Archive for the Upcoming Releases Category

The 10 movies to look forward to in 2012

Posted in Lists, Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2012 by judsonw

On paper, 2012 should be the most incredible year for movies of all time. Unfortunately, most of the time the most promising films turn out to be the most disappointing. Nevertheless, these are the top 10 movies of 2012 that show the most promise and the ones I’m most excited for.

10. Skyfall (November 9)

Sure, Quantum of Solace was a huge disappointment after the fantastic revival that was Casino Royale. My hopes are still high that the franchise will return to the heights of that action masterpiece. The addition of Sam Mendes as director is unusual in the best of ways.

9. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)

My first thought when I found out they were “rebooting” the Spider-Man movie franchise with an all new director, cast and vision was “why?” The original 3 films are mostly excellent (3 has its fair share of problems) and the last film was released a mere 5 years ago in 2007. But then Mark Webb (500 Days of Summer) signed on as director, then Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy (not Mary Jane – plus!), then Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker. I have much love for Tobey McGuire and company, but I’m ready for some fresh blood in the spidey tights.

8. The Avengers (May 4)

Finally, here is what all the Marvel movies of the past 4 years have been leading up to. Ever since Samuel L. Jackson stepped into the home of Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, we knew that all these movies were going to be connected in some way. A culmination of millions and millions of dollars, lots of talent and hard work, and a cast of different personalities – it’s hard to imagine director Joss Whedon letting us down.

7. Brave (June 22)

It’s hard to be too excited about the next Pixar movie after the money grab that was Cars 2, but Brave has everything Pixar needs to get back on its feet. It takes place in beautiful mythical Scotland and features the studio’s first female protagonist. Count me in.

6. Gravity (November 21)

Alfonso Cuaron. First movie since 2005’s masterpiece Children of Men. Set in space. Sandra Bullock. George Clooney. Enough said.

5. Prometheus (June 8)

With every Ridley Scott movie, I’m sucked in to thinking that it’s going to be great. It’s hard to accept the fact that the director just isn’t the same as when he made such movies as Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator. What makes Prometheus so promising, however, is that it’s Scott’s welcome return to the world of sci-fi. Reportedly a “prequel at heart” to the original Alien, the script is written by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and has a banging cast. Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, the original girl with the dragon tattoo Noomi Rapace, Patrick Wilson, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba. I usually try to avoid watching trailers of movies I want to see, but my curiosity got the better of me on this one. If the actual film lives up to the trailer’s astonishing visuals, then we’re in for a treat.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14)

I was a little disappointed when Guillermo Del Toro dropped out of the filming as director, but the only one who could do the justice of replacing him was Peter Jackson. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has to be one of the greatest achievements in film of all time, and I’m very excited to see how Jackson can top it (can he possibly?)

3. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)

How can any movie buff not be enormously excited for Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman series? The Dark Knight  may have been the best event film of the past 10 years, so it’ll be hard to top. Tom Hardy’s Bane looks like an intriguing villain (maybe not Joker-intriguing) and the fact that essentially the same people are involved keep my expectations high.

2. The Hunger Games (March 23)

This makes me nervous. The adaptation could either be a disaster or a great cinematic achievement. The talent behind the film (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Gary Ross) gives me hope and all the images from the production seem to be spot on. The source material is excellent – a unique and brutal story with a very strong female main character. It’ll be very hard to translate everything great about the book to the screen. Fingers crossed.

1. Django Unchained (December 25)

If a new Quentin Tarantino film is being released, it automatically goes to the top of my most anticipated list. Tarantino proved he could do no wrong in another time period with Inglourious Basterds’ WWII setting. Now he goes even deeper in the past – Mississippi slave time. The plot is about a slave-turned-bounty hunter, with the help of his mentor, setting out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. Check out this cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Sascha Baron Cohen, Christoph Waltz, Kurt Russell. I’m already salivating.




So long, Harry!

Posted in Action, Drama, Interesting..., Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2011 by judsonw

Like many others of my generation, Harry Potter represents something so much more than a young adult book series or movie franchise. It represents growing up, out of childhood into adulthood and all the pains and joys that go along with it. I read the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, when I was 10 years old. I remember where and when I bought it (some old dusty book store right before closing) and how fast I read it (all through Sunday school the next day). I read the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Now, the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” is being released when I’m 22 years old and fresh out of college! This story has been with me throughout the most important years of my life and I’m going to be a sad mope when the story concludes on July 15th.

