2012 looking to be a banner year for films

2010 and 2011 have been dog years for film … not much has attracted me to theaters, and even when I went, I tended to be disappointed.

2012 seems to be looking to make up for this.

While most of the big films are slated for the summer, even the Spring and Autumn look to have their share of interesting cinematic tidbits.  Not all of these films are necessarily high on my list of things to see, and I likely won’t see them all … but compared to a year where there might be like 10 interesting films for me, 2012 is looking up!

First three films without release dates, which generally means late fall/early winter, or perhaps 2013:

Cloud Atlas

The Wachowski  Brothers (The Matrix) are going back to their roots after the disaster of Speed Racer.  Based on David Mitchell’s highly complex structurally nuanced novel, stretching from the nineteenth century Pacific across the world and time to a post apocalyptic future.  The things practically screams for the makers of The Matrix to do this one, and not surprising Hugo Weaving will be featured … joined by Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, and a few others.


Steven Spielberg directs this film that has been “in development” for much of the last decade and was originally slated to be released in time for the Lincoln bicentennial (which despite some initial hype was celebrated nowhere).  Pictures of method actor Daniel Day Lewis are uncannily on par with every picture of Lincoln you have ever seen:

 Joseph Grodon-Levitt co-stars as son Robert Todd Lincoln, Sally Field as the deranged Mary Todd, and Jared Harris as General U.S. Grant.  Also starring Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, and Jackie Earle Haley.  Based largely on the Doris Kearns Goodwin biography.


Vin Diesel’s first jaunt as convicted interplanetary killer Richard B. Riddick was refreshing and new … not to mention as much of a horror film as it was a scifi thriller.  The second film was a mess, but this one looks to get back to its roots.  Karl Urban (Star Trek’s McCoy) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck) are set in supporting roles as Riddick fights alien predators and bounty hunters after being left to die on an uncharted planet.  As it is with Riddick, the question is:  Who is hunting who?

The Hunger Games                             March 23

My sister swears up and down that this will be a hit.  Based on a novel that sees the United States both fascist and carved up, and where teens from each region annually compete in a reality show to the death to win food for their people.

Wrath of the Titans                              March 30

Ten years after vanquishing the Kraken, Perseus lives quietly as a fisherman.  But on Olympus, all is far from quiet.  With the gods rapidly losing control of the universe as their worshippers dwindle in number, the Titans led by Kronos are not so easily kept in their dungeon of Tartarus.  When Hades entices Ares to switch sides and kidnap Zeus, Perseus must once again bail out his dad, this time with the help of the lovely warrior queen Adromeda (Rosamund Pike).  There will be a cyclops among other mythological monsters.  The original sucked, but Rosamund Pike will be running around without a lot of concealing garments, so there is a major plus to this sequel.

The Avengers                                      May 4

When the evil Norse god Loki threatens the world, it will take all the world’s superheroes to defend her.  Robert Downey, Jr. (The Invincible Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (The Mighty Thor), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD), Chris Evans (Captain America), and Scarlett Johansson (The Black Widow) reprise their roles from earlier films while being joined by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner (whose alter ego will be aptly voiced by, who else, Lou Ferrigno).  If it is bad, it will make money.  If it is good, it will approach Dark Knight territory.

Dark Shadows                                     May 11

Back in an era where every fourth bit of pop culture wasn’t vampire related, the primary non-Dracula  source of vampire stories was the daytime soap opera Dark Sahdows, which told of the return of vampire Barnabas Collins to his family manor, and dealing with his modern family and their problems.  For something this dark and gothic (and soapy), only Tim Burton could direct, and with Burton automatically comes Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.  Christopher Lee (still alive, and still acting) puts in an appearance along with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jackie Earle Haley.

The Dictator                                        May 11

Sasha Baron Cohen plays the title role described as “The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed”  The film is a spoof of Ghaddafi and the North Korean mafia among others, and includes Ben Kingsley and Brother Rice’s own John C. Reilly.  This seems like a rich playground for a comic mind as diabolical as Cohen’s, and I gotta think he will hit more than a few home runs with this material.

