Last week, I looked ahead to 2011. Given the enforced joviality of The Holidays, it shook out mostly on the positive side.
Well, it ain't the holidays anymore. Now it's just a long, cold, sluggish march toward spring, and I'm back to my usual apathetic bitterness. But nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around, so here's the coming-down-the-pike events - mostly movie-related - that already have me reaching for the Tylenol.
Batman 3 Will Almost Certainly Be Disappointing
Quick reality check, folks: Batman Begins wasn't especially successful at the box office. It was a great film, excellently made, well received and made money, but it wasn't a major hit. Remember: 2005 was the year of the box office slump, where everything was consistently down profit-wise from the previous year. It had been hoped that Christopher Nolan's much-hyped revival of the Caped Crusader would be the film to break the slump, but it didn't, instead rating only modest success in its initial release. The movie that actually broke the slump was, sadly, the execrable Fantastic Four. Still, a sequel got greenlit regardless.
And then a series of remarkable, unpredictable (and, in one case, incredibly tragic) events began to take shape. Begins found its audience on DVD, turning the prospect of a sequel from a fanboy tease to a mainstream waiting game. The (briefly) waning superhero genre got an adrenaline shot from an amazing trailer for a little movie called Iron Man. Heath Ledger, now a household name thanks to the national-conversation-piece Brokeback Mountain, was cast as The Joker. The film's advertising and pre-announced themes, wadding deeper into the dark side of post-9/11 anxieties in a manner that no mainstream genre film had yet dared, captivated audiences all on their own. And then, the unthinkable: Ledger died suddenly of a drug overdose, instantly transforming the film into an even more potent cultural event; not just the return of Batman, but a living monument to a promising actor cut down just as his star had begun to burn brightest. The end result was a critical darling, an instant classic and a box office smash. It was epic. It was unprecedented ...
... and it won't happen twice.
Commercial/artistic mega-successes like The Dark Knight happen only once in a blue moon. The stars will not align that way again, and it's all but a given that The Dark Knight Rises won't out-perform its lightning-in-a-bottle predecessor. Even if it's just as good (which is in and of itself statistically unlikely) there's little chance it'll be as monstrous of a success, and thus it will be seen as a disappointment - which won't be good news for anyone hoping to make more films in the genre, particularly Warner Bros., who tends to lose all interest in their comic book division when there isn't a Batman movie on deck.
The Monsters Guy Is Making Godzilla
Godzilla is one of the most important movie icons in cinematic history. One of the most-filmed characters of all time, one of the longest-running series, the progenitor of an entire genre and quite possibly the greatest ambassador of a national cinema (Japan's, in this case) to the rest of the world ever. He deserves nothing but the best, as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to who's allowed to dabble in putting him on screen. The new American Godzilla film being assembled by Legendary Pictures had a lot to accomplish, in terms of erasing memories of the disastrous 1998 version, and a big part of that would be putting it in the experienced hands of top-tier talent.
Instead, it's been given to neophyte Gareth Edwards, whose sole feature credit, Monsters, was one of my most-anticipated films last year, and ended up being one of the WORST things I saw.