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.
The Heat (Paul Feig; April 5th)
Synopsis: Uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn is paired with testy Boston cop Shannon Mullins in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. The hitch: neither woman has ever had a partner — or a friend for that matter.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Considering how his last comedy, Bridesmaids, surprised just about everyone, lighting up the box office and connecting with critics, we were hoping to see Paul Feig take a major step up with his follow-up. However, while it generated a few laughs, the previews for his action comedy The Heat have us a bit disappointed, seeing Feig more or less playing in the same ballpark — then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Evil Dead (Fede Alvarez; April 12th)
Synopsis: Mia, a young woman struggling with sobriety, heads to a remote cabin with her brother and a group of friends, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads to danger and horror.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: The studio-mandated remake of an ‘80s horror classic — regarding doubt, would much else need to be said? The Evil Dead is the prime example of do-it-yourself horror cinema, a blast of terror that only could’ve been accomplished without a businessman looking over young Sam Raimi’s shoulders the entire time. To do a modern update of it, thus, feels entirely against its own spirit. Nevertheless, this project being shepherded by the director, Bruce Campbell, and Robert Tapert should not only count for a fair deal, but can even be felt in previews which keep the low-scale vibe mixed with a brutal, almost sickening tone unlike anything major distributors put into theaters nowadays. The gore, what many will see this on account of, looks to be in high supply; if that’s what Fede Alvarez needs to do in order to scare up audiences, an accomplished task negates any baggage you take with you into the theater.
Oblivion (Joseph Kosinski; April 12th)
Synopsis: One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth, its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Mounted with massive expectations (for some reason I’m not quite sure — did anyone revisit the original?), Joseph Kosinski‘s directorial debut Tron: Legacy has gone down as a disappointment, but the helmer is back again for his sophomore effort. With a score by M83, a script supplied with the help of Toy Story 3‘s Michael Arndt (which should give us a hint at his sci-fi style before Star Wars: Episode VII), go-to action star Tom Cruise and a more intriguing premise than Kosinski’s rendezvous in The Grid, we hope this one isn’t a slump.
Pain and Gain (Michael Bay; April 29th)
Synopsis: A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Despite his intrinsic love for robots, we’re hoping that by taking the metallic creatures out the equation, director Michael Bay can convey some good old-fashioned storytelling. With that quotient seemingly absent in his last few Transformers features (and all three, if you’d like to be harsh), Bay has some gripping source material, charismatic leads in Anthony Mackie, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, and a “tighter” budget (at least by Bay’s standards), which will hopefully be a recipe for success in this pre-summer crime extravaganza.
Iron Man 3 (Shane Black; May 3rd)
Synopsis: Tony Stark uses his ingenuity to fight those who destroyed his private world and soon goes up against his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: It wouldn’t be the start of the summer without a Marvel movie and following last year’s The Avengers, it’s Iron Man‘s turn to go solo. Marking the first true test if these standalone films can work after we got our gang together, the studio has at least equipped themselves with a talented director for Iron Man 3, as Robert Downey Jr.‘s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang writer/director Shane Black is trying his hand at the superhero game. Creating a merely entertaining film will at least be a step up from Jon Favreau‘s previous effort, but we’re hoping it can deliver more than just that.
Fast & Furious 6 (Justin Lin; May 24th)
Synopsis: Not available, but we’re not sure that matters.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: 2011’s installment Fast Five brought new life to the old franchise with solid action and creative, well-choreographed chase scenes, courtesy of director Justin Lin. Though he made up for helming the less impressive Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, lightning rarely strikes twice when it comes to successful sequels. On the flip side, those who enjoyed the previous film can look forward to the return of cast members Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, and Dwayne Johnson, along with the addition of hot newcomer, Haywire star Gina Carano.
The Hangover Part III (Todd Phillips; May 24th)
Synopsis: This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: There’s no doubt that the (supposedly final) return of the Wolfpack will be one of the year’s highest grossing movies, but as the second film proved, it’s difficult to strike gold twice. Thankfully Todd Phillips will be changing up the structure this time around, so hopefully this end to the trilogy goes out with a bang.
