Are you prepared for cinematic awesomeness? This year sees a number of movies we're eager to watch, from Christopher Nolan's acid trip to new Iron Man, Predator and Tron films. Here are 20 reasons not to give up on movies.
2009 was a mixed year for films, to say the least — a number of films last year were delayed or rushed into production because of the writers' strike. And yet, we're still getting movies that were delayed due to that strike (among other reasons.) According to the New York Times, Daybreakers was filmed in 2007, and The Wolfman and Repo Men were filmed in 2008. But at least the majority of films coming out this year had a completed screenplay before they started filming, which could be a good thing.
So here are the 20 movies we're most eager to see this year. As usual for io9, these movies include science fiction as well as "urban fantasy" which takes place either in the present day or close to the present day. So no Clash Of The Titans. And no A-Team, unless it turns out to be more science-fictional than we're expecting.
The Book Of Eli (Jan. 15)
What it's about: The world ended decades ago, and now Eli (Denzel Washington) is the last guardian of a special book that could save the human race. But Gary Oldman wants it too, and he's got a rocket launcher, among other things.
Why we're pumped: We haven't seen a really fun post-apocalyptic action movie — without zombies — in ages. And the Hughes Brothers, who gave us Menace 2 Society, do know how to create great action set pieces. The gritty look of this film's wasteland is pretty compelling, and this could be the film we were hoping Terminator Salvation and 9 would deliver.
The Lovely Bones (Jan. 15)
What it's about: Peter Jackson adapts Alice Sebold's novel about a young girl who gets murdered by a pedophile, and then finds herself in a kind of purgatory.
Why we're pumped: Our early review, from horror/SF writer John Shirley, praised this movie's mixture of surrealism and suspense. Dali meets Hitchcock, from the man who made a Lord Of The Rings adaptation work — what's not to be excited about?
Legion (Jan. 22)
What it's about: A group of humans under siege in a truckstop discover their attackers are angels, sent to destroy one pregnant woman whose child has a huge destiny. Only one fallen angel (Paul Bettany) can save them all.
Why we're pumped: Maybe we're just in the throes of Supernatural withdrawal, but this story of morally compromised angels and Armageddon seems like perfect cheesy fun. The clips we've seen so far are pleasingly violent, and supernatural mayhem in a truckstop seems like a recipe for good times.
The Wolfman (Feb. 12)
What it's about: Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins star in this revival of Universal's monster movie franchise, about a man who becomes... wait for it... a wolf.
Why we're pumped: Well, it's got to be better than Jack Nicholson. Actually, the trailer was pretty thrilling and promised some old-school horror schlock. The reshoots may actually have helped to give the film more of an edge. And Anthony Hopkins is playing Malcolm McDowell! So why not?
The Crazies (Feb. 26)
What it's about: Did you know they were remaking George Romero's 1970s classic about a town of people infected with a disease that makes them go nuts? The military decides to barricade everyone in the town, and craziness ensues.
Why we're pumped: The trailer is actually pretty fantastic, and the stills do look pretty batshit. And apparently it's about the American Dream gone wrong. Oh whatever, there will be small-town people hacking each other to pieces.
Hot Tub Time Machine ( March 19)
What it's about: A gaggle of middle-aged guys (including John Cusack and the Daily Show's Rob Corddry) discover that their hot tub is really a time machine that lets them go back to their party-boy youth in the 1980s and do it all over again. Or something.
Why we're pumped: We talked to Cusack about this film, and it sounded like he and his costars had a lot of fun doing improv and writing the script as they went along. And you know, every time Corddry got in a hot tub or got immersed in any type of liquids on The Daily Show, it was funny.
Repo Men (April 2)
What it's about: As we mentioned, this one was filmed a while ago and put on ice, until Repo Man director Alex Cox decided to do his own spin-off, Repo Chick. But it's not actually connected to Repo Man at all — it's a movie version ofa novel, Repossession Mambo, about a future where your artificial organs get yanked out if you don't keep up with your payments.
Why we're pumped: The original novel, by Eric Garcia, got a rave review over at SFSignal. The recently released redband trailer was fun, and it's got Jude Law ripping your organs out.
Kick-Ass (April 16)
What it's about: Mark Millar's brutal comic about what superheroes would really be like gets a faithful adaptation from Matthew Vaughn (Stardust) featuring Nic Cage as a psycho version of Batman who pumps bullets into his 11-year-old girl, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz).
Why we're pumped: Given how many comic-book movies feel neutered or sanitized, it's hard not to feel a bit thrilled at the prospect of a film that brings the wrongness. And each still or trailer has just increased our anticipation for this movie's ultra-violence and Millar's trademark snarky misanthropy.
A Nightmare On Elm Street (April 30)
What it's about: Jackie Earle Haley stars as Freddie Krueger, the serial killer with the knife-glove, who kills people in their dreams, resulting in their deaths in real life. This is another film that's been having a ton of reshoots, and there are rumors it's a bit troubled.
