- by Lloyd Bayer
As the curtain rises for 2010, here is a concise list of the most talked about movies premiering during the year. We hope, what we choose to watch will be as enthralling as the ones we experienced last year.
For another year that bit the financial bullet, 2009 was a fantastic year in films. Apparently, Hollywood had nothing to hide with meadows and meadows of richly fed cash cows. Before the year ended, James Cameron pounded our senses with the visual splendor of Avatar. But before Cameron brought down the curtains, 2009 was rife with some exceptional films that adamantly stood way above a wave of never ending sequels and prequels. Originality in plot and visuals, resulting in an overwhelming cinematic experience was what set apart little more than a dozen films from the rest (also look up miscellaneous article, The Best and Worst Films of 2009).
Whether we have weathered the ongoing financial and credit crisis is best left to be answered by the powers that be. What is as certain day follows night is that Tinsel Town is all out open for business, and by the looks of it, 2010 is going to be business as usual. Sure, with Hollywood running out of original screenplays, you can expect another hoard of sequels, or in other words, directors who feel they can do better or producers milking an evaporating franchise.
Some of these include a better and starker (Pun unintended) Tony in Iron Man 2 with an all star cast. Another Narnia Chronicle, this time in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Another Harry Potter adventure, with The Deathly Hallows promising the most brutal episode yet, but limited to part 1 for now. Then we have Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro re-booting the 1940s slapstick The Three Stooges. But the Farrelly Brothers, claim to be making an “original” adventure featuring the trio. Go figure.
Sequels abound, the line-up leading up to summer has a fair mix of all genres with past films getting a cinematic make-over and new ones making a grand entrance. In the chronological list that follows, the most anticipated films are mentioned as a guide to look out for. However, it would be advisable to check with your local cinemas for exact date of release, as what follows is an estimated monthly schedule.
Warner Bros. opens mid month with The Book of Eli. Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes and starring Denzel Washington opposite Gary Oldman, this is another post apocalyptic fight to save mankind.
Just before the month ends, Casino Royale Director Martin Campbell returns, but this time directing Mel Gibson in a dark thriller aptly named Edge of Darkness. A remake of the 1985 caper by the same name, Gibson plays a Boston homicide detective on the trail of his daughter’s murderer and marks his return to cinema after an eight year lapse since Signs.
Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman star in Fox’s fantasy adventure Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Based on the bedtime fairy tales from where the screenplay is adapted from, this cinematic upgrade is rumored to be a grand version of what was once dream time material for kids. Director Chris Columbus is at the helm, this time without a magic wand, but with Zeus’s lightning bolt.
On the 14th and for obvious reasons, Pretty Woman director Garry Marshal releases Valentine’s Day, a rom-com featuring an ensemble cast including two Jessicas. It anyone’s guess if guys would prefer gifting chocolates and roses to their ladies or accompanying them to this multi-plot romantic shenanigan.
Not five days later, Martin Scorsese’s much awaited Shutter Island hits cinemas world-wide, after a delayed 2009 release schedule (finally). Once again, Scorsese teams up with Leonardo DiCaprio, but this time the latter is cast as a US Marshal in a noir thriller film bordering genres of mystery and horror.
Gothic man Tim Burton is back and with him his good luck charm Johnny Depp, as the Mad Hatter in Disney’s 3D Alice in Wonderland. Mia Wasikowska plays the fabled Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. With Burton’s panache for dark and broody cinematography, the question is whether Disney will restrict its mostly universal audience to an R-rated gathering. Burton on the other hand, promises a visually bright and vividly colorful experience.
Also in 3D, DreamWorks’ animated How to Train Your Dragon (finally, an original!) appears to be a family affair, and with voice-overs from Gerard Butler and America Ferrera, forms Burton’s main opposition in the same month.
The name on everyone’s lips is Sam Worthington, and while still basking in the glory of Avatar, his next role is even farther (or higher) than his avatar on planet Pandora. Worthington plays Perseus caught in an epic battle between Liam Neeson’s Zeus and Ralph Fiennes’ Hades in Clash of the Titans. Going back a month, I’m starting to wonder what’s with the sudden akin to Zeus?
As if to drive the point home that 2010 is the biggest year in sequels, director Oliver Stone adds a 2 to Wall Street with Money Never Sleeps, 23 years after the original. Michael Douglas returns, this time with Shia LaBeouf, and hopefully, together they may reveal where all the money went.
Right, so this sequel thingy may be starting to become a real nightmare. Freddy Krueger is also returning in another A Nightmare on Elm Street, and while he carves some of us to shreds, the rest of us may want to switch back to good old coffee with a good dose of caffeine. At least so we don’t fall asleep before the credits go up.
If Freddy leaves you sleepless, Steve Carell may be just the tonic in Date Night. Along with Tina Fey of TVs 30 Rock, this may be the biggest comedy of 2010 and may leave us gasping for breath on the aisles. He did it before in 40 Year Old Virgin, this time Carell shows us how an ordinary date can become a nightmare; with or without Freddy Krueger.
Last summer started off with a fragmented version of X-Men in Wolverine’s origins. This year we see Tony Stark again in Marvel’s Iron Man 2. Downey Jr. donns his metal suit again while director Jon Favreau snaps the take slate for the second time, bar-coding it into another super hero franchise.
It’s a director-leading man partnership this year as well. Ridley Scott is back, and this time he sends his very own General Maximus (Russell Crowe) to Sherwood Forest in the guise of (another) Robin Hood. Along with fellow Aussie star Cate Blanchett as Lady Marian, Crowe’s re-vamped Robin Hood is rumored to be the best ever action epic from Scott. But can you imagine Russell Crowe in tights?
