As it turns out, there are some pretty good movies coming out this next year. Surprisingly enough, a few of them don’t have anything to do with superheroes. Here are some I’m pretty excited about, and a few I probably should be excited for, but have left me feeling a little blah.
I imagine that the next couple of years are going to be very kind to Tom Hardy. Legend tells the story of brothers Ronald and Reginald Kray, who were the equivalent of Carlo Gambino in London’s East End during the 50s and 60s. I’ve read that the film will focus on Reginald as he tries to control the younger Ronald, who many believed suffered from schizophrenia. For me, that seems like a really interesting way to humanize the story. In any case, the movie stars Hardy doing what he does best, which is being a badass and looking good while doing it. Anyone who’s had a chance to see Hardy as Alfie Solomons in Peaky Blinders knows how well he takes to roles like this.
Mad Max: Fury Road
I’m going to tell you a secret. I’ve never seen any of the Mad Max films. I never really cared to, until I saw the trailer for Fury Road. George Miller, who directed the three previous Max films, has said that his idea for the movie was to do one big, extended chase scene. I’ve read stories that say the dialogue in the film is so sparse that he didn’t even bother writing a script, opting instead to plot the whole thing out using a series of more than 3,000 storyboards. For all I care, he could have plotted the thing out using tea leaves and chicken bones, because the trailer looks AH-MAH-ZING. This movie looks too insane to exist. And I mean that in the best way possible. Also, Tom Hardy’s conquest of Hollywood continues unabated.
I wasn’t a Bond fan until Daniel Craig took over the role. And even then it happened almost by mistake. My mom was a part of some DVD of the Month club and had been sent a copy of Casino Royale. I was over at her house one day when she handed me the copy and said, “Take this. His abs are too sick.” I watched it and it was everything I had ever wanted from a movie like this. Great writing. Lots of action. Eva Green. The new Bond films have combined two of my greatest loves in life: British accents and shaky cams. Spectre is shaping up to be a great film, and is said to hearken back to some of the more retro Bond themes. I assume that means lasers and more sexually-overt character names, but we’ll see.
Yet another Tom Hardy film that I think has good franchise potential. Adapted from the Tom Rob Smith novel, Child 44 stars Hardy as Leo Demidov, an agent in the Soviet Union’s Ministry for State Security, who’s tasked with investigating a series of child murders. What I like about this is that it takes a fairly familiar detective story and puts it in an unfamiliar setting. I’d be seeing this movie anyway, but having Tom Hardy in the lead role puts it over the top for me. Although I’m hoping the subject matter won’t be as gruesome as some of the Russian accents we’ll be asked to suffer through.
I loved District 9, but was very underwhelmed by Elysium, so I’m hoping that Chappie will restore my faith in Neill Blomkamp. The film’s Wikipedia page lists it as a “science fiction action thriller comedy-drama,” which is kind of a joke in itself. But on the strength of the trailer, I’m willing to roll with it. I don’t know what it is, but stories about sentient robots being mistreated by society get me right in the feels. Every time.
Everest tells the story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight people were killed (spoiler alert, people die). To be completely honest, I can’t pin down why I’m excited to see this movie. I’m a sucker for disaster films and stories about people who have a death wish I guess. I guess I’d also have to say that the world of mountain climbing is really fascinating to me because my job entails sitting in a chair for eight hours a day, and the most exciting thing I’ve ever climbed off of was the toilet in a Greyhound bus after falling asleep on it. I guess the adventurer’s life just isn’t for everyone.
The Martian is adapted from the Andy Weir novel of the same name, and tells the story of an astronaut — played here by Matt Damon — who’s stranded and forced to survive on Mars without any hope of rescue. So, this is kind of like Castaway in space. This one has got a pretty great cast. Damon, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, and several others. So, it’ll definitely have more talking than Castaway did. But if it manages to match the emotional gut punch of Tom Hanks crying over losing a volleyball, I’ll forgive it.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
I’m not sure this even needs to be explained. But just to break it down for people… First off, it’s the Avengers. It’s just like their first movie, but it’s another one. Second, there’s a whole scene where Iron Man ‘roids out in his mega suit and fights the Hulk. Third, it’s the Avengers. It’s just like their first movie, but it’s another one. I grew up on comic books. I remember walking out of my local comic shop with two packs of Marvel Masterpieces with my chest puffed all out like I owned the damn place. So the fact that Marvel has been able to make movies about Thor and Captain America and not have the entire thing come off as the most ridiculous joke pleases me no end. After seeing the trailer for this the first time I stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Sometime in the past year I came to the realization that I just didn’t care about Star Wars. Now I’m thinking that may have been a bit of an overstatement. While it didn’t have the impact on my childhood that it did for some (I was a Star Trek kid), it did have an impact. But with the bad taste of the prequels still in my mouth, I just felt like it was best that me and Star Wars parted ways. If I ever happened to be out with my friends and saw The Empire Strikes Back at a bar or something, we’d say hi and make polite chitchat for a bit before I left, and that would be that. However, this new trailer has stirred something in me. I’m not saying I’m ready to give Star Wars a key to my apartment or anything like that, but I definitely wouldn’t mind going out and grabbing something to eat sometime. Maybe go downtown and catch a concert. I don’t know. I’m just saying, that trailer made me feel like I could love again.
The Hateful Eight
In 2006, a great injustice was done to the world when HBO unceremoniously canceled Deadwood. Since then, the world has cried out for good westerns, with only a precious few actually being made. Quentin Tarantino did it in 2012 with Django Unchained, and I think he’s going to pull it off again here. I imagine that some people may be a little upset, seeing Tarantino tackling another western rather than taking on something new. But this one seems like it’s going to take quite a different path. The film follows eight individuals — a Hateful Eight, you might call them — stuck in a brothel as they wait out a blizzard. Now, if anyone can pull off a two and half hour film made up mostly of people sitting around and talking to each other, it’s Tarantino, as anyone who’s seen Inglourious Basterds or Pulp Fiction or just about anything else he’s done can attest to. Christoph Waltz interrogating Denis Menochet in the beginning of Inglourious was one of the best parts of the entire films, so I’m excited to see what Tarantino does by taking that premise and running with it.
Okay, so those are the movies I’m most excited to see this next year. Now on to the ones I just can’t seem to get on my feet for.
Let me start by saying that I’ll be pleased as punch to walk out of the theater with a big pee stain on my pants because this movie was so awesome and I just didn’t know how to express those feelings in words. I’m just not sure that’s going to be the case. I love the Marvel movies. I love the work the studio has put into making these films interconnected. When I read that Marvel had its slate mapped out through 2028, I said, “Bring it on.” But I’m also a realist, and I know that eventually Marvel is going to put out a film that doesn’t reach the lofty heights people are starting to expect from all their stuff (I thought the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was enough to keep people grounded, but I don’t think that did the job).
Right now, we’ve got Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War on the horizon. After that we’ve got Doctor Strange, and a lot of groundwork that still needs to be laid for Avengers: Infinity War. I worry that with such big titles right around the corner, Ant Man may land with a big, resounding meh.
I doubt I’m alone when I say that I feel Terminator 2 was the only really solid movie to come out of this franchise. Terminator 3 and Salvation were both pretty big letdowns, so when I heard they were taking another stab at reviving the franchise — without doing a complete reboot — the first thing I asked was, “Why do I keep dating the same girl?” I was talking about this with a friend, and he brushed aside all my concerns by saying, “But dude, these movies were always about crazy paradoxes and using time travel to right past wrongs. It only makes sense that they would try and write something like that into the story.” This is the same person who told me he was in “absolute awe” of X-Men: Days of Future Past, so I’m not sure he really knew what he was talking about. Anyway, I’ll definitely check this one out, I’m just not getting my hopes up.
This film has got a slick looking trailer and I like all the people involved, but I still haven’t warmed to it the way some other people have. This may be like Genisys in that the fact they’re not rebooting the franchise’s crappier films out of existence has left a sour taste in my mouth. I think what gets me excited about franchise movies is that each piece is playing into a larger story. However, that doesn’t really seem to be the case with Jurassic Park. These movies feel like they’re just telling the same story over and over again. Does anything new happen, or are they just going to keep getting the park back up and running only to have something else go wrong and kill a lot of people twenty years down the road? When does the government finally step in and pull the plug on the whole thing? At least then you could make a movie about terrorists trying to sell dinosaur embryos on the black market. I’d pay money to see that.
I feel like this movie is like one of those nightclubs Stefon is always talking about on Saturday Night Live. “This winter’s hottest new movie is Jupiter Ascending. It’s got everything. Meg from Family Guy. Goombas. Fake British accents. Boromir. Roller skate fights. Spock ears. Dakota Channing.”
“Who’s Dakota Channing?”
“You know when Channing Tatum wears makeup, so he kind of looks like a drag queen?”
Anyway, it seems like such a mishmash of different concepts, I’d probably need to be on cocaine to enjoy it.
Here’s a short crash course for the uninitiated. Marvel wasn’t always the juggernaut it is today, and was forced to sell the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four to Fox during its leaner years. A part of that agreement stipulates that if Fox doesn’t make an X-Men or Fantastic Four movie within a certain period of time, the rights revert back to Marvel. Fox isn’t going to let that happen, so we’re going to keep seeing these movies, unless they start making so little money for Fox that it isn’t worth their time (more on all of that here).
Anyway, everything I’ve heard about this film smacks of, “Well, we better do something.” So little about the film’s plot has actually been revealed so I’ll just offer up this little tidbit. In the film, Toby Kebbell plays Victor Domashev, or as he’ll come to be known, Dr. Doom. I took this next bit from the Dr. Doom entry on the Marvel Universe Wiki. It explains a little bit about the man’s past.
Dr. Doom then conquered Latveria, slaying King Vladimir, imprisoning his son Rudolfo, and having a robot duplicate of Rudolfo surrender the Latverian crown to him, after which he renamed the capital city, Haasenstadt, as Doomstadt. He used his genius and technology to transform Latveria into a paradise where no citizen wants, no one is threatened by war, and all praise Doom — or face the consequences.
Pretty hardcore, right? Well, this is what Kebbell had to say about his character in a recent interview: “He’s Victor Domashev, not Victor Von Doom in our story. And I’m sure I’ll be sent to jail for telling you that. The Doom in ours—I’m a programmer. Very anti-social programmer. And on blogging sites I’m “Doom.”
So Dr. Doom — or Doom, rather — is a disgruntled blogger? This movie going suck, and if all the rumors about Marvel trying to burn the Fantastic Four to the ground turn out to be true, I wish them godspeed. The sooner the rights to these films go back to Marvel, and we see the Fantastic Four teaming up with the Avengers, the better.
So that’s it. I’ll check back in periodically over the next year to see how on or off the mark I was.