Posts Tagged 'scream 4'

SCREAMing again.

Listen while you read: What else but the unofficial theme song from the Scream movies, Nick Cave‘s “Red Right Hand”
In preparation for Scream 4‘s arrival in theaters next week, I rewatched the first 3 films earlier this week for the first time in probably 10 years. I’d been meaning to rewatch them anyway for consideration on my revamped Biggie 100 list (the first time I made the list, in 2003, I placed the trilogy at #77), but I definitely wanted to refresh my memory before going into the fourth movie. I wondered if I’d still like them now as much as I did 10 years ago (it’s frightening to think the original Scream came out almost 15 years ago, in December ’96). Turns out, while I still love the first two movies, my opinion of Scream 3 took a bit of a dive. I ended up taking all 3 movies out of my top 100, and Scream 3 off my “love” list altogether. I still enjoy 3, but it doesn’t compare to the first two (no doubt due to the fact that the third one was not written by Kevin Williamson, who wrote the first two and thankfully returns for Scream 4). The first two movies did stay on the overall list, but have been demoted to section C (which covers numbers 151-250 of my all-time favorites). I know, this is fascinating to you.

Anyway, I write about this because I have a history with the Scream movies. Scream is the first horror franchise I was ever a true fan of. I was 16 when the first one came out, and even before seeing it I remember being interested in it precisely because the villain wasn’t a monster or some superhuman, precisely because it didn’t seem like a typical horror film. I’d enjoyed the Friday the 13th series growing up, but I didn’t love it for any reason other than the fact I thought Jason Voorhees was a badass. I could tell even as a kid that they weren’t any good as pieces of cinema. To this day, horror is probably my least favorite movie genre, because it produces the fewest good movies of any genre in film.

The original Scream came out during my first year as a movie theater employee, and I remember how big a deal it was at the time. It came out in December, during Christmas break, so it sold out every night that first week as word of mouth spread between every high school and college student in the area. It was not expected to be a big hit, but the power of word-of-mouth is incomparable. I’m pretty sure we opened it in one our medium-sized theaters, but by the end of its first Saturday night we had it in our biggest house. We were even running the print through multiple theaters (which was called ‘interlocking’ in projection lingo) to fit more people in and sell more tickets. I think at one point we had it running through 3 or 4 different theaters at once for the late shows. At the time I’d never seen anything like it. It was fun. It was exciting. I have this image burned into my head during one show where the whole theater was filled, and on top of that there were people sitting on the floor in the aisles, people sitting on the partition in the back of theater, and even one guy sitting on top a trash can, with his girlfriend sitting in his lap. It was hilarious.

Scream was made for around $15 million and ended up grossing $103 million in the U.S. Needless to say, this being the horror genre, a sequel was rushed into development, and they somehow got it out the very next December in 1997. Seeing Scream 2 that first Friday night was a massive social event. I went to a 7:00 primetime show with 3 or 4 other people. It was sold out, 450 people in our biggest house. It was an absolute blast. I think I saw every single person in my high school class at the theater at one point or another that weekend while I was working. I thought then (and even now after watching it again) that Scream 2 was a really good sequel, by horror movie standards or any other standard. The ending wasn’t as satisfying, but the movie was a fun ride, and there was nothing like watching it in a packed house. It also had a damned good soundtrack.

For Halloween 1998, my buddy Jason and I dressed up as GhostFace and ran around the hallways at Framingham High, scaring the shit out of all the girls. It was uncanny. The girls would be scared shitless. Not like a scare when you startle someone, but some girls would see us from down the hall and literally run away screaming in the opposite direction, like were actually going to kill them. Needless to say, we found this hilarious. That’s how much the GhostFace costume and mask had permeated popular culture at the time.

The first Scream singlehandedly reinvigorated the horror genre, which was all but dead at the time. All the old franchises from the 80’s and early 90’s had dried up, and no one had attempted to start a new horror series in years. I don’t even think Kevin Williamson envisioned Scream as a franchise, but because it was so successful, that’s exactly what it became. Williamson’s writing style (the witty dialogue, the self-awareness of the characters via the constant references to earlier horror movies, using the “rules” of past horror movies as plot points, etc.) was widely praised by critics (and yes, I nominated it for Best Original Screenplay at the Biggies that year), and he became one of hottest writers in town at the time as a result. The Drew Barrymore surprise death scene at the beginning was considered a revolutionary idea at the time, as you never saw the biggest name star in your movie killed off 10 minutes into the movie. In fact, you could make the argument that that one scene revitalized Barrymore’s career. She wasn’t a very big deal at the time, and just 2 years later she’d catapult up the ranks of leading romantic ladies when The Wedding Singer became a big hit. I think if you made a list of the 10 most influential movies of the 90’s, Scream would have to be on it.

After Scream, for the next several years you saw a bunch of subpar horror movies with young, hip casts, all trying to become the next big franchise. Perhaps you remember I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legends, Idle Hands, The Faculty, or the first Final Destination (which may be the dumbest horror franchise in history). They even brought back Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween: H20 in 1998 (which I thought was actually pretty solid). Scream was the most influential horror movie until The Blair Witch Project in 1999, followed by Saw in 2004 (which started the whole torture porn trend) and from then til now we’ve had virtually every horror movie from the 70’s and 80’s remade. Now we’ve come full circle, as the 80’s remakes are starting to bomb, and Scream 4 will be a big test to see if the genre can get another kick in the ass. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

“Bu-GAH!” Part of me thinks Heath Ledger based his Joker performance on Matthew Lillard in this scene.

