22 Exciting Reasons Why 2012 Will Be a Spectacular Year for Movies
by Alex Billington
January 17, 2012
2012 is here. What does this year have in store, besides the Mayan-calculated end of the world? Some fantastic movies, potentially an unforgettable year poised to hit the big screen as well. Or so we can only hope, since you never know how some of these will turn out. But here we are, I've been waiting for this year a long time. Not only is it the arrival of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit (my #1 of the year), but there's other huge debuts, like the finale to Nolan's Batman series, and Ridley Scott's long-awaited return to sci-fi. I'm partial to science fiction, which is also why I think this year's selection looks particularly spectacular.
Below is my list of 22 of the most exciting and potentially spectacular movies that will shape 2012 (even if they're failures, though I hope none are). There are many surprises that could popup throughout the year (see some honorable mentions at the bottom) but I think these are the ones I'm most excited to see. In 2012:
Directed by Joe Carnahan
In Theaters January 27th
There always seems to be one movie every January that feels completely out of place in Hollywood's typical dumping season. Above the quality of every other film released that month and one that deserves a better opening, and this time it's The Grey, an Alaskan wilderness survival thriller directed by Joe Carnahan. I've seen it already and can confirm that it does kick ass, it's as intense and relentless as a survival thriller should be, but with a subtle beauty that gives it an edge to really stand out. Liam Neeson is phenomenal in it and January is becoming his month. Like Taken opening late January of 2009 before, The Grey is this year's Taken, an awesome film that will be the one big surprise of January actually worth seeing in theaters.
While I understand that not many people have much sympathy for Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider after that first mess of a movie, this is a complete reinvention. While it's still PG-13 (wrong move, Sony) the reason I'm excited for this is because of directors Mark Neveldine and Brain Taylor, the crazy duo behind the Crank series and (unfortunately) Gamer, too. Their shooting style is unlike anything else out there and they've applied that to the gritty, dark, violent world of Ghost Rider, the demon from hell that spits, pisses and throws fire. Mark and Brian use everything from rollerblades to homemade strap-on camera rigs to get shots in locations you didn't think were even humanly possible. That's why I'm particularly excited for this.
Directed by Andrew Stanton
In Theaters March 9th
Give it a chance! This is Pixar's Andrew Stanton we're talking about, and he's been working on this huge project for years. He shot it way back in 2010 with Avatar performance capture technology for the Tharks, and while the trailers look kind of messy, I think there's a great movie in there just waiting to be seen. I really hope it turns out great, and I'm just waiting to see that come to life. Kind of like Avatar and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with a movie that's heavy CG like this (they've been in post-production/rendering for over a year) you really need to see the final, finished movie to truly judge it. Though I expect Stanton as a storyteller will take over and deliver an entertaining sci-fi introducing us to Barsoom. I'm excited to see it!
The Hunger Games
Directed by Gary Ross
In Theaters March 23rd
Another interesting choice, but the reason I have this on here is that I really think it does have the potential to be damn good. And I mean for guys too, not just swoony teen girls. In fact, I'm more excited for The Hunger Games than I am Wrath of the Titans, the unneeded Clash of the Titans 3D sequel also due out in March. Why? While it definitely has a bit of a Battle Royale feel to it, it's the post-apocalyptic background and the games themselves that I'm most excited to see. The young-kids-fight-to-the-death concept may be similar, but the story (about Katniss) and the world it's set in, is different enough. Plus, I think director Gary Ross might actually deliver an impressive adaptation, hopefully one better than we're even expecting.
I wasn't expecting to care about this, but the first official French trailer completely changed my mind. Not only is it from the mind (and production expertise) of Luc Besson (as in, the guy behind Fifth Element) but it actually looks badass, the visual effects and the badass sci-fi world they've created. Besides the incredibly lame new title (they should've kept it as Lock-Out), lead star Guy Pearce looks to be channeling his own internal Snake Plissken and, according to the trailer, it does not take place solely inside the hallways of this orbiting prison. While we wait for the summer season to start, this is one film I'll definitely be seeking out.
