Sure, there’s a lot of 2011 still left to be seen. But think about what’s better: seeing a high-speed car chase and ensuing humongous fireball, or the anticipation of it? All right, the giant ball of fire is way better. We just have to wait anyway. This list of current and upcoming action movies for 2011 will hopefully tide us over until summer begins in earnest.
1). Cowboys and Aliens
Joss Whedon created the greatest television series to be canceled midway through its first season. It was called Firefly. The premise? Cowboys in space. Now, it was a lot more detailed and intricate than that, but the initial punch of melding technology and old west sensibility is quite brilliant. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Cowboys and Aliens instantly put me into what feels like exactly the right state of mind to enjoy, well, a movie called Cowboys and Aliens. Plus, Harrison Ford is in it. Instant action movie street cred. Yes, I have blocked out K-19 the Widowmaker, why do you ask?
2). Fast 5
If the lines at my local theater were any indication, Fast 5 may well prove to be the action movie of 2011. Who knew adding The Rock – sorry, Dwayne Johnson – to an already successful action franchise would be a recipe for success? Oh, right, everyone. Good move, Fast People.
3). Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon
Okay… so on the off chance, you don’t know, let me break this to any straight boys reading: Megan Fox is not in this movie. They’ve chosen to take the franchise in a different direction. Hopefully, that direction is “good” in direct conflict with the last movie.
4). Drive Angry 3D
The synopsis kind of says it all: A vengeful father escapes from hell and chases after the men who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. How isn’t that an awesome action movie? I wish we still had drive-ins – 3D drive-ins. This movie would have made a billion dollars in that venue.
This is exactly what the action/superhero genre had failed to capitalize on: existing Norse Legends. Plus, Natalie Portman, fresh off her Oscar win, joins the hallowed ranks of Marvel superhero girls. While Thor does look quite enjoyable and not nearly as the bottom of the barrel scraping as it once appeared, it begs the question: what untapped material will Marvel strike its mighty hammer upon next? I’m looking at you, Antman.
6). Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
It’s easy to say that Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow has overstayed his welcome, particularly after the two lackluster sequels to the surprisingly fun Curse of the Black Pearl. But I’m not counting Captain Jack out just yet. I still get a little chuckle every time I see him scream like a girl and run away from danger, and there are legs in the Pirate franchise yet. Rebooting the whole thing with new sidekicks, new love interests, and a new villain is definitely a step in the right direction. A step in the wrong direction? No musical numbers. Rob Marshall, you disappoint me, sir.
7). Green Lantern
Did you guys know the Green Lantern had a kickass sidekick named Kato? Further, did you know he was played by the dearly departed, awesomely badass Bruce Lee? Before Kato Kaelin forever ruined the name, Kato. That has little to do with this Ryan Reynolds starring reboot, but the flashes of green in the trailer look pretty neat, and anything that reminds me of Bruce Lee – however, removed – deserves to be considered.
8). Captain America: The First Avenger
In a Benjamin Button-style special effect, Captain America is presented as the body type DJ Qualls had before he really started working out. Of course, that all changes with a little superhero magic and some military intervention. I’m a sucker for a good superhero movie, and at the very least, this movie looks to greatly improve upon the 1960s television series that… very much looked like an “action” series shot in the 60s. A moment of silence for those dark, television making days.
9). Sherlock Holmes 2
Some people were disappointed with the first Sherlock Holmes, but I thought it was a lot of fun. This time around, they’ve had the opportunity to (hopefully) learn from their mistakes and deliver a smarter Holmes, a quippier Watson, a less obvious mystery, and heaps more action. Sherlock Holmes II: Bigger and Holmesian.
10). Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
I actually liked the third Mission Impossible movie. And I don’t much care for Tom Cruise or Mission Impossible movies. J.J. Abrams has a way about him, though, as the world later learned when he cleverly and carefully reinvented Star Trek. This time around, director duty is landing to Pixar wiz Brad Bird (he made one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, The Incredibles). Along for the ride is the criminally underused Jeremy Renner and the deservedly overexposed Josh Holloway, who almost single-handedly kept people watching LOST during season 3. Together, can they save this aging franchise? Why that sounds like… an impossible mission.