GOOD & BAD MOVIES IN 2010
Inception Film of the year, hands down, and a reliable conversation starter even if you didn’t like it. Whatever missteps director Christopher Nolan made with his long-awaited masterpiece, Inception is an original idea that rises far above a sea of sequels and remakes.
Iron Man 2 Tony Stark’s return suffers from superhero sequel syndrome, with too many plot lines stuffed into its running time. Imperfections aside, though, Mickey Rourke’s accented villainy and Robert Downey Jr.’s swagger provided some much-needed fun last summer.
Predators Yet another Predator film, this time starring Topher Grace and Adrien Brody. Unlike recent franchise misfires, the result is an enjoyable experience. Credit the magic touch of producer Robert Rodriguez.
127 Hours Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) turns the tale of Aron Ralston—a hiker who had to amputate his own arm to escape death—into a lively psychological thriller. But be warned, the self-surgery scenes are not for the squeamish.
Creation Fortunately, this British biopic of Charles Darwin found its way to the States. Unfortunately, the film hinders its star, Paul Bettany, by keeping him sickly and homebound, mired in melodramatic worry over the religious implications of his great notion: evolution.
The Book of Eli It’s not that this is a bad film. The Book of Eli just never creates enough character depth or dark ambience to sustain its sparse, postapocalyptic world.
Clash of the Titans Think 300, but made and adapted for 3-D in a rush. Then let us not think of it again.
Repo Men An interesting premise (you lose your artificial organs if you don’t make your payments) becomes a dull rehash of the Minority Report enforcer-turned-prey story line.
MOVIES ON DECK FOR 2011
Sequels, superheroes, and thrillers hit theaters in force next year.
Going green An emerald superhero doubleheader begins with Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet in January, followed in June by the Ryan Reynolds–led Green Lantern. The comic cascade continues (less colorfully) with X-Men: First Class, a June prequel to the 2000s’ trilogy.
They’re watching you The Adjustment Bureau, a paranoid thriller based on yet another Philip K. Dick story, is slated for March.
Tripping through time Director Duncan Jones follows up his ingenious debut feature, Moon, with Source Code, an April release that promises to tease the mind with time loops.
Primate redux With James Franco in the lead and a political undercurrent about animal testing, Rise of the Apes reboots the reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise in June.
Loud things come in threes Transformers 3, this time with no Megan Fox, arrives in July.
You’ll have to wait for 2012 The untitled Star Trek sequel, Chris Nolan’s follow-up to The Dark Knight, the (why do we need this already?) Spider-Man reboot, The Avengers, and—for old time’s sake—Men in Black III.
Five Geektastic Moments From a Year in Television
Futurama Professor Farnsworth invents a mind-switching machine, but no two bodies can switch minds twice, leaving the Planet Express crew all mixed up. The professor declares that there’s only one way out of the predicament: “I’m afraid we need to use…math!” Fortunately, the Harlem Globetrotters—who are genius mathematicians in this version of the future—show up and prove that with two extra people, everybody’s mind can return to the right body.
The Colbert Report In March, physicist/author/discover blogger Sean Carroll tried to explain to Colbert that it is still an open question in physics why the future is different from the past, and why people don’t remember the future.
The Big Bang Theory We could pick a dozen moments from television’s stereotypically geeky juggernaut, but let’s take the season finale, in which the boys try to shoot a laser from their rooftop that bounces off the moon and returns to Earth. This is possible because both the United States and the Soviet Union left reflectors on the lunar surface.
Jimmy Kimmel Live Justin Long, of “I’m a Mac” fame, explains the bewildering world of text message spelling, showing the TV audience a lengthy exchange with someone who mistakenly believes he’s her friend Eduardo. After Long butchers the English language into text spellings for days on end, she finally calls him out for misspelling the name of tween heartthrob Justin Bieber. That’s B-I-E-B-E-R.
Breaking Bad Chemistry teacher-turned-methamphetamine maker Walter freaks out when the input/output yields in his illicit operation don’t add up, leaving him and his assistant racing through the possible reasons for this experimental error: Evaporation? Condensation? Spillage? It’s a chemist’s nightmare.
Next page: Interviews with James Cameron and Joseph Kosinski (director of Tron: Legacy)