Hell, you can make the argument that Scream also rebirthed the whole spoof genre. Spoofs hadn’t been a big deal since The Naked Gun and Hot Shots! movies in the early 90’s. After Scary Movie (a Scream spoof first and foremost) took off in 2000, we got 3 more entries into that franchise, which then spawned the atrocious Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck. It is truly amazing how wide Scream‘s tentacles reach. The only surprising thing is that it didn’t really spawn any true movie stars. Of course, everyone involved got career bumps and chances at bigger stardom, but who from that original cast is a big name now? Courteney Cox was already big because of Friends, but Scream didn’t make her a movie star, and she still does mostly TV. Neve Campbell never really capitalized despite playing the main character of the series, and can you tell me off the top of your head anything David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan or Jamie Kennedy have done in the past 5 years? I couldn’t. Even Wes Craven didn’t really turn it into anything bigger than what he’d been doing his whole career. He directed both Scream sequels, tried his hand once at drama (Music of the Heart), did another couple of horror movies that had no impact (Cursed, My Soul to Take) and a thriller (Red Eye) that also landed with a thud. Really, it was Kevin Williamson himself who enjoyed the biggest career bump after the first Scream. Pretty much anything he wrote for the next 5 years got made (even though none if it was any good), he got a chance at directing (Teaching Mrs. Tingle, which was awful) and he ended up creating Dawson’s Creek (which lasted 6 seasons) and The Vampire Diaries.

It’s that last paragraph that has me nervous going into Scream 4. Because what else can this be, after all this time (Scream 3 came out in 2000), other than a money grab for everyone involved? As recent history has shown, franchises that attempt to come back after 10+ years tend to not fare well creatively (the Star Wars prequels and Indiana Jones 4 come to mind). They’re not making this now because they suddenly came up with an irresistible story idea. I can assure you of that.

The Weinstein Company has said that they would like Scream 4 to be the start of a new trilogy. That’s all well and good, but first part 4 has to be both good and make a lot of money. Or, really, just make a lot of money. But I firmly believe it won’t do that unless it’s actually good. The Scream brand itself is not enough to sell this movie. It’s simply been too long since Scream 3. Many of the young people they want to turn out for this did not grow up with the Scream movies (they grew up with Saw), so this new one has to both feature some of the old characters (and hopefully transition them out of the series) and introduce new ones that would continue into a potential Scream 5 and 6. I dunno how to feel about it. I’m not totally opposed to Scream 4 and beyond, but it has to be done right. They can’t use the same formula in this one as they did the first 3. A big star dying at the beginning isn’t going to surprise anyone. I think the key is what they’ve done with Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott character. She either has to die or BE the killer in this one for it to have any shock value.

I don’t have a sense of good Scream 4 is going to be (after watching the all too revealing trailer, I’ve avoided all of the advertising for it that I can), but I can say one thing…because of my history with the franchise, and the fact that the core creative team is back, I’m genuinely rooting for it. Unfortunately though, my current mood is probably no better than one of cautious optimism. I’d rather not be disappointed if it’s terrible. However, my only expectation is that it be better than Scream 3. In that regard, I think it has a chance. We’ll find out next Friday.


I dig this poster, I know that.

 


PANICO 4!!!!!!!!

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As you get older…(feat. Drake)

Editor’s Note: This post does not actually feature Drake. But if the false advertising attracted a few more readers, I win.

I’ve noticed in the last couple of years how I’ve changed as a person in certain areas as I’ve gotten older. Part of it is your natural maturation process, but the second big factor for me has been watching younger people making the mistakes that I’m not making anymore (and some that I never made in the first place). I’ve always known the person I wanted to be, but as you get older you are better able to make your actions back up your intentions, in large part because your priorities shift. I often notice now the differences in behavior between people in their early 20’s and people my age, and it makes me thankful not to be older, but to have the wisdom now to be able to control myself and make better decisions.

I find that wisdom manifesting itself now as a much better ability to control my emotions. The key to this is to simply follow your own good advice. In this case, it’s “control your emotions, do not let your emotions control you.” And that’s such a common, simple expression, but it’s true! The problem is that most people don’t have the discipline to put it into practice. With a few exceptions, anything that pisses you off in this life can be overcome with just a bit of patience. Almost all emotions dissolve over time. It’s just a matter of what emotion you’re trying to get rid of. For instance, it obviously takes longer to get over a longtime love than it does to get over one of your sports teams losing a big game. Anger is not something that you need to get rid of immediately, be it through a vengeful act that may harm others, or a reactionary act that may cause you to harm yourself. For example, when I get really pissed, 9 times out 10 (okay, maybe 8 times out of 10) I don’t kick or punch or throw anything anymore; for two reasons, 1) whatever I’m pissed at isn’t worth the potential of breaking your bones (and the time it will take for your body to heal), and 2) it’s not worth breaking yours or somebody else’s property (and the cost it will take to fix or replace it). Not that controlling my anger was ever a serious issue, but now it’s pretty much a non-factor. You will simply not feel as bad about most things that piss you off just a few hours or days later. At the very least, if you take a step back and wait, you’ll have a clear head, and the raw emotional desire you have for immediate satisfaction will have worn off, or at least subsided to the point where you can make a rational decision about how best to respond. When you’re pissed off, you rarely think, you just DO something in response. Right? Well, I prefer to think, both about the best course of action and the consequences something I do will have on everyone and everything around it. Let the other person be the one to do something stupid.

