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Coming Up! Part II: 70-plus films for 2013, from intriguing to avoiding


Intrigued, but with reservations



The following films all have potential, and a some could have made it to my 20 most-anticipated list, but there are lingering doubts.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues

Will Ferrell improv-ing can be a beautiful thing. And while I’d rather see him do this than another sports comedy, I suspect that one Ron Burgundy movie was sufficient.

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Phil Alden Robinson gave us Field of Dreams more than two decades ago. Since then we’ve not seen much of him (most recently he directed The Sum of All our Fears) but the premise of a lawyer misdiagnosed with 90 minutes to live, who then goes all out to right all the wrongs in his life, has potential. Everything depends whether it becomes a Robin Williams schmaltz-fest or has the balls of the original Israeli movie, or indeed some of Williams more recent indie fare. 

Dom Hemingway

(Pictured) Richard Shephard’s The Matador is a black comedy gem, and this tale of a just-released-from-prison safecracker out to get what he’s owed will likely have a similar tone. The iffy side is Jude Law in the lead, and the iffier is Richard E Grant. But they certainly look like they’re fully embracing their roles.

The Double

For his sophomore effort, Richard Ayoade adapts Dostoyevsky’s novella. Jesse Eisenberg’s stars, helped along by the great Wallace Shawn. Submarine didn’t completely work for me, but Ayoade’s clearly a talented director and he deserves credit for pushing himself (none for The Watch, though).

The East

Follow-up to Sound of My Voice sounds a little too similar thematically (infiltration of a group leads to the undercover protagonist questioning him/herself). Brit Marling is investigating eco-terrorists rather than playing a cult leader from the future. Hopefully fruitful ideas will be yielded byu Zai Batmanglij’s film.

Ender’s Game

Long in development, but is Gavin Hood the man to bring Orson Scott Card’s novel to the screen? There are already mutterings of discontent over the apparently aged-up youngsters the story revolves around. Much may depend on whether he becomes a studio punching bag like he did on X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The Europa Report/Last Days on Mars

Two low budget sci-fi pics. Europa concerns astronauts searching for evidence of life on Jupiter’s fourth moon. Mars sounds like a standard thriller/horror, whittling down the protagonists. Both could be interesting, or Ghosts of Mars/Apollo 18. Sharlto Copley and Liev Schrieber are the respective leads. 

47 Ronin

Much-delayed Kean Reeves samurai movie, the directorial debut of Carl Rinsch. The budget reportedly went through the roof and news of reshoots has added to the air of disaster surrounding it. I remain curious, and hopeful that if it is a failure it will be more John Carter than Battleship.

42

Brian Helgeland’s Jackie Robinson biopic gets its star wattage from Harrison Ford’s supporting turn. Helgeland’s had mixed fortunes as a writer, even more so as a director, but this could be one sports movie that’s worth a look. 

Foxcatcher

Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) is again inspired by a real life story, this time concerning the heir to the du Pont fortune who established a gym for the Olympic wrestling team to train in. He ended up murdering his friend and Olympic wrestler David Schultz. The cast includes Steve Carrell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. It will be interesting to see how Miller tackles it.


Her

The return of Spike Jonze to more Charlie Kaufmann-esque territory following Where the Wild Things Are, in this self-penned story of a man who falls in love with a computer system. An enviable cast includes Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Samantha Morton and Rooney Mara. 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

An Unexpected Journey suffered from a director having too much rope and no one standing over his shoulder telling him when to gather it in. I see no reason for that to change with part two, although the title at least suggests this will be dramatically meatier.


How I Live Now

Teen-fic adaptation, of Meg Rosoff's novel, with teen du jour Saoirse Ronan. What sparks interest is the involvement of Kevin Macdonald, whose directorial career has been mixed since moving from documentaries into fiction films. His State of Play was a pretty good version of the BBC TV series, but The Eagle was ignored. This one concerns a teenager on holiday in the English countryside when war breaks out. The script may have too many cooks but Tony Grisoni and Jack Thorne are both promising inclusions.


Labor Day

Jason Reitman looks a lot like Edgar Wright, doesn't he? All four of Reitman's features to date have been intelligent dramedies with a heart; to that extent he's a bit of more commercially-inclined, less nuanced Alexander Payne. The title makes it sound like an inspid romcom, but this seems straighter skewing than his previous efforts, as Kate Winslet and her son offer a wounded man a ride as the police close in on him. 

Man of Steel

My first concern was the lack of underpants. To be fair, the trailers have been good and positioning the movie as a question mark over whether Superman can work in the modern world is quite savvy. I’m sure Zach Snyder will ensure it is dynamic, but I really need convincing that Supes can be a dramatically interesting character.


