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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Action and Art Abound in Upcoming Films

Published: August 24, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc., Top Stories

As students, teachers and staff members return to Brandeis for the fall semester, the thought of impending academic and social stress can appear daunting. Thankfully, a slew of upcoming movies promises to provide entertainment and escapism.
In the realm of testosterone-laden action films, three major titles stand out: The Expendables 2, Red Dawn and Skyfall.
Expendables 2
Released last Friday, The Expendables 2 will be a prime candidate for action movie fans. Its star-studded cast of genre favorites (including action legends such as Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris) has given it the name the “Ocean’s 11” of action movies. With generally favorable reviews from a variety of critics, The Expendables 2 will be a staple for action fans this season.

Red Dawn
Red Dawn, a reboot of a 1984 film in which Soviet troops invade the U.S. and occupy a large portion of the Midwest, stars Chris Hemsworth (better known as Thor from Thor and The Avengers) as Jed Eckert. He leads a band of high school students turned commandos in their effort to repel the invasion of North Korean troops. While at times the plot borders outlandish, the released trailers showcase intense action sequences, one of which includes a downed troop transport smashing into Eckert’s neighborhood in a ball of flame. Hopefully, Hemsworth will manage to channel the raw power he found for Thor into this film, and successfully remake a war film depicting how a third World War would play out.

Daniel Craig’s new James Bond film, on the other hand, looks to have a more focused plot rather than excessive amounts of testosterone and stunts. Skyfall will be Craig’s third movie portraying the iconic British spy, set to be released in late October. Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall will deal with secrets from M’s (the head of the MI6 spy agency) past, coming back to haunt her as Bond helps her handle the impending crisis.
Craig won acclaim in his first two Bond films for his portrayal of the character as more emotional, distancing himself from the typical “macho man” Bond that Sean Connery and other predecessors preferred. He instead showcases the substantial mental strain that a life of covert ops demands. If the first two movies are any indicator, this will prove to be one of the better renditions of the 23 James Bond films.

On Hollywood’s serious side, the upcoming movie Lincoln claims to provide a powerful look at President Lincoln’s decisions during the Civil War, specifically during the last few months of his life. The film is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. This will provide a counterpart to the summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which showcases a fantastical portrayal of President Lincoln. With Stephen Spielberg directing and the critically acclaimed Daniel Day-Lewis acting, Lincoln looks to be a passionate and moving holiday release.

Life of Pi
Another upcoming film is an adaptation of a novel that surged into popularity in the previous decade. Life of Pi follows the tale of Pi, a boy stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, an orangutan, a zebra and a hyena. With a largely Indian cast, some have expressed doubt at Life of Pi’s ability to attract a sizeable audience in American theaters. Despite this, anyone who knows the novel will agree that the movie has great potential.

The Hobbit
Also within the realm of fantasy will be the prequel to one of the most popular film adaptations of a series of novels of all time: The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Director Peter Jackson will be bringing the novel to life in the first film of a new trilogy, with each movie released around the holidays in sequential years. The Hobbit chronicles the tale of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures, which ultimately lead him to possess the One Ring of Power, made famous as the central object in The Lord of the Rings plot. Characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy appear in The Hobbit as well, and many of the actors are reprising their roles, including Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf and Hugo Weaving as the elf Elrond.

Les Miserables
This season’s repertoire will also include a musical, via the new film version of Les Miserables, a classic story of love and governmental injustices set during the tumultuous buildup to the French Revolution. The film will retain its musical attributes, unlike the previous version released in 1998 as a regular movie. Despite some casting issues (Taylor Swift was initially cast to play the role of Eponine, but Samantha Barks later replaced her) the movie’s star-studded cast should make it a promising holiday release.
Overall, this season’s selection of movies has the potential to yield a few timeless classics and a slew of promising productions.It may be difficult to drag yourself away from the overwhelming combination of classwork, clubs and socialization, but this fall it will be well worth your time to enjoy some hours at the theater.