Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Most Anticipated Films of 2011 – Part 1: Blockbusters

The Most Anticipated Films of 2011 is a two part look at the movies that (I am most excited about, mainly) should be the biggest and best of the year to come. Part One is a look at the biggest, the Blockbusters and Part Two will focus on the film that should be among the most fun and best (not counting the Blockbusters) that details are known about at present.


Release: June 22nd
Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Joe Johnston
Plot: The film is about Steve Rogers, a dedicated soldier who volunteers for a top secret military research experiment regarding super-soldiers after being deemed unfit for service.
Why It’s Anticipated: The last prequel to The Avengers, this film tells the story behind many fans favorite Avenger. The cast is awesome (check out the full list here). Joss Whedon worked on the script and linked it with his Avengers film, coming next year. It is set during WWII (which is one of my favorite time periods both in historical context and style in cinema). It will have big action set pieces featuring Captain America fighting Nazis. What is not to love?
Editor’s Thoughts: My one big concern is director Joe Johnston and his less than stellar track record helming the film. But, I am willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt, as everything I have heard and seen has been good. And thus, I am eagerly awaiting its release. I mean, come-on, it is a film about Captain America. Of course I am going to see it.
Trailer (Not yet available, but here is the trailer for Thor, which looks kind of cool)

Title: Cars 2
Release: June 24th
Genre: Action/Adventure/Comedy/Animation
Director: John Lassater; co-director: Brad Lewis
Plot: The film follows racing star Lightning McQueen and his best friend Mater on an international adventure going up against the world’s fastest cars (and apparently spies too).
Why It’s Anticipated: It is Pixar (that is really all that needs to be said)…It is their third sequel – the first two: Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3  (so clearly they make good sequels too). Plus, Pixar’s annual installment is generally the best animated film of the year, if the last three or so years are any indication. Director John Lassater (and president of Walt Disney Animation Studios) has made some great films in the past like Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
Editor’s Thoughts: Being that I am not a huge fan of Cars, I am not overly excited that Pixar used their yearly film to make a sequel to one of their lesser movies. I much rather would have liked to have seen an original story. But again, it is Pixar and they generally make great stuff and I am sure this film will do well among younger viewers.

Release: July 29th
Genre: Sci-Fi/Action
Director: Jon Favreau
Plot: The film is about an outlaw Jake Lonergan and the man after him Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde. Lonergan is captured and brought forth for justice, but when a spaceship lays siege to the small town of Silver City, Arizona, the two must put aside their differences and fight a common enemy…Aliens.
Why It’s Anticipated: The film has a great cast (James Bond and Indiana Jones in the same movie!!!! And yes, I know this has happen before). Action director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) seems like the best fit to be at the helm. It is based on a very popular underground comic. The script is written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof (writers of projects like Star Trek, Fringe and Lost). Really, there is a lot to be excited about here.
Editor’s Thoughts: Aside from the almost postmodernly ironic title, as indeed the film literally features cowboys and aliens fighting each other, it should be a ton of fun. I did find the audience’s initial reactions to the trailer (see below) to be interesting – intrigued but taking it as a joke – thanks title. So, while the film while certainly have funny moments, Favreau’s approach to the material is to make a serious action sci-fi thriller – we shall see how that plays with general movie-going audiences.

Release: July 15th
Genre: Adventure
Director: David Yates
Plot: The finale of the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they battle the evil villainous Voldemort.
Why It’s Anticipated: Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was awesome and a great lead up to what should be an epic, action packed final chapter. This will likely be the biggest film of the year and a must see film for Potter fans. Director David Yates has done a fantastic job with his Potter films, blending humor in with the overall dark tone. Having the best British cast (possibly) ever assembled does not hurt either.
Editor’s Thoughts: If I could only see one film in theaters in 2011, this would be the one. Not that there will not be better movies, but in terms of excitement and theater experience, I am there opening night.
Trailer (trailer 1)

Release: December 16th
Genre: Action
Director: Brad Bird
Plot: Story details are not known, but it surely will involve Ethan Hunt and crew doing some action packed spy maneuvering.
Why It’s Anticipated: While Tom Cruise may have fallen out of favor with audiences (if Knight and Day was any indication), the Mission: Impossible series still holds a good place in the action spy genre – especially for those who loved J.J. Abrams’s Mission: Impossible III (like I did). Abrams is back as a producer and co-writer of the story. Brad Bird, who is making his live-action directorial debut, has made wonderful films in the past (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille) and I am very interested to see what he does with this film. The casting of series newcomers (much like with the last film) has been very savvy too: Renner, who is being groomed to take over the series from Cruise, coming off The Hurt Locker and a strong performance in The Town, Halloway being a fan favorite from Lost, Nyqvist being from the hugely popular cult phenomenon The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Kapoor being memorable as the game show host in Slumdog Millionaire.
Editor’s Thoughts: I am really excited for this mainly because of Abrams’s involvement, as the last film was exceptional, and because Bird is directing. Though, I do hope Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Maggie Q show up at least for cameos to keep the continuity.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Release: May 20th
Genre: Adventure
Director: Rob Marshall
Plot: The film is about Jack Sparrow and Barbossa on an adventure that sees them embark to find the fountain of youth. However, Blackbeard and his daughter are after it as well.
Why It’s Anticipated: Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the biggest franchises of all-time and has a massive built-in audience. Plus with series star Depp and most of the cast (sans Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley) coming back, there is a lot to be excited for. Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz are wonderful additions which immediately take the film out of the “potentially unneeded sequel” column and into the “ok, now I want to see this” column. Director Rob Marshall is an interesting and sort of bizarre choice to take over from the original trilogy director Gore Verbinski. Marshall is known for his big musical set pieces and stunning visual style, both of which could translate into a fine addition to the Pirates series.
Editor’s Thoughts: Marshall has not really directed action before, but really how different can it be from large scale choreographed dance numbers. I think he will do a great job, and he has most of the principal crew coming back as well – Hans Zimmer and Dariusz Wolski notably. At World’s End was a big complicated caricature of itself and a mess. Hopefully, Marshall can bring the series back to what makes it work – humor, action and great characters.

