2011 Winter Film Releases – Part IV

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For those of you just joining the series, I’ve been looking at the films still to be released in 2011. Part I, Part II, and Part III are all available for your reading pleasure. Part IV is here now. The final eight films include some great looking movies and some that look not-so-great.

The Adventures of Tintin

Release Date: 12/21/2011

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Starring: Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Cary Elwes

This might be the animated feature of the year, it just needs to live up to the early reviews it’s getting. Boom gives the film 4 out of 5 and showers it with praise. “This is Spielberg doing what he does best, delighting audiences young and old on a grandiose scale. And yes, it’s probably the best ‘cartoon’ ever made.” I’m not sure that I’m as excited as all of that, but it does seem like it’s bound for success. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the story comes from a series that the director purchased in 1983 from the Belgian author Herge. This also marks Spielberg’s first time directing an animated feature. With the talent and the leadership this seems bound for success and should be a hit during the holiday season.

The story is based on the adventures of Tintin (Bell) and his dog Snowy who depart on a voyage with a model of a ship called The Unicorn. The pair is accompanied by Captain Haddock (Serkis), a drunken sailor who assists them along the way. Their trip takes them to Morocco and a battle of sorts with Mr. Sakharine (Craig) who desperately wants the model ship they posess.

I’m not sure I’ll rush to see this, but that’s just me. It still seems like it’s bound to be an incredible film.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Release Date: 12/23/2011

Rating:  Not Yet Rated

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard

Daniel Craig is getting a lot of work in the right places. The Adventures of Tintin features his voice and this film gets all of him. This is the highly anticipated screen adaptation of the best-selling books by Stieg Larsson. The books became best-sellers after Larsson’s death in 2004.

A ruined publisher Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) and a young hacker Lisbeth Salander (Mara) are brought together by a man in search of answers about his sisters disappearance 40 years earlier. The man searching is wealthy CEO Henrik Vanger (Plummer) who suspects his own family of being involved. The two now must venture into unknown territory to determine the truth behind the disappearance and the family involved.

This film is highly anticipated despite being a repeat of the Swedish version released in 2009. I haven’t read the books but the reviews have been incredible and kept this on the best-sellers list for a long time. With the talent involved I would expect this to be a great movie. I’m planning on seeing this one as soon as it comes out.

We Bought A Zoo

Release Date: 12/23/2011

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church

This might be the toss-up of the list this time around. The film has some big names and am interesting premise but I’m not sure if it’s a premise that can carry a film. Director Cameron Crowe is a hit or miss guy when it comes to his film choices. He has been involved in major successes like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, but he’s also been in on films like Elizabethtown and Vanilla Sky. With Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson involved I’m hopeful that this falls into the success category.

The film is based on the memoir of Benjamin Mee and follows a family who invest their entire savings into a financially distressed animal sanctuary.  The father Benjamin (Damon) hopes that the move will bring his family together as they attempt to save the zoo and the many animals living within.

This seems like the perfect holiday release. The appeal of a family saving animals will sell during the Christmas season when families venture out. Despite an interesting story line I’m not too excited about this film. It’s been difficult to find more than a rough outline of the plot and with more information my opinion could improve. All of this aside, this looks like a film for a family day at the movies.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Release Date: 12/23/2011

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Tom Wilkinson

What happens when Tom Cruise reprises the role of Ethan Hunt leader of the IMF (Impossible Missions Force)? Well, I hope that it becomes an awesome movie. This time around we have some new faces and some old faces. Ving Rhames and Tom Cruise are joined by Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg (a surprise to me). The cast also includes Tom Wilkinson, Paula Patton, and Josh Holloway. The director Brad Bird looks to take this franchise forward following a successful Mission: Impossible 3. Bird comes from an animation background with films like The Incredibles and The Iron Giant.

From a fan perspective this is an exciting film. This time the IMF is disavowed after being implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin in Moscow. Officially the team is not supported by their government, but the team is allowed to escape to determine the truth behind the bombing which has pointed the nations towards war. Without assistance the team is forced to pull together and use whatever resources are available to clear their names and stop the war.

