Friday, December 07, 2007

Paramount's 2008 lineup: The winners and stinkers

Even though I'm cautiously optimistic that "The Golden Compass" will live up to my lofty expectations, I'd rather not talk much about that until I get to see it in a couple hours.

Instead I'd love to dish on what's coming next year, which, judging from Paramount's slate, looks like mostly a lot of fun. Here's a look at what the studio has coming up next year:

January 18: Cloverfield
Even in the capable hands of scribe Drew Goddard, this one just has "Snakes on a Plane"-like box office potential as far as I can tell. At the very least, I was happy to hear this won't be a "Blair Witch" affair: We do indeed get to see the giant monster that attacks NYC.

February 1: Strange Wilderness
Steve Zahn and Jonah Hill are very funny guys, so I'm hoping this is a lot less "Daddy Day Camp"-esque than it looks on the surface. In the crude comedy, Zahn and sidekick Allen Covert host a wildlife TV show that's in ratings decline. What can save it? Bigfoot, of course.

February 15: The Spiderwick Chronicles
I went from mildly interested in this fantasy offering to truly psyched when I found out the screenplay was written by John Sayles, who created one of my favorite "children's" movies in "The Secret of Roan Inish." In the story, two brothers and a sister investigate the strange happenings that unfold after the family moves into a secluded old house owned by their great, great uncle Arthur Spiderwick. Seth Rogen somehow figures into this, though I would have to assume not as one of the young siblings.

March 21: Drillbit Taylor
Getting revenge on bullies has to be one of the oldest (and, frankly, most tired) gambits in the movies, but I still can't help hoping this one is going to be genuinely funny. When you've got Owen Wilson as a former soldier of fortune hired to be the schoolyard enforcer, something funny just has to happen, right?

March 28: Stop-Loss
I'm still waiting for a movie about the Iraq War that delivers as much entertainment value as it does politicking, and just maybe this one will be it. You're heading in the right direction when you cast three of my favorite actors in Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ciaran Hinds and Timothy Oliphant ("Deadwood"'s sheriff Seth Bullock.) In director Kimberly Pierce's flick, a decorated Iraq war hero (Ryan Philippe, I believe) returns home to Texas and tries to rebuild his civilian life, only to find he's called back to active duty much sooner than expected.

April 4: Shine a Light
Though Martin Scorsese has made some truly remarkable music documentaries, I just can't get too excited about this one focusing on two concerts by the Rolling Stones. Why? Well, they were already very old when I was in college, and since that was a good while ago, they're obviously just geriatric now, and very hard for me to watch without cringing.

April 11: The Ruins
What is it about flicks where Americans get into trouble just by leaving the country? Is it really all that dangerous to travel these days? In this latest one, a group of friends on holiday in Mexico accompany a fellow tourist on a remote archaeological dig in the jungle, where something evil (of course) lives among the ruins.

May 2: Iron Man
With these next two flicks, I think Paramount might just have the strongest summer slate, Dark Knight be damned. Robert Downey Jr. should make a great Tony Stark, and the supporting cast with Terrence Howard (man, does this guy like to work), Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges ain't too shabby either.

May 22: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Count this as the single summer flick I'm most excited about. Though a visitor to this site (and forgive me please that I can't remember just who) warned me that George Lucas had commandeered the screenwriting reins for this one, which would be simply craptastic, two dudes named David Koepp and Jeff Nathanson are still listed as the scribes, so maybe there's hope. All plot details for this are under tight wraps.

June 6: Kung Fu Panda
I have to admit that, as silly as this animated flick sounds, those little critters doing kung fu were pretty infectious in the trailer. Jack Black is the voice of Po, a rather lazy and rotund panda who's called on to save the day after he is, of course, christened as the chosen one. Black should at least be very funny in this.

June 20: The Love Guru
Mike Myers usually seems to pick his comedies carefully, but I just don't see how this can turn out to be anything but awful. Myers is the titular guru who's called in to repair the estranged marriage of professional hockey player (Romany Malco) so he can get back into top form on the ice. Verne Troyer is apparently in this one, so at the very least we can expect more than a few more midget jokes, if that's your thing.

July 11: Tropic Thunder
If you believe the tabloids (and they do occasionally get things right), it was on the set of this Ben Stiller comedy that things started to go wrong for Owen Wilson, as he started partying too much with funnyman and co-star Steve Coogan. Whether that's true or not, Wilson had to drop out, but still leaves a pretty impressive cast in his wake, including director Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Coogan, Bill Hader and Jay Baruchel of "Knocked Up" fame. In the flick, a group of actors find themselves somehow thrown into a "real, warlike situation." It's possible that this scenario was funny when it starred Larry the Cable Guy, but I have to say I didn't bother to find out.

August 8: Eagle Eye
I just immediately have to be skeptical about any flick in which Shia LaBoeuf somehow gets framed as a terrorist (along with either Michelle Monaghan or, even better, Rosario Dawson, so maybe there's hope.) D.J. Caruso directs this one.

August 22: Case 39
Well, we made it this far (I think) without a Renee Zellweger sighting, but I guess it had to happen eventually. In this flick she plays a social worker who saves an abused 10-year-old girl (Jodelle Ferland) from her parents only to discover that the girl is not as innocent as she thinks. At least the great Ian McShane factors into this one somehow.

September 26: Nowhereland
An Eddie Murphy comedy that's actually funny? Not likely, but we can still dream, right? In this one he plays a financial executive who's invited into his daughter's imaginary world, where he just might find solutions to halt the downward spiral of his career (the executive's or Murphy's? You decide.)

