2012 looks to be an incredible year for movies, and whereas last year I struggled a bit to fill out my “11 Most Anticipated Movies of 2011” list, this year I struggled to pare my list down to only 12! I’ve already talked about some of these films in more depth on our Shouts From the Back Row episode where we discuss some of our most anticipated films of 2012, but there were so many movies to pick from that I didn’t have time to give them the lip service they deserve. What follows is a list of my 12 most anticipated films of 2012, in no particular order. It’s safe to say that every one of these movies gets me giddy with excitement.
The Movie: A Western wherein a dentist-turned-bounty hunter frees a slave and trains him to be a killer so that he can save his wife from a plantation and exact revenge upon the slave owner who tormented them.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: Two words – Quentin Tarantino. Don’t get me wrong, the cast is amazing. Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo Dicaprio, Sacha Baron Cohen, Samuel L. Jackson, James Remar, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Savini, and KURT RUSSELL are all very big draws for me, but ultimately, it’s Mr. Tarantino’s return to the big screen after the masterpiece that was Inglourious Basterds that puts a big ol’ smile on my face. At this point, Tarantino can do no wrong, and the fact that he’s making a bloody spaghetti Western based loosely on the classic Franco Nero gunslinger Django is like a dream come true for me. You’d be a fool to miss this one, folks.
The Movie: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of human life on earth, but in doing so, they also uncover something terrifying way out in in the blackness of space.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: In my opinion, Ridley Scott hasn’t been at the top of his game for years. Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood, A Good Year, and many others were just dull in my eyes, albeit grandiose in scope when it came to Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood. But they failed to make an impact on me, and even Gladiator, which was good, but not great, and certainly didn’t impress me the way it seemed to impress everybody else, missed the mark a bit and didn’t resonate. However, the reason I haven’t been a Ridley Scott enthusiast for over a decade may have something to do with the fact that he hasn’t made a science fiction film in ages, and my two favourite Ridley Scott pictures are both sci-fi: Alien and Blade Runner. When Scott announced that he was returning to the genre, though, I wasn’t immediately excited, simply because the project was an apparent prequel to Alien, and Scott was planning on doing a sequel or prequel to Blade Runner, too. All of this smacked of desperation from the director, as though he knew that his popularity was waning. And then I saw the trailer. Wow. All of my opinions did a complete 180, and now I can’t wait to see what this movie is like. There’s still the chance that Prometheus won’t be as good as the preview promises, but with a solid cast (including Michael Fassbender, one of the best actors working today, in my opinion), strong visuals, and that dirty, ugly future that Scott imagined in the original Alien, my hopes are high that Prometheus will be so cool, it will wash the bad taste of Alien vs. Predator and its sequel from our collective mouths.
The Movie: Okay, get this. Liam Neeson is head of security at an Alaskan oil drilling station who specializes in killing wolves. Following a plane crash, he and the other survivors must brave the elements and trek through the barren, frozen wasteland to find safety…all the while fighting weird CGI wolves who perceive them as intruders. At one point, Liam Neeson uses electrical tape to fashion makeshift brass knuckles out of airplane-sized, miniature bottles of alcohol. I’m not even kidding.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: Just read the plot synopsis again. No, seriously, that right there sums up everything I’m looking forward to in this film. At first I was excited because I thought the movie was going for an intentionally cheesy vibe; something along the lines of Snakes on a Plane, but early reviews are all really positive, so this might turn out to be one of 2012’s bigger surprises. I’m not a die-hard fan of Joe Carnahan’s work, but Smokin’ Aces was a blast, and while The A-Team was undeniably silly, I still found it fun, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here. But ultimately, it’s the stoic badass that is Liam Neeson, and that scene with the bottles that have got me hooked.
The Movie: Three teenagers encounter something in an underground cave and find themselves suddenly in possession of powerful telekinetic abilities.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: As blatantly gimmicky as they are, I do enjoy “found footage” movies, and this one looks to be very interesting indeed. The idea of a group of teenagers getting superpowers and just using them to be dicks is surprisingly fresh, and a nice counter to properties like Spider-Man or even Captain America where the young outcasts use their powers for justice and good instead of self-service. This looks like Marvel meets Project X (another film worth noting from this year), and I can’t wait to see what Max Landis – son of the legendary John Landis – brings to the party.
The Movie: Two young lovers run away from their New England homes on an adventure while their parents and a boy scout troop organize a search party to find them.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: At this point, Wes Anderson is almost a parody of himself, and the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom perfectly demonstrates this. The yellow text, the solid primary colours, the theatrically composed mis-en-scene, the French music, and the inclusion of Bill Murray all indicate what kind of a film we can expect: a quirky, visually striking off-beat comedy that’s obviously influenced by classic movies like Jules et Jim. Now, I recognize that Wes Anderson isn’t for everybody, but I, for one, love his work, so naturally I’m looking forward to seeing his latest endeavour. Plus, it has drunk Bill Murray with an axe! And that’s not even mentioning Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, and Jason Schwartzman. Need I say more?
Casa de mi Padre
The Movie: While trying to save their father’s ranch from bankruptcy, the Alvarez brothers find themselves in a war against Mexico’s most notorious drug lord.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: Oh man, where to begin? First, the story of a family of Mexican ranchers battling a maniacal drug lord is the stuff of grindhouse cinema (which I adore), and the fact that the trailer has a grainy, low-budget look to it and proudly declares that the film is “In Color!” tells me that the grindhouse style extends well beyond Casa de mi Padre‘s plot description. It’s awesome to see Will Ferrell trying something a little new with his role as an action hero vigilante and Gael Garcia Bernal looks to be amazing as the villain, but what really caught my attention with this one is the fact that the movie is in Spanish! Now, some people might scoff at me lauding this fact as reason to get excited about this movie, but think about it: the general population seems to distain subtitles (for reasons I will never understand), and often we get Americanized remakes of foreign films just because of it. It’s a bold move to make a grindhouse-y action comedy starring Will Ferrell, but it’s an even bolder move to make it in a foreign language. Mark my words: Casa de mi Padre is going to kick all kinds of ass.
