Film: The Thing
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Humans: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Synopsis: Taking place mere days before the events of John Carpenter’s seminal 1982 sci-horror film (itself an adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr’s novella Who Goes There?), an improbably sexy paleontologist, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) joins a Norwegian scientific team in Antarctica after a crashed extraterrestrial spaceship is found buried in the ice. Then… you know the drill. Alien is dug out of ice. Alien thaws. Everyone eventually realizes the alien can mimic any living form it chooses, so no one knows who to trust. Presumably things end with a sled dog and a helicopter chase.
CHUD Prognosis: Glass half-full: Almost the exact same number of years have passed since Carpenter’s The Thing, as had passed between that film and Howard Hawks The Thing from Another World. So mathematically, the moment is ripe for another stab at The Thing. Glass half-empty: Carpenter’s film was a complete departure from Hawks film in almost every way imaginable, and was a considerably more faithful adaptation of Cambell’s novella. Whereas this remake is aping both the look and conceptual approach of Carpenter’s film, so aside from replacing Rob Bottin’s groundbreaking practical FX with CG – which while not a crime certainly isn’t anything to brag about – this film seems to have little to add to the conversation, so to speak. Glass half-CHUD: Generally speaking, prequels are kind of stupid. If we didn’t need to see that backstory in order to enjoy the original property, then there probably isn’t much reason in exploring it. That said, its not like prequels CAN’T work. And given that there really isn’t much left to say about The Thing conceptually that Carpenter didn’t already say, changing things up for a remake just to change them seems questionable. If a remake had to happen, trying to stay connected to the 1982 film was probably the lesser-of-two-evils smart move. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will be enjoyable. Though I’m already very disappointed with Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s beard.
CHUD Pull quote: “John Carpenter’s The Thing like you’ve never seen it before… with women!”
Director: Craig Brewer
Humans: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Andie MacDowell, Dennis Quaid
Synopsis: A remake of the movie that made Kevin Bacon a star, once again the teenage Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves with his mother from the big city to the small conservative town of Bomont. Here Ren is shocked to discover that dancing and loud music are banned. Ren means to do something about this, which causes him to butt heads with Bomont’s voice of morality, Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid). Will Ren be able to loose the town’s collective feet? Sources say: yes.
CHUD Prognosis: Craig Brewer is amassing a weird filmography at this point, with this film following Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan. Objectively it would have made more sense to me to adapt the Footloose Broadway musical into a film, but remaking the original film does fit somewhat logically into our post-Step Up world. Recycling the songs from the original is a little boring, but at the same time — if it ain’t broke. If Brewer and his team can deliver some quality, memorable footloosin’ set pieces, this could easily hit home for those of us (and I mean us) who enjoy a good dance number. As long as no one ever says, “Let’s dance it out, bitch,” or something similarly faux-2011, I’ll be happy.
CHUD Pull quote: “I doubt people will be playing Six Degrees of Kenny Wormald someday.”
Synopsis: It’s 1987 and Danielle, the high school ‘Dirty Girl’, is running away. With her is chubby, gay Clarke, a bag of flour called Joan and a Walkman full of glorious 80’s tunes..
CHUD Prognosis: It‘ll be cute. It’ll also catch Little Miss Sunshine fever and become an indie darling for people who don’t really follow indie film and get widespread (if not wholly deserved) praise. It’s quirky, it’s got a lead actress with a cute name, the trailer has some fun, offbeat humor – yeah, it’ll be cute.
CHUD Pull quote: “So cute!”
—Jeremy G. Butler
[IMDB – This is supposed to be Jennifer Aniston’s breaking out role of self-discovery. Along with Horrible Bosses we’re really being sold her “sexy side” again. We’ll see if it turns out to be a less pitiful cry for attention than The Break-Up.]
Film: The Skin I Live In
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Humans: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Jan Cornet
Synopsis: A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
CHUD Prognosis: It’ll likely end up being good, as both of his previous features (Volver and Broken Embraces) received a generally positive reception, but if it wasn’t for that “A film by ALMODOVAR” plastered over the end of the trailer I wouldn’t know what to think of it. Mainly because Banderas is hit or miss and that aforementioned trailer is god-awful. At any rate, it certainly looks like it’ll be interesting, even if the concept does leave a bit of a taste of Cronenberg in your mouth.
CHUD Pull quote: “Buffalo Bill loves it!”
