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2011 has some quality movies coming up, so many that I would get overwhelmed trying to list them all here, or even all from just my own country, the US. But I can list at least a few of the ones I am most looking forward to for the first half of the year, in the hopes you might find them interesting enough to keep an eye out for.

In January 2011, the first release is Season of the Witch on the 7th (that’s this Friday). Nick Cage and Ron Perlman battle the forces of 15th century evil. The Green Hornet looks to be the movie of choice for January, coming up on the 14th. They are sticking to the attitude of the original TV show, which had Bruce Lee as Kato (the series was known as The Kato Show in China, Japan, Korea, and most other Asian countries), and no one these days can remember who the white guy was. Hollywood’s next TV series that Bruce Lee developed (called “Kung-Fu”) didn’t have a single Asian in a staring role, even though Bruce was supposed to be the star. They hired somebody named Carridine for that role. There are also 2 limited run J-Movies this month; the live action version of Gantz on the 20th (see my review and trailer here), and Evangerion shin gekij├┤ban: Ha on the 21st.

In February there are several choices, a few of which are a bit out there.
Sanctum on February 4th sounds prosaic with the whole deep-sea diving stuff, but this is a James Cameron work in 3D and IMAX. Gnomeo and Juliet is a Shakespeare variation set in the world of warring indoor and outdoor gnomes, which should launch around the 11th. I Am Number Four on February 18th sounds like a quote from The Prisoner, but is actually an identification from one of 8 aliens who landed on Earth by accident. The previous three have already been hunted down and murdered, and he is next. Drive Angry on February 25th is about a soul who escapes from Hell to avenge his daughter and protect his granddaughter. Note that Drive is the second Nick Cage movie in as many months for this year.

March starts off with The Adjustment Bureau on the 4th, with a conspiracy theory story of truly epic proportions that will remind you of Inception. Also on the 4th, the animated feature Rango gets released, to teach us all abut the nature of courage. And then we have Apollo 18, which is a covert mission to the moon revealing an entire collection of aliens. Which is a nice warm up for the 11th, when a whole group of films get released, starting with the animated Mars Needs Moms!. It continues through Battle: Los Angeles where the story follows one Marine platoon’s encounter in the battle against an alien invasion on the streets of Los Angeles. It doesn’t end there, since also on the 11th we see Red Riding Hood, where a young woman is in a medieval village which is being terrorized by a werewolf. The final pick on the 11th is Suing the Devil, where Satan (played by Malcolm McDowell) shows up to defend himself in court. When the calendar turns to March 18th Beastly tells the story of a beautiful person turned hideous with only love to save him and turn him back, while Limitless is the story of a writer who tries a drug which allows him to use 100% of his brain instead of the usual 10%. The final entry for March will probably be the masterwork for the month; Sucker Punch the 25th may be the most interesting movie of the year, or at least have a serious shot at that title.

And that is just the first 3 months; there is a lot more after that! HOP is the animated tale to beat on April 1st (from the team that brought us Despicable Me), or perhaps Rio on April 8th from the Ice Age team; I plan to be at both. Source Code is a recursive time travel story worthy of Philip K. Dick, and Super is the story of an ordinary guy wearing superhero tights and armed with a wrench, both on the big screen April 1st. The other April 8th film, Your Highness, is a comedy about the guy that tried to avoid slaying the dragon but still ended up on the quest (Natalie is the Warrior Princess while Zooey is the Damsel in Distress).

In May, the top movies are Thor from Marvel, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the Tim Powers book by way of Johnny Depp, and the animated Kung Fu Panda 2 (the Tree of Life is an also ran). Come June, X-Men: First Class gives some background (but doesn’t appear to be from Marvel studios), Super 8 tells the story of aliens gone AWOL, and The Green Lantern brings another classic comic book hero to the screen, this one a variant of the Grey Lensman. Rise of the Apes is the origin story also ran for the month.

That covers the first half of the year; the remainder will include titles like Transformers: the Dark of the Moon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Captain America: the First Avenger, Cowboys & Aliens, Conan 3D, The Thing, Immortals, the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots, and Sherlock Holmes 2. All in all, 2011 looks to be a great year for films, with more than one goody every month.