A perfect example of rationality besting emotion was this past Sunday. Following the Patriots devastating loss to the Jets, I had a bunch of immediate reactions that I wanted to spew into the world. I was emotional, and that emotion was desperate to manifest itself with hateful words and drastic action. But I knew better. I knew that even a couple days later, that emotion would subside and I could speak rationally on the subject. Truth is though, I don’t want to talk about the game. There’s no point anymore. I know why they lost, and don’t feel the need to make myself feel worse by discussing it further with anyone else. I’ve read some stuff online and listened to some Boston sports radio discussion on it, but I haven’t watched a minute of ESPN all week. If I watch even half of the AFC Championship Game tomorrow, I’ll be surprised. There will be only two people on that field that I like; Troy Polamalu and Mike Tomlin. The only Super Bowl result that will even mildly please me is if the Packers win it. I don’t want the Steelers winning their 7th. I don’t want Roethlisberger tying Brady for rings, and the thought of the Jets winning after talking all that shit all year rots my skin. What kind of world do we live in if scumbags like Ben Roethlisberger and pretty much everyone on the Jets are rewarded with a championship after being such bad people and poor sportsmen? It’s not a world I want to live in.

However, out of the Patriots loss I did learn one lesson, and putting it into action, I will be less excited about success in the regular season going forward, because when all of that joy and confidence can be taken from you in one 3-hour period in January, you feel pretty damn stupid about wasting September thru December being so hyped up about the possibilities and the chances of another Super Bowl appearance or win. I will be less emotionally invested in the games next year, because I’m tired of being let down. It’s simply not worth it. It’s not because I love the game, the players or the team any less. I just refuse to get that emotionally involved over something I have no control over. It’s not logical. It’s not sane. My policy for next season will be, Wake me when they’ve won a playoff game. Going 16-0, 15-1, or 14-2 is obviously irrelevant. I don’t care if they’re 10-6, so long as they go undefeated in the playoffs. I love dominant teams, but these guys haven’t turned regular season dominance into playoff success in 6 fucking years. The Patriots have not won a playoff game in 3 years, and the last time they did, the game after was the worst sports loss of my life (the tragic events of February 3, 2008). In my view, Patriots fans should be celebrating our 5th Super Bowl win this year, but instead (as I said on Facebook last week), the Patriots seem to be evolving into the pre-2004 Red Sox; purveyors of constant heartbreak. Moving on…

There are still a lot of things I want (and need) to change about myself, but it’s always good when you realize that some things have improved.

Anyway, enough psychobabble, and here’s some other random stuff on my mind this week:

*Great news this week out of Hollywood. Warner Bros. made some official casting announcements with regards to Christopher Nolan‘s final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. It had previously been reported that Tom Hardy (a Nolan veteran from Inception) had been cast, but we didn’t know who he was playing. Well, as was expected, he will be one of the two villains in the film, and we now know that will be Bane. Equally as exciting is the news that the beautiful and talented Anne Hathaway will be playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I believe Hathaway is one of the 2 or 3 most talented actresses in her age range, and I love that she will now be a major part of a series of films I adore. She’s proven she’s a great actress, and she’s also proven she can be damn sexy (Get Smart). Needless to say, I greatly anticipate the first official shot of her in costume. I fully expect her to eclipse even the wonderful job Michelle Pfeiffer did in Batman Returns, much like Heath Ledger eclipsed Jack Nicholson‘s classic Joker from the 1989 Batman. And it’s a no-brainer that Tom Hardy’s Bane will shit all over that stupid thing we got in Batman & Robin. I have no idea how these two villains will be used in Nolan’s Batworld, I don’t know a damn thing about their backstories from the comics, and I’ll probably avoid any and all internet speculation along those lines. The film comes out July 20 next year, and that right now that 18 months seems like 50 years.

*There’s a new, full-length trailer for Scream 4 (or Scre4m as they’re frequently peddling it), and I just need to warn you that if you intend to see the movie, you need to avoid this trailer at all costs. I wish I had. It is the single most spoiler-filled trailer I have ever seen. It’s basically a highlight reel of all the jump scares and death scenes in the entire movie. Again, if you are even remotely interested in seeing Scream 4, do NOT watch the new trailer. It comes out in April, and I would advise avoiding all trailers and TV spots until you see it, if you’re at all interested in being surprised by anything that happens. Meanwhile, Dimension Films needs to find new marketing people.

*God help me, but I need to praise an actor for their humanitarian efforts. Mr. George Clooney, one of Hollywood’s biggest “join the cause” blabbermouths, has actually been backing up his talk recently with actions. He’s been one of those “Save Darfur/Rwanda” guys for a long time, and has actually spent a lot of time in Sudan this winter as part of the development of a program between Google and the UN to try and monitor the country via satellite imagery in order to prevent future acts of genocide. Turns out Clooney actually contracted malaria while he was he was over there (twice! as a matter of fact). All is well of course, but credit to him for not immediately running back to L.A. after getting sick. He’s certainly not faking his concern over these issues. Now, I don’t know if what he’s doing will actually make a lick of difference in the long run, but if he’s getting malaria, he’s obviously getting his hands dirty, and for that I commend him. Too bad Sudan’s population aren’t all multimillionaire celebrities who can afford to get immediate priority medical care. I for one would prefer to see Mr. Clooney and his ilk get involved with some domestic issues, but to each his own I suppose. As long as his trips over there aren’t taxpayer funded he can do what he pleases. [NY Daily News] [Clooney wrote THIS for the Huffington Post on the issue in December]

Actor Future Sudanese dictator George Clooney.

*OH, HAI, January Jones! I never thought of her as hot, but she looked goddamnedfantastic at the Golden Globes on Sunday. So kudos Ms. Jones. I’ve got my eye on you. This must be her month! (BA DUM BUM!) Who’s got two thumbs and lame puns? This guy!

