Tag Archives: movie sequels

2012 movie musings

Sometimes childhood memories shared with our own children come back to haunt us. I once told daughter Lizabeth about racing home after school to watch the vampire soap series “Dark Shadows.” Now that Johnny Depp is starring in a “Dark Shadows” film (May) that’ll fast forward Barnabas and clan to the 1970s, I’ll never hear the end of it.

Only rumors that Depp raced home to do the same thing will temper those wounds. Folks with a taste for vampire lore can also look forward to “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” (Nov) and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (June).  I haven’t read the “Twilight” series, so I’m a bit conflicted about what color to expect for the nursery.

Lizabeth likes the Lincoln meets vampire vibe, but I’m holding out for Spielberg’s “Lincoln” (Dec) starring Daniel Day Lewis. Lincoln’s life was bloody enough. I’d like to leave it at that. I’ll also be watching for “Hotel Transylvania” (Sept) with a cast that includes two comedic Adams and one crooning Miley.

Musical theater morphs into movies at least twice this year with “Rock of Ages” (June) starring Tom Cruise (watch for tidy widy jokes) and “Les Miserables” (Dec) featuring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and lots of other big names. I’d give you the rest of the list but it’d only leave you wishing I’d stopped after Jackman.

We’ll also enjoy a pair of films starring Harry Potter alums this season — “The Woman in Black” (Feb) with Daniel Radcliffe (whose performance Lizabeth loved in “How to Succeed…” on Broadway) and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Fall) with Emma Watson. I was perfectly happy with the other films featuring a wallflower in black named “Snape.”

Two actresses who first performed right here in the Valley will be seen on the big screen this year. First, Emma Stone in “Movie 43” (April) and “The Amazing Spiderman” (July) — which will show her acting alongside greats like Sally Field and Richard Gere. Also Jordin Sparks in “Sparkle” (Aug), alongside Whitney Houston. Best I just let that one be for the time being.

In the classic lit department, there’s “The Great Gatsby” (Dec) starring Leonardo DiCaprio — assuming he survives the 3-D version of James Cameron’s “Titanic” (April). Also “Anna Karenina” and “Great Expectations” — both slotted for fall release. Start reading now if you want to revisit the books before these babies hit your local movie theater. Folks who favor new lit can look forward to “The Hunger Games” (March) and “Life of Pi” (Dec).

Girlpower gets its due with “Brave” (June) — Pixar’s 13th film and their first to feature a female heroine. Mean girls are headed our way with two variations on the Snow White tale. First, “Mirror Mirror” (March) starring Julia Roberts as the Queen and Lily Collins as Snow White. Then “Snow White and the Huntsmen” (June), starring Charlize Theron as the Queen and Kristen Stewart as Snow White.

For more twisted fairy tale fare, check out “Jack the Giant Killer” (June) — which Lizabeth only entertained seeing after learning it’s from the same fine fellow who brought us “X-Men: First Class.” Those of you waiting on “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” need to aim your crystal balls at the year 2013. In the interim, try “The Avengers” (May).

It’s a big year for sequels, including family fare like “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (June), “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” (July) and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” (Aug). Also “Men in Black” (May), “The Dark Knight Rises” (July) and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Dec). Lizabeth and I could never make it past the first few pages of “The Hobbit,” so I’m not holding out much hope for this one.

She’s more excited about “The Secret Adventures of Arrietty” (Feb), a Disney film based on a novel called “The Borrowers” — while I’m looking forward to “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” (March), from the folks who made “Despicable Me.” Other family fare includes a whale of a tale called “Big Miracle” (Feb) and “Disneynature: Chimpanzee” (April).

Watch for “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (May), a film about five couples expecting babies that was inspired by the famous prenatal parenting book. I’m only willing to revisit those memories because the cast includes Matthew Morrison of “Glee.” Don’t mistake “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” (March) for an animated film about your toddler’s playdates.

My potpourri pile’s got some other films I’m still investigating — so stay tuned for a second installment. And drop a line to let me know what films you’re most excited about seeing.

