2011 is barely over and already there is much to look forward to in 2012.
Despite a shaky ending, 2011 brought us some fantastic genre cinema including the likes of Captain America, X-Men First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes as well as smaller fare like The Woman, Super and Insidious. Luckily 2012 looks just as packed with interesting smaller fare as well as the big blockbuster contenders. If there was one word that could sum up 2012 then ‘BIG’ seems appropriate with the likes of The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and the first instalment of The Hobbit coming out. Likely amongst this lot we will see a blockbuster that redefines just how much money can be made at the box office and possibly invents a new number we haven’t seen yet, that is if the Mayans were wrong and the world doesn’t come to an end.
The following list is made up of the films that we feel should be looked out for this year and that will likely be the ones remembered for better or worse come new year’s eve 2012. You will notice that some titles are absent from this list like The Amazing Spider-Man (no need!) Battleship (erm…) and Breaking Dawn part two (please...) so if you feel that we are wrong and should have included these in the list then feel free to disagree with us and let us know. Anyway, on with the list!
Starring: Michael B.Jordan, Michael Kelly and Alex Russell. Directed by: Josh Trank
Isn’t it strange how one year ago this film was not on anybody’s radar and now it’s one of the most hotly anticipated films of the winter? Chronicle is another found footage movie and the thought of another one makes us want to vomit at this point. This one though, directed by Josh Trank and written by son of John, Max Landis, follows a group of super powered youngsters and the carnage that follows them. The trailer shows what looks, initially, like a comedy, as the kids use their powers to prank everyday normal folk but then gives way to something that looks far more sinister and epic. Hopefully the son of John Landis has his father’s early talent that brought us An American Werewolf in London and not the kind of talent that lead to films like The Stupids later in his career. Arriving: 1st February
Starring: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy and Kelly McGillis. Written and Directed by: Ti West.
Ti West’s last directorial effort was the hugely effective The House of the Devil which despite its slow pace had a lot going for it. Not everybody loved it of course but the hard-core horror fan born in the mid-70s found much to admire. For his follow up West has decided to evoke memories of Kubrick’s The Shining along with some good old comedy with a tale of a couple of slackers spending the last night of a supposedly haunted hotel trying to prove there are supernatural games afoot. The Innkeepers has been impressing festival audiences for a while now but apparently it has a similar pace to House of the Devil which will no doubt divide people again. Most likely a limited release for this one which will find its audience on DVD. Arriving: March TBC
The Devil Inside
Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quaterman and Evan Helmuth. Written and Directed by: William Brent Bell.
Another found footage horror, this time involving exorcism with Paramount keen to cash in on the success of their Paranormal Activity franchise. The Devil Inside follows a crew of exorcists as they try and save a stricken young woman. The trailers and clips released so far have been really effective and creepy and sell the old ‘Based on a true story’ trope very well. Exorcism found footage horror seems like an easy thing to get right (just check out YouTube) and hopefully we will get a nice little scare fest with this movie or we could have another dreary film like last years The Rite. Arriving: January 27th
The Hunger Games
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrellson. Written and Directed by: Gary Ross
For many under 20 year olds this is the one to look forward to this spring. For Starburst readers they may well be wondering what all the fuss is about. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy are some of the best written young adult fiction stories out there and should not be dismissed by the rest of us as just another Twilight knock off. Gary Ross doesn’t seem like the director to pull off this surprisingly brutal cross between Battle Royale and Children of Men but judging by the trailer it looks like he has nailed the tone and subject matter perfectly. The story concerns a group of twelve ‘tributes’ from districts in a totalitarian state who are forced to fight to the death for the masses' entertainment. Get ready to be surprised... Arriving: 23rd March
The Cabin in the Woods
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. Directed by: Drew Goddard.
This film has sat on a shelf gathering dust for so long that it seemed like we may never get to see it. Shot back in 2009, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s film supposedly starts like every other cabin in the woods horror flick before becoming something else entirely and flipping the horror genre upside down. The trailer is certainly very intriguing and those who have seen it at Austin’s annual Butt Numb-a-thon festival rave about it as if it’s the second coming. We finally get to see if the wait has been worth it this April. Arriving: 13th April
MS One: Maximum Security (aka Lock-Out)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace and Peter Stormare Directed By: James Mather and Stephen St Leger.