 

*I want to add something to my “Things I Find Disturbing” list. I was reminded of it early this week when Apple released their massive earnings statements, which saw them bring in $26.7 billion in revenue and $6 billion in profits (both record highs for the company) over the holiday season. And goodie for them. I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem with something else. I find it disturbing that no one will point out or openly accuse Apple of having a monopoly on the  mp3 player market. I’ve thought this for a long time. The iPod has no true competitor. Sure, you can pick from a limited amount of other devices that can play digital music on them. However, if you want any accessories, or any capability to use your mp3 player with external brands and products, you have only one option. As far as I know, the Zune is the second most popular mp3 player (which is kind of like saying Boston, New York is the second most popular Boston in America).

Other than basic things like a protective sleeve and a portable charger, there are next to no options for Zune accessories, nothing to compares with what you can do with any iPod. And no, Apple whores (who can smell from thousands of miles away whenever I criticize Apple products or practices), that’s not because the Zune isn’t worthy of accessorizing. I have an 80GB Zune, which I LOVE, and which I’ve had for more than 2 years now. I will keep it as long as it functions. But god forbid I want to use it outside of just in my ears, and I’m fucked. Try searching “Zune sound dock” and see what comes up. Next to nothing. Nothing of any quality, anyway. Meanwhile, every high-end audio company on Earth makes multiple iPod docks. You can connect an iPod to pretty much anything. I can unplug one from my computer, go to the bathroom, plug it into my shower, get out and plug it into my toothbrush, finish that and plug it into my fucking refrigerator while I eat breakfast, and then take it out to any new car, which are now all built with iPod connectivity. I would love a Bose sound dock for my Zune, but I ain’t gettin one anytime soon, am I? I’m pretty sure you can buy an iPod Nano for your dog, and dog collar makers are putting Nano docks in the collars. I believe Apple has a monopoly on mp3 player accessories and portability, which as a result forces new buyers to favor iPods above anything else. It’s just common sense. If you want to do something with an mp3 player other than walk around with headphones in your ears, you better buy an iPod. I’ve been holding out, but eventually, I will have to turn into a consumer zombie, buy an iPod and use the iTunes software as base camp for my music collection. I am not looking forward to this day.

Note to Apple whores: nowhere in the above did I say Apple makes an inferior product, or that the iPod isn’t worth buying. So spare me your defenses of the Once-Bitten Fruit Logo.

I’ve thought the same thing about ESPN for years. ESPN has a monopoly on nationalized sports coverage. Sure, Fox has local sports networks in most major markets, networks like NESN and YES can succeed in their one market, and all the major networks have sports divisions, but does anyone seriously believe someone could start up another national sports-only network on cable right now and succeed? Fuck no they couldn’t. It’d be impossible, because ESPN has been allowed to buy up the rights to cover pretty much EVERYTHING sports-related you could possibly think of. As such, how does ESPN not have a monopoly? If I want to watch a daily wrap-up of national sports news, what are my options other than SportsCenter? None. Nil. They don’t exist. If you’re an anti-trust lawyer, please explain to me where I’m going wrong. I must be in error somewhere, because I’ve literally heard NO ONE else bring this up, even media people who are often critical of ESPN. So I’m either way ahead of the curve or I’m totally out of the loop.

*And because I love posting these and have fun making them, here’s a couple more Black Ops Theater videos of my gameplay: First is 2 angles of an awesome Valkyrie rocket triple kill, followed by a sweet single kill. I may have to start using this as a killstreak more often.

Next is one of me putting a hot double sticky grenade kill on some campers on Havana. I particularly enjoy the first angle where the guy I stick the grenade to gets launched up against the table. LOLZ.

P.S. If you read my “Things I Find Disturbing” post, you saw at the end where I posted that ridiculous Lil’ Wayne lyric. Remember? I posted it intending to show just how UNinsightful these rappers are. I had just clicked on a random song from his newest album and found a stupid, insulting lyric (it didn’t take long). Well, two people (both girls) posted that exact quote on their Facebook pages this week, and it didn’t seem to be in jest. I don’t know how to react to this. Should it sadden me, or should I be laughing?

My Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2011

2011, aka The Nolan Off-Year. Christopher Nolan has been releasing a movie every other year since 2006, so while we wait for his 2012 Batman finale, The Dark Knight Rises, we must first live through 2011. As it turns out, there are some pretty cool and interesting films on tap. 2010 was a very good year for movies (a big upgrade over the disappointing 2009), so let’s see what you got, ’11. If you had no idea what was coming out this year, well, that’s one of the reasons you keep me around as a friend. I’ve done the homework for you. After digging through several lists of hundreds of movies coming out this year, here’s what interests me and tickles my cinematic taste buds the most;

Looking at this camera only reinforces that I never want to shoot in 3D.

1. TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (July 1)

I can’t believe I’m doing this after the disaster that was Revenge of the Fallen, but I can’t help myself. The original was my most anticipated movie of 2007 and the sequel was my most anticipated movie of 2009. Michael Bay also had my most anticipated movie of 2001 in Pearl Harbor, so this is the 4th time he’s topped this list. Despite his many flaws, he’s like a drug I can’t get enough of. Combine that with my childhood love for Transformers and I’ll be right back in line for the midnight show, excited as shit to see giant fucking robots, explosions, and…an entire movie taking place at sunset (as per Bay’s requirements). I’m still hesitant to believe Bay has learned his lessons from the second movie, but after reading THIS big piece about him on Collider, my fears began to subside. The only way you can fix a problem is to acknowledge its existence, and Bay admits to almost everything I hated about Revenge of the Fallen in that interview. Whether or not he’s full of shit remains to be seen, but the way those guys described some of the footage they saw from Dark of the Moon got my geek antennae all warm and fuzzy again. The teaser trailer was really cool, and I think they spent more time on this one on the story, even though it is coming out just 2 years after the last film again (blame the greedy studio for that, not Bay). Bay also claims that this one will be darker, which is cool, but everyone says that after Dark Knight. Yes, they got rid of Megan Fox. No, I don’t really care. They replaced her with a British Victoria’s Secret model, so apparently Shia LaBeouf is just one irresistibly sexy bitch. I’m very interested to see what they’ll do with Shockwave as the main villain, though I guess Megatron will still make an appearance. I don’t know how that will work, but logic was never Michael Bay’s strong suit. Bay shot some of the film in 3D, despite previously bashing the medium as a gimmick. This is probably so he can make more money off the premium ticket sales. Or is that being too cynical? See, I’m already bashing the thing and I haven’t even seen it. But I am very excited about it! No, really! I know one thing they’ve done right already…they gave Optimus Prime his trailer! It better magically disappear in the movie just as it did in the cartoon. I’ll be very upset if it actually serves some practical purpose. [IMDbTRAILER]


BAM!!!


Yeah, Optimus and I are boys. What of it?

-As an aside, I dug through my old MySpace blog and found my Revenge of the Fallen review, which is probably the best, most entertaining movie review I’ve ever written. Forgive the small fonts, but whenever MySpace redesigned their site, they literally reduced the size of the blogs. It looked much better when I originally posted it. Check it out if you’ve forgotten just how ridonculous that movie is, and what a big mountain they have to climb to get the series back to where it was on the first film.

Still waiting for a moment like this in the live-action Transformers movies;

2. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 (July 15)

Despite how disappointed and utterly confused I was by Part I, I still have faith that the series will end in spectacular fashion. This one will also likely by 2½ hours long, but most of it should be character-building action, which I’m all for. There isn’t much else to say here, but apparently all the cool stuff in the trailer was from Part II. I will remain spoiler free until it comes out, so who lives and who dies and what happens should all be new to me come July. Interestingly enough, since this is a huge Warner Bros. release, we may also see the first teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises attached to it. Here’s hoping. I don’t care if it’s just some Hans Zimmer Batmusic, the logo and the release date. Just give me something. P.S. Per my New Year’s resolution, I will not be seeing Potter in 3D. [IMDbTRAILER]


Spielberg on set.

3. WAR HORSE (December 28)

Unless it’s called Tin-Tin, any Steven Spielberg-directed movie will make my top 5 most anticipated of any year. Unfortunately, the last taste in our mouths of Spielberg directing anything was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, one of the most absurd movies I’ve ever seen. And it pains me to say that, but I have to be honest. This one is based off of Michael Morpurgo‘s book of the same name (which was later adapted to a stage play), and the story takes place during World War I (an underused time period in modern films), where a kid’s beloved horse is sold into the British cavalry and sent into action. The horse ends up in the thick of things, being used on both sides of the war, and the kid, too young to enlist, sets out on his own to find the horse and bring it home. That appears to be a story right in Spielberg’s wheelhouse, and I have every confidence he’ll knock it out of the park. There are no big stars in the cast (the most recognizable one is Emily Watson, playing the boy’s mother), and they did a huge search in the UK to cast the role of the boy, Albert. A kid named Jeremy Irvine eventually won the part. I’m very interested to see a trailer for this, but we likely won’t get one til the summer. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

4. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (December 21)

I have no real reason to be so excited about this, other than the hype I’ve heard and the insane popularity of Stieg Larsson‘s books. I became hooked when David Fincher agreed to direct it, and then by the excellent cast they’ve put together. Fincher cast his Social Network star Rooney Mara in the coveted lead role of Lisbeth Salander. Then they cast the great Daniel Craig in the lead male role, Mikael Blomkvist, and we also get Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard, and Christopher Plummer. I heard an interview recently where Fincher admitted he was hesitant to get involved with another murder story, but that he was excited about the prospect of creating a movie franchise for adults. I’m so happy that Benjamin Button and Social Network have cemented Fincher’s place as one of Hollywood’s prestige directors (meaning he’s one of the first people called when the best projects come up), even though his fans have known that since the mid-90’s. By the time this opens in December, I probably still won’t have read the books, but I will have seen all of the original Swedish movies, which are coming up soon on my Netflix list. It’s interesting that the Lisbeth Salander of the Swedish movies, Noomi Rapace, is now being cast in some big mainstream American projects (one of which is coming up on this list). Needless to say, I’m interested to see what all the fuss is about. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

5. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (December 6)

A lot of people may disagree with me, but I think the Mission: Impossible films have gotten better and better each time out. This is usually the exact opposite of what happens with most Hollywood franchises. Though J.J. Abrams is not directing again, he’s back in a producing capacity and was involved in coming up with the story, both of which are good things. The director this time is Brad Bird, and this marks his live-action directing debut (he previously did the fabulous The Iron Giant, and The Incredibles and Ratatouille for Pixar). Normally, I’d be skeptical of an animation director taking on a project like this as his live-action debut, but not in Bird’s case. I think this was a smart choice, and I also like that Tom Cruise was humble enough to take part in a story that’s supposedly set up to phase him out of the series. Jeremy Renner is Cruise’s protégé in the film, and apparently if there’s a 5th movie, Renner would become the star and Cruise’s Ethan Hunt would be gone or reduced to a small part. Another very smart move I think. Not that I lack confidence in Cruise (I think I’m one of 15 people left in America who still love the guy as an actor), but in order for a franchise like this to continue, you’ve got to get new blood involved and turn over the lead role from time to time. Renner is überhot right now, and it was a wise casting choice. They seem to be borrowing a page from the Bond films, and that’s not a bad formula to emulate (new leading men, new directors each time, etc.). Simon Pegg returns, which incites smiley faces everywhere. Also joining the cast are the beautiful Paula Patton and the excellent Anil Kapoor (of Slumdog Millionaire and 24: Season 8 fame). We don’t know anything about the story, but some of it takes place in Dubai, and in the photo above, you’ll see Tom Cruise doing stunts on the Burj Khalifa, the recently completed tallest building on Earth. I can’t wait to see what they did with that. A few months ago photos came online (I couldn’t find it again to post here) of Cruise literally sitting on the top of the tower. It was mindboggling. That dude has some balls. Should be f’n awesome. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

