The 8 Ball 01.01.13: The Top 8 Most Anticipated Films of 2013
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right in to it!
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The end of 2012 is here, and miraculously we survived. (For the record, I credit the Doctor with averting the Mayan apocalypse.) The bad news about this is that all that money you’ve run up on your credit card thinking you wouldn’t have to pay it back post-world ending…well, that’s still there. The good news is that the films that have been planned for the upcoming year are ones we will actually get to see. 2013 is looking to be a solid year for films; it might not be quite as good as 2012, but the films coming out are nothing to turn your nose up at. This week, following the schedule I did last year, it is time to look at the films I’m looking forward to the most in the next twelve months.
Caveat: None, other than the obvious one that things will be announced in the coming weeks and months for movies that I am not aware of yet, because they…well, haven’t been announced. Other than that, there aren’t any caveats.
When the trailer for Pacific Rim hit a couple weeks ago, the reaction seemed to be fairly lackluster. Some called it an unholy alliance of Battleship and the US version of Godzilla, others called it a rip-off of various anime films. I called it “Jax Teller and Heimdall Fight Giant Monsters with Giant Robots.” How can you not love that idea? In all seriousness, I understand why some think this might look silly or dumb. I just don’t agree. Guillermo Del Toro is a filmmaker that rarely missteps and has given us some of my favorite movies over the last several years. Del Toro is additionally a man who doesn’t let studio interference get in the way of his vision for films; he refused to compromise on the budget and rating for his planned adaptation of In the Mountains of Madness and development was halted as a result. I am certainly not saying that this is a surefire hit; Del Toro has never had a film of this scope under his direction and audiences may balk at the superficial similarities to films like Avatar, Cloverfield and yes, Battleship and Godzilla. But he has assembled a fantastic cast and the visuals in the trailer are amazing. This will not be the best film of the year, but it may well be the most fun.
Kick-Ass was one of my most pleasant surprises of 2010. Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar’s take on what would happen if normal people decided to be superheroes inspired reactions across the board, with some criticizing it for the violence and depiction of a young girl (Hit-Girl) committing mass murder and uttering R-rated profanity while others (myself included) saw it as a very fun and over-the-top film that took a satirical look at many superhero tropes. Sure, it was gratuitous in the extreme but it kind of needed to be in order to accomplish what it set out to do. After the first film was a modest success demand began for a sequel, which was heightened by the fact that Millar revealed that there were plans for more of the story in comic book form. Hopes were dampened when Matthew Vaughn began moving on to bigger things, but nonetheless in May it was revealed that Kick-Ass 2 would indeed be happening and will follow the story of Millar’s comics, with some alterations to smooth out some particularly violent moments that are, to be frank, best left out of the film. Director Jeff Wadlow is not someone that particularly inspires confidence in me–his past directorial credits are the horror bomb Cry Wolf and the MMA bomb Never Back Down–but Vaughn has remained intimately involved as a producer and the returning cast should all be able to shine brightly, bolstered by stellar additions like Jim Carrey, Donald Faison and John Leguizamo. If they come close to capturing the spirit of the first film, this should be a great time at the movies.
My most-anticipated comedy of 2013 hasn’t even begun filming yet. People have been clamoring for an Anchorman sequel pretty much since the day the first film came out. The newscaster comedy remains Will Farrell’s most popular star vehicle by a wide margin; I would say that only Talladega Nights and maybe Elf come even remotely close to touching this one in terms of fanbase and popular regard, and even those are fairly distantly trailing the story of Ron Burgundy and San Diego’s most bad-ass news team of all time. Still, the sequel has had a rocky path toward getting mad. Ferrell and Adam McKay fought with Paramount for a while in order to get the money for this ad even took to creating a parody Twitter account of Paramount that openly mocked the studio for passing on Anchorman 2 while instead dumping $150 million into the disaster that was The Last Airbender, among others. Finally Paramount relented and Anchorman: The Legend Continues was announced in March. A teaser was released with The Dictator, though actual filming on the project doesn’t begin until February. With most of the cast set to return including Farrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Steve Carell and McKay back on board directing, this could well be a return to form for Ferrell, who has had a rough couple of years with some relative bombs (Megamind not withstanding).
So yeah, you should probably get used to seeing Marvel films on my “Most Anticipated” lists for a while. The studio has raised the bar on comic book-related films with the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to consistently excellent adaptations of their Avengers-related characters. 2011 saw the first film to feature Chris Hemsworth as Thor and it surprised me by how well it captured the character and meshed the over-the-top, almost Shakespearean style of the Asgardians with the rest of the Marvel movie universe. Primary among the successes of that film was Hemsworth as Thor, it was a star-making role for him and he did it quite well, as did Tom Hiddleston as Loki. With the events of The Avengers behind them, the Asgardians will now have to deal with Malekith and the Dark Elves of the realm of Svartalfheim. Christopher Eccleston, best known as the Ninth Doctor (or, if you don’t watch Doctor Who, Destro in G.I. Joe) will be playing Malekith and he is a perfect choice for the role. There may be some concern over the fact that Kenneth Branagh is not returning, but the fact that Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) has stepped in restores a lot of that confidence. This will be a major test to see where the second phase of the MCU is headed, and I am excited to see how it turns out.
