This year has been hailed as the year of the big name blockbusters. There are some major, big money, releases this year, more than there were last year for sure. People all over the web have been buzzing about these films for a while now. I’d bet you’ve heard of them too. Movies like Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation, Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, and The Land of the Lost are dominating the movie blogging community. Movie sites and movie fans alike are all talking about them, almost as if there are no other films coming out this year. Well, there are. There are some films set to come out this year that, by all accounts, are going to be just as good (if not better than) the blockbuster films this year. But no one seems to want to talk about them. No one, except for MovieGuys! There are other films out there that you probably have not heard about unless you are a big time movie junkie like myself. So, to help spread the word about the great films coming out this year, I’m going to cover a couple of releases that don’t get the coverage they deserve. You deserve to know about them! I will offer you a hand full of films that should be getting coverage, in order of their release dates.
The taking of Pelham 123: Denzel Washington and John Travolta come together to star in this dramatic action/thriller about an ordinary day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime. Denzel alone is enough to at least get my attention. He is very talented and typically chooses the right projects to do, because his films are almost always good. John Travolta, while not as talented as Denzel, is still a good actor and he has massive big-name appeal. It’s a little surprising that the movie blogging community hasn’t mentioned it yet. Sounds like it will be a good movie. Here’s the synopsis: “Walter Garber is an ordinary man whose ordinary day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. John Travolta stars as Ryder, the criminal mastermind who, as leader of a highly-armed gang of four, threatens to execute the train’s passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages.” Travolta back as a bad guy? Cool. Count me in. This movie hits theaters on June 12th.
Drag Me to Hell: This may just be the film I’m most looking forward to (aside from the blockbusters). Spiderman director Sam Raimi is back in the horror world telling an insane story about a bank employee that has a curse placed on her head, making her life a living hell. The film will star Justin Long (Mac/PC adds, Accepted) Alison Lohman, and Jessica Lucas. Horror is where Sam Raimi’s twisted story telling mind shines the brightest. If you don’t believe me, go pick up Evil Dead. I can tell you that I will most certainly be there to see this one! Here is a brief synopsis of the film: Christine Brown is an ambitious L.A. loan officer, leading a great life, until a mysterious old woman arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Christine denies the woman, shaming her and dispossessing her of her home. In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on Christine, transforming her life into a living hell. To help the shattered Christine return her life to normal, a psychic sets her on a frantic course to reverse the spell. As evil forces close in, Christine must face the unthinkable: how far will she go to break free of the curse? Find out on May 29th.
District 9: Little is known at this time about this highly secretive project from Neill Blomkamp. We have seen a viral marketing campaign for this film, though unfortunately it doesn’t help to reveal any new information about the movie. Each viral site does have some interesting things to see, and who knows, maybe they do contain information about the film and we just don’t know it yet. Here are some of the viral sites like D-9.com, Multinationalunited.com, Mathsfromouterspace.com, and the blog of a non-human named George at Mnuspreadlies.com. Based on the following brief plot info we know, I’m very intrigued by this concept and am eagerly awaiting a full trailer. “District 9 depicts a fictional world where extraterrestrials have become refugees in South Africa.” The film will hit theaters on August the 14th.
Pandorum: This project stars Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster and Cung Le, and is directed by the relatively unknown Christian Alvart. None of this blows me away, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t blow you away either. But I list this film here because of it’s bizarre and complex plot. It seems like it’s a horror/sci-fi film, yet it is being described as a drama/fantasy/thriller/suspense type of film. I’ll let you decide for yourself: “A terrifying story of two crew members stranded on a spacecraft who quickly realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. They can’t remember anything – who are they, what is their mission? The only way out of the chamber is a dark and narrow air shaft. Corporal Bower, the younger of the two, crawls inside, while the other, Lt. Payton, stays behind for guidance on a radio transmitter. As Bower ventures deeper and deeper into the ship, he begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking and deadly secrets come unraveled, and the astronauts realize that the survival of mankind hinges on their actions.” Wicked, right?!? Pandorum opens on September 4th.