6. SUPER 8 (June 10)

J.J. Abrams‘ next directorial effort is shrouded in maximum secrecy, but we know it’s a sci-fi movie in the vein of old-school Spielberg (who is a producer on this, but that could mean nothing). Or so we’ve been told. Regardless, after what Abrams did on Mission: Impossible 3 and Star Trek, I’d get in line to see him make a Barbie movie. You heard me. I really can’t say much else about it. It seems to take place in the late 70’/early 80’s and involves a creature or aliens on the loose. I know, that sounds like Cloverfield, but I’m assuming Abrams isn’t gonna rip himself off. The cast includes my boy Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) and a bunch of other white people. Watch the teaser trailer and see if you can make anything out of it. Just the fact that they’ve been able to keep it such a secret in this day and age is applause worthy. [IMDbTRAILER]

7. SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 (December 16)

I simply adored the first movie. Turns out Guy Ritchie
was the perfect filmmaker to modernize the character, and they pulled it off with visual flair, clever action scenes, smart writing and terrific performances across the board. Almost all of the original cast and crew are back (though my girl Rachel McAdams has not been confirmed), and they add the aforementioned Noomi Rapace in the female lead, and Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty, Holmes‘ greatest foe. The introduction of Moriarty in the sequel reminds me of how Christopher Nolan saved The Joker for his second Batmovie. I’m not saying this sequel will be anything close to as good as Dark Knight, but I like the idea of bringing in your big gun villain after you’ve spent one movie setting up the world and your main characters. In that sense, there’s great potential here, but in the end it will all depend on the writing. Robert Downey‘s comeback still amazes me. After Johnny Depp, he might be the second-biggest movie star in the world right now, and no other actor can say they’re simultaneously carrying 2 franchises like he is. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

8. THE HANGOVER PART II (May 26)

I think the original was perhaps the best comedy of the 2000’s. I’d have to do some digging to see what else would be on that list, but The Hangover has to be right up there. With its massive success, a sequel isn’t surprising, but I have to admit, I was not keen on the idea of a sequel to this story. I mean, what could possibly bring these 4 characters together again, and what could they possibly be doing so that they’d end up in another set of such insane circumstances? After all, you have to up the ante for a sequel. I just thought (and might still think) that anything close to what they went through on the original happening AGAIN would be too much of a stretch. They haven’t released a whole lot of info on the plot, but this one will supposedly follow what happens when the guys travel to Thailand for Stu‘s (Ed Helms) wedding. So they’ll have to introduce whoever it is Stu is marrying (looks like she’s played by Jamie Chung), and then international hijinks will ensue. Since they got the cast back, and since Todd Phillips is back, I’m psyched to see it regardless of whether or not I think it should have been made in the first place. The first one was mostly based in reality, and I just think if that kind of stuff happens to them again, you run the risk of making them all look cartoonish. But I’m open to being wrong. I’m also very curious to see all these cameos (Liam Neeson and Paul Giamatti have small parts, and even Bill Clinton shot a scene, which may be a first for a former President). [IMDb – No trailer yet]

9. THOR (May 6)

For some reason, I get the sense this will be hit or miss. Either it’ll be very good or very disappointing. I have some confidence given Marvel’s recent history and how they’re tying these films together for The Avengers in 2012. We’ll get some carryover from the Iron Man movies (Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson and maybe a Sam Jackson as Nick Fury cameo or some other surprises), and Chris Hemsworth looks pretty damn good as Thor. We’ve also got Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and relative newcomer Tom Hiddleston (who’s also in War Horse) as Thor’s brother, Loki. I admit I’ll be going into this one pretty cold, as I’ve never read a Thor comic and know next to nothing about the mythology. So it’ll be cool to experience some discovery of a new world. I’m curious how much of the film takes place in Asgard versus how much is on Earth. I like the trailer, and whatever the machine thingy they’re fighting is looks pretty badass. It’ll also be interesting to see what Kenneth Branagh brings to the table as director. He’s certainly never done anything with this scope. Hopefully, he placed some of that Shakespearean gravitas on the film. If Marvel had total creative control of the project and didn’t let him do at least some of his own thing, then you wonder why they’d hire him. [IMDbTRAILER]

10. THE BEAVER (April 8 )

Though I don’t think it’ll make any money, I’m just hopeful Mel Gibson delivers the type of performance that allows him to stage a comeback in the industry (though you could argue he won’t make that kind of comeback until something he’s in does make money). I’d like to see a Michael Vick level turnaround, and based on how good the script for this thing supposedly was, I don’t believe that’s outside the realm of possibility. And I think under the steady hand of Jodie Foster in the director’s chair, the circumstances are ideal for Gibson to turn in a great performance. But we’ll see. I’m putting this in the top 10 because that’s how much I love Gibson as an actor. I think he’s a vital performer, and I want him back in the mix, both as an actor and perhaps even moreso as a director. Kudos to Summit for releasing the film. I’ll reward them by buying a ticket to their next goofy Twilight movie later in the year. [IMDbTRAILER]