Directed by Joss Whedon
In Theaters May 4th
Here's when things really get crazy. Kicking off the 2012 summer season, on the very first weekend of May, is Marvel's The Avengers. Did anyone ever think we would really see the day when this team-up movie actually happened?! Despite how it turns out in the end, just the fact that we're getting Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Black Widow and even Bruce "The Hulk" Banner to team-up in one movie is exciting enough. But then they went and got Joss Whedon to direct. I just hope it lives up to all the hype, because Whedon's big screen experience isn't truly enough to make me entirely confident he can actually pull off the first great superhero cross-over/team-up movie we'll ever see (not counting X-Men).
Men in Black 3
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
In Theaters May 25th
They're back - J (Will Smith) & K (Tommy Lee Jones) in a film directed again by B (Barry Sonnenfeld). But I think it's the fact that this is a time-travel story, featuring Josh Brolin as a younger Agent K, that makes this something that I know everyone is now excited to see. While the second Men in Black movie was quite terrible, and despite all the production troubles and stops/starts this new one had, I'm hoping that Sonnenfeld has been able to pull together an entertaining movie anyway. The first trailer looked promising, giving us that hilarious introduction to Brolin as K, but I need to see more and get a glimpse at the bigger story, as it seems like that was only just a tease. Let's hope the MIB doesn't slip up and let us down again.
Snow White and the Huntsman
Directed by Rupert Sanders
In Theaters June 1st
Another movie that wouldn't even be on my radar if it weren't for that awesome first trailer. My concern is that trailer was just some creative editing, awesome music, and first-time director Rupert Sanders' strong visual style, as I don't care much for the Snow White story itself (and boy does Tarsem's Mirror Mirror look like a trainwreck). It looks a bit like a Lord of the Rings wannabe, but I'm still excited to see it. If all that he hints at in that first teaser lives up to its potential, particularly the visuals in combination with the classic story and gritty fantasy characters, then we'll be in for a mid-summer treat. Don't let us down, Rupert!
Directed by Ridley Scott
In Theaters June 8th
While this movie is already near the top of my most anticipated list, it pretty much knocked everyone off the top with that first teaser. Ridley Scott is finally returning to his roots, and finally returning to sci-fi (my favorite genre), and so far it looks like everything we've wanted to see and more. The teaser hints at some breathtaking sci-fi landscapes, huge spaceships (both human and alien), tons of unique characters including Michael Fassbender playing another android, and apparently a story that explores the origins of mankind as well as the origins of the "space jockeys" and the giant turret seen in Ridley's original 1979 Alien. And we're just scratching the surface of the secrets hidden within. What is that massive U-shaped ship after all?
Directed by Mark Andrews
In Theaters June 22nd
It's Pixar telling another original story, their first ever fairytale, need I say more? This one features one of their first ever female lead characters as well, Princess Merida (that red-haired archer seen above, voiced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald), who goes off on some sort of adventure in the Highlands of Scotland when she doesn't like the suitors her parents want her to marry. All of the footage we've seen, including the latest trailer, looks impressive and as always we know that Pixar usually hides some secrets from where the story goes in the third act from any of their earlier trailers. It's an original story from Pixar which is more than enough to tell you it'll be wonderful. This is one where I already just want to watch the entire movie.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Directed by Marc Webb
In Theaters July 3rd
Despite any complaints I've heard about this, I'm incredibly excited for The Amazing Spider-Man. It all starts with director Marc Webb, a filmmaker who I've been following closely since falling in love with 500 Days of Summer. I know he can pull this off and just like he surprised us then, I think he's going to surprise us here. I think Spider-Man comic book purists are going to love this version, it's going to be gritty, realistic, maybe even a little dark. Best of all, Webb went and cast Andrew Garfield, an actor who I've admired as I've seen him grow in great roles (Doctor Parnassus, Never Let Me Go), now he's taking on the role of his lifetime, and I know he's giving it his all. All of this: a great director, great lead actor, plus Emma Stone, can only mean it'll turn out amazing, despite any naysayers. Bring on the webs, Webb (I had to say it!).