—Jeremy G. Butler
Director: Joel Schumacher
Humans: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Cam Gigandet
Synopsis: As they’re held for ransom, a husband and wife’s predicament grows more dire amid the discovery of betrayal and deception.
CHUD Prognosis: Joel Schumacher’s at it again – this time with a boring home-invasion thriller. The trailer is boring, the fact that they’re promoting Cage as “Academy Award Winner” means he won’t be going all Bad Lieutenant on us and Nicole Kidman looks like she’s got nothing to do but look scared. Whatcha wanna bet that whatever’s in that safe isn’t jewels at all, but something Big and Dramatic that Cage’s character is hiding from his family – or bees.
CHUD Pull quote: “Well…it‘s a movie! I‘ll give it that!”
—Jeremy G. Butler
Film: The Three Musketeers
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Humans: Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Christoph Waltz, Orlando Bloom, Milla Jovovich, Mads Mikkelsen, Juno Temple, Freddie Fox
Synopsis: The hotheaded young D’Artagnan (Lerman) seeks to fulfill his dream of becoming a Musketeer by uniting with the three legendary but now-down-on-their-luck trio of Athos (Macfayden), Porthos (Stevenson) and Aramis (Evans) right as Cardinal Richelieu (Waltz) and his beautiful and deadly M’lady De Winter (Jovovich) seek to over throw the new young king (Fox) by framing an affair between the queen (Temple) and the Duke of Buckingham (Bloom).
CHUD Prognosis: Well, considering that the last two big budget studio interpretations of Alexandre Dumas’ seminal work were 1973 and 1993 (didn’t see The Musketeer, apparently you didn’t either), we’re actually a couple years early for the next remake. Potentially going against the film out of the starting gate though: Paul W.S. Anderson, the internet’s (though not my) second favorite whipping post, is helming. And it’s 3D. Some people won’t see the movie simply for those two reasons. The cast looks mostly good, though, with Mikkelson, Stevenson, and especially Waltz, plus W.S.’ lottery prize that he doesn’t deserve, Milla. And of course, you knew that if it involved period piece and swordplay, Orlando Bloom is jumping in with both feet, blade and elf ears at the ready. But checking out the synopsis, two words immediately take you aback: steampunk and airship. Oh shit, W.S. is going to Wild Wild West Dumas.
CHUD Pull quote: ‘Cause when it’s all for one it’s one for all, When there’s someone that should know, Then just let your feelings show, And make it all for one and all for love!
Film: Paranormal Activity 3
Director: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost
Humans: Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden
Synopsis: Details on the story are still a little ambiguous, but it would seem that this film is a prequel to the first two films, focusing on Katie (Featherston) and her sister Kristi as children, first encountering the series’ demon/ghost/whatever.
CHUD Prognosis: The first Paranormal Activity succeeded as something of a novelty. One had to respect the level of spookiness Oren Peli was able to create through little more than suggestion, and if you saw the film with a packed theater of shrieking teenagers, there was some fun to be had. But the film itself isn’t particularly great and is the very definition of a movie you never have an itch to watch again (even if you enjoyed it). Sequels were inevitable, but wholly pointless. PA3 has a certain curiosity factor because it was directed by the guys who made the fascinating and borderline fake documentary Catfish. Getting them to make a mockumentary horror movie seems natural, if a bit of a stunt hire.
CHUD Pull quote: “Spoiler alert: the ghost turns out to be a married middle-aged mother.”
Synopsis (via IMDB): Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.
CHUD Prognosis: It’s usually not a good sign when the director of a film is getting more (and mostly bad) press than the film itself. Even less so when the film’s distribution becomes a clusterfudge of drama and shenanigans. Reviews from Sundance weren’t too kind either. The trailer doesn’t paint that bleak a picture though, a Quentin said he fucking loves the movie. Still, Kevin Smith said that he was thinking about early retirement after this film. And after this and Cop Out, it seems like quite a few people are willing to take him up on that premise.
CHUD Pull quote: Vote Republican!
Film: Margin Call
Director: JC Chando
Humans: A whole bunch of people. Seriously – this cast is rather star-studded.
Synopsis: A thriller that revolves around the key people at a investment bank over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the financial crisis.
CHUD Prognosis: Word on the street is that it‘s good (“the street“ is RottenTomatoes and “good“ is 83%) and just going from the cast and the trailer alone I can’t say as I’m surprised. It’s coming fresh off of a run at Sundance and while those who don’t like it REALLY don’t like it, there’s more than enough positive word to justify maintaining a high level of interest in JC Chandor’s writing and directing debut.
