In terms of cult cinema, though January brought a flurry of new releases it seems there was no clear consensus as to there being any diamonds among the dirt. ‘I, Frankenstein’ and ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ both received mixed to negative reviews and though ‘Devil’s Due’ fared slightly better, it’s clear that the now decades-spanning trend for found-footage style horror movies is grating on more nerves than just my own.
It was surprising then, and not particularly welcome news when a couple of weeks ago Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller gave weight to previously reported rumors that the belated next installment of ‘Friday The 13th’ (following the surprisingly pretty decent 2009 remake) may also be found-footage – and may not feature Jason Vorhees. Needless to say, fan response has been negative, though the odds of this affecting the eventual direction of what will indeed be the 13th movie in the long, long running series remain doubtful. After all, in the same interview Fuller declares himself to be ‘very proud’ of the atrocious, franchise killing ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ remake.
Speaking of remakes, February brings the release of director Jose Padilha’s reimagining of ‘RoboCop’, along with a couple of other highly anticipated genre flicks in the shape of Sci-Fi/Thriller ‘Welcome To Yesterday’ and Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘The Wind Rises’. As always, dates can vary between territories, so rather than providing either one single release date per movie that may not apply to you or filling this page with a long list of dates for every country, I’d suggest checking IMDB or your local press for release dates specific to your region. That being said, let’s dive in and take a quick look at all three of them.
First up, it’s deja-vu all over again with ‘Welcome To Yesterday’. This Michael Bay and Brad Fuller co-produced yarn from Platinum Dunes (who else?) centers around a group of friends including Johnny Weston (‘John Dies At The End’) and Sofia Black D’Elia (best known for her TV roles in ‘Skins’, ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘All My Children’). Upon stumbling across plans for a time machine, this particular fun-loving group of young hedonistic pals are quick (and apparently tech-savvy enough) to construct one and exploit the potential benefits of the epoch-spanning device for their own gains. However, they quickly learn that there are consequences for meddling with the past. It’s a story that seems quite literally as old as time. So what fresh spin is being cast on events in this particular outing? I’d give you three guesses, but I know you’ll only need one. It’s shot as cheaply as possible with little regard for entertainment or quality – by which I mean it’s found-footage. Refreshing, right? I’m always willing to have my expectations shattered, but based on the material currently available ‘Welcome To Yesterday’ truly seems like nothing more than a hack-ish, tired premise lazily and cheaply executed.
On the other hand, an air of cautious optimism seems to have been building around the new ‘RoboCop’ since the teaser trailers first hit last year. 14 years in the future, Joel Kinnaman (of the critically lauded Scandinavian drama ‘The Killing’) steps into the title role as the reinvigorated fallen-cop and family man otherwise known as Alex Murphy. Co-stars include well-loved veterans Michael Keaton, and Gary Oldman as the doctor responsible for bringing Alex back in semi-mechanical form. The film has perhaps wisely shot for a PG-13 rating in the U.S., meaning we can likely expect a more family-friendly, crowd-pleasing approach than its predecessor – or indeed, that of last year’s big-screen adaptation of RoboCop’s spiritual cousin, Judge Dredd, whose brutal, gritty and brilliant movie sadly failed to find a Stateside audience. The big question is can RoboCop have mainstream appeal without losing too much of the edge and dark humor that long term fans have come to love? Time will tell.
Hayao Miyazaki is often referred to in the Western press as ‘Japan’s Walt Disney’, and while that may be considered rather an over-simplification of his works in terms of their diversity, artistry and surrealism, it certainly holds some truth as far as reverence and international appreciation for the ‘Spirited Away’ director’s work is concerned. Miyazaki has threatened retirement on no less than six occasions, so claims that ‘The Wind Rises’ is to be his final feature for the venerable Studio Ghibli are being treat with a hefty pinch of salt. Based on the life of Japanese World War II aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, ‘The Wind Rises’ has already proven to be a smash on home turf as the highest grossing film of 2013, despite some controversy from both sides of the political spectrum as to where the film’s sympathies lie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Martin Short are amongst the cast who’ll be aiming to make this complex tale more palatable for English-speaking audiences.
Which of these coming attractions are you most interested to see? Let me know in the comments below.