Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Most Anticipated Films of 2012 – Part 1: Blockbusters

The Most Anticipated Films of 2012 is a two part look at the movies that should be the biggest and the best of the year to come. Part One is a look at the biggest, the Blockbusters, and Part Two will focus on the films that should be among the most fun and best of the year (not counting the Blockbusters and those that details are not yet known about).


Release: 7/3
Genre: Adventure
Director: Marc Webb
Plot: A reboot of the Spider-Man series finds Peter Parker falling for Gwen Stacy and battling the Lizard.
Why It’s Anticipated: While the first two films of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy are beloved, Sony and Marvel destroyed Spider-Man 3 (essentially taking it away from Raimi and forcing him to do what they wanted). Most of us (me included) would have liked to have seen the fourth Spider-Man film Raimi was planning, but it was not to be as Sony decided to reboot the franchise. That said, this is still a Spider-Man film and that is all you really need to know about why it’s anticipated. And for those who actually like 3D, it is being filmed specifically to be projected in 3D.
Editor’s Thoughts: While this is a huge step forward for director Marc Webb (his only other feature is the romance dramedy (500) Days of Summer), the same can be said for Raimi when he made Spider-Man or Peter Jackson making The Lord of the Rings (but probably to a much lesser degree, as this will be Webb’s second feature while Raimi and Jackson had both made numerous films before their big projects) . Having an artistic director at least gives this potential to not just be a big summer film but ultimately a good and aesthetically interesting film as well. I also am a big fan of the three principal characters in terms of casting. Garfield, Stone and Ifans are all three brilliant choices.
Trailer: Here

Title: The Avengers
Release: 5/4
Genre: Action Sci-Fi
Director: Joss Whedon
Plot: When Earth is invaded by extraterrestrial invades bent on annihilation lead by Loki, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency assembles the Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) to save mankind.
Why It’s Anticipated: Marvel Studios has made six films building up to The Avengers (including 2011’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger). Plus, Robert Downey Jr. is maybe the biggest star in Hollywood right now. Basically, this is probably the biggest action movie of the summer (unless you count The Dark Knight Rises as an action movie).
Editor’s Thoughts: While I have enjoyed most of the Marvel Universe Avengers movies (though I think none of them are close to Spider-Man 2 or Chris Nolan’s Batman films), for me it is Joss Whedon writing and directing this that makes it one of the must-sees of the year. Whedon has a wonderful ability to play action, comedy and drama together flawlessly while creating well-drawn characters. My one fear is that Marvel will push it to be too much an action film and not enough a character film (which the teaser trailer does not help alleviate).
Trailer: Here

Release: 8/3
Genre: Action
Director: Tony Gilroy
Plot: While not about Jason Bourne, the film focuses on another assassin built in the same program.
Why It’s Anticipated: Fans of the Jason Bourne series are no doubt less enthusiastic about this film due to Matt Damon’s absence, but writer-director Tony Gilroy wrote The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum and he is back. Jeremy Renner is also a great choice to fill the lead role. He is already well-known among critics thanks to The Hurt Locker and The Town, but with roles in MI4 and The Avengers he will be known to action fans as well prior to the film’s release. Much like the Spider-Man reboot, Universal Pictures is banking on moviegoers being big enough fans of the franchise to overlook the change in people involved.
Editor’s Thoughts: For me, this is interesting because I think Renner will be good in the lead and I cannot wait to see Ed Norton as the villain. Plus, Rachel Weisz is generally excellent in everything she is in. After seeing Gilroy’s feature debut Michael Clayton, I thought he was a director to watch, but his second feature Duplicity was fairly terrible. Thus, I am a little nervous with him behind the camera.
Trailer: Here

Release: 7/20
Genre: Action Crime Drama
Plot: The final chapter in the Chris Nolan Batman Trilogy finds Batman at odds with Bane, possibly Catwoman and maybe someone from his past.
Why It’s Anticipated: The Dark Knight was a monumentally huge hit both critically and commercially, then Nolan made Inception which was also an enormous hit. Thus, The Dark Knight Rises is the movie (bar none) to see this year (both for blockbuster and prestige film fans). The only question is can this live up to the hype (because there is an absolute ton, and I think it will) and will any of the villains even come close to Heath Ledger’s Joker (no)?
Editor’s Thoughts: Coming into his eighth feature film, Nolan is probably the top director working today (in that he makes films that are both critically and commercially top-notch). And, all the supporting characters from the series (barring those who died) are once again back, which means in addition to the wonderful new acting talent on the film you also get Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman, making this likely the best cast of any movie in 2012. Plus, Nolan’s collaborators behind the camera are all back as well, and all excellent craftsmen. This is without a doubt my number one anticipated film of 2012.
Trailer: Here

Title: Gravity
Release: 11/12
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Plot: After satellite debris hits a space station destroying most of it and killing all but two aboard, sole survivors Matt and Ryan desperately try to get back to Earth.
Why It’s Anticipated: For the general movie-going public, names like Sandra Bullock and George Clooney make this a big draw, not to mention that with Man of Steel being pushed to the following summer Warner Bros. Pictures is going to get its marketing behind this to be its potential second winter flagship title (both commercially and critically) behind part one of The Hobbit. Plus, this type of narrative is perfect to setup strong performances from Bullock and Clooney for the awards season. Like The Dark Knight and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, this could be another blockbuster prestige film.
Editor’s Thoughts: Isolation in space is nothing new to cinema (think of 2009’s Moon as a recent example, or Stanley Kubrick’s great classic 2001: A Space Odyssey), but having auteur writer-director Cuaron onboard puts this (or any project really) in a different class of potential. His last two films were Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (both among my top 25 of the last decade, and heralded by critics).
Trailer: Here

