Now that 2008 is winding down to a close with just over two months of movie goodness left to go at the box-office, we can look ahead to see a new crop of theatrical releases on the 2009 horizon. In fact, from what we can tell, 2009 is looking like an awesome year at the movies. If all goes well, moviegoers will see the holy grail of comic books come to life on the big screen, the return of James Cameron, a healthy balance of fantasy and sci-fi, and another Terminator movie this time without Arnold even though he said he’ll be back.
Although there are a slew of movies we’re looking forward to in 2009, and we will see, there are six that we’ve narrowed down to fit into the "must see" category.
Movies everyone will see in 2009 unless a meteor hits the planet:
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
Movies we wish or hope to see in 2009:
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Movies you should see in 2009:
State of Play
Movies we’re still mulling over:
Six must see movies in 2009
Taken - January 23, 2009 (Directed by Peter Morel, written by Luc Besson)
Have you seen the trailer for Taken? If not, go here. Originally scheduled to hit theaters in 2008, Taken got pushed back to January 2009 and it’s going to be an awesome way to kick off the New Year. When a group of sex traffickers kidnap two young girls vacationing in Paris, they have no clue one of them is the daughter of a former CIA agent. Starring Liam Neeson, Famke Jansen, Maggie Grace, Xander Berkely, and Katie Cassidy, Taken will fill whatever void that you’re still left with after the last Bourne movie. With the cinematographer of The Transporter movies behind the camera and a story co-written by Luc Besson, Taken is cut from a similar action mold with non-stop intensity. The movie that originally sold me on Liam Neeson was the 1986 action drama A Prayer for the Dying in which Neeson played a member of the IRA. Now, with over 20 years of big screen success behind him, playing an ex-CIA hell bent on rescuing his daughter from sex traffickers is going to (sort of) take Neeson back to where he started from an opposite angle. Expect a ton of action and ass-kicking at a breakneck pace.
Why you should see it: It’s going to feel like The Bourne Identity meets The Transporter meets Commando. Happy New Year!
Inglorious Bastards - June 2008 (Directed by Quentin Tarantino)
We know it’s Quentin Tarantino and his movies always make for unusual retro rides, but Inglorious Bastards has a really weird curiosity factor going for it in the cast department. Tarantino’s known for assembling odd and unexpected actors for his movies, but this one might be the strangest of all. What started out as a remake of The Dirty Dozen only to be turned into a World War II epic inspired from an Italian movie about a group of Nazi killers known as "The Bastards" fighting inside the front lines of France, Inglorious Bastards boasts a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Mike Myers, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, B.J. Novak, and Cloris Leachman, among a slew of others. Can you close your eyes and try to picture a scene with Brad Pitt, Mike Myers, and Eli Roth? That’s what I’m talking about. I’m willing to bet that back in 1967 with The Dirty Dozen, no one could picture Lee Marvin, ex-NFL great Jim Brown, Mexican singer/dancer Trini Lopez, and Telly Savalas together in one film.
Why you should see it: Aside from seeing what type of lunacy Tarantino can get out of Pitt, Myers, and Roth, some words used to describe the script and story have been "over-the-top", "insane", and "bat-shit".
Where the Wild Things Are - October 16, 2009 (Directed by Spike Jonze)
If you’re not familiar with Maurice Sendak’s best selling fantasy pictorial book of the same name, check it out before 2008 comes to a close. Trust me, it won’t take you long but you’ll be glad you did. If you ever got sent to your room for not eating your supper when you were a kid, you’ll be able to relate to the fantasy world the young lead character Max creates for himself behind closed doors. It’s a weird and wonderful world where Max presides over a forest filled with fantastically bizarre creatures. Now that the Jackass guys have cashed in on their extreme fifteen minutes and are finally giving their bodies a rest, Spike Jonze at last makes his return to the feature film director’s chair for the first time since helming Adaptation. This time he’s tackling a live action adaptation of the classic fantasy tale with a cast that includes Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, and newcomer Max Records. Although the film was supposed to hit theaters in 2008, and Jonze had to deal with several reshoot issues that almost derailed the project, Where the Wild Things Are got back on track in mid-2008... and we’re glad it did.
Why you should see it: It’ll make up for lost time and the dollars spent on The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins - May 29, 2009 (Directed by McG)
Sure we all got pumped when it was announced that another Terminator movie was coming down the pike, but it wasn’t until Christian Bale hopped onboard the project that everyone began to take it seriously. Although Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was the last in the franchise to feature the Arnie "The Governator" Schwarzenegger, The Sarah Connor Chronicles proved that the Terminator franchise was alive and well in the post-Arnold era. With Bale in the role of John Connor and McG with a budget in the vicinity of a James Cameron-like $200 million, Terminator Salvation also features a powerful army of acting machines such as Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Helena Bonham Carter, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Common, and Michael Ironside. As far as talent in the Terminator movies is concerned, the Salvation cast looks to be the strongest of the entire franchise. Also, in case you don’t know, both the visual effects and action are in the hands of Charles Gibson, the same guy who did both on all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Why you should see it: To see Christian Bale as John Connor lead the human resistance. And, if all happens to go south, to be able to say fifty years in the future that you remember where you were when the Terminator franchise died.
Avatar - December 18, 2009 (Directed by James Cameron)
After two decades in development hell, James Cameron is finally bringing the deeply complex futuristic epic Avatar to the big screen. When you think back to what it took for him to make Titanic, the highest grossing movie of all time, it’s easy to understand why Cameron stepped away from feature films to direct, produce, and explore a number of real life mysteries like Expedition Bismark, Ghost of the Abyss, Aliens of the Deep, and The Exodus Decoded. If you’re not familiar with Avatar, it might be a good idea to avoid as much info as possible. Starring Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Lang, Matt Gerland, and Wes Studi, Avatar is about a wounded ex-marine who’s sent to another planet to plunder its richly diverse ecosystem but finds himself at a crucial moral crossroads with his objective and the inhabitants of the planet. That’s really all you need to know. It’s a story on the scale of the famous Edgar Rice Burroughs novel John Carter of Mars. Now that James Cameron is back to directing huge Hollywood blockbusters after a ten-year hiatus, Avatar could possibly set the stage for a new era of amazing sci-fi cinema.
Why you should see it: Hello! James Cameron gave us The Terminator and Terminator 2, Aliens, The Abyss, and Titanic. Since sci-fi is Cameron’s specialty and with a $200 million budget, do really think this is going to suck? For now it's safe to say, "Uhh... no!"
Watchmen - March 6, 2009 (Directed by Zack Snyder)
Like comic book geeks really need a reason to see Watchmen. You know you’re going anyway. For the virgins who aren’t familiar with long awaited big screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s revered graphic novel, you’ll be going to see it anyway. You just don’t know it yet. It’s funny that the film’s tagline "Who watches the Watchmen?" has a strange real life echo to it since by the time 2009 rolls around the answer could be no one at all. If Warner Bros. and Fox don’t settle up their legal war over the ownership of rights to Watchmen, it could be delayed indefinitely. Still, we’re sticking to schedule along with director Zack Snyder who’s pushing forward with the film despite the current legal battle. It’s taken years for Watchmen to find its way to the big screen and I don’t know one comic book geek who isn’t dying to see it. Although creator Alan Moore isn’t dying to see it at all, there’s no denying the fact that fans are counting down the days until the holy grail of geekdom hits theaters.
Why you should see it: A - I shouldn’t have to tell you. B - To give Zack Snyder the respect he deserves for putting his head on the comic chopping block.
-- Larson Hill