Men in Black III                                  May 25

15 years after Will Smith first got recruited as Agent J, he has to travel back to the 1960s to find the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K character, who has been targeted for assassination by an alien hitman.  Emma Thompson joins the cast as Agent O.  Josh Brolin plays the younger Agent K.

Prometheus                                         June 8

Ridley Scott finally ventures back to the universe of Alien as a crew of explorers finds the secret to how humans arrived on Earth, and that man’s future may be numbered.  Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender star.  Ridley Scott has been tightlipped as to what extent any of this film will overlap with his 1979 seminal classic film, Alien.  At times he has said there will be nothing in common, yet the trailer specifically shows the spaceship and “space jockey” pilot encountered at the beginning of the 1979 film … me thinks he protests too much!

Brave                                                   June 22

Pixar has been on a role until its recent release of Cars 2 … almost all of their films being both critical and box office successes … and there’s something else in common:  all of the lead characters have been male.  That ends with their romp in the highlands where Princess Merida (Kelly McDonald) defies her clan’s traditions to undue a curse on them all.  Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson, and Billy Connolly all contribute their voices.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter    June 22

Based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel, the story follows young Lincoln as he grows into the Great Emancipator all while secretly carrying out a program of revenge against the vampires who killed his mother and the plantation owners who work in concert with them.  I mean, Abe Lincoln hunts down the undead while vanquishing the ‘Cesshs.  How could this go wrong?

The Amazing Spider-Man                   July 3

Anderw Garfield takes over as the geek-turned-webslinger.  Mary Jane Watson is out, and Emma Stone is in as Gwen Stacey.  Martin Sheen and Sally Field co-star as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and Dennis Leary takes on the role of Gwen’s dad, while Rhys Ifans takes the role of Dr. Curt Connors (aka “The Lizard”).  This film looks like it will in some ways deal with a mix of Peter Parker the early years (his parents do appear in this film), in addition to a run through of the origin story (so it is more of a reboot rather than a continuation of the Sam Raimi directed trilogy).  The trailer seems to portray this take on Spider-Man as a darker tale (Spider-Man was hugely successful, and unlike a lot of other superhero films it was never really dark)  The portrayal of Peter Parker seems more like a loner than in previous incarnations.  I have waited for the Lizard to make it to the screen for a long time (curse you Sam Raimi for teasing me through three films), because of all the members of Spidey’s rogue gallery, I always found him to be the coolest, and the most naturally sympathetic.

The Dark Knight Rises                        July 20

Eight years have passed since the Caped Crusader went on the run.  While it has been a peaceful time for the citizens of Gotham, the peace is suddenly shattered when a terrorist named Bane comes to town, while a certain CAT burglar also takes to action calling out the Batman once again.  The usual crew is back in addition to Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway (meow!) as Selina Kyle and Gordon Joseph-Levitt.  Based on some limited information gleaned here and there, I am interpreting some of this might be centered around some kind of “Occupy Wall Street” kind of uprising.

Total Recall                                         August 3

A remake of one of Arnold Schwwarzenegger’s better films, Colin Farrell takes up the Governator’s helm as Douglas Quaid, a man who isn’t sure if he is having a psychotic breakdown from a mind implanted vacation, or if he is in fact a deep cover operative for a fascist government, seeking out rebels.  Bryan Cranston fills the shoes of Ronny Cox as the evil Vilos Cohagen, while Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel take on the Sharon Stone/Rachel Ticotton roles of Lori and Melina.  Based on the Philip K. Dick novella “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale”.

