In a world of 24-hour news cycles, where 90 percent of cable news airtime is devoted to a presidential election a year and a half away, and where marketing flacks start hyping their studio’s films before casting has even finished, I thought we’d go ahead and get a jump on the slate of movies scheduled for the year after the presidential election. Yes, it’s two years away, but if 2012 is indeed the end of the planet, I’d hate to imagine that these ten tiny films aren’t afforded enough online print. It’s never too early to get excited about movies that haven’t even begun filming, is it?
Let the hype rain down, and if we can get this train rolling, maybe we can hit the backlash point by the mid-point of 2012, so once they are finally released, we’ve turned the corner to the backlash’s backlash.
Iron Man 3: After the relatively benign Thor and the upcoming Captain America, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers will compete with The Dark Knight Rises and Superman: Man of Steel in 2012. Next summer may be the year that superhero fatigue fully sets in (if it hasn’t already) and Marvel will have to follow-up an all-star superhero movie in 2013 with the franchise responsible for Marvel’s good fortunes. Will it atone for the lackluster Iron Man 2? Maybe. The bad news is that Jon Favreau won’t be returning as director, but the good news is that Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) will, and Robert Downey, Jr. is still a commanding presence. The hitch arises if Black has to weave an Iron Man plotline into a potential Avengers sequel. All due respect to The Avengers, but we go to an Iron Man movie to see a movie about Iron Man. Not Nick Fury.
R.I.P.D.: Hopefully by the time 2013 rolls around, Ryan Reynolds’ post-Green Lantern reputation will have rebounded on the hopeful strength of Change Up and next year’s Safe House with Denzell Washington (and here’s hoping 2013 doesn’t also see a Green Lantern sequel). R.I.P.D, based on the Peter M. Lenkov graphic novel, is about a recently slain cop (Reynolds) who joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him. It’s been bouncing around in development for a few years, but Reynolds has seemingly been enthusiastic about getting it in before a possible Deadpool film. The good news is that Jeff Bridges is on board (in a role Zach Galifianaki declined) and director Robert Schwentke showed a little pizzazz in Red, though his Time Traveler’s Wife was pure crap.
Oblivion: The kids aren’t down with Tom Cruise anymore, but let me tell you why this project is exciting: 1) It’s an original movie, 2) it’s sci-fi, and 3) it comes from Joseph Kosinski, who gave us TRON: Legacy. OK, ignore that last part, and focus on the original sci-fi part. The script comes from William Monahan (The Departed) and that has to be worth something, right? What’s it about? A fantasy about a former solider who is the last person left on Earth after a war with an alien race. When he encounters a crashed spacecraft with a lone survivor, the two set off on an epic adventure. I think the lone survivor is a woman, and they fall in love. As long as it’s not Cameron Diaz, this movie has a shot. Right? It’s one of the many intriguing sci-fi flicks on this list. Will 2013 be the year of the Sci-Fi?
Robopacalypse: Assuming that Steven Spielberg actually follows through on his promise to direct Robopacalypse, the film — scripted by Drew Goddard and based on a Daniel H. Wilson novel — holds immense potential. The novel is already a critical favorite, described as an Andromeda Strain for a new century. Comparisons to early Michael Crichton are aplenty. Set the not-too-distant future, Robopacalypse is about robots that have made our lives a lot easier: they help clean our kitchens, drive our cars, and fight our wars — until they are turned into efficient murderers by a sentient artificial intelligence buried miles below the surface of Alaska. What? That sounds batshit. But, robots, murder, and Spielberg! There are hundreds of ways this could go wrong, but just as many reasons it could be one of the many great sci-fi films of 2013.
Oz: The Great and Powerful:
The world has been waiting for Hollywood has wanted to make a proper Wizard of Oz movie for years, and there are a number of them in production. This one, however, looks to be the first to get off the ground, and the cast — and a potentially racy story — offer some heady potential. James Franco will star as the young Wizard in this Wizard of Oz prequel (in a role vacated by Robert Downey, Jr.) and it will tell the story of Oz — a fast-talking huckster who wears a velveteen frock coat — and how he falls in love with Glinda (the Good Witch). The two combine forces to Fight the Evil Witches Evanora and Theodora. Mila Kunis will play Theodora, Rachel Weisz will play Evanora, and Michelle Williams is set to play Glinda. That’s a great combination of talent and sex appeal. Even more promising is the fact that this will be Sam Raimi’s first film since Drag Me to Hell.
