Release Date: February 6, 2009
Push might seem like Heroes for the big screen, but instead of the characters' powers being dictated by an eclipse, it's a clandestine government agency called "The Division" that calls the shots. The organization has toyed with the genetic makeup of the characters to engineer warriors that can see the future, move things with their minds, create new realities and kill victims without touching them. Those who don't cooperate are hunted down and killed. If the F/X are as well done and the story is as fast-paced and coherent as it appears from the trailer, this flick could put the small-screen heroes to shame.
Release Date: March 6, 2009
Forget Spider-Man and Superman—2009 is the year of the Watchmen. This highly anticipated film adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's groundbreaking 1986 graphic novel is such a hot property that two studios are squabbling over who owns it, which could delay its release (perish the thought). Director Zach Snyder has copped to amping up the action and removing The Black Freighter vignettes (a pirate aside that weaves throughout the graphic novel) to cut run time, but the 20 minutes of footage we screened in October was almost reverentially faithful to the source material—a fact that leaves us hopeful that the rest of the film will receive an equally great treatment. Whether the giant squid ending makes the cut remains to be seen, but based on Dr. Manhattan's CG rendering alone, this movie will still deliver thrills for diehard fans of the novel as well as for the uninitiated.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Release Date: May 1, 2009
What do filmmakers do when they finish a mega-successful trilogy about mutants-turned-heroes known as the X-Men? Figure out where those mutants came from—and start with the most mysterious mutant of all, Wolverine. The trailer for this first Origins film (a Magneto-based film is also in the works) details Wolverine's tragic childhood, his experience in various wars, the slaying of his true love and his involvement in (and subsequent rebellion from) the Mutant X program. The introduction of a slew of other mutants—Gambit, Silver Fox and Deadpool among them—as well as the fight scenes between Wolverine and his nemesis, Sabretooth, are enough to make this a hotly anticipated movie for any comic fan. And Wolverine taking on a helicopter? We're so there.
Release Date: May 8, 2009
Director J.J. Abrams's decision to initiate a Star Trek reboot was controversial among fans; so were his casting choices (lead actor Chris Pine, in particular). But Abrams has said he hopes this origin story will appeal to more than just Trekkies. The fast-paced action of the trailer, particularly that Cloverfield-esque beast and a newly developed Spock/Kirk rivalry, promise that even if Abrams hasn't made the next Wrath of Khan, he'll at least have made something better than Final Frontier—and that's something everyone can support.
Release Date: May 22, 2009
In Salvation, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor leads the resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators as they attempt to wipe out the last survivors of the human race. Thanks to his tortured portrayal of Batman, Christian Bale as John Connor would have been enough to convince us to see Salvation, the fourth installment in the Terminator franchise. The blistering human-on-robot action from the trailer is an added bonus that will no doubt have film fans lining up around the block to see how the human race survives this time.
Release Date: May 29, 2009
The premise of Up, Pixar's latest offering, speaks to the limitless imagination the studio continues to tap: 78-year-old Carl, a curmudgeonly old man who wants to visit the wilds of South America, attaches thousands of balloons to his house to get there. Take an enthusiastic 8-year-old wilderness explorer along for the ride, and you've got a quirky, loveable adventure story. It may not include robot love, but we have high hopes for this digitally animated kids' flick.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
(Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
Release Date: June 26, 2009
Laugh at explosion-happy Michael Bay if you must, but it's undeniable that the guy knows how to bring the fun along with the dynamite. The first Transformers flick was a great popcorn movie with incredible special effects that have helped create buzz for the next in the series, Revenge of the Fallen. Speculation is running rampant about just what the title means. (Is Megatron coming back from his watery grave?) And details on the plot are scarce. But Bay's own personal tagline seems to be go big or go home. Expect cooler robots, crazier F/X sequences and, yes, bigger (and more!) explosions. The combination will, no doubt, create lines at the megaplex for a midnight showing, whether or not Bay makes it one explosion too many.
Release Date: July 10, 2009
In Roland Emmerich's upcoming film, 2012, it's the end of the world as we know it—again. From the aliens in Independence Day to a wrathful Mother Nature in The Day After Tomorrow, Emmerich has made a name for himself directing F/X-laden films about mankind's demise. 2012 is the last year in the Mayan calendar, which some believers say signals the apocalypse. Say what you will about the quality of Emmerich's films, but his effects are always topnotch—check out the flood in the trailer—and geeks will certainly line up to see how he chooses to end it all this time around, and, of course, how the survivors triumph over catastrophic forces.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Release Date: July 17, 2009
By the time Half-Blood Prince hits theaters, rabid fans will have gone two years without a film adaptation of the spectacularly successful Harry Potter book series. (Warner Brothers cited the writer's strike as the reason it pushed the film from its original November 2008 release). This action-packed sixth film marks, among other things, another major character death, the beginnings of young love and the return of Quidditch. Fans are especially focused on seeing how director David Yates creates the Inferi—corpses reanimated by a Dark Wizard's curse—in the pivotal cave scene, where Harry and Hogwart's Headmaster Albus Dumbledore fight them with fire. If the creatures are anything like Prisoner of Azkaban's creepy, soul-sucking Dementors, viewers will be in for a treat.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
(Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
Release Date: August 7, 2009
G.I. Joe has been an action figure and the star of a cartoon series—and now the soldier will attempt to conquer the multiplex in what many assume will be the first film in a franchise. As the title suggests, Rise of the Cobra is an origin story that centers around the formation of the nefarious Cobra Organization. Stephen Sommer—who directed The Mummy and The Mummy Returns—is at the helm, so expect killer action scenes and explosions truly befitting these Real American Heroes.
(Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)
Release Date: December 18, 2009
Technology has finally caught up to James Cameron's brain, and that's reason enough to be geeked out over the release of the 3D mega-project, Avatar. The director, who had the idea for the film in 1996, couldn't begin working on it until 2007 because the technology to fulfill his vision—photo-realistic CGI renderings of people, created using motion-capture technology—simply wasn't advanced enough. The shoot was more live action than previous mo-cap films, but now thanks to a new virtual camera, Cameron can observe on a monitor how the actors' digital characters interact with the movie's digital world in real time. Avatar was originally scheduled for a May 2009 release but was pushed back to allow more time for post-production and for more theaters to convert to 3D. Here's hoping it doesn't get pushed back again.