A Most Wanted Man

Anton Corbijn's third film, an adaptation of a John Le Carre novel, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright and Rachel McAdams. Le Carre used his 2008 novel to critique the Us's rendition policy. It's not as if films haven't trod this ground before, but Corbijn brings something special to the table.


Nebraska

Alexander Payne's quirky character pieces are an actor's dream, and he's yet to come a cropper with them.  I can't say they stay as strongly with me as (say) Wes Anderson's films, but they are always superior entertainment worth seeking out. This time out, a drunken father makes a journey from Montana to the state of the title with his estranged son to claim a $1m prize. Knowing that Bruce Dern is taking leading man duties makes this a must-see.  

Now You See Me

Around the time of Transporter 2 I thought that Louis Letterier had potential as an action director. He seemed to know his choreography and geography. Then came Clash of the Titans. The trailer for Now You See Me is very flashy, as is the cast; I’d love for this to be as tricksily clever as the illusionists-pull-bank-heists premise suggests.

Oblivion

The trailer looks so-so, and Cruise is clearly not stretching himself. I have confidence in Joseph Kosinski as a director, less so in him as a (co-) writer. If the premise holds up, this could be a brainy sci-fi hit.

Only God Forgives

Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling’s bromance yielded dividends with Drive but the premise of OGF seems faintly silly. Gosling’s character runs a Thai boxing club (a drug smuggling front) and is charged with revenging his brother’s death.  No doubt chock full of lovingly-photographed violence.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmusch hasn’t been especially prolific since the twenty-first century began, although Broken Flowers was a big hit by his standards. It likely wouldn’t have been without the crumpled charm of Bill Murray. His collection of shorts, Coffee and Cigarettes, was well-received but not raved about while The Limits of Control sank without trace. 2013 brings a vampire love story starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. The last time Jarmusch played overtly with supernatural themes we were rewarded with his best film (Dead Man) so hopefully this will hit the spot.

Paranoia

I sense a developing theme here; Harrison Ford pictures with potential. This story of corporate espionage boasts a strong cast; Ford, Gary Oldman, Richard Dreyfus, Josh Holloway, the Hemsworth who isn’t called Chris. The question mark is lightweight-director-wanting-to-be-taken-seriously Robert Luketic. 21 held some promise, so let’s hope he’s aiming toward that rather than Monster-in-Law.

R.I.P.D.

An appealingly batty premise based on a comic book property (dead cop is introduce to a team of deceased officers, then searches for his murderer) and I’ll watch Jeff Bridges in anything. I’m less convinced by Ryan Reynolds lately, however. Director Robert Schwentke is riding high from the success of Red. I can smell audience disinterest no matter how good it is, though.


Snowpiercer

It was likely Joob-ho Bong's The Host that snared Hollywood's attention. Like the Europa/Mars flicks mentioned above, this will succeed or fail on the director's chops, as the premise is pure B-hokum (based on a French graphic novel); a class system has developed amongst future Earth's survivors on the train of the title, and revolution beckons. An interesting cast is headed up by Chris Evans. 


Under the Skin

Most people agree that Sexy Beast was a triumph, and its reputation has only grown since it came out. Jonathan Glazer's follow-up, Birth, received a very mixed reception but the director is laudably set on follow his own idiosyncratic path with his third feature. Scarlett Johansson as a (Man Who Fell to Eath-esque?) alien travelling through Scotland. 

Welcome to the Punch

Intriguing premise (detective and former criminal discover a larger conspiracy) and a strong cast (James McAvoy, Mark Strong, David Morrisey). Can director Eran Creevy deliver?

Winter’s Tale

Akiva Goldsman has committed enough crimes against cinema that this should be in “the pits” section. Batman & Robin, A Beautiful Mind, Angels & Demons. But he did some okay work on Fringe, even if his directing gigs for it were patchy. Maybe he can go that extra mile for what is clearly a passion project (an adaptation of Mark Helprin’s novel) or maybe he’s the next Mark Steven Johnson.  He’s pulled together an interesting cast (Will Smith, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, any-role-will-do Colin Farrell).

The Wolverine

When it was Darren Aronofsky directing I had no doubts, and the knowledge that everyone raved about Christopher McQuarrie’s script is positive… So why has James Mangold messed with it to the extent he’s got a writing credit? Mangold’s a solid pair of journeyman hands but I’m not flipping somersaults in anticipation of this being a First Class shot in the arm for the franchise.

World War Z

I thought the trailer had promise, even if it was highly derivative of the flashback sequence in I Am Legend. That said, Marc Foster made a hopeless mess of Quantum of Solace and Brad Pitt doesn’t seem to quite gell with the material.