Or Escape from New York in space with Guy Pearce in the Snake Plissken role. The latest in a long line of action blockbusters from the Luc Besson/Europa corp factory, this film follows a visit to a space station jail where the president’s daughter has been kidnapped after a prison break. It’s up to mouthy convict Pearce who has been wrongly convicted of espionage against the US, to rescue her from the clutches of the desperate inmates. For many film fans this seems like the kind of role we have wanted Pearce to have for a long time. Expect action and smart quips as bad guys are despatched left and right. The Europa corps’ track record has been spotty at best but they know how to do action. Arriving: 13th April
John Dies at the End
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes. Written and Directed by: Don Coscarelli.
One of the cleverest and funniest novels I have read for years is David Wong’s John Dies at the End. It has horror, it has laughs and it has likeable slacker dudes. Imagine early Kevin Smith crossed with HP Lovecraft and you get the idea. A drug known as ‘soy sauce’ hits the streets and allows users to speak to the dead and access another plain of reality, but there are things from the other side trying to invade our world. The novel is structured in such a way that it doesn’t exactly lend itself easily to the screen but that has not put off Don Coscarelli, the man who brought an elderly Elvis Presley to the masses to fight an Aztec mummy in Bubba Ho-Tep. Though it may be quite low budget, judging by the trailer Coscarelli has brought his wit and inventiveness to the adaptation and kept all of the likeable character work in place. Fingers crossed this gets a wide release and doesn’t just go straight to DVD. The film will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Arriving: TBC
Knights of Badassdom
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau and Peter Dinklage. Directed by: Joe Lynch.
You probably don’t know who Joe Lynch is yet but he is one of the new breed of young horror directors that includes Adam Green, Ti West and Lucky McKee. For so much hype Lynch has only ever really directed one feature, the superior straight to DVD sequel Wrong Turn 2 where he was given the freedom to crank up the crazy gore and made a film better than the original. Lynch gets to put his money where his mouth is this year with the already massively hyped Knights of Badassdom. The plot follows a group of live action role players who accidentally summon an ancient evil which starts laying waste to many a nerd in the forest. Clips and trailers seen so far promise a raucous, gore soaked and funny ride. Cannot wait for this one… Arriving: TBC
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johannson and Samuel L Jackson. Written and Directed by: Joss Whedon.
For many this is the highlight of 2012. It is the film Marvel Studios have been building towards for the past four years and teams up Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Captain America and is written and directed by no less a geek figurehead than Joss Whedon. What we have seen so far shows us much verbal sparring and battle but not much in the way of an actual story. We know that it will involve Thor’s fiendish brother Loki and an as yet unnamed alien race. Word is that the production aimed to top the epic carnage seen in the last Transformers movie so at least we know we will be seeing maximum bang for our buck. Sadly this one will be in post-converted 3D but amazingly 2D is making a comeback so there should be that option too. Hopefully the rumblings that the script is all talking and witty banter to keep the budget down are false and just viscous scuttlebutt spread by DC… Arriving: 27th April.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green. Directed by: Tim Burton.
Another obvious choice for Tim Burton with a remake of 70s gothic soap Dark Shadows. Johnny Depp plays Barnabus Collins, a vampire trying to keep his family of misfits in check. Never thought we'd get to the point where we felt so indifferent about a Tim Burton film but that’s where we're at now. Once he gets this slump out of the way maybe he can get back to doing personal more heartfelt pieces like Big Fish and Ed Wood because that’s where he really seems to deliver the goods. There is a promising project on the horizon but more on that later. We could be wrong though, maybe we are in for something special, we just don’t have much excitement for it right now... Arriving: May 11th
Starring: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen and Rob Moran. Directed by: Adam Wingard.