Then we have Donkey and Shrek returning in DreamWorks’ 3D version of installment number four, titled Shrek Forever After. While everyone from Cameron Diaz to Antonio Banderas returns to lend their voices in the hilarious antics of the land of Far, Far Away, we wonder how many times a single fairy tale can end happily ever after.
Calling “all the single ladies” for the second time, director Michael Patrick King spices up the after hours of NYC with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Chris North for another get together in Sex and the City 2. Did we really watch the first one?
With the summer in full swing, Disney and Pixar bring another 3D adventure to another franchise in Toy Story 3. Buzz and Woody are back and they can’t get enough of each other. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return to voice their plastic looking animations.
After last year’s New Moon, June will see the third installment in the Twilight Saga: The Eclipse. Will Kristen Stewart’s character finally yield to the fangs of a vampire, or will she prefer walking on all fours? Maybe a fourth installment may decide her fate.
Another remake, or shall we say, upgrade to the big screens, is the arrival of The A-Team with a new set of stars and hopefully, a sensible plot. In the lead is Liam Neeson as “Hannibal”, with Bradley Cooper as “Faceman” and Sharlto Copley as “Murdock” along with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson replacing Mr. T. We shall wait and see if this is a trip down memory lane or the birth of yet another franchise.
After a series of flops with Lady in the Water and Signs, director M. Night Shyamalan has finally opted out of the horror genre for something along the lines of a fantasy action adventure in his upcoming The Last Airbender. Needless to say, Shyamalan lost the title rights Avatar: The Last Airbender to James Cameron’s Avatar, but promises a visual spectacle nevertheless. Slumdog Millionaire Dev Patel is reportedly set to play Shyamalan’s new front man.
When Tom Cruise backed out, Angelina Jolie was the next best choice in Salt, one of this summer’s main action thrillers. With Jolie’s recent stint in “bending” the bullet (Wanted), you can expect to see her again in high octane mode.
If Jolie doesn’t do it for you, this year’s most anticipated movie might. Co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables is set to be what Inglorious Basterds was in 2009 with all the more action plus a huge plethora of A-list action stars. Along with Stallone are Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rouke, Bruce Willis and Randy Couture as mercenaries heading to South Africa to open a can of whup-ass. If that weren’t enough, and perhaps the biggest surprise (well not anymore), is Sly’s real life buddy Arnie returning after a leave of absence. Yes, Governor of “Kaarlifornia,” Arnold Schwarzenegger still has what it takes and he’s all set to prove us wrong. Also look out for Dolph Lundgren (Ivan Drago in Rocky 4) in what is going to be a heavy dose of pure testosterone. Ladies preferring chivalry and romance may want to sit this one out. For what it’s worth for most us viewers, this will also be the last living memory of the lovely yet late Brittany Murphy.
Based on Min-Woo Hyung’s graphic novel, Priest promises enough horror and action, enough at least to give Freddy Krueger nightmares! In this version adapted for the screen, Paul Bettany in the title role (unlike his monk in The DaVince Code) must break all laws of the church to save his family from the bite of vampires. Also starring Karl Urban, Christopher Plummer and Maggie Q.
Written and directed by Ben Affleck, The Town captures some intense suspense as a crime-thriller flick. If every year has at least one movie depicting daring heists, then Affleck’s narrative here could be it this year, and hopefully will be what Public Enemies wasn’t last year.
Still in production but slated for an October release, director Robert Schwentke puts together Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John C. Reilly, Helen Mirren and Mary-Louise Parker in Red, a DC comics based action-comedy. Producers may be tight-lipped on the plot, but web leaks are rumored to centre around a plot where a former special ops agent is sent to assassinate and even deadlier assassin. With Willis, Reilly and Freeman’s sarcastic wit, this is bound to both fast paced and hilarious.
Another superhero movie, but an animated one spoofing superheroes. Megamind is not your ordinary super-villain, especially after loosing his mojo and voiced by Will Ferrell opposite Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, this satire promises all that is the lighter side in a day in the life of a superhero.
Not quite content with superhero movies for a year? Director Michel Gondry blows up onto the screen an age old TV series that boosted Bruce Lee into mainstream Hollywood. Seth Rogen stars as Britt Reid, aka The Green Hornet, and with his side-kick Kato, provide some night time ass-kicking in keeping the city safe. After Superbad and Pineapple Express, could Rogen be taking his green stash a bit too seriously? Also starring Christoph Waltz (most memorable in Inglorious Basterds), Cameron Diaz and a whole load of recognizable others in supporting roles.
Lucy and Edmund returns to Narnia, marking their third adventure in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This time King Caspian takes them for on joy ride aboard his royal vessel The Dawn Treader, but not before realizing their journey to the edge of the world is filled with unimaginable perils. Michael Apted directs, and along with familiar a cast from the previous two installments, The Chronicles of Narnia celebrates its trilogy. No wonder J. K. Rowling keeps coming out with another Harry Potter novel every now and again.
So there you have it folks. Except for a handful, originality takes a back seat yet again.
Hollywood may never admit that fresh ideas are as abundant as Beluga Caviar, but add-ons with part 3, 4 and more may indeed reveal why screenwriters protest so often. Also notable is the heavy influx of movies in 3D format this year. As such, it would be advisable to get your own pair of stereoscopic spectacles (3D glasses), or even custom make your own, as precautionary hygiene.