It’s a good time to be a geek. I’m not sure how it happened. In high school, I had to constantly check myself lest at the merest mention of the X-Men I found myself giving an impromptu lecture on the ins and outs of the Summers family tree (which includes clones, time-travel, space pirates and an evil Victorian bio-geneticist, but I digress). These days, I can show pretty girls my Batman/Superman tattoos and they seem impressed. The San Diego Comic-Con is a major cultural event. Frat Boys play Sci-Fi video games and Sorority Girls wear “I Love Geeks” t-shirts (though you’ll forgive me if I doubt their sincerity).
Oh. And the Movies. JESUS CHRIST, THE MOVIES! If you would have told me when I was 15, skipping school and reading the latest issue of Iron Man in the back of Downtown Comics (which was oddly not located downtown) that Robert Downey Jr. would a) not be on drugs and b) star in a 200 million dollar Iron Man summer blockbuster, I would have told you to a) stop doing drugs and b) leave me alone, I’m reading. Like I said, I don’t know how it happened. But, Praise the Lord, our time has come. Looking back, we may view 2012 as the apogee of the Total Geek Domination of Hollywood (though it might also be the Mayan Apocalypse…I wonder if the two are connected…?).
Thus, I give you the Top 10 Films Geeks Can Look Forward to in 2012. In the great Geek tradition, I will endeavor to make harsh and sweeping judgments about things on which I have very little information. Enjoy.
I don’t even know what to say about this. If you’ve read this far, it’s obvious what I think. But, Fuck It, I’ll go through the motions.
I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THIS MOVIE!
Iron Man was awesome. Captain America was very good. Thor kind of shit the bed but Chris Hemsworth looks exactly like Thor should. Sam Jackson is Nick Fury. They got a new boring white actor to play The Hulk and Scarlett Johansson has red hair and wears skintight leather. And Joss Whedon directs.
If you don’t want to see this movie, your priorities are all mixed-up and we have nothing left to discuss.
Verdict: Waiting in Line for the Midnight Showing.
This one might require some unpacking. Dark Shadows was a soap opera which ran for 5 years in the late sixties. It’s about a big, tangled family who live in a creepy mansion on a haunted hill. Just like any soap opera, they’re all in eachother’s business and there’s lots of suspenseful confusion. What made Dark Shadows different from other soap operas was one of the main characters was a vampire. Also, there’s magic, witches, werewolves, ghosts, time-travel and a weird alternate reality. There’s really never been anything else like it on television. Which is not to say it was good. It was just unique.
So now, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, who both loved the show as kids, have made it into a movie. The question now becomes will Dark Shadows be another crime against humanity like Alice in Wonderland or a reverent and compelling adaptation a la Swenney Todd? By the looks of the trailer, I’d predict it will land squarely in the middle. Johnny Depp continues his parade of strange, quirky cartoon characters and Tim Burton seems content to re-make Addams Family II (without the MC Hammer theme song) but the question then becomes; can the “fish out of water” gag of an 18th century vampire waking up in 1972 along with Johnny Depp’s natural charisma carry us through 2 hours? The answer is probably but Dark Shadows the movie doesn’t seem to possess enough of the head scratching oddness of the television series to appeal to geeks but far too much to reach a wider audience. The wonderful thing about the show was it took its ridiculousness seriously. If only Mssrs. Depp and Burton had done the same.
Verdict: I’ll Watch it When it Comes Out on Video but I’ll Be Secretly Judging It the Whole Time.
You have to wonder, with the small army of people required to make a summer blockbuster, how is it at no point did someone say, “You know, maybe making a movie based on the famously boring Hasbro game Battleship isn’t really a good idea.” As far as I can tell, Battleship wants to be a Michael Bay movie but without the depth and inspiration.
The premise goes like this:
A talented but rebellious Naval officer (Taylor Kitsch) discovers angry alien ships who aim to destroy the American fleet with weapons which look like the pegs from the game. Brooklyn Decker and Rhianna are two of the headlining stars and Liam Neeson gets paid a bunch of money. While no one in the trailer says, ”You sank my battleship”, we have to assume it’s in the movie somewhere.
