- Tim Boden’s Letter From Australia #2 – The Scene - 18 April, 2014
- Captain America – 70(ish) Years of Heroism - 27 March, 2014
- Tim Boden’s Letter from Australia – First Impressions - 15 March, 2014
For some, the arrival of a new year is a time to reflect on the lessons learned during the past twelve months and to start making plans for the ones yet to come. For others, it’s mainly about sleeping off the hangover. But whether you’ve already written your resolutions and signed up for that gym membership, or you’re still in bed supping Berocca and wondering if the GUM clinic opens on a bank holiday, there’s one thing we can all look forward to – movies!
Just as in 2012, 2013 is heavy on the sequels, remakes and unnecessary three-dimensionalising of old films, but I’ve taken the liberty of trawling through the list of upcoming attractions to pick out a baker’s dozen of films that stand out from the crowd.
Gangster Squad (in cinemas January 10th)
The title’s rubbish but the film looks promising – a good old-fashioned tale of cops versus robbers in 1940s LA. With a cast including Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, it’ll almost certainly be gorgeous to look at, and if director Ruben Fleischer can bring the same wit and fresh outlook to the gangster genre that he did for zombie flicks in 2009’s Zombieland, this should be good fun.
Django Unchained (January 18th)
Honestly, I could just say it’s the new Quentin Tarantino film and leave it at that: if you’re a fan, you’ll be going to see it anyway, and if his films’ extended conversations and shameless fanboy self-indulgence leave you cold, there’ll be nothing in here to sway you.
But you can always guarantee a Tarantino film will be a labour of love with a distinctively different feel to anything else in cinemas – so if you only see one spaghetti Western about an escaped slave who goes on a revenge-driven road trip with a German dentist this year, make it this one.
Zero Dark Thirty (January 25th)
This dramatic retelling of the finding and killing of Osama Bin Laden by Navy SEALs in 2011 has already been out in the States, and attracted a fascinatingly mixed reaction, being showered with critical acclaim at the same time as being criticised for its (inaccurate) claim that evidence gained by torture was necessary to the success of the operation. Is this forgivable poetic license or film as propaganda? Can you enjoy a film whilst disagreeing with its politics? Watch and make your own judgments.
Cloud Atlas (February 22nd)
Another film that’s already been successful in the US, this adaptation of David Mitchell’s award-winning novel by all accounts does an excellent job of condensing multiple narratives spanning time and space into movie form. As with many literary adaptations, it may be as brilliant as people are saying, or it may be insufferable pretentious tosh, but going by the screencaps it certainly looks beautiful – and as far as I’m concerned, the subplot involving Ben Whishaw as a bisexual composer in the 1930s is enough to persuade me to give it a try.
Evil Dead (April 19th)
On paper, remaking The Evil Dead seems like a pointless exercise – and without Bruce Campbell, downright sacrilegious. However, all reports suggest that rather than another unnecessary, originality-free retread in the vein of the recent remakes of My Bloody Valentine or The Hills Have Eyes, this is a genuinely different take on the story. Ash has been replaced by a female lead, Mia, and the script (first drafted by original writer Sam Raimi and then edited by Diablo Cody) is apparently the dark, disturbing, genuinely scary story the original would’ve been, if only they’d had the budget to pull it off.
Much Ado About Nothing (out in the US in June; release date in the UK unknown)
Another year, another Shakespeare adaptation – but one written and directed by Joss Whedon who, like Tarantino, is a name that’ll pull in fans without any further justification being needed. Not much information has been released, but it’s set in the present day, has a cast full of names familiar to Whedon fans (Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg to name a few), and will almost certainly have his trademark smarts and humour. Probably not likely to convert anyone who’s left cold by Whedon’s style – and I am currently racking my brains to work out if there’s any much-loved character he’s likely to unexpectedly kill off mid-way through the third act – but it’s interesting seeing him try his hand at something outside the usual science fiction and horror fare.
Man of Steel (June 14th)
Superman’s a tricky enough character to pull off in comics, let alone in any other medium, and with Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 also coming out this year, this’ll have to be damn good to stand out from the crowd. However, director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan both have abundant experience of bringing comics to the big screen – maybe this year, they’ll finally get it right.
Pacific Rim (July 12th)
Director Guillermo del Toro has described this film as ‘a beautiful poem to giant monsters’, and really, what more do you need? In the hands of another director, a story about soldiers piloting giant robots in order to defend the world against mysterious monsters that have risen from the seas could easily be so much cheap, nasty, CGI nonsense, but I have faith that del Toro could pull off the trick of delivering a summer blockbuster that satisfies intellectually at the same time as being as awesome as a film about robots fighting massive sea beasties deserves to be.
Monsters University (July 12th)
And in the same week, and also featuring monsters – albeit of a completely different kind – a prequel I really wouldn’t have expected. Monsters Inc. was one of Pixar’s best, in my opinion, and this goes back to tell the story of Mike and Sully’s college days and how they first got to know one another. Just the concept’s charming, and Pixar have a very good track record, so I think high expectations are justified.
Elysium (September 20th)
District 9 was one of the most original science fiction films of recent years, and it’ll be worthwhile seeing what writer and director Neill Blomkamp can do given a Hollywood studio and budget to work with. The premise sounds a little reminiscent of other sci-fi dystopias such as Blade Runner and Gattaca, but the suggested themes regarding social inequality and immigration sound like this could be thought-provoking at the same time as providing enough shiny spaceships and things going boom to stop it all getting tediously preachy.
The Monuments Men (December 26th)
Ahh, nothing says Christmas like a good Second World War caper – so if you’re tired of re-watching The Great Escape or Where Eagles Dare, you can always evade the relatives by sneaking out to watch the true story of the task force charged with protecting Europe’s art treasures from Nazi looters. Directed by and starring George Clooney, with a support cast including Daniel Craig, Jean Dujardin and Bill Murray, this could be a great way to round off the year.
Anomalisa (release date unknown)
Not much information has been made available about this yet, but without even knowing the plot, it sounds potentially fascinating: a stop-motion animation written by Charlie Kaufman, the man behind Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, among others. May be difficult to find in UK cinemas, but it’ll almost certainly be an interestingly different watch.
Left Behind (release date unannounced)
And finally, finishing off our list with an unlucky number thirteen, here’s an anti-recommendation of sorts: a film based on the wildly successful (among fundamentalist Christian nutjobs) post-Rapture melodrama Left Behind, starring everyone’s favourite scenery-chewer Nicolas Cage. It’s bound to be terrible, but with any luck, that’ll be hilarious terrible like The Wicker Man remake, rather than boring terrible like Ghost Rider. It’s also pretty unlikely to make it into UK cinemas at all, but that’s okay – films like that are best enjoyed on DVD with copious amounts of booze to hand, or as five-minute highlight reels on YouTube. If there’s a moment to match the classic NOT THE BEES! scene from The Wicker Man, I’ll be happy.