CHUD Pull quote: “Rich White Guys Fuck America: The Movie!”
—Jeremy G. Butler
Synopsis: In the future, people stop aging at 25 and time has become currency, which is measured via clocks on everyone’s arms showing how long they have to live. The poor must work to keep living, but the rich are immortal. A poor young man (Timberlake) inherits a fortune in time from as suicidal upper crust type and finds himself on the run from a corrupt police force called the Timekeepers
CHUD Prognosis: Considering it’s Andrew Niccol, who’s hit with alternative realities in The Truman Show and Gattaca, as well as with his Lord of War, but missed with S1m0ne, his batting average so far is pretty good and this looks interesting. Definitely back to not only Gattaca territory, but Logan’s Run. Also, as annoying as it is that a refugee from a boy band is as talented as Timberlake is, he is that damn good, both on the mic and in front of the camera. He’s paid dues in smaller parts and this is his first big actioner that he has to shoulder, and I think he’ll be up to it.
CHUD Pull quote: Timberlake is Justincredible! He’s Justinsane! He’s…just go see the friggin’ movie…
Film: Rum Diary
Director: Bruce Robinson
Humans: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins
Synopsis: Based on Hunter S. Thompson’s long lost novel, and set in the 1950’s, the film follows journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) who to travels to Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper. Taking to booze and an unavailable woman, (Amber Heard), Kepp soon finds himself in the kind of dangerous, liquor-fueled shenanigans one would expect from the mind of Thompson.
CHUD Prognosis: Depp returning to the world of Thompson is the surface level appeal of this project, but what should really be popping your movie boner is the return of Bruce Robinson after a two decade disappearance from the director’s chair. For those unfamiliar with Robinson (which surely means you aren’t a reader from the UK), let’s just say his film Withnail and I gives Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a run for its money, as far as debaucherous buddy comedies go — and depending on your tastes and age, may beat it. Also, Amber Heard, somehow seems to be getting exponentially sexier each year.
CHUD Pull quote: “View responsibly.”
Synopsis: An Elizabethan era political thriller involving plots by the Tudors and Cecils to succeed Elizabeth I (Redgrave) to the throne of England in the midst of the Essex Rebellion. Surrounding the involvement of Edward de Vere (Ifans), 17th Earl of Oxford, as not only Elizabeth’s lover, but also the real author of the works of William Shakespeare (Spall).
CHUD Prognosis: Political thriller? Elizabethan? And Roland Emmerich is doing it? Holy…shit. This is either going to be a triumphant surprise and FU to all of Emmerich’s critics who say that he can’t do characterization…or a bigger disaster than mutated neutrinos. Elizabethan intrigue requires an artist, and more importantly, subtlety to work. Even Shekhar Kapur couldn’t pull it off twice. A lot of people think Roland Emmerich couldn’t pull it off once. Because Emmerich is anything but subtle. He doesn’t paint movies with a paintbrush..or hell even a paint roller. He tosses a bucket of color on a wrecking ball and sets to swinging. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of his disaster pics, even some that others probably don’t. And since I doubt that he’s going to have aliens or a gigantic iguana wipe out London, he’s got a lot of convincing to do before this thing even screens.
CHUD Pull quote: Roland Emmerich has destroyed Los Angeles. He’s destroyed New York. Next: William Shakespeare’s reputation…
Film: Sleeping Beauty
Director: Julia Leigh
Humans: Emily Browning, Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie, Michael Dorman
Synopsis: A black list script, Sleeping Beauty is the story of a girl who gets wrapped up in a very mysterious, odd circle of high end prostitution that has her asleep during sessions.
CHUD Prognosis: The film’s trailer makes no bones about it being a very darkly erotic drama, and word is that Emily Browning commits fully to the performance. For those worried by her decidedly wooden performance in Sucker Punch, the reviews spotlight her as havingdone something special in collaboration with debut director Julia Leigh. I’ve not delved deep into the plot of the film, as I’m hoping to preserve my own special experience with the eery-seeming movie. The Australian drama is going to attract attention by virtue of its concept alone, so if it’s actually an interesting film then it might end up being something very special. And full of nakedness– let’s just put it out there.
CHUD Pull quote: “Naturally it took a female director with interesting ideas to get Emily Browning to give up the goods (in terms of performance or skin, take your pick).”