There are a few movies being released on DVD this week, but only one of any real importance. The first is Sci-Fi High: The Movie Musical, which supposedly was in theaters last April, but none anywhere near me. Even IMDB doesn’t seem to know anything about this one, so it will be a pass for me. As will be Wolvesbayne, another redundant 1800s vampire versus werewolf film. The movie worth adding to the collection this time around is Howl, the beat generation anthem and poem and the story of Alan Ginsberg’s obscenity trial in the 1950s because of it. This legal battle had fear and repression driving the prosecution and freedom of speech upholding the defense, in what would be a verdict that would help change the direction of what was permissible in America closer to true freedom for all. This one isn’t sci-fi, but it is an important milepost on the path of literature and the development of a culture.

The TV fictional pick of the week is the Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Third Season. They have just finished up season 4 in the UK, and the first season was aired in the US on the Sci-Fi Channel, but not seasons 2 or 3. Nor do they appear to have been picked up by BBC America, at least not so far. So the DVD’s may be the only way we get to see them for a while; at least the UK has acknowledged and signed off on season 5 for 2011.

Into the Universe with Steven Hawking is another Science of Science Fiction type educational program which covers such topics as alien intelligences, wormhole transportation systems, time travel requirements, and the evolution of life in radically different physical environments than ours. Obviously, the narrator’s voice is not that of professor Hawking, but the program is quite entertaining as well as providing scientifically rigorous and accurate speculation about many aspects of the currently unknown. Particularly useful if you were considering writing any science fiction books or screenplays of your own. You can watch segments of the program online at that link.

There are three restored superhero movie serials being released this week, all from 1940. Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe was the third Flash Gordon serial to be made; The Green Hornet Strikes Again! preceded the 1960s TV show by two and a half decades but Keye Luke was no Bruce Lee, and The Green Archer bears a striking resemblance to The Green Arrow. For those too young to remember, a movie serial was a series of 12 or so episodes, 15 to 25 minutes long, which would play before the feature presentation in a movie theater in the 1930s and 40s. Many of them were science fiction of one flavor or another, and they translated directly to television in the 1950’s, creating the template for the episodic TV series still used to this day. Their most famous feature was the cliffhanger ending, intended to draw audiences back the following week to find out how the hero escaped near-certain death this time, again utilized in TV.

In Anime, Koihime Muso – Complete Collection is a kind of Hidden Dragon versus bandits story line, not quite genre but not quite not, with combat grade heavily armed women protecting the innocent from outlaws and violence. The Tsubasa OVAs collection also becomes available this week, bringing us several more stories involving the protagonists crossing from world to world through the multiverse seeking to solve the mysteries affecting them.

Dirty Pair – Collection 2 completes the original Dirty Pair series with the final 12 episodes, but depending on which site you go to it might be coming out this Tuesday, February 1st, or February 8th. In any event, the original Girls with Guns destroying everything in sight series will be completed soon.

The winner this week is pretty hard to determine, and may depend for you on the ages of the friends or family you are going to see it with. On the one hand we have The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third story in the C. S. Lewis series of books. I think the films have been a fairly faithful rendering of the original works, even if targeted at a younger audience than I would have expected. I will definitely be in the 3D theater for this one, although after looking at the trailer I believe it will work just as well on a 2D screen. The other film is a much more adult re-imagining of an absolute classic of fantasy literature: The Tempest. Original story by Shakespeare, assembled for the screen and directed by by Julie Taymor of Across The Universe fame, and winner of five major film festival awards, the trailer on this one knocked my socks off. Looks like it will be a two movie weekend for me.

Chronicles Of Narnia 3 Trailer 2

Abney Park is one of my favorite Steampunk bands, as I have mentioned here before. They have a new CD coming out soon, The End Of Days, so I am using that as my excuse to post about their music once again. The first video is their lead singer, Captain Robert, taking a joyride over Seattle in the Airship Eureaka. I am sure it will be no surprise that the audio backing is one of their own songs. The second video is a live version of their signature song, Airship Pirates. Following that, we have The Death of the Cog, a song from another band called The Cog is Dead, singing against the invention of the digital watch which killed Clockpunk. The final band, Sunday Drivers, I could not find a decent video of in their Steampunk style, so I had to make do with an interview clip. To pull it all together, we have the Song vs. Song vs. Song initial presentation from Changing Habit; he may not be able to dance, but he does have a unique appreciation for nonstandard (i.e., non-boring) music.