At this point, it looks like 2012 promises to be a fantastic year for film. So many epic franchises are coming to a close, and so many more are just beginning. Here’s a list of the movies I am most excited for:
16. Taken 2
Not much to say here other than I quite enjoyed Taken, even if Liam Neeson reportedly didn’t. I’m not sure that this will be at all good, but I’m excited nonetheless to see Neeson kicking some butt once again.
15. Underworld: Awakening
I’m a sucker for pretty action scenes in a futuristic setting and Kate Beckinsale as Selene… So I kind of like Underworld series in general. I haven’t yet had the chance to see Rise of the Lycans, but the return of Selene means the return of my butt to the theater to see this film. It’ll be escapist fun, if nothing else, and a worthy antidote to the stigma that’s hung about vampires since Twilight entered the arena.
14. The Dictator
We don’t know much about this one, either, other than that it’s a lot of improv and humor coming from the talented Sacha Baron Cohen, starring as the films titular dictator. What could go wrong?
UPDATE: Read Søren’s review of The Dictator here.
13. Wreck-It Ralph
A Disney animated film about the trials and tribulations of a fictional video game character, this one received a lot of positive buzz at D23.
12. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Nicholas Cage is back as Ghost Rider in this sequel/reboot of the franchise from Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. First of all, I adored Crank (1). The fast-paced action, the humor, the style, the complete implausibility factors- these all combined to make what may be the best Statham movie ever. The sequel was not among my favorite films by any stretch, but the point is these directors have a propensity for action and adrenaline. With Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the directors have taken a decidedly absurd, humorous approach to the character (as is evident from the trailer). Not only that, but Neveldine and Taylor are making sure every shot is as absolutely crazy as possible, going to such lengths as driving off a cliff with a camera in a car parallel to that of the car they’re trying to shoot. They’re going out of their way to really reinvent the character’s look, as well, which is a solid improvement from the previous incarnation. Not only that, but the directors have somehow managed to convince Nicholas Cage to start riding a motorbike again, which can’t hurt when that’s an core aspect of Ghost Rider’s MO. I feel that the franchise is in good hands.
11. Hotel Transylvania
Alright. I’ll admit that I don’t know pretty much anything about this movie aside from its cast, but all you had to say was that Genndy Tartakovsky was helming his first ever movie and I’m on board. Tartakovsky’s perhaps best known for his incredibly popular television shows Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and Power Puff Girls. To say he’s simply an animation guru is to do him a disservice; watch his incredible mini-series Star Wars: Clone Wars (2D animated, not 3D) and you will see that he can work with any source material and elevate it to the status of… well, awesome. The Star Wars prequel storylines don’t exactly have a great reputation, but Tartakovsky proved that with the will to do it, you can squeeze entertainment from that universe. In any case, while the voice cast doesn’t sparkle, I am incredibly excited to see what he does with a big screen film.
10. Much Ado About Nothing
Joss Whedon’s modern take on a Shakespearian play starring everyone from Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher to Clark Gregg and Amy Acker. If that doesn’t intrigue you, you haven’t been paying attention.
UPDATE: Read Ari’s review of Much Ado About Nothing here.
9. The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne series is probably my favorite modern action series ever. It’s incredibly well shot, acted, and executed from beginning to end. When I heard the series was continuing, this time without Matt Damon in the title role, I was nervous. However, three things have allayed my fears: the fact that Jeremy Renner is the new protagonist, the story is a parallel one to that of Jason Bourne about another operative, and the fact that much of the original cast are reprising their roles – those who aren’t just simply aren’t in the film, and neither are their characters (as far as we know). Plus, Ed Norton is in it. As a villain.
UPDATE: Read and listen to our Dueling Review of The Bourne Legacy here.
I know even less about this Alien prequel from Ridley Scott. In fact, most people don’t know much of anything about it. What I do know, however, is that Ridley Scott is directing and that the initial footage screenings have left an indelible impact on those who were lucky enough to see them. I’m perhaps more curious than excited about this one, but I have faith that the unique style of the film will be enough to carry it for me.
UPDATE: Read and listen to our Dueling Review of Prometheus here.
