The start of this year has been an odd one for me as a cinephile.  On one hand, I’m psyched about the fact that by the end of this month I’ll have hit up the local theaters for viewings of seven films.  This might seem trivial to some of you who are single and/or have no children, but it’s a big deal for me.  From August through mid-December of last year, I believe I only managed a TOTAL of six theatrical experiences.  I’m not going to blame my lack of theater-venturing on my wife or on my son, as nothing was any different back then.  It is solely my fault and my fault alone.  I mainly chalk it up to laziness.  The films I missed in May, June, and July were mainly do to being ridiculously busy.  The rest of the year?  Not so much.  I just didn’t get off my ass.  This is being rectified in 2012.

I’m also pounding through home viewings as usual and keeping track of them.  I kept a record of my 2010 viewings, but didn’t bother to do it last year.  Since many of my FB movie-obsessed friends (a good chunk of which are Chewers!) have been doing it like mad and I’m joining in on the fun.  My goal for the year is 600+ films and I’ve managed over 30 so far, so I’m well on my way!

On the flipside, I feel bad about not keeping up my writing for the main site when compared to my late 2011 output.  Admittedly though, that has as much to do with a lack of news (though things are picking up now!) as it does lack of motivation…….if not moreso.  So that is something I definitely intend to work on, as well as keeping this blog going on a regular basis.  My wife and I are having another baby in less than a month (a girl this time!), so I will definitely need my writing (be it for CHUD or personal projects) to help keep me sane for the first few months of screaming joy.

Enough of the get-to-know you shit for now.  Time to get on with what I’m looking forward to this year in terms of cinema.  Admittedly, there isn’t going to be a set order to this “column”.  While I’ll definitely be talking up films that are coming out soon, I’ll also be focusing on anything that I’m truly psyched for…………….as well as any random project that I find myself reminded of at the time of any given entry.  Here goes nothin’…

 

HAYWIRE (dir. Steven Soderbergh) – Comes out this weekend, though I’ll probably catch it next week as a part of my annual birthday “double-feature”.  Anyone that knows me knows that I love action movies.  Badass ladies are a plus as well and Soderbergh always has my attention.  Toss Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas…………..as well as Channing Tatum getting his ass beat…….and you DEFINITELY have my attention.  This is the January release I’m looking forward to the most.

UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING – Yeah, yeah.  I know.  Not a particularly popular choice.  Sorry folks, but I actually like this franchise.  Many of you have Resident Evil.  I have Underworld.  To each his/her own.  It’s nothing spectacular, but they are fun….at least for me.  While we unfortunately don’t get any action from my favorite series regulars (Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi…..classy bunch, right there!), we are getting the additions Charles Dance and Stephen Rea to at least partially make up for their loss.  While I would have preferred another Michael Sheen-led prequel focusing on the other half of his character’s tale, I’ll settle for this proper sequel to the second film.  More than likely, this will end up being the other half of my birthday adventure.  While the quality definitely won’t match what Haywire is likely to dish out, it still seems a nice pairing.

THE GREY (dir. Joe Carnahan) – I absolutely love both Narc and The A-Team, two films that couldn’t be more different from one another.  I like Smokin’ Aces as well, but nowhere near as much as the other two.  In hindsight, Aces seems like a necessary step for Carnahan.  It’s a kitchen sink clusterfuck for an action film and appears to have helped cleanse Joe’s palette and allowed him to move onto other things.  It’s pretty fun to.  Anyway, Joe seems to have given us another complete 180 of a film in the form of The Grey.  A brutal survival adventure set in the snowy wilderness pitting plane crash survivors against a pack of vicious wolves?  Interest piqued.  When said group contains Liam Neeson and Frank Grillo?  I’m there.  Really looking forward to this one, especially after all the rave reviews that have been popping up over the past few months.

 

Interlude:  Contraband and Man On A Ledge look like pure “rentals” to me.  I’ll catch ‘em at some point, but they’re nothing I’m getting excited over.  It also appears I’ll be seeing One For The Money in theaters with my wife, so let’s hope it isn’t terrible.