— Lynn

Note: Film release dates are subject to change. Visit the websites for your favorite films/studios to follow their developments.

Coming up: Broadway meets community theater

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More movie tales from Narnia

My oldest child, Christopher, has always been more of a doer than a reader. He wants to explore his own world rather than read about the worlds of others. 

But “Narnia” was a rare exception when he was in elementary school. I recall reading to and with him from C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” series — and the excitement we shared each time we finished one and got to hit the bookstore for another.

We always bought the hard cover editions with gorgeous cover art, and regarded them as real treasures that would transport us on adventures of the mind and imagination.

Recently we enjoyed an advance screening of the latest “Narnia” movie — titled “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” I was eager to see it because I quite enjoyed “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” when it was in theaters several years ago. (As a Colorado native transplanted to Arizona, I was especially fond of the forest scenes and snowy settings.)

“Dawn Treader” has less snow, but more sea. The movie was filmed in a few places, but none more stunning than Australia. It’s a visually pleasing work with or without the 3-D experience. Plenty of scenes take place aboard a ship, so it’s a fab flick for pirate lovers and seafaring souls.

Who knew one could enjoy a swashbuckling adventure in the absence of Johnny (originally a “Christopher”) Depp? This was true revelation. (Of course, there’s always the new movie “The Tourist” for those of you desperately in need of a Depp fix.)

I typically balk when I hear assertions like “there’s nothing new under the Sun” or “no idea is a truly new idea.” But I am starting to develop an annoying habit of finding oodles of other movies in every new movie I see. “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” was no exception.

Picture “Indiana Jones” meets “Pirates of the Caribbean” — then add a touch of “Ghostbusters,” “Harry Potter,” and final scenes of Disney’s “Enchanted.” Even echos of the television series “Lost.” Happily, it works. And that’s all that matters.

“Return of the Dawn Treader” is a sort of swashbuckling story meets theological treatise — with emphasis, luckily, on the storytelling. The religious views of C.S. Lewis, original author of the “Narnia” tales, inform much of his work — as do prevailing issues of the day. What’s the balance of destiny and free will? What gives the dark side of man its power?

I tend to view such films as gateways to analysis and dialogue. What was the historical context when C.S. Lewis wrote these works? What about the time period in which the action supposedly takes place? How does art reflect life in Lewis’ work? And what value are books and film in naming and critiquing individual values and cultural mores?

Then again, you can just wing it with the flying dragon vibe. No theological study needed to embrace the humor of the movie’s fencing mouse — or the other land, sea and air creatures the children encounter in their quest to save “Narnia.” (The creatures who bounce playfully on a single large foot are my favorites.)

If you favor thinking of the lion Aslan as a diety, then go for it. If you’re happy to leave his lionhood at that, you’ll still enjoy the tale. But either way you’ll notice religious and ethical concepts, such as the power and necessity of belief, throughout.

My one frustration with attending the UltraLuxe Scottsdale theater was that they have yet to work out a few of the kinks.

Clearly the person who designed this venue, despite its lush decor, wasn’t mother to a preschooler who needed a shelf in the bathroom stall, a super speedy concessions line or a cup holder that squared with the large size drink.

Take note theater folk: The truest test of a family-friendly venue is the ease of using it for the parents whose patronage you seek. Because this cinema has some nifty parent and child-friendly programs, I hope they’ll make some more strides in these areas.

Still, two out of my three “kids” have experienced this theater now — and they both give it high praise. The seats are comfy, the sound is excellent, and the staff are friendly and courteous.

But check it out yourself — and let me know both what you think of the luxury cinema atmosphere and what you think of some of the new movies out there this holiday season.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) from HarperCollins Publishers. And be sure to stay as the movie’s credits roll to enjoy delightful drawings by original illustrator Pauline Baynes (1922-2008) and the new Carrie Underwood song titled “There’s a Place for Us.”

Coming up: James Bond meets 39 Steps