2008 is going to be an exciting year for film. January kicks off with a monster marauding around Manhattan in Cloverfield, from the mastermind behind Lost, JJ Abrams. Heath Ledger delivers his own unique version of the clown prince as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and Sylvester Stallone revisits one of the franchises that helped put him on the map in Rambo. Also look for new installments in other familiar series such as Indiana Jones, The Mummy, The Incredible Hulk and Star Trek. There's even going to be a Saw 5.
Avoiding obvious commercial movies, here are some more interesting films to keep an eye out for in 2008 - in no particular order.
RocknRolla – The premise goes like this: when a Russian mobster sets up a real estate scam that makes available millions of dollars, members of London's criminal underworld pursue their share of the fortune.
Guy Ritchie has another stab at the gangster genre that helped make him famous and will hopefully get him noticed again for the right reasons, other than of course being married to Madonna.
Ritchie always directs flamboyant pictures and whether great (Snatch) or not so great (Revolver) his films are always visually stimulating. The thing he does really well is casting and he has made some stellar choices for RocknRolla. Gerard Butler is a hot commodity after 300 and he is the lead here, ably supported by Entourage's American ace Jeremy Piven, alongside Tom Wilkinson and Thandie Newton.
Anticipation is high. I think this time around, with RocknRolla, Ritchie will deliver once again.
Daybreakers - In 2017, a plague transforms the world's population into vampires. With fewer humans to provide blood, the vampires seek to farm the remaining humans and find a way to continue their existence. A secret team of vampires uncover a way that would rescue the human race.
Written and directed by Peter and Michael Spierig - the brains behind slapstick splatter film Undead - the film stars Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill.
The concept of Hawke doing Horror is an interesting one and the vampire movie is a particular favourite of mine. Hawke has stated that when making the film he thought of it as "low art" and "completely unpretentious and silly".
Fangtastic - I can’t wait!
The Informers – Gregor Jordan (Ned Kelly) helms a drama based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel set in 1983 Los Angeles, where movie executives, rock stars, a vampire and other morally challenged characters mix.
The film reunites Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger for the first time since Nine 1/2 Weeks. Throw into the mix Brandon Routh (trying to escape being typecast as Superman), Winona Ryder, Billy Bob Thornton and crooner Chris Isaak and you have one of the best casts of the year.
With the tagline 'greed is good, sex is easy, youth is forever", expect seductive and chillingly nihilistic storytelling. I can’t wait to welcome another Easton Ellis adaptation to the big screen. For the first time he is involved in the screenwriting himself, co-scripting this one.
Twilight - an adaptation of the novel that hatched Stephenie Meyer's bestselling young adult fantasy series, this tells the story of 17-year-old Bella, who moves to a small town to live with her father and is drawn to a pale mysterious classmate who comes from a family of vampires.
The film could be the first of a new franchise, as Meyer has published two more installments of the series, New Moon and Eclipse, with two more titles coming; this could be the next Harry Potter but for a slightly more adult audience.
Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) is directing and certainly knows how to handle teen angst. Meyer has approved the first two choices for the lead roles - Kristen Stewart (Panic Room) as Bella, and Robert Pattinson (the Harry Potter series) as Edward. So far so good – this has the potential to be huge.
Never Back Down – A rebellious teen (Sean Faris) is lured into an underground fight club where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran (Djimon Hounsou).
Sculpted torsos for the girls, bare knuckle bruising for the boys, from Jeff Wadlow, a talented filmmaker with indie sensibilities. Oscar nominee Hounsou adds the star-power. A boy gone bad does good story that could be a fun crowd pleaser. Switch your brain off and enjoy.
Fight Club for teenagers.
The Box - Norma and Arthur Lewis (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden), a suburban couple with a young child, receive a simple wooden box as a gift, with fatal and irrevocable consequences. A mysterious stranger (Frank Langella), delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1M with the press of a button. But pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world… someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the crosshairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.
The Box could be the chance for Richard Kelly to deliver a film that will move him away from the tag “from the director of Donnie Darko”. A unique storyteller, Kelly always chooses interesting material. The Box will blend elements of horror and sci-fi, and it too has drawn together a great cast, with Diaz and Marsden making potentially a great onscreen couple.
2008’s Donnie Darko?