02 January 2013

Thirteen Things to Look Forward to in 2013

The New Year is upon us folks - it's 2013, and it's going to be a wild one. In many ways, 2012 was a huge seminal year. We had an Olympics, and Election, and a few natural disasters that changed the world. It was also this interesting year for movies. The biggest films of the year, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises both felt like these huge culminations of years of anticipation. Anything else almost seems like an afterthought. Where do we go from here? The slate for 2013 is actually full of a large number of epic original ideas, as well as the typical continuations of franchises, some of which have been shining bright and will look to continue to do so, while others are striving desperately hard for some rejuvenation. With all this, 2013 is really a hangover year - nothing really momentous is going on - hell, we all thought the world was ending two weeks ago, we didn't make any plans at all. Nevertheless, here are Thirteen Things we Think Might be Cool in the Year of Our Lord 2013.

#13: Oz the Great and Powerful (03/08)

Wicked Cunt of the West?
This film has a high potential for suck, but we're not making judgments so rashly. Jim Franco is typically up to task in any film he's cast in, and a flick as wonkers as this looks up his alley. It's also easy to hate on Sam Raimi's mishandling of Spider-Man 3 (2007), the last blockbuster he tackled (or did he?) but lest we not ignore his otherwise impressive track record. Of course, it's not like anyone was really aching for an Oz prequel, but the trailer looks intriguing enough, and the mysterious handling of which leading lady will become the Wicked Witch (Rachel Weisz or Mila Kunis?) remains unanswered in the marketing material so far. If they keep this unanswered this movie actually becomes interesting. If not, I don't think this is the Halfbuster to live up to the high standard of Marches past, particularly 2012's Hunger Games. Until these questions are answered though, we're still pretty jazzed for how cool this flick can be.

#12: Warm Bodies (02/01)

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. It seems like Twilight with zombies, but a quite a bit less melodramatic and weepy about the whole thing. It's incredible that we're still finding ways to fool around with zombie tropes - I mean, honestly, I thought Shaun of the Dead (2004) did enough fooling around with the genre nearly a decade ago (yes, decade, folks). Still this has got Malkovich, James Franco's brother, and some clever source material. Check out the trailer and judge for yourself.

#11: Pain & Gain (04/26)

How insane ought this thing to be? Wahlberg, Mackie, the Rock, a ton of crime, muscles, and Michael Bay. Mike seems to grow increasingly forgiving of his own insanely juvenile nature and that's a good thing. We need this voice lighting up cinemas - it's just too easy to reflect our culture and make fun of these kinds of idiots. There also really isn't enough material that deals with insane 90s Weightlifting Culture, which is ripe for satire due to this fine line the guys walk between genuine masculinity and simple overcompensation. Will Pain & Gain help us find our manhood? Did we ever lose it? Some people did - those people need a pump - and we're pumped to see this. Check out the trailer.

#10: Star Trek into Darkness (05/17)

So dark.
Yeah this title is a little doofy - have these all been singular treks through stars (summing up the show and films quite literally I suppose), and in this one we'll trek into darkness? It's kind of an attempt to make a title into a clever phrase that's not really a phrase or that clever. J.J. I will never forgive you for this awful title. With Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) the word "dark" is being used a bit too much in big blockbuster titles to be taken seriously anymore. All these complaints aside, another fantastic trailer has eased our trepidation a bit. Benedict Cumberbatch is turning into 2013's Mark Strong, playing an assortment of spectacular villains with this and his role as the voice of both Smaug and the Necromancer in the forthcoming The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013). Back in the day, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) grew to become by far the best Trek flick. Will the second in the new generation of Trek flicks do the same? Plot details are few and far between, but Cumberbatch's villain is already the most interesting part of the film. What a voice! J.J.'s destruction of Vulcan and his fucking with the timeline in Star Trek (2009) already proved that he's not afraid to be bold in this universe (and why not, J.J. has an understanding that nothing he does is really permanent - it doesn't alter either the stories of the past or the inevitable reboots to fit the whims of the future). It'll be a trip to see how he jacks up Kirk and the gang here. Trailer - zing!

