Monday, July 09, 2007

Upcoming Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Comic Book Films.

SF Signal has a post discussing upcoming SF and Fantasy films (they borrowed the list from SFFWorld) that I found interesting. I am a fan of genre films, have been since I first saw Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings as a young tyke.

I liked the format that they used over at SF Signal, so I'll imitate it here and insert my own opinions. Here are my thoughts:

Aliens vs. Predator - A sequel to Alien vs. Predator by video game adaptation king Paul W.S. Anderson. The new film is directed by Greg and Colin Strause, both of whom have extensive visual effects experience.
PROS: James Cameron's Aliens turned an excellent horror film into an excellent action film. I liked Predator 2 more than Predator, though I liked the Governator's film just fine. AVP was fun; it had an Aztec style pyramid buried in Antarctica which is very high concept Lovecraftian (think Mountains of Madness).
CONS: While Paul W.S. Anderson's film can be hit or miss, the films in the franchises he works on that he doesn't direct tend to be awful. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation battles with Street Fighter for worst video game film ever, in my opinion. And as much as I like the 2nd Unit work of Alexander Witt, his Resident Evil: Apocalypse...not so much.
BOTTOM LINE: I'll pass.

30 Days of Night - SF Signal described this as, "A vampire movie based on the graphic novel." I hate it when people describe things based on COMIC BOOKS, in this case a 3 issue mini-series, as based on "a graphic novel." Yes, 30 Days of Night has been collected into TRADE PAPERBACK, but that does not a graphic novel make. To quote scribe Steve Niles description: " In a sleepy, secluded Alaska town called Barrow, the sun sets and doesn't rise for over thirty consecutive days and nights. From the darkness, across the frozen wasteland, an evil will come that will bring the residents of Barrow to their kness. The only hope for the town is the Sheriff and Deputy, a husband and wife who are torn between their own survival and saving the town they love."
PROS: I loved the comic and have liked the movies that Sam Raimi has produced. Yes, I even like Boogeyman...a lot.
CONS: Josh Hartnett.
BOTTOM LINE: A great comic based on a very good high concept premise, which has the requisite "Steven King-ish" small town Sheriff, should be a good romp.


Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She Vampires
- Bruce Campbell reprises his role as an elderly Elvis Presley in this sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep.
PROS: Funny high concept premise and Bruce Cambell.
CONS: While I liked the premise of Bubba Ho-Tep, and did laugh at times, watching a Joe Lansdale tale told at Jim Jarmusch speed by the director of Beastmaster didn't work for me. Any of those three elements alone usually is enough for me. Joe Lansdale? Like him, check. Jim Jarmusch? Quirky...good...check. Beastmaster? I used to watch this so often my parents called HBO "Hey Beastmaster's On."
BOTTOM LINE: Like John at SF Signal, I will watch anything with Bruce Campbell. It has often paid off to base my viewing on that criteria alone.

The Dark is Rising - A classic Newberry Award winning Fantasy story by Susan Cooper.
PROS: The film is based on a strong property and the current trend of Fantasy films performing in the Box Office means this will likely get an appropriate budget. IAN MCSHANE.
CONS: Are they really going to give this the budget/attention it deserves or is it going to be one of those films that begins the downfall of the current positive trend in fantasy films.
BOTTOM LINE: I am so there.

The Dark Knight - The sequel to Batman Begins.
PROS: Everything.
CONS: Nothing.
BOTTOM LINE: I watched the Schumacher Batman movies. I watched the Justice League Pilot Episode. Does it feature DC Comics characters? I'll watch it if it does.

Enchanted - A classic Disney fairy tale collides with modern-day New York City.
PROS: Live action version of a post-modern look at the traditional fairy tale, starring Amy "Ricky Bobby is not a thinker" Adams.
CONS: Live action version of a post-modern look at the traditional fairy tale, starring James "Cyclops" Marsden.
BOTTOM LINE: Could be great, could stink.

G.I. Joe - Live action version of the 80s cartoon.
PROS: Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Scarlett, and Baroness.
CONS: Written by the screenwriter of Swordfish and currently undergoing rewrites.
BOTTOM LINE: This is slated for 2010! Why am I talking about this?

I Am Legend - Last man on Earth fights humans infected with a disease that makes them into vampires.
PROS: Great book, and I liked both Omega Man and Last Man on Earth.
CONS: Screenplay by the scribe of Batman and Robin. "Ice to see you."
BOTTOM LINE: Will Smith + Vampires = my seat in the theater.

