") you might know why this is a movie to go see. Those who aren't fans of Kitamura's stylized work... Don't see it. The man makes his American movie debut with a film based on one of Clive Barker's short stories. A reporter follows a killer on board a train who butchers passengers and reveals a startling purpose as to why. I don't want to spoil much, but it sounds like it has potential to go beyond a normal slasher flick. Slasher or not, Kitamura directed it, thus I will see it. You should too.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - May 16
Reasons to be aware of it: C.S. Lewis's fantasy epic returns to the big screen. Though I wasn't overly impressed with the first film, the crew seems to be learning from their mistakes and the new trailers have been very epic. If the story gets darker, as suggested, and the message becomes more thought provoking, I can see "Narnia" taking off as a bigger franchise. (Which I hope it does.) Very much worth the look.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - May 22
Reasons to be aware of it: It's an Indiana Jones movie from the same cast and crew that brought you the other three great Indiana Jones movies. What greater reason do you need? Harrison Ford looks great in every picture for the film and even better in the trailer. It looks fun, exciting and like everything an Indiana Jones movie should be. I'll see you there.

The Happening - June 13
Reasons to be aware of it: M. Night has given us two duds after three amazing gems-- He has a lot to make up for and I think this movie may be his big apology to audiences. Plus Wahlberg knows a decent script when he sees one. It should be pretty interesting. Wahlberg is a family man trying to escape a new "natural" occurrence that threatens the world, including his family. Please come through M. Night! May this be the one to elevate your status from "The Village" idiot.

The Incredible Hulk - June 13
Reasons to be aware of it: I'm a bit hesitant about putting this one up, but there are a few reasons we all might want to check it out. First is the the fact Edward Norton is in it. Next is the hope that this movie is a lot better than Ang Lee's borefest a few years back. This restart of "The Incredible Hulk" has an equally talented cast (maybe even more talented: Liv Tyler, William Hurt) and the Hulk looks a lot better in the trailers. We'll see how incredible it is soon enough...

Get Smart - June 20
Reasons to be aware of it: A few months ago I wouldn't have put this movie on the list, but it's caught my interest. The last trailer I've seen of this movie had some very hysterical moments, I admit. Though I'm not an enormous fan of Steve Carrell and could live perfectly well for the rest of my life if "The Office" was cancelled tomorrow, this update of the classic espionage comedy is looking better and better with each trailer. I hope it keeps the wit of the original and doesn't spiral in to some long Carrell improv, ala, Will Ferrell movies.

Wanted - June 27
Reasons to be aware of it: The film may end up being a total dud, but director Timur Bekmambetov, known for his praised cult films "Night Watch" and "Day Watch," has my interest. He's known for his direction of highly stylized (and beautiful) visuals combined with action sequences. The talent may be there, but the material he has to work with might not be suitable enough to express that. There's a good chance this might as well be "Jumper 2."

Wall-E - June 27
Reasons to be aware of it: Pixar has been planning this one for awhile. Though the latter Pixar flicks are rather disappointing compared to the early days of "Toy Story," "Wall-E" was planned around that golden age of Pixar and has since been waiting to venture to the big screen. Seemingly more original than Pixar's Car and rat movies, "Wall-E" has a lot of potential to be something very special. The story involves a little robot left to clean up the garbage on an abandoned Earth. Lonely from being on the planet for so long, a "friend" finally comes to investigates the planet. It looks cute, quirky and laugh-out-loud funny.

Frost/Nixon - June 30
Reasons to be aware of it: Ron Howard tackles the post-Watergate saga. Based on the interviews that took place between talk show host David Frost and former American President Richard Nixon. This could possibly be an Oscar contender if it doesn't get stuck trying to appeal to ADD summer audiences. The dramatic element would be very important here, of course, and could drive the movie to either greatness, or forgetfulness. Perhaps this year's "Zodiac?" Kevin Bacon stars.

Hancock - July 2
Reasons to be aware of it: For those who are looking for a superhero spoof that might actually be funny, "Superhero Movie" is probably not going to cut it. "Hancock," on the other hand, has the potential to actually make you laugh. Will Smith plays a bum with superpowers that saves the day, but would rather be lazy. His rescue attempts end up making large messes, but at least everyone gets out okay. Or do they? Smith returns to his comedic roots and the special effects look great. It could very well be a dud, but there's a small part of me that says it could be the surprise hit of the summer. Sue if I'm wrong.