Why am I not feeling it?


There's pedigree to many of the runners below, but I can't escape the feeling that disappointment awaits.

Broken City/2 Guns

Mark Wahlberg has four films coming out in 2013. I’m in little doubt that the best of these will be the most unlikely, his Michael Bay collaboration. Wahlberg can be cast well or end up hanging there like a listless plank. I’m unsure how these two will play, but I’m not overly optimistic. He’s squared opposite the much more charismatic Russell Crowe in Broken City, and has a strong director in Allen Hughes (flying solo), but cop vs NYC mayor could just translate as lots of glowering if the plot isn’t there. 2 Guns is from Wahlberg’s Contraband director and has Denzel Washington taking pole position. It sounds like a highly generic thriller (the mob sets up a DEA agent and a Naval Intelligence officer), which would fit with the stars of recent highly generic thrillers Contraband and Safe House.

Captain Philips

I think I prefer Paul Greengrass when he isn’t trying to “say something” as his adaptations/inspirations based on true stories scream of heavy-handededness. With his Martin Luther King Jr biopic stalled,  he moved quickly to this. Tom Hanks is the titular character, whose ship was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. I’m sure there will be talk of Oscars.

The Counselor

For all its flaws, Prometheus was the most interesting Ridley’s been since his Roman rebirth. But it established once and for all that he’s tone deaf as far as script quality is concerned. I don’t believe he can take a Cormac McCarthy and do a Coen Brothers with it. He’s blessed with a dynamite cast, but that wasn’t enough for his Alien prequel.

Dead Man Down

Original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev reunites with Noomi Rapace for a crime thriller set in New York. Hmmm. Colin Farrell co-stars. Hmmmm.

Gangster Squad

Ruben Fleischer wants a bit of “serious filmmaker” credibility after comedy hit Zombieland. But everything about this has looks fake and forced, from the title down.  Another great cast (Penn, Gosling, Stone, Brolin) but possibly a botch job.

Kick-Ass 2

I didn’t think Kick-Ass needed a sequel, certainly not one without Matthew Vaughn. Who the hell is Jeff Wadlow? But the main players are back, and Jim Carrey’s on board. Hey, maybe it will justify its existence.

Oldboy

How long did this take to finally enter production? (Whispers) I wasn’t the greatest fan of the original, but Spike Lee has pulled together an interesting cast and hopefully the result will be divergent enough from the decade old Korean film stand on its own.

Oz: The Great and Powerful

(Pictured) Having James Franco as your lead doesn’t necessarily spell disaster (look at Rise of the Planet of the Apes) but it isn’t a good sign. It isn’t even clear how Sam Raimi ended up calling the shots on this (Spider-man blues?). If Disney is hoping they’ve got another Alice in Wonderland brewing they’re going to be disappointed.

Pacific Rim

More controversially, I’m calling an early foul on Guillermo Del Toro’s bid for bankability. Giant robots versus giant monsters with a bit of Cthulu? I just don’t care. I’m sure it will be technically competent and visually awesome but nothing about the premise grabs me. Fanboys will tell me this is because I have no soul. Which may be true.

Rush

Biopic documenting the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Sounds full of potential. What’s that? Ron Howard’s directing it? Oh.

Trance

The plot sounds potty, but it represents an overdue reteaming with John Hodge for Danny Boyle; a fine art auctioneer and a hypnotherapist attempt to recover a lost painting. Boyle’s been watchable but erratic since his ‘90s heyday, but he’s an official national treasure now due to the Olympics. Apparently.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Scorsese reunites with DiCaprio in the story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who was implicated in a huge securities fraud in the ‘90s. The problem is, Scorsese doesn’t dazzle any more. He churns them out in much the same manner as Ridley Scott. Always technically accomplished, but rarely passionate and often unable to see the flaws in the scripts he takes on. Scripter Terence Winter is a Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire veteran, so maybe he has what it takes.

Dumb but full of Fun?


If you don't expect miracles, you won't be disappointed.

GI Joe: Retaliation/Fast & Furious 6

One sequel was delayed to exhume the box office dynamite that is Channing Tatum. Possibly unnecessary since The Rock and Bruce make it look more appealing than the first one anyway. The other reaches an unbelievable sixth outing and also stars Dwayne. Fast Five was very agreeable, so this may be too.

The Hangover Part III

I was one of the few who admits to having enjoyed Part II (it seems) and I am even a little concerned about the eschewing of the memory loss formula for the finale. Did we need two sequels? No. But the cast have great chemistry and I’m happy to go back for thirds.

Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The trailer wasn’t bad at all. I like the idea of Steves Carrell and Buscemi as a magician stage act. And this could be Jim Carrey’s come back year if his supporting turn as a David Blane-type is anything to go by.

The Internship

Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell in a generation gap comedy channelling job market angst. The latter might make it a tough sell, but I don’t doubt Shawn Levy’s unerring eye for mass audience endorsement will take effect.

Jack Ryan

I would never have countenanced the fledgling director who couldn’t put his twirling camera down (Dead Again, Frankenstein) becoming the competent action-stager of Thor. So maybe Ryan isn’t such a baffling gig. The make-or-break is the story and with four credited writers there’s the danger of a stink.

Non-stop

Wait, Neeson’s made an action movie with a European director?! He reteams with Unknown’s Jaume Collet-Serra as an air marshall who has to  take no doubt bone-crunching action on a flight. With Julianne Moore. Chances are it’s better than Taken. And Taken 2.

Pain & Gain

Wahlberg plays dim (yay!) and stars with always-good sport Dwayne Johnson in Michael Bay’s story of bodybuilders turned kidnappers. It’s based on fact, and no doubt there will be numerous articles on how the actual events are even less salubrious than this comedy-tinged version. Nevertheless, this might be Bay’s first watchable movie since… Bad Boys 2?

The Seventh Son

(Pictured) More Moore, reuniting with the Dude himself. It’s anyone’s guess if this teen-orientated fantasy will be any good, but it is reassuringly medieval in setting and there are worse bland young leads out there than Ben Barnes.

Thor: The Dark World

Game of Thrones veteran Alan Taylor got the gig, which promises to more fully embrace the Asgardian strangeness. It looks like pretty much everyone’s back. And Christopher Eccleston.

The Tomb/A Bullet to the Head

Arnie and Sly together in prison, trying to escape. Stallone’s been in some solid behind bars flicks (Tango & Cash, Lock Up). Then there’s Stallone as a hitman directed by Water Hill. Both strictly B-movie fare, and if they do their job probably solid entertainments.

White House Down/Olympus Has Fallen

Competing terrorists-attack-the-White House flicks. Antoine Fuqua’s Gerald Butler starrer (Olympus) arrives first, but I’m betting on Channing Tatum saving Jamie Foxx’s President. Mainly because of Roland Emmerich’s instinct for popcorn fare.

Blah-blah


A selection of so-so prospects, some of which are likely to great guns at the box office but underwhelm where it counts. 

The Croods/Epic/Turbo/Frozen

None of the CGI properties for 2013 have instant “must-see” appeal, but on the up-side there is some emphasis on original material. The Croods is a Dreamworks comedy about a Stone Age family from How to Train Your Dragon’s director. With Ryan Reynolds. The trailer makes it look fairly missable (it had a bumpy production history).  Turbo (pictured), from the same studio, also boast Ryan Reynolds (… ) as a lead (do they have some special deal with him?), this time as a speedy snail. It’s an obvious gag, so the question is can they stretch it to a full feature. It’s Dreamworks, of course they can, with as many pop hits to help you through as they can shoehorn in. 

Epic has aspirations to, well, epicness, if the self-important trailer is anything to go by (but with a funny slug!). It comes across as Honey I Shrunk the Ferngully Avatar; I’m not sure it will be “fun” enough to become a big hit (the source material comes from the same author as Rise of the Guardians) but it might be interesting for daring to be different. Frozen sees Disney adapt The Snow Queen. Rapunzel worked well for them, and no doubt they will bring the same irreverence to this. And musical numbers.

Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire/The Host/The Mortal Instruments/Beautiful Creatures

The deluge of post-Twilight “young adult” adaptations will continue as long as a new one finds an audience. Hunger Games did that last year. It was a reasonable movie, afflicted by gaps in logic than were no doubt present in the source material but blessed by Jennifer Lawrence on lead duties. The sequel will no doubt build on the original’s success (especially internationally, where it trailed the US love) and with Francis Lawrence picking up Gary Ross’ discarded megaphone the action should be more coherent.

Of the rest, The Host comes from Twilight’s Stephanie Meyer, adapted by wannabe intellectual Andrew Niccol. Alien take-over sci-fi, maybe it will end up possessing a brain, or possibly it will fall between two stools and please no one. The Mortal Instruments concerns teenage demon slayers (a bit like Buffy but without the self-reflexivity, then?) and boasts Phil Collins’ impressively-eyebrowed offspring Lilly. Beautiful Creatures appears to be Southern Gothic, but much more chaste than True Blood. Richard LaGravenese directs. If there’s a new break-out hit, Mortal Instruments will likely take the prize.