#9: Iron Man 3 (05/03)

It's tough to make a call on this movie. While it may have the best trailer of the year, showing moments of pain (Tony banged up in the snow), drama (his pleas to Gwyneth), big action set pieces (Tony's house getting blown to hell), and smaller emotional moments (that lonely suit drag at the end), there's also a bit of mystery here without a lot of plot relevation. That's really the perfect hype device - generate emotional investment without giving away what actually happens in the film. There's two big concerns we have though: 1) Iron Man (2008) and most of the subsequent Marvel films have gone counter to Nolan's Batman films, showing that you can have a lot fun, lose all that brooding, and still craft a quality superhero film. That doesn't appear to be the case at all in a franchise that has built itself on the fun charisma of Robert Downey, Jr. 2) How much of this will repeat the mistakes of Iron Man 2 (2010) and focus more on building a greater universe? Iron Man served to introduce us to Marvel's Phase 1, will 3 do the same for Phase 2? We have reservations - but hey, this trailer does its job and our interest is peaked.

#8: The Wolverine (07/24)

How can we be pumped about this film after X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) was so infuriatingly terrible? There are a few simple reasons - the first being a simple change in screenwriter (Chris McQuarrie [Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol {2011}]) and director (Jim Mangold [3:10 to Yuma {2007}]). Beyond that, though, this film is finally doing what many more comic book films could be doing right now - telling an experimental story (similar props to X-Men: First Class [2011]). They're taking a character thoroughly developed in four previous films and telling the story of him in a focused setting, his time in Japan. The marketing has acted accordingly - appearing elusive and classy instead of the soulless insane cash grab and botched attempt at fan service at the expense of a narrative his first solo film was see (poster at right). Did we really need an awful film to establish a character who has already been the unquestioned lead in three previous films before we could finally play around with the stories we tell about him? Do we need another Superman movie reestablishing a universe before we branch out into some actually innovative or fresh stories? It's irritating that we had to burn one on Origins to get to this point, but we also have Hugh Jackman's unyielding enthusiasm for this character to thank for his tremendously high number of portrayals. He clearly has no intention of branching out anywhere, and why should he? Wolverine gave him a career, as much as he'd probably be content just belting out tunes on Broadway (why not do both?) It's that kind of rarity (only paralleled by Nic Cage's enthusiasm in continuously playing Ghost Rider) that has kept this franchise alive and going in bold new directions.

#7: The Return of Community (02/07)

Will we actually get this one? Or will NBC keep pushing the greatest show on television back and back until we only get a Season 4 on DVD (or Netflix, at this point)? The Show is set to come on in February the week after the Final Ever Episode of 30 Rock. Is it too much to ever ask for both at once? Without showrunner Dan Harmon and the presence of Chevy Chase in only about half the episodes there's no telling how the hell this Season is going to end up, but we're betting it's still going to miles above any other comedy airing right now in its meta-obsession, genre bending storylines, and hilarity. For the past three months NBC has teased and tortured the small group of fans it actually has for this show in favor of hitching its entire wagon to The Voice (which has paid off). Why is it we keep yelling at them while they make money?

#6: Elysium (08/09)

I know next to nothing about this movie except for three things: 1) Director Neill Blomkamp gave us the very cool original story District 9 (2009) and has been apparently tinkering with this and Halo kind-of since then. 2) Matt Damon looks like this. 3) Sharlto Copley looks like this. Is that really enough to make this thing our #6 most hotly anticipated cultural item of 2013? Absolutely.

#5: Pacific Rim (07/12)

Finally, a live action Big O movie
Just as we're awaiting the new original film from a supposedly visionary director, Neill Blomkamp, we're sure as hell awaiting the new original film from visionary director Guillermo del Toro in Pacific Rim. All this needed was a name, a director, and a poster to look real cool, but then we got a trailer that promised a ton of maddeningly fantastic monster smashing action. It's about time we updated Kaiju for the modern CGI age that didn't involve Matthew Broderick. It may not spin the genre like Cloverfield (2008) did, but it looks cool and fresh and we're ready to eat it up. Besides, we'd watch Charlie Day and Idris Elba in anything. I'm just hoping that somehow the Iron Giant gets in on the action. He's already a superhero after all.

