Mon. March 18
Six Movies That Interest Me in 2013
With the Oscars at our back and the summer blockbuster movie season dead-ahead, I decided to take a gander at what new films we movie-going Americans have to look forward to in 2013. Here are six of the more intriguing ones I came across.
42: The Jackie Robinson Story (April 12)
“The life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.”
I love the sport of baseball more than any other. Football and the NFL may have overtaken it as “America’s past-time,” but the history of America in the last century-plus is inexorably linked to Alexander Cartwright’s wondrous and nuanced game. And the story of Jackie Robinson’s courageous foray into major league baseball as the first black player is one worth celebrating–especially given the expedient, exploitive way many prominent voices in the public square attempt to make heroes out of historical figures purely because of their skin color (instead of the content of their character).
Now, this movie may bomb at the box office due to poor writing, acting, or directing. It may be a ham-fisted, politically correct pile of garbage. I hope it isn’t. But even if it ends up tanking, Jackie Robinson did something I admire so much that I am hoping for greatness and look forward to seeing 42 on opening night.
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Marvel’s “Iron Man 3″ pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds (Mandarin). When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible
Comic books are not my thing, but the first two installments of the Iron Man trilogy have been surprisingly good. There is one primary reason for their superiority over most other superhero flicks: Robert Downey Jr. The guy is a dynamic, engaging, affable tour-de-force on the silver screen. It doesn’t feel like a comic book movie aimed at foruteen year old boys when RDJ is manning the helm.
One virtue-related aspect of the trailer above that intrigues me (and I look forward to seeing how they handle it) is the “No politics here: just good old-fashion revenge!” line that Downey’s Tony Stark character coldly delivers on live television. I smell a potentially lethal dose of “moral equivalency” fumes cascading from this one. The whole, “Aren’t we just as bad as the enemy because we’re motivated by revenge ourselves” motif can irrevocably side-track an otherwise well-crafted piece of cinema if the director isn’t careful. Then again, it’s only a trailer. And I’m guessing most Americans simply want to know whether or not we’re going to get another epic Bill O’Reilly cameo in this one.
After Earth (June 7)
After a crash landing, a father and son explore a planet that was evacuated by humans 1,000 years earlier
There seems to be quite the obsession these days with zombie, post-apocalyptic, humans-must-abandon-ship stories on television, at the movies, and in the pages of popular modern novels. Human beings have always had an interest in how things will end–both for mankind as a whole and for the once-promising career of director M. Night Shyamalan. After a slew of lackluster efforts over the past eight years, Mr. Shyamalan has hitched his wagon to the bankable star-power of Jaden Smith’s dad in hopes that everyone will forget The Happening (in which Dandelion petals chased Mark Whalberg around a dewy meadow for ninety minutes and then a giant lawnmower ran over a guy).
Man of Steel (June 14)
A young journalist raised by his adoptive parents after he was transported to Earth in infancy from the dying planet of Krypton finds himself in the position to save humankind after Earth is attacked
Alright, so Hollywood isn’t feeling quite so adventuresome these days when it comes to new stories and scripts. But Superman is such an institution that someone simply had to have a go at redeeming that train-wreck of a disaster Superman Returns from a few summers back. This trailer has it all: Kevin Costner whispering sage advice, obscure flashbacks of heroic deeds, a teaser of what Clark Kent would look like with a beard, and, of course, Enya chanting in the background.
I’ve noticed that in the trailers for most action/drama films they always have these intense voice-overs from one of the characters who is talking about things like purpose, meaning, destiny, courage, and sacrifice (see: Star Trek: Into Darkness for another example of what I mean). But, it is fair to ask, where are these things actually promoted and exhibited in the culture? Everything about America in 2013 is self-indulgent, litigious, and me-first. And yet Hollywood–no bastion of morality any parent of any political leaning is thrilled about having influence over their children–markets its films to our better instincts. Why? I believe it is because they know we still want those virtues to be true about ourselves and about our society.
And it sells.
World War Z (June 21)
United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself
Whether it’s the 28 Days Later franchise, or AMC’s The Walking Dead, zombies and the near-extinction of the human race is fresh on a lot of peoples’ minds. I mention those two specific projects because they happen to be two of the better ones around in the genre. They found success because they tell interesting stories, first and foremost. While the jury may still be out on the story-telling caliber of Brad Pitt’s World War Z, one thing is for certain: if the planet eventually does become overrun by zombies, we will have asked for it.
It’s fascinating to a deeply religious person like myself that this obsession with the terrifying obliteration of mankind that appears to be stuck in our cultural consciousness is encouraged and cultivated with an artistic flair, but say one word about a Higher Power who may hold human being accountable one day for their moral actions and many scoff and snicker.
The Counselor (November 15)
No trailer yet
A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking
There is no trailer out yet for this Ridley Scott-directed drama starring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, but what intrigues me here is neither the talented director nor the formidable stars involved. What does intrigue me is the fact that this film features the very first screenplay ever written by novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men, The Road). His books have been turned into Oscar-winning flicks before, but this will be McCarthy’s inaugural attempt at conveying his unique brand of narrative directly to the silver screen. (Check out this awesome conversation between McCarthy and the Coen Brothers!)
McCarthy is a reclusive seventy-nine-year-old writer who makes his home in rural New Mexico. He tells stark, bleak, unforgiving tales of hardship and suffering. The life-and-death theme is a constant throughout his stories and his Spartan writing style matches the discomforting nature of his narrative.
Oh, alright–I’ll admit it! Part of the reason I picked this one is due to how much I love Breaking Bad. The plot of The Counselor reminded me of it (not to mention the whole New Mexico connection with McCarthy).