What We’re Looking Forward to in 2010: Sci-Fi Movies

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Forget looking forward to 2010; I’ve already been impressed by a handful of 2010 titles.

We’ve already seen Daybreakers and The Book of Eli – both pretty captivating – and we’ve already moved on to obsessing about Legion. That is, when I’m not renting old-school sci-fi classics for our “Most Underrated Sci-Fi Masterpieces” contest.

It’s a little difficult to look out at a complete year in film. Some release dates are still being finalized, some films aren’t even done shooting. And you never know what little indie sleeper is going to come up and surprise you. I just finished watching a fun little thriller called Carriers that I had never even heard of before (I’m going to write up more about that for Monday). So there may be a few notable omissions here.

(More on Techland: What We’re Looking Forward to in 2010: Sci-Fi TV)

In any event, here are a handful of the titles that we’ve already been talking about around Techland headquarters. The trailers have been watched, the expectations have soared. Sign us up now.

Iron Man 2 (May 7) – Is there any debate? Sure to be the superhero film of the year, Iron Man 2 looks like it has the same Tony Stark swagger and Pepper Potts allure, but this time it also has the indestructibility of War Machine, the sneering vindictiveness of Mickey Rourke, and some seriously sexy Scarlett Johansson martial arts moves. If it wasn’t for Jon Favreau being at the helm again, I might be worried about the multiple bad guys on display here. We’ve seen plenty of franchises (Spider-Man, Batman) undone by having too many cooks in the kitchen. But the same team is in place for this second go-around, and if the trailer above is any indicator, Iron Man 2 should be plenty epic.

Tron Legacy (Dec. 17) – So many reasons to be excited here. All of us at Techland are big Tron fans – so big, in fact, that we’ve nominated the movie as one of the 20 contenders for the most underrated sci-fi film of all time  (voting for the underrated epics ends here Tuesday). And in 2009, there were plenty of reasons to get lost in some new Tron love. The 3-D test footage featuring Jeff Bridges zooming around on a digital bike was screened at Comic-Con, demonstrating just how sleek, stylish and sophisticated this virtual gladiator world could be. And thanks to Avatar upping the 3-D ante a few weeks ago – with Tim Burton set to follow in just a few months (read about his Alice in Wonderland below) – I’m now expecting a whole lot more from a virtually-created, immersive Tron universe:

Then there’s the fact that Tron Legacy is not a reinvention but a sequel, actually pushing the story forward into more advanced CG territory. So there’s a decent chance that not only will this thing look great; it could have a strong story to boot. My only point of concern is the film’s director: Joseph Kosinski. Not ringing a bell? That’s because the guy’s never directed a movie before. But he has helmed some rather remarkable commercial work:

Can Kosinski translate these skills to a feature film? Only 351 days until we all find out.

Legion (Jan. 22) – Angel vs. Angel. Come on, who’s not intrigued? God has lost faith in humanity, he’s sent down a whole cadre of angels to clean up this unfortunate mess, and in a rural diner, the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) waits to fight on our behalf, unleashing holy hell. Scott Stewart has never directed a film, which either means his ideas are so good that he’s convinced some big people in Hollywood to give him a chance, or this thing’s going to suck. (See Techland’s top 10 sci-fi films of the decade)

The Wolfman (Feb. 12) – Joe Johnston, the guy who brought you The Rocketeer (yay!) and Jurassic Park III (yuck!), remakes the 1941 horror film, starring Benicio Del Toro as the man who returns home to find that his brother has gone missing and villagers are being destroyed by some sort of mysterious monster. The cast is solid, the director has proven he can handle a big project, and who isn’t psyched to see a modern-day Wolfman wreak havoc?

The Crazies (Feb. 26) – Oh man, have you seen this trailer yet?

Case closed. This George Romero update looks, well, crazy, with the residents of a rural midwestern town turning on one another due to a government experiment that converts them into blood-starved killers. Having grown up in the ‘burbs, I love any story that involves the pristine façade being blasted away by the evil lurking underneath. And this trailer seems to confirm it: Director Breck Eisner will be holding nothing back as he unleashes neighbor on neighbor.

Alice in Wonderland (March 5) – They screened a 3-D Alice trailer prior to Avatar, and it made me even more excited to see how Tim Burton decides to manipulate this medium. When the film’s previews first posted online, the most fascinating details were how Burton distorted the body of the Queen of Hearts, turned Johnny Depp into one twisted Mad Hatter and brought back the Cheshire Cat as a green-eyed feline with a mile-wide smile. But seeing the preview on the big screen, you start to see how Depp is meant to truly tower over the action, how Alice disappears into the screen as she shrinks after the drinking the potion, and how the cat lunges at the audience with his devilish smile. If you’ve only seen the preview on the web, you really don’t have a sense yet of what Burton has in store.

Clash of the Titans (March 26) – This adaptation of the 1981 film has been making its way through Hollywood for what seems like forever. But when the trailer screened before Avatar, I have to admit that CG effects looked like they were worth the wait. Starring Sam Worthington (Avatar) as Perseus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades, the plot basically amounts to two gods battling for dominion over Earth. Same old, same old.

Kick-Ass (April 16) -

I’m pretty damn excited for Kick-Ass, but nowhere near as stoked as Peter. He found this (NSFW) footage online, which shows Hit-Girl destroying a whole room full of adults with guns – and talking smack with her dad – and what impressed me most is the rag-tag feel of the thing.

These peeps don’t have any superpowers, but more than enough attitude to make up for it – and unlike some superhero films, which are more about the action than the characters, I think Kick-Ass will be more fun when the masks come off, and daddy’s little girl lights up the four-letter words. (See Techland’s top 10 characters of the decade)

Toy Story 3 (June 18) – If you made a short list of the sequels that were better than the original, Toy Story 2 would be right there at the top of the list. And that’s saying a lot, given how groundbreaking the first chapter was. So it’s obvious that Pixar is serious about doing Toy Story 3 just right, this time finding the toys shipped off to a day-care center when their owner departs for college. This was the franchise that set the bar for what computer-generated movies can be. In a post-Avatar era, I’m kind of stoked to see what they come up with to wow us now.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (July 16) – We’re going to withhold judgment at this juncture. The first trailer seems somehow both exciting and bizarre, and we’re not sure if Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) is really the man for the job. He seems more focused on action than wonder. But there is some potential here, in the story of a second-class wizard who’s put in charge of the shop by his master when all hell breaks loose. My biggest concern though: In Fantasia, this poem was converted into an animated short; how do you make a feature-length film out of the thing? (See Techland’s top sci-fi and fantasy books of the decade)

Honorable Mentions:

Predators (July 7) – Our favorite, thermal-scanning aliens are back, this time taking on the likes of Topher Grace, Laurence Fishburne and Adrien Brody, who star as the truly hopeless humans.

Piranha 3-D (April 16) – Sort of says it all in the title.

Let Me In (TBA) – Anyone who has seen the snowy and solemn Let the Right One In, quite possibly the most moody and melancholy vampire film ever made, will surely be stoked to see the American re-make. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves is on board, as is the kid from The Road. Could be great, if they don’t screw it up.

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