The Dark Knight Rises
Directed by Christopher Nolan
In Theaters July 20th
Christopher Nolan. Bane. Batman. Catwoman. Ra's al Ghul? The. End. It's coming. This is the pinnacle of 2012 in my opinion, both in terms of the peak of the summer movie season, and the ultimate moviegoing experience of 2012. They better run trilogy showings of this, because I want to see all three back-to-back on the big screen. It's Christopher Nolan bringing us nearly an hour of IMAX-shot footage in the ultimate showdown, the epic finale to his Batman series. The Dark Knight is one of my all-time favorites and I'm very nervous about if he can pull off "an even better film", but we keep hearing time-and-time again that he has, and I'm confident that might be true. In Nolan We Trust. He's also got Tom Hardy, who'll be coming out of this summer with icon status, and Anne Hathaway, who I think is poised to surprise. And here we go...
Directed by Rian Johnson
In Theaters September 28th
I'm a huge fan of director Rian Johnson (of the outstanding films Brick and The Brothers Bloom) and now he's making his first sci-fi, time travel movie. Brilliant. Especially when it also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the same person, and includes Emily Blunt, Piper Perabo and Jeff Daniels in the cast. I'm excited to see how it all plays out, as that's the intrigue with sci-fi like this, and I've heard tons of crazy, exciting things about where it goes and how it messes with the time travel element. I just can't wait to see what the brilliant mind of Rian Johnson has thought up to mess with the sci-fi genre, especially after all the other Hollywood sci-fi stuff we're seeing in the summer. One of my most anticipated late in the year.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
In Theaters October 19th
While I still think it's odd to see Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less director Ruben Fleischer taking on a vintage mobster action-drama, that's exactly why I'm so excited for it. I think Ruben is pushing himself in a new direction and I think the results are going to be incredible. This is going to be the badass mobster action movie we all wanted to see out of Public Enemies, but didn't really get. They've been shooting this all around Los Angeles at the real locations, since Warner Bros is producing, and have made it as loud, realistic, and badass as possible. We haven't even seen a trailer yet, but I was on a set myself and after hearing the gunshots and seeing the action live, I don't need to see one, I already know this is going to be awesome.
Say what you will about the Wachowskis, but this is going to be epic. Epic because they're adapting David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, a potentially un-adaptable novel following five storylines set across different years, including far in the future, where that concept art above is from. Not only is this a massive challenge in-and-of-itself to bring together into a narrative feature film, but they cast is apparently playing roles, changing race and characters in each different segment. They've got a line-up including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving (of course!), Ben Wishaw, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent and Doona Bae playing Sonmi-451. While they've kept things very quiet, I have a feeling this movie is going to make a huge impact later in the year once we actually get a taste for what it's actually going to be like. The Wachowskis are back!
Directed by Sam Mendes
In Theaters November 9th
Who else is back this year? "Bond, James Bond." Four years after Quantum of Solace, the Sam Mendes 23rd Bond film, titled Skyfall, is shooting now and will be arriving in theaters this November, in honor of this being the 50th Anniversary of Bond in movies. Not only is it just exciting that Bond is back, but it's also exciting that a director like Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Away We Go) is taking on this series. Hopefully EON went all out for the 50th Anniversary and spared no expense making sure the script is exactly where they want it to be for an action-packed, exciting new Bond. The most potential is found in the only plot synopsis out so far: Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.
