January 24, 2008
2008 films ... a list
It looks like it will be an interesting year for movies...This weekend alone I had the opportunity to see There Will Be Blood (IMDb) (trailer), a Mexican horror film called El Orfanato (The Orphanage) (IMDb) - which was far creepier than I expected, Charley Wilson's War (IMDb), and finally after months of anticipation, the massive monster movie Cloverfield (IMDb). I, for the most part, was pleased with each of them. But I'll have more to say about these particular films later...
So here's a first look at some of the movies coming out in 2008 (and thereafter), not exactly in chronological order (for a chronological list see the movie calendar below)
First of all, there are two movies coming out in 2008 that I'm most excited about; they are: The Dark Knight, and Speed Racer.
The first film I'm revved up about in '08 is Speed Racer (MAY.2.2008) (IMDb) (trailer), directed by the Wachowski Brothers, who have considerable experience creating visual masterpieces. The original Matrix is one of my favorite films; unfortunately I was a little underwhelmed by the sequels. But that might not be fair; it would be hard for anyone to match the ambition of the original, and they certainly stood out in contrast to a lot of other Sci-fi films. But V for Vendetta restored my faith in the brother's ability to combine an inspiring story with fantastic visuals and (as usual) stunning martial arts. So we'll wait and see, but it looks like Speed will impress.
The Dark Knight (JUL.18.2008) (IMDb) (trailer) is the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins (IMDb). Like 'Begins', 'Knight' is directed by Christopher Nolan, this time with screenplay-writing assistance from his younger brother Jonathan Nolan, who has also co-written with Chirstopher for their breakout film Momento (IMDb), and 2006's excellent The Prestige (IMDb). A lot of acting talent came together for 'Begins. Christian Bale is a perfect choice to play the man in black. And Begins had a fantastic supporting cast: Gary Oldman as Officer (someday to become Commissioner) Gordon, Michail Cain as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox (the batmobile's mechanic/CEO of Wayne enterprises); they all reprise their roles in Knight. Maggie Gyllenhaal is taking over for Katie Holmes (probably because Batman doesn't believe in Scientology) but that's fine with me because I thought Holmes' role was weak in Begins. (Note: My main disappointment with the casting in Begins was using Ken Watanabe, who has amazing acting ability (The Last Samari, Letter From Iwo Jima), as a mere pawn.) The Nolan brothers have reignited the Batman franchise; I have high hopes for The Dark Knight. The trailer looks great! Its very sad to hear of the passing of Heath Ledger who played The Joker in this film. If he is to be replaced for any future sequels, that will be a difficult task.
Side note: Turns out that Jonathan Nolan also has writing credits for a Sci-fi film called Intersteller (IMDb), to be directed by Stephen Spielberg, due out sometime time in 2009. This is just a speculation/hunch but I think the story of this film might be related to The Dig - a concept created by Spielberg and George Lucas in the 90s that they intended to make into a movie, but ended up becoming a video game created by Lucas Arts, and later adapted into a novel. The basic plot of that game involved astronauts investigating a mysterious asteroid close to earth and finding a wormhole that transports them to another place in the universe.
As of late, comic-character-themed movies seem to be a popular in Hollywood. Some of them I have thought were really decent (V for Vendetta, Batman Begins (and The Dark Knight I hope), X-Men 1 and 2, Spider-Man 1 and 2, and so on ... but there have been several that left something to be desired. My suspiscion is that Iron Man (MAY.2.2008) (IMDb) will fall into the latter of the two categories. It just seems odd to me that Jon Favreau, the director of Swingers and Made, has shifted his attention to a comic-themed film. But who knows? Robert Downey Jr. suited for the role of Tony Stark; and if its true that Favreau's a big fan of Kevin Smith, then it seems reasonable that he has a valid interest in the genre/
This coming Friday – 2 days away - (1-25-2008) the forth installment in the Rambo (IMDb) series comes to the big screen. I remember seeing some leaked footage in early '07, and I had to look a couple times at the footage to be sure it wasn't from a previous Rambo film. Stallone looks ridiculously jacked; so its no surprise he got busted by Australia and had to pay a significant fine for possession of human growth hormone. The trailer makes it look as if this Rambo will live up to previous franchise installments when it comes to gratuitous violence and explosions.
