Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy "new" year!

Looking ahead at the cinematic landscape of 2012, it's not easy to find something original to look forward to. Every year is awash with sequels, remakes and spin-offs, but the economic crunch is clearly making studios even more timid than usual. So here are a few things worth looking forward to - or not. And note that this is by no means an exhaustive listing...

SEQUELS. The one everyone is most anticipating is Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises (Jul), starring Christian Bale and Tom Hardy's pumped-up back (above). James Bond is back, finally, in Skyfall (Nov), while most of the Marvel universe converges in The Avengers (Apr). For the rest, we should probably go month by month...

  • Jan: Underworld Awakening.
  • Feb: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. 
  • March: Wrath of the Titans, Streetdance 2.
  • April: American Pie: Reunion.
  • May: Men in Black 3.
  • June: G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
  • July: Ice Age: Continental Drift.
  • August: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Step Up 4.
  • September: Taken 2, Resident Evil 5.
  • October: Paranormal Activity 4, Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted.
  • November: Breaking Dawn: Part 2.
  • December: Nativity 2: The Second Coming. 

PREQUELS. The most anticipated is the first instalment in the two-part prologue to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec). And Ridley Scott's Alien prequel Prometheus (Jun) has everyone wondering what he's up to.

REBOOTS. Perhaps the most baffling of them all is The Amazing Spider-man (Jul), retelling the origin story barely 10 years after Tobey Maguire's version. More intriguing is Jeremy Renner's takeover in The Bourne Legacy (Aug).

REMAKES. Studios are raiding TV shows - Tim Burton's Dark Shadows (May), 21 Jump Street (Mar), The Sweeney (Sep) - as well as theatre - The Woman in Black (Feb), Rock of Ages (Jun) - for material. And then there are the film remakes, from the Farrellys' The Three Stooges (May), Colin Farrell's Total Recall (Aug) and even a new take on the B-movie classic Jack the Giant Killer (Jun).

REVAMPS. Mainly this involves converting old movies into 3D so the studio can squeeze some more cash out of their archive, while of course letting a new generation of fans catch up with the films on a big screen. At the moment, two are in the release schedule - Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Feb) and Titanic (Apr) - but expect more to come.

ADAPTATIONS. Clearly hopes are high for new franchises based on The Hunger Games (Mar) and John Carter (Mar). Other literary adaptations include Joe Wright's Anna Karenina (Sep); Michael Winterbottom's Trishna (Mar), which sets Tess in India; Robert Pattinson's Bel Ami (Mar), John Cusack's The Raven (Mar) and Ang Lee's Life of Pi (Dec). The next game-to-screen adaptation is Battleship (Apr). While fairy tales continue to provide free story sources with two Snow White films - the comical Mirror Mirror (Mar) and the more gothic Snow White and the Huntsman (Jun) - and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (Mar).

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Even though they're based on books, The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists! (Mar) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Aug) are sure to be unlike anything we've seen before. Sacha Baron Cohen is back in the already controversial political romp The Dictator (May). And Tarantino is bound to set jaws dropping with his spaghetti-style American Western Django Unchained (Dec).

Finally, press screenings kick off this week for the new year with Robert Pattinson's period romp Bel Ami, and I also have the Russian alien thriller The Darkest Hour, the black-ops thriller Mercenaries, an animated biopic of adult manga author Tatsumi, and the arthouse cinema fable A Useful Life.

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