7. The Lorax
The Lorax, on the other hand, is the third effort from newcomer animation studio, Illumination Entertainment (of Despicable Me fame). Starring Danny Devito as The Lorax and Ed Helms as The Once-ler, the trailer has gotten me very excited for the film. The artwork was captured and rendered beautifully from Dr. Seuss’s original illustrations, and the humor all struck a chord with me. I’m still curious to see how all of the additional story will fit into the film, seeing as to stretch a simple picture book into a feature-length movie you must add a substantial amount of content, but I have faith that it’ll all work out.
Brave is Pixar’s first original IP (read, non-sequel) since Up, and looks to be pushing the boundaries once again of what 3D animated films can achieve on a technical level. It looks beautiful, invokes a feeling of mystery, wonder, and magic, and though we don’t know much about the story, I’m confident that Pixar won’t disappoint. Plus, it takes place in ancient Scotland – who doesn’t love the a good motion Pict-ure?
UPDATE: Read Mike’s review of Brave here.
5. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
This film had one of the best trailers for any animated film that I’ve seen in a long time. It had all of the trademark humor missing from Aardman Studios since the days of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, and with Hugh Grant in the starring role, it looks to be as charming as its stop-motion predecessors. Not only that, but the animation used in this film maintains an extraordinary level of detail and panache. This is easily my most anticipated animated film of 2012.
4. The Amazing Spider-Man
I may be more alone on this one than I had thought due to the stupid CGI POV teaser, but I really am very excited for The Amazing Spider-Man. First of all, the fact that they’ve rebooted the series means that they can really begin to adhere to some of the more interesting storylines of the Spider-Man mythos. I’m very much hoping they follow in the footsteps of the incredible Spectacular Spider-Man television show and plant many seeds in this film that imply other villains in subsequent films past The Lizard. I also hope they make a point of emphasizing a) Peter Parker’s intellect and b) his life*as* a high schooler and the drama endemic to that.
This brings me to my next point: Marc Webb. Aside from having a name perfectly suited to a Spider-Man film, Marc Webb’s first major hit, (500) Days of Summer, proves he has what it takes to combine comedy and drama into an effective, emotional cocktail. That, combined with the brand-new talents of Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), and of course Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Dennis Leary, should make for a very cool reinvention of Spider-Man on the silver screen.
UPDATE: Read my review of The Amazing Spider-Man here.
3. Seven Psychopaths
Martin McDonagh wowed us with his first big directorial feature, In Bruges, starring Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Ralph Fines. Dark humor matched with wit, plot, and a strong influence from Harold Pinter to create at true gem of a film. Similarly, McDonagh’s brother, Michael, came out subsequently with a film also starring Gleason entitled The Guard, which was easily on par with, despite being tonally and stylistically quite different, In Bruges. And of course, Martin McDonagh also directed the extremely well-regarded Six Shooter short film. His new film, Seven Psychopaths, brings together Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell into an intriguing premise about, well, seven very messed up guys. Suffice it to say, the film’s combination of cast and creator are sure to exceed expectations.
UPDATE: Read my review of Seven Psychopaths here.
2. The Avengers
I’m extremely excited for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers for a whole slew of reasons. First and foremost, Joss Whedon: he’s both the writer and director of the film. Many of you know my undying love of his other ensemble masterwork, Firefly, as well as his musical handiwork Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and this extremely talented, diverse group of actors/heroes totally fits his MO. While I’m disappointed there’s no Norton here to play Banner, I’m sure Ruffalo will do a great job. And let’s not forget, Robert Downey, Jr. has really built himself up in the past two films as an egotistical narcissistic playboy, and that’s going to look great contrasting with Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder, Thor, and Chris Evans’ patriotic, do-good Captain America.
UPDATE: Read my review of The Avengers here.
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
What is there to say? The first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit is shaping up to be on par with, if not surpassing, the technical quality of The Lord of the Rings. While I’m not the biggest fan of the story itself (I was much more of a LOTR guy), I love Martin Freeman and every piece of behind-the-scenes footage is *very* promising. However, what really solidify’s this as my most anticipated film is the returning cast and crew members. Bottom line is, I’m positively ecstatic!
UPDATE: Read Ari’s review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey here.
Thoughts? Post your comments below! And be sure to check out Ari’s list, too.