While the books are definitely more complete and satisfying than the movies, the films themselves are actually all pretty solid. I’m able to separate both mediums…the books are the books and the films are the films. That being said, the movies are special. What other movie franchise has lasted this long (10 years) with pretty much the same cast throughout? What other movie franchise has captured its three main stars growing up and maturing both as characters and actors before our eyes? None, I tell you! Harry Potter recently passed James Bond as the most financially successful movie franchise of all time and it’s well deserved. The movies are pure cinema and the climatic battle in the final film will be a sight to see.

In preparation for the FINAL representation of the Harry Potter narrative on screen, here are some of my favorite things from the film series.

Best movie

There are things I like about each film and there’s not a bad one in the bunch. The third movie, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” however, is the most well made and marks the series’ turn from a children’s flick into a serious and dark form of artistic filmmaking. Director Alfonso Cuaron completely changed the tone of the series and got the best performances out of the trio. The final 30 minutes or so consists of one of best time travel sequences of all time and is incredibly emotionally resonant.

Best performance

This is a tricky one. Emma Watson is definitely the most talented of the trio but definitely not the strongest of all the actors. I would have to give that honor to none other than Dolores Umbridge herself, Imelda Staunton. Though she appeared in pretty much only one film, “Order of the Phoneix,” Staunton was able to create a character as evil as Voldemort and made you absolutely loathe her. Really though, it seems as if every single great British actor has appeared in these movies.

Best action sequence

Voldemort vs. Dumbledore. Fire dragons and water spheres. Bad ass wizards. Harry trapped physically and emotionally after the death of his godfather. A batshit insane Bellatrix Lestrange. Some incredible CGI. ‘Nuff said.

Most tear inducing scene

It’s pretty amazing that the filmmakers were able to take a character who was pretty much a joke for one film and turn him into the most tragic hero of the series in about 5 minutes of screen time. Dobby’s death on the beach in Harry’s arms is so touching that it had to have made millions of grown men cry. Just thinking of his final words “Dobby is with friends” makes the water works start running.

Best magical creature

Thestrals. Sure, I could chosen the enormous dragon or the loveable hippogriff. But there’s just something so mysterious about these flying skeletal horses that can only be seen by those who’ve seen death.

Best moment

There’s so many to pick from…Harry’s first Patronus, Sirius’s death, Dobby’s triumph, Voldemort’s return. But the most emotionally affected I’ve been during one of these movies occurred during Harry’s first flight on Buckbeak the hippogriff in “Prisoner of Azkaban.” The scene is relatively short but in those few moments, Cuaron managed to recapture my attention to a lukewarm franchise and ignite a fire in my heart. Like ET flying Elliot across the full moon, it’s pure magic.

Even though the story is finally ending on the screen, the story will be sure to live on through every generation of children, teenagers, and adults alike in the future. Here’s hoping for a satisfying conclusion!

The “next” Harry Potter? A look at The Hunger Games as a movie franchise

Posted in Action, Film Industry, Interesting..., Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by judsonw

On July 15, the final piece of the Harry Potter saga will unleash itself upon the world. After “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” arguably the most popular and loved series of books will officially end as a narrative (there will of course still be theme parks, online experiences, etc). So what new book series will take its place? The Twlight series may come close to Harry Potter’s rabid fan base, but that movie franchise is also coming to an end next year. And is there really a legitimate comparison between the two anyway?

The “next” Harry Potter franchise that everyone keeps talking about is The Hunger Games. Written by Suzanne Collins, the trilogy of young adult novels is about a post-apocolyptic America that is now called Panem. Panem is separated into 12 “Districts” that all serve the ruling “Capitol.” Each District has its own speciality. For example, District 12 is the coal mining district while District 4 is all about water. Long ago, the Districts held an uprising against the totalitarian Capitol, but eventually failed in their attempted fight for freedom. As punishment for this attempt, the Capitol now requires two “tributes,” one male and one female aged 12-17, to be sacrificed from each District. The tributes are then thrust into something called The Hunger Games, a reality television program where the kids are forced to fight to the death for all of Panem’s viewing pleasure. The Games continue until one tribute remains.

The protagonist of this story is Katniss Everdeen, a tough-as-nails 16 year old girl from District 12. Skilled with a bow and arrow, Katniss spends her days hunting for food so she can keep her mother and younger sister, Prim, alive. Katniss’s nightmare comes true when 12 year old Prim is selected for The Hunger Games. Katniss takes her place, immediately changing the lives of herself and everyone she knows.

The first novel, “The Hunger Games,” is an insanely addictive read. Ultimately a tale of survival, it features strong characters, great world building, and enrapturing action. It is currently being filmed for a March 2012 release. Here are five reasons it should succeed as a movie franchise and five reasons it may fail.