Hell Boy II - The Golden Army - July 11
Reasons to be aware of it: Guillermo del Toro, director of the first "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth," returns to advance the Ron Perlman portrayed character. As a fan of del Toro I'm sure this will be a fun movie, but I hope he doesn't overdo it. "Hellboy" was an appealing, well made (though underrated) little gem because it didn't try to outdo the summer with massive explosions and endless action sequences. (I'm talking about you Michael Bay. "Transformers" sucked.) No, it stayed consistent and developed the characters and storyline like clockwork. As long as "Hellboy II" sticks to the basics, it should prove to be a good little movie.

The Dark Knight - July 18
Reasons to be aware of it: Christopher Nolan, director of masterpieces like "Memento," and "The Prestige," returns with an all-star cast that includes Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal. "Batman Begins" is not only the best Batman film, but the best superhero movie out there. It was one of the best movies of 2005, so you bet "The Dark Knight" will kick it up a notch. Nolan's darker and very appealing direction nails the concept of Batman perfectly. Ledger's Joker is already getting praise and with Nolan's brother writing the script this time, one can imagine this will be a movie to watch closely.

The X-Files 2 - July 25
Reasons to be aware of it: Mulder and Scully return in a series that still seems too young to die, even after nine seasons. The movie is said to return X-Files to its more conventional roots that was so beloved in the early episodes. Series creator Chris Carter is directing; meanwhile David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their legendary characters. I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - August 1
Reasons to be aware of it: You know those movies like "Crank" and "The Transporter" that are released in the late summer, August to September, and are a lot of fun, but really poor movies? It looks like the new "Mummy" sequel will be one of those. Yes, its sad to see Rachel Weisz replaced, Imhotep is no longer the villain and I have to keep reminding myself that director Rob Cohen did make at least one good movie in the past. ("Dragonheart") But at least Brendan Fraser is back as Rick O'Conell and the series is brave enough to do some different things. Hey, as long as it's fun! It's not like the second film was Shakespeare either, but I enjoyed it! (This could suck much harder though...)

The International - August 15
Reasons to be aware of it: Clive Owen and Naomi Watts star in a drama about an Interpol agent who intends to expose a financial institution's backing of international fraud and arms dealing. German director Tom Tykwer, of renown films such as "Paris, je t'aime" and "Perfume," directs this thriller. Tykwer makes me very confident in the production. It's often the norm to have movies like this released in August; most of them are pretty poor. Though "The International" may have enough substance to be more than most August thrillers, like say... "The Invasion." Bleh.

Righteous Kill - September 12
Reasons to be aware of it: Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro team up once again, but will it be the film event of the year as the poster suggests? I doubt it will be anything Oscar worthy, but I'm hoping for a high brow crime thriller; something as quality as "Collateral." Pacino and DeNiro play cops hunting down a vigilante on the hunt for criminals that are let off easy. The cops then contemplate whether or not their suspect is someone they should arrest or congratulate.

The Express - October 10
Reasons to be aware of it: Must be the year of Dennis Quaid. While I'm not a big football guy, the movies based on them sure make it look better than it really is. "The Express" is a biopic of Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Quaid will play the couch, of course, and Rob Brown ("Stop Loss," "Finding Forrester") will play Ernie, the Heisman winner. Gary Fleder is a fine director who has made some underrated gems such as "Runaway Jury" and the long forgotten "Imposter." It'll probably be a good movie, but it seems like Fleder has the unfortunate luck of making forgotten flicks.

The Time Traveler's Wife - November (TBA)
Reasons to be aware of it: "Flightplan's" director Robert Schwentke spearheads this romantic sci-fi story. Eric Bana plays a librarian with a gene that makes him time travel at any given moment. This occurrence causes a strain on his marriage, (his wife is played by Rachel McAdams) and he must find a way to cope with it. As of late, romance pictures with science fiction elements have proved to be among the best of romantic films. ("The Fountain," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") So I'm willing to give this a go.

Quantum of Solace - November 7
Reasons to be aware of it: Bond. Is. Back. And coming from a guy who hasn't been an enormous fan of the series, I'm quite excited for his return. "Quantum of Solace" will pick up right where the masterpiece "Casino Royale" left off. Marc Forester, director of masterpieces like "Finding Neverland," "Stranger Than Fiction" and "The Kite Runner," gets to dip his talent in to the Bond series while Daniel Craig returns as the most badass 007 ever. The reasons are clear. Go see "Quantum of Solace."

