Twenty movies to look forward to in 2011: July - December

Remember this post in January? Well, here’s its sister, finally. These are some of the big name blockbusters and potential sleeper hits that we can look forward to over the next 6 months, as 2011 draws to a close.

Please bear in mind that release dates are always subject to change, and that this list includes some films that have already released in North America but have yet, or are just about, to reach South African shores.

1) Scream 4
The Scream trilogy introduced a much needed sense of humour and self-referentiality to the slasher sub-genre, starting back in 1996. And now the old gang - director Wes Craven, screenwriter Kevin Williamson and series stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette - are back for a dig at the new "reboot and remake" generation of horror flicks. Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returns to her hometown on the 15th anniversary of the original Woodsboro massacre, triggering the slaughter of a new generation of teens. 57% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Release date: 15 April (North America), 6 July (South Africa)

2) Cars 2
The first Cars is generally regarded as the worst Pixar film. However, after its limp release, the film went on to spawn a massively successful merchandising empire. It’s unsurprising then that the anthropomorphic vehicles are back to punt more goodies, and this time they've been given the 3D treatment. Eschewing the small town setting and small town values-punting of the original Cars, this sequel sees Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) on Austin Powers turf, as they become embroiled in international espionage, rife with nationality cliches. A very mediocre (for a Pixar film) 35% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Release date: 24 June (North America), 6 July (South Africa)

3) Super 8
From Lost, Cloverfield and Star Trek's J. J. Abrams comes this deliberate tribute to the awe-inducing, late 70s/early 80s extraterrestrial movies of Steven Spielberg - who is acting here, in fact, as producer. Set in 1979, Super 8 centres on a bunch of small town Ohio teens whose filmmaking aspirations put them in contact with a catastrophic train derailment, that unleashes a sinister alien presence. This sci-fi-tinged coming of age tale is a strong 81% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Release date: 10 June (North America), 29 July (South Africa)

4) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
This is it. Releasing in 3D (a first for a Potter film) and 2D is this final installment in the massively successful fantasy film series, based of course on the even more successful youth literature series by JK Rowling. Part 2 follows on directly from Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (my review here). Old friends and foes return, and drama and death dominate as "Chosen" boy wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) goes toe-to-toe with dark wizard Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in a to-the-death battle. Prepare to be emotionally shredded.
Release date: 15 July (North America), 13 July (South Africa)

5) Captain America: The First Avenger
The fourth and final big superhero release of the year (after Thor, X-Men and Green Lantern) is this gung ho action adventure set during World War II. Based on the iconic Marvel comic, Captain America sees scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) transformed into a physically perfect super soldier. Which is a good thing seeing as he'll be facing off against megalomaniac Nazi scientist Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Oh, and the film comes from the director of The Rocketeer, Jumanji and much more, so you know it's gonna be fun. Screening in 2D and converted 3D. Profiled as part of Trailer Tuesday here.
Release date: 22 July (North America), 5 August (South Africa)

6) Cowboys & Aliens
This loose comic adaptation is a fanboys' (and girls') dream, as it mashes up the western and sci-fi genres, throwing in plenty of action, and apparently some horror as well. Iron Man's Jon Favreau is behind the camera while Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and others provide star wattage as grim Wild West settlers woefully unprepared for alien invasion. This one looks refreshingly serious and thrill-packed. Profiled as part of Trailer Tuesday here.
Release date: 29 July (North America), 19 August (South Africa)

7) Rise of the Planet of the Apes
This cautionary sci-fi tale combines an origin tale with a franchise reboot. James Franco's search for an Alzheimer's cure has the unexpected result of gifting chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis, providing a motion-capture performance) with human-like intelligence. Straddling the frustrating line between human and ape, Caesar seeks revenge against Mankind. Whether it tanks or not, with Rise we're guaranteed a stunning special effects showcase from Weta Digital, who have created all the apes digitally. Profiled as part of Trailer Tuesday here.
Release date: 5 August (North America), 12 August (South Africa)

8) Conan the Barbarian
Robert E. Howard's most popular pulp creation returns to the big screen almost 30 years after Arnold Schwarzenegger first played the Hyborian hero. In what looks like a highly B-grade production (but potential huge guilty pleasure!), Jason Momoa plays the title character - a warrior out for revenge on warlord Stephen Lang and his daughter, powerful witch Rose McGowan. It's sword, sorcery and sex all the way in this R-rated 3D conversion. Profiled as part of Trailer Tuesday here.
Release date: 19 August (North America), 26 August (South Africa)

9) Apollo 18
If you still haven't had enough alien encounters at the cinema this year, then there's this sci-fi horror movie from producer Timur Bekmambetov. Filmed in the "found footage" style of REC, The Blair Witch Project and many other genre entries, Apollo 18 presents the "terrifying truth" responsible for NASA's cancellation of the moon landing programme in the mid 1970s. And that has to do with a disastrous mission covered up by the government. If realistic-feeling and immersive, Apollo 18 could be a lot of fun.
Release date: 2 September (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

10) Contagion
The big selling point of this action-thriller is its pedigree. Traffic, Erin Brockovich and Ocean’s 11 helmer Steven Soderbergh directs an all-star international cast that includes Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne. Not bad for a movie with a fairy generic apocalyptic premise: a group of doctors are called in to battle a deadly airborne virus, while panic and online conspiracy theories wreak havoc. I think we can pretty much guarantee that Contagion will be far more interesting and layered than its plot suggets.
Release date: 9 September (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

