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DISCLAIMER: Things get sketchy after this, as Fall schedules have yet to be even close to set, but here's what we think you can look forward to:
It's a big month for breakout supporting-stars getting their solo shots: Twilight's Taylor Lautner toplines Abducted (think Bourne for teens, about a guy who learns his "adoptive" parents actually stole him) while Zoe "Neytiri" Saldana is lady assassin with a long held grudge in Colombiana.
Guaranteed to be controversial will be Straw Dogs, a remake of the notorious (and awesome) Sam Peckinpah classic about an intellectual professor and his wife under siege by a lynch mob of brutes in rural England. The new one purportedly moves the action to the American South, with James Marsden as a "liberal" Hollywood screenwriter stalked by vengeful rednecks. Yeah, that's not trying to push any buttons.
Were you aching for yet another version of The Three Musketeers? Me either, but we're getting one anyway, courtesy Paul W.S. Anderson. On the plus side, he's gathered a hell of a cast of reliable character actors: Ray Stevenson, Orlando Bloom, Christophe Waltz, Til "Hugo Stiglitz" Schwieger and, of course, Milla Jovovich (Anderson's wife.)
We're also supposed to finally see Johnny Depp's sort-of spiritual-sequel to Fear & Loathing, Rum Diary, Hugh Jackman's family movie about robot boxing Real Steel, a same-title prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing, a third Paranormal Activity, and the director of Hustle & Flow remakes Footloose. There are no words.
Let's call this "weird-ass-sequel month," as The Twilight Saga goes from regular-bad to Chris-Claremont-After-Massive-Head-Trauma-Bad in Breaking Dawn: Part 1, plus a follow-up to the ultra-bizarre Penguin-battles-religious-intolerance-and-"alien"-abduction-with-tap-dancing epic Happy Feet 2.
But all that looks very small next to the real event of November: Jason Segel brings Jim Henson's Muppets back to theaters - and back to Muppet Show continuity -- in The Muppets. Hell yeah, Muppets.
Good news: Brad Bird, director of modern animation classics like Iron Giant and The Incredibles, makes his blockbuster live-action debut! Bad news: The live-action blockbuster in question is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Ugh. Supposedly, this one will see Tom Cruise becoming the "older mentor" in favor of a new, younger lead hero, which couldn't have been good for his ego. Or his Thetan-Levels...
Also: Steven Spielberg returns to family epics with War Horse, about a conscripted horse trying to escape back to its owner during World War I. Better start practicing not-crying-in-theaters. And we'll find out what it was about Rooney Mara that helped her beat out every young actress in Hollywood for the hotly-contested role of (the new) Lisbeth Salander - otherwise known as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - for director David Fincher.
Happy New Year!
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.