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John Scalzi Has His Eyes on Watchmen and Star Trek in 2009

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Yes, it’s the new year. Come, now. This shouldn’t be a surprise; every twelve months or so they spring another one on us. What you should really be pondering is which science fiction and speculative movies I’m interested in seeing during this new and now current calendar year. And to that end, I’ll tell you, provided you understand this woefully incomplete list is in no particular order.

Watchmen
One of the reasons I’m interested in seeing it is because I’m not sure I’m going to be able to see it at all. The movie is at the center of a legal brawl between Warner Bros. and Fox over who owns the copyright. A recent ruling says Fox does, which bothers Warner seeing as it’s the studio that put nine figures into the making and marketing of the thing. Aside from the legal mumbo-jumbo, I’m interested to see it because, like the graphic novel’s writer Alan Moore, I’m not in the least bit convinced the material is actually possible to make into a coherent movie. But I’m hoping to be convinced, and I’m willing to offer some slack for this insanely ambitious project.

Star Trek
Basically, I want to see how much J.J. Abrams and his writers have messed with accepted Star Trek canon. Yes, I’m a Trek dork that way — but not militant about it, since, let’s face it: In order to make a TOS-era Star Trek origin story that doesn’t look like cheap ’60s TV, they’d have to mess with it to some extent. Besides, Paramount already squeezed every possible bit of juice out of the last iteration with unbearably flaccid Star Trek: Nemesis . Now, per last week’s column, I’m not 100% convinced we need a new Star Trek at all, but since we have one, at this point coloring outside the lines is what the universe needs.

Knowing
Nicolas Cage gets disturbingly accurate disaster predictions out of an elementary school time capsule, and it’s pretty clear the end of the world is on its way. This strikes me as more generally speculative than straight-up science fiction, but I can roll that way. And I’ll sign up for seeing what director Alex Proyas has to show me any day because he directed The Crow and Dark City , and because unlike many angry, angry purists, I liked I, Robot just fine.

Avatar
James Cameron plays with 3D. I mean, really, people: How much more does a science fiction geek need to know before he says “sign me up”? Cameron is like the good writer/director twin of George Lucas, in that both have been instrumental in using science fiction to push filmmaking technology as far as it can possibly go. What makes Cameron the good twin instead of the evil goateed twin is that he can write interesting plots and characters, and then direct humans to show actual emotion. Not everything Cameron does works, but even when he fails, he fails interestingly (see: The Abyss ). So I live on the faith that Avatar is going to be worth my time and money.

9
It’s a freaky little animated movie produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted, and, rather more crucially, Night Watch), which is best described as Toy Story meets Mad Max, or perhaps The Nightmare Before the Apocalypse. Every goth and steampunk devotee in the universe will see the trailer and explode with joy, to which I say, “Eeeeeeew.”

So those are the flicks I’m interested in. What am I anticipating, um, less? Well…

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Back in my day, toy commercials had the decency to be thirty seconds long! And on Saturday mornings! Between Scooby-Doo and Super Friends! And they didn’t have sequels! Damn kids! Get off my lawn!

Dragonball Evolution
Back in my day… oh, what’s the use. But I just want to say: Chow Yun-Fat? In this? God is dead, my friends.

2012
The Mayan Calendar runs out and it’s the end of the world! Again! By my count, this is at least the third time director Roland Emmerich has tried to destroy the entire planet in his movies (others being Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow ). I’m not saying it’s not fun to watch him squash us all like bugs, but I think maybe we should all get together and buy this guy, like, a stuffed animal or something.

What science fiction movies are you looking forward to in 2009? What are you dreading?

Winner of the Hugo Award and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, John Scalzi is the author of The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies and the novels Old Man’s War and Zoe’s Tale. He’s also the editor of METAtropolis, an audiobook anthology on Audible.com. His column appears every Thursday.

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