Now that 2010 is in full swing, we here at VFXWorld wanted to take a look at what is coming this year in visual effects. Big effects spectacles aren't just the domain of May through August anymore. Many of the films we're highlighting this year arrive in the spring and fall.
Alice in Wonderland  (Walt Disney Pictures, March 5)
Tim Burton puts his spin on Lewis Carroll's tales of Alice. Sony Pictures Imageworks, along with Legacy Effects, CafeFX, Matte World Digital, among others, are on board helping the auteur make Wonderland more surreal than it has ever been before. From the vibrantly color environments to the warped perspective of characters like the Red Queen, the film looks like eye candy land. There's no film of the spring that has fans clamoring more furiously for.
With effects from Ray Harryhausen, the original Clash of the Titans was a hallmark of visual effects work for its day. Now Framestore, MPC and Cinesite, with Nick Davis serving as production vfx supervisor, give The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier the tools to bring the epic tale into the world of 21st century spectacle. I don't know about you, but, we're eagerly awaiting what Medusa and the Kraken look like in photoreal CG.
The Harry Potter series has been a bastion of amazing visual effects work. The series pushed the bar on visual effects to new levels through the 2000s and we're certain the final chapter will kick off the 2010s with a bang. One can assume the concluding battle will be saved for 2011, but the search for Horcruxes is on and Harry, Ron and Hermione will have to face some evil magic along way, giving the vfx artists at Cinesite, Double Negative, Framestore, Industrial Light & Magic, The Moving Picture Company and Rising Sun Pictures a lot to work with.
Double Negative leads the charge on bringing Christopher Nolan's new original mind-bending sci-fi thriller to the screen. You've seen the enigmatic trailers. Cities folding in on themselves. Men flipping sideways through the air down a hall. The surface of water in a glass tilting for no reason. What does it all mean? We've only seen a few glimpses and we're already impressed.
There is no film more highly anticipated than the follow-up to Marvel superhero epic. ILM, Double Negative, PLF, The Third Floor, and others are part of the visual effects team to bring more metal on metal action to theaters. With the addition of War Machine and Whiplash to the mix, the artists have new characters to play with. Let's hope for Spider-Man 2 and not Transformers 2.
M. Night Shyamalan tackles his first non-original film with this adaptation of Nickelodeon's hit series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Known simply as The Last Airbender, due to that other little film called Avatar, this production will contain work from Industrial Light & Magic. In the series, the Avatar bends all four elements, which could provide for a great deal of eye-catching visual effects.
Could this be the first good videogame film adaptation? With Jerry Bruckheimer producing and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's Mike Newell directing, the outlook seems promising. Also add in the work of Double Negative, Framestore, BlueBolt, Cinesite, Lipsync Post, The Moving Picture Company and Nvizible and you solidify the film's chances of having breathtaking visuals. From sandstorms to feats of daring, this sword & sandal adventure looks exciting.
Double Negative, Asylum VFX and Hirota Paint Industries all worked on Jon Turteltaub's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, based on the Mickey Mouse segment from Fantasia. Nicolas Cage plays a wizard scouring the globe for a worthy apprentice, finding one in an unlikely awkward boy, played by Jay Baruchel. Iron eagles, dragon rings, swarms of bugs, oh my! This magical adventure from Jerry Bruckheimer has some insane-looking visual effects.
The original Tron was a trailblazer in digital effects. Digital Domain has the challenge of capturing the spirit of the original, while pushing the visual effects to a new realm. The alternative world of the computer gives them ample opportunity to show off their chops. But should we have any doubt? We're seen the visual effects test and were wowed by that.
This time around Team Edward and Team Jacob must align forces to combat vamp Victoria and her bloodsucking brood in order to protect Bella from harm. Expect more vampire on werewolf violence, as well as a health dose of melodrama. Tippett Studio is back handling the werewolves and Image Engine signs on for the bulk of the other vfx.
Rick DeMott is the director of content for Animation World Network, VFXWorld and AWNtv. Additionally, he's the creator of the movie review site, Rick's Flicks Picks , which was recently named one of the 100 best movie blogs by The Daily Reviewer. He has written for TV series, such as Discovery Kids' Growing Up Creepie and Cartoon Network's Pet Alien, the animation history book Animation Art, and the humor, absurdist and surrealist website Unloosen . Previously, he held various production and management positions in the entertainment industry.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN and VFXWorld.