Thirteen for 2013: The Movie Preview

Happy New Year! 2013 has begun – and the start of a new year means the start of another year-long wave of new releases, including sequels like Iron Man 3 and Star Trek into Darkness, original sci-fi properties like Oblivion and After Earth, and reboots like Man of Steel and Jack Ryan. There’s a lot coming out in 2013, and in this preview, I’ll list my thirteen most-anticipated movies of 2013, in release order (all release dates are US/UK).

A Good Day to Die Hard – February 14

Kicking off (well, that’s actually Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters‘ job, but that looks a little bit rubbish) 2013’s wave of blockbusters is fivequel (I’m sure it’ll be in the dictionary soon enough) A Good Day to Die Hard, also sporting the worst film title of 2013. Good Day sees John McClane (aka Bruce Willis) heading to Russia, where he runs into his estranged CIA operative son, Jack (Jai Courtney) and fights terrorists in a good ol’ father and son reunion. There’ll be explosions, gunfire, and the sound of a thousand panes of glass shattering.

Oblivion – April 19/April 12

Next up is original property Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Olga Kurylenko. Details for the Joseph Kosinski directed sci-fi flick are fairly thin on the ground, but what we do know is Cruise plays drone repairman Jack Harper, who lives a few thousand feet above the surface of a half-destroyed Earth. He’s just about to join the rest of civilization, but then he meets resistance leader Malcolm Beech (Freeman), rescues character Julia (Kurylenko) from a downed spacecraft, and then fights aliens in outer space. I’m not sure how.

Iron Man 3 – May 3/April 26

Arguably the year’s biggest movie, Iron Man 3 kicks off summer 2013’s wave of blockbusters (in typical Marvel fashion, who pretty much own the first Friday of May). The threequel sees a slightly darker tone (although not as dark as the teaser led us to believe) as a post-Avengers Tony Stark sees his world torn apart by Ben Kingsley’s Bane-inspired (absolutely!) villain The Mandarin, and is injected with the Extremis virus which allows the neat power of being able to control his suits with his mind. Too bad the Mandarin blows them up, then. Expectations are high, but the looming shadow of the (supposed) failure of Iron Man 2 bears heavy on Iron Man 3

Excitement level: 9 explosions out of 10

Star Trek into Darkness – May 17

By the time Star Trek into (colon) Darkness comes out, it’ll have been four years since JJ Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek hit cinemas in May 2009. Abrams’ reboot galvanized the franchise, with a fresh new cast and timeline, and a surprisingly long time later, it’s time for the inevitable sequel. Into Darkness sees Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and co. facing off against John ‘not Khan’ Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a terrorist who takes apart Starfleet, forcing Kirk, Spock and co. to break off from Starfleet and pursue Cumberbatch. Expect the presence of Cumberbatch to draw Sherlock fans in like moths to a light.

Man of Steel – June 14

Superman hasn’t been treated too great on film recently. 2006 saw Bryan Singer’s ultimately failed retcon Superman Returns, and the Big Blue Boy Scout (that’s trademarked, in case you were wondering) has been slumbering since then, long since surpassed by Spider-Man, stable-mate Batman and even second tier (formerly) Marvel characters like Thor and Captain America (thankfully, Green Lantern couldn’t quite pass Supes and is forced to crawl back into the corner until Justice League). But along came Christopher Nolan, to hopefully sprinkle his black magic dust on Superman, aided by Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill as Superman. Think The Dark Knight, only with Superman. General Zod’ll be the villain (played by Micheal Shannon), and actors like Russell Crowe, Amy Adams and Kevin Costner ensure that Nolan’s policy of casting quality actors is being upheld.

Monsters University – June 20/July 12

It’s been a funny couple of years for Pixar. Two years ago, Toy Story 3 had just released, and Pixar was the golden boy studio, with a practically unblemished track record. However, then came the badly received Cars 2 and the lukewarm reception for Brave, and people have been having some doubts (blasphemy!) about Pixar’s credibility, along with their increasing reliance on sequels. Monsters University won’t change that, being a prequel to Monsters Inc., but it already has the advantage of two great characters, as Mike and Sulley go through their college days as rivals. The only downer is that us Brits have to wait a month longer than America for it.

