Must-see films for 2009
Here are the movies to watch out for in 2009:
Who’s in it: Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jackie Earle Haley
Who’s making it: Zack Snyder, the gifted stylist behind 300.
The lowdown: Part conspiracy-thriller, part murder-mystery, it follows a group of reunited costumed crime-fighters after one of their own is murdered.
Why watch the Watchmen? The 1986 graphic novel is considered the Citizen Kane of comics. Can Snyder’s film retain the source material’s sex, violence and psychological depth? One more note: As of press time, the film’s release was still in jeopardy because Fox is contesting Warner Bros.’ rights to the property.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May)
Who’s in it: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston
Who’s making it: Gavin Hood, who directed the thriller Rendition.
The lowdown: Jackman reprises his X-Men role in this prequel that reveals the character’s mysterious past.
A furry, fanged Schreiber turns up as sociopathic Sabretooth.
Evolve or die: X-Men: The Last Stand raked in more than $200 million in May 2006. Should it perform as well as expected, look for Fox to greenlight more X-prequels (X-Men Origins: Magneto is on the launchpad).
Star Trek (May)
Who’s in it: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana and some dude named Leonard Nimoy.
Who’s making it: Geek god J.J. Abrams, creator of Lost, Alias and Fringe.
The lowdown: A Romulan (Bana) travels back in time to assassinate a youthful James T. Kirk (Pine). Quinto plays young Spock while Nimoy turns up as the character’s elder pointy-eared incarnation.
The new — or final — frontier? This $150-million Trek will have to beam up young moviegoers, and lots of them, so that this four-decade-old franchise can live long and prosper.
Terminator Salvation (May)
Who’s in it: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington
Who’s making it: McG, hoping to prove he has the cajones to direct more than Charlie’s Angels movies.
The lowdown: Set after Judgment Day, Christian Bale’s John Connor encounters a mysterious survivor named Marcus (Worthington) while battling various incarnations of Terminators.
Guess who won’t be back: Arnold Schwarzenegger and creator James Cameron. Although there’s a chance we might see Schwarzenegger’s mug digitally grafted — a la Benjamin Button — onto the odd cyborg.
Public Enemies (July)
Who’s in it: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale
Who’s making it: Michael Mann, director of Heat.
The lowdown: Set during the crime wave of the 1930s, Depp stars as famed bank robber John Dillinger. Bale plays Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who hunted Dillinger down.
Why we care: Depp. Bale. And Mann, who’s better than anybody at playing cops ‘n’ robbers.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July)
Who’s in it: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson
Who’s making it: David Yates, the Brit who directed Order of the Phoenix.
The lowdown: The teen wizard learns new secrets about his nemesis Lord Voldermort.
Big Harry deal: A Potter flick is cause for celebration — particularly for Warner Bros., which bumped its release back six months so it could prop up a flimsy summer schedule.
Sherlock Holmes (November)
Who’s in it: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams
Who’s making it: Guy Ritchie, looking to expand his range beyond dark comedies about snarky London gangsters.
What’s it about: Holmes (Downey Jr.) and Watson (Law) must save England from a new nemesis with a combination of intellect and brawn.
Elementary appeal: Downey couldn’t be hotter right now, thanks to his other franchise Iron Man. Ritchie says audiences can expect a more action-oriented Sherlock than they’re used to. McAdams is always welcome.
The Lovely Bones (December)
Who’s in it: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon and Saoirse Ronan.
Who’s making it: Peter Jackson, returning to Heavenly Creatures territory.
What’s it about: After her brutal rape and murder, a 13-year-old girl (Ronan) observes her family — and her killer — from heaven. Based on the acclaimed novel by Alice Sebold.
Sounds heavenly: Jackson courts Oscar once again with a tale that demands a mastery of both emotion and visual effects.
THE BEST OF THE REST
From vampires to real American heroes to dinosaurs to musicals, here are more of the movies coming to a multiplex near you over the next 12 months:
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Jan. 23)
Kate Beckinsale has hung up her rubber catsuit for good, so the equally-gorgeous Rhona Mitra (playing a new character) anchors this medieval prequel.
Pink Panther 2 (February)
Steve Martin’s Inspector Clouseau meets his match in a team of detectives as inept as he is.
Friday the 13th (February)
From the recyclers who brought us new, lesser versions of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hitcher.
Race to Witch Mountain (March)
The Rock — sorry, Dwayne Johnson — plays a cabbie tasked with protecting two kids with paranormal powers.
Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are corporate spies conspiring to con their bosses. From Michael Clayton director Tony Gilroy.
Twilight’s Kristen Stewart stars in this teen comedy set in 1987 and directed by Superbad’s Greg Mottola.
The Ugly Truth (April)
Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler square off in battle of the sexes comedy from the maker of 21 and Legally Blonde.
Fast and Furious (April)
Will Vin Diesel and Paul Walker get their careers back on track by returning to the car-racing franchise that made them famous?
State of Play (April)
After Brad Pitt bailed, Russell Crowe signed on as a Washington reporter investigating a murder with links to a politician (Ben Affleck) who just happens to be his dearest friend.
The Soloist (April)
Jamie Foxx is a musical prodigy discovered living on the streets of Los Angeles by Times reporter Robert Downey Jr.
17 Again (April)
When Matthew Perry wishes he could be a teenager again, he wakes up 17 years old — and looking just like Zac Efron.
Angels and Demons (May)
Tom Hanks, sans the mini-mullet he sported in The Da Vinci Code, tackles yet another ancient conspiracy.
Pixar’s summer entry finds a grumpy old codger taking to the skies and seeking adventure after tying his house to hundreds of balloons.
Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian (May)
Ben Stiller is joined by Amy Adams for this sequel, set in D.C.
The Proposal (June)
Hard-driving boss Sandra Bullock and beleaguered employee Ryan Reynolds pretend they’re engaged so she can get a green card.
Land of the Lost (June)
Big-budget fantasy-comedy starring Will Ferrell, based on the 1970s TV show.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June)
The Autobots face an ancient threat while the Decepticons are again in hot pursuit of Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.
Inglorious Bastards (TBD)
Brad Pitt leads the ensemble of this pulpy Second World War action yarn from Quentin Tarantino.
Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs (July)
The third instalment in the hugely popular Ice Age series.
The director of Independence Day is laying waste to the world again. John Cusack stars.
Funny People (July)
Judd Apatow directs Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana in this dramedy about stand-up comics.
G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra (August)
The 1980s toy line charges to the big-screen under the direction of Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing).
The Taking of Pelham 123 (August)
Denzel Washington is the transit cop and John Travolta the subway highjacker in this Tony Scott thriller.
The Informant (September)
Matt Damon packed on extra weight to play a corporate whistleblower in Steven Soderbergh’s comedy.
Shutter Island (October)
Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese reunite for this Hitchcockian psycho-drama set in a mental institution for the criminally insane.
The Princess and the Frog (November)
Disney’s return to 2D traditional animation concerns a princess who kisses a frog, then winds up an amphibian herself.
Daniel Day-Lewis can act, sure, but can he carry a tune? We’ll find out when this musical from Chicago director Rob Marshall hits screens at the end of the year.
The Surrogates (December)
Bruce Willis hunts a killer in a futuristic world in which all human interaction happens between robotic surrogates.
I hope to see them all!!
Must-see films for 2009