Ok, so here’s the deal — this is a very specific type of list, designed with a very specific goal. From comedies to super-hero movies, from tearjerkers to period pieces, there is a lot of variety heading to the theaters this year. But this is not just a top 10 most anticipated list, or a list of the movies we think will do well this year. It is a list of the movies we hope don’t suck.
These are the movies we hope don’t suck, because if they do, there will be consequences. Those consequences will be unique to each movie, but there will be blood, by god! Perhaps that is a little dramatic, but this is a list of 10 fictional outings, so it stays.
So lay on, Macduff! Oh, one other note — the films here are all scheduled for the first part of the year(ish). This year is crowded with movies, many of which will feature big budgets or have very high profiles. In fact, there are so many that picking just 10 was proving to be a costly internal battle. Ideological lines were drawn, and interns were sacrificed like cannon fodder before we decided to just go ahead and split. We all actually feel kinda bad about, especially since there was no one left to clean up the blood. Live and learn.
As part of the compromise, the 10 films listed below are all from the first part of the year. Ish. Technically, the last film on this list will debut on July 20, but who’s counting. Check back this summer for a second article on more films we hope don’t suck, but for now, to the lists!
(Directed by Andrew Stanton; Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe)
There has been a lot of confusion about the production of John Carter. Principally, the main source of confusion is whether or not it is a Disney or a Pixar film. To set the record straight, John Carter is officially a Disney film. Even though it is being directed, co-written, and produced by longtime Pixarian Andrew Stanton. And the other two producers are also from Pixar. And much of the crew all come from Pixar as well. But no, this is a Disney film (even though it’s kind of a Pixar movie). But even though it isn’t a Pixar flick (even though it kind of is), the Pixar pedigree will be present throughout, and Stanton has a lot of success to back him up.
In fact, with almost no dialog, Stanton, who wrote and directed Wall-E, managed to make robots far cooler and more relatable than Michael Bay managed to do with three films, $600 million, and enough explosions to make World War II stop and say “damn, that’s a lot of explosions.” Even though this isn’t a Pixar film (see above), it will be a sort of validation for the company. While at Pixar, Stanton helped make some of the highest-grossing and best-rated films of the last decade, but there is still that invisible asterisk labeling those films as “animated films” rather than just good films. If John Carter is a hit, it will prove that the talent at Pixar are more than just good animated filmmakers, they are good filmmakers period.
There is also the film itself. If this adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series is a hit, it will also give Disney a new franchise, which could become a springboard for other Pixar alum to spread throughout Hollywood, like an awesome, award-winning virus.
The Hunger Games
(Directed by Gary Rose; Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson)
Harry Potter has a lot to answer for. J.K. Rowling’s young-adult series did ok in the bookstores and in the theaters, what with the property making enough money to pay for Gingrich’s Lunar Base and all, but it also spawned the revival of a genre that wasn’t really in need of being revived. The thing with young-adult fiction is that it isn’t just geared towards young adults, it is geared for people who don’t really read that much in general, which can be a good thing. That means young adult fiction can get away with taking shortcuts in the storytelling. Sometimes that works well, as in the case of the Potter books. Other times it produces the creeping horror of the Twilight series. The Hunger Games is the newest potential movie franchise to mine the YA depths, but it has a few things that books-turned-films like Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I am Number Four and Cirque du Freak (which coincidentally co-starred Josh Hutcherson), didn’t have. Mainly, it is bats#@t insane.
It has been called an American version of the Japanese cult hit Battle Royale, where children are forced to fight to the death, and it is that. It also has a touch of Lord of the Flies and The Running Man in it. Of course, being young adult fiction, it also has a pointless and unnecessary love triangle, but that is never a primary plot point. The film seems to be taking itself seriously, which makes sense because it is actually a trilogy (which if successful will probably be turned into four movies because Hollywood loves money), and assuming the first film can make over $100 million domestically, sequels will be forthcoming. The books are insane and bloody, which makes the possible sequels awesome and crazy, but much harder to watch than others films in the same genre. Major characters die a lot, and horribly at that. There is no Team Edward or Team Jacob debate after you watch random characters melt to death from acidic venom (which would make the Twilight films a thousand times better, by the way). The Hunger Games could redirect the young adult genre in a direction away from Twilight and all the other badly written and forced supernatural love stories, and towards a more hardcore audience. So hopefully the first movie of the series won’t suck.
(Directed by Gareth Evans; Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah)
This is certainly the least-known film on this list, but there is a reason it is here and that we hope it doesn’t suck: because it looks awesome. This Indonesian film from Welsh director Gareth Evans mixes martial arts and gunplay in an unapologetic love letter to the Hong Kong action flicks from the likes of John Woo, back before Tom Cruise ruined him forever with Mission Impossible 2. Maybe that’s a bit unfair, but watch The Killer or Hard Boiled, then watch MI2 and try not to weep openly.
The odds are this film won’t storm the box office charts. It comes out the same week that Mirror Mirror, The Hunger Games, Wrath of the Titans, and The Deep Blue Sea all come out, which almost seems like the Celluloid Dreams and Sony Pictures are either hiding this film or hoping that it can sneak up on people like a stabby, action-packed ninja. Either way, it probably won’t make much money, but we hope it does well so we can see more awesome and unapologetic action flicks, and more kick-ass international movies.