After Earth (M. Night Shyamalan; June 7th)
Synopsis: After a crash landing, a father and son explore a planet that was evacuated by humans 1,000 years earlier.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Considering his track record, one should approach any upcoming M. Night Shyamalan film with hesitation, perhaps apathy. When it comes to this next project, his dystopian sci-fi tale After Earth, we are at least intrigued at the possibilities. If nothing else, the director has shown promise with his visual style and while the casting of Will Smith and son Jaden seems like marketing appeal more than anything else, hopefully this project will signal an uptick in the director’s current downward spiral.
The Internship (Shawn Levy; June 7th)
Synopsis: Two recently laid-off men in their 40s try to make it as interns at a successful Internet company where their managers are in their 20s.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: By most accounts we should be greatly looking forward to Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s first team-up since 2005’s Wedding Crashers, but there are a few factors holding us back. Director Shawn Levy’s comedy offerings range from passable (Date Night) to, well, films like Cheaper by the Dozen and The Pink Panther. Then there is Vaughn, who is following up his previous sole writing effort Couples Retreat with this project, and hasn’t appeared in a worthwhile comedy in quite some time. But with actors including John Goodman, Rose Byrne and even Will Ferrell, we hope this one captures the usually treacherous experience of interning with hilarity.
Now You See Me (Louis Leterrier; June 7th)
Synopsis: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Originally set to be released in mere days, we gained some confidence in this magician heist film when it was given a prime summer tentpole slot, but there’s still a ways to go before we put our ticket down for this one. Sure, the idea of some of Hollywood’s finest actors (Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Mélanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, to name a few) simply having fun is enticing, but it’s up to Leterrier to sell the silly concept.
Monsters University (Dan Scanlon; June 21st)
Synopsis: A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After the rancid Cars 2 and the disappointing Brave, at the very least we are looking forward to simply hanging out with two of Pixar’s most entertaining characters in Monsters University. Unfortunately, taking the prequel form, there’s not much to Mike and Sulley’s early relationship that has us clamoring to unearth. Most of the marketing thus far seems to simply poke fun at college-related tropes, so we’re hoping much more is in store for this one.
World War Z (Marc Forster; June 21st)
Synopsis: A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Yes, it’s unfair to think about documented production troubles when actually seeing a film, but, since we haven’t seen it yet, that has to be the basis of assumptions. While everything about World War Z’s behind-the-scenes stories indicate a wasted opportunity marred by bad decisions, the trailer — now our main line of defense in this form of assessment — doesn’t inspire much, either, save for the occasional utterance of “that looks sort of interesting.” What’s keeping us even just the slightest optimistic is, mainly, Brad Pitt, who’s jumping into new territory — horror, big-scale action, shooting zombies with machine guns — head first. Let’s hope the pool hasn’t been drained when he makes a landing.
Kick-Ass 2 (Jeff Wadlow; June 28th)
Synopsis: The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After many rumors regarding its development, it’s difficult to believe a sequel to the modestly successful Kick-Ass has actually completed production, but indeed, as you read this, a Hollywood editing team is toiling away at crafting this follow-up. While I had a fun time with Matthew Vaughn‘s original film, I’m hardly clamoring for a sequel (even if the inspired casting of Jim Carrey has our curiosity), so here’s hoping that the director of Never Back Down can surprise us come summer.
White House Down (Roland Emmerich; June 28th)
Synopsis: A Secret Service agent is tasked with saving the life of the U.S. President after the White House is overtaken by a paramilitary group.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: While we already mentioned one White House invasion thriller landing this year, Hollywood is set to release another, one that is getting a higher profile push. The inclusion of two major 2012 stars, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, should make for a fun popcorn experience, but Roland Emmerich hasn’t directed a worthwhile blockbuster in quite some some time. Let’s hope it steers clear of the stupidity of something like 2012 in favor of the enjoyable thrills Emmerich began his career with.
