Adventures In Celluloid

Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things film.

Dominic Corry: Four far-off movies I'm excited about

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Jesse Eisenberg is set to star in Now You See Me, a film about magicians robbing banks. Photo / Supplied
Jesse Eisenberg is set to star in Now You See Me, a film about magicians robbing banks. Photo / Supplied

With glossy film hype extending into every corner of the media world, even the most dedicated film purist can find it difficult to avoid excessive amounts of movie marketing these days.

The only place free from pervasive commercial hucksterism is the distant future.

In today's column, I'm gonna mention four exciting-sounding upcoming films that are so far off, we haven't yet been subjected to any kind of marketing or hype.

They won't stay this pure for long.

We can only judge these films based on the talent involved and the apparent subject matter. In those terms, I like what I see.

Now You See Me, set for release in early 2013, has an irresistible premise: Four of the world's top illusionists come together for the ultimate Las Vegas show, then proceed to openly rob banks - on video screens - during the performance and give the money to their audience.

The catch is, their illusions are so good, they can't be arrested, as the laws of physics dictate they couldn't possibly have robbed the banks in question, unless they used, y'know, actual magic.

Thus begins a tale of cat and mouse between the brazen prestidigitators and the law.

In an inspired piece of casting that seems like a strangely appropriate follow-up role to his amazing performance in The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg is playing the leader of the four magicians.

Mark Ruffalo is the FBI man on their tail, and other supporting roles are filled by Woody Harrelson (Money Train), Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby) and Michael Caine (Blame It On Rio).

The last three decades have seen a few magician-focused movies of particular interest, the most recent notable example being Christopher Nolan's 2006 masterpiece The Prestige. That same year's The Illusionist was less awesome.

Going back a little further, there's Clive Barker's underrated 1995 horror Lord of Illusions, which is well-worth checking out. It stars Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula in the only studio leading role he will ever get.

The David Copperfield-centric perception of stage magicians as garish egocentrics is still prevalent, but I am very ready for more films that attempt to explore the subject matter with some degree of seriousness or invention. Now You See Me seems like such a film.

I was initially sceptical when I heard they were remaking Sam Raimi's 1981 horror classic Evil Dead, but the fact that the original core filmmakers - Raimi; producer Rob Tapert and star Bruce Campbell - are shepherding the project (which just started shooting in Auckland) puts me somewhat at ease.

Raimi's under-appreciated 2009 film Drag Me To Hell reinvigorated my love for his particular type of horror in a big way, and I'm applying that enthusiasm to the new Evil Dead, which is being directed by YouTube phenom Fede Alvaraz and produced by Raimi et al.

My Drag Me To Hell-driven anticipation is helped by the film having switched the gender of the lead character to a woman. The plot veers away from the first film and apparently has her trying to get over some addiction problems in the woods when the demonic badness starts going down. Nice.

The remake instantly got more interesting when up-and-coming starlet (and spawn of Phil) Lily Collins was replaced in the leading role by Suburgatory star Jane Levy.

In my conception of this film as an all-out gonzo horror fest, the snarky, plucky Levy seems a much better fit than the perma-whimpering Collins.

When Universal Pictures maddeningly decided against greenlighting Guillermo del Toro's $150 million R-rated adaptation of HP Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness - despite Tom Cruise being willing to star in it - one of the most potentially awesome genre films of the modern era was lost to the ages.

Softening the blow somewhat was the prospect of the film Del Toro went straight into helming instead: Pacific Rim, set for release in July 2013.

Specific details are scant, but the plot is said to follow a bunch of (no doubt rag-tag) humans who strap themselves into giant robot machines to take on a raft of Godzilla-scale monsters.

It's a shamelessly appealing concept for sure, but the notion of the awesomely deranged manchild that is Guillermo Del Toro taking charge of such an affair pushes my anticipation for this movie to epic levels.

He has described it as "a beautiful poem to giant monsters." Oh boy.

I still feel that Neill Blomkamp's District 9 is the best film of the nascent millennium, and re-invigorated the potential of genre storytelling to a degree not seen since perhaps Star Wars.

Blomkamp's follow-up film Elysium will arrive in March next and I couldn't be more excited to see it. The plot is under wraps, but all signs point to other planets, artificial intelligence, and Matt Damon.

I love that I know so little about this film. That is sure to change soon. But the prospect of Blomkamp working on a larger sci-fi canvas alone is enough to make this the movie I am anticipating above all others.

* Are you excited to see any of these four films? Do movies lose their mystique for you once they enter the marketing meat grinder? Any other super far-off movies that you're excited about? Comment below!

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