Another festival hit that the masses get to see this year is Adam Wingard’s follow up to A Horrible Way to Die; You’re Next. The plot follows a group of family and friends who re-unite at a remote cabin. The bickering is interrupted by a group of masked men who lay siege to the cabin and start the slaughter. The film reportedly has gore, comedy and tension in a way that is all too rare these days with a major star turn from actress Sharni Vinson. You’re Next heralds the arrival of a major new talent with Adam Wingard. Again this is a film without any confirmed wide release despite being picked up by Lionsgate for distribution. Hopefully we will see this before the end of the year, my guess is around Halloween. Arriving: October TBC
Starring: David Anders and Chris Wylde. Written and Directed by: Kerry Prior.
Strange situation we find ourselves in as far as distribution goes in these modern times. The rise in popularity of VOD platforms has already changed the business forever. Festival buzz used to be a guarantee of distribution to a wider audience but now this is no longer the case. A good case study for this would be The Revenant, directed by Kerry Prior. In 2009 The Revenant gained some major buzz and awards at film festivals across the states. One reviewer even compared the film to Near Dark in terms of its tone, inventiveness and impact. The story follows an undead Iraq war vet who arrives at his buddy’s door one night not knowing how or why he is alive but craving human blood. This leads to much comedy and horror as the two of them try and adapt to the new situation. The film has then sat in the vault without being released for nearly three years and now debuts direct to DVD in April. It has already appeared on DVD in Australia and judging by opinion there, the wait was well worth it. Arriving: April 2nd (DVD Premiere)
Men in Black 3
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Jermaine Clement. Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld.
Like it or not there is a Men in Black 3 on the way and you can either embrace it or ignore it. Will Smith’s star power still burns brightly despite the fact that he has made a whole series of genre films that fell at the last hurdle. The Men in Black franchise is one of the biggest wastes in modern franchises. The first film built up the world and laid down the rules and was damn good summer movie fare. The second film just copied the first movie but lacked the wit and invention of the first. Despite a reportedly troubled production, the third film at least looks like it has an interesting plot and does more of that great revealing the alien in the everyday thing. Plus Josh Brolin has an uncanny likeness to a young Tommy Lee Jones. We hope this is good but we are prepared for the worst. Arriving: 25th May
Starring: Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace. Directed by: Ridley Scott.
Despite Sir Ridley Scott’s protestations that “It’s not an Alien movie, honest!” Prometheus is a look at how and why the Space Jockey got to LV426 and why he was surrounded by dozens of alien eggs. An air of mystery all too rare these days has surrounded this production and we like this strategy. The recently released trailer reveals an epic production with Ridley Scott’s touch with sci-fi not having deserted him despite being absent from the genre for so long. At this point if the dual tongued one does appear in this movie people are going to be pissed. A science fiction film actually shot in 3D by one of the modern masters of the medium? Yes please… Arriving: 1st June
Jack the Giant Killer
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci. Directed by: Bryan Singer.
Our first thought when reading the synopsis for this film with Bryan Singer directing was that it was a complete mis-match of director and material, but we have been wrong before. This huge budget summer blockbuster is the mid-point for a year filled with glossy fairy tale reimagining’s and in this case it’s the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk which concerns an idiot who swaps a prize cow for some magic beans leading to a beanstalk and some gianticide in the clouds. The trailer is very plush and sells the epic aspects of the film; I’m just not convinced by Nicholas Hoult as a credible lead or the actual plot of the film. This one will have to work harder than most this Summer. Arriving: 15th June
The Dark Knight Rises
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Directed by: Christopher Nolan.