Fall 2008: Ghost Town
Judging from the title of this one I would have assumed it was just one of those bad "horror" flicks that studios dump out at the end of summer, but it's actually a comedy starring Ricky Gervais. In the directorial debut of "Indy 4" screenwriter David Koepp, Gervais plays a dentist who has a near-death experience during routine surgery and gains the ability to see dead people who ask him for help in contacting the living.

Nov. 7: Madagascar: The Crate Escape
Even it did spawn way too many domestic-animals-in-the-wild flicks (and rip the idea off from a few predecessors too), I thought the first Madagascar movie was a hoot, especially those silly penguins, so this should be fun.

Nov. 26: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Even more than "Indy 4," you can count this as the Paramount movie I'm most psyched for next year. David Fincher (resounding huzzah!) takes on the F. Scott Fitzgerald tale about a man (Brad Pitt) who is born in his eighties in 1918 and ages in reverse through the 20th century. Taraji P. Henson of "Hustle & Flow," one of my favorite young actresses, figures into this one somehow too.

Dec. 19: Revolutionary Road
For as long as I've been hearing about this one I just assumed it was coming out at the end of this year rather than next. Sam Mendes directs this tale of a young couple (Leo DiCaprio and Mendes' clearly better half, Kate Winslet) living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s who struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children.

Dec. 25: Star Trek
I have to confess that the whole Star Trek thing is just a tremendous chink in whatever geek armor I still possess. I just never got into it, in any variation, but I'd never knock anyone who does (and there are clearly more than a few of you out there.) All I really know about this is that it's apparently the rather amazing 11th Star Trek flick, it's being directed by J.J. Abrams, and that Zachary Quinto (Sylar on "Heroes") does make a very convincing Spock.

TBA: A Tale of Two Sisters
OK, last one (finally!) and it sounds really odd. In a remake of a Korean horror flick, the rather alluring Elizabeth Banks (who will be making a "porno" with Seth Rogen for director Kevin Smith too) is the cruel stepmother of two sisters who return home from a mental institution. Sounds pretty darn far from my cup of tea.

And there you have it. Feel free to tell me which Paramount (and non-Paramount) flicks you're most excited about for 2008. I'll leave you with this fairly freakin cool pic from "Speed Racer." I'm still more than a little skeptical that this Wachowski brothers flick will be anything but crap, but judging from this pic it should at least look pretty astounding. Peace out.


Jonathan said...

Even though on paper "The Ruins" sounds kind of cheesy; it's adapted from one of the best novels to come out in 2006 which was written by Scott Smith. Smith's only other piece of work is the brilliant "Simple Plan" which was also turned into to a hell of a film. Just thought I would throw that out there.

Chris said...

Saw the trailer for Speed Racer just yesterday (it was on a print of The Golden Compass, so maybe you'll be lucky), and it looks like a whole lot of fun. It's like they took the crazy Japanimation of the original and made it live-action craziness, courtesy of the Wachowski...Siblings. Of course, such a gamble could be a disasterous movie, too, but it fits the asthetics of a trailer.

Chalupa said...

Did you see Jodelle Ferland in Tideland? I gave it a whirl because it was directed by Terry Gilliam and starred Jeff Bridges (The Dude of course!) but wasn't impressed at all with it. The movie starts off with a disclaimer by Gilliam that you probably aren't going to like it. I thought that was sign #1 of a weak movie because right there if you don't like it, he's blaming it on you're not artsy enough or you just don't get it.

The movie is a tragic story of an abandoned girl through the eyes of the girl. I just didn't see the point in the movie. It also included was crazy elements like taxidermy'd people.

Eric said...

Personally I am excited to see the monster flick which I can never remember the title. That looks pretty cool.

On a Side note a buddy was a juicer on the Brad Pit "Curious Case..." flick and sent me a phone video of a Camera test on the sound stage. They were shooting off a 50 cal. on a boat.

Reel Fanatic said...

I did see Tideland, Chalupa, and I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only person who was pretty disappointed ... I went into it with a lot of Gilliam goodwill, but it's just one of the strangest movies I've ever seen, and hardly entertaining at all

And thanks for the head's up about The Ruins, jonathan ... I simply adore "Simple Plan," so perhaps youre right that I'm way too quick to rush to judgment on this one

Terence Towles Canote said...

I have to admit to being very curious about Cloverfield. It's either going to be really bad or really, as I see it. I am still pretty psyched about Speed Racer, but then I think I am one of the few who didn't think the last two Matrix movies sucked (being a huge fan of Sixties anime helps). Of course, as far as I am concerned, the popcorn movies to see are going to be Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm afraid I'm among the masses that just can't follow you in liking the last two Matrix movies much at all, Mercurie, but those Speed Racer photos (the rest are at USA Today, I believe, do have me more optimistic about it

Ms☆Go said...

Speed Racer looks like crap. The trailer's online. Note the candy colors yet, dour mood, and bad writing.

Wow, I really need to get back into the film loop.

I've only even heard of about 10% of the films you've listed.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'd probably be a much healthier person if I didn't keep such obsessive track of all of them, DC Movie Girl, but it's like crack to me

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

Have you heard any news about that "Buddha" (working title I'm assuming) movie that is in the works?

It is based on Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh's book, "Old Path, White Clouds" on the life of the Buddha. The whole project has the Dalai Lama's blessing apparently.

Just curious as I am really looking forward to this project.

Reel Fanatic said...

I don't know much about it, James, but a quick check at the IMDB does indeed show that is in development, and is listed as a 2008 movie .. I hope it actually happens, cause that would indeed be a compelling flick

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

Thanks for looking into it. I think it would be compelling too. Hopefully though they didn't cast some Ango-American as Buddha.

dbackdad said...

I just saw the very first advanced screening of Tropic Thunder here in AZ. Though there were a few funny moments, I really hated this film. I'd be amazed if it didn't bomb. Tropic Thunder

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