Forthcoming Fantasy Films

…usually suck. There’s really no beating around that bush. Yes, there are great exceptions, but for every “Dark Crystal” there is a “Willow”, and for every moment of Tim Curry in “Legend,” we have to endure three minutes of Tom Cruise. It’s really a zero-sum game.

So I’m both excited and anxious about some forthcoming fantasy films I’ve heard of lately:

  • Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”. A few years back I played a video game, American McGee’s “Alice”, which kind of blew my mind in hinting at the dark Freudian undercurrents of the Carroll novels (which I hadn’t read since I was a kid). It sounds to me like Burton’s going to go there too. Should be a deliciously surreal ride.
  • Clash of the Titans remake. … … … … I’m not really sure what to say about this. I just hope there’s no mechanical owl this time.
  • The next two Harry Potter films. They’re getting better as the kids become better actors and the subject matter grows more intense, so I’m pretty excited about them.
  • M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. I absolutely loved Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, the children’s cartoon series this movie is based on. Watched the finale with a bunch of other thirtysomethings, and we all cried. It’s one of the most original fantasies I’ve ever seen in print or film, set in a kind of pan-Asian secondary world where magic and martial arts are intertwined with superb characterization. Unfortunately, Shyamalan’s live action version looks significantly less enjoyable, since it casts white actors to play the heroic roles in the series and relegates Asian actors to villains or background characters. I’m so personally offended by this that I’m boycotting the film.
  • The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, by Terry Gilliam. It’s Terry Gilliam, dammit! ‘Nuff said.
  • Where the Wild Things Are. I have to see this, or my 5-year-old self will fission off from my current thirtysomething self, hunt me down, and beat me senseless. Then dance a wild rumpus on my prostrate, twitching body.
  • 9. I have been waiting for this film with trembling hands and pent breath ever since I saw the short film on which it was based. (You can find both the short and a trailer for the long version at the website of Shane Acker, the guy who created these masterpieces.) Fantasy dystopias, and blends between fantasy and science fiction, have always been an interest of mine, and really — this one’s just beautiful. The original short made me cry, so I can’t wait to see the long version.

So what fantasy films are you looking forward to — or dreading?


12 Responses to “Forthcoming Fantasy Films”

  1. 1 Terri-Lynne
    June 4, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Where the Wild Things Are!! How exciting is it? I’m THRILLED they used the big puppets rather than CGI, though I understand they used CGI for some of the facial effects. It feels like the 1995 version of A Little Princess, or the 2002 version of Tuck Everlasting in that (I HOPE!) it takes the true feel of the book and stays perfectly in synch with that, while expanding it in a way the book could not, or did not. I’m afraid to be excited–but with the recent love-fest my family is conducting for UP, the pleasant surprise of Star Trek, and the not-great-but-better-than-expected Wolverine Origins, my hope is more…hopeful.

  2. June 4, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I’m so excited for 9! I can’t wait!!! 😀

  3. June 4, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I’m SO with you on the Avatar-dread. LOVE the series so much (my roommates can tell you how often I burst out into the songs from “The Cave of Two Lovers” and other songs from the series) and am so disappointed by the casting. 😦 Still, I’ll probably go see it because I (strike)like a good trainwreck(strike) want to see the universe brought to life. And a friend of mine is an extra in some of the north pole stuff! (I do find it odd that they did some filming near Harrisburg, PA.)

  4. 4 DKT
    June 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    With you on almost everything, except I liked Willow 🙂

  5. 5 Luis
    June 4, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I too liked Willow, although I will admit that there was a little extra processed cheese that didn’t need to be there.

    I hadn’t heard of 9 until this post… It looks amazing.

  6. June 4, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Erin… I must know about this screaming guppy. Please tell. =) And yeah, 9 is going to rock hard. I’ll review it here when I finally see it.

    Aimee, I’m so offended about “The Last Airbender” that I’m actively working with others to fight it. The group’s taken no stance on a boycott yet — they were still hoping for a solution that would avoid that — but I’m personally recommending to everyone I know that if they must see it, they should buy a ticket for some other film and sneak into Avatar instead. That way, hopefully, the producers get no reward for their stereotyping and bias. Though frankly I’m just not going to bother seeing it, period; it would leave too bad a taste in my mouth, and sour my love of the cartoon.

    Terri-Lynne — let the wild rumpus begin!!

  7. 7 mlronald
    June 5, 2009 at 4:38 am

    I’ve been watching Avatar in bits and pieces, and while I like it, I just can’t see it as a live-action film. I certainly can’t see it with those casting choices.

    9 looks really, really cool. I think the original short is on the web somewhere (as is Shane Acker’s really early short, Mr. Grenade. Oh God Mr. Grenade.)

    Would Up count as a fantasy film? It’s got a lot of elements that are light-years away from realism (I don’t want to say what all of them are, save that they’re awesome). I loved it, but then I’m a sucker for some of the things that turned up. If you see it, bring tissues.

    And I, uh, liked the mechanical owl.

  8. 8 rachelaaron
    June 5, 2009 at 8:32 am

    My love of Avatar is deep and abiding, but I’m right there with you on the movie dread. I mean, a WHITE Katara? W. T. F.

    Also, there’s no way they can make the bending cool in live action, and there are the usual problems of condensing a deep, intricate series into 3 movies. Over all, not very hopeful.

    Why oh why didn’t they just do 3 high quality, high budget animated films?! Those would have been AWESOME.

  9. June 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm


    Why oh why didn’t they just do 3 high quality, high budget animated films?! Those would have been AWESOME.

    Ditto! But my guess is that cartoons don’t easily capture the lucrative tween/teen audience because in this country, cartoons are “kid stuff” and haven’t made the transition to the mainstream (unlike anime in Japan, etc.). So to get teen viewers, you need the Twilight Effect — popular source material, some “hot” young actors, lots of franchising and cross-marketing, etc. Except PoC aren’t considered hot, so naturally you have to use white actors. ::sigh::

  10. June 5, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Part of the WTF and FAIL on Avatar (at least for me) is that it’s M. Night Shylaman doing it. I’d think he would understand why casting caucasians for non-caucasian parts is not really the best idea.

    Then again, I’ve skipped his last couple of movies…

  11. June 9, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Apparently SyFy is working on a miniseries based on Alice in Wonderland, in the spirit of Tin Man. Be afraid.

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