Sunday, February 12, 2012

Most Anticipated - 2012

It's been a long time coming, but a month late is about as good a time as any to examine the outlook of 2012 in film and see what it has in store for us moviegoers. As with any year, not every movie will live up to expectations, and a few will surpass expectations. At this point last year I thought X-Men: First Class was going to be a joke and Super 8 was going to be amazing, and the opposite happened on both counts, so just because a movie is highly anticipated does not mean it is guaranteed to be any good. With that said, 2012 has a plethora of exciting movies coming out, a few original ideas, mostly adaptations, sequels, and reboots though.

There are still a great many question marks out there that I am anticipating, but I am not entirely sold on yet. For example, Terrence Malick's untitled project starring Ben Affleck. Malick -- who finally released his opus, The Tree of Life, in 2011 after being in production for nearly a decade -- is notorious for taking years to complete a project, and having one so soon after the other has me a touch wary. Then there is Robert Zemeckis' first live action film in over a decade with Flight. Does he still have the magic he once had? His animated offerings over the past decade, like Beowulf, aren't a good sign, but I still love Back to the Future.

Other major question marks: Ang Lee tackling the bestseller, Life of Pi, and Baz Luhrman attempting to make a definitive screen version of The Great Gatsby with Leo DiCaprio in the lead. Not to mention, Joss Whedon's modern day adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, which was shot for next to nothing. Can the guy who made The Avengers a big budget reality go macro and reinterpret Shakespeare? Then there's a potentially too soon reboot with The Amazing Spider-man, starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. Time will tell if director Marc Webb's more realistic take on the material will fall flat or fully realize the webhead like never before, but the trailers definitely look promising. I'll still consider it a surprise if the movie sweeps me away like the Sam Raimi movies did.

But enough of this, what are the movies I feel most moviegoers should be anticipating in 2012? That is the real reason for all of this. So here is my list of my 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012:

10. John Carter
I have very little knowledge of the Edgar Rice Burrough's novels upon which this movie is based, but the trailers at least paint this flick as an enjoyable sci-fi adventure like Star Wars or Avatar (which both films were inspired partially by Burrough's books). A Civil War hero falls asleep in a cave and awakes on the planet Mars where he has superhuman strength and joins forces with the natives in an epic war. Pixar animation director Andrew Stanton is making his live action debut with this movie, and if this same guy can give us Finding Nemo and Wall-E, then that is enough for me to want to see this movie.

9. Prometheus
Director Ridley Scott makes his first sci-fi flick since Blade Runner, about a bunch of explorers who find themselves on a distant planet that holds clues to the origins of Earth and mankind. The story keeps flopping back-and-forth between is it or isn't it a prequel to Scott's own Alien, but no matter what it really is, I really wanna see where this one goes. The premise seems to have genuine promise, and with LOST showrunner, Damon Lindeloff, as writer, this one definitely has the talent.

8. Rush
Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda narrowly survives a car crash, and then only a few weeks later he manages to fight his way back behind the wheel to race his rival, James Hunt. Director Ron Howard seems to be a perfect match for the material, but what has me most excited is to see Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, do his first dramatic role as Hunt.

7. The Avengers
Who isn't excited for this one? Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Thor, all fighting evil in the same movie. The box office is already getting prepped and ready to explode come May 4th. Whether or not writer/director Joss Whedon manages to find the characters behind all of the surefire explosions and CGI craziness is still yet to be seen, but just the sheer scale and scope of this movie has never been seen before. Avengers assemble!

6. Lincoln
With Steven Spielberg directing and Daniel Day-Lewis starring, this tale about Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation couldn't be in any better hands. This has been a project long in development for Spielberg, with Liam Neeson once attached to play Honest Abe, but now he has to make due with Day-Lewis. How terrible! (Sarcasm, I know). With such talent in front, and behind the camera, this could be a major Oscar play come next awards' season, not to mention it's Spielberg, the same guy who nailed Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. A film about American history has never been in better hands, at least in my lifetime.

5. Gravity
Reports of the opening shot lasting twenty minutes with zero cuts, lets you know you are watching an Alfonso Cuaron film. Gravity is Alfonso Cuaron's first film since Children of Men, and it is a simple enough premise, but one that I wanna see. Sandra Bullock stars as the only survivor of a botched space mission, trapped in outer space, trying to return home. With support coming from George Clooney, the cast is up to par, but Cuaron is the real reason I am so amped to see this. His imagination in terms of story and shot design has left me speechless with his previous work, so here is hoping.

4. Skyfall
Daniel Craig as James Bond, again. Sold. Craig has become the greatest James Bond in my mind aside from Sean Connery himself, and this new Bond flick promises to be more like the old 1960s' Bond movies in style, but keep the depth of character found in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. With Road to Perdition's Sam Mendes directing, and a story promising to question Bond's loyalty to Judi Dench's M, this should be a great thrill ride, with the Craig-era finally getting a Moneypenny and Q. And I must say, Q being a young 20-something has me intrigued.

3. The Hunger Games
Based on one of my favorite books of recent years, the epic story of kids from the ages of 12-18 being forced to fight in a fight to the death battle by their tyrannical government, may not sound like it has much more than carnage and mayhem, but The Hunger Games is a story about so much more than that. It's a story with full three-dimensional characters, all fighting for what they believe in, all fighting for love in order to protect those they most care about both in the ring and out of the ring. However, it is also a fascinating view on government and politics, and how a rebellion forms. If the movie does the books justice, moviegoers will see why this is not just another Twilight, but is something worth their while.

2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The much anticipated prequel to The Lord of the Rings finally makes it to the big screen, and it's only taken a little over a decade since The Fellowship of the Ring to make it. What has me so excited for this movie is that it isn't just another retread of what we've already seen. This is the story of how Bilbo Baggins became a hero and found the one ring. While we will run across many familiar characters from Gandalf to Gollum, it stars many characters that we do not know (unless you've read the book). As well, the book itself is more of a kid's adventure story than it is an epic tome, and early looks from the movie show a style that is less dark than The Lord of the Rings and more whimsical. I couldn't be more excited, and Martin Freeman is perfect casting as Bilbo.

1. The Dark Knight Rises
This is the final outing for director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale. No more Batman movies after this one. With a budget that is rumored to be north of $250 million, it puts TDKR in the upper echelon of most expensive movies ever made, but seriously, after how good Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were, who wouldn't put that much money behind the finale to Nolan's trilogy? The biggest question is: can Tom Hardy's Bane live up to be as memorable of a villain as Heath Ledger's Joker? I managed to see the first six minutes of the movie in Imax last December, and from those six minutes, I think, yes. As well, the more I see of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, the more I buy it. As of this point, I'm no longer a critic, I'm just an eager fan who wants to see how this particular Batman story comes to an end. With intriguing twists, such as the return of Ra's Al Ghul and the League of Shadows, and the story taking place eight years after The Dark Knight, TDKR promises to be another one of a kind moviegoing experience. It's gotta top the two greatest superhero movies of all-time, but who says there can't be three movies that vie for that title rather than just two?

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