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Here we are then, 2012. A new year, new promises and new hope. Unless you happen to believe in the Mayan calendar of course, in which case you’ll be spending the year attempting to get off the planet, like a rat from a sinking ship. I’m not saying that the world ISN’T going to end some time in December, however I fail to envisage a situation whereby someone will smugly point out that I was wrong, cometh the hour. So here goes… It’s obviously bollocks.

Whether you subscribe to their point of view or not, the small matter of what to do with your time over the next 12 months remains. So I have decided to make life a little simpler for you by laying out what exciting things we have in store for us over the course of the year.

Today it is the turn of the silver screen. 2012 is shaping up to be an absolute cracker of a year for movie geeks, with a host of big name titles due for release.

Starting at the beginning, as one would expect, last week saw the release of the Hollywood version of Steig Larsson’s first in the Millennium trilogy The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. To call this an ambitious project for the immensely talented David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Benjamin Button, The Social Network, etc) would be an enormous understatement. The film adaptation of a book that so many people have read is already a tricky-enough proposition, and one that few live up to. However Fincher has to contend not only with the mental images fans of the book may have of Salander, Blomkvist and the rest, but also with the excellent Swedish-language version that already exists. Reviews have been fairly mixed, as one might expect, but for my two cents I think the casting is pretty spot-on. The big question will be how Fincher captures the gloomy Swedish atmosphere of both the book and the original, but I’m sure if anyone from Hollywood can avoid making a total pig’s ear of it, then he’s that man.

Also just out at the moment is Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation of the huge west-end smash War Horse. Another adaptation of a much-loved classic, I must confess that I am less optimistic about this one though. For all the considerable charms of the excellent play, the one truly fantastic element of it was the animation of the puppets. Stripped away for the “real action” film, I’m worried that all that is left behind is a predictable and fairly schmaltzy storyline. To be fair, Spielberg is the king of schmaltz, but in this case it might not be enough for me. I’d expect it to rack up an awful lot of money, but little in the way of lasting plaudits.

Moving on effortlessly into February while sticking to the theme of theatre remakes, we have The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe and adapted by Jane Goldman (that oddly-coiffured lunatic who is married to Wossy). I defy anyone who has been to the Fortune Theatre to see the play to deny that they were touching cloth at some stage. It is an exceptionally well-performed and jumpy play, and one that from the trailer it appears may translate well to the big screen. Slightly simpler people will have to get over the fact that, yes it has Daniel Radcliffe in it, and OMG he’s not playing Harry Potter. However he is a talented actor, and if his acclaimed spell (poor choice of word…) in Equus showed nothing else, it showed that. And his penis.

Fans of controversial comedy will be drooling in anticipation of the release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest outing in May. The Dictator, also starring Ben Kingsley, promises to “tell the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed”. Heavily based on the deposed duo of Saddam and Gadaffi, the character promises to bring ridicule to a fairly contemporary subject, and given Baron Cohen’s previous releases it’s unlikely to pull any punches.  

I’ll brush quickly past May’s other big release in the form of Men In Black III, because there are considerably bigger fish to fry and to these ends none come bigger than the July arrival of the latest (and final?) instalment in Christopher Nolan’s salvation of the Batman genre. I speak of course of The Dark Knight Rises.

From a personal point of view (and that’s the joy of writing, now sit back and listen…) there is nothing that I am more excited than this. I would even turn down front row tickets to the state execution of Michael Bublé to see it. Honestly.

Now, even ignoring my love of all things Batman, Christopher Nolan is an absolute genius. The Prestige is one of the greatest films of recent times, while Inception was a hugely enjoyable and original romp (yes there were plot-holes and it was nowhere near as complex and thought-provoking as some idiots made out, but it was great fun). However his main plaudits have come from the way he dragged Batman back from the farcical mess that it had got itself into. After two woeful outings, culminating in George Clooney’s rubber nipples and a host of baddies that carried all the menace of Barney the Dinosaur, he resuscitated the caped crusader. Sure, Christian Bale’s eponymous hero sounds absurdly like he enjoys about a hundred Benson & Hedges a day, while as great an actor as Tom Hardy is, he surely can’t match Heath Ledger’s Joker. That aside though, this is going to be epic. Block out July.

Don’t go thinking that’s the only summer treat though, as a month later Matt Damon dusts off his, er, whatever Jason Bourne needs to dust off and returns to our screens in The Bourne Legacy. Or so you would have thought… Actually the character of Jason Bourne does not even appear in this latest instalment of the series. Instead Jeremy Renner (of Hurt Locker fame) plays another assassin who has been programmed the same way as Bourne. Or something like that. Does it matter? No, probably not, but it’ll be enjoyable nonetheless.

As usual, we can expect a host of lazy but profitable horror franchise knock-offs at Halloween, so for the slightly brain-dead shock junky, I’m sure October will mean Paranormal Activity 4, Attack of the Mongeese 3D and Saw 5,682. Worryingly, one of these films will actually be made and it’s probably better to just leave it to you to guess which one.

So we now arrive at next December (hurry, only 21 days left to enjoy the world…), which is movie speak for “almost certainly not coming out until well into 2013”, and three interesting sounding releases.

The first of these is The Hobbit, which finally and mercifully has Peter Jackson at the helm after a lengthy power struggle with the studio. This should be fairly spectacular, especially as most of the cast of Lord of the Rings have reprised their roles from a few years back. Martin Freeman, who is (and will probably forever be, whatever his successes) best known for being Tim from The Office, takes over the lead role of Bilbo Baggins, and expect more action-packed capers from Middle Earth.

Also in the month, Ang Lee is making a bold attempt at filming The Life of Pi. Frankly, I would bracket this book under “unfilmable”, and it may well prove so, but it will be interesting to see what angle he takes on it.

Finally for my 2012 movie preview (Christ, this is getting on a bit… Congratulations if you have manfully struggled this far…) comes the latest adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Not one of my favourite books, but with Baz Luhrmann (we’ll forgive him Australia) at the helm and the superb Leonardo DiCaprio in the main role, it could be worth a look.

It may seem like everything in this list is a remake, an adaptation or a sequel, but while it’s fair to say there are some pretty high-profile releases that fall into those categories, there will inevitably be an awful lot more original titles coming out. Sadly, I am nowhere near enough of a movie buff to know what these are, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated as the year unfolds. Put the popcorn on ice, or whatever you do with it, 2012 promises to be a belter.

by Harry Harland