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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
The old saying goes something like “Summer ain’t over to the corn comes down,” but it already feels like Summer 2012 is long behind us. The absolutely horrid box office take from last weekend may have hastened this a bit. Anticipation for fall movies plays into it as well, and there are several projects I am super excited to see this coming fall. From a 3D action extravaganza to a time sprawling epic to a fictional take on a controversial religion to a quaint little film from a New Zealander, I am as excited for the fall movie season as I have ever been. Hyperbole might be kicking in, but we could face one of the most interesting fall movie seasons of all time. Here is a short-ish list of movies I’m looking forward to and will most likely see in theaters.
I’ve previously written of my anticipation for Judge Dredd. When I wrote that column, September 21st didn’t seem to be too far away. Now that we’re just off a week or so from Dredd’s US theatrical release, my anticipation is palpable. Simply put, I cannot wait to see this movie. From the Alex Garland script to the main cast, which includes Karl Urban and Lena Headley (How great was it to cast Karl Urban as Dredd?) to the futuristic, apocalyptic setting, I am pumped for the new Dredd movie. It is already drawing comparisons to movies like The Raid (of which it is not a rip-off…quit saying this, people!), District 9, and 28 Days Later, and reviews (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) as of this writing have been universally strong. This is a must-see for me and the exact type of film made to appeal to my weird tastes.
Trouble With the Curve
In the past 10 years, Clint Eastwood has surprisingly entered into the most prolific period of his career. This is especially odd given that he is now in his eighties. Mystic River, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, and Invictus have all been released to great critical acclaim and multiple awards nominations and wins. Curve, Eastwood’s first acting gig since 2008, comes highly anticipated as well, with a great cast (Eastwood, Amy Adams, and Justin Timberlake) and an interesting premise (we don’t get too many movies that delve deeply into the stat-obsessed world of baseball, save for last year’s Moneyball of course). Like Judge Dredd, it’s almost as if Trouble With the Curve has been made to specifically appeal to me (I’m a huge baseball fan and stat nerd). Cannot wait to have a date night and catch this movie (special thanks to Amy Adams for making this a date-worthy movie!).
Paul Thomas Anderson returns after a five year hiatus with 2012’s most controversial film, The Master. Many have speculated over whether or not Anderson’s new film is a fictional account of the roots of Scientology, the oft-derided “religion” frequently espoused by the likes of Tom Cruise and John Travolta among many other high profile celebrities. Whether this is or is not the case (which it obviously is) is almost entirely irrelevant to me; a project featuring Joaquin Phoenix (in his first serious role since “giving up” acting a few years back as some kind of stunt art performance) and Philip Seymour Hoffman is going to pique my interesting a hundred times out of a hundred. That The Master is directed by Anderson, perhaps America’s finest young filmmaker (the guy made Boogie Nights in his 20s…), is also helpful.
The latest feature from the Wachowski’s (in collaboration with Tom Tykwer, director of Run Lola Run) has garnered mixed critical acclaim thus far. Personally, I don’t care. Cloud Atlas, the sprawling, epic tale of science fiction, love, and whatnot, is a must-see as far as I’m concerned. The Wachowki’s work is almost never boring (for as bad as the third Matrix sequel is, it really isn’t boring) and the cast is absolutely fantastic. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Hugo Weaving round out a heavyweight cast who play multiple characters throughout Cloud Atlas’s inter-weaving tales. The unorthodox six minute trailer shows off some of the neat special effects present in the film as well, and the project has a great look and feel to it thus far. Hopefully this doesn’t end up as another Prometheus.
Let’s get one thing clear: a sequel to Taken, 2009’s surprise smash hit and “dad fiction” subgenre revitalizer, was probably never a good idea. Courtesy of the first film making buckets of money, we ended up with it anyway, and at least the same writing team (which includes prolific talent Luc Besson) is back. Most importantly however, Liam Neeson is back as an ex-CIA bad-ass, and he’ll bring with him his specific set of skills in order to save his family once again from the clutches of generic Eurotrash gangsters. I can’t possibly imagine this project turning out well and I have the absolute lowest of expectations, but this might turn out to be a good thing (it should at least be better than this year’s Lockout, also a Luc Besson joint). After initially scoffing at the project, the trailer did somewhat grow on me. If Taken 2 doesn’t hit, I won’t be surprised. If it does, however, then I’ll be the first one to eat crow and sing its praises.