Title: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Release: December 16th
Genre: Action/Mystery
Director: Guy Ritchie
Plot: Story details are not known, but based on the end of the first film Holmes and Watson will likely be facing off with Professor Moriaty.
Why It’s Anticipated: Sherlock Holmes was a big hit last winter as it combined comedy and action quite well, and stars Downey Jr. and Law were perfect in their roles. The film set up for a sequel and everyone is back, including director Guy Ritchie, whose style seems to work well with both his cast and the tone of the film. Ritchie and the film’s producers have brought in excellent actors (and buzz worthy) for the sequel with the wonderful Frey and Harris and the much talked about co-star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Repace (exciting many fans on the internet for sure).
Editor’s Thoughts: Most fans will probably want more of the same from this film, but I hope Ritchie, cast and crew take it further and a little darker in tone (but of course keep some of the humor and quirkiness – as that is what worked so well in the first). He certainly has the talent to make a great film. And I hope Kelly Reilly has a slightly bigger role (if a role at all), as she is quite good.
Trailer (Not yet available)

Release: March 25th
Genre: Action
Director: Zack Snyder
Plot: The film is about a young girl, Baby Doll, who is institutionalized by her evil stepfather. As a coping mechanism, she creates an alternate reality, envisioning a grand plan for her escape from the facility. 
Why it’s Anticipated: First off, the film is by Zack Snyder director of 300, Watchmen and Dawn of the Dead (the remake), and thus comes with an aesthetic style and fan base built in. Second, the trailer (see below) is epic, showing massive insane action sequences with Nazis, Samurais and other presumably cool stuff. And third, the film is essentially attractive young women playing out huge combat set pieces (and who, among this film’s intended audience, does not want to see that?).
Editor’s Thoughts: If you like Snyder’s other films, chances are you are going to like this one.

Title: Super 8
Release: June 10th
Genre: Sci-Fi
Director: J.J. Abrams
Plot: Story details unknown, but from the teaser trailer (see below) there appears to be some sort of monster or alien that will wreck havoc on some unsuspecting people.
Main Cast: Kyle Chandler and Elle Fanning.
Why It’s Anticipated: J.J. Abrams is a brand onto himself, and thus his name alone gets people interested and excited for his projects (I know it does for me). Add the fact that Steven Spielberg is producing and that it is some type of monster/alien film, fans will be lining up in droves (I imagine at least). Abrams decided to cast relatively unknown actors in the film, which balks at the Hollywood system a bit, but has worked for him in the past. That said, both Chandler and Fanning have done notable work in past film and TV projects (Chandler is very good in Friday Night Lights and Fanning is getting great reviews for her performance in Somewhere). Based on Abrams’s great track record, this will probably be a fun summer movie.
Editor’s Thoughts: I am interested to see how the average movie-goer reacts to this film, no stars and it is being sold mostly on the names of Abrams and Spielberg. For me, that is enough, but I wonder how it will do among those that do not watch everything, read constantly about movies and TV and memorize the names of their favorite actors and filmmakers like me. I guess I will see with the reaction to the first full trailer.

Release: June 3rd
Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Plot: The film is a prequel (or reboot) to the X-Men trilogy and Wolverine film. Set in the 1960s, it focuses on Charles Xavier and Erik Lesherr (Professor X and Magneto respectively) before they were superheroes and villains – when they were young men discovering their powers and the social and political implications of such power(s).
Why It’s Anticipated: The X-Men trilogy is ok. None of the films is anywhere near as good as Christopher Nolan’s Batman films or the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. The finale of the trilogy and the Wolverine film were big letdowns. Thus when a new X-Men film was announced, it was met with mostly groans – and with Bryan Singer back in a creative role it seemed doomed for the same mediocre results. However since then, director Matthew Vaughn and his creative team including screenwriter Jane Goldman were hired and reworked the script. And, a fantastic group of actors have been cast. Now, this film has shot up the anticipation list for most fans. Vaughn’s Kick-Ass was a stylized and awesome superhero film. If he can do that with the X-Men, it should be amazing.
Editor’s Thoughts: I did not care about this film at all after the last two films in the X-Men film series. But like many others, Vaughn’s name immediately got me interested. He originally was set to direct X-Men: The Last Stand, but left the project due to disputes with the studio. Now, we finally get to see his X-Men film. I am also, again like many others, really excited with the cast – especially Lawrence (who is great in Winter’s Bone, see it), Jones, Fassbender, Rose Byrne, and Hoult. This is probably the blockbuster I am most looking forward to after Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Trailer (Not yet available)

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