I have a confession to make: I didn’t have any real level of anticipation for the Star Trek reboot. I am a lifelong Trekker and stuck with the franchise through thick and thin; however, I absolutely loathed Enterprise and felt like between it and the relative failures of Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis that the studio had lost complete touch with the franchise. It is also easy to forget that in late 2008/early 2009, the idea of a Star Trek reboot was considered dicey at best, even with J.J. Abrams behind the camera. As it turns out, any concerns were unfounded as Abrams brilliantly reset the universe without needing to pretend that the original continuity didn’t happen and acquired a cast that matched their original series counterparts without just aping what had come before. For the second film Abrams has kept things characteristically close to the vest; that being said, if I wasn’t already sold on a sequel (which I was) I would have been with the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as the primary villain. We still don’t know who he is–his character’s name is John Harrison, but who is that really? Speculation is either the Original Series characters of Khan or Gary Mitchell, but no one has confirmed yet. I am leaning toward the idea that he is a new character who ends up in a similar situation to Gary Mitchell and gains that godlike power, but that’s just speculation on my part. Whatever the case, the first trailer was stunning and assured that I would be there when it opened, excited to see what comes about from it.
I actually debated a little while about whether to put this one on the list or not, as it has been rumored and then not happening so many times that at one point I said I would believe it when only when I was in the theater and the credits were rolling. However, since filming actually began about two months ago, I can feel at least fairly confident that at last we will see this long-awaited sequel come out. Some have argued that too much time has passed since 2005’s Sin City lit theaters up with its stunningly effective vision of how closely a comic book can be adapted for the big screen. Robert Rodriguez actually resigned from the Director’s Guild of America so that he could get the original film made with Frank Miller as a co-director and the result was a huge pay-off that was one of my favorite films of 2005; it was unique, uncompromising, violent and a hell of a lot of fun. There were immediate plans to make a second and even third film, but Rodriguez’s choice for Ava Lord from the source material, Angelina Jolie, caused the production to be delayed due to her pregnancy. Many other things came into play that pushed the film out to the point that it didn’t seem as if it would ever be made, but to my delighted surprise Rodriguez announced that the film would indeed be happening with as much of the original cast returning as possible. This will be based off the story “A Dame to Kill For” from the comic books and as it is in large part a prequel, we will see characters that died in the first film again. With Rodriguez and Miller directing traffic again I see nothing but good things coming from this film and can’t wait to see it.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is still burning up the box office, but we already have this to look forward to next year thanks to Peter Jackson’s “back-to-back-to-back” strategy. Critical reaction to the first Hobbit film has been interesting; it seems that the high expectations for the franchise has led to some disappointment. I honestly believe that a lot of the middling reviews have been due to the high caliber of the Lord of the Rings films leading to impossibly high expectations and some critics reviews have basically copped to this fact. Regardless, audiences have shown the film the same amount of love that they did the Rings films and it has already brought in almost $600 million worldwide, with more surely to come; it is not at all outside the realm of possibility that it may be the first film to four-peat at the top of the US box office since The Hunger Games and Avatar before that. No matter how you slice it the film has been a resounding success and the second, The Desolation of Smaug, is apt to top that success. The second of three films is believed to cover most of the rest of the book The Hobbit, including the spiders of Mirkwood, Laketown, Smaug’s lair and such; this is when the story–already doing great in the first–will really kick into high gear. Martin Freeman has shown to be a capable Bilbo and nearly every concern (with the possible exception of the high frame-rate which remains audience-dividing) has been considered a success. If An Unexpected Journey was huge, expect The Desolation of Smaug to be more deserving of the more appropriate subtitle “The Desolation of the December Box Office.”
C’mon, you knew this was coming. I told you just four paragraphs ago to expect Marvel Cinematic Universe entries to clog my Most Anticipated List; you think I would forget about Iron Man 3? The Iron Man franchise was the one that truly got Marvel off to a running start as its own studio, building its own universe to play in based on the comic books. With Robert Downey Jr. exceeding all expectations as Tony Stark, Iron Man set a new bar for comic book movies in terms of entertainment factor. Some felt that Iron Man 2 was a misstep by the studio in its efforts to set up The Avengers overly much, but I don’t agree and I feel like it all paid off nicely in the end. With Iron Man 3, Tony goes off on his own again and has all sorts of problems to deal with. With new director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) behind the camera, there is a fresh perspective and that could pay off well. The source material for the third film, the Extremis storyline, is one I’ve been hoping Marvel would introduce into the films and should pay off very nicely. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it; of all the films in 2013 that I am looking forward to, none hold a candle to this one.
Note: Now that I am caught up to current, I have gone back to watch the episodes that have become available in the US since I started watching and thus were previously unavailable to me (thus why I have episodes remaining despite being caught up).
Current Series/Season: Season Nine (1971)
Episodes Watched: 593
Last Serial Completed: Day of the Daleks – The Doctor and Jo are sent by UNIT to investigate reports of a ghost appearance in a house where a critical peace conference is being held that could prevent world war. Before long they are plunged ahead 200 years into a future where the Daleks reign supreme over Earth, with a small human resistance with a way to jump back to the past their (and mankind’s) only hope for aid.
Surviving Episodes Remaining: 36
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.