(Warning: The following trailer may not be appropriate for all ages)
Wrath of the Titans
(Directed by Jonathan Liebesman; Starring: Sam Worthington, Ralph Finnes, Rosamund Pike)
The remake of Clash of the Titans was plagued by some nagging problems, including the fact that it was terrible, and the 3D could physically make people ill. It was a rushed production that sported some of the worst — and most reactionary — 3D ever put together. It was never intended to be seen in 3D, and yet following the success of Avatar, every action movie was suddenly 3D as if there was a court order passed that only the studios knew about. Of them all, Clash featured the worst 3D post-conversion of them all. It takes the human brain two seconds to process a 3D image. Now imagine you tried to make a film with hundreds of quick cuts that last milliseconds into a 3D film because some studio suit that controls your career says it will be great, and you begin to see the problem. The non-3D version was a mess too, but the headache-inducing 3D version was almost unwatchable and could actually hurt your brain. And yet here we are, back with more.
Putting aside the 3D (which, if it wasn’t clear in the paragraph-long rant above, was terrible), the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans seemed to chafe at the thought of being a remake. It obviously wanted the name recognition and a few of the cooler moments from the original, but for the most part it seemed to grudgingly follow the older plot that was based on Alan Dean Foster’s book, which was itself an extremely liberal interpretation of the original Perseus and Andromeda myth. But now that the messy business of honoring the past has been handled with an executioner’s skill, the franchise can go about its business and show what it always wanted to show: a real war between gods (and titans, hence the name), with man stuck in the middle.
The 2010 film had the potential to deliver a wild, giant action movie that had a built-in appeal thanks to millennia of at least somewhat well-known mythology, but instead it just kinda said “to hell with it” and phoned it in. Hopefully with the new freedom to recreate the myth however the filmmakers like, Wrath of the Titans can live up to the potential that the previous film squandered.
(Directed by Joss Whedon; Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson)
If we really have to spell out why we hope this movie doesn’t suck, please turn your geek card in and cast your eyes down in shame. In shame! In theory, this is the movie comic book fans have been dreaming of since we were kids. Not just a flick featuring some of the most famous heroes ever to grace the funny pages, but a film with established heroes that don’t need a lengthy backstory. After all, how much backstory does the Hulk really need? He was a scientist involved in a wonky experiment, and now freaks out when he gets mad. Except for the part where he turns green, you could cast almost any baseball star from the 90s and call it good.
But this is the big one. If it does well, one of the biggest gambles in entertainment history will pay off. Honestly, this movie has enough of a built-in fanbase that it will at least turn a profit. To be a real success, it needs to pulverize records.
It will be interesting to see how well it does at the box office. After all, it isn’t like the people who watched Ed Norton’s The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger belong to radically different groups. If so, and if each fanbase showed up, The Avengers would be on track to make around $1.7 billion worldwide, which would mean Marvel’s new ivory tower could literally be made out of ivory. As it is though, there is a lot of pressure for this film to succeed, both because it is a fanboy’s wet dream and because it will either justify the bold business model that birthed it, or end it for good.
(Directed by Peter Berg; Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Liam Neeson)
When this movie was first announced, it was met with the collective sounds of thousands, if not millions, of palms hitting foreheads. If you have been living in an underground bunker assuming that the world above has been overrun by mutant-like creatures that enjoy feasting on the flesh of the innocent, then you may not have noticed: Hollywood is adaptation, reboot, and sequel crazy. Seriously, any movie or book that has ever been made — even bad ones — are eligible for a whirl in the Hollywood Adapt-O-Tron 3000. It’s kind of a “thing.”
So as Hollywood’s hunger continues to expand and gobble up more and more unlikely properties, it was inevitable that board games caught the Sauron-like gaze of the studios. But it really does sound damn stupid. To be clear, this movie is based on the Milton Bradley game where you try to sink your opponent’s battleship by guessing where the enemy ships are located. And now that is a movie.
There are a few things working in this film’s favor though. First, the 1985 Clue film starring Tim Curry was boss. Second, thar be aliens here. So basically the plot has very little connection to the board game, which is good, because it would be legendarily dumb. Third, the cast and crew are actually solid, and filled with a ton of talented up-and-coming, soon-to-be A-listers (including Taylor Kitsch, who could be looking at a breakout year thanks to this and John Carter), as well as a few headliners like Liam Neeson and the director Peter Berg. It won’t be the last board game-to-movie adaptation, so hopefully it will set the bar high when Sly Stallone decides to write, direct, and star in the action film “Candy Land: The Dentist is IN!”
(After writing this entry, it was pointed out that there really is a Candy Land movie in development, starring Adam Sandler. Perhaps after Sandler’s bizarre and creepy turn as his own twin sister in Jack and Jill, this will be the vehicle that will help his career rebound! Thanks to a movie based on the board game Candy Land.
