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.