It seems odd that twenty years after the most recent sequel (twenty-sex years after the original) Rambo gets an official follow-up, but also a bizzare parody of the original called Son of Rambow (MAY.2.2008) (IMDb), about two british kids obsessed with the original and who've decided to recreate it in their backyard. Its getting pretty good reviews.
Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind comes out February the 22nd (IMDb) (trailer). The story goes: Jack Black plays a guy who inadvertently erases all the tapes at a local video store and he and his friend, played by Mos Def, together recreate the films themselves (such as The Lion King, and Robocop). That concept with Gondry's amazing talent for creating naturally unuual visual with elaborate props costumes and camera trickery means I can't see how this can go wrong.
After almost twenty years there is a forth Indiana Jones film on the way (MAY.22.2008) (IMDb). Not only is there no indication that John Rhys-Davis will reprise his role as Sallah, it doesn't appear that Sean Connery has a role in this film, so I can't understand the logic of making it. Connery with Ford added a very interesting dynamic to the third Jones film that gave it a ; kind of like what Samuel Jackson did for the third Die Hard film. Its interesting; in Live Free Of Die Hard, Willis' character John McClain has a new younger reluctant partner played by Justin Long, which similarly seems to be what is happening in the next Indiana Jones film with Shia LeBeouf's character replacing Connery as Indiana's reluctant dad. My prediction is that this forth installment in the Jones franchise will fail in following its predecessor in a similar way as did Live Free of Die Hard.
The Happening (JUN.6.2008) (IMDb), the latest film by M. Night Shayamalan, stars Mark Walberg and Zooey Deschanel (who was great in Elf (IMDb), and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (IMDb)). I've read a few message boards that seem to indicate that its about a family trying to escape a massive natural disaster caused by a reaction of plants to the pollution created by humans. Hopefully M. Night still has the magic he had when he crafted The Sixth Sense, and Umbreakable (and even Signs to an extent), but recent films by him have felt rushed, incomplete - lacking the same thrill as their predecessors.
There is also an as of yet untitled X-Files sequel in pre-production (JUL.25.2008) (IMDb). I was a little surprised to stumble across this title online. The last X-Files movie was in 1998, and the show concluded in 2002. But I guess five years isn't too long for a sequel; especially considering Rambo is coming back after two decades alone in the jungle, as is Indiana Jones who's looking much older these days. I was never a huge X-files fan, but I think I'll have to take a look at this.
Coming sometime in 2008...
Diary of the Dead (IMDb) - The forth official sequel to Night of the Living Dead (IMDb), this time from the perspective of some films students encountering actual zombies while filming a horror film. Its not clear if its even getting a wide-release. Limited release (FEB.22.2008)
Enders Game (IMDb) – uncertain still in pre-production. Actors are uncertain, but this will be directed by Wolfgang Peterson (who has also directed: The Never-Ending Story (IMDb), Troy (IMDb), and Enemy Mine (IMDb), to name a few). About a year ago someone recommended I read Ender's Game, a book I had missed when I was younger, and I took their advice and read what I now consider one of my favorite science-fiction novels. This, if done well, will be amazing!
One of the most exciting things to look forward to in '09 will be Zach Schneider's Watchmen (MAR.6.2009) (IMDb). Based on a graphic novel written in the 80s that is about an alternative America where super-heroes exist, but have had to go underground because of government regulation. Schneider's previous work include the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead (IMDb), as well as last year's bloody and visually remarkable 300 (IMDb).
It seems like Taranteno enjoys leaving his mark in all his favorite film genres: He's done Film Noir/Crime Caper (Pulp Fiction (IMDb), Reservoir Dogs (IMDb)), and Kung-fu/Grindhouse (Kill Bill (IMDb)). Now it seems he has his lens focused on the war genre with Inglorious Bastards (sometime in 2009) (IMDb) making a dirty-dozen like WWII film about convicted soldiers who have chosen to undertake a dangerous mission instead of facing a firing-squad.
I'm making a calendar (using Google's calendar application) to keep track of upcoming films, check it out ...