Surrogates: Another film relying on viral marketing to generate some positive buzz, Surrogates is a family friendly fantasy adventure type film starring Bruce Willis. The film’s plot revolves around some creepy robotic technology. Here’s the synopsis: “FBI agents investigate the mysterious murder of a college student linked to the man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase un-flawed robotic versions of themselves—fit, good looking remotely controlled machines that ultimately assume their life roles—enabling people to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. ” Seems to me like a creepy, more adult type story. I’m not sure why it’s considered family friendly, but that’s the official word, so that’s what I’ll go with. I’m not sure about this one, I may just want to wait for a trailer before I pass final judgement, but this film has earned enough of my attention for me to keep my eye out for a trailer. Surrogates is scheduled for release on September 25th.
Astro Boy: Some of you may have heard about Astro Boy before, and I’m not talking about the movie. The character started as a Japanese manga character in 1952, and has sky-rocketed into mega popularity since then. Astro Boy was also translated to the world of Japanese television from 1963-1966. In Japan, almost everyone knows or has heard of Astro Boy. But many Americans don’t. I have the feeling that this film will make the character very popular here in the states. For all of you who know nothing about Astro Boy, check this out: “Astro Boy is about a young robot from the futuristic Metro City, with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist named Tenma (Nicolas Cage). Powered by positive “blue” energy, Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly. He embarks on a journey in search of acceptance and through his adventures, he learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it takes to be a hero.” Aside from the casting of Nic Cage, who is great but doesn’t seem to fit with Astro Boy’s origin story, this film seems to have the tools required to be a huge hit and a fan favorite for kids in America and around the globe. We will find out for certain on October the 23rd.
Planet 51: This movie is the one that I most want to see succeed. It is a family friendly, computer animated film, but it isn’t coming from Dreamworks or Pixar! That’s right, there is a new contender in the fight to take down the big boys of computer animation. So I’m pulling for it big time. The movie itself has a high chance of success, because it seems to have the right people in place to make this movie the way it should be done. Casting choices were amazing: John Cleese, Gary Oldman, Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, and Justin Long. The film was also written by Shrek 1 & 2 writer Joel Stillman, who also wrote episodes of “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “King of the Hill.” So this should be funny and entertaining. Enough of the suspense you say? Here it is, in a nutshell: “When Astronaut Captain Charles “Chuck” Baker lands his spaceship on Planet 51, thinking that the no-one lives there, the inhabitants’ paranoia is unleashed and the real adventure begins. Lem, a young resident on Planet 51, who is fascinated by space the world outside, will help Chuck try to escape from the authorities, recover his spaceship and return home.” I’m not sure about this one, but it could be just as entertaining as the Shrek films were. And if you have children and have to watch films like this anyway, it seems like you can find a little enjoyment in this one. Grab the kiddies and head out to the theater on November 2oth.
The Lovely Bones: This movie just seems to be oozing drama. I know it’s early, but it’s being considered an award nominated flick. The casting certainly doesn’t show anything to contradict those thoughts. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Saoirse Ronan, and Michael Imperioli. The director is the supremely talented Peter Jackson. This tear-jerker centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from heaven. This movie is based on a book of the same name. While not much is known about how they will go about adapting this for the big screen in terms of plot, we do know the plot of the book. I’d bet this movie is very similar, plot wise. If it helps, here is the basic plot of the book: “The Lovely Bones is a 2002 novel by Alice Sebold. It is the story of a 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon, who is raped, murdered, and dismembered by a neighbor. Over the next few years she watches from a personalized heaven as her family and friends deal with their grief. She sometimes becomes angry and frustrated from the choices her family makes while looking over them, as her family and friends go on with their lives, while she herself has to terms with her own death.” While I have not read the book, I have heard many good things about it, and came across even more good things when researching this post. The book became an instant hit, receiving a lot of critical praise and becoming a best-seller. The story is there, and it seems to be an emotionally charged, powerful drama. Sure, those types of films could be depressing, but I believe the greatest movies are the ones with the strongest emotional story lines. The movies that actually make you feel a true emotion, and leave you thinking about it long after you leave the theater. The Lovely Bones could deliver on that. It’s currently scheduled for release on December 11th, just in time for award season considerations.
Well, there you have it. All of these movies have the makings of quality work. I’m not saying they will all be great movies, but they have the undeniable potential to be. At the very least, these movies should be getting coverage from the other “big boys” in the movie blogging community. Everyone deserves to know about ALL the upcoming releases, not just the big/popular ones. Who knows, maybe one or more of these will end up being very successful films. You’ll never know until you see them!