Big budgets and even bigger
Having studied the synopses, watched the trailers and mined the web for inside info, Cinemaddict movie reviewer MATTHEW DALLAS boils down the 2013 movie slate into a bakers’ dozen of most-anticipated releases.
How hot has the idiot box got in the past year or two?
I’m not talking about home DIY and cooking shows, mind you, but those staples of cinematic goodness – quality drama and comedy – have quickly become the domain of the small screen.
I tried to pick my 2013 shortlist from a variety of genres, but more than half have at least one foot in science- fiction – signalling the dominance of special effects in Hollywood and how advancing technology has opened the door on the kinds of stories that can be told.
However, there’s always room for romance and character studies anchored by a cracking script – if you can find it.
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has been left out since it was included in our 2012 list. #13 This Is The End
The lowdown: While attending a party at James Franco’s house, a swag of comedy celebrities such as Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Jason Segel, are faced with the apocalypse.
The hoopla: Laughing in the face of certain death would seem to be the angle on this one. Rogen and Evan Goldberg direct their own script, starring a who’s who of American comic actors and, er, Rihanna, as themselves. Expect burly repartee and more F-bombs than A-bombs.
The rub: Smells a little like an ego project, but Rogen and Goldberg have had this on the backburner for years. Hopefully not too in-jokey and recaptures the tone of their earlier work ( Superbad, Pineapple Express).
ETA: August 1. #12 Monsters University
The lowdown: Prequel to the successful Monsters, Inc., which covers the early friendship of monsters Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) at the University of Fear.
The hoopla: The first movie was one of Pixar’s best and we know from Toy Story that the studio won’t just do a rehash for a sequel. Monsters, Inc. was largely set at the scare factory, so there’s plenty of potential to reveal more of Monstropolis.
The rub: The first picture drew a lot of its heart from the relationship between Sulley and human toddler Boo. Hard to know
where it’s coming from this time.
ETA: June 20 #11 Oz: The Great and Powerful
The lowdown: Prequel to cinema classic The Wizard of Oz which imagines the origins of the titular wizard, as played by James Franco. A circus magician/grifter is whirled away from Kansas to the Land of Oz where he encounters three witches (Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz) who were awaiting the arrival of a great wizard.
The hoopla: Who wouldn’t want to go down the yellow brick road one more time?
Franco is a very engaging leading man, and Sam Raimi ( SpiderMan trilogy) knows how to hit a tone that entertains adults and children alike.
The rub: I figured this as a cynical cash-grab but then I saw the trailer and I couldn’t resist it. Still, I’m a little worried the reliance on CGI to convey the visual splendour of Oz will have a digital fakeness to it, a la Alice in Wonderland.
ETA: March 7 #10 The World’s End
The lowdown: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz gang Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost assemble for a comedy about five friends who restage an epic pub crawl from their youth, only to become humankind’s only hope for survival.
The hoopla: What’s up with all the apocalyptic comedies? Not much is known of the plot, including which genre mash- up the threat is likely to mine; sciencefiction (aliens/monsters), action (warfare) or horror (zombies), but Wright, Pegg and Frost have been a winning trifecta to date.
The rub: As fun as the premise sounds, it’s not a long way from the lagered cheek of Shaun of the Dead. But given the vision and innovation Wright brought to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I can’t see him covering old turf.
ETA: Late year. #9 Star Trek into Darkness
The lowdown: Highly anticipated follow-up to JJ Abrams’ successful 2009 Star Trek reboot in which Kirk, Spock and the crew take on a vengeful force, and must lead a manhunt to find a one-man weapon of mass destruction.
The hoopla: Benedict Cumberbatch (television’s Sherlock Holmes) is onboard as the big bad, who is rumoured to be fanfavourite, superhuman villain Khan. It looks like all the main crew are back – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana – and with introductions taken care of, there’s potential for epic sci- fi storytelling.
The rub: Unless they go back to making Star Trek movies for Trekkies only, it’s hard to find a downside – and there is no way that’s going to happen.
ETA: May 16. #8 Silver Linings Playbook
The lowdown: A former teacher (Bradley Cooper) returns from a stint in a mental hospital to rebuild his life, only to be sidetracked by a mysterious young woman ( Jennifer Lawrence) with a proposition.
The hoopla: Film-maker David O. Russell ( I Heart Huckabees) is no stranger to the kook factor, and appears to have crafted a real winner here; Silver Linings Playbook is earning rave reviews and making plenty of top 10 lists in the States.
The rub: Bradley Cooper is an unlikely choice for the unhinged Pat, but the scenes I’ve seen suggest he’s up to the task.
ETA: January 31.
What an eyeful: A dodgy magician, played by James Franco, finds himself the focus of a prophecy in Oz: The Great and Powerful.