Terminators, transformers and teenage wizards on the big screen? Time Out presents its guide to 2009 blockbusters
Terminator: Salvation The Pitch… Somewhere between the end Terminator 3 (John Connor going into hibernation inside the mountain) and the time Arnie’s terminator was sent back to destroy humankind (in the first movie) a great war takes place between man and robot. Terminator Salvation is the story of that war. Man versus machine.
Time Out says… OK, the time line might be a bit confusing. And if you include the really rather good TV series this is the seventh different actor to play the part of John Connor (believe us, we’ve counted) but the idea of a Schwarzenegger-free Terminator is not as bad as we first thought. Director McG has a lot to prove and the decision to bring in Christian Bale to the series looks inspired.
Star Trek 11 The Pitch… The old cast of Star Trek get fresh new faces and bodies, and a flailing franchise has one last go at the big time. Director J.J. Abrams resurrects Captain Kirk et al in a slick new big budget prelude to the original series.
Time Out says… Fans were in uproar. ‘Prequel?’ they screamed. ‘It didn’t work for George Lucas,’ they moaned. Still, they appear to have changed their minds now.
Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince The Pitch… Potter and the witches and wizards of Hogwarts return in one of the darker efforts from Ms Rowling, as favourite characters begin to meet untimely ends.
Time Out says… The movie equivalent of a sure thing. We’d bet our grandmothers on it topping the charts.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen The pitch… Michael Bay’s sequel to his hit-and-miss live action blockbuster of 2007 promises more of the same, plus the worst tagline we’ve heard in some time (‘Revenge is coming’), as Decepticon forces return to Earth to take the clueless Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) hostage.
Time Out says… Having one’s childhood memories plucked from our heads, started up, and given the CGI equivalent of Botox and a boob job is an all too common experience these days.
Ice Age 3 The Pitch… Er, why don’t we just crank out another one of those Ice Age movies in which everyone just fast forwards to the bits with the squirrel trying to get at that damn acorn?
Time Out says… Up should blow it away at the box office. The original was Sunday afternoon fair at best. It’s about time this franchise became extinct.
Up The pitch… The real story of a Brazilian priest who tied helium filled balloons to a chair ended badly – they found his legs on an oil rig. This is not that story, although Disney-Pixar’s latest does involve a 78-year-old man (and an eight-year-old stow away) who ties balloons to his chair to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing South America.
Time Out says… Disney-Pixar has stolen our hearts and is clearly using them to fuel some kind of infernal hitmaking machine. And yet we don’t begrudge them one bit.
Public Enemies The Pitch… Jonny Depp plays ’30s mobster John Dillinger and is hunted by Christian (him again!) Bale’s pretty boy Federal agent. Michael Mann directs the story of how the FBI hired gunslingers to take down the kings of the underworld.
Time Out says… Billed as the new Scarface, Depp is untouchable as ever in this role. No matter how bad the film is, you will always pay to watch him.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 The pitch… The great Walter Matheau (he of the wobbly jowls and trademark grouch) originally made this seminal heist movie back in ’74. Quentin Tarrantino even stole the idea of the hijacker’s nicknames (Mr Blue etc) for Reservoir Dogs. So why not a remake?
Time Out says… The reliably misguided direction of Tony Scott and the simple presence of John Travolta alone make us fear for the worst.
Year One The Pitch… Basically Monty Python’s Life of Brian with the odd smutty joke. Jack Black and Michael Cera play two men travelling through the stories in the early part of the Bible.
Time Out says… We’re oddly intrigued, if only because we love director (and former Ghostbuster) Harold Ramis.
Angels & Demons The Pitch… Tom Hanks returns as Harvard professor Robert Langdon. Although the character’s name has not entered the pantheon of cinema favourites you know who this is: the bookish hero of the Da Vinci Code. Set some years before this thriller it sees the prof racing against time to prevent terrorist attacks on the Vatican.
Time Out says… Prequels are the new sequels. Well, maybe not but we strongly advise you don’t go into this hoping to find the solution to the Da Vinci Code. Do expect to find masterful direction from the steady hand of Ron Howard. Few directors will be able to handle the twin needs of mass market populist appeal with sensitive story-telling and artistic merit that a literary reproduction such as this project requires.
Night at The Museum: Battle of The Smithsonian The Pitch… Taking a leaf from the Smithsonian itself Night at The Museum 2 follows the route of cramming in so many big name artifacts that you can’t help but want to take a closer look. Ben Stiller and Robin Williams take on lead roles once again and are joined by Luke Wilson, Jonah Hill, Hank Azaria, Christopher Guest, Steeve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Eugene Levy, well you get the idea. A lot of funny men. Amy Adams joins the cast as well.
Time Out says… As with most ensemble casts the stars are likely to dilute each other’s talent rather than magnify them. There are bound to be a few big laughs and a determined rehashing of the same gags from the first episode but we can’t help but thinking everybody involved come be using their comedic talents a little more creatively.
The Wolf Man The Pitch… Nobleman Lawrence Talbot returns to his ancestral homeland, where his brother has gone missing and villagers are being killed by a nightmarish beast. The search reunites him with his estranged father and leads him to some grizzly discoveries about himself and his family.
Time Out says… You don’t see enough werewolves on film these days. Zombies and teenage vampire slayers are two-a-penny but werewolves are as rare as full moons. We’re very excited by a cast that includes Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine The Pitch… Like Batman Begins – but for the X-men this is the story of when Hairy met the gang. This prequel neatly sidesteps the majority of the first X-Men film by covering up any plot holes with convenient memory loss. In place of fluidity of storyline expect plenty of high energy scrapping.
