(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 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, 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. <sigh>)