Seven intriguing movie storylines for 2011

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January brings New Year’s resolutions, holiday hangovers and, apparently, a lot of ‘The Dilemma’ commercials. Although the Vince Vaughn vehicle isn’t a huge storyline in moviedom, there are a number of narratives in and around the film world set to unfold in the coming months. Here are a baker’s half-dozen to keep an eye on.

The ‘Twilight’ crowd, the morning after: They’ve branched out into other roles before. But 2011 will bring moments of truth for all three lead actors in the ‘Twilight’ franchise: Robert Pattinson in the period circus drama ‘Water for Elephants’ (coming in April), Taylor Lautner in the teen fugitive thriller ‘Abduction’ (coming in September) and Kristen Stewart in the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ (date TBD). The last two movies in the franchise that made them famous are shooting now. Which of the trio can fashion the most productive post-Forks career?


The Battle of the Greens: When footage of Seth Rogen’s comedic ‘The Green Hornet’ screened at Comic-Con last summer, it drew a tepid response, paling in comparison to Ryan Reynolds’ more muscular ‘The Green Lantern.’ But in the last two months, the tide has turned: The Rogen movie, coming out later this month, is testing well, and the trailer for the springtime Reynolds movie elicited some perplexed reactions. Is there room for two green superheroes? Or will only one of the films take the ring?

Reboot Redux: We’ve seen a fair number of reboots already, but 2011 will bring a slew of them: a new ‘Planet of the Apes,’ a new ‘Smurfs’ movie, a new ‘Conan the Barbarian.’ Some say enough with the rummage sale, but reboots like ‘Star Trek’ and ‘The Karate Kid’ have performed well. Can the streak continue?

‘The Hangover’ hangover? It was one of the biggest surprises of 2009. But the sequel has been filled with more hiccups than a Bjorn-held baby. First there was a fracas over the casting, and then non-casting, of Mel Gibson. Then came the news last month of a serious injury to a stunt man. Can Todd Phillips successfully take his endearingly ragtag group of man-children from Vegas to Thailand, or would he have better luck at the Bally’s craps table?

A tree grows in Malick-ville: Rarely does a movie not based on a comic book generate this much advance hype. But more than four months ahead of the release of ‘The Tree of Life,’ the buzz is already nearing crescendo levels for Terrence Malick’s long-developing autobiographical epic. Will it live up to the standards of the director’s ‘Badlands’ and ‘Days of Heaven?’ Or will its meditative tone make even ‘The New World’ seem like a potboiler?

How super ‘Super 8’? With J.J. Abrams writing and directing and Steven Spielberg producing, it’s one of the most high-profile collaborations in modern commercial fimmaking. It’s also one of the most secretive. The 1979-set film, scheduled for a June release, may or may not be about an alien invasion, supernatural occurrences or any of another number of phenomena. Is it the second coming of ‘Star Trek’ or a marketing idea in search of a story?

Beavering: It was a much-ballyhooed story long before a trailer was even released. The story will only heat up as the months become weeks for the release of ‘The Beaver,’ the first Mel Gibson movie to come out since he allegedly verbally abused ex-lover Oksana Grigorieva, and one with some additional challenges given its beaver-puppet themes. Will the actor turn out to do publicity? And will the public forgive him if he does?

--Steven Zeitchik


Did the Green Hornet break out of movie jail?

Does the new Green Lantern trailer actually hurt the movie’s advance word?

‘Water for Elephants’: Can Mel Gibson perform under the big top?

Mel Gibson’s ‘The Beaver’ will wag its tail in March

Dating of Mel Gibson’s ‘The Beaver’ ferrets out more questions