Oscar season will pretty much take over when the nominations are announced the morning of January 10, 2013, which is all well and good for the great (and sometimes not-so-great — LINCOLN, hint hint) films that were released in 2012. And usually, that means added exposure for those older films as theaters strive to add those nominees to their rosters for the people who don’t rush off on opening weekend to appreciate what a great actor Denzel Washington is or what a great director Ben Affleck has become.
But, if you’re like me, you’re always about the Next Big Thing. You’ve already moved on from those nominees and are ready to find out what the new year has in store. Yes, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK was a great film. But you’ve seen it. What else is coming out, you say?
Well, because we love the support of the Film Geek Central fan base, I have typed up a 2013 WINTER MOVIE PREVIEW, highlighting most of the films scheduled from now until spring, when the snow begins to melt and moviegoers start seeing trailers for the blockbusters that are sure to blow your minds and empty your wallet once the summer moviegoing season hits on May 3 with IRON MAN 3. As always, release dates are subject to change (remember, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION was supposed to come out last summer, but was moved to March 29), so don’t be disappointed if A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III gets bumped back to never.
ZERO DARK THIRTY (R) Kathryn Bigalow had a huge hit when THE HURT LOCKER beat out the all-time biggest moneymaker in the history of film (AVATAR) for Best Picture in 2009, and she seems to be in similar territory with this thriller about the events that lead to the death of Osama bin Laden. The film is doing gangbusters in the markets where it has already opened, and it should have no problem leading the way to the Academy Awards when it goes wide this Friday.
GANGSTER SQUAD (R) This 1940’s-set gangster drama was delayed from its original September 7 opening date because of a sequence in which a character opens fire on a crowded movie theater. Obviously, the decision was wise, considering people were understandably still up in arms over the DARK KNIGHT RISES tragedy in Aurora, Co., when it was made. But that made the film ineligible for Academy voters, meaning stars Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin can probably sleep in when the nominations are announced this Thursday.
A HAUNTED HOUSE (R) The Wayans brothers moved on from the SCARY MOVIE franchise long ago, but that doesn’t mean they’re finished spoofing scary movies. In this first of two movies that parody PARANORMAL ACTIVITY this quarter (SCARY MOVIE 5 even makes some of the same jokes in its trailer), Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins are the victims of otherworldly behavior when they move into a haunted house. Considering that lazy title, this one will probably have as much chance scaring up cash at the box office as the Minnesota Vikings do of winning a Super Bowl.
BROKEN CITY (R) Russell Crowe doesn’t sing — or, at least, I don’t think he does — in this action/drama in which he plays the crooked mayor of New York City who double-crosses the wrong dude when he hires an ex-cop (Mark Wahlberg) to trail his cheating wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The movie seems to play to each actor’s strengths: Crowe, playing yet another villainous man of power; Wahlberg, playing the guy who lets his fists do all the talking; and Zeta-Jones gets to look stunning in her 33rd movie in a row.
THE LAST STAND (R) Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first starring role since his term as the Governator. This one, directed by South Korea’s Jee-woon Kim (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, I SAW THE DEVIL), doesn’t appear to have the same stylized look as the other movies Kim has directed, but it still might be fun. Schwarzenegger plays the aging sheriff of a border town who must stop an escaped convict and his gun-happy compadres from crossing into Mexico. The only thing that has me worried is the presence of Johnny Knoxville as the token goofy sidekick. Seriously guys?
MAMA (PG-13) It wouldn’t be January without some idiotic supernatural thriller taking up space at the multiplex. We already have TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D inexplicably soaking up $23.3 million in its opening weekend, and next we’ll get this gloomy-looking thriller about two orphaned girls found in the woods who bring spooky goings-on with them when they move in with their long-lost uncle and aunt. The aunt is played by Jessica Chastain, who is good in ZERO DARK THIRTY but is buried under a ton of black makeup and hair dye in MAMA. Maybe she only wanted the paycheck and not the notoriety?
HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (PG-13) This movie looks like it could go either way. The trailer sort of makes it resemble a goofy grim fairy tale along the lines of Nicolas Cage’s SEASON OF THE WITCH (remember that one?). And yet, it kind of looks like it’s going for a straight-forward (read: humorless) take on the old story of Hansel and Gretel, closer in spirit to last year’s ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. Whichever way it goes, it’ll be curious to see who goes to see it. The movie looks like a hard sell, despite the presence of Jeremy Renner, who is on fire right now, as a grown-up Hansel, who now kills witches along with his sister Gretel, played by Gemma Arterton.
MOVIE 43 (R) Have you seen the previews for this one on TV? Are you as confused as I am as to what it’s about? Reportedly, it’s a series of skits smushed into movie form, starring quite a few A- and B-listers (Emma Stone, Terence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Elizabeth Banks), directed by a dozen different people. Are we really going back to the days of THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE? Is that really Gerard Butler playing a leprechaun the size of Verne Troyer? MOVIE 43 has been delayed for a long time, so it’s no surprise they decided to dump it in January. But we’ll see.
PARKER (R) Jason Statham. Do you really need more? Ok fine: In his latest incarnation, he teams up with Jennifer Lopez to get even with the team of thieves who double-crossed him and left him for dead. The preview looks promising, if you go for this sort of thing, because these movies just seem to write themselves: Put Jason Statham in a beautifully tailored suit, give him some bad guys to pummel and a hot chick to nail and you’ve got yourself a hit.
