The Origin Film? Whoop-doo!
The origin film has dominated the box office for most of May. We learned how Wolverine got his claws, how James T. Kirk came to captain the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, how John Connor came to lead the Resistance, and how Robert Langdon settled for that goofy-ass hairdo. Despite these tales being repetitive and unnecessary, they've pulled in record grosses. Some have been enthralling; others have left their fans irate. But all have been successful on some level. That can only mean one thing in Hollywood: More of the same. For each origin film that tops $100 million in ticket sales, another five are being placed into production. Why are they so popular? Because they breed familiarity. They are an easy sale item. Even though we know these epic myths and legends by heart, that won't stop some lofty director from churning them out in digital chunks of regurgitated imagery. In the next few years, we will be seeing even more origin films coming to our local Maitreyaplex. Is this a good thing?
To some extent, we already know what films will be coming out in 2010 and 2011. But what about 2012? The year of our impending apocalypse. The Mayan Calendar has predicted the end of the world. Did you know it also predicted ten new origin films that will be released in the dark and gloomy months leading up to our demise? We'll, I've returned from the future with a look at what you can expect to see. Some are good. Some are bad. But none of them will be as exciting as the tidal wave that crushes our planet in September of 2012. Here is an extended look at the upcoming films we will be seeing in the very near future. Things, of course, kick off with the return of a cult comedy classic:
In January of 2012, Ice Cube returns to his roots with Friday: The First Blunt, a prequel to his successful franchise-spawning weed comedy from 1995. The prolific rapper-turned-actor climbs into the directing chair for this coming-of-age tale set in 1985. Sixteen-year-old Craig Jones (Tyler James Williams) is set to graduate a year early from Compton High at the top of his class. Elected valedictorian, Craig is an upstanding member of the community. He has even joined the local Teen Citizens Police Force. But things turn ugly when new kid (and pot peddler) on the block "Smokey" (Bobb'e J. Thompson) accidentally frames Craig in a weed-smoking incident under the bleachers. With both kids expelled and facing a free Friday, Craig decides to hang out on the porch and get high for the first time in his life. He finds it to be a more rewarding experience than all of those years spent studying "Nigenometry" (as Smokey calls it). That is, until Smokey comes seeking his help in retrieving a trunk load of confiscated marijuana from the local police. Using his ties to the TCPF, Craig helps Smokey return the pot to a local drug dealer that wants them both dead. It's the one Friday that started it all, and the one Friday they will never forget. While the film won't go on to win any major awards, the soundtrack does get nominated for a Grammy. And it stays number one at the box office for two weeks in a row.
In February, S. Darko director Chris Fisher, once again working with screenwriter Nathan Atkins, attempts to tackle his second iconic cult masterpiece, creating what some will call an unnecessary prequel to a film that never needed any sort of follow-up in the first place. In The Jesus: Tales From the Lebowski Case File, Fisher will explore the history and origins of a once great bowling pro forced into hiding by the witness relocation program. This murder mystery closely adheres to the Lebowski aesthetic, following Jesus Quintana (John Turturro reprising the role he made famous) as he is derailed on his route to international bowling stardom. Cocky and sure of his talents, Jack Kehler (who will later become known as the legendary Jesus) has alienated everyone on his bowling team. He is on his way to becoming a heralded pro in the bowling hall of fame. But his destiny is set adrift when he goes against the wishes of his longtime girlfriend by practicing for the big tournament in an old abandoned bowling alley that has been marked for demolition. There, he witnesses a mob hit. After a scuffle that nearly sees his head being crushed in the pin setter, Kehler escapes to bowl yet again. Life cruises at normal speed until the Pro Semi-Finals, which are being broadcast on NBC. During a dramatic run at a perfect score that captures the attention of the entire nation, one of the mobsters recognizes Kehler and puts a hit out on him. Never really quite sure who he witnessed being murdered, Kehler enlists the help of a local private detective to protect him and find out whom they are up against. One disastrous mishap after the next plunges both men into a world of espionage neither could have imagined. When the CIA gets involved, Kehler must abandon his dreams of bowling greatness and is forced into hiding. Yearning to bowl again, Kehler's only recourse is to assume the identity of Jesus Quintana, a notorious pederast (because the mobsters would never think to look for a convicted pedophile) whose bitterness affects everyone around him. Sam Elliot, reprising his role as The Stranger, will bookend this comedic tale of idiocy, relating the downtrodden story of this once successful bowler to the audience. Joel and Ethan Coen are attached as producers. The film doesn't stay in theaters long, but soon finds its audience on home video.