The only good thing which will come out of this travesty is the indefinite halting of Scrabble: The Movie.
Verdict: Do you have to ask?
There are a lot of questions around this one. There shouldn’t be, but there is. Is it a prequel to Alien? Ridley Scott says “Sort Of”. Does it take place in the Alien universe? Ridley Scott says, “Yes”. Is there an actual Alien in it? Ridley Scott won’t say.
So, what do we know? We know it takes place 30 years before the first Alien movie. We know Scott was inspired by Erich Von Daniken’s Ancient Alien Astronaut theories. We know it’s about a group of very good actors stumbling about a creepy looking hyper-advanced civilization which may or may not have a) invented the Aliens and b) invented us. We know Ridley Scott is arguably one of our top three living directors. We know Damon Lindelhof wrote the script and despite the clusterfuck which was Lost, he has sucked from the teat of Geek genius which is J.J. Abrams so I will doff my cap in his direction.
And yet, when all is said and done, there just doesn’t seem to be enough information to make a strongly rational premature judgment. So, I’m going to go with my gut on this one. I think this will be a brilliant film which will have no exact peer or parallel. It will be Scott’s strangest and most savage movie since Bladerunner. It will be a 21st century Sci-Fi masterpiece. As such, it will underperform at the box office and be ignored at the Oscars save for a single win for sound editing.
Verdict: I’ll see it in theatres near the end of its run on a Sunday where there’s me and four other people in the audience.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I have a shameful admission. Before I heard of this film’s existence, it had never occurred to me how desperately I wanted to see a movie about a young Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires. The premise alone would be enough but the fact they seem to be taking themselves REALLY seriously, I just can’t ask for more. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t think this is going to be high art or anything but say the title out loud to yourself and see if it doesn’t make you smile. We can only hope the movie’s successful enough to spawn sequels or even give birth to a whole new genre of “President Monster Hunter Movies”. U.S. Grant: Zombie Hunter? Teddy Roosevelt: Werewolf Hunter? George Washington: Demon Slayer? America needs these films, now more than ever.
Verdict: I’ll force one of my sceptical friends to see it opening weekend and he won’t like it very much.
GI JOE: Retaliation
First off, let me say, I liked the first G.I. Joe movie. Anyone who didn’t like it is obviously not a G.I. Joe fan because the movie was just like the cartoon. It was fun to watch, moved along quick and had attractive, vaguely likeable people doing cool shit. What’s not to like?
I left the theatre excited to see the next one. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Christopher Eccleston as the full-on Cobra Commander/Destro team. Awesome. Duke taking charge of the Joe Team, Channing Tatum style. Rad. More scenes of Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols doing…whatever in skintight battlesuits. A Welcome Addition. Stephen Sommers’ particular brand of big, loud vapid camp. Bring it on. I was pumped. I really was.
So, of course, they didn’t do any of that. No Gordon Levitt Cobra Commander. No Destro. No Sienna or Rachel. Instead, they hired the guy who directed the Justin Bieber movie and made what appears to be a buddy flick between The Rock and Bruce Willis. And what’s weird, the first one made a lot of money. So, they tore down the whole thing, why? Because the producers were upset at the bad reviews? Or was it just the world is always on the lookout for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vehicles? This movie looks stupid and I’m mad about the whole thing.
Verdict: Obstinate Geek Boycott.
The Amazing Spiderman
There are a lot of “Full Disclosure” type things I should say here. First of all, I’ve never been a big Spiderman fan. Superheroes are, to a certain extent, about wish-fulfillment and I’m not really sure why anyone would want to be Peter Parker. Despite the super-strength and ability to swing around Manhattan, he doesn’t have a very enviable life. I also didn’t particularly like the three Sam Raimi movies. Mostly, it was Tobey Macguire, who seems to think acting mainly involves looking sleepy. They also seemed a little too “For Kids”. I’m not looking for Spiderman to beat up a hooker or anything but there is a way to speak to children and adults at the same time.
Which brings us to this re-boot. Now, I understand the only reason you re-boot something which ended its run less than five years ago is because there is still lots and lots (and lots) of money to be made. The merchandising alone makes it worth doing (and who isn’t excited about this next round of Spiderman Slurpie cups?). BUT, this looks like a proper film. The kid playing Spiderman seems wide-awake. Emma Stone is possibly the most charming person on the planet. The stunts look cool and, most importantly, it’s got an edge to it. The Raimi movies always seemed a bit too wholesome but you have to remember the essential premise of Spiderman; a poor orphan from Queens gets the powers of a creepy bug and, because of a gross failure of character, attempts to redeem himself by fighting muggers and monsters in the back alleys of New York all while being accused in the press of being a menace and a criminal. What about that sounds wholesome?
Verdict: Opening Weekend. Probably.
The Dark Knight Rises
See: My Opening Comments on The Avengers.
Let me start off by saying, Heath Ledger is, for me, the definitive Joker. Not the definitive movie Joker. THE definitive Joker. In any medium. His death is a tragedy, not the least because he should be in this movie. I will do my utmost not to think of that while I watch it. Which I will. Many times.
This is Nolan’s final word on Batman. While I find it hard to believe he could top the first two movies, I didn’t believe anyone could do what he’s done for Batman on film so I will not be so dull as to make the mistake of underestimating the supremely talented Mr. Nolan. From what I can piece together, Batman returns to Gotham after 8 years to stop super-criminal Bane from taking over the city with a united army of gangsters, and Anne Hathaway. While I’ve always been skeptical at how well Catwoman translates onto screen (if you exclude Julie Newmar in the Adam West Batman movie but she just kind of laid around on couches and looked stupid hot so it’s not really the same thing), again, I won’t underestimate Mr. Nolan.
Though I suspect, on final judgment, we’ll all agree the second one was the best (mainly because of the dear departed Mr. Ledger), the set up of The Dark Knight Rises seems to be Batman versus everybody. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, See: My Closing Comments on The Avengers.
Verdict: Waiting in Line for the Midnight Showing. Then seeing it again. Then getting a bootleg copy. Then buying the special edition DVD. I’VE GOT A BATMAN TATTOO FOR CHISTSAKES!
I don’t know, man. So, this isn’t an adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”. This is a loose re-make of the Schwarzenegger movie. Strike 1. It has roughly the same plot (a man has dreams he’s actually a secret hero-y type person) but in this movie, Mars is replaced by China. It’s still in the future but more a topical fascist future rather than a flying car, Sci-Fi future. Strike 2. It’s directed by the guy responsible for the Underworld movies. Strike 3.
I like Colin Farrell, and I don’t mind watching Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale. Also, Bryan Cranston, John Cho and Ethan Hawke are all fine actors, which is why I might actually see this movie. At some point. Maybe. But. This is the second time in this piece in which I’ve had to give this advice:
If something has Mars in it, leave it in.
Verdict: I’ll Watch the first 48 minutes on Netflix at some point before getting bored and leaving to get a taco.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
How can this not be awesome? Don’t worry about answering that, it was rhetorical. Of course it’s going to be awesome. It’s Peter Jackson returning to Middle Earth. Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf. The lovely Martin Freeman is Bilbo. Gollum, Legolas, a giant dragon (though he might not appear until Part 2), the Battle of 5 armies (also Part 2) and a score of dwarves make for a bullish good time. The only problem I see is one of comparison. After The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit can’t help but seem as a bit of an anti-climax. It would be as if I told you a story of how I saw the most amazing falling star; how it burned so brightly and fell so close I could see every color of the flame as the meteor rock burst away in miasmic swarms and fell to the ground as a settling rain of angelic dust. Also, I had a light bulb explode.
That being said, there’s nothing (save Jennifer Lawrence agreeing to go out with me) which will stop me from seeing this movie as soon as it comes out.
Verdict: Opening Weekend. For Real.
Jared Thomas is an author and scriptwriter living in Brooklyn. His works include The Street Dreams of Electric Youth, The Last Amesha, and Gre & The Devil. His column “Words & Pictures (for sub-literates)” appears regularly on Frontier Psychiatrist. He can be reached for correspondence at email@example.com.