The 2011 Movie Season: A Preview

by Tom Ingram

2010 was a pretty depressing year for movies. From forgettable projects like The Book of Eli and Iron Man II to the offensively bad Clash of the Titans and Cop Out, there was little to be excited about. Kick-Ass was good, as was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. I’m told Alice in Wonderland was good, as well as How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3, but I haven’t seen any of them. It was a big year for sequels and remakes, particularly unnecessary ones that nobody wanted. And there was The Last Airbender pulling the average down across the board.

What a twist!

This year is already looking better. Coming out in just a few days, we have The Green Hornet. I remember watching the TV series as a kid (though not when it originally aired). This movie made the bizarre casting choice of Seth Rogen as the Green Hornet and the trailer makes it look like an irritatingly precious buddy-cop movie, but there’s not enough to base an opinion on. The rest of the cast has some pretty good names, including Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as the villain, so maybe it will even out.

The same day, we get a film adaptation of the classic Mordecai Richler novel Barney’s Version starring Paul Giamatti. Critics are already giving it some decent reviews. Moving on to March, there’s Rango, starring Johnny Depp. If nothing else, the animation is really good.

In April there’s Source Code, a new movie from Duncan Jones, the director of 2009’s Moon. This looks to be more by the numbers than Moon. It would be absolutely eye-rollingly M. Night Shyamalanally terrible if, in a shocking twist, the bomber on the train turned out to be the guy whose body the main character was inhabiting. And the title sounds like somebody just took a vaguely computery-sounding phrase to make the movie seem high-tech. Jones can make a smart movie, but it remains to be seen if he actually has.

In May, the summer flicks start coming out. First there’s Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh of all people. The script is written by J. Michael Straczynski and the supporting cast includes Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. The trailer is cool-looking, and the names attached to it are promising. Maybe Branagh can make a good action movie. Right now, I’m thinking this will be solid, but not earth-changing.

Later that month, a wholly unnecessary Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. You knew it would happen sooner or later, what with the piles of cash the first three pulled in. This movie does away with Orlando Bloom and his love story, which was getting a little tiresome by the halfway point of the Dead Man’s Chest. Instead, it looks like a ripping pirate adventure with Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa, not to mention Blackbeard and more Keith Richards. It’s everything the second and third movies should have been.

In June, after the long dead X-Men franchise is flogged for a while, there’s JJ Abrams’ Super 8. He’s trying to recreate the success of the Cloverfield marketing method by not giving any details out at all. I’m curious, but I’m not going to see it till I know more. Also in June, Cars 2 comes out. It’s odd that Pixar would sequelize their least popular movie, but you can bet that it will be at least watchable.

July has a new Transformers! Not that I’m going to see it, but I really don’t get the massive amounts of negative energy people are directing at the series. They’re big, dumb, loud movies with lots of special effects that entertain you for a while and then fade into obscurity. People have been complaining about them for nearly three hundred years, but they haven’t led to the destruction of humanity yet.

Also in July, the final Harry Potter movie, closing the door on ten years of these unique and charming movies. Unlike Part 1, this instalment will actually have things happening. The end of the last book was the most exciting part of the entire series, and this movie focuses on nothing else.

Captain America comes next, but no trailer has been released yet. Cowboys and Aliens looks…interesting. At the very least, the names attached to it make me optimistic.

August has little of interest aside from some sequels nobody wanted. But I see that an adaptation of the Newbery-winning book Mr. Popper’s Penguins is coming out. I remember that book from when I was in school, and I loved it. The movie stars Jim Carrey, a bunch of people I’ve never heard of, and Angela Lansbury. Here’s hoping. Maybe, for the first time in several years, Jim Carrey will star in a good movie.

September has such greats as Untitled 3D Shark Thriller and JESUS CHRIST NO NO NO NO NO NO! Does Rowan Atkinson have no shame? For some unfathomable reason, they’re making a sequel to Johnny English. Why? Why do you do this to me? I loved you in Blackadder. It was some of the most brilliant comedy I’ve ever seen. People on this side of the Atlantic only know you as Mr Bean or Johnny English. Why would you encourage that?

October and November are a bit of a lag, but December has Tintin and Sherlock Holmes 2. I don’t care what the critics say. Sherlock Holmes was an excellent merger of classic literature and popular film and plenty faithful to the original. I have nothing but optimism for it.

So, that’s 2011. Plenty to be excited about and plenty to be ashamed of, in equal measure. We’ll see how these predictions play out.