Why we're pumped: Haley was pretty great as Rorschach in Watchmen, and we're always game to see him play another psychopath.
Iron Man 2 (May 7)
What it's about: The sequel to 2008's most pleasant surprise, a superhero film that sported interesting characters and memorable performances. Robert Downey Jr. is back as Tony Stark, and this time the U.S. military wants the Iron Man "weapon" he's created. But he's going to need that suit to survive Mickey Rourke's zappy-whip assault.
Why we're pumped: Iron Man really was a cut above most superhero films, thanks to a mixture of body horror (his heart is battery powered) and wry humor. We're hoping that the "superhero sequel clutter" problem doesn't drag this film down, and Downey and director Jon Favreau can recapture the magic.
Jonah Hex (June 18)
What it's about: A gunslinger in the old West battles supernatural evil, based loosely on the DC Comics series.
Why we're pumped: We were startled by how exciting our glimpse of this film at Comic Con turned out to be — the footage was frenetic and surreal, with vampires bursting out of the Earth and Jonah Hex barfing up a crow. We were left wanting much more, to our amazement.
Toy Story 3 (June 18)
What it's about: The long-awaited third installment in the series about sentient playthings picks up when the toys' owner goes off to college — and not all of the toys are going to get to stay.
Why we're pumped: The first two films were nearly flawless and built up a great mythology of the toys' metafictional universes. And we're dying for more Buzz Lightyear catch phrases.
The Last Airbender (July 2)
What it's about: M. Night Shyamalan adapts the super-popular animated series about Aang, who has power over the element of air and tries to save his world from the warlike Fire Nation.
Why we're pumped: We loved the animated series, and our visit to this film's set was pretty encouraging. Shyamalan has long since used up his last dregs of good will, but at least this time he's working with great source material, and he seems to be taking it seriously. And maybe a change of pace is what he's needed.
Despicable Me (July 9)
What it's about: Steve Carrell voices the supervillain Gru, who wants to remain the worst evildoer on Earth. (This is actually just one of two animated supervillain movies coming out this year, with the other one, Megamind, coming out towards the end of the year and starring Will Ferrell.)
Why we're pumped: Carrell seems like a good choice to play a bumbling supervillain, and the trailer contains lots of superheroic slapstick. Could be fun. At least it's not Ferrell.
Predators (July 9)
What it's about: Producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal relaunch the series about aliens who hunt humans for sport, this time on an alien planet where a few humans are kidnapped and forced to fight for their lives.
Why we're pumped: If anybody can make Predators cool again, it's the man who gave us Planet Terror. This is based on the Predator script Rodriguez wrote years ago, so it's a passion project for him. And yet, the casting of Adrien Brody and Topher Grace makes us very, very nervous.
Inception (July 16)
What it's about: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) brings us an original science-fiction story, in which cities melt and Ellen Page screams "Wake me up!"
Why we're pumped: It's Nolan, doing what looks like a riff on The Matrix. And we're glad he's taking a break from Bat-movies to do something original and — hopefully — thought-provoking. This might be the film we're most eager to discover more about in 2010.
Priest (August 20)
What it's about: Paul Bettany, our new go-to guy for supernatural action, stars in an adaptation of the TokyoPop comic set in a world where vampires and humans have been at war for decades. Bettany is a warrior priest who defies orders and goes after some vampires who have kidnapped his niece.
Why we're pumped: It's got post-apocalyptic violence, deadly vampires, and Bettany inflicting more supernatural violence. Plus what we saw of the comic was pretty great.
Red Dawn (November 24)
What it's about: Chinese and Russian troops attack a small town in America, and the town's teenagers are the only ones who can mount a defense, in this remake of the 1980s classic.
Why we're pumped: It's a weird mixture of apocalyptic and alternate history, but this film's early photos showing the American town plastered with scary signs in Chinese and Russian got us all pumped.
Tron Legacy (December 17)
What it's about: Disney finally makes a sequel to the 1980s video-game classic, and Jeff Bridges is back, playing his original character as well as a (possibly evil) computerized version.
Why we're pumped:The new footage of lightcycles at Comic Con 2008 blew our brains out, and every glimpse since then has just gotten us more stoked. And Bridges seems to be one of those actors who really does make everything he's in better, so two versions of Bridges seems like a good bet.
The Green Hornet (December 22)
What it's about: Another troubled production, this adaptation of the classic radio and TV superhero serial lost its director and co-star Stephen Chow. Seth Rogen's still on board playing the newspaperman whose super-sidekick is more famous than he is.
Why we're pumped: Really only one reason: Michel Gondry. The director of some of our favorite films of the past decade stepped in to replace Chow, and this instantly flew to the top of our must-see list, even if Gondry hadn't sealed the deal by rapping about it.
Additional reporting by Josh C. Snyder.