10 RUNNERS UP (in A-B-C order):

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (March 4) – A very interesting sci-fi premise in a real-world setting, based on a Philip K. Dick story (shocker). Matt Damon and the lovely Emily Blunt star, along with Mad Men‘s John Slattery. [IMDbTRAILER]

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (March 11) – This looks very cool, but at the same time I won’t be surprised if it’s a complete disaster. However, I love the way they’re describing it, which is that it was shot Black Hawk Down-style from the perspective of a group of Marines as they fight off an alien invasion in LA. I’ll see pretty much any alien invasion movie, but few of the filmmakers involved have done anything in the past that I’ve loved. I guess there’s always a first time. I hope. The second trailer (which I’ve linked) is much better than the first one they released. [IMDbTRAILER]

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (July 22) – Here’s another instance where I know nothing about the Marvel mythology. I’m also a little nervous that we haven’t seen a trailer yet, and that it’s kind of flying under the radar, even though it’s an important release, particularly with regards to the Avengers movie. At first I was hesitant about Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, but I’ve since been put at ease by some of the publicity photos. The cast around him is pretty strong (Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones), and Joe Johnston is a competent enough director. I’m reserving judgment, but they gotta show us something soon. I’m curious to see what kind of Captain America they present in this day and age. I’m surprised the PC Police didn’t intervene and force them to rename him Captain Democracy or some shit like that. Something tells me this isn’t destined to be a hit overseas. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

COWBOYS & ALIENS (July 29) – Yet another alien invasion story, though this one comes with a very cool twist. It takes place in the old west. I love westerns, and I love alien invasions. Put the two together…and I’m intrigued. You also gotta love that title, simple and to the point. I think Jon Favreau has proven himself to be a competent director of summer blockbusters (though I’d like to see some more ‘vision’ out of him), and with Daniel Craig as your lead, you can’t go wrong. Then there’s a grumpy Harrison Ford (who ALREADY WORKS AROUND THE CLOCK!!!), as well as Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano…and Olivia Wilde! Woot woot! Should be pretty neato, and whether it’s good or bad, it’ll be unique. [IMDbTRAILER]

NO STRINGS ATTACHED vs. FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (January 21 & July 22) – I just covered this in my New Year’s post, but I also intend on seeing both movies. Aside from Ashton Kutcher, I’m a big fan of the actors involved, and it’ll be interesting to compare the two films as well as seeing if the first one to come out (No Strings) affects the other’s prospects at the box office. It looks like they’re both gonna be R-rated, which is also a plus. It’ll be good to see Natalie Portman doing something lighter, and I’ll watch Mila Kunis in anything. Sort of reminds me of the “two movies with similar plot devices coming out within months of each other” situations we saw with Dante’s Peak vs. Volcano, or Deep Impact vs. Armageddon in 1998. [IMDb & IMDb – See trailers in the previous post]

HANNA (April 8 ) – This movie looks like an absolute trip. Eric Bana plays the father of a 14-year old girl (the amazing Saoirse Ronan), who he’s trained to be a cold-blooded killer. Then there’s Cate Blanchett as a government agent who’s been trying to track him down. It’s directed by Joe Wright, who did an excellent job with Atonement. I’d have a hard time describing the plot, so just trust me and watch this trailer. Ronan looks like she could give Hit Girl a run for her money. Oh, and The Chemical Brothers did the score. Badass. [IMDbTRAILER]

SUCKER PUNCH (March 25) – Zack Snyder, the king of slow motion, returns with this completely original, visually stunning, utterly awesome-looking action/fantasy. Forgive me, but I’m just gonna copy the plot summary straight from IMDb for ya; “A young girl is institutionalized by her wicked stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the facility.” Snyder’s got this whole scenario set up where we get this really cool looking fantasy dream world that looks part Inception, part Sin City, part 300 (all movies I love). I just think this looks fantastic, and because it’s an original story, I’m rooting for it to succeed in the same way I rooted for Inception last year. This is easily one of the most fascinating films of 2011, and it’s not gotten a lot of attention yet. The cast looks fantastic (both literally and figuratively), and I really wanna see how Emily Worthing does with her first big starring role. Girl is hawwwt! [IMDbTRAILER]


OH, HAI Vanessa Hudgens!

MONEYBALL (September 23) – They’ve been trying to get this movie off the ground for years, and for a long time it had Steven Soderbergh attached to direct. Instead, we’ll get Bennett Miller (Capote) directing, with Brad Pitt starring as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. This is based on the acclaimed nonfiction Michael Lewis book about Beane’s successful effort to build a winning team on a small market budget. Doesn’t sound like a really good basis for a movie, does it? That’s probably why it’s been in development for about 5 years. However, in the end, we’ll be getting a movie with a script that was worked on by both Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, two of the best writers in Hollywood (in fact, in my book, probably #1 and #2). We’ve also got Philip Seymour Hoffman as A’s manager Art Howe, as well as Jonah Hill and Robin Wright. With the talent involved behind and in front of the camera, I have faith that they’ve turned this into a story worthy of being told on the big screen. I’m also looking forward to seeing a sports movie that doesn’t require on-field drama to be compelling. And if you still think this sounds boring, consider that this time last year, few people thought a movie about the creation of Facebook would be worth a damn. [IMDb – No trailer yet]