#4: The World's End (10/25)

It's about damn time Edgar Wright, Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg complete the Cornetto Trilogy. It's a testament to the high pedigree everyone involved has attained that it's taken them six years since Hot Fuzz (2007) to get this thing in theaters. While Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz had very clear targets of both homage and parody, The World's End is slightly less clear as very little marketing material has emerged so far. It seems as if end-of-the-world movies may be game, which would be suitably epic to conclude the trilogy. It's a bummer they couldn't get this off before everyone went nuts thinking 2012 would be it, but we'll take it in 2013 anyway. I'm also fairly excited for the chance to reference Shaun of the Dead twice in one post.

#3: This is the End (06/14)

Yes, the second end-of-the-world comedy on this list, This is the End seems like something a bunch of Apatow friends threw together at the last second and then added a crazy amount of postproduction effects. We can't think of a better way for them to work. The cast is an absolute dream of future comedy legends. The trailer is basically a single scene that perfectly encapsulates the insane crude tone of the movie, a reflection of real-life, and a ton of hilarious jokes. 2013 may be an epic year for comedy, as the remainder of this list will show. This film looks to be above anything else a cinematic experiment with tons of A-list comedians playing versions of the popular perceptions of themselves in some completely insane scenarios. We're on board.

#2: Anchorman: The Legend Continues (12/20)

We've got almost an entire year to build up anticipation for this, and it's tough to really know right now whether or not it's going to be worth it. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) is an immortal comedy film whose metaphysical nature extends far beyond the confines of a single reality, or even comes close to our reality. Will and Adam McKay of continued this sort of acceptable level of insanity in Step Brothers (2008) and then went far over the top in their surrealist treatment of reality The Other Guys (2010). It's a tough task to fill, but with everyone back on board and a satisfactory, if not quickly completed teaser out there, we're looking up.

#1: The Hangover Part III (05/24)

Leading the Wolfpack again
That's right. Todd Phillips apparently isn't following the script, but we wish he would. It's pretty creative in a postmodern sort of what to find different, equally hilarious ways to change the beats of a plot without changing the plot itself, at the same time offering new jokes, action pieces, upping the ante and switching the entire color palette of a film to suit a new style based on a new setting. I (and I suspect I alone) have a tremendous appreciation for The Hangover Part II (2011) that did all of this to build upon The Hangover (2009), a Golden Globe-winning comedy, mind you, and the best we've seen since...well, since Anchorman. Part III ought to be the ultimate capper to this insane trilogy devoted to bad behavior, and we're waiting for it with baited breath more than anything else in 2013. Now we'll just have to see if Justin Bartha actually has something to do this time around. Most likely not. As for the wives, the partying, and the glory of Galifianakis, we're on board with more of everything.

Close calls:

Someone tell Tom Cruise and Will Smith that they're both accidentally making the same movie - Tom's Oblivion and Will's After Earth both look sort of interesting, and so we'll probably sort of try to see them. At least between these, Elysium, and Pacific Rim we're getting a ton of big-name original sci-fi epics. It's as if after we spent all our franchises in 2012 we're forced to start from scratch.

That is, of course, except for Man of Steel, Thor: The Dark World, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, all of which are unnecessary stories with characters we're pretty familiar with. I may be the only one of this opinion, but I don't believe that Superman needs to be stuffed into a Batman-like "dark" story, and the only successful progression of the character in Singer's Superman Returns (2006) is how he actually solves the world's problems without using violence (by yes, lifting three big things). Who the hell knows what to expect out of The Desolation of Smaug except that it will be another crazy colorful journey through Middle Earth like An Unexpected Journey (2012) was. As for The Dark World, Thor (2011) was great, so as soon as we see ANY details about this flick like a plot, trailer, or a still we'll start getting a little hard. Until then, we're a hard "meh."

So that's 2013. How will these flicks fare when they're finally released after months upon years of anticipation? They'll probably be awful and misguided, but we'll be there sucking them up anyway. Cheers!

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