By Michael Lynderey
July 26, 2010
There's been a real dry wall of interesting news these last two weeks, painted over only slightly by the continuously-hyped mass entity known only as the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International. Of course, much of what's coming out of the Con is trailers and advance footage rather than news - things that can not be replicated in print here (although if I watched any of those trailers, I suppose I could prepare a breathless scene-by-scene description).
The big cheese at the Con is probably Joss Whedon's The Avengers, which is finally getting going on the road to its inevitably outrageous opening weekend on May 4, 2012 (ten years after another Marvel property scored the highest opening of all time...). Edward Norton's been rather inexplicably dropped from the roster as the Hulk, though Mark Ruffalo is certainly a hard-to-critique replacement. Oft-rumored Jeremy Renner's also onboard as Hawkeye, and the rest of the gang'll now officially be there, too: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and, uh, the beloved War Machine (Don Cheadle). Now that's star power.
More comic book news was on hand. Graphic novels A Contract With God (by Will Eisner) and Astro City (by Kurt Busiek) will get a film adaptation (... some day). The 1980s hard R-slasher film Maniac will undergo a redo, courtesy of remake-lover Alexander Aja, who has already retooled not only The Hills Have Eyes but also Piranha (if you happen to be an old horror movie and you see this guy coming down the block, run the other way!). Speaking of remakes, it's also looking like Guillermo del Toro will take a crack at re-doing none other than Eddie Murphy's ancient (2003) version of The Haunted Mansion, though even remake opponents probably aren't too miffed about that one. And not to be outdone, Sam Worthington will star as Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future, Brad Pitt will headline World War Z, and Tim Burton will direct Monsterapocalypse, all films that could not possibly be as brilliantly pulpy as their monikers. That goes double for Michael Bay's Hansel and Gretel in 3D, a title one could have reasonably assumed would never find its way onto a theater marquee near you. One would have been wrong.
While understandably not much hyped at Comic Con, one new project that sounds somewhat amusing is The Politician, writer-director Aaron Sorkin's take on all the shenanigans that Sen. John Edwards has allegedly been getting himself into lately (or are we past "allegedly" by now? I stopped following this story in 2008). Sorkin also wrote The Social Network, so it looks like he'll be the man to beat in documenting 2000s history. I, on the other hand, prefer to chronicle the 2010s, and so here are yet a few more nuggets about sequels coming our way sooner than later:
- Caesar: Rise of the Apes - Aside from that re-vamped title (and if the title's not new, it at the very least sounds like it is), the Apes prequel just keeps adding British character actors to its cast - Brian Cox and Tom Felton, playing a father-and-son team, are the latest (Felton may not officially be considered a character actor quite yet - but trust me on this one).
- Despicable Me 2 - That's not the official title (though it one day could be), but the message being sent here is clear: as the first Despicable Me nears its final stop at a $200 million+ box office tally, a sequel has become inevitable - its existence both totally expected and completely unpreventable.
- Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - That's the new subtitle, and Nicolas Cage is officially confirmed to be back. The Neveldine-Taylor team will write and direct, though they almost certainly won't be able to top their own Crank: High Voltage. No one could.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - David Fincher's remake is really on, now aiming for December 21, 2011, with Daniel Craig on board to star, though surely not as the title character. It's hard to peg just how popular this series is stateside, but the subtitled Swedish film versions of the same story haven't quite been able to crack the $10 million mark over here. Multiply that gross by about ten, and you may get the box office for the American version.
The Hangover 2 - The story's now been announced as being set in Thailand, in a rather clever way of keeping this series fresh. At the moment, this is practically the only big summer 2011 film not to get into filming quite yet (but unlike the other ones, there's not a whole lot of special effects work to do here, see).
Mission: Impossible IV - Simon Pegg is apparently coming back as his generally amusing character from Mission: Impossible 3, so it looks like this is still moving forward, unstopped by the pangs of disappointment streaming from Knight and Day's box office. Godspeed.
Saw 3D - As faithful readers will recall, John Saw's latest misadventures (just what wacky shenanigans will he get into this time?) had been scheduled to face off against the presumably unnecessary follow-up to Paranormal Activity (just what morbid mischief will that sour-pussed ghost inflict on the helpless human population this time?). One had to budge, and so one finally did - Saw 3D has now been forcibly relocated from October 22nd to October 29th, where it will no longer have to worry about competition from shaky-cam box office ghouls. Instead, it will now have to worry about competition from yet another 3D horror film, Wes Craven's My Soul to Take, already comfortably scheduled for the 29th.
See? There was just no way to win there.
Oh, wait, there is. At least for some of us. Because Saw 3D has also officially been declared to be the series' very last film. And this is one such announcement I actually believe.