|The real plot to Independence Day|
We're at the halfway point here, folks. And I usually clarify around this time that the bottom 25 are a bit different from my top 25. I had a really hard time fitting in my top 25. I consider the top 25 to be the movies I'll pay money opening weekend to see. Sure, it might be a $5 matinee, but it still counts as the opening weekend. These next five movies just missed the cut, I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if I saw all these opening weekend, too. It's just that these movies were either adaptations with troubled productions, unwanted sequels or there were too many unknowns to really get me excited to see them immediately. Regardless, I'm still excited, just a bit hesitant to state that I'm handing over my somewhat-well-earned dollars to see them.
Starring: Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Haluk Bilginer
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Keith R. Clarke, John Ridley
Release Date: August 12
Ben-Hur, when released in 1959, was considered the biggest film ever made - it had the largest budget ($15 million!) and the largest sets ever for a film made at that time. It's actually quite surprising that Hollywood has waited almost 60 years to remake this film. I don't think this one would have made my list if not for the talent involved. First of all, let's at least give this film some credit for hiring ethnic actors, unlike other recent historical pieces like Exodus: Gods and Kings. And while Ben-Hur is most definitely protrayed by a white dude, at least it seems like the supporting cast is full of people that are most definitely not white. And then the director, Timur Bekmambetov, who has been flying under the radar for the past few years seems like an odd choice to direct. He's got a flair for the over-the-top and insane action scenes (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) that I'm wondering how toned-down he'll be. Maybe the studio hired him to really use his unique visuals to set this remake up as more than just a remake? I don't know - I'm excited to see a trailer to gauge my proper excitement level. This could end up being really bad, or just bad enough to make it amazing.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: David Koepp
Release Date: October 14
It will be 7 years since the last time we saw Robert Langdon grace the big screen, chasing down religious mysteries and conspiracies and cult groups. I'm kind of wondering if people are going to remember anything about these characters. Sure, the book this movie is based on came out in 2013, but I feel like us as a culture have moved on from Dan Brown novels. Maybe I'm wrong - the book has sold 6 million copies worldwide. I mean, I haven't sold 1 book, so I shouldn't be talking shit. The plot seems intriguing enough - After waking up in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, with no memory of what has occurred for the last few days, Robert Langdon suddenly finds himself the target of a manhunt. With the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks and his knowledge of symbology, Langdon will try to escape whilst solving the most intricate riddle he's ever faced. I mean, you have a trio of talented people - Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and David Koepp. The latter of which who's written some iconic screenplays, including Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man. Sure, he's also written Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and The Lost World, but everyone has their off-days. I guess I'm just excited mostly because these kinds of films - big-budget dramas/thrillers - are few and far between. So there you go, Inferno kinda makes the list on default. We're setting a high bar here.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin
Release Date: April 22
What immediately popped into my head about The Huntsman is how I hope the team behind the movie took some notes while watching Mad Max: Fury Road. With a very female-centric cast (despite the male-centric title), this could be a fun, feminist movie. Forget about the damsel in distress, I'd rather see some women kick butt and talk about something other than a hunky huntsman. The trailer hasn't completely sold me on the film - I think the visuals are as striking as they were with the first film. In fact, the visual effects guy from the first film is back, this time taking over directing - so he hasn't had much experience. The writers on this movie are interesting - Spiliotopoulos has written a lot of family movies, but did the recent, Dwayne Johnson Hercules movie, which wasn't entirely bad. But Craig Mazin has written mostly half-baked comedies like Hangover 2 & 3 and Identity Thief. So I'm a little weary that this film's plot and character development might not lean towards my hopeful, feminist tone I'd like to see. But maybe this will be a surprise! I like the cast and if it's not as dour as the first and more fun, this could be a fantastic film.
Starring: Lena Headey, Lily James, Matt Smith
Director: Burr Steers
Writer: Burr Steers
Release Date: February 5
This film seems like it has been in development forever. Natalie Portman was attached to star, but has dropped out and it's been through 3 or 4 different directors. I think I read the book 5 years ago and while I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd like (I think the author, Seth Gramme-Smith's Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was imminently more enjoyable, as was the film adaptation), I'm still stoked to see this parody of the Victorian masterpiece on screen. Sure, it won't have the big name star like Portman, nor a really in-demand director, but the trailer looks fun. I mean, I had high hopes for Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and it delivered. There's no reason this can't succeed despite all the drama behind the scenes. If you're not familiar with Pride and Prejudice, well, it probably won't matter that much with the movie, just know that instead of vying for a man's attention, Elizabeth Bennett and her crew of sisters are going to be focusing on kicking some zombie ass.
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Joey King, Maika Monroe
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Carter Blanchard
Release Date: June 24
Independence Day was such a killer movie when it came out. It hasn't aged very well. But then again, it kinda of has. I guess I have a love/hate relationship with the movie. At times, it's so amazing - the White House blowing up! Bill Pullman's President speech! Will Smith punching aliens! Then again - the whole Randy Quaid drunken character bit was terrible, the hacking the alien computers was just, so, not. For some reason, this trailer really works for me. Chills ran down my spine when Bill Pullman started talking. But they are going super dark here - I don't know if it'll payoff in the new movie. Part of what made Independence Day so great was that it was so god damn cheesy and it kind of felt your were watching a blockbuster movie, rather than trying too hard to be grounded in reality. I feel like we can't go back to those days - you know, the pre-9/11 action days when things were a bit goofy and Schwarzenegger can kick drug dealer's asses as a kindergarten teacher and no one bats an eye at how ridiculous it is. So I'm hoping maybe it will be more light-hearted than what the trailer is selling, because even though this trailer is pushing all the right buttons for me, I'd rather have the original than some half-baked sequel that takes itself too seriously.