(Directed by Ridley Scott; Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba)
Ridley Scott has been a little vague on what we can expect from this film, but it looks kinda awesome. According to Scott, the Alien franchise is just a starting point, and the film will explore the origins of the monstrous alien creatures, as well as examine the possible beginnings of the human race. If you ask 20th Century Fox, it is a prequel to Alien. The result is that no one is entirely sure what to expect. There have been a few leaks to suggest that this film is definitely a prequel to Alien, but it will have a totally unique story, and even the alien(s) will be different. The people who leaked that news all then suddenly disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Even the actors have been tight-lipped, and were all forced sign non-disclosure agreements, possibly at gunpoint. If you watch Naomi Rapace in recent interviews, you can almost see her blink out in the Morse code, “Help me, there’s a sniper watching me now, help me.”
Regardless of what track the plot takes, you can be sure that it will at least be worth a look. Scott has earned the benefit of the doubt, and the cast reads like the lineup of a benefit concert to help raise money to fight a horrible disease. There is one troubling rumor about the flick that won’t go away though: It may be released as PG-13. So far this is unconfirmed, but Fox did raise objections to Scott’s proposed $250 million budget for an R-rated film. Hopefully that was just typical negotiating where the filmmakers want a billion dollars for the budget while the studio offers $37.50 and possibly a Big Mac (but not super-sized—that would be fiscally irresponsible), then they eventually meet around $150 million or so. Supposedly, Scott is editing a PG-13 and an R-rated version to the studio. This movie would not be the same if it were PG-13. The entire film would be… you know what, to hell with it. If you have seen Alien or Aliens (you can skip the others), then you know this movie needs to be R-rated. ‘Nuff said.
(Directed by Mark Andrews; Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd)
Pixar returns with its annual offering, and thankfully it is an original tale. Concerns had risen for a while that Pixar would change its production course to churn out sequels, instead of creating new and original properties. Now, if anyone can do a good sequel, it is Pixar — just look at the Toy Story films. And although Cars 2 wasn’t exactly memorable, it wasn’t bad. But Pixar has set the bar so high for itself, that it will be disappointing if the studio can’t continue to produce the original quality content we’ve come to expect.
The downside of Pixar’s gamble on an original picture is that if it doesn’t do well, it could lead to Cars 3 and Ratatouille 2. Granted, an Incredibles sequel would rock, but it would be better to have one come naturally, and not because someone at Disney freaked out and forced Pixar to nourish the franchises.
Even if Brave is only moderately successful, it could lead to fewer totally original flicks like Wall-E and Up. Of course, that is always the risk, and so far Pixar has generally come out big. So here’s hoping that Brave doesn’t suck. Even if Brave makes a billion dollars, you can expect the next original Pixar film — whenever it’s released — to be on this list for the same reasons.
The Amazing Spider-Man
(Directed by Marc Webb; Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans)
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way: It is ridiculous that Sony is rebooting a franchise that isn’t even five years gone. But to be fair, while the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy had its positives, it also had a whole bunch of negatives. In fact, you can go ahead and throw the whole third film in the negative column, and no one is probably going to complain. When an alien-infected meteor happens to land in Central Park, just feet from where Spider-Man is necking with his lady, you know you can just go ahead and take some aspirin if you were hoping for a tight and engaging plot. And that wasn’t even close to the worse plot hole in that film. It was barely top five.
It also won’t be too big a loss to see the backs of Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Neither really won over the fans, what with their apathetic attitudes and unfortunate lack of charisma and humor, so new blood may be welcome. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have their work cut out for them, and director Marc Webb has never undertaken anything close to this scale. Plus the new Spidey suit looks like a leotard, but hopefully it will look better in the movie. Beyond that, the people involved seemed to be treating the property with care — as they should since they could all become instant celebrities, or alternatively be auditioning for CSI: El Paso five years from now. No pressure though. Hopefully it won’t suck, but if it does, we look forward to the next reboot in 2017.
The Dark Knight
(Directed by Christopher Nolan; Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy)
The odds are very good that this film won’t suck. Even if you aren’t in love with Christopher Nolan, it is hard to say that his movies are bad. He has a good eye behind the camera, has had a knack for picking actors that are primed for stardom then getting great performances out of them, and the stories he has filmed have all managed to twist conventional storytelling elements in original ways.
Oddly, the biggest concern for this film so far is the voice work of the actors. Bale’s growling Batman voice in The Dark Knight sounded like he was sucking on rock lozenges, and the trailers so far have made Bane sound like he is about to take your order at a Burger King drive-through, circa 1996. But the real reason we hope this film doesn’t suck (beyond just the fact that we just generally hope that it is Raiders-style face-meltingly awesome) is that this is the last Nolan/Bale Batman.
The studio has already said it plans to reboot the franchise in the future, so this will be the conclusion of a trilogy. A good finale will set the high water mark for all upcoming mainstream superhero flicks. It is a warning shot across the bow to the Uwe Bolls of the world and the Green Lanterns of the future. This is how it should be done, and the box office has confirmed and validated it. Also, this film may very well be the top box office hit of the year, which means most of us are going to end up seeing it either by choice or because someone else wants to see it. So call us selfish, but since we are going to see it anyway, we really hope it doesn’t suck.
This article was originally posted on Digital Trends
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