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Review

Summer movies will allow science fiction to make comeback

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May 7, 2009

2009 is shaping up to be a remarkable year in film. Captain Kirk and his diverse crew of interstellar explorers are traveling through space and time in the upcoming “Star Trek” remake— a badass-looking sci-fi action flick that, with luck, will be everything the new Star Wars trilogy was not. It’s OK, it’s 2009 and science fiction is finally becoming cool again. In a few short weeks, everyone will be talking about Spock and Scotty and the USS Enterprise—I’ve never even been a Trekkie but I’m damned excited for May 8.

There are other notable returns to the silver screen this year and other films I anticipate. Several of my favorite filmmakers—including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Sam Raimi—are releasing new movies in 2009, and I’m so excited I already got my Mr. Pibb and Red Vines.

I’ll first mention Tarantino’s World War II-era facemelter “Inglourious Basterds.” The title’s misspelling is intentional. I think Quentin wants everyone to be well aware that this movie is in no way a serious film and will most likely be exactly as crude and uncouth as its title suggests. The film, a “spaghetti-western”-style war epic, follows Brad Pitt’s character 1st Lt. Aldo Raine as he leads his Jewish soldiers (“the Basterds”) across Europe. They embark on a mission to take out high-ranking members of the Third Reich but mainly, to kill Nazis. I have a feeling Tarantino will cross the line.

On October 2, Martin Scorsese is releasing “Shutter Island,” his first film since 2006’s “The Departed.” He’s calling once again on Leo DiCaprio to fill the leading role, as a 1950’s-era U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels. DiCaprio will be joined by an excellent cast that will include Mark Ruffalo, Emily Mortimer and the always-badass Ben Kingsley. Teddy Daniels and Ruffalo’s character Chuck Aule will be investigating the escape of a female serial killer (Mortimer) from a hospital for the criminally insane on isolated Shutter Island.

Another prominent filmmaker that is making a return is James Cameron, who hasn’t released a major motion picture since “Titanic,” in 1997. His new film, a science-fiction action epic called “Avatar,” is coming out in December and has yet to make a sizable splash in the cultural conscience. But I consider the epic scope and fantastic success of “Titanic” and the fact that Cameron is spending more than $195 million on “Avatar” and I just can’t doubt him. The film follows the story of a group of humans stuck on a distant planet in the far future. The humans battle against the indigenous population as they struggle to exploit the planet’s resources (Entertainment Weekly). All the money Cameron is dropping on this flick is going toward advanced CGI effects, as this movie will apparently introduce some new revolutionary computer effects.

There are other films releasing this year that I’m excited for, including Michael Mann’s summer action flick “Public Enemies” (which follows the story of bank robber John Dillinger, played by Johnny Depp) and “Spider-Man” director Raimi’s return to the horror genre in the form of his new gore flick “Drag Me to Hell.” But the last movie of 2009 that I want to publicize for everyone’s benefit is “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” Not much is known about the film’s plot but the movie will be noted for featuring Heath Ledger’s last performance, a character named “Tony.” Since Ledger died during production, director Terry Gilliam brought Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell aboard to complete the filming of the role. And my favorite musician, Tom Waits, fills out the already-impressive cast in the role of Mr. Nick, the devil incarnate.

Many of these releases feel epic to me; “Star Trek” will undoubtedly cause a bigger splash than many of you think it will. Just wait and see. Scorsese has turned into one of my very favorite directors and even if he filmed crap on a paper plate for two hours, I’d buy an $8 ticket. So the fact that he’s bringing Leo back for a movie about a murderess in an insane asylum has me pants-wettingly thrilled. But this week: “Star Trek” hits the screen. Start practicing the Vulcan salute!

Joe Hager is a student at UW-River Falls.