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - November 21
Reasons to be aware of it: Harry Potter returns in a series that just gets darker and more serious with each outing-- Things I'm quite happy about. David Yates returns to direct this one. Though there is a majority out there that seems to dislike Yates and his 5th film I for one found it to be one of the very best of the series, and a monstrous leap forward from the pitiful 4th film. I can only hope he delivers the emotional impact this movie should (and must) offer. (And to all those Harry Potter nuts: I'm fully aware this poster is a fake. I simply like it. Get over it.)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - December 19
Reasons to be aware of it: David Fincher ("Zodiac," "Se7en," "Fight Club") teams back up with Brad Pitt in a story about a man who ages backwards. Fincher is climbing the ladder as one of cinema's all time great filmmakers. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt is already a credible talent that offers only his best in every role he's given. The premise is very interesting, but putting Fincher's name as the director of any project is enough to get my butt in the seat.

So there you have it. I'm sure other movies will sprout out of nowhere to give us all a surprise, but as far as I can tell these are some movies that will make some sort of great impact this year-- Whether that impact be good or bad is another story. Check the list twice and see if anything you're excited about is on it's way.

Not seeing a movie on the list you thought came out this year? Here's some help. I've got a short list of a few movies that were slated to arrive in theaters this year, but wont be coming out until 2009:

"The Fighter" - Darren Aronofsky's film about boxer Micky Ward was thought to come out late this year, but it actually has not gone in to production yet. It's aiming for a November 2009 release.

"The Wrestler" - Darren Aronofsky's film about professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson is currently in post-production, but won't make it in theaters before the end of the year. Often confused with "The Fighter," "The Wrestler" went in to production first. No word on a release date.

"Star Trek" - J.J. Abrams' relaunch of the mighty U.S.S. Enterprise and crew is being pushed back for a more profitable date. Though I still think this to allow Abrams' and crew more time for re-shoots and post-production. It will be released next May.

"Dragonball" - Originally suppose to open in August, "Dragonball" was also pushed back to a more profitable date and to give production more time to finish up. Post-production is given more time as well. The release date for the film will be next April.

Well, now that I've cleared that up... Bye. (For now.)


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poll Results - What 2009 Blockbuster Are You Looking Forward to the Most?

In a rather surprising turnout, "Dragonball" has won top spot for the most anticipated movie for 2009. (At least among 28 people.)

There was a lot of votes for "Other" which made wonder what I was missing. Perhaps "Public Enemy?" I don't know if could qualify that as a blockbuster, but I suppose we won't know until we see how it's marketed. I probably should have put "Avatar" up there, granted. "Astro-Boy?" There's no "Harry Potter" that year and the status of "The Hobbit" is looking a bit hazy... Hmm.

I know that some people confused this for a 2008 poll, but I hope the majority got that it is, in fact, a poll for 2009 movies.

Here are the results:

Dragonball - 12 Votes (42%)

Star Trek - 3 Votes (10%)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - 2 Votes (7%)

Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins - 1 Vote (3%)

Conan the Barbarian - 0 Votes (0%)

Transformers 2 - 3 Votes (10%)

Other - 7 Votes (25%)

"Dragonball" Set Photo

An impressive looking set photo from the upcoming "Dragonball" has recently been released. The picture shows a volcano with green screen in the crater that will most likely be replaced with CGI lava. As far as the deepest sources can dig, a dragonball is hidden deep within the volcano. Click to enlarge:

Currently "Dragonball" is slated for a April 3rd, 2009 release. However, some sources are hinting that FOX hasn't officially given the movie a release date and it could still come out as early as December. Time will tell. Rock the dragon.

Depp In "Public Enemy"

Pictures have been released of Johnny Depp as the 1930s crime-lord John Dillinger. As usual, he makes himself look perfect for the role. Click to enlarge:

Michael Mann may have flunked with his "Miami Vice" movie, but "Collateral" still stands high as one of 2004's best and most exciting movies. Christian Bale stars with Depp in what looks like a movie not to be missed!

"Public Enemy" is slated for a 2009 release.