Lone Ranger (Gore Verbinski; July 5th)
Synopsis: Native American spirit warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Considering his recent duds, from Dark Shadows to The Tourist to the latest Pirates of the Caribbean, we approach any Johnny Depp-led blockbuster with a certain level of hesitation. Although he’s back with the talented Gore Verbinski, there’s a certain recycled feel to Lone Ranger (and not just that it’s a remake) so we’re hoping this massive budget tentpole can deliver some high-quality western thrills.
The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter 2 (James Wan; July 19th and August 30th)
Synopsis: The Conjuring – A family encounters spirits living among them in their New England farmhouse. Insidious Chapter 2 – A continuation of the 2010 horror hit about the fate of the Lambert family and their haunted house.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: If there was any doubt the low-budget horror genre isn’t surging, James Wan is here to prove us wrong this summer. Both starring Patrick Wilson, The Conjuring was moved from a shoddy January release to WB’s prime summer slot that Christopher Nolan‘s tentpoles usually occupy, while Wan’s follow-up to the smash hit Insidious will arrive before summer’s end. Can he launch one potential franchise while successfully continuing another? It’s a major gamble, but hopefully Wan delivers.
R.I.P.D. (Robert Schwentke; July 19th)
Synopsis: A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Based on the brief plot synopsis, we can’t quite tell if this graphic novel adaptation will be genuinely entertaining or simply laughable. The idea of Jeff Bridges playing an undead police officer could result in some fine scenery chewing, but Ryan Reynolds still has yet to prove he’s viable leading man material when it comes to blockbusters. Add in Robert Schwentke‘s workmanlike approach and we’re wary at best when it comes to this one.
The Wolverine (James Mangold; July 26th)
Synopsis: Wolverine travels to Japan to train with a samurai warrior.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: If this one was under the hand of Darren Aronofsky, as was originally the plan, it would have certainly landed on our upcoming most-anticipated lists, but The Wolverine marks yet another summer tentpole we approach with hesitation. Director James Mangold has shown versatility in his choices, from Girl, Interrupted to Identity to 3:10 to Yuma, which has us intrigued, but we’re hoping this one hits the reboot button in a major way after the misfire that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
300: Rise of An Empire (Noam Murro; August 2nd)
Synopsis: The Greek general Themistocles battles an invading army of Persians under the mortal-turned-god, Xerxes.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: In a summer where Zack Snyder‘s biggest project yet lands, we’re getting a follow-up to his most massive hit, 300. While we’re expecting the same, tired slow-motion ramping action and lots of testosterone-filled chanting, the big question mark lies with the director, as Noam Murro only previously delivered the small drama Smart People. Could he inject some new life in this follow-up? We will find out in about seven months.
Red 2 (Dean Parisot; August 2nd)
Synopsis: This sequel sees the returning cast on an international road-trip.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: One of the most baffling successes of recent years was the dull, geriatric actioner Red, but since it was indeed a success, a follow-up is set to land this summer and there’s only one reason why it’s on our radar: director Dean Parisot. After surprising us with Galaxy Quest, the talented helmer has brought together Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Lee Byung-hun, Neal McDonough and David Thewlis for what will hopefully be a step up from the first feature.
We’re The Millers (Rawson Marshall Thurber; August 9th)
Synopsis: A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After nearly a decade since his last studio comedy, Dodgeball, we sincerely hope Rawson Marshall Thurber hasn’t lost his comedy chops. Six separate credited screenwriters don’t inspire confidence, but this pot comedy has one of the best supporting casts of the year, with Thomas Lennon, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms and even Sleepless Night star Tomer Sisley. With a strong main trio as well, featuring Horrible Bosses stars Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, as well as Emma Roberts, we hope this is a late-summer surprise.
2 Guns (Baltasar Kormákur; August 16th)
Synopsis: A DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer who have been tasked with investigating one another find they have been set up by the mob, the very organization the two men believe they have been stealing money from.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After delivering one of his best performances in last year’s Flight, it’s a bit disappointing to see Denzel Washington back in generic action territory with this project. Then again, even though expectations were low, Baltasar Kormákur’s previous actioner Contraband managed to surprise, so perhaps with Mark Wahlberg back, this film could do the same this summer.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (Harald Zwart; August 23rd)
Synopsis: When her mom is attacked and taken from their home in New York City by a demon, a seemingly ordinary teenage girl, Clary Fray, finds out truths about her past and bloodline on her quest to get her back, that changes her entire life.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Thanks to the success of Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, expect the YA craze to continue to rip through Hollywood for at least the decade, and while 2013 is offering its fair share of entries, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is potentially the most intriguing. The trailer delivered some neat concepts, and after the delightful Mirror Mirror, we’re on board with Lilly Collins leading. Director Harald Zwart also gave us the better-than-it-should-have-been Karate Kid remake, so hopefully there’s more under the surface to this one.