SCREAM 4 (April 15) – I’m torn on this one. The original Scream movies (the last one came out in 2000 if you can believe it) are my all-time favorite horror series. That’s saying something considering I’m not a big fan of horror movies in general. I fell in love with the brilliant, original Scream in 1996 at age 16 while working at a movie theater, and I loved both sequels. That said, if we’re being honest, here we have another example of a sequel that probably didn’t need to be made, but much like the Hangover followup, we’ve got the original creative team back in place. Wes Craven is at the helm, and series creator Kevin Williamson wrote the script. As such, I retain a glimmer of hope that there’ll be some interesting new ideas here given the different world we live in now, both culturally and technologically. I kinda wish they’d rebooted it with a whole new cast, but Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox are also back. It’s tough to tell from the teaser trailer who the main characters are, but a slew of actresses (Anna Paquin, Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Kristen Bell, and Friday Night Light‘s Aimee Teegarden) all make appearances, making me wonder who gets the Drew Barrymore/Jada Pinkett scene at the beginning of the film. They’ve been talking about making a 4th Scream for a decade, and now we have it. We’ll see if it was worth the wait. Damn, I miss my Scream mask and black robe. Scaring the shit out of the girls on Halloween in 1997 is one of my fondest high school memories. [IMDbTRAILER]


Mr. Scream rides the bus?

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (June 3) – By the way, there’s a new X-Men movie coming out this year. That’s how bad Brett Ratner‘s X-Men: The Last Stand was and how much it decimated my passion for the franchise. It was so bad that I couldn’t muster enough interest in this to put it in the top 10. And X-Men is easily my favorite comic series. It LOOKS like they’ll be getting the series back on track here, rewinding the story back to a point where Professor X and Magneto were friends. Together, they discover their powers and fight off some great threat (which is unnamed to this point), and presumably at the end of the film they’ll part ways, setting up the legendary rivalry. I really like this premise. And let’s face it, after The Last Stand, there’s nowhere to go but up. They brought in Matthew Vaughn to direct, who is hot off of Kick-Ass. We’ve also got two fine actors in James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, playing Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr respectively. Like I said, X-Men is my favorite comic series, and Magneto is my favorite comic book villain, so I have high hopes here. However, those hopes are still somewhat jaded after the bitter taste of excrement that remains in my mouth after The Last Stand. Have I mentioned how bad X-Men: The Last Stand was? [IMDb – No trailer yet]

Other Notes:

-Why isn’t Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides anywhere on this list? Because it didn’t need to be made, and that’s painfully clear when you watch that trailer, which I won’t even link to.

-I still get confused trying to tell Green Hornet and Green Lantern apart. This much I know; the one with Ryan Reynolds in a green CGI suit looks incredibly dumb. And really, how many fucking comic book movies is this guy gonna be in? He’s been in so many different comic storylines (Blade: Trinity, Wolverine, now this) that it feels like the universe is about to implode. The Seth Rogen green superhero movie looks okay, though there are way too many homophobic jokes in that trailer, are there not? How many times does the Asian dude say some variation of, “I’ll go with you, but I’m not touching you.” Just awkward. Though I’m very interested to see what Michel Gondry does with a big-budget effects movie like this, I’m not expecting it to be very good.

-I didn’t see it, but I keep hearing last year’s Valentine’s Day was one of the worst romantic comedies ever made. Why do I mention this? You know why. Yes, they made a sequel. It’s title? New Year’s Eve. That deafening sound you just heard was every moviegoer in the country simultaneously sighing in disgust.

-Fox is going bonkers with origins stories this year. In addition to X-Men: First Class, we’ll be getting Rise of the Apes, which, you guessed it, will set up the Planet of the Apes mythology. As if there was a great demand for that. I’m intrigued that they got James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis to star. Might be good, might be crapola.

Adam Sandler‘s comedies continue to suck ass of late, but I have to admit, Just Go with It looks sort of funny, and it has a premise I can’t remember seeing before. This will mark the screen debut of supermodel Brooklyn Decker, who I’ve been in love with for several years. Regardless of whether or not it’s funny, just watching the trailer I can already see the ending coming from a mile away. Think he ends up with Jennifer Aniston? Spoiler alert!

-Even though I did not like Pineapple Express, the followup pairing of director David Gordon Green with actors James Franco & Danny McBride, Your Highness, does look hilarious. Natalie Portman, who’s about to get an Oscar nomination for Black Swan, will be hot in 2011 as well, with this, No Strings Attached, Thor, and the very promising The Other Woman. Attagirl.

There you have it. Those are the movies I’ll be keeping my eye on this year. Of course, several foreign films, documentaries, and indie films will end up in the mix (as they always do), but it’s tough to predict what those will be at the beginning of the year. Last I checked, I don’t have any tickets to this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Enjoy your 2011 at the movies! And remember, we’re only one year away from the epic 2012, where we’ll get The Dark Knight Rises, a Zack Snyder-directed Superman, the third Daniel Craig Bond movie, The Hobbit: Part I, The Avengers, The Spider-Man reboot, the Star Trek sequel, and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

P.S. Do me a favor, be a smart moviegoer, and see as few 3D movies this year as you can. I will be seeing NONE. In case you didn’t know, everything that comes out 3D is also available to see in regular 2D as well. You don’t HAVE to see everything in 3D just because they advertise the shit out of it being in 3D. Unless it’s Avatar or a CG-animated movie, it probably ain’t worth it. Tell Hollywood you’re tired of paying an extra $3-5 for crappy post-converted 3D and you’re on to their greedy tricks. Do it so that our best filmmakers don’t feel they need to jump on board the bandwagon. When fucking Martin Scorsese
is shooting a 3D movie, you know things have gone too far.


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