Will Avatar make every successive Hollywood blockbuster look like it’s underachieving? For at least the next few months, the answer’s yes. Studios are responding to James Cameron’s monolith by turning everything into 3D whether it demands it or not. This slash ‘n’ burn blockbuster policy is in keeping with a season filled with retreads, reboots and sequels.
High points? While the prospect of Shrek 4 may no longer seem so appetizing—admit it, you didn’t even know it was being released this year—fanboys are salivating over the already spit-sodden Iron Man 2. The airport paperback set, on the other hand, are looking forward to Bourne Goes to Iraq, aka Green Zone. Carrie and co. will also flounce back onto our screens in a new Sex and the City.
Maybe Squally will stick to the return of Mike Newell and the singular pleasures of Tyler Perry. Regardless of the quality, feel the width. This is a star-laden line-up, with Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway all returning to the screen. While they cash the checks, we’ll continue to tip less mainstream fare in our Must See Movie series. Click on the titles for trailers, etc.
Alice in Wonderland
Release date: March 5
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
After damn near 20 years of hit-making, Tim Burton finally found himself as a director by turning to established properties like Willy Wonka and Sweeney Todd. A marriage with Lewis Carroll should be a nice fit. Alas, this “sequel” to the original cockeyed gospel looks like an unholy mess. Depp channels Peter Lorre as the Mad Hatter.
Fun fact: Critic Gilles Deleuze proclaimed that Carroll’s final work Sylvie and Bruno “is no doubt the first book that tells two stories at the same time, not one inside the other, but two contiguous stories.” Heads up, Disney. Get Todd Solondz on it.
Release date: March 12
Starring Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson
Damon mans up as Roy Miller, a Chief Warrant Officer whose job sniffing out WMDs in Baghdad is compromised by the U.S. administration. In the time-honored Hollywood tradition, he goes rogue. Hey, if they didn’t want him to make waves, they shouldn’t have put him in the middle of the desert.
Fun fact: Bourne director Paul Greengrass first approached Tom Stoppard to adopt Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, but was turned down.