Argo                                                    September 14

Tehran, 1979:  The American Embassy has been overrun, and 52 Americans have been captured by university students egged on by the revolutionary government of the Ayatollah Khomeini.  Unbeknownst but to a few, a small number of Americans have escaped and are on the run for their lives through the anarchy of the city.  When they are taken in by the Canadian ambassador at his private home, it is up to the CIA to find a way to get them out without compromising Canada’s neutrality.  Based on the surreally true story of the so called “Canadian Caper”, Ben Affleck (directs and stars), Bryan Cranston, and John Goodman star in this little known triumph from one of America’s darkest hours.

Looper                                                 September 28

The problem with being a hitman is disposing of evidence:  what better place to dispose of evidence than in a time before the crime took place.  Gordon Joseph-Levitt and Bruce Willis star in this film about time traveling hit men who run into trouble when one of them realizes that his next target is his future self.

Skyfall                                                  November 9

The 50th anniversary of Dr. No sees the release of the 23rd (official) Bond film;  and none has had the cast like this one has.  Daniel Craig is back for his third appearance as 007, and Dame Judy Dench is back as his boss, M.  Joining the cast are Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Helen McCrory, and Albert Finney.  After being absent in the last two films, the character of Q is back (Ben Whishaw).  While few details are out, one leak notes that the villain has something to do with M’s past.

Gravity                                                November 21

Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men and Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkhaban) directs this quirky thriller about two astronauts who are trapped in space after a shuttle disaster with their oxygen slowly running out.  One is a doctor who wants to get home to her child (Sandra Bullock) and the other a veteran pilot approaching retirement (George Clooney).

47 Ronin                                              November 21

Based on the true story of the eighteenth century group of samurai who avenge their murdered master.  For some reason, a half-British/half-Japanese character played by Keanu Reeves is being inserted into the story which is being described as “highly stylized” (read:  its getting the 300 treatment … which ain’t necessarily bad).

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  December 14

Tolkein’s immortal classic finally comes to the big screen with Martin Freeman playing young Bilbo Baggins who joins a group of dwarves en route to reclaim their kingdom from an evil dragon.  Along the way, who knows who they will meet?  The book is being broken up into two parts … perhaps just to make more money, or perhaps to try and retain more of the detail of the book.  There also appears to be a lot of guest appearances of characters from Lord of the Rings that Tolkein didn’t put in The Hobbit.  However, until I see it, I will trust Peter Jackson’s judgment (throw in Guillermo Del Toro contributing … ).

Kill Bin Laden                                     December 19

It is rare for films so early in production to rile up the U.S. Congress, but when word reached Washington that Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow was basing her film on the stories of the men who brought down America’s most wanted, the congress threw a fit since the entire story is still top secret at the highest levels of government.  It will be interesting to see how the demise of Osama is told.

World War Z                                       December 21

Based on the Max Brooks novel which attacks propaganda and the ineptitude of governments to act, a UN Representative (Brad Pitt) scours the globe writing reports on the world’s militaries as the great zombie war progresses in favor of the undead.  It has Brad Pitt.  It >>could<< be something?  Couldn’t it?  If an actor can turn the Oakland A’s front office into Oscar material, can’t a zombie apocalypse be good viewing?  It will be interesting to see if it stays true to the novel (the Chinese screw us all), given the need for overseas distribution … though with Brad Pitt being persona non grata in China, it may be a moot point.

Django Unchained                              December 25

Quentin Tarrantino is back writing and directing the tale of a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) searching for his wife who joins a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz)  searching for the evil plantation owner who holds her (Leonardo DiCaprio).  Joeph Gordon-Levitt (the fourth time you’ve seen his name, in case you were counting, the guy’s been busy), Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sasha Baron Cohen co-star.  Quentin Tarrantino is definitely a love him or leave him kind of filmmaker (like the anti-Woody Allen).  I happen to think that no one in Hollywood writes like Tarrantino … he is hardly original in the subject matter he chooses, and violence is pretty much a must on some level.  I won’t say he isn’t in this to make money, but there isn’t a single director in Hollywood who seems to have such passion for filmmaking as he does.  That paired with rich writing makes him worth watching just about any time.


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