Thursday, December 30, 2010

A ballet-psycho-thriller. A one eyed US Marshal. Hammer time in Asgard. More swashbuckling action with Captain Jack. 007 and Indie vs Aliens and the return of Mr Chow. Ladies and Gentlemen … Welcome to 2011!

The year 2011 is nearly upon us and after certain failures towards the end of 2010 there is much anticipation for an immediate revival. The big freeze has made a big impact on the box office in the last remaining month of 2010. According to the tracking agency, cinema attendance is down 5.66 percent from last year. That’s the biggest percentage drop year over year since 2005. It will come to some relief however that with an immediate impact, 2011 is expected to flourish with some highly anticipated films heading our way. Below are just a select few of what is to come throughout 2011.

1.      Awards Bait

Like any beginning of a new year there is a likelihood of an outbreak of films with the Oscar buzz tag attached to it and that is no change this year. Lest we forget other important ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and BAFTA’s. Leading the pack is Darren Aronofsky’s much talked about thriller set in the world of ballet Black Swan ( 21st January). Natalie Portman gives a career defining performance as the star of the Swan Lake ballet production headed by artistic director Vincent Cassel. She gradually begins to lose her mind as she is drawn into the dark side of the production, the evil Black Swan.

Up next is 127 Hours (7th January). Danny Boyle’s follow-up to the rags-to-riches Slumdog Millionaire that struck gold in the 2009 Oscar ceremony. James Franco plays the lone adventurer Aron Ralston who forces to make difficult decisions when he is stranded in the Utah desert under a monster of a boulder. Expect to see the versatile director as well as Franco himself not just hosting the ceremony at the Kodak Theatre.

Award ceremonies aren’t without an historical biopic making an entry. Colin Firth is hotly tipped for his second nomination in as many years (following his nod for A Single Man) with his portrayal as King George VI in The King’s Speech (7th January). He teams up with Aussie actor Geoffrey Rush who is no stranger to the big awards who helps to cure his stammer and revive his reign. Could this be the year for Firth?

Awards have always been kind to the likes of Rocky, Raging Bull and Cinderella Man. This certainly bodes well for David O. Russell’s, The Fighter out on 4th February. This is the story of “Irish” Mickey Ward, a junior welterweight boxer played by Mark Wahlberg with a gaunt looking Christian Bale as his half-brother and coach. This could be the knockout blow for Wahlberg and co that The Wrestler failed to do a few years back.

2.      Comic Book Movies

First out of the blocks is The Green Hornet on 14th January from director Michel Gondry. Funny man Seth Rogan is in the title role as the lazy, party animal out to avenge the death of his father. With an interesting supporting cast including Cameron Diaz as the love interest, Jay Chou as crime fighting partner Kato and Inglourious Basterd Christoph Waltz as the villain.

It’s hammer time with one of the other members of the Avengers squad, Thor taking centre stage. Chris Hemsworth will be wielding his gigantic hammer on 29th April saving the world from his evil brother and father (Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins) who banished him from the realm of Asgard. With the footage at Comic-Con in the summer and trailers appearing online, this looks already in the bag for a summer success.

Continuing with the Marvel trend released on 2nd June is X-Men: First Class. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and script by Jane Goldman (re-teaming after the success of Kick Ass) this looks back at the origins of the X-Men focusing on the working relationship between Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr and what went horribly wrong. With a cast to die for including Michael Fassbender as Magneto, James McAvoy as Professor X, this will hopefully revive the franchise after the disappointing last two instalments, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

It’s back to Marvel once more where the comic book adaptation just keep on coming, this time around with the arrival of Captain America: The First Avenger starring Chris Evans. In the lead role as Steve Rogers, Evans plays a military officer who undergoes a top research project that turns him into a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals. By the looks of the on-set photos with Evans looking buff and in World War II mode this is ticking all the boxes. Oh and not to mention Hugo “Agent Smith” handling the villain duties as Red Skull. Released 29th July.

3.      Summer Smash Hits

There wouldn’t be a summer without it’s batch of loud, fierce and spectacular action movies (I guess that includes Michael Bay in the mix). First up is the master of destruction himself Michael Bay in his third instalment of the Transformers franchise entitled Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon. Expect similar goings on with the war between Autobots and the Decepticons with Shia LaBeouf reprising his role as Sam and newcomer Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely stepping into the shoes of Megan Fox as the love interest. Adding the touch of 3D IMAX effect, expect total … Bayhem come 1st July.

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford teaming up in Jon Favreau’s (Iron Man) mouth watering Cowboys & Aliens, sold. With it’s solid cast and crew on board and footage being unveiled in this year’s Comic Con event in San Diego this is being hotly tipped for summer success. With the story focusing on an alien invasion set within the timeframe of Native Americans, gunslingers and saloons, there is a strong chance this won’t lead to any kind of tumbleweed result. Jump on board for the release on 12th August.

J.J Abrams has a skill for keeping things on lockdown on his movie set, just take Cloverfield for example, everyone was keeping their lips sealed and upon release all hell broke loose with some spectacular carnage exploding on to our screens on the streets of New York. He is back with a similar looking feature, Super 8. With a teeny tiny teaser trailer involving a giant locomotive crash sequence and something going bang, Bang, BANG with the end leaving a film reel malfunctioning. That alone is wetting people’s appetites. Even with a lack of storyline, you just have to look at Abrams track record and you’re immediately on board. Released 19th August.

4.      The Gang Are Back. . .

Reunions are always a pleasant time. A time to catch up with old friends, share stories over a few drinks. However this isn’t the case with the fourth instalment in the classic Scream series, headed by the master of the horror genre himself Wes Craven. Ghostface is back in Woodsboro out to slice and dice Sidney Prescott and friends. Even after ten years there is still a grudge for this group. Craven is freshening things up with newcomers Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Adam Brody and Kristen Bell to name a few who are along for the ride. Expect the same old stuff with added gore and new rules to boot. Released 15th April.

Captain Jack is back with a swashbuckling back in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides set for release on 18th May. This time around he doesn’t have Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom for company. In his return Jack Sparrow (Jonny Depp) and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) embark on an adventure to find the elusive fountain of youth. Little do they know Ian McShane’s evil Blackbeard is on the same course. They also welcome on ship Penélope Cruz as a mysterious woman who has a past history with Sparrow himself. Be ready to set sail on 18th May for it’s release.

Cast your minds back to the Summer of 2009. A little know low budget comedy starring a list of rather unknown actors that went on to make one of the most successful comedies in years. The Hangover went on to win big bucks and rave reviews with it’s hilarious plot, characters including Mike Tyson himself and a fat, bearded man that is now the go-to guy for gross out comedy. Yes the gang are back for The Hangover Part II with Todd Philips in the director’s chair once again. This time the guys are bound for Bangkok (insert crude joke here) for more mayhem and cameo’s including Bill Clinton and Liam Neeson (sorry Mel Gibson, you weren’t wanted).

Above is just a sample of what could well be a very successful 2011 for the film industry. Keep your eyes peeled for constant coverage throughout the coming year of the latest and upcoming feature films.

Written by Michael Cunneen

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