So it’s the beginning of 2008, so it’s the perfect time of year for a preview of the upcoming releases. Now, I don’t have the smarts or go-getter attitude needed to sort through hundreds and hundreds of movies to see which ones might be kinda sorta neato to look forward to. Luckily, the good folks at Slash Film have gone to the trouble of finding 55 Must-See Movies of 2008.
Of the 55, I’d say the following are the ones I’m anticipating, in order of release:
1. Cloverfield (January 18). There’s a lot of buzz – kind of a subtle codeword for “hype” – for this film. It’s supposed to be about a giant monster attacking New York,
but it’s not Godzilla or King Kong or any monsters with which we’re already familiar. And it’s shot with a hand-held camera (think Blair Witch Project), which might get annoying after a while.
2. The Spiderwick Chronicles (February 15). It’s another one of those alternate-universe fantasy movies, a la the Narina movies, or Harry Potter, or The Golden Compass.. but it does sound interesting, and Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland) plays twin boys – and he’s a great young actor.
3. 10,000 BC (March 7). I’m a sucker for epics, especially on the big screen, so this I gotta see. When’s the last prehistoric movie we’ve had, anyway? On the plus side, Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) is the director; on the minus side, Roland Emmerich (Godzilla) is the director.
4. Horton Hears a Who! (March 14). Okay, it’s another Dr. Seuss movie, but THIS time, it’s completely animated. So I think we can toss aside comparisons to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat. Jim Carrey plays Horton, and since he won’t have to screw around with costume distractions, he can be funnier than he was in Grinch. Which I didn’t see, and wouldn’t admit to seeing even if I had seen it. Which I didn’t.
5. Righteous Kill (April 18). Know who’s in this one? DeNiro AND Pacino. On the screen at the same time, as cops! They’re huntin’ a vigilante! Rounding out the cast are 50 Cent, John Leguizamo, and Donnie Wahlberg. Expect some gunplay and salty language.
6. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (April 25). Hey, it stands to reason that if you liked the first stoner-friends movie, you’ll go for this one as well. I mean, look, same cast; even Doogie Howser returns. Originally, this was called Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam – they were going there to foil a wedding, or some nonsense – but when it was realized that the characters never make it that far, the title was changed.
7. Iron Man (May 2). Another Marvel character makes it to the big screen; this one’s directed by Jon Favreau (Swingers, Made, PCU). I still wanna know how IM goes to the bathroom.
8. Speed Racer (May 9). This one has a great following already, with the characters having been around like thirty years, and with the Wachowski Brothers (the Matrix trilogy) directing it. Can’t miss, right? Oh! And Christina Ricci as Trixie. Emile Hirsch (The Girl Next Door) is Speed. Expect plenty o’ CGI.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (May 16). I liked the first one, and everyone’s back on board for the second one, so I expect to like this one as well. I happen to like big-budget, effects-laden supermovies! So sue me. Haven’t read the books, though, ‘cuz they’re for kids.
10. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22). Finally! This is the one I’ve been waiting for. Of all the 08s, this might be the 08iest. I’ve seen some of the stills, and Harrison Ford still looks Indy-like. And look at the cast! Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), Karen Allen, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent! No Denholm Elliott, who died in 1992, but also no John Rhys-Davies, who’s still alive. Dang. (At least, as far as I know.)
11. The Happening (June 13). Okay, I’ve taken shots at auteur (heh) M. Night Shyamalan in recent years, and I don’t think I’ve done so unfairly. I swore that after The Village, I wouldn’t watch any more of his dreck. I skipped The Lady in the Water, but I’m wondering about this one, because “they” claim it’s his best script since The Sixth Sense.
12. WALL-E (June 27). Earth has been evacuated, but the last robot is still chugging away. It’s animated, of course, directed by the guy who did Finding Nemo. Interesting concept; I’d be driven mad if I was the last human on Earth, but who knows what the last robot would do? Continue to perform its task, I suspect, until some new stimulus happened along..
13. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (July 11). Now, I liked the first one. (Shut up!) And everyone’s back, including Doug Jones as Abe Sapien and Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth. Something about a so-called master race wanting to take over the world, and, as the title indicates, they’re all blonde. It’s like a legion of Draco Malfoys.
14. The Dark Knight (July 18). I enjoyed the rebooting of this franchise, even if Christian Bale’s unofficial (i.e., known to me alone) nickname is “Light Bulb Head.” Heath Ledger plays Batman’s new nemesis, The Joker – let’s compare and contrast with Nicholson. Oh, and looks like pretty lil’ Katie Holmes has been replaced by pretty lil’ Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes – a huge, huge upgrade.
15. Trailer Trash (August 22). IMDb has no information on this release, which supposedly will be composed purely of fake movie trailers; Eli Roth is the director. The /film site says August 22 is the release date.
16. Valkyrie (October 3). Tom Cruise plays a German count who’s out to kill Hitler, which sort of makes him a good guy. Amusingly, Germany refused to allow Cruise (who executive produced) to film in Germany, on the grounds that his chosen religion, Scientology, isn’t recognized by Germany as a religion. Heh. I have a feeling this one will bomb. Why>? Because Cruise is attempting to act – check out his eye patch! – rather than get by on his derring-do and movie-star looks. He’s not a good actor.
17. The Changeling (November 7). Angelina Jolie’s kid is kidnapped; he’s returned, but she’s not so sure it’s the same kid. Interesting idea, and it’s based on a real case (from the 1920s). I think Jolie’s the only name in it, for whatever that’s worth.
18. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (November 21). Seems like only yesterday everyone was speculating about who the half-blood prince was. Each of the HP movies has been good to great – I particularly enjoyed the last one. The movies, as their main characters have, have become more adult as they’ve progressed; each film is delicious in its detail and honest in its portrayal of teenage angst. Can’t wait.
19. Bond 22 (November 22). It’s Bond. Cmon. And! It’s apparently the first one to be a direct sequel to a previous bond (Casino Royale, of course). I didn’t think I’d like Casino Royale, but it was pretty good.
20. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (November 26). In this David Fincher film based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, Button (Brad Pitt) is a man who ages backwards, which causes trouble when he falls for Cate Blanchett. Fincher’s films are always a bit different and entertaining, and Pitt and Blanchett were wonderful together in Babel.
21. The Day the Earth Stood Still (December 12). I’m not one of those people who immediately and automatically hates, hates, hates remakes. I think that if a new generation comes along and hasn’t gotten to see the original in the theater, what’s the problem with a remake? As long as it’s not exactly the same, you see; you got a new audience, and maybe as director you want to approach the subject from a slightly different angle. That said… why on Earth would you cast Keanu Reeves as Klaatu? I guess because he’s an alien, that’s why, and you expect them to be emotionless piles of protoplasm.
22. Star Trek (December 25). Now, this could get interesting. It’s the style nowadays to reboot movie series, at least long-running ones, so that you can cover some of the old ground while introducing new actors into the old roles. Star Trek’s been around 40 years now, and this will be the first Kirk movie since Star Trek VI. (Well, the first Kirk-as-the-main-guy movie.) Will J. J. Abrams be able to pull it off, what with a slightly unknown cast? Could sink the series, but it could also completely revive it.