The Lone Ranger – July 3/August 9

The Pirates of the Carribean dream/scream team of Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski returns for reboot of Western The Lone Ranger. Expect the same brand of humor that most people loved in Curse of the Black Pearl, was slightly irritated by in Dead Men’s Chest, hated in At World’s End, and avoided in On Stranger Tides. Armie Hammer stars as the Ranger himself, while Depp stars as Jack Sparrow Tonto. There’ll be trains, explosions and Helena Bonham Carter.

Pacific Rim – July 12

Giant robots fight invading aliens. Sound like Transformers? Well, let me chuck three words that should convince at you: Guillermo del Toro. Hellboy director and geek favourite del Toro’s adding his traditional flourishes to the project to ensure it’s not your average cookie-cutter monster mash. It’s based off all those Japanese creature features that del Toro grew up with, and promises to be really, really good. Idris Elba (Prometheus) headlines… and GlaDOS voices the robots’ AI, if you’re into that thing. I certainly am.

The Wolverine – July 26

Hugh Jackman returns for his fifth (sixth, if you’re counting his cameo in X-Men: First Class) outing as X-Man, The Wolverine, in aptly titled spin-off The Wolverine. This isn’t a sequel to 2009’s sub-par X-Men Origins: Wolverine – it’s set after The Last Stand, for the first and probably last time in X-Men movie canon. The Wolverine sees Logan heading off to Japan and fighting samurai, in a pared-down tale based off fan favourite the comic book run by Frank Miller. There’s no mutants here (barring Viper, who’s only in for a bit part anyway), so don’t expect the colourful and slightly crap (the way they were portrayed, not the actual characters!) collection of mutants from Origins.

Ender’s Game – November 1/25 October

Kicking off the November wave of releases is Ender’s Game, an adaption of the book of the same name by Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game sees gifted youngster Ender (Asa Butterfield – Hugo) shipped off to be trained to fight aliens. Not only that, but he has Han Solo (actually Harrison Ford, who unfortunately does not look or act like Han Solo) as his teacher, which I’d imagine a lot of kids along the years might have wanted. It’s an ambitious adaption, so expect it to make big money or shuffle home looking a little embarrassed.

Thor: The Dark World – November 8/October 30

No official photos have been released yet, so you’ll have to make do with this slightly ropey set pic.

Marvel Studios’ second movie of 2013 sees ol’ Goldilocks returning for a sequel that sees him battling the Dark Elves with Jane Foster (a reluctant Natalie Portman) by his side. The Dark Elves are led by Malekith the Accursed, played by Christopher Eccleston, who’s known by most geeks as the Ninth Doctor. Thor’s brother (he’s adopted) Loki returns, presumably looking a little sheepish in his maximum security cell after the events of The Avengers – but it’s not known if he’ll be aiding Malekith (probably) or Thor (probably not). Not a lot is known about this sequel, but expect a dark-and-moody looking trailer complete with tortured monologue by Thor and booming voice-over by Malekith to turn up attached to Iron Man 3.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – November 22

The Hunger Games kicked off the blockbuster season last March, usurping Twilight as the main teen fiction adaption series (and it’s OK to like it, too!), and actually being quite good. A year and half on, and its sequel, Catching Fire will be hitting cinemas. The franchise is on firm ground (a two-part adaption of the 350-page finale is in the works for 2014 and 2015), so Catching Fire can afford to make mistakes this time. And just as well, considering (in my opinion) the source material is… well, it’s one part Twilight and one-part repeat of the first film, and it’s easily the weakest of the trilogy. Still, let’s hope that the great cast can overturn this.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13

Another book adaption closes out this preview – this time, it’s part two of Peter Jackson’s already-divisive-after-the-first-movie Hobbit trilogy. The Desolation of Smaug will take in another hundred pages or so of the book – but thankfully, (in this writer’s humble opinion) the material that Desolation will be covering is better. Well, it’s a little more exciting, including highlights like Mirkwood, the barrels (readers of the book will understand), Lake-town and Bilbo’s presumably climatic showdown with Smaug (this time voiced by a small-time actor called Benedict Cumberbatch). Oh, and this one is still in 48fps. Sorry/Hooray! (delete as applicable)

Honorable mentions: Zombie flick World War Z hits on June 20, Kick-Ass 2 will kick your ass (Best. Joke. Ever. Not.) on 28 June, District follow-up Elysium hits cinemas on August 9, Edgar Wright’s Blood and Ice Cream trilogy closer The World’s End hits on 25 October, and Ron Burgundy will rise again in Anchorman: The Legend Continues on December 20. There’s a lot more, but I’m not sure my keyboard can take it.

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