I’ll be seeing this one for sure. The trailer looks incredible and the cast is a great combination for a film like this. The pressure is on Brad Bird to succeed with his first live-action directors job.

In The Land of Blood & Honey

Release Date: 12/23/2011

Rating: R

Starring: Rade Serbedzija, Branko Djuric, Zana Marjanovic, Nikola Djuricko

 In Anjelina Jolie’s directorial debut she tackles a giant subject, the ethnically motivated war between the Serbians and the Bosnians. The subject is dark and she’s chosen to use it a the backdrop for a love story. The actors are mainly unknown to American audiences with the exception of Rade Serbedzija who has been in some popular films including Snatch, Batman Begins, and Mission: Impossible II. This may be a major key to keeping an authentic feeling to this film.

The story follows Danijel a Serb fighter who meets Ajla, a captive Bosnian in the camp he oversees. They had known each other before the war but this time the situation has altered what might have been. As Ajla becomes a captive of the man she loves she’s forced to question his motives. Danijal is also forced to question the feelings he has and the possibility of a normal existence with Ajla.

The story is hard to summarize but the trailer is a good look at the film. In some ways this looks like a loose interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. I’m cautiously optimistic about this movie. Jolie may hit it big but this is a risky film with a dangerous premise that will fail if it’s not done well.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Release Date: 12/25/2011

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow

This film, directed by Stephen Daldry, is slated for a Christmas Day release. The director has found success previously with The Hours and The Reader. This time he tackles an emotional story rooted in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. With Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in the mix this is set to have a huge opening day. The cast also includes John Goodman, James Gandolfini, and Jeffrey Wright just to name a few. The film is based on a book by Jonathan Safran Foer which was released in 2005 to luke warm reviews.

When Oskar’s dad dies in the September 11th attacks the young inventor, tambourine player, astrophysicist, pacifist is left with a challenge. He needs to find a lock that matches a key his father left him. His journey takes him all over New York as he searches for the lock and what it might hold.

This is an emotional drama that addresses the effects of 9/11 on a young man. I expect that this will be well-received and successful this holiday season. I’m not sure if I’m going to rush out to see it in the Christmas crowd, but I will take the time once this hits theaters.

War Horse

Release Date: 12/25/2011

Rating: PG-13

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, David Thewlis, Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson

Steven Spielberg is going to be busy this holiday season. With two films releasing in December it’ll be interesting to see what wins out. Following The Adventures of Tintin this film will be released on Christmas Day. This historical drama features Jeremy Irvine in his first feature film. Also featured is David Thewlis which should bring a smile to the Harry Potter fans out there. Rounding out the cast are Emily Watson (Corpse Bride) and Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris).

When a young Albert (Irvine) loses his horse Joey to the trenches of World War I he quickly follows him to war. Despite being too young to enlist he sets out to protect Joey at all cost. The journey takes him to both sides of the bloody conflict and despite his youth he remains committed to finding Joey and bringing him home.

This looks like it could be a great film. The story seems interesting and might be  bit more action-packed than expected since it’s based in the conflict of World War I. I’m not familiar with the young star but Spielberg has a way of coaxing great performances out of young talent (E.T., Empire of the Sun). I’m interested in this film and it’s likely to make my list of films to see around the end of this year.

The Darkest Hour

Release Date: 12/25/2011

Rating: PG-13

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor, Max Minghella

When aliens invade the earth a group of young people in Russia struggle to survive. The catch is that the aliens are made up of invisible energy. The story is filled with action and adventure as they search for ways to survive.

This film is the second time Chris Gorak has been in the directors chair. He has worked as the art director in films like Fight Club and Minority Report. With the young cast of talented actors this might be an interesting watch. Being set in Russia, the film has a chance to display the beautiful country and some intense special effects. This should be a fun film with exciting action.

I’m not a huge fan of the premise of this film. Aliens are a tough sell for me since they either end up being incredible (Alien) or terribly (Men in Black). The film is also going up against some big names on Christmas Day. I think this one might wait until Netflix for me, but if you love science fiction this might be right up your alley.

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