Riddick (David Twohy; Sept. 6th)
Synopsis: Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick finds himself up against a alien race of predators. Activating an emergency beacon alerts two ships: one carrying a new breed of merc, and the other captained by a man from Riddick’s past.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Here’s yet another 2013 sequel that we’re far from interested in, but will hopefully be a pleasant surprise. While David Twohy started off on the right foot with the Riddick character in Pitch Black, this third films follows up the mishap that was The Chronicles of Riddick and ideally sets the franchise in a new direction. Twohy also recently crafted a fun thriller with the overlooked A Perfect Getaway. There’s also the fact that this is Vin Diesel’s first non-Fast and Furious role in half a decade. We sincerely hope it works out.
I, Frankenstein (Stuart Beattie; Sept. 13th)
Synopsis: Frankenstein’s creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries-old war between two immortal clans.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After writing some of Hollywood’s top tentpoles (the Pirates of the Caribbean series in particular) and even one quality project with Collateral, Stuart Beattie is aiming to hit it big with his Hollywood directing debut, I, Frankenstein. While we’re not clamoring for another modern-day update on a classic monster, hopefully Beattie surprises us with this Aaron Eckhart-led horror thriller.
Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers (Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn; Sept. 20th)
Synopsis: Flint Lockwood now works at The Live Corp Company for his idol Chester V. But he’s forced to leave his post when he learns that his most infamous machine is still operational and is churning out menacing food-animal hybrids.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Considering the witty, entertaining Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was one of Hollywood’s biggest surprises in recent years, our hopes are high for a follow-up — except there’s one major reason holding us back. Having found success with 21 Jump Street, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller will not be returning, instead handing off the work to relative newcomers Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. Thankfully, the funny duo of John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein (Horrible Bosses) have supplied the screenplay this time around, so perhaps not all will be lost.
The Delivery Man (Ken Scott; Oct. 4th)
Synopsis: A former sperm donor finds out years later that he fathered hundreds of kids and now many of them want to meet him.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: While we’ve seen many directors take on a remake of their own film, from Alfred Hitchcock to Michael Haneke, 2013 brings perhaps the first occurrence of the original film and the remake landing in US theaters in the same year. After his Canadian hit Starbuck, director Ken Scott has been brought on by DreamWorks for the re-do and with a cast including Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders and Chris Pratt. We hope this one is justified.
Paranoia (Robert Luketic; Oct. 4th)
Synopsis: An entry-level employee at a powerful corporation finds himself occupying a corner office, but at a dangerous price: he must spy on his boss’s old mentor to secure for him a multi-billion dollar advantage.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After delivering the one-two punch of Killers and The Ugly Truth, it’s no surprise we’re approaching Robert Luketic‘s most promising feature with some hesitation. While I can take or leave Liam Hemsworth, the idea of Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford going head-to-head could deliver some cheap, fun entertainment.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Robert Rodriguez; Oct. 4th)
Synopsis: The town’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Despite being one of the most-anticipated movies of 2013 amongst the geek crowd, it’s impossible for us not to be wary going into this Sin City follow-up. Director Robert Rodriguez has not made a thoroughly entertaining film since that 2005 original, so let’s hope a return to this world is just what he he needs to kickstart some creativity. At the very least, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a good start when it comes to casting.
