Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bloom
The casting couldn’t be better—Liam Neeson as Hannibal, District 9‘s Sharlto Copley as Murdock, Bradley Cooper as Faceman, and MMA icon “Rampage” Jackson as B.A. Baracus—and the man behind the lens (Joe Carnahan) ain’t no slouch either. With the addition of Patrick Wilson and Jessica Biel, this has “promising” written all over it. So what could undermine this otherwise worthy bit of ‘80s boob tube nostalgia? Why, the studios of course. This kind of movie needs to be a big, blustery action extravaganza with as much balls as ballistics. Pulling things in for a PG-13 rating may make financial sense, but it will definitely mess with the movie’s take no prisoner’s approach.
The Karate Kid
Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson
The Karate Kid
When you think about it, there is really no reason for this remake. The original Ralph Macchio vehicle had novelty (and a nuanced performance by Pat Morita) to draw in the crowds. Now, martial arts movies are a dime a dozen, as are stories of fringe kids finding comfort (and mentors) in unusual places. This time around, the story is reset in China, with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s son Jaden relocating there for convenient reasons. Jackie Chan is the Mr. Miyagi-like Mr. Han. He teaches the urban tough about the ways of kung-fu, all in preparation for a showdown with the school bully at a large scale tournament. Again, nothing really new here.
Toy Story 3
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles
Toy Story 3
The tale behind Toy Story 2 remains one of the great triumphs of creativity over House of Mouse marketing ever. The Disney suits wanted to make the sequel a dull direct-to-DVD release. Pixar prevailed, and the rest is celebrated CG history (and Oscar domination). Now comes another installment in the talking plaything saga, with Andy off to college and his beloved tchotchkes donated to a day care. Everyone involved before is back, with longtime team titan Lee Unkrich sitting in for newly named executive John Lasseter. Oh yeah, and did we mention it’s been retrofitted for 3D? Should make for a sunny Summer delight.
Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Michael Shannon, Michael Fassbender
The trailer promises something akin to a cock-up marriage between Ghost Rider and the Will Smith version of the Wild Wild West. Messageboards are in panic/pleasure mode, some suggesting the material resembles the comic book’s best, while others fret over early reviews that suggest another frontier fiasco in the making. Whatever the case, the combination of Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, and Michael Shannon should be good for some amount of commercial credit, and the writing combo of Neveldine/Taylor (the warped geniuses behind the Crank films) is also good for some gratuitous thrills. Maybe this isn’t the trainwreck the previews make it out to be. Don’t be surprised if this locomotive derails before hitting paydirt.
Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener
The Duplass Brothers—Jay and Mark—have been festival circuit darlings for a while. Titles like The Puffy Chair and Baghead have found favor within the late twenty-something mumblecore crowd. Now, they appear to be trying to tap into the rest of the artform’s friends by bringing John C. Reilly, a revitalized Marisa Tomei, and jokester Jonah Hill into a story of a divorced man, his newfound flame, and the overprotected (and protective) son who won’t let anything come between him and his mom. The casting is excellent, and if done right, this could be smart and very funny. It could also implode almost immediately. Quite the toss up, really.