Things to Come


2010 has come to a close, and 2011 is now upon us. For me, it’s a time to look ahead at all the films I want to see or (as is far more likely) will be forced to sit through in the course of my job. So let’s peek into the future and see what awaits us in the coming Year In Film.

NOTE: This is not necessarily a list of future Escape to the Movies episodes, and all release dates are subject to change.


Like clockwork, every time the superhero genre gets big, whoever currently holds the rights threatens to make a Green Hornet movie – this time, they actually went and did it.

Elsewhere, Nicolas Cage’s medieval-horror piece Season of the Witch finally opens after a two year delay (must be good!), Natalie Portman endangers her Oscar chances by appearing with Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached, and Vince Vaughn helps Kevin James try to prove he’s more than just Paul Blart in The Dilemma, a movie that’s been almost totally overshadowed by the controversy over a single joke.

Also this month: Jason Statham in The Mechanic, a Charles Bronson remake about a taciturn, hyper-competent hitman – for those keeping track, Jason Statham has now made this movie 152,000 times. There’s also From Prada to Nada, a film whose very title fills me with such seething hatred I dare not look up what it’s about.


The “buzz” movie this month will be Frankie & Alice, in which Halle Berry tries to atone for every single thing she’s done since winning an Oscar by tackling the Hallmark-meets-Chapelle’s Show role of a woman with multiple-personalities – one of whom is “white” … and a huge racist. No, really.

Meanwhile, Liam Neeson continues his unexpected mid-life transformation into Irish Bruce Willis in Unknown, James Cameron’s diving buddies get stuck underground in Sanctum, Nicolas Cage escapes from Hell (and, here’s hoping, the IRS) to save a baby from becoming a cult sacrifice in Drive Angry: 3D, the Farrelly Brothers strain for relevance in Hall Pass, and Martin Lawrence once more wounds the soul of the universe in Big Momma’s House 3.

It goes without saying, of course, that this is all irrelevant next to the sheer world-changing magnitude that is February 11th’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. In 3D.


Can Watchmen adaptor and future Superman helmer Zack Snyder deliver on his own original story? We’ll find out in Sucker Punch. The residents of an all-female asylum use their dreams to plot an escape; said dreams involve dragons, Nazis, and robots being fought by super-powered girls in Manga-esque fetish-doll costumes. Yes, please! Think Inception if Christopher Nolan were Travis Touchdown.

Also scheduled: Jodie Foster tries to save Mel Gibson’s career in The Beaver, Battle: Los Angeles tries to live up to its trailer, Amanda Seyfried tempts medieval werewolves with her enormous, enticing, um … let’s say “eyes,” in Red Riding Hood, and Simon Pegg reteams with Nick Frost for the E.T. parody Paul.


A bumbling stoner (Danny McBride) tags along with his dashing prince brother (James Franco) to rescue a princess (Zooey Deschanel) in a fairytale kingdom. It’s called Your Highness and also features Natalie Portman in an armored thong. I do not know the context of that last part, nor do I care.

Scream 4 also drops this month, reuniting Wes Craven, Courtney Cox, Neve Campbell and everyone else whose career hasn’t improved since Scream was supposed to have ended. Reese Witherspoon, Christophe Waltz and Robert “don’t-call-me-Edward” Pattinson answer the burning question, “what if Titanic were at the circus instead of on a boat?” in Water for Elephants. Steven Soderbergh tries his hand at martial-arts action with female Muay-Thai/MMA star Gina Carano in Haywire.

Car enthusiasts, though, will be eagerly awaiting the fifth The Fast & The Furious movie, Fast Five (yes, they really called it that). It’s the only place you’ll see Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and The Rock together outside of a support group for Guys Who Were Supposed to Be Bigger Stars By Now. Diesel and Rock will supposedly fight, and if that excites you, something is clearly wrong with the space-time continuum, as you are evidently a 12 year-old living in the year 2001.

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Marvel Studios’ shared-universe Avengers mega-project gets its “magic” injection from Thor. Is the public appetite for all things superheroic big enough even for a movie about Viking space-gods with magic hammers? Paul Bettany fights vampires for Jesus in Priest (because Legion was so good for his career), while Johnny Depp gambles that we’re not sick of Jack Sparrow yet in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.


Ryan Reynolds dons the ring of The Green Lantern to battle a truly monstrous enemy: Warner Bros’ inability to make a good superhero movie that isn’t about Batman.

Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn was supposed to make X-Men 3, but quit when the studio got too pushy. Uber-hack Brett Ratner made it instead… and wound up killing the entire franchise. Now, Vaughn gets a second chance to set things right with X-Men: First Class – a prequel (and possibly also a continuity-reboot) with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as a young Professor X and Magneto fighting for Mutant Rights in the 1960s. The project has been incredibly secretive, but we’re told to expect more comic-style costumes and fan-favorite villains The Hellfire Club. Also, no Wolverine – so everyone else might actually get to do something for a change.

Meanwhile: Pixar’s worst movie is also, perversely, its most profitable, so get ready for Cars 2. For old-school sci-fi fans, there’s also Rise of the Apes, with James Franco as a genetic engineer whose super-intelligent mutant chimpanzee inadvertently sets off a war between humans and apes that (Twentieth Century Fox is hoping) will ultimately bring about a new incarnation of the Planet of The Apes franchise. (The previous attempt at a remake didn’t take.)


Captain America, a movie I’ve been waiting three decades to see, finally arrives this month. You’d think they’d put it out on the Fourth of July, right? Well, they didn’t, because another big movie claimed the spot first. Which one? Transformers: Dark of the Moon, because the universe hates me. And speaking of long-awaited arrivals: The curtain comes down on the most ambitious multi-movie production in cinema history with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

What does the filmmaking-future look like for Jon Favreau now that he’s turned down Iron Man 3? Cowboys & Aliens will offer a clue. And busy folks who’ve been suffering the torment of not being able to watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Night At The Museum, and Madagascar at the same time will find their prayers answered as Kevin James wrangles talking animals in Zoo Keeper.


Nobody asked for The Smurfs, but we’re getting it anyway. Oh boy! I hope there’s a part where the swap out “smurf” for modern-day curse-words! Ooh! And maybe some “naughty” jokes about how there’s only one girl! HA HA!

Jim Carrey jumps back into the family-comedy pool as the (human) star of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It’ll … wait. I remember this book. It was cute. Hm. How did I not know they were making this into a movie? And Angela Lansbury and Carla Gugino are in it, too? Huh. Y’know what? I have nothing snarky to say about this. (Yet.) I’m looking forward to this. So there.

Also coming: A new (and not terribly good-looking) Conan the Barbarian, a remake of the overlooked vampire classic Fright Night, another damn Final Destination movie, and Spy Kids 4. Sure, why not?


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.

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Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.