March finds director Joe Dante finally releasing the highly anticipated third film in his popular Gremlins series. Presented by Steven Spielberg, Gremlins: The First Batch stars Ben McKenzie (in what fanboys will call the most inspired bit of geek casting seen in this decade) as First Lieutenant Murray Futterman in what can only be described as an insane mash-up of Gremlins 2, 1941, Rambo, and the Mr. Bungle album Disco Volante. Futterman finds himself the only surviving member of an air raid over Japan during World War II. After his plane is attacked by what can only be described as a "Gremlin", Futterman finds himself trapped behind enemy lines. He happens upon a Japanese interment camp, where he meets the imprisoned Chinese soldier Longwei Chong. Chong has been hiding a mogwai in his prison cell, but his secret is given away when Futterman, attempting to help his new friend escape, accidentally pours water on the poor creature. The camp becomes infested with Mogwai, and the Japanese are soon conducting experiments on them. Of course, one of the mischievous creatures eats after midnight, and all Hell breaks loose. Futterman and Chong barely escape with their lives, bringing one of the Mogwai, who will later become known as Gizmo, with them. Upon arriving back at Futterman's base camp, the duo is alerted to an incoming Japanese invasion. It turns out that the Japanese are about to unleash an army of Gremlins on American soil. As these tiny creatures storm Santa Monica beach, impervious to the United States soliders that have been sent in to fight them, the U.S. Navy is forced to produce a Gremlin army of their own. One of the most amazing monster battles ever witnessed on film takes over the last forty minutes of this shock a minute thrillride as the patriotic Gremlin Army tries to outdo and defeat their Japanese advisories. The Southern California coast will never be the same. Darker and more gruesome than its predecessors, Gremlins: The First Batch reestablishes Joe Dante as one of our all-time greatest genre filmmakers.
After finding success with his 2011 film Riot, John Carpenter returns to familiar stomping ground in April of 2012 with Big Trouble in Little Russia. When young Jack Burton (American idol runner-up Adam Lambert) goes against his parents wishes and drops of college, he is forced to go into business with his shady Uncle Rex Burton (Kurt Russell sporting a bit of prosthetic make-up), a mean, two-timing truck driver who is head over heels in trouble with the local New York City Russian mafia. To pay off a debt of $25,000, Rex and Jack must transport a cargo load of unidentified boxes across country to the Little Russia area of Los Angeles, California. Before leaving the state of New Jersey, they have a run in with a gang of Chinese warlords that steal Rex's Semi at a Flying J truck station. In a shower scene that recalls Russell's stellar work in Tango and Cash, Rex and his young nephew must play a dangerous game of "find that hole", winning the coveted Pork Chop Express in the process. In hot pursuit of their hijacked vehicle, Rex and Jack find out that their original cargo load contained a nuclear missile, which the Chinese now plan on using to blow up Little Russia. Fighting off both the Russian Mobsters and the Chinese warlords at every turn, Rex and Jack must travel deep into the Russian underground to retrieve the missile and get it into the hands of the United States government before half of Southern California goes up in a mushroom cloud. With humor and off-the-wall action that recalls the best parts of the original, Big Trouble in Little Russia proves to be a surprising crowd pleaser (hey, its better than Escape from L.A. and that's really all any hardcore fan could ask for. Right?) Even more surprising, Lambert wins a Grammy for his rendition of the original Big Trouble theme song as penned by John Carpenter.
After the disappointing failure of his live action Star Wars television show, George Lucas decided to hand the reigns of the Star Wars franchise over to his oldest daughter, Amanda "The Powerhouse" Lucas. The thirty-two year old former mixed-martial artist has now teamed up with Richard Donner, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Ralph Winter, the producers behind 2009's smash hit X-Men Origins: Wolverine, to move the Star Wars franchise in a whole new direction with Star Wars Origins: Han Solo, the first in a series of 20th Century Fox films that will look at the lives of various Star Wars characters. Much like the Wolverine movie, director Edgar Wright (hand-picked by Amanda) will be working from a script written by Kevin Smith, Edgar Wright, and Simon Pegg, to bring the adventures of young space pirate Han Solo to the screen for the first time. The film opens with an exciting Imperial Starship Battle over the enslaved planet of Kasyyyk, where young single mother Jaina Solo (Leighton Meester doing her best tough chick Princess Leia) fights to help a small band of Wookies escape capture. Moments before being caught by a troop of Imperial Stormtroopers under general Vader's command, Jaina smuggles her baby Han aboard a pirate curser headed for the Corellian Star System. Han is raised by a group of Cornelian Pirates, and learns to become a thief and a pickpocket under the tutelage of rogue Captain Jax Tharen. Knowing nothing of his mother, Solo (Zac Efron) becomes an expert pilot, joining the Imperial Navy. On a routine mission to Kasyyyk, he discovers his imprisoned mother, whom he attempts to free with the help of the Wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). When Imperial Admiral Crispin (Garret Dillahunt) demands that Jaina be killed and the Wookie be skinned alive, Han calls on Captain Tharen (Ian McShane) to save them all. Now on Vader's most wanted list, Han, his mother, Chewbacca (now in life debt to Solo for saving his life), and Jax head to a small Hutt moon, where they help the notorious Hutt clan ward off an impending Imperial Attack. Here, Han meets the young Lando Calrissian (Terrence Howard) and wins the Millenium Falcon in a heated card game. The two team up and defeat the approaching Star Destroyer. The film ends with Han and Chewy accepting a smuggling job from Jabba the Hutt, which every Star Wars fan worth his weight will now as the cargo Han had to jettison, thus putting him in debt to Jabba as seen in the original Star Wars film. In a charming bit of synchronicity, Star Wars Origins: Han Solo will open on May 25th, 2012, the same date the original Star Wars was bestowed upon audiences worldwide. Called "the film every Star Wars fan has been waiting a lifetime to see", Solo opens to record breaking grosses and beats out Titanic as the number one movie of all time in its fifth month of release, restoring order to the galaxy. Sadly, the world destroying tidal wave of September 2012 puts a kibosh on future follow-ups Star Wars Origins: Admiral Ackbar and Star Wars Origins: Jahnny Ugnaught, both penned by Kevin Smith.
June sees the return of John McClane in the exciting action drama Die Hard or Die Young. Director John McTiernan is back for his third Die Hard outing, this time taking a look at the life of young John McClane (newcomer Harry Van Ruins) as he graduates from the New York City Police Academy at the bottom of his class. McClane's past reputation as a chain-smoking rebel two-steps away from being a full-blown alcoholic is explored at length. The year is 1975. During a celebration for McLane and his recently graduated academy buddies, which is being held inside the Empire State Building, a group of free radicals break in and take NYPD Captain Michael Gennero (Ashton Kutcher) hostage. McLane is in the bathroom at the time of the raid, making time with Captain Gennero's daughter Holly (Arielle Kebbel). In true Die Hard fashion, McClane finds himself in an awkward position, as he is the only one that can defeat the radicals and save the Captain's life. Closely adhering to the original Die Hard formula, Die Hard or Die Young is seen by many fans to be nothing more than a lame remake of the original film. Despite a strong opening weekend box office, the film is written off as a lame attempt to resurrect some of first film's magic and is soon forgotten. Even despite the cameo appearance of a young Alex Foley, who, as if you didn't know, also graduated from the New York Police Academy before taking a job in Detroit.
Will Smith will once again be known as Mr. July 4th, as he takes over the directing reigns on Men In Black III. Appearing only in a cameo role, this new MIB tale follows the adventures of a young Kevin Brown (aka Agent Kay) as told by James Edwards (Will Smith's Agent Jay) to his new partner Yasmin Carter, aka Agent Why (Katherine Heigl). We will learn how Brown (Eli Graig taking over for Tommy Lee Jones) was initiated into the secret agency known as the Men In Black, as well as learn how the whole operation came together in the first place. Working as short order cook in New Mexico, young Kevin is blown off the road during a supply run by an unidentified flying object. Investigating the crash, Brown is the first person on the scene of what will later become known as the infamous Roswell UFO Incident. After saving the life of an injured Alien pilot named Walter (Horatio Sanz), Brown and his new best friend are shipped off to Area 51 for research testing. There, the two unlikely allies form what will later become known as The MIB Agency, and in the process appoint earth an apolitical "neutral zone" for alien refugees. Their ties to the U.S. government are severed when the President fails to heed a warning about an impending Alien attack. Kevin and Walter must round up the world's alien population to stop Orson Well's famed radio broadcast from becoming a reality. In the meantime, Agent Kay and Agent Why are investigating a teen alien who may have ties to Agent Kay's family. Surprisingly funny and poignant in light of Tommy Lee Jones recent death, the film manages to bring a renewed energy and excitement to this waning franchise.