The other big movie for comic book fans this summer is Christopher Nolan’s third and final film in his Batman trilogy. Between this and The Avengers, they will likely make enough money to buy a medium sized country. This film is set eight years after the events in The Dark Knight with Batman/Bruce Wayne facing an apocalyptic showdown with the League of Shadows, led by the hulking brute Bane, who return to finish what they started in the first movie and bring Gotham City to its knees. Oh yeah and Catwoman is involved somewhere in there. Despite the fact that third movies in franchises rarely equal what has gone before, it’s hard to see how this could fail. The only stumbling block we can see is that the film will probably be about three hours long considering how crammed the film is with plotlines and villains. The recent trailer for this film promises something on a huge scale which will go to some surprising places for people who love the comic books and know how the Bane and Batman rivalry ends up. Arriving: 20th July
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper. Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
The same craze for classic literature infused with the supernatural that gave us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also gave us the Seth Grahame-Smith novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This summer there will be a movie adaptation of the book directed by Timur Bekmambatov. The plot reimagines Lincoln’s life as if his mother was killed by vampires and he crusades against them on the quiet. Say what you will about the coherence of the Nightwatch movies but Bekmambatov is a unique visual stylist up there with the likes of Zack Snyder and Tarsem Singh. How a Russian auteur will do with an American icon fighting vampires is anyone’s guess but the results will be pretty to look at that’s for certain. A late summer sleeper hit if they get the tone just right and it’s not a camp disaster. Arriving: 2nd August
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Seth MacFarlane. Written and Directed by: Seth McFarlane.
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Seth Macfarlane is a funny guy. Family Guy, when it’s on form, is one of the funniest things on TV. Macfarlane makes his live action directorial debut this summer with Ted which concerns a childhood teddy bear which comes to life and makes life hell for its now adult owner. Mark Wahlberg plays the adult and has proved that he can do comedy with The Other Guys but whether MacFarlane’s anarchic brand of comedy will translate to live action is yet to be seen. Hopefully this will not be a watered down effort and will straddle the line of offensive in the way that Family Guy usually does so well. Could Macfarlane become the new Mike Judge? Arriving: 3rd August
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd and Billy Connolly. Directed by: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman.
This year’s Pixar effort is thankfully a return to original plotting and not a sequel to a previous success. Brave follows a princess who must undo a curse she brings upon the land when being a headstrong young lady; she refuses to follow an ancient custom. The animation seen so far suggests that they are taking the fantasy elements as seriously as they did the comic book elements in The Incredibles. Also this is the first time a Pixar film has had a female protagonist which is surprising to hear. The voice cast reads like a BAFTA awards invite list of British and Scottish talent from the last twenty years. All signs point towards this being another triumph and a return to form after the tedious Cars 2. Arriving: 17th August
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. Directed by: Akiva Schaffer.
Normally something starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan on their current career trajectory would be easy to dismiss but look at this one a little closer. Director Akiva Schaffer made the massively underrated Andy Samberg vehicle; Hot Rod in 2007 and brought the silly and surreal to the film in a way that Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have only previously been able to do. The screenplay for this one is credited to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who have written some of the finest comedy of the last few years. There is no reason for this to be anything less than hilarious. The plot concerns some suburban men who start a neighbourhood watch program as an excuse to get away from their wives and families, they then stumble across an alien invasion plot. Simple yet brilliant. This could be a huge hit this summer or languish in cult moviedom if it fails. Arriving: 22th August
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich. Directed by: Jonathan Levine.
Do you know the name Jonathan Levine? No? Well you should as he is one of the most solid directors working today. After the brilliant 50/50 Levine next turns his attentions to the well-worn and shambling zombie genre. This one is a little different though as it concerns what happens when a zombie falls in love with the girlfriend of one of his victims and is based on the novel by Isaac Marion. This again has Nicolas Hoult in the lead role who it seems Hollywood has decided is the next big thing. Could be great or could be a disaster if they try and make it appeal to the Twilight crowd. The results will at least be interesting and Warm Bodies is certainly a fresh take on an increasingly stale genre. Arriving: 24th August
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Directed by: Chris Butler
Forget Brave and whatever DreamWorks animation has coming out, for real horror nerds the animated film to look forward to in 2012 is Paranorman. This is the latest film from Coraline producers Laika and looks just as dark and delicious as that film. The story follows a boy who can talk to the dead and how he fights back against an ancient curse that threatens his town. What we have seen so far shows a great sensibility that should thrill kids and adults alike. Arriving: 14th September
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey. Directed by: Pete Travis
After a worrying delay in release of almost a year and a firm denial from director Pete Travis that he has been thrown off the production, we finally get to see this new interpretation of the futuristic 2000AD lawman in September. Not one minute of footage has been seen thus far in this smaller more contained film that aims to correct what went wrong with the 1995 film. The costumes and production design seen thus far certainly suggest that they are heading in the right direction and with this many talented people behind the film it surely can’t be that bad. Arriving: 21st September
Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. Written and Directed by: Rian Johnson.