Incredible Hulk II - A complete re-envisioning of the Hulk franchise which will purposefully forget the Ang Lee version.
PROS: Edward Norton, Hulk Smashing, Tim Roth, Abomination Smashing, Liv Tyler and William Hurt as the Ross's.
CONS: Avi "the problem with the first Hulk was that we made the character 15 feet tall" Arad is still producing, not enough Hulk smashing in the first movie and this one will likely retell the origin.
BOTTOM LINE: Hulk vs. Abomination...how well does the collision of two "personifications" of cold war superpowers work in a post-cold war world? I want to know.

Indiana Jones IV
- The return of the adventuring Archaeologist who is now almost as old as his subject matter.
PROS: A continuation of an enjoyable series. Shia LaBeouf.
CONS: It's been a long time since the last film. Will this have momentum or humor? Is Ford believable as "action star?"
BOTTOM LINE: Two-Fisted Action keeps me coming back.

Iron Man - Iron Man is another one of Marvel's Cold War Heroes who is being given a film.
PROS: Iron Man is one of my absolute favorite superheroes. It's between him, Alan Scott (the blond Green Lantern with the cape), Union Jack, and Black Panther. Jon Favreau as director and Mark Fergus on Screenplay.
CONS: Gwyneth Paltrow? Stan Lee Cameo. Avi Arad producing.
BOTTOM LINE: I think that Jon Favreau is a talented director who has a big geek streak, so I'll be there day one. I just hope he goes slick and funny and not camp.

Jurassic Park IV - Dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs.
PROS: Dinosaurs eating people.
CONS: The, probable, lack of Ninjas, Pirates, Cowboys, Gypsies, Gladiators, and Giant Robots. Can't you see it? Jurassic Park IV as a remake of The Valley of Gwangi turned to 11 with the addition of Pirates, Ninjas, and Giant Robots.
BOTTOM LINE: Haven't missed one yet. I don't expect much, but it's dinosaurs and the 9 year old in me can't resist.

The Mummy III - In the Far East, trouble-seeking father-and-son duo Rick (Brendan Fraser) and pal unearth the mummy of the first Emperor of Qin (Jet Li) -- a shape-shifting entity who was cursed by a wizard centuries ago.
PROS: I really liked the first Mummy film. I thought Brendan Frazer would be an awesome Doc Savage.
CONS: The second film made me rethink Frazer as Savage and had midget mummies.
BOTTOM LINE: The addition of Jet Li makes this a must see. Like Bruce Campbell, I'll watch anything with Jet Li. I LOVED Kung Fu Cult Master.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - The Pevensie siblings return to Narnia, where they are enlisted to once again help ward off an evil king and restore the rightful heir to the land's throne, Prince Caspian.
PROS: I liked the first film and it's based on a strong property.
CONS: Will they be cheap, or will they invest in it?
BOTTOM LINE: I read all the Lewis books, I'll watch all the movies. Well...at least until they release one that absolutely sucks.

Puss in Boots - A Shrek spinoff starring Antonio Banderas as the eponymous character.
PROS: Puss in Boots got me to watch, and enjoy, Shrek 2 when I would have abandoned the franchise.
CONS: The Shrek franchise wanders into lameness when it spends too much time sniping at Disney. This film needs to avoid that pratfall.
BOTTOM LINE: Antonio Banderas is enough for me.

Speed Racer - A live action version of the cartoon.
PROS: The Mach 5 and a badass title song and Richard Roundtree.
CONS: The Wachowski brothers combined with Susan Sarandon and Christina Ricci make me wonder what direction this film is headed.
BOTTOM LINE: I'll see it, but I expect camp. I would have preferred the Vince Vaughn version, I think.

The Spiderwick Chronicles - Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate with their mother, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures.
PROS: Based on the book series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. DiTerlizzi is an imaginative and fun artist who set the tone for the Planescape setting for the Second Edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. His quirky and fun style should make for great character design.
CONS: Some people might make Pan's Labyrinth comparisons on the fairy designs. Are they going to spend the money on the series?
BOTTOM LINE: The books are fun and DiTerlizzi's designs should make for a great visual experience.

Temeraire - Based on the entertaining novel His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik. There is no better description of the setting than that given on the website, "A reimagining of the epic events of the Napoleonic Wars with an air force—an air force of dragons, manned by crews of aviators."
PROS: Peter Jackson, Horatio Hornblower meets Smaug.
CONS: Might get stuck in development hell.
BOTTOM LINE: Not slated to come out until 2009.

Where the Wild Things Are - A live action movie based on the famous children's picture book.
PROS: I always thought the monsters were adorable.
CONS: Translating a short story to film can be difficult to say the least. What exactly is the 90 minute narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: Could be as good as Zathura, which is only disliked by those who lack souls.
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