Ah yes, I remember this feeling. The Christmas period is over, the turkey flanks your bones like jelly, your new year hangover still throbs deep in your head as you contemplate the bleak outlook of the next twelve months. So what is there to look forward to? Well, over the course of a few articles, we at Trivial Pursuits will outline why 13 may be lucky for some. This week it is the turn of the silver screen…
As the rain beats down through January, what better reason to stay indoors? And what better doors to stay in than those of your local cinema. The new year kicks off with two big films already bursting into the cinema in the form of Les Miserables and The Life of Pi. Les Mis has all the ingredients to be very good: it’s one of my favourite plays, it has a stellar cast and in Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) a very capable period director. However it is also a musical, and early reports are that the singing of some of the actors leaves a lot to be desired. The Life of Pi looks interesting, not least because I have no idea how I’d go about filming the book myself. Fortunately Hollywood heavyweight director Ang Lee is rather more qualified for the task than I am.
Another film that is bringing in the month is the return of Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained. By this stage everyone is familiar with the quirky style he brings to films, so expect Django to bring to westerns what Inglorious Basterds did to war films… Including the brilliant Christoph Waltz.
The final big release of January is Gangster Squad starring the dreamy fanny-magnet Ryan Gosling (swoon!). The film charts the trials of the LAPD in the 1940s as they try to keep the mafia out of Los Angeles. Co-stars Josh Brolin and Sean Penn have decent pedigree, while the director Ruben Fleischer created the excellent Zombieland, so needs few further endorsements. Worth a look.
Moving on a month, and the spectre of Valentines Day raises it’s ugly and commercialised head. As men up and down the country pay absurd sums of money to keep their other halves (bleugh) happy, what better way to repay them than the Feb 14th release of the latest instalment of Bruce-Willis-running-round-in-a-vest? Yes kids, John McLean is back. A Good Day To Die Hard (see what they did there?) should be the perfect respite to flowers and chocolate. It’s set in Russia and, unlike a line-up of prostitutes, it will display an array of cunning stunts. Bruce Willis is also 57 years old now, so the absurdity of the whole thing will be turned up an additional few notches.
There follows a bit of a lull, which only subsides with the coming of May and the creation of a pair of trilogies. The Hangover and Iron Man franchises (although upon writing this, it did strike me how awesome a one-off The Hangover and Iron Man film would be) both receive their third instalments in 2013, with the former side-stepping accusations of lazily cashing in by not even involving a wedding this time out. It will however still be lazily cashing in, albeit with a few good laughs along the way. Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man is one of the great movie characters of recent times and in addition to two decent ‘solo’ films, was the driving force behing last year’s superb Avengers Assemble. Expect more quips, bangs and ludicrous baddies in his third outing.
Also in May, Baz Luhrmann’s vision of Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby finally gets released. From the trailer (below), the wise money appears to be on a hedonistic mash-up of period drama and pop culture as perfected by Luhrmann in Moulin Rouge! Leonardo DiCaprio is usually worth watching in any film, so this has many of the ingredients to be a cracker, albeit six months later than intended.
June is, as usual, the month where the year’s big guns really come out. The film attracting the most attention in this regard is the rebirth of the Superman franchise in Man of Steel. Zack Snyder (300) and Christopher Nolan (just about everything good in the last decade) take the helm, while Russell Crowe heads a pretty strong cast. Everyman superhero support for the month comes in the form of Kick Ass 2, which could be utter dross, but given the strength of the original, it might well be very decent indeed.
The theme for the rest of the month is, cheerily, the end of mankind. Brad Pitt’s big-budget zombie film World War Z looks absolutely bonkers from the trailer (below), although the excitement about this one is tempered by the fact that Hollywood zombie blockbusters like I Am Legend have disappointed in the past. This one could go either way.
A lighter take on the fall of man is provided by This Is The End, in which comedy flavours-of-the-month Seth Rogan, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd and James Franco all play themselves. The gang all go to a party which makes them survive the apocalypse. Or something like that. It doesn’t matter. It will involve a fair few cheap gags and promises to be this year’s Superbad.
Finally for June comes a bit of a dark horse in the form of After Earth. Will Smith and his son play a spaceship pilot and, erm, his son who crash to earth 1,000 years after mankind has been forced to evacuate it. The mystery factor that could elevate this from being a poor version of Planet of the Apes is the return of director M. Night Shyamalan, whose recent films have been absolute bollocks, but undoubtedly possesses talent. Expect a massive plot twist that everyone will ruin if you don’t see it early.
Johnny Depp is the flavour of the month in July as he hollers “Hi ho Silver!” and rides off into the sunset with The Lone Ranger. Depp actually plays Tonto, the native-American sidekick to Arnie Hammer’s Ranger, but this should be a good family romp for the summer holidays and will probably bring in an absolute fortune at the box office.
One of the biggest excitements of the year for me personally comes in October with the sequel to one of my favourite recent films in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Pretty much every character who survived the original appears to be back along with the original director, while there is enough of Frank Miller’s source material to ensure that this won’t just be a lazy cash cow.
Fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz rejoice! October also sees the triumvirate of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright (untarnished as he is by association to the woeful Paul) return for the third in what has become known as the “Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy”. Details on The World’s End are hazy, but seem to involve retracing the steps of a legendary pub crawl. Brit comedy-legend-cum-global-megastar Martin Freeman joins them on the way and at some stage Nick Frost will order a cornetto. Which will amuse me.
Autumn’s big release from a commercial point of view will be that of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I don’t really understand the hype about the Hunger Games myself. I’ve not read the books and I’m not a teenage girl, so maybe I’m missing the point here, but the first film was absolutely abysmal. I’m unlikely to be heading to the cinema for this one myself, but no doubt droves of mindless teenagers, lost since the death of the Twilight saga, will stop BBM-ing each other for long enough to see this. Expect it to make a bafflingly large amount of money.
Peter Jackson’s plundering of Middle Earth continues at Christmas with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Then, just as the year seems over, a comedy icon returns in Anchorman: The Legend Continues, which stars all the original cast (most of whom have since hit the big time) and appears to be cut from identical cloth to the cult classic that was Anchorman.
So plenty to look forward to in the new year from the studios of Hollywood. Get down the Odeon, buy a big box of popcorn and settle yourself in for the year ahead. Entertainment guaranteed.
by Harry Harland