Release: 12/14
Genre: Adventure
Director: Peter Jackson
Plot: Part one of The Hobbit finds Bilbo Baggins on a journey to the Lonely Mountain to find a treasure taken by the dragon Smaug.
Why It’s Anticipated: The Lord of the Rings was one of the biggest franchises of the last decade, making its prequel The Hobbit maybe the most anticipated film of the year – and Peter Jackson is returning as the film’s director, writer and producer after many delays and Guillermo del Toro setting in briefly to direct. Jackson is bringing back essentially the same group of craftsmen to work on this two part film, so aesthetically it should mesh perfectly with The Lord of the Rings. He is also bringing back many of the actors from the beloved series (highlighted by: Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, and Christopher Lee).
Editor’s Thoughts: How great is it to have Jackson come back as the director, we all sort of knew he would but it just took a while. After The Dark Knight Rises, I think this is the film to see in 2012. Without even the hype of it being The Hobbit, just having Jackson and crew behind the camera and the fantastic list of actors he has assembled in front of it is enough to make this likely to be something very special.
Trailer: Here

Release: 3/23
Genre: Action Drama
Director: Gary Ross
Plot: In the future world of Panem, a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts are selected to fight to the death on live television. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take the place of her younger sister when she is selected for the latest match.
Why It’s Anticipated: This is the latest in a long line of franchises looking to take off the way Harry Potter and Twilight have. While most of them fail due to poor critical and commercial initial films, The Hunger Games feels different (and I say that before seeing any actual footage and having doubts about the director), due almost solely to Jennifer Lawrence starring in the lead role (her first major leading part after her breakthrough in Winter’s Bone, though she was part of the ensemble in X-Men: First Class this past summer). The books also have a huge current following (there are three books, but four films planned).
Editor’s Thoughts: Despite the books being very popular, this is not very original territory (thinking about Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale and Shirley Jackson’s short-story The Lottery), but there are not too many classic cinematic takes on this narrative (the film version of Battle Royale does have a cult following). Thus, this might be a nice franchise to explore fresh storylines. However, despite the good cast I have my doubts about writer-director Gary Ross at the helm. While Pleasantville was a good film, his second feature Seabiscuit was Hollywoodized too such an extreme that it is nauseating to watch. The Hunger Games will be his third.
Trailer: Here

Title: John Carter
Release: 3/9
Genre: Action Fantasy
Director: Andrew Stanton
Plot: Civil War vet John Carter mysteriously finds himself on Mars, the prisoner of the planet’s main inhabitants. However, fate has a much larger role for him as he becomes the planet’s warrior-savior.
Why It’s Anticipated:  Here it is, Pixar’s first live-action film (overshadowing their new animated film Brave), and they have put one of their best at its helm with director Andrew Stanton (who is coming off Finding Nemo and WALL-E). Pixar also entrusted Michael Chabon (who wrote the screen story for Spider-Man 2, and is one of the reasons it has such a fantastic narrative structure) to work on the screenplay with Stanton. The film marks the first major film for Friday Night Lights heartthrob Taylor Kitsch as well.
Editor’s Thoughts: Being that it is a Pixar film, I was totally on board until I saw the teaser trailer. It is only a teaser and the film will probably be good as Pixar’s track record is almost blemish free (Cars 2 does not really count as it was made for selling merchandise and little kids), but wow is the teaser bad. The film does not even look remotely interesting. I hope the full trailer looks a lot better.
Trailer: Here

Title: Prometheus
Release: 6/8
Genre: Action Sci-Fi Horror
Director: Ridley Scott
Plot: A prequel of sorts to Alien, a team of explorers sets out to discover the origins of mankind on Earth leading them to the darkest and most terrifying corners of the universe.
Why It’s Anticipated: Ridley Scott returns to the franchise that made him over thirty years later. The film was initially intended to be a direct prequel to Alien, but evolved into a stand-alone film exploring the mythology of the Alien film universe. After the last two Alien sequels and the two AVPs, we are in need of a good addition to the franchise.
Editor’s Thoughts: As much as I like the Alien franchise (at least the first two) and Scott as a filmmaker, it is the phenomenal cast that has this among my most anticipated. Michael Fassbender had a breakout year in 2011 with X-Men: First Class and three great indies: Jane Eyre, A Dangerous Method and Shame (capitalizing off his great performance in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds), while Idris Elba of The Wire and Luther fame is looking to have his first breakthrough film role. Noomi Rapace is also looking to have her second big hit in America after Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
Trailer: Here

Title: Skyfall
Release: 11/9
Genre: Action
Director: Sam Mendes
Plot: The twenty-third adventure of James Bond.
Why It’s Anticipated: James Bond adventures have always been highly anticipated and loved films. The two Daniel Craig starring films, however, have rejuvenated the franchise (especially Casino Royale) and made this next installment all the more eagerly awaited. Skyfall will be independent story wise from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Also, who is not excited to see another villain performance from Javier Bardem?
Editor’s Thoughts: On the wish list of directors to tackle a James Bond feature, Sam Mendes was probably not there – that said – I am very interested to see what he brings to the franchise, as he is a fantastic drama director with such a skill for garnering brilliant performances (think American Beauty and Revolutionary Road) and has a great eye for aesthetically interesting action (think Road to Perdition). While I would love to see a Chris Nolan or Alfonso Cuaron Bond film, I think Sam Mendes is going to bring a lot to a franchise that has not really ever extended its director’s chair to a performance director over action (though you might make that argument for Marc Forster as well, but Mendes is a far superior director). Oh, and did I mention Mendes has hired Roger Deakins to shoot the film.
Trailer: Here

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