Jack the Giant Killer

Bryan Singer’s film got shunted back a year for no discernable reason. Rumour suggested this is because it’s crap, but more likely it's just a competent fantasy movie that got the greenlight purely because fantasy is “in”. And the miserable box office will reflect this. It certainly doesn’t have a Kristin Stewart or Chris Hemsworth to pull in the kids (Ewan McGregor doesn’t sell tickets). Singer’s career has become a mess since he jumped X-Men’s ship for Superman. Next he returns to X-Men. His choices seem addled. Perhaps he just smokes a lot of weed.

Monsters University

Why, Pixar, why? Of course! You don’t care about quality any more; all you want is a sure return. Also expect Despicable Me 2, Smurfs 2, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Planes (a Cars spin-off). None of them needed sequels so it will be interesting to see which ones are ignored.

Saving Mr Banks

Tom Hanks is Walt Disney. It’s all about Mary Poppins, you know. I’m vaguely interested to see Kristopher Kyer’s take on Dick Van Dyke but that’s as far as it goes.

Sin City 2

Robert Rodriguez’ 2005 original at least stood out stylistically, which is more than can be said for his cheap-and-cheerful churn ‘em out approach to kid’s movies and adult exploitation fare. I doubt this will be anything special (the first one was overrated), but there appears to be a built-in audience.

The Third Person

Paul Haggis has been all over the place as a director, so it’s hard to know what to expect from him. Crash was as subtle as a brick, but In the Valley of Ellah was as contrastingly nuanced. The Next Three Days was an unabashed thriller with nothing meaningful to say. A return to interlinked stories might ring warning bells but it’s a wait and see one, this.

The Young and Prodigious Spivet

Jean-Pierre Jeunet has underwhelmed following the rather wonderful Amelie. His first film in four years, based on Reis Larson’s novel, concerns a 12-year-old prodigy who travels across country to receive an award from the Smithsonian. Sure to be odd, but whether it’s unpalatably cute too is the concern. Helena Bonham Carter and, naturally, Dominique Pinon are among the cast.

The pits


It may be that several of these struggle agains the odds and emerge as solid entertainments, but I'm not holding my breath. 

About Time

Richard Curtis attempts to prove Love, Actually and The Boat that Rocked weren’t flukes and that he can make three lousy films in a row.

After Earth

Will Smith shows off Jaden. Again. Possibly not completely horrible, but the trailer suggests otherwise.

Diana

Oliver Hirschbiegel directs Naomi Watts as The People’s Princess. Likely to be as profound and insightful as The Iron Lady.

The Great Gatsby

(Pictured) You either think Baz Luhrmann’s shit smells like roses or you don’t. I’ll admit the most recent trailer for Gatsby was arresting, but it suggests exactly the same kind of undiscerning assault on the senses that afflicted Moulin Rouge! From the director of Australia

The Last Stand

The trailer’s make this look like a sub-Commando era Arnie cheese machine, fumblingly directed with a withered, ill-fitting Austrian Oak. Comeback stalled?

Lone Survivor

Mark Wahlbeg in another Peter Berg flag-waving piece of shit. Berg isn’t a completely untalented director, but he has his head firmly lodged up his patriotic arse. Unfortunately he didn’t get laughed out of town following Battleship, so maybe he has friends in highly decorated places.

Robocop

Everything about this remake looks horrible, so something even half-watchable would be a result. 

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You keep a horse in the basement?

The ‘Burbs (1989)
(SPOILERS) The ‘Burbs is Joe Dante’s masterpiece. Or at least, his masterpiece that isn’t his bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you masterpiece Gremlins 2: The New Batch, or his high profile masterpiece Gremlins. Unlike those two, the latter of which bolted out of the gate and took audiences by surprise with it’s black wit subverting the expected Spielberg melange, and the first which was roundly shunned by viewers and critics for being absolutely nothing like the first and waving that fact gleefully under their noses, The ‘Burbs took a while to gain its foothold in the Dante pantheon. 

It came out at a time when there had been a good few movies (not least Dante’s) taking a poke at small town Americana, and it was a Tom Hanks movie when Hanks was still a broad strokes comedy guy (Big had just made him big, Turner and Hooch was a few months away; you know you’ve really made it when you co-star with a pooch). It’s true to say that some, as with say The Big Lebowski, “got it” on fi…

Never compare me to the mayor in Jaws! Never!

Ghostbusters (2016)
(SPOILERS) Paul Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped make his Ghostbusters remake (or reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not even being that great a movie in the first place.

Along which lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem, but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant improv sessions.

So there’s nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters, but aside from …