Despite Hollywood’s marketing telling us otherwise, rarely do major studio releases actually deliver on the hype. And while there are certainly a few tentpoles we are looking forward to — which we’ll cover in our next 2013 preview — there’s a great deal of question marks. Removing the surefire duds, such as every January release and Grown Ups 2, among others, we have selected a handful of wide releases that we’re still hesitant about, but sincerely hope are all contenders for a list like this one at year’s end. Check them out below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Identity Thief (Seth Gordon; Feb. 8th)
Synopsis: When a mild-mannered businessman learns his identity has been stolen, he hits the road in an attempt to foil the thief — a trip that puts him in the path of a deceptively harmless-looking woman.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Seth Gordon successfully showed his knack for comedy with 2011’s hilarious surprise hit Horrible Bosses, but can he strike again? For his follow-up, he brings back his Bosses star Jason Bateman and teams him with break-out comedy starlet Melissa McCarthy. While the chemistry is apparent, the trailers haven’t quite hit the same chord as his last project and the early year release has us hesitant, but hopefully we’re proven wrong.
A Good Day to Die Hard (John Moore; Feb. 14th)
Synopsis: John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing father and son to team up against underworld forces.
Why We’re Dubious, But Hoping For the Best: Even the most die hard (sorry) of Die Hard fans can see the downward spiral this action series is in, but with a few, fun action-packed teasers, John Moore‘s latest effort at least has to be better than his last major mishap, Max Payne. While Jai Courtney (aka McClane Jr.), wasn’t given an opportunity to show off his potential charisma in Jack Reacher, let’s hope he brings some of it to Moscow.
Jack the Giant Slayer (Bryan Singer; March 1st)
Synopsis: A modern day fairy tale in which the long-standing peace between men and giants is threatened, as a young farmer leads an expedition into the giants’ kingdom in hopes of rescuing a kidnapped princess.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: The trailers for Bryan Singer’s postponed Jack the Giant Slayer are abysmal. No character seemed to be interacting with a tangible, believable world, and, as a result, the whole film comes off like a wreckage waiting to get slaughtered and it was easy to see why the film was labeled as “Jack The Studio Killer,” due to all of its visual effects problems. All those troubles may have made their way on screen, but with Bryan Singer behind the camera and Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, The Usual Suspects) having a hand in the script, maybe this one will surprise.
Dead Man Down (Niels Arden Oplev; March 8th)
Synopsis: In New York City, a crime lord’s right-hand man is seduced by one of his boss’s victims, a woman seeking retribution.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Playing in similar revenge crime territory, Niels Arden Oplev reteams with his original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace, but with what looks to be diminished results. After a tonally odd trailer, complete with a relatively bland premise, we’re hoping that Colin Farrell, Dominic Cooper and Isabelle Huppert can surprise us in a few months.
Oz: The Great and Powerful (Sam Raimi; March 8th)
Synopsis: A stage magician is hurled into a fantasy world, and must use his wits to stay ahead of three enchantresses who have plans for him.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: A March-bound Disney film produced by that one guy who likes to reappropriate famous fantasy tales — are we talking about Alice in Wonderland? The first previews for Sam Raimi’s latest bring Tim Burton’s much-maligned hit to mind, but I’ll be dead in the cold, deep ground before I don’t invest legitimate hope in a Raimi film. The fact that L. Frank Baum’s world is far more interesting — i.e., open to creative interpretation — than Lewis Carroll’s should count for something; as far as leads go, I’d also take James Franco over Johnny Depp’s dead-in-the-water shtick any day of the week. Throw in Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis as three witches, and the slate of onscreen talent here is much greater than a terrible film should allow. Whether or not it will is to be determined.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Don Scardino; March 15th)
Synopsis: Magician Burt Wonderstone splits from his longtime stage partner after a guerrilla street magician steals their thunder. By spending some time with his boyhood idol, Burt looks to remember what made him love magic in the first place.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: The idea of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey squaring off as magicians has us intrigued, not to mention supporting turns from Steve Buscemi and James Gandolfini, but a few factors have us worried about this upcoming comedy. Curious about the March release date for what seems like a prime summer comedy, we’re also hesitant about director Don Scardino, a helmer who has until now been playing in the TV field with shows like 30 Rock and 2 Broke Girls. Here’s hoping he can successfully jump into the cinematic game for what could be a spring surprise.
The Croods (Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders; March 22nd)
Synopsis: The world’s very first prehistoric family goes on a road trip to an uncharted and fantastical world.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: While a handful of 2013 features are looking at the world’s end, this upcoming DreamWorks animation dives into the beginning. We’re anticipating any upcoming film from Chris Sanders — half of the team that gave us How to Train Your Dragon — but the previews for The Croods have us less than enthused. Perhaps it will be a similar case with the aforementioned film, where the final product delivered tenfold compared the trailer, but for now this one has a ways to go before we’re on board.
Olympus Has Fallen (Antoine Fuqua; March 22nd)
Synopsis: A former Secret Service agent works to prevent a terrorist attack on the White House.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Considering we haven’t seen anything outside of posters for the first of two White House invasion films, we’re not quite sure what to make of this upcoming March release. While Antoine Fuqua’s films are usually better than expected considering the run-of-the-mill subject matter he deals with, hopefully this Gerard Butler-starrer pulls a Mirror Mirror-type surprise and actually one-ups its forthcoming counterpart.
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