Time Out says… An almost complete version of this film caused a minor sensation when it was leaked onto the internet before it was even released. The hundreds of thousands of impatient viewers could not have experienced the big screen thrills in their true glory. Early box office reports suggest the film was not damaged too badly by the pirates.
Whatever Works The Pitch… Take hugely respected wise-cracking New York stand-up Woody Allen out of the lead role in one of the films he has written and directed and replace him with hugely respected wise-cracking New York stand-up Larry David. Throw in a young love interest and watch the ill-advised relationship comedy drama unfold.
Time Out says… We love Woody. We love Larry. We want to love this. We want it so bad. But we’re just worried that the central premise of the film – Larry and Evan Rachel Wood are in a romantic relationship – is just too unbelievable for words. Seriously, there is more chance of giant robots coming down to earth and morphing into sports cars.
Inglorious Basterds The Pitch… An American-led killing squad known as "The Basterds" terrorize the Nazis in German-occupied France during World War II.
Time Out says… In the 1990s the term written and directed by Quentin Tarrantino used to really mean something. Back-to-back projects Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown were unfailingly excellent. This makes the twenty-first century triumvirate of Death Proof, Grindhouse and Kill Bill all the more disappointing. Early indications and an all-star cast (Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson and, surprisingly, Mike Myers) suggest this might be a return to form.
Management The Pitch… Jennifer Aniston is a traveling sales woman who catches the attentions of motel manager Steve Zahn. After an ill-advised fling Anniston attempts to get on with her own life (running a charity for philanthropic yoghurt-mogul Woody Harrelson) but Zahn has other ideas.
Time Out says…15 years have passed since Jennifer Anniston joined the cast of Friends. The actress has turned 40 now but has still to find a big screen role that really defines her departure from the television comedy. This won’t be the film to do it either. Expect something along the same pleasant lines of Marley and Me, The Good Girl or Office Space. Quietly quirky, but not likely to be an out-and-out smash.
Land of The Lost The Pitch… Remake of a 1970s TV series starring Will Ferrel as a disgraced scientist sent back to the time of dinosaurs. In a different galaxy obviously. Like an intergalactic Jurassic Park played for laughs.
Time Out says… Don’t expect any Oscar buzz unless the sound editing is particularly good.
The Proposal The Pitch… A publishing executive (Sandra Bullock) forces her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her to avoid deportation back to Canada. Think Two Weeks Notice meets Green Card.
Time Out says… If you liked Sandra Bullock-starring romantic comedies such as Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality and While You Were Sleeping. you will like this. If you didn’t, then don’t say we didn’t warn you what was coming because we can’t see this being overtly different.
Bruno The Pitch… Remember Ali G? How about Borat? They were excellent right? Bruno is the latest comic creation from Sacha Baron Cohen and follows the same formula. The most famous son of Staines and his Kazakh cousin have been joined by an Austrian fashion designer named Bruno. Cohen picks his targets gleefully and gives it to the fashion industry with both barrels.
Time Out says… Like with his previous films you will find yourself watching with open-mouthed horror and delight in equal measure as Cohen puts other people’s stupidity and crassness on show for all to see. Can it be real we ask?
G-Force The Pitch… When an evil billionaire tries to take over the world a team of specially trained guinea pigs are sent to take him down. We’re not making this up. You’re going to have to trust us and believe that this is really coming to a cinema near you soon. We were right about Kung Fu Panda after all.
Time Out says… Early indications suggest that this is one strictly for the kids. You may be surprised to learn that this is a live action production with rodent duties being added in as CGI. Much like the Alvin and the other chipmunks in the squeaky-voiced annoyance that proved so popular with children and morons. Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz are the voices picking up a cheque for some easy work.
Funny People The Pitch… After a well-established comedian (Adam Sandler) discovers he has a terminal medical condition he becomes determined to pass his experience and expertise onto a fresh-faced rookie (Seth Rogen).
Time Out says… This could be very, very funny. Director Judd Apatow is the hottest thing in American comedy right now. 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad were all targeted at the young male demographic. But Funny People will be different. Bringing in Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski is a strong signal that there is some maturity and attention to detail missing from other laugh-fests.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of The Cobra The Pitch… Ten years in the future an elite band of soldiers are recruited to take on an increasingly dangerous terrorist organization called Cobra. Essentially this is like X-Men but without the mutant abilities.
Time Out says… Transformers was such a success that it was inevitable other toy manufacturers would jump onboard the Tonka bandwagon. What next Polly Pocket The Movie? Playmobil Treehouse of Horrors? The Hornby Railway Children?
Fame The Pitch… What do the kids from High School Musical do when they graduate? Become kids from Fame obviously. This remake of the 1980s musical drama seems well suited to current audiences. A Ben Stiller/Will Ferrell would have been excellent but it looks like this one isn’t being played for laughs.
Time Out says… It is nearly 30 years since the original Fame was released. In the intervening years leotards and leg warmers have slipped off the fashion radar (for men and women) and a bloodcurdling thirst for celebrity life has spread from the confines of New York theatre schools. It will be interesting to see how audiences used to overnight success adapt to the news that some people actually have to train to be a musician.
2012 The Pitch… An academic researcher leads a group of people in a fight to counteract the apocalyptic events that were predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar.
Time Out says… We’ll make this very simple by adlibbing from the poster and telling you this is from the makers of Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow. Not, in other words, a low-budget character study.
Sherlock Holmes The Pitch… Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s London gets the Guy Ritchie treatment as Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law don their Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson costumes.
Time Out says… We’re all in favour of updating century old literary premises but are very nervous about this. Very nervous indeed. The lead characters just look too sexy and too, well, Guy Ritchie inspired to really appease hardened Holmes fans.