11) Real Steel
Making the Top 20 list largely for curiosity reasons is this underdog sports drama with a difference. Based on a Richard Matheson short story, Real Steel is actually a sci-fi tale set in a future where human boxing has been outlawed and only giant robots are allowed to duke it out in the ring. Hugh Jackman is a small-time promoter who - with his young son - sees potential in an out-of-date sparring robot. It all sounds so unusual, I think we may be in for as big a surprise as the decrepit bot's opponents.
Release date: 7 October (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

12) In Time
Previously known as Now and I’m.mortal, this sci-fi thriller takes place in a near future where mankind has switched off the aging gene. Of course, now you have to pay to stay alive, and while the rich enjoy immortality, the poor continually risk having their lives cut off. This Logan's Run-sounding tale stars Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Cillian Murphy and Alex Pettyfer. Along with a cast stuffed full of young Hollywood talent, In Time comes from the writer-director of Gattaca, Simone and Lord of War, so I think we can expect this one to be both thought-provoking and highly entertaining.
Release date: 28 October (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

13) Puss in Boots
This spinoff from the Shrek animated series was inevitable, seeing as Antonio Banderas's swashbuckling feline was such a massively popular supporting character in DreamwWorks' family adventures. I know I'm certainly looking forward to this action comedy, which presents Puss's heroic fairytale exploits prior to meeting the big green ogre. Puss is joined by Salma Hayek's sultry Kitty Softpaws and Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty.
Release date: 4 November (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

14) Immortals
300 meets Clash of the Titans - with all the surrealism of a Julie Taymor movie - in this ultra-stylised take on Greek mythology. "Visionary" Tarsem Singh directs new Superman Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto and Mickey Rourke in this tale of hero Theseus (Cavill), who finds himself the champion of the Greek people, AND the Olympian gods, when King Hyperion (Rourke) amasses a vicious army to free the ancient Titan deities. This could be cheesy rubbish but I don't think viewers will forget the breathtaking visuals in a hurry. Profiled as part of Trailer Tuesday here.
Release date: 11 November (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

15) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Taking a cue from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, this film adaptation of the final Twilight book has been split into 2 parts, set for release a year apart. In this entry of the much mocked, but massively successful, supernatural romance series, human teenager Bella (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally commit to each other - only to have their happiness dashed by unexpected events and betrayals. Regardless of what I have to say about the Breaking Dawn film/s (I thought the novel source material was painfully overlong), haters are gonna hate, and Twilight fans will lap it up.
Release date: 18 November (North America), 18 November (South Africa)

16) New Year’s Eve
In this pseudo-sequel to Valentine's Day, Hollywood is claiming another commercial holiday to smother with schmaltz. V-Day director and romcom king Garry Marshall is in the director's chair while the ensemble cast playing self-reflecting New Yorkers includes *deep breath*: Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Katherine Heigl, Zac Efron, Josh Duhamel, Ice Cube, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank, Abigail Breslin and Halle Berry. Expect maximum star wattage, even if the film itself is bag overstuffed with fluffy bits.
Release date: 9 December (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

17) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Ghost Protocol is the fourth in the hit-and-miss Mission: Impossible film series. As usual, top Impossible Mission Force (IMF) member, and super spy, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise ) is caught up in a deadly game of government secrets and betrayals. The difference this time is that Jeremy Renner and Josh Holloway join the cast, and acclaimed animator Brad (The Incredibles) Bird is surprisingly in the director's seat for this action-espionage-thriller.
Release date:
16 December (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

18) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Guy Ritchie's action-packed reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic sleuth was a smash hit so it's not surprising that we have this sequel to look forward to. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law return as Holmes and Watson - this time with help from gypsy Sim (Noomi "Lisbeth Salander" Rapace) and Holmes's equally eccentric older brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) as they match wits with deadly arch-nemesis Moriarty (Jared Harris). I'm just hoping for a less convoluted plot this time around.
Release date: 16 December (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

19) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
An apparently pointless Hollywood adaptation of a bestselling novel becomes far less pointless when you discover that it's David (Fight Club, The Social Network) Fincher guiding the production. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara star in this sordid crime thriller, in which a disgraced journalist and troubled hacker plumb a powerful family's secrets to solve a decades-old mystery. Sure to be engrossing but very graphic in its depiction of unpleasantness. Profiled as part of Trailer Tuesday here.
Release date: 21 December (North America), Unknown (South Africa)

20) The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
I'm personally VERY curious to see if this performance-capture animated adventure finds an audience. Sure, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are the big names behind it, but are audiences - especially American audiences - excited by the prospect of seeing Herge's globe-trotting reporter (and his dog Snowy) on the big screen, in 3D? More importantly, are viewers finally willing to embrace motion-capture animation after Robert Zemeckis's many failed attempts? For the record, Tintin features Jamie Bell as the title character, Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock, Daniel Craig as Red Rackham and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Thomson and Thompson.
Release date: 23 December (North America), 23 December (South Africa)


CamperDave said…
They all seem fine...but The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1...eish, I not so sure
Geoffrey Tim said…
This comment system sucks...have you ever though of switching to Wordpress? ;) I kid, I kid!

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