The MCND’s Terribly Incomplete Previews & Predictions for 2010

I haven’t yet splurged on that subscription to imdb Pro, which is where the incomplete part comes in. But I’ve crawled the net and found out a little bit about some Movies Yet to Come, and I’ve helpfully gathered it all into one place! If there’s another movie that you’d like to hear more about, let me know on Twitter (MovieCriticND) and I’ll see what else I can hunt up. These are just a few that have attracted my interest.
First up for the New Year is something that looks pretty promising, namely Daybreakers. If it’s half as good as the trailers make it look, I’ll be happy. The image of the vampire is in dire need of a remodel, and this could be the movie that makes them once again just as creepy as they should be.
Trailers for Legion have been in the rotation for a long time already — I’ve seen it at least six times, but still can’t make up my mind about it. This one could really go either way. On the surface it looks like just another man vs. monster flick, but then, so did 28 Days Later, and I like that.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief will, I predict, be the longest-titled movie of the year. It’s based on a popular series of young adult books, and with fantasy as big as it is right now, the box office, at least, should be tremendous on this one. Besides, what teenager hasn’t occasionally wished that one or both parents were actually Greek gods?
The Wolfman gives Anthony Hopkins and Benicio del Toro the chance to do for werewolves what Daybreakers will (hopefully) do for vampires. The wolfman was never a favorite character of mine, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with this one. If nothing else, the transformation effects look like they’ll be horrible, but fantastic.
I’ve seen the trailer for Shutter Island even more than the trailer for Legion, and I’m starting to wish it would just come out, already. I’m also starting to wish that someone would sit Leonardo DiCaprio down for a long talk about these tough guy roles he keeps trying to play.
I saw the previews for The Crazies just once. If they show them again, I’ll have to just cover my eyes until it’s over. It’s possible this is another example of a zombie movie that rises above the usual, but I have a horrible feeling it’s just one of those movies meant to make you jump, and to make teenage girls cling to their dates.
They’re remaking Alice in Wonderland, as nearly everyone must know by now, because Johnny Depp is in it. Alice, the supposed main character, is played by a virtual unknown, because who cares who else is in it if Johnny Depp is in it, right? But he’s been looking steadily weirder ever since he played Willy Wonka, so I suppose his turning into the Mad Hatter was inevitable.
They had a (very brief) trailer for Iron Man 2 before Sherlock Holmes, for the Robert Downey Jr. fans. There’s not much there yet — it isn’t due out until May 2010 — but there was a bunch of dancing gilrs, a congressional hearing, a battle royal with what looked to be Iron Man and War Machine against a bunch of robots, and Whiplash as a villain. This character is sort of a cross between Backlash (who used to be called Whiplash) and the Crimson Dynamo, a Russian adversary of good old Shellhead’s. (If you’ve never read an Iron Man comic, all you even sort of need to know is that they’ve combined two of the villains from the comic to create a new one for the movie.)
Inception is yet another Leonardo DiCaprio film, though I’m not sure how tough he tries to be. It looks like they go all Matrix-y in this one, which is often a bad idea, but it’s an interesting concept. As near as I can tell, Leo’s part of a team that uses a new technology to enter peoples’ minds and sift through them to find things out. Now that’s a good way to interrogate someone, as long as you can get out with everyone’s sanity intact.
And when I went looking to see what other projects he might have coming up that I could mention, there were twenty-seven listed. Twenty-seven. I’m not touching those. Someone make him take a vacation. Apparently he might be in Aquaman, though, so at least he’s not sticking too closely to the tough guy roles. Hee.
Ridley Scott is also working up a retelling of Robin Hood, to go with his proposed version of Brave New World — he’s almost as busy as Leo. Mark Strong (recent Sherlock Holmes villain) seems to be a villain here as well — that’s fine. Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian — also good. But I’m not sure I can root for Russell Crowe as Robin Hood. *sigh*
And last but not least, Clash of the Titans. If you remember the 1981 version, then you’ll probably want to forget it. There was no indication of a plot in the trailer, though I doubt there’s much of one, anyway; but wow, people had fun with the designs for the creatures. They were great.
Before this gets any longer, I’ll sign off. There are so many fun things to preview, though! I’ll have to try this again sometime.

The MCND Best of the Worst, 2009 edition

Or maybe Worst of the Best? I’m not much good with titles. But all the real critics get to put together reviews of the past year about this time, so here I am, taking a little stroll through Memories of Movies Past and picking out some of the most memorable flicks from the past year… memorable not always meaning good, unfortunately. But it’s still fun to reminisce. So without further ado:
The good:
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Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood proves there’s no age limit on being tough.
Watchmen. It was wild, it was over the top, and it was violent; but like a good roller coaster, it was a grand and entertaining ride.
District 9. At the end of the day, it’s all about being able to look at yourself in the mirror.
The bad:
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Knowing. Nic, you’re wonderful. But nothing, I mean nothing, could salvage that script.
The Box. Because throwing special effects at a story isn’t the way to make it better.
2012. See above. These aren’t even good special effects.
The ugly:
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Zombieland. There isn’t much uglier than a zombie. Braaaainsss.
9. The little dolls were adorable. Those monsters chasing them were seriously creepy, and win the award for Scariest Creatures of the Year in my book. Yes, even including the ones in the film mentioned below.
Avatar. Because throwing special effects at a story isn’t the way to make it better. How many times do I have to say that?