Rian Johnson’s third directorial outing after the underrated The Brothers Bloom concerns time travel. Specifically it concerns what happens when targets are sent forward in time to be killed by special assassins. One such assassin is played by Bruce Willis who is suddenly sent his younger self played by Joseph Gordon Levitt as a target. Cue much running around and paradoxes in a future setting. Frustratingly Looper has been seen a year from release by some online geek critics who have nothing but praise for the film. Rian Johnson is a very talented man and the idea of him adapting his style to a science fiction time travel story is very pleasing indeed. After years of disappointment it’s good to hear that Bruce Willis is back in something good again too. Arriving: 28th September
Starring: Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short. Directed by: Tim Burton.
Could this be the film that pulls Tim Burton out of his current predictable slump? He is after all going back to his roots with a film version of his animated short Frankenweenie. The plot concerns a grief stricken young mad scientist who tries to reanimate his dead dog but things of course go wrong. The film will also re-unite Burton with Winona Ryder for the first time in twenty years. Pleasingly the film is also black and white, evoking memories of yesteryears B movies the way Burton did with Ed Wood. Please let this be good... Arriving: 5th October
The Lords of Salem
Starring: Sid Haig, Dee Wallace and Clint Howard. Written and Directed by: Rob Zombie.
Rob Zombie has a lot to prove with his fifth directorial effort. The Devils Rejects may have impressed us all seven years ago but since then there has been the ill-advised Halloween remake and its sequel and he seems to have lost some of his grimy hard edge that made us like him in the first place. The cast reads like a who’s who of genre cinema from the last twenty years which apart from the above also includes Udo Kier, Billy Drago, Michael Berryman and Meg Foster. The plot is about a coven of witches who return to terrorise a town 300 years after they were vanquished. I like the cast, I like that fact that Zombie is writing original material again and I hope that this gets a big Halloween release and isn’t treated as poorly as House of 1000 Corpses. Released: October TBC
Starring: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Written and Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron.
Gravity has been on the starting blocks for a long time and Alfonso Cuaron has not directed a movie since the stunning Children of Men seven years ago. Gravity follows a stranded astronaut played by Sandra Bullock after a mission in space ends in tragedy. George Clooney plays the mission controller on the ground trying to get her back to Earth. If this is done right then this will no doubt generate much Oscar buzz as well as being technically dazzling. Early reports indicate that the film contains an ambitious 30 minute continuous take in zero gravity in 3D! Wrap your mind around that one… Arriving: 19th October
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris. Directed by: Sam Mendes.
After years of delays a new James Bond adventure is now in production and due out late 2012. Daniel Craig is again in the main role that he made his own in 2006 with the awesome reboot. Like it or not Quantum of Solace made money but we are alarmed by the suggestion that they are abandoning that mythology in favour of a return to the gadgets and campery of the earlier films. We're staggered that there has been a backlash against the grittiness of Casino Royale so soon after the film reinvigorated the franchise. Oscar winner Sam Mendes is the director of the film so if anyone can take the material seriously then it’s Mendes. Hopefully they will strike just the right balance between serious and fun and Javier Bardem should essay a classic villain right up there with the best of them. Arriving: 26th October
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan and Luke Evans. Directed by: Peter Jackson.
The year ends with the welcoming of an old friend back to cinemas. Peter Jackson returns to Tolkien with part one of a two part interpretation of The Hobbit. Early fears that this would be too camp or less serious than the Lord of the Rings trilogy seem to have been assuaged with the release of the first trailer which shows they have the tone nailed down perfectly and it will blend seamlessly with the existing trilogy. December 2012 seems like such a long way away and yet the level of anticipation is already unbelievably high. Only drag? It’s in 3 bleedin D! Arriving: 14th December