Monsters University/Untitled Pixar Film/How to Train Your Dragon 2: This is the
Animated Film entry, and it looks to be a stellar year for CGI cartoons. For the first time, Pixar will have two movies in the same year, starting with the prequel to Monsters, Inc. — which will focus on the rocky relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — and an as yet Untitled Pixar flick. We don’t know the details of that one, but I’m hoping it’s not another sequel (especially a Toy Story sequel that’s been rumored, although a two year lead time is not really enough time to get a Pixar flick off the ground, at least under the old regime). Additionally, a lot of folks argued that How to Train Your Dragon was the best animated feature of 2010 (better than even Toy Story 3), and you won’t hear complaints from me. Last year’s massive sleeper hit will return in 2013 along with all the principals — writer, director, cast — of the first one.
The Gangster Squad: This will be director Ruben Fleischer’s (Zombieland) follow-up to 30 Minutes or Less, a period movie set in the 40s and 50s that chronicles the LAPD’s fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles. The flick is based on a super-smart seven-part LA Times article called written by Paul Lieberman, and Gangster Squad was scripted by former Los Angeles Police Officer Will Beall (a writer on “Castle”). But why is it exciting? Check out the cast: Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie, and Sean Penn. That’s reason enough to be excited.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again: This is a gimme, the second half of The Hobbit movie that kicks off in 2012 with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The great news is that The Hobbit will attract all of those Lord of the Rings fans, as well as the many — like myself — who loved The Hobbit but didn’t care much for the LOTR novels (or the movies). It also has a couple of cast members going for it that the LOTR movies did not, namely Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaugh) and Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins). The bad news: There’s a lot of LOTR characters in the movie that don’t belong, and despite the fact that The Hobbit was shorter than any of the LOTR movies, it’s being broken up into two films, which suggests that there may be the potential for a lot of bloat, a problem Peter Jackson had with the LOTR films.
Pacific Rim: Guillermo del Toro is a brilliant director, but the man spends so much time attaching his name to new projects that he never has any time to actually make a movie. He hasn’t had one since Hellboy II in 2008 despite the fact that he’s talked a Van Helsing remake, an At the Mountains of Madness movie, and he wants to direct Angelina Jolie in Maleficent. But for now, Pacific Rim is the only movie he has in actual production. But that’s OK because, by the sound of it, we’re in for one hell of a film. The cast is made of Pajiba dreams: Idris Elba (replacing Tom Cruise) and Charlie Hunnam. The story is set in a future in which malevolent creatures threaten the earth, and it’s about how the planet bands together and uses highly advanced technology to eradicate the growing menace. It has big fucking movie written all over it. We actually haven’t seen del Toro take on a movie this massive a scale, but after Pan’s Labyrinth, I’m willing to trust.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo: David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) is a director that rarely lets us down (excepting The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). He, along Aaron Sorkin, turned a movie about the founding of a social network website into one of the most riveting films of 2010. He’ll end this year with the much anticipated Girl with a Dragon Tattoo film, and he looks next to embark on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The rabbit in his hat this time may just be Michael Chabon, the Wonderboys and Kavalier and Clay novelist who has been tapped to adapt the script from Jules Verne’s classic novel. The focus will turn on Nemo and how created his underwater vessel, the Nautilus. It is a Disney remake, but I wouldn’t expect a Disney take from David Fincher; I’d expect something closer to a movie that a Trent Reznor score would feel comfortable in.
Elysium: Matt Damon. Jodie Foster. William Fichtner. Sharlto Copley. Oh, you want more? It’s Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9. What’s it about? I have no fucking idea. And that’s what’s so great about Elysium. Because while there’s already some details out about the nine movies above — which won’t hit theaters for another two years — there’s practically nothing available on Elysium. That’s the way I’d prefer it. Maybe, like District 9, mysterious details will begin to emerge in the middle of July for an early August release. Maybe we can actually go into a theater without having every detail spoiled, without having every scene released in trailers and clips, without having movie blogs — like this one — examining every bit of minutia before it screens. It’s a lot to ask and completely unrealistic, but wouldn’t it be great if assholes like myself didn’t jump all over the hype bandwagon two years too early?