5 reasons it should work:

The cast

If you’ve ever seen “Winter’s Bone,” then you know Jennifer Lawrence can completely transform into a character. Katniss Everdeen is almost the exact same character as the character Lawrence played in that film, minus the bow and arrow. The casting for the main character couldnt have been more perfect. Josh Hutcherson (“The Kids are All Right”) shows some of the most promise of any young actor working today. He will be taking on the role of Peeta, Katniss’s fellow tribute from District 12 and sometime love interest. Woody Harrelson will play Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta’s mentor for the Games and a former winner. I couldn’t imagine a better person to play a belligerent drunk with a heart of gold (and that’s a compliment!) Rounding off the pitch perfect casting is Elizabeth Banks as the spunky Effie, Lenny Kravitz as Katniss’s stylist Cinna, Stanley Tucci as the Games flamboyant host, and Donald Sutherland as the Capitol’s evil President Snow. If this movie fails, it won’t be because of the lack of talent on board.

The director

The best way to predict if a movie is going to suck or not is to look back at the director’s previous work. Gary Ross has “Pleasantville” and “Sea Biscuit” on his resume. I’m sold.

The fan base

While The Hunger Games’ fans aren’t as widespread or rabid as Harry Potter’s, there’s still a fairly large following out there. Lawrence already made the cover of Entertainment Weekly in her Katniss garb, and more and more people are picking up the book every day. Come March, The Hunger Games may have as many fans as any other young adult book.

It appeals to both sexes

The Hunger Games is in the fortunate situation of doubling as a war and romance story. Katniss is a kick-ass, independent female hero that will be sure to draw in girls of all ages. There’s also a love triangle that is constantly building up underneath the surface between Katniss, Peeta and Katniss’s best friend, Gale. All of this is wrapped up in a testostorone-filled war zone with violent killings and explosions so you better bet that the marketing behind the film will push that to attract the male demographic as well.

No more Harry Potter

After this summer, the Harry Potter book and movie franchise will officially be over. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but there’s always another great story around the corner.

5 reasons it may fail:

The Twilight effect

For some reason The Hunger Games keeps getting compared to that vampire love story adored mostly by tween girls. The two series, however, couldn’t be any less alike. For one, the female main protagonist in The Hunger Games is actually a realisitic human being, not dependent on a man and not annoying as fuck. Katniss is what every young girl should strive to be…Bella is what every young girl should avoid becoming. While there is a romance angle to The Hunger Games, it isn’t as centrally focused as in Twilight. However, the Twilight franchise is currently bringing in the bucks, so sadly the people behind The Hunger Games films might play up the love triangle angle, resulting in an inferior product.

It’s too bleak and violent

At least on the page, The Hunger Games is gruesome, brutal, and sometimes hard to read. Collins is very descriptive in the tributes’ deaths, ranging from an arrow through the neck to beheadings to flying limbs. Mainstream America may just not be ready to accept a blockbuster about kids brutally murdering each other. The film is reportedly going to be rated PG-13, further proving the fact that the MPAA has no problem with kids-on-kids violence, but shudder at the sight of a nipple. Let’s hope for a hard PG-13 similar to “The Dark Knight,” and not a watered down version of the source material.

There’s not really an ending

Each book in The Hunger Games trilogy literally leads right into one another. There is no span of time between each book. If it’s faithful to the novel, the movie will end on a semi-cliffhanger, most likely upsetting many audiences who want more. A similar problem occured with “The Golden Compass,” which pretty much solely acted as set-up for a franchise that never happened.

The Games themselves

The largest, and most exciting, portion of the first book is the actual televised death match that Katniss tries to survive. During these Games, however, Katniss is mostly by herself, alone with her thoughts. Translating that to the screen will be difficult as her inner conflict over killing innocent people and trying to decide whether to trust Peeta make the book so hard to put down.

No more Harry Potter

As much as I love The Hunger Games, it doesn’t come close to the epicness of the story of the boy who lived. The final installment of the Harry Potter screen version may (hopefully) be so satisfying that audiences wont want another potential book adaptation movie franchise thrown in their face. Everything may just pale in comparison.

We’ll see what happens come March.

5 reasons you should see “Super 8” this weekend

Posted in Interesting..., Lists, Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , on May 15, 2011 by judsonw

There are plenty of big time movies hitting theaters this summer. We’ve got Captain America joining The Avengers, Jack Sparrow hitting the seas once again, and the sure to be monumental conclusion to the Harry Potter franchise. However, the one movie that excites me like no other is “Super 8.” Though there is little known about the plot, it somehow involves a group of kids in a small Ohio town in 1979 investigating a possible alien invasion. Here are 5 reasons why it will be THE movie everyone will be talking about this summer.

