The Top 10 Movies That I Need to See on the Big Screen in 2011 – Part 2

The other day I offered up the first group of movies that I would love to see on the big screen in 2011. That doesn’t mean I will. In fact, I can assure you that most will flicker away once they’ve arrived via Netflix – but when I do make it to the theater in the upcoming year, it will be because of one or more movies on this list.

Today, I fill in the rest. And believe me – while the majority of this list is in some semblance of fuzzy order – meaning I could easily slot them lower or higher and not feel one bit of regret – my number one is there for a reason… and nothing is moving it. It is the one movie that I aim for on Opening Night. That it releases just after my birthday pretty much guarantees an excursion.

More on that later.

I hope you guys enjoy this rundown. There’s no doubt that my tastes differ from yours so if there is something on your radar, let us know. Hey, maybe you’ll just make me rethink my choice. Doubtful – but stranger things have happened.

For now, let’s work our way down the list.

5.   Harry Potter and the Death Hallows – Part 2 –   July 15th

Of course, this is a no-brainer. I’ve seen 6 of the currently released Potter flicks in theaters, with the only no-show on the list being The Goblet of Fire, which happened to land in theaters just as our household was knee deep in newborn Muggles. Before those kids came a’callin, my wife and I made each Harry Potter flick our annual holiday tradition – one that we picked back up this past Thanksgiving when we journeyed out with friends and spent one of those early winter’s days catching part one of Potter’s grand finale.

I wrote about my unbridled adoration for this series on this site a few weeks back so I don’t plan to tread those stones again. Click this link and you can read all about it.

All I know is I imagine many tears will be shed when the final reel shutters this summer because this will truly mark the end to a momentous series. It was aces in both forms, providing fans with precious parchment and celluloid to treasure for generations.

4.   Sucker Punch –   March 25th

Sometimes my fellow nerds can drive me nuts. They bitch and moan when flames appear on Optimus Prime’s hood and yet, when Zak Snyder delivers the impossible – an unbelievably faithful adaptation of the supposedly unfilmable Watchmen – they nitpick it for being to much on the money – or for his tweaking of a finale that may have worked on the page in the mid-80’s but would be laughed out loud in our current climate. Sorry – giant alien squid are silly no matter how you slice ’em.

I’m a Snyder fan. I thought his Dawn of the Dead remake was one of the few legitimate reasons to remake a flick – adding some much needed gravity and pathos to a genre classic that is arguably hampered by its time of birth and lowly budget. 300 was a revolutionary little action flick that has influenced this current phase of comic storytelling – as influential to the modern action flick as The Matrix was a decade earlier.

And I’ve already sung Watchmen’s praises.

Sucker Punch is Snyder’s first film that isn’t an adaptation of popular work. While it may be wholly original, the feverish imagery in the trailer displays the fruits sewn by decades of pulp-fiction fantasy. This is the textbook definition of nerdgasm.

It remains to be seen if there is a compelling story tying all these pretty pictures together but his Sucker Punch has already socked me good.

3.   X-Men: First Class –   June 3rd

After that fiasco X-Men: The Last Stand and the neutered Wolverine flick, the last kids I wanted to hang with were our beloved Children of the Atom. But then Marvel went on this kick of making good with great filmmakers and they’ve decked their dance card with some impressive director pairings. We’ve got Branagh on Thor. Darren Aronofsky trading his Black Swan for a wild Wolverine. And now they’ve gone and made good with Kick Ass’s Matthew Vaughn for this prequel that shows us how Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) came together only to be driven apart.

The creative freedom granted to Vaughn is what really impresses me. After all, Vaughn was set to direct The Last Stand before studio tinkering chased him off the flick. It was a wise move on his part.

This time around, the shackles are off and Vaughn was given the freedom to color his X-Men origin tale with shades of Mad Men – setting it in the Swinging Sixties and letting the group tangle with the fabled Hellfire Club.

Spider-Man should take note. This is how to reboot a property by showing us something we haven’t already seen before… and so recently.

2.   Cowboys and Aliens –   July 29th

John Favreau is our new Ron Howard. He’s a guy who cut his teeth in acting before moving on to direct a few smaller movies. Then he jumped with both feet into the mainstream; delivering strong, capable entertainments. Just compare Howard’s early success on Splash with Favreau’s Elf.

Both guys then took aim at lofty heights and are now the go-to guy’s when you have a big-budget tent pole that needs erecting. Favreau proved that with Iron Man and Iron Man 2.

As much as I loved the first movie, and enjoyed parts of the second; I am positively drooling over this adaptation of the Dark Horse comic. For starters, it has the second best teaser trailer I’ve seen in years – one that sells the premise and the mood without giving much of anything away. That’s how you preview a flick.

Secondly, it stars the best James Bond, bar none. Daniel Craig is the real deal – a man’s man – and though he was born across the Pond, he was made to slap on the Stetson and prowl the Wild West. And then there’s Harrison Ford, cast as the heavy – which seems to fit him well. He looks more alive and engaged than he has been in years and this genre is unquestionable Ford territory.

Finally, there’s that title. While some may see it as goofy, I find some kind of brilliance in it. I can’t wait for this close encounter.

1.   Super 8 –   June 10th

And this is the best trailer I’ve seen in almost a decade – but then, when you settle down before a big summer blockbuster and catch the Bad Robot logo, you know you are in for a sneak attack. JJ Abrams did this once before, when he set the Cloverfield spot before Transformers and immediately caught the attention of an tech-crazed society completely ill-prepared for a trailer they haven’t known about for months. And then he did it again last summer, by launching this mysterious mini-movie before Iron Man 2. And once again, Abrams sprung it on everyone without one Internet entertainment site on the planet leaking it months earlier.

In this day and age, his ability to continually surprise us is practically a super power.

With only six months left to go, Abrams has kept this one remarkably close to the vest. We know that it is set in the 80’s and pays homage to Steven Spielberg’s late Seventies/early Eighties work . When Abrams pitched the idea to Spielberg, the guy jumped on as Executive Producer immediately.Nobody knows the plot although the trailer hints that it may be connected to Area 51. Aside from that, we know Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) is in the cast. And that’s all we know.

As a kid, I stared in awe at Spielberg’s innate ability to marry suburban reality with supernatural  and extraterrestrial forces. As an adult, I grooved to Abrams epic myth-building – fervently following Alias, Lost and Fringe to some fantastic final destinations.

It’s almost as if he made this movie specifically for me.

I’m going to remain dark on this one and then I’ll be there opening night. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed the discovery of a movie – with next to no knowledge about what was about to screen – since I went with a neighborhood friend to see Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark in the Summer of 1981. My fire was lit then and I would later devour every scrap of info I could find on my most anticipated movies- to the point where the element of surprise was robbed. I did it to myself and I’ve often proceeded to enjoy whatever flick I read all about but there is real magic in my Raiders memory and now, as I write this six months in advance of the premiere, I stand to recapture a little bit of that spark. That’s a gift I don’t intend to peek at.

The rest of this year could suck at the cinema. Hell – this movie could blow for all I care. All I know is, as I write this now, I couldn’t find out any information about this flick even if I wanted to… and I don’t want to… and knowing that this dream union may create something special delivered specifically to me in a little less than six months from now; well that just brings me back to that nine-year old boy I once knew.

And how can that not make Super 8 my most anticipated movie of the year?