New decade on the horizon

Does Hollywood have anything new in store for the opening months of the new decade?

Now that we’ve man-aged to skitter all asses and elbows through the opening salvos of the 21st century, we can look back and sigh, “WTF was that all about?” Hell, the decade is over and we still haven’t figured out what we’re gonna call it. The Oughts? As in, there ought to have been something good to have come out of that. Cinematically, there really wasn’t. Hollywood shifted its focus more and more to the tent-pole movies and didn’t leave all that much for the canvas. Sequels, remakes and comic-book adaptations (often a combination of all three) glutted the cineplex.

With the arrival of a whole new decade, we can look to the next few months of releases as a harbinger of whether or not Hollywood has anything new to offer.

January kicks off with yet another dip into the jugular vein with Daybreakers. From the Aussie directors of the amusingly gross cult-zombie actioner Undead, this one sneers at the sparkly and goes for the throat as a vampire plague has turned most humans into bloodsuckers, and with a dwindling blood supply things get hairy.

With Youth in Revolt, Michael Cera plays a trailer-park boy set on losing his virginity to a trailer-park girl. Good to see that Cera is expanding his horizons rather than just doing his Arrested Development shtick over … oh, wait … irony. Leap Year is a romantic comedy that bases its premise on an Irish tradition (they say) of women being allowed to do the proposing on the quadrennial February 29ths. Tim Allen makes his directorial debut with Crazy on the Outside—coming soon on DVD. The director of Are We There Yet? gets his hooks into Jackie Chan with The Spy Next Door, and The Rock is The Tooth Fairy.

One of the more promising January releases looks to be the Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic vehicle, The Book of Eli. Here a loner goes all Mad Maximum overdrive as he lugs a humanity-saving tome across the mutant-overrun United States. (Well, more mutanty than it generally is.) If that isn’t apocalyptic enough, there’s also Legion, wherin a rogue angel drops by a desolate diner to invite a pregnant woman to “Come with me if you want to live!” Although I suppose it’s something to have an action flick where the creator Hisself is the bad guy.

The end of the month sees the return of Mel Gibson, as he explores the Edge of Darkness as a homicide detective getting his rage on after someone whacks his daughter. Oh, yes … shit will blow up.

February starts with a Dear John, Lasse Hallström’s adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel about a soldier whose budding romance with a co-ed gets all complicated after 9/11. And a couple of days before Valentine’s Day things get really hairy (well, hairier) for poor ol’ Benicio Del Toro as he gets bit by a werewolf and turns into The Wolfman. It’s a period remake of the old Universal chestnut. That comes out the same day as the 3-D re-release of Beauty and the Beast and, moving in to capture part of the Harry Potter demographic, Potter director Chris Columbus’ Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, about a kid who discovers that he’s the bastard of Zeus.

Later in the month sees the new John Travolta film, From Paris With Love. He’s a spy out to stop a terrorist. It’s produced and based on a story by Luc Besson, so there might be some entertainment there. Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese gets his horror on with Shutter Island, with Leonardo DiCaprio as a detective called to a mysterious loony bin where an inmate vanished without a trace. (Could there be a secret afoot?) And Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) tries his hand at directing someone else’s script with Cop Out, starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as two cops doing the buddy-picture thing. Meanwhile, George Romero’s quasi-zombie flick The Crazies gets a remake, courtesy of Breck “My Old Man Runs Disney” Eisner.

March sees the return of Tim Burton, with Alice in Wonderland. I think we know what to expect there—namely, cuckoo turns by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. There’s also Green Zone, another attempt by Hollywood to sell the public an Iraq War movie that they seemingly don’t want.

For fantasy fans, there’s How to Train Your Dragon by Lilo & Stitch directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, and the long-awaited remake of Clash of the Titans. Well, it’s not really long-awaited, but it’s almost here, anyway. Time to get Kraken.

For more family-friendly fantasy, there’s Hot Tub Time Machine, with John Cusack and pals using the titular device to go back to the ’80s to pick up chicks.

So, no obvious paradigm shift going into the new decade. Of course, new decades don’t get comfortable with their bad selves until a few years in. For now it looks to be another holding pattern until the spring/summer arrival of Iron Man 2, Piranha 3-D, the remakes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Footloose and The Karate Kid, Wall Street 2, Shrek Forever After, Sex and the City 2, The A-Team, and … oh, bother!