5. Talented actors and new faces

While most of the actors featured in “Super 8” are fresh newcomers in the vein of Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore of “ET,” there are also some incredibly talented veteran actors. Kyle Chandler, now done with his superb work as the coach on TV’s “Friday Night Lights,” steps in as one of the boy’s fathers. Elle Fanning lends her acting chops to the group of kids. The surprising number of newcomers is refreshing however, and will hopefully make the story more believable as we’re not forced to watch Abigail Breslin running from martians.

4. It’s incredibly mysterious

Ever since director JJ Abrams announced he was making a film in the vein of old school Amblin films, there has been nothing but secrecy surrounding the project. There are few plot details out there, leaving pretty much just the teaser trailers to whet your appetite. At the end of each trailer, images were hidden in the camera’s shutter (above), leaving the audience clues to what the film could be about. Sounds a lot like “Cloverfield,” which is a great thing to me.

3. It will make you feel like a kid again

Who didn’t get goosebumps seeing the Amblin logo (with ET flying across the moon) before the “Super 8” trailer? There’s something instantly nostalgic about Spielberg’s early films like “ET” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The setting of a small town with realistic kids will almost certainly bring you back to a time when life was simple and innocent. Add in the fact that the kids featured in the film spend their days making homemade movies with each other and your imagination will be reinvigorated.

2. The two men behind it all

Steven Spielberg’s name is synonymous with quality blockbuster movies. JJ Abrams is becoming the next Steven Spielberg. The two can now call themselves collaborators with “Super 8,” Abrams acting as director while Spielberg takes the producer role. However the film turns out, there’s no doubt each man’s impact will be felt. The two both grew up making movies with super 8 cameras as kids so this is sort of a passion project for both. Abrams’ directing resume has been excellent (“Lost” pilot, “Mission Impossible 3,” “Star Trek”) and there’s no reason to think that will change now.

1. A completely original story

Believe it or not, “Super 8” is not based on a comic book, board game, novel, amusement park ride, or an already existing franchise. Whatever we’re gonna get is going to be completely new, no matter what influenced it. There will surely be a sense of intrigue, surprise, and awe as the story unfolds for the first time in front of our eyes. I for one can’t wait.

11 Movies To Look Out For In 2011

Posted in Lists, Upcoming Releases on January 17, 2011 by judsonw

The Beaver (March 23)

This movie just sounds too good to be true. The controversial and almost universally hated Mel Gibson takes on the role of a trouble husband and executive who uses a beaver puppet for his only form of communication. The much praised, Black Listed script was directed by Jodie Foster, who also co-stars. This sounds like such a quirky story that I just have to see it to believe it.

Sucker Punch (March 25)

If the image above doesn’t get you excited for this movie, then I don’t know what will. Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) continues with his digital world building to beautiful perfection. Believe it or not, Sucker Punch marks Snyder’s first foray into an original story (co-written by himself). And the story sounds badass. A young girl named Baby Doll is institutionalized by her evil stepfather. While in the institution, she imagines an alternate dreamworld to cope and constructs a plan to escape her nightmare, along with her girlfriends. Beautiful visuals, chicks with machine guns, and an enormous bunny mecca robot. I’m totally there.

Hanna (April 8 )

One of my favorite directors, Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice), takes the reigns for an entirely different kind of project. Hanna stars Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones) as a 16 year old trained assassin dispatched on a mission across Europe. The film has a knockout cast including Eric Bana as Hanna’s father and Cate Blanchett as a ruthless intelligence operative. So it’s like Hit Girl: The Movie? Yes, please.

Source Code (April 15)

I only need one name to become excited about a new movie: Duncan Jones. The director behind 2009’s amazing science fiction film Moon, he  now follows up his work of beauty with Source Code. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who is transported back in time into the body of another man in order to find a bomber on a train. Moon was made on a tiny budget and looked gorgeous. I’m excited to see what Jones can do with an equally intriguing story on a much bigger budget.

Scream 4 (April 15)

Scream is one of my favorite horror movies. It’s legitimately scary and brutal, but also is very smart and funny. It parodied the intricacies and trends of the horror genre, all the while becoming a solid entry into the genre. Sure, Scream 2 and Scream 3 weren’t nearly as well done, but I’m still excited to see these characters again in the fourth installment. Wes Craven returns to the director’s seat and the script was written by original scribe Kevin Williamson, so hopefully it will be just as enjoyable as the original.

Tree of Life (May 27)

Director Terrence Malick only makes a film once every blue moon. Though all his movies may not be narratively perfect, they all cause eye orgasms with their beauty. His first film since 2005’s The New World, Tree of Life stars Brad Pitt and Sean Pitt as brothers (I think) and the story may be about the meaning of life (I think). To be honest, I know next to nothing about what this movie is about. But it’s a new Malick film so there is no way I won’t be there on opening day.