Ben Affleck has garnered much critical acclaim for his directorial efforts thus far, which include 2007’s underrated crime thriller Gone Baby Gone and 2010’s overrated crime thriller The Town. While I was lukewarm on both of these movies over all, it is hard to deny that Affleck has talent as a director. His upcoming film Argo, featuring Bryan Cranston, Allan Arkin, and Affleck himself, is about a group of Americans and Canadians who partner up in order to help rescue hostages during the infamous 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Featuring what looks to be a cast that has settled well into the 1970s, Affleck’s period piece looks incredibly interesting as well as a lot of fun (something lacking in his first two efforts) and will assuredly be an awards season contender.
Disney’s newest non-Pixar CG animated film comes courtesy of long-time Futurama collaborator Rich Moore and gifted actor John C. Reilly (whose comedy appearances at this point are far more interesting to me than his dramatic roles). Inspired by classic arcade games of yesteryear, Wreck-It Ralph (a sort-of Mario-like game) is the story of a video game villain (Ralph) who wants to change his ways and become a good guy (switching games and genres – from platformer to first-person-shooter – in the process). Ralph’s switch-up throws the video game world into total upheaval, as could be expected in a film of this variety. Ralph looks like an interesting project. It has the potential to be the first non-Pixar film to hit the heights of Pixar fare like Toy Story, Up, and Wall-E. Reilly’s voice performance seems well-suited to the titular character and spin-off and sequel expectation is there as well. I can’t wait to check out what appears to be a fun take on the video game universe (and what may end up as the best video game movie of all time).
James Bond: Skyfall
Bond is back this fall, and it’s about time. It would be both bad writing and super cheesy to say that expectations for Skyfall are sky high, but I just don’t care (because they are – and I’m a bad writer as well). 2008’s Quantum of Solace, while not a terrible movie, did not garner as good a reputation as the first Daniel Craig Bond film, Casino Royale. From initial trailers and impressions, Skyfall looks to take Casino Royale levels of coolness to the next level, and excite audiences this November. Featuring a killer supporting cast (Javier Bardem as a villain? yes, please) and directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), Skyfall enters theaters at a maximum level of anticipation. I have absolutely loved Craig as James Bond and am excited to see him on the big screen (and even on IMAX!) as Bond once again.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I’m not the biggest fan of Lord of the Rings and its Peter Jackson-directed trilogy of endlessly long films, but I admire both film spectacle and enormous tentpole releases. The upcoming Hobbit adaptation (split needlessly into a trilogy when two films, if not even one, would have been just fine) is such a release, and looks to perhaps revolutionize special effects the way Avatar did three years ago. Filmed in 48 frames-per-second, previews of Jackson’s film have so far been mixed, but he is promising that the final version will look much better. I’m ok with taking Jackson at his word, as his track record with special effects and tentpole films speaks for itself. Though I’m not an ardent fan, I’m greatly looking forward to this adaptation as it looks like it will be a lot of just plain fun, and will see it in IMAX 3D this December.
This is 40
The initial trailer for This is 40, the upcoming Judd Apatow quasi-sequel to Knocked Up is somewhat discouraging. Jokes seem obvious and rusty, characters appear smug and unlikable, and the overall tone has a bit of a been-there-done-that feel to it as well. It’s almost as if Apatow has fallen into a trap of sorts, only able to keep making the same movie over and over again. And yet, I’m still excited for this film. Starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (amongst others), This is 40 is Apatow’s first directorial feature since the colossal bomb that was Funny People in summer 2009. Thing is, Funny People is actually secretly a great movie, and I have every right to believe that This is 40 will be good as well. The initial trailer may not be great, but I have to believe in Apatow at this point. This is 40 will either reaffirm my belief, or turn me off to him for good. There’s not much room for middle ground.
What films are you looking forward to this fall film season?