The Hunger Games
The Movie: In the distant future, an annual competition called the Hunger Games takes place, which pits average people against each other in a fight to the death that’s televised nationally as both a form of punishment and entertainment.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: I’ll admit that I’m not as excited to see this movie as I am about other films on this list, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thoroughly intrigued by The Hunger Games. I haven’t read the novels upon which the movie is based, but I understand that the first one, at least, is terrific. So why am I looking forward to this? Because I’ve seen a similar premise done brilliantly in the legendary cult film Battle Royale, so I’m very, very interested to see what Hollywood does with it. A big-budget, polished version of Battle Royale with more futuristic, apocalyptic touches thrown in could be fantastic, and the inclusion of Jennifer Lawrence, who blew me away in Winter’s Bone and X-Men: First Class, along with a supporting cast including Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson, means that the acting will be solid. Fingers crossed that this finally pushes Twilight out of popularity as the #1 young adult property in our cinemas.
The Movie: Thomas throws a massive house party that spirals wildly out of control as more and more people show up. Soon the neighbourhood looks like a war zone, with riot squads showing up, as well as some guy with a flamethrower. The whole thing is captured on video as partygoers document the insanity.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: You may be surprised to learn that the trailer for this movie actually fills me with a lot of dread. There’s something scarily realistic about the idea of a big party turning into a full-fledge riot that sends a chill up my spine – plus, something like this actually happened not too long ago when a girl’s house party was listed on Facebook as an open event and more than 1500 people turned up. But more than that, I just love the idea of something massive and enjoyable like a giant house party suddenly becoming terrifying as people get intoxicated and go nuts; that kind of turn from wild fun to high tension makes for great storytelling, in my opinion. This is also a great use for the “found footage” gimmick that I mentioned before. I dunno, maybe I’m crazy for looking forward to Project X, but any movie that can simultaneously make me think “I want to be there” and “I want to be as far away from there as possible” must have something to it.
The Cabin in the Woods
The Movie: What starts like a typical friends-in-a-cabin horror flick turns into something much weirder and more…sci-fi.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: First off, I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan, and I feel like even his failures (such as the short-lived sci-fi TV show Dollhouse, which had a great second season, by the way) are a cut above most of the TV shows and movies out there. Secondly, Whedon has teamed up with Drew Goddard, one of the guys behind Cloverfield – a movie that I think is nothing short of awesome. But the real draw comes from the film’s trailer, wherein we get the usual set up of friends heading out to an isolated cabin for a weekend (the cabin looks just like the one from Evil Dead, giving this movie even more nerd cred), but then…hell, I have no idea what happens! Things just start getting weirder and weirder, and as they do, my smile gets wider and wider. So to recap: I love Joss Whedon’s work, I love Drew Goddard’s work, I love cabin-in-the-woods horror films, and I love it when genre conventions get subverted in unexpected and unusual ways. In other words: I already love this movie. Whedon and Goddard will have to bomb pretty hard for me to dislike The Cabin in the Woods when I see it in its entirety.
The Movie: Nick Fury and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency assemble a team of Marvel superheroes to fight the Norse trickster god Loki.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: The Avengers is the second Joss Whedon film getting released this year, so everything I said about my Whedon fandom before applies here as well. But in this case, Whedon’s involvement is actually just the cherry on top of the sundae of awesomeness, because long before he signed on to direct The Avengers, we were already seeing the setup for this film being constructed in films like Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. All told, the build-up to The Avengers has lasted four years, and seen multiple films dedicated to the different heroes who will make up the protagonists of this: the biggest movie crossover of all time. Avengers assemble!
The Dark Knight Rises
The Movie: Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, terrorist leader Bane turns up in Gotham to stir things up, forcing Batman out of hiding for the first time since Harvey Dent’s demise.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: After The Dark Knight blew us all away, the general moviegoing public has been waiting with baited breath for Christopher Nolan’s final instalment in the best series of Batman movies of all time. Unlike The Avengers, the four-year wait for The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t filled with Batman movies to tide viewers over, so in some ways the anticipation surrounding TDKR is even bigger than that of Marvel’s film. Sure, some people might complain that Bane’s dialogue is unintelligible beneath his mask, or that Anne Hathaway is a terrible choice to play Catwoman, but since Christopher Nolan caught us off-guard with the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker, the director has had my complete trust. This trailer looks amazing, and I predict that the film will likewise be incredible…surprising no one.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Movie: Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the wizard, and a group of dwarves travel to the Lonely Mountains to reclaim a stolen treasure from the dragon Smaug.
Why I’m Looking Forward To It: The Lord of the Rings franchise is so massive that I feel kinda stupid describing why I’m looking forward to The Hobbit so much. It’s been a decade since The Fellowship of the Ring, and ever since that film, audiences everywhere have been anticipating a big-screen adaptation of The Hobbit. For a while there, Guillermo Del Toro was going to be helming it, but eventually he left the project and the director behind the original trilogy, Peter Jackson, returned, make this movie all the more perfect. When the trailer dropped, I was astounded at how consistent the look of the series continues to be and how perfect the casting of Martin Freeman is. This movie looks just like the previous three in terms of visual style and tone, has the right mix of new and old cast members, and is set to be the return to Middle Earth that fans have been waiting for so long to see. And as a bonus: Freeman’s Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the dragon!
Other Movies I’m Looking Forward To, But Not As Much As The 11 Above:
World War Z
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter