by HELEN GEIB
Has it really been a month already? It feels like only a few days since I wrote the last one of these….
The Last Airbender– Fantasy-adventure based on a popular anime-influenced cartoon series. M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed. I was really disappointed when I learned he had written the screenplay; I don’t mind that he directed, but I was hoping it was from someone else’s script, since it’s an adaptation and all. At least it isn’t his original idea, and I’m a sucker for big budget fantasy, so I’ll be seeing it. A child actor named Noah Ringer plays the boy hero, and Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire is the villain.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse– The third film in the Twilight series opened yesterday. If you plan to see it, you knew that already.
Despicable Me– This is a shocker: a big expensive animated movie (made in 3-D of course) that isn’t a sequel, spin-off, or adaptation. That doesn’t mean it looks original or anything- plot-wise, character-wise, or otherwise, but the fact it’s an “original story” is still rather refreshing. Steve Carell voices the comically egomaniacal main character to whom the title refers.
Predators– Latest in another franchise that refuses to die. This installment has an unexpectedly respectable cast that includes Adrien Brody, Lawrence Fishburne, Alice Braga, and Topher Grace. It was directed by Nimrod Antal (Armored, Vacancy), which is promising, and Robert Rodriguez had a hand in as producer. From the trailer, it looks like this is a conscious attempt to return to the series’ roots.
Inception– The month’s most highly anticipated new release by those who weren’t highly anticipating the release of Twilight: Eclipse. The trailer promises a movie that is going to look truly amazing, and might have a pretty decent sci-fi mind games story going for it too. It was written and directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) and has a truly impressive cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Pete Postlethwaite, Tom Berenger, Lukas Haas.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice– It looks busy- really, really busy- in the trailer, but as I mentioned above I’m a sucker for fantasy so I expect I’ll see it anyway. The studio no doubt hopes to repeat director Jon Turtletaub and star Nicholas Cage’s success with National Treasure. Jay Baruchel is the titular apprentice and Alfred Molina is the wild-eyed villain. The premise is magic is real in contemporary New York City.
Ramona and Beezus– Family film based on a series of young adult books by Beverly Cleary. Joey King and Selena Gomez star as sisters Ramona and Beezus. Directed by Elizabeth Allen (Aquamarine).
Salt– Not officially the next Tomb Raider movie, but it has the same vibe. Angelina Jolie stars as suspected super-spy Salt, but I’m more interested in seeing Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor as her pursuers. Writer Kurt Wimmer has a mixed track record (exemplified by his last two films, the horrid Law Abiding Citizen and the underrated Street Kings). It was directed by Philip Noyce, who has similarly helmed an unusual mix of films, with Rabbit-Proof Fence at one end and The Bone Collector at the other.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore– Live/animatronic/CG pets with secret lives as secret agents save the world in 3-D. Need I say more? I really don’t want to.
Dinner for Schmucks– Steve Carell again, this time in live-action and co-starring with Paul Rudd as a Martin and Lewis-ish comedy duo. Rudd’s character’s ascendancy up the corporate ladder is contingent on his bringing a “schmuck” to his detestable boss’s annual dinner for same, for the enjoyment of sleazy, soulless suits. Enter Carell’s character. Directed by Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers, Meet the Parents).