Super 8

JJ Abrams. Steven Spielberg. Cloverfield-like secrecy. A kick-ass teaser trailer. Sign me up.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (July 15)

Arguably the most epic and successful series of films of all time finally comes to an end this summer. What other film franchise has had as many as 8 movies with almost the entire cast in tact for each progressive film? It’s truly remarkable, especially when you consider the quality of each film either remains consistent or grows. While Part 1 was a fun ride, it wasn’t perfect. I’m hoping for an epic conclusion to J.K. Rowling’s fantastic story. This movie will mark the end of Harry Potter mania, so it better go out with a bang.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)

In a summer full of superhero movies, Captain America is the most interesting. Can it manage to be a good film, minus the cheese factor? The story takes place during WWII so that’s one step in the right direction. Chris Evans takes on another superhero (he was the Human Torch in Fantastic 4) as Steve Rodgers. The guy has charisma and the body for the part so hopefully he’ll hit a home run with it. The movie is directed by Joe Johnston (The Wolfman), however, so I have some reservations. Hoping for the best, especially if the success of this film determines what happens with the upcoming Avengers movie.

Cowboys and Aliens (July 29)

We finally get to see what Jon Favreau (Iron Man) can do with another action franchise. Everything about this movie, from the poster, teaser trailer, source material, and cast, shows promise. Want to know what it’s about? Read the title. Not intrigued? Then this movie probably isn’t for you.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (December 21)

I’m usually against remaking foreign films for American audiences when the foreign film in question hasn’t even been out for a year! The insanely popular novel has already been adopted in Sweden and it was a pretty excellent thriller. However, if anyone will make me warm up to an American remake, it’s David Fincher. Hot off his near perfect movie The Social Network, Fincher will be directing Rooney Mara as the titular character (Lisbeth Salandar) and Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist. I’m honestly just excited to see this story put to screen again, and even more anxious to see what Fincher can do to make it his own.

December movies I’m (and you should be) looking forward to

Posted in Upcoming Releases on December 16, 2010 by judsonw

Black Swan (out now in limited, expands December 17)

Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler), teams with one of the best young actresses currently working today, Natalie Portman. Black Swan tells the story of a mentally unstable girl named Nina who gets the lead role in an upcoming production of “Swan Lake.” All her hard work seems to finally be paying off, but can she take the emotional and physical turmoil required to be the black swan of the production? Or will she fall deeper and deeper into madness? I never thought I’d be this excited for a movie about ballet, but something tells me it’s going to be so much more than that in Aronofsky’s hands. Something much more…weird, yet beautiful.

True Grit (December 22)

The Coen Brothers are hit or miss with me. No Country for Old Men is one of my favorite films of all time while I could barely sit through last year’s A Single Man. All signs point to a hit for True Grit, a remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic. While I’m excited to see what Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin bring to their respective characters, I’m most excited to witness newcomer Hailee Steinfeld’s “star-in-the-making” breakout role as the young girl who convinces a U.S. Marshal to help find her daddy’s killer.

The Fighter (out now in limited, expands December 17)

#1 reason I’m looking forward to this one? Christian Bale. The actor has always been willing to transform himself physically and mentally for a role, and it looks like he’s done so once again with his character of Dickie. Dickie is the brother of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward who helps train him before going pro in the early 1980s. While David O’ Russell may bring some interesting techniques to the boxing scenes, this movie seems to be an actors’ film through and through. I won’t be surprised to see every major actor in this film get an Oscar nomination come January.

The King’s Speech (out now in limited)

I was never the biggest fan of actor Colin Firth. However, that all changed with his stunning turn as a grieving gay professor in last year’s A Single Man. Now I’m eager to see what he can bring to each varied role he takes on. If word on the street holds true, his take on King George VI (complete with speech impediment) won’t disappoint in the slightest.

Blue Valentine (December 31 in limited)

Derek Cianfrance’s film about a married couple’s struggle to stay together has gotten a lot of attention recently for receiving the dreaded NC-17 rating from the idiotic MPAA (the decision was recently reduced to an R). It’s gotten so much coverage that many people may have forgotten all the outstanding praise it received at the Sundance Film Festival.

Tron Legacy (December 17)

I’m not gonna lie…this movie worries me a bit. Visually, it looks like it’s going to be a treat. Something we’ve never experienced before, especially in IMAX (the format it was filmed in). That being said, Tron Legacy has forgettable written all over it. I just hope there’s more there to latch onto than pretty images.