What do we really know about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? Not much, according to Max Spielberg. The young director attempts to follow in the footsteps of his famous father by bringing one of the most popular movie aliens of all time back to the big screen. In August's E.T.: The First Adventure, we will learn of E.T.'s home planet as he graduates agricultural school and prepares for a life of space mining and botany. It seems that Elliot wasn't the first human our beloved friend ever met. While exploring a nearby moon cave on a class expedition, E.T. discovers a lost space traveler by the name of Ying Chang. The two become quick friends, and E.T. is soon offering the young Chinese boy a place to stay inside his parent's home (E.T. has three moms and one dad, how very Big Love). When E.T.'s parents discover that the adolescent alien is hiding a human in their basement, planetary officials are called in to deal with the potential biohazard. Acting against the wishes of his family, E.T. rescues the boy, piloting a Rocketship into space. Together, Chang and E.T. attempt to go back to Earth. After a daring chase amongst the stars, E.T. and Ying find themselves stranded on Planet Coruscant, where E.T. seeks the advice of the Elder Senates. After some harrowing shenanigans in Coco city, E.T. finally manages to get young Ying back to his own home planet. The tear jerking climax recalls the end of Steven Spielberg's original film, and there isn't a dry eye in the house. Despite opening at number three on the box office charts, Max's new adventure soon finds its sealegs due to strong word of mouth, and the film carries itself out on top of the incoming tidal wave. Also opening in the month of August is Robert Zemeckis' Back to The Future VI, which finds future Griff building his own time machine to go back and stop Doc Emmett Brown from hanging a clock. Yes, Griff's adventure through time involves keeping the scientist from receiving the clock that he was attempting to hang behind the toilet back in November of 1955, thus preventing him from slipping and hitting his head. Which we all know is how the Flux Capacitor came into being. Mixing Motion Capture with live action, and utilizing the same technology that brought 1984's Arnold Schwarzenegger back to life in Terminator Salvation, Christopher Lloyd will once again reprise his role as both Doc Brown and his two children Jules and Vern. The very intricate storyline will whisk us through the college years of our most famous 80s' scientist, with Michael J. Fox and Crispin Glover both lending their very life-like CGI'd faces to the film. Youngsters not familiar with the earlier trilogy will find the storyline very confusing and hard to follow. And it will be received rather poorly by the blogging community. Older, more experienced journalist will herald it as a work of pure genius.
The final film of our once great civilization, which will be released on the same weekend as God's Great Tidal Wave, will be a comedy so atrociously awful, some will blame it for the end of the world. Yes, having exhausted every single genre multiple times over, the hack-directing duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer will come alive with their magnum opus Spoof Origins: Origin Movie, which will take a slack-eyed look at all of the Origin films that have hit our multiplex over the course of the last thirty years. Structured to follow the same narrative as Wolverine and Han Solo, this so-called comedy will revolve around space mutant Ham "The Lama" Loogie. The opening prologue will be a prolonged shot of the future hero's inutero inception, followed by his tortured childhood upbringing, and finished off by a less than dramatic look at his first days as a heralded space mutant. Every movie from Spider-Man, to Thor, to E.T.: The First Adventure, to Gremlins: The First Batch will be given the traditional "spoof movie" treatment. Meaning: There won't be any real jokes, just scenes that callback and reflect on all the better movies that actually had the ability to entertain us. This will be considered a return to form for Seltzer and Friedberg after their white slavery drama Dunk Ship fails to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2011. While most adults will stay far away from this eyesore, the tweens will eat it up, making it the number one film at the box office with $82.6 million on opening weekend. Sadly, the human race is extinguished that following Monday, so no rewards are ever repeated. Luckily, future generations of evolved monkey men stumble upon a reel of this film in an ancient, underground cinema and write text books on our history based solely on the contents of Spoof Origins: Origin Movie, giving us the legacy we never wanted, and making Ham "The Lama" Loogie as powerful a religious icon as Christ. Oh, the shame!
There you have it, folks! Those are the films you have to look forward to in our Last Days as a human race. I hope this helps you clear your schedule. Movies. They were fun while they lasted. Eat food! Let the tidal wave kill grandma! Whoop-doo!