December 22, 2008
Holiday (and Upcoming) Movies
One of my favorite things about the Holidays is the many movie possibilities usually available. It was great the few years when there was either a Lord of the Rings or a Harry Potter film to choose from.
Right now there are a few options: You can save your money on The Day The Earth Stood Still (see below for reasons why). If you can find a theater showing RocknRolla (IMDb) and you've enjoyed past Guy Ritchie British gangster movies I would recommend seeing it. Quantum of Solace (IMDb) is a direct sequel to Casino Royal and second film to cast Danial Craig as 007. Although not as excellent as Casino Royal, it was still worth watching, especially if you liked Casino Royal.
I was really looking forward to the reincarnation of Star Trek that originally was set to release Christmas day 2008. Alas, it has been pushed back to May 9th. This will be either a total restart of the original, or at least a prequel to the original television series. Aside from awesome looking special effects, one aspect this project that excited me is the casting of Simon Pegg as the character Scotty who you would recognize as Shaun from the excellent Shaun of the Dead. Also, while all of the characters are cast with younger actors for obvious reasons, Leonard Nimoy is reprising his role as an aged Spock (perhaps by way of a flashback or other plot devise).
The film I'm most interested in this Christmas is The Spirit (IMDb). The trailer for The Spirit sort of caught me off guard since all my attention has been focused on The Watchmen. The Spirit is directed by, although not originally written by, talented graphic novelist Frank Miller -- who wrote the graphic novels which have become the films Sin City and 300. From a comic series from the 1940s, the film's style looks very similar to the animated style of Sin City. I don't know much about the story, but I imagine it will have all the traditional hard-boiled crime story themes, and film noir elements...a conflicted love story, a hero with an unyielding and confusing sense of justice, etc. (Scarlett Johansson as a bad-girl is also quite intriguing.)
Miller's 300 was directed by Zach Snyder who is behind the lens in the much-anticipated The Watchmen (IMDb), which is set for a March 6th 2009 opening. One of the more amazing aspects of The Watchmen is that now that its finally being created for the screen (there have been several prior attempts) the film makers are not only striving to recreate an authentic 1980s atmosphere, which itself is would be challenging, but an alternative one at that, where superheros are real and as such all other facets of that time are skewed, with odd historical similarities (I remember noticing when I read The Watchmen somewhere a sign for “RR for President,” but instead of being for the actor Ronald Reagan, it was for actor Robert Redford). Interestingly, one of the two writer/artists behind Watchmen, Moore has argued that graphic novels are not meant for the cinematic medium because it takes in-depth examination of each cell in the story to fully interpret all of its details and meanings. To Snyder's credit, from the trailers it appears that he has done as well as could be expected in replicating the elements within Watchmen. After Watchmen, according to the IMDb, Snyder has a few interesting projects on the way...including: a sequel/remake to the animated cult hit Heavy Metal in 2010, and a film version of the comic series Cobalt-60. Although, since story elements of the comic Cobalt-60 were incorporated into the Heavy Metal magazine, perhaps these separate projects are really one in the same.
Another film opening Christmas day possibly worth seeing is The Valkyrie (IMDb) -- based on a true story about an insurrection of German soldiers against their leaders during WWII. It seems a little silly to me that, judging only from the trailer, there is no attempt at having the characters use a German accent.
I'm much more excited for another WWII era film coming out soon called Defiance (IMDb) (staring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber), directed by Edward Zwick who is gifted at bringing true stories of war to the screen, such as: Glory, and The Last Samurai. Defiance is based on a true story of three Russian Jewish brothers who led a rebellion against German soldiers while taking refuge in the forest. Defiance is set to open January 16th 2008.
Another movie I'm really excited about (set to open the same day as Defiance) is the new film by Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino (IMDb). Imagine all the grit of a hard-ass retired Dirty Harry in front of the lens, with the refined genius of Clint Eastwood as a director behind the lens.
I just went to see The Day The Earth Stood Still (IMDb), which looked very fascinating in the trailer, but overall left me feeling disapointed and slightly bored. The story was bland and unconvincing, but what irritated me the most about about TDTESS was the extremely obvious product placement thoroughout the film – from particular brands of phones, watches, fast food, cars and so on. There was nothing subtle about it. Movie editors take note: cool it on the over-the-top painfully obvious product placement. Just because the economy is terrible and nobody is buying anything doesn't excuse your excessive assault on our subconsciousness. No one wants to sit through a two-hour action-justified infomercial. These products must exist in a realistic film, sure, but when the camera hesitates a moment to give you a close-up glimpse of the sleek new phone and watch being used by the protagonist, it's more than a little heavy-handed. Not only that, this is in a film that already has a heavy-handed message about how the excesses of consumerism and so forth having brought an alien species to destroy humanity in order to save the planet. A little contradictory, eh? So, I recommend saving your money and waiting for this film to come out on dvd. Last winter's I Am Legend was a much more thrilling and emotional film by comparison.
Look below for trailers at Apple for some of the more exciting films I'm looking forward to:
For my list of upcoming films check my movie calendar page