 

THE WOMAN IN BLACK (dir. James Watkins) – I fucking love Hammer.  I am a Hammer junkie and I’m stoked that they are back.  While their web serial was pretty awful and The Resident (which started strong) turned out to be pretty middle-of-the-road, I loved Let Me In.  I still haven’t seen the original (I know, I know!), but I loved the hell out of their remake.  The Woman In Black looks excellent and considering the fact that Let Me In was the production made directly before it, I have high hopes.  Hammer has been improving with each consecutive production (both The Resident and Wake Wood were done before LMI, despite being released after) and it seems that will continue here.  James Watkins previous film was the survival horror flick, Eden Lake.  It was another in that small spate of “evil teen/pre-teen bastards” films and was certainly one of the best ones, despite being criminally underseen.  If that doesn’t spark your interest, the fact that Michael Fassbender was one of the leads in it should.  Funnily enough, Fassbender was the first person they approached The Woman In Black with.  For whatever reason, that didn’t work out and we ended up with Daniel Radcliffe instead.  You know what?  I’m glad.  I love Fassbender, but Radcliffe just seems a better fit and I think it will be a lot of fun to see him in a role like this post-Potter.  This is the first horror film of the year that I am excited for (Underworld doesn’t count), so let’s hope it makes the grade.

SAFE HOUSE – This one looks like a fun actioner and it has a nice trailer.  More than anything though, the cast is the main reason it is on my radar.  Check this shit out:  Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Patrick, Tanit Phoenix, Liam Cunningham, Sam Shepard, Ruben Blades, etc.  Damn!

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (dir. Neveldine & Taylor) – I love the Crank films and Gamer.  I love Nic Cage.  I love Ghost Rider (the character, not the shit first film).  We also get Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Anthony Stewart Head, and Christopher “HEHEHEH” Lambert.  Ticket sold.

THIS MEAN’S WAR – McG isn’t a favorable aspect of this production, but I like the premise and the trailer looked fun.  It will likely end up being mostly forgettable, but if I’m gonna watch a forgettable film………..it might as well be with this cast (Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Withoutherspoon, Til Schweiger, etc.).

 

Interlude: There are a few other decent looking February releases, but nothing I’m overly looking forward to.  And yeah, I’ll probably end up seeing The Phantom Menace (3D), even though I really should know better at this point.  David Wain’s Wanderlust COULD be a lot of fun.  I love his other films, but this one just isn’t clicking with me from the trailers I have seen so far.

 

JOHN CARTER (dir. Andrew Stanton) – I love the source material.  I love Stanton’s work with Pixar.  If there is anything MI4 taught me, it’s to trust in great Pixar directors making the jump to live action.  Hopefully Stanton can make that move as gracefully as Brad Bird did.  The early stills and teaser didn’t impress much, but I like the recent trailer even more every time I see it.  Let’s hope the next one further drives that hope and really impresses.  I really want this to succeed, as this is RIPE franchise material.  Fun cast too:  Taylor Kitsch, Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Dominic West, Ciaran Hinds, James Purefoy, Thomas Haden Church, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Jonathan Hyde, Don Stark, etc.

THE HUNGER GAMES – I’m becoming more and more interested in this one as its release approaches.  The concept is interesting and the fact that they are taking it dramatically serious (with apparently brutal action) has my attention.  Nice cast too.  My eyes are on this one.

WRATH OF THE TITANS – I love the original Clash, as it was a childhood favorite of mine.  I really dug the remake too, despite its inherent faults.  This looks like an improvement and just a lot of fun.  Yet another solid cast as well.  Returning:  Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Danny Huston.  Newbies: Bill Nighy, Edgar Ramirez, Tony Kebbell, and Rosamund Pike.  Also, I just found out that it chronologically takes place a decade after the last one.  Interesting.

 

Interlude: The Raven and 21 Jump Street could be interesting, but not enough at this point to make the grade.  Mirror, Mirror looks like a piece of shit at the moment……….but I’ll probably end up seeing it because the wife liked the trailer.  Aardman’s Pirates!: Band of Misfits looks like it could fun as well.  Jason Segel’s Jeff Who Lives At Home (by the Duplass Bros.) could make the list, but I haven’t seen any footage from it just yet. On the whole though, March is still a fairly light month for me.

 

And that rounds out the first three months of the year.  I may or may not launch straight into the next entry.  Regardless, I think they might be ordered after all.  Four pieces covering 3-month blocks of the year and then fifth covering indie films that could pop up at any time and other movies that haven’t been given dates yet.  I’ll likely end up doing a sixth at some point to cover anything that comes to my attention later on, but we’ll see how it goes.  Enjoy!