Preview 2008 - Film

Coming soon

Paul Dale previews the celluloid delights and turkeys coming to a cinema near you in 2008

I lost count of the number of times the death knell rang for the traditional Hollywood filmmaking model last year. The ongoing writers’ strike, the collapse of the star system (due to exorbitant actor salaries) and increasingly low box office returns means fewer films getting the green light. But monolithic organisations don’t fall overnight and the day of reckoning is probably not coming in 2008.

This coming year does, however, offer up some very good reasons to ‘throw out the old’ thanks to the geriatric return of two momentous action film characters. Sylvester Stallone and Harrison Ford step out for a fourth time in John Rambo (22 Feb) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (22 May) respectively. Whether either film proves a regrettable return or a fond farewell remains to be seen.

Comic book and graphic novel adaptations fill out the slate again this year with the imminent release of interpretations of Mark Millar’s Wanted (4 Apr), starring James McAvoy, Jack Kirby’s Iron Man (2 May) and The Incredible Hulk (20 Jun), Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk having stiffed so badly at the cinemas that Hollywood wants a second shot. Christian Bale is back in The Dark Knight (25 Jul) with everyone’s favourite psychotic supervillian The Joker (Heath Ledger) making his debut in Christopher Nolan’s vision of the DC Comics favourite. Meanwhile, Mike Mignola’s devil child makes a good return for Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (22 Aug) directed again by Guillermo del Toro.

Probably the most interesting adaptation of the year, however, will be the French/American animated feature of Marianne Satrapi’s stunning Iranian childhood graphic novel memoir Persepolis (11 Apr), directed by Satrapi and cult French comics artist Vincent Paronnaud.

The effects of the war in Iraq at home and abroad is a theme that returns again and again in such films as Paul Crash Haggis’ In the Valley of Elah (25 Jan), Brian De Palma’s Redacted (21 Mar) and Nick Broomfield’s Battle of Haditha (29 Feb).

As ever the film calendar throws up a few anomalies this year. US cinema finally grapples with the abortion issue by making a comedy about it in Juno (8 Feb) and Johnny Depp proves he’s got the musical range of a strangled cat in Tim Burton and Danny Elfman’s misshapen but inspired musical Sweeney Todd (25 Jan). Elsewhere, Nicole Kidman’s star status looks headed for the subs bench with the very lukewarm familial comedy Margot at the Wedding (29 Feb).

Come September the cult of the dandy returns courtesy of two films. First up is the big screen version of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited (12 Sep) directed by Julian Jarrold and starring Ben Perfume Whishaw as Sebastian Flyte and Matthew Goode as Charles Ryder. This is followed by How To Lose Friends and Alienate People (3 Oct), an adaptation of Toby Young’s hilarious memoir of his time at Vanity Fair, where he went head to head with New York’s most egotistical publishing peacocks including the magazine’s editor Graydon Carter. The film stars Simon Pegg as Young and Jeff Bridges as an assimilation of Carter, while Kirsten Dunst plays the love interest. Pegg pops up again as Scotty as part of the all new cast portraying the original Star Trek characters in Star Trek XI: The Menagerie. And we can only await news of the release date of the new Sex and the City film with bated breath.

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