Sherlock Holmes

I think 2009 will be remembered as the Year of the Reboot. Like Star Trek, this is sort of Sherlock Holmes, but mostly not. On the other hand, the atmosphere is pure Victorian London — it’s grand and grimy all at the same time, and it seems very accurate. Well, okay, it’s a Victorian London where they’ve already invented tasers, remote controls, and weapons of mass destruction, but aside from that it seems very accurate.
Anyway, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Zodiac) is Sherlock Holmes, or claims to be. He says lots of Holmes’ lines from the original stories, he boxes, he performs weird experiments, he shoots pistols in the house, and he locks himself in his rooms for days on end just like Holmes; but somehow I was still never convinced of his identity. Jude Law, though, made an excellent Watson, which was a very pleasant surprise. He was calm, practical, and generally just the right antidote to his detective friend’s manic, impractical, and generally unsettling ways. He also was not a hapless, uncoordinated idiot, which so many writers have made him, even though he wasn’t supposed to be anything of the sort in the original stories.
So far, things have sort of evened out — one really bad casting decisions, one really good one. Then we come to the, um, lady of the story, who neither acts nor dresses like a lady, one Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams, who looks like she’s wandered off the cover of a 1980′s era, pseudo-historical bodice-ripper romance novel). She’s always the woman they throw in when they really, seriously want to mess with the Holmes universe, because she’s the one that Holmes referred to as “the woman,” according to Watson, who should know. This, however, was because she was the only female Holmes ever ran across who bested him in a battle of wits. This is a huge thing when one’s career is literally one’s wits, and is more than enough explanation for Holmes’ notice without wedging in romantic feelings, but that’s what everyone does. It’s very sadly predictable.
And they don’t disappoint me here. Well, they do, but I can at least say that I predicted being disappointed accurately. The writers then go on to mess with Watson’s romantic history, apparently solely to give someone a chance to throw wine in Holmes’ face. The doctor is engaged to marry Mary Morstan, who featured in one of the original Holmes stories (The Sign of Four), and who Watson actually did marry — but for whatever bizarre reason, here she never did feature in that case, because Holmes hasn’t met her yet when the film opens. The two men seem to have known each other forever, judging by the way they harrass each other, but there’s never any mention of any other cases they’ve worked on, which is very unlike the stories.
In fact, let me just list the ways in which this flick actually follows the Holmesian traditions: the names and occupations of all the main characters are the same. Except that isn’t right, either, because “Scandal in Bohemia” Irene Adler is a woman with a very faintly checkered past (standard for any female who dared to act or sing at that time) who bests Holmes because she wants to marry a man she deeply loves and get on with being happy. Movie Irene Adler is an amoral. ruthless adventuress, thief, and con artist who talks like she’s been married seventeen times. Somehow, even in the sexist Victorian world, where a woman just might be able to get a divorce if she’s extremely rich and can prove extreme cruelty on the part of her husband, Irene Adler is able to get divorced as often as she likes. She’s also able to walk the streets dressed like a neon flamingo without being arrested for prostitution, or possibly just terribly bad dress sense.

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Rachel McAdams prepares to read up on the technology used to make her dress glow in the dark.

But the good news is that it does have a plot! As much of a plot as ever a Holmes story did, since even their author admitted that they were more exercises in logic for the famed detective than stories in the usual sense. So I didn’t really mind that the whole film is mainly a series of weird and interesting events (secret societies, booby traps, men bursting into flames, French giants, etc.) that don’t really fit together until it’s all explained at the end, because that’s how it should be. I was only bothered that it was Robert Downey Jr. explaining things, and somehow it sounded like he was just reading it all from the script.
I think that the Holmes franchise (and yes, it’s going to be a franchise, sadly, as the ending isn’t so much an ending as a teaser for the next film), is being groomed to replace the Bond franchise. Now that James has moved on to be meaner, rougher, and tougher all around, the world (apparently) needs another kinder, gentler action hero, and for some reason I’ll never understand, the movie studios have turned to Holmes and Watson. But the best I can possibly rate this is three idols, and that’s a very bad sign, since starting at that level means that it will take only three or four movies before they become unwatchable, based on the usual sequel slump in quality. My suggestion? Keep Jude Law and recast Holmes. Let Robert stick to the Iron Man franchise, because Tony Stark is supposed to be spoiled and self-centered and charming, in a really smarmy way. He’s born to play Tony Stark! I’m not sure I even care who they replace him with for Holmes as long as the guy is about the right age, can act, and isn’t Jim Carrey. Oh, and actually is English, because it would really be nice to have an English actor playing the world’s most famous English detective. Elementary.