Directed by Carl Rinsch
In Theaters November 21st
Not many people know much about this yet and we haven't seen any photos, but I've heard that it's one to watch out for. Yes, it stars Keanu Reeves as a samurai, but he's really getting back to his Japanese roots. And more importantly, it's not just about Keanu (or the rest of the cast), it's about Carl Erik Rinsch, a commercials director making his feature debut with 47 Ronin, a classic Japanese story. He was originally slated to direct the Alien-prequel-that-became-Prometheus before Ridley took over, and now this is his first film instead. If you love stylized samurai action, from what I've heard, this is going to be amazing, and that's what I'm excited for. I'm sure things will change once we actually see a trailer, but keep an eye out for this.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
In Theaters November 21st
This might be the game-changer of 2012. Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón finally returns with another film, a feature sci-fi drama he wrote with his son about survivors of a space station accident who desperately try to get back to Earth. Comparisons have already been made to 2001: A Space Odyssey and word is there are extended shots that run for upwards of 10 to 20 minutes without cutting, including the opening at the space station. The cast includes George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and they shot this entirely last year, which means he's been in post-production for almost a year. We haven't seen a thing from it yet, but there's no question that Cuarón is hiding what could potentially be a groundbreaking sci-fi film.
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Expected In December
Now for something a little different. After all this sci-fi, how about religion? Paul Thomas Anderson (of Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood) teams up with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix to tell a presumably epic cinematic story set in the 1950's about a charismatic intellectual known as "the Master" whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America. It sounds like this will be brilliant and potentially a jab at L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, but as with anything from PTA, it's bound to be a cinematic spectacle no matter what. Another film that is being kept very quiet despite already shooting last year, and my hope is that PTA finally let's it out of the bag sometime late in 2012. There's no promises, but one can only hope it'll be in theaters by the end of this year.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Directed by Peter Jackson
In Theaters December 14th
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit... Its been nine long years since Lord of the Rings wrapped up and after years of uncertainty, this is finally the year when we'll return to Middle-Earth for the adventure that actually started it all. The "prequel" to LOTR - the story of Bilbo Baggins (being played by Martin Freeman) and the Company of 13 Dwarves, Gollum, the One Ring, and the dragon Smaug inside the Lonely Mountain, this is the The Hobbit, once again directed by New Zealand's own Peter Jackson. We've been able to follow the production so we know it already looks amazing. Return of the King is pretty much my #1 all-time favorite film, so it goes without saying that I am extremely excited for The Hobbit, mostly to return to that world again and embark upon a wonderful journey crafted the way only Peter Jackson knows how.
World War Z
Directed by Marc Forster
In Theaters December 21st
Another adaptation I thought we'd never see, especially as a Hollywood production starring Brad Pitt, but here we are. Marc Forster is bring us an adaptation of one of the best books about zombies ever written, World War Z, written by Max Brooks, telling various stories about our World War against the zombies. While I've heard they've changed the adaptation to be a bit more cinematic (and we haven't seen a trailer or anything else yet), I'm excited purely for the fact that we're actually getting a big budget, Brad Pitt-starring zombie movie right at Christmas. While many people were let down by Forster's Quantum of Solace, I'm confident this is the project he's really focused on making great for the last few years, and I hope it pays off.
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
In Theaters December 25th
What a way to end it all - with Quentin Tarantino delivering his long-awaited spaghetti western Django Unchained about a freed slave-turned-bounty hunter, played by Jamie Foxx, on a mission to rescue his wife from her sadistic master and plantation owner. It's set to star everyone from Christoph Waltz to Leo DiCaprio to Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Samuel L. Jackson to Kerry Washington to Sacha Baron Cohen and even Kurt Russell. Can you believe they're planning to release this on Christmas Day? There's no question it's going to be insanely violent, as we've come to expect from Tarantino, but many have said it's an incredible script and I'm sure it will be something quite unique in the end. Looking forward to seeing it!
A few Honorable Mentions: Josh Trank's Chronicle, Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom (trailer looks great), John Hillcoat's The Wettest County, Len Wiseman's Total Recall, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln and Pete Travis' Dredd. These didn't make the list as I just wasn't sure about their potential and didn't have the room to include them. We also have no idea when we'll see Terrence Malick's latest films, or Andrew Dominik's Cogan's Trade or Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines, but they're all on our watch list as well. From what I can tell it does look like a spectacular year, with many surprises to come and let downs, too. I can't wait to see how 2012 plays out, it may be a very memorable year. What are you excited for?