BULLET TO THE HEAD (R) Not to be outdone by his EXPENDABLES counterparts, Sylvester Stallone also has a new action movie this winter, this one directed by seasoned vet Walter Hill (THE WARRIORS, 48 HRS., etc.). This one’s about a detective who teams up with a hit man to take out a common enemy. Considering that masterfully creative title, it’s unlikely the pair take him down using spitwads and straws. Anyway, unlike THE LAST STAND and PARKER, this one is wise enough to keep its length around 90 minutes.
STAND UP GUYS (R) Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken — now there’s a cast I can get behind! — star in this caper comedy about a pair of aging con men who get the old gang back together for the proverbial One Last Job. This is another movie that could go either way. Let’s just hope it’s not in the direction of the Richard Dreyfuss/Burt Reynolds One Last Job comedy THE CREW. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit about STAND UP GUYS is that it was directed by — say what!? — Fisher Stevens. SHORT CIRCUIT 3 must be in very small demand.
WARM BODIES (PG-13) The impending “zombie apocalypse” might actually already be upon us considering how you can’t even swing a decomposing corpse without hitting something zombie-related in the entertainment world. I’m no fan of THE WALKING DEAD, but it’s certainly popular enough to justify many-a zombie knockoff. This one is — get this — a romcom about a zombie (Nicolas Hoult, ABOUT A BOY) who falls in love with a human (Teresa Palmer) he should be eating for breakfast. John Malkovich (!) is tangentially involved.
IDENTITY THIEF (R) Jason Bateman fans rejoice! He’s back in this (hopefully) hard-R comedy about a Colorado man whose identity is stolen by the conniving Melissa McCarthy. He sets out on a road trip to find her, where plenty of pratfalls and explosions will surely mount. The trailer is promising, as is the director. The movie comes from Seth Gordon, who helmed Bateman is HORRIBLE BOSSES and seems to be in similar territory here.
SIDE EFFECTS (Not yet rated) Rooney Mara made a huge impact on the masses in David Fincher’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, even netting a nomination from the Academy. Now she’s back in this dramatic thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-starring Channing Tatum and Jude Law. This one deals with the ugly side of prescription medication. If you’re a fan of Soderbergh, this may be your last chance to see one of his films for a while. Reportedly, he’s taking a long break after this one comes out.
A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III (R) Charlie Sheen, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray star in this goofy comedy about a graphic designer whose life is thrown way off balance after a break-up with his girlfriend. The trailer almost underscores how limited the audience for this will be. Don’t be surprised if it shows up as a midnight show later in life.
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (PG-13) Richard LaGravenese (CONVICTION, P.S. I LOVE YOU) helms this adaptation of the popular supernatural romance novel, which is clearly aimed at the tweens looking to fill the void left by the conclusion of THE TWILIGHT SAGA. Newcomers Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich play the lovers this time, with seasoned pros Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson on hand to class up the (supposedly) swoony proceedings.
ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (PG) The first audience-insulting 3D animated comedy of the new year is this dismal-looking mess, about an astronaut named Scorch Supernova from the planet Baab coming to Earth and getting caught by Area 51 officials. This forces his lily-livered brother to follow suit and come to his rescue. Cheap animation looks to be the driving force behind the creation of this one. Everyone involved must have needed the rent money.
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (Not yet rated) I’m still iffy on this fifth incarnation of the DIE HARD film series. The trailer seems to imply they are taking the franchise in a whole ‘nother direction: John McClane (Bruce Willis, natch) is in Russia this time, teaming up with his son, a CIA operative played by Jai Courtney, to stop a band of terrorists from hiking a cache of nukes. Naturally, there are explosions, but we’ll have to wait until the MPAA screens the film for itself to find out if we get back Willis’ token “Yippee Ki-Yay Mother F***er” line or not. Don’t get your hopes up.
SAFE HAVEN (PG-13) Nicholas Sparks is on his way to becoming one of the movies’ most prolific authors, possibly surpassing even Stephen King in an astonishingly short amount of time. SAFE HAVEN will be his eighth adaptation, and the fact that it opens on Valentine’s Day pretty much says it all. This time, Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough are the Atlantic coast lovers, with Lasse Hallstrom (THE CIDER HOUSE RULES) at the helm. Don’t expect too many surprises, but I’m sure it’ll do well nevertheless.
DARK SKIES (Not yet rated) Ugh. Yet another supernatural chiller about unseen forces terrorizing a suburban couple. The couple in question here are Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton, up against some sort of being who haunts their dreams. If the premise intrigues you, you might want to skip out on the trailer, which looks to give away too much. Then again, maybe you can simply watch the trailer for 2½ minutes and spare yourself the trouble of sitting through yet another supernatural chiller about unseen forces terrorizing a suburban couple.
SNITCH (PG-13) Fans of Dwayne Johnson may take one look at the poster for this one and immediately confuse it with Johnson’s FASTER, and this movie is surely hoping you’ll make the connection. Except Johnson isn’t the bad guy in this one; instead, he’s a determined dad who infiltrates a drug smuggling ring for the DEA in the hopes of freeing his wrongfully-accused son from incarceration on bogus charges. Expect lots of straight-ahead action from any movie in which Johnson doesn’t wear a tutu (THE GAME PLAN) or fly around on a giant bee (JOURNEY 2).
That’s a whole lot of popcorn and Jujubees, my friends. Be sure to check FILMGEEKCENTRAL.COM for any and all updates/reviews on all of these films as the weeks progress!!! 🙂