Carrie (Kimberly Peirce; Oct. 18th)
Synopsis: A sheltered high school girl unleashes her newly developed telekinetic powers after she is pushed too far by her peers.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: The reason for doubt here is about as obvious as it gets — it’s a remake of a truly great film. Brian De Palma’s rarely made anything that’s lacking in directorial chops, but his 1976 Stephen King adaptation is one of those rare De Palma films that’s a poetic match of form and content, the director’s hyper-stylized tendencies blending beautifully with Sissy Spacek’s telekinetic teenage angst. The reason why I’m cautiously interested in the remake, though, is because director Kimberly Peirce’s résumé — namely, her searing debut Boys Don’t Cry — suggests a filmmaker of alternate stylistic preferences than the helmer of the original. So even if Peirce’s Carrie ultimately falls short of the high bar of its forerunner, it will hopefully, at the very least, be an attempt at a very different approach to the material. Good cast, too.
Malavita (Luc Besson; Oct. 18th)
Synopsis: The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Despite producing a number of certified hits with the Taken and Transporter series, Luc Besson himself hasn’t delivered a worthwhile action blockbuster since 1997’s The Fifth Element. Here’s hoping his next directorial effort, the crime drama Malavita starring Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones, sees the helmer reinvigorated with much-needed imagination.
The Seventh Son (Sergey Bodrov; Oct. 18th)
Synopsis: An 18th century adventure story centered on young Thomas, who is apprenticed to the local Spook to learn to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Any film that has Jeff Bridges playing a sorcerer at least has us intrigued. However, The Seventh Son has a relatively unproven lead in Ben Barnes and a director who is attempting to segue into the Hollywood spotlight. Will this fall’s YA adaptation stand toe-to-toe with the others mentioned here or will it fail? Hopefully a forthcoming trailer will push us into either direction.
Ender’s Game (Gavin Hood; Nov. 1st)
Synopsis: Seventy years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Having adored Orson Scott Card‘s original novel, few adaptations this year have me more hesitant that Ender’s Game. Coming from Gavin Hood, whose first Hollywood blockbuster attempt with X-Men Origins: Wolverine failed with flying colors, Summit seems to have assembled a strong cast with Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis, but with complex action scenes and more, there may be too many ways this one could go wrong.
Thor: The Dark World (Alan Taylor; Nov. 8th)
Synopsis: Thor battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith, who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness after the events of The Avengers.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After delivering a middling debut film, Marvel is going back to the Thor well for this follow-up, with an unproven director no less. Sure, Chris Hemsworth is charming as our lead, but after The Avengers, we’re not sure how this stand-alone entry for one of the group’s weaker superheroes can be justified.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence; Nov. 21st)
Synopsis: The continuing adventures of Katniss Everdeen, which take place in a futuristic dystopian world, as she prepares for the Quarter Quell.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Yes, we know this is the number one most-anticipated movie amongst the general populace, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up our hesitation regarding the follow-up to last year’s massive hit franchise debut. While Gary Ross‘ original gave us a better-than-expected sci-fi story, featuring a strong central performance from Jennifer Lawrence, we hope Francis Lawrence provides a better handle on the cinematography this time around and injects a bit more originality.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Peter Jackson; Nov. 13th)
Synopsis: The Dwarfs, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the misty mountains, but Bilbo has gained the one ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back off the Dragon, Smaug.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: Despite being generally well-accepted amongst audiences, Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was one of the most bloated, unengaging blockbusters in my recent memory. Will this second of three films fall under the same curse? Our hope is Jackson got the build-up out of the way and can focus on some captivating elements of Middle-earth with The Desolation of Smaug.
Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock; Dec. 20th)
Synopsis: Author P.L. Travers travels from London to Hollywood as Walt Disney Pictures adapts her novel Mary Poppins for the big screen.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: While this feature will likely be near the top of Oscar prognosticator’s 2013 preview lists, it’s difficult to get fully behind a film from the man that gave us the cloying drama The Blind Side. We’re hoping the stellar cast, including Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman and Colin Farrell, can elevate this intriguing story — one that hopefully isn’t getting sugarcoated.
47 Ronin (Carl Rinsch; Dec. 25th)
Synopsis: An 18th century-set story centered on a band of samurai who seek to avenge the death of their master.
Why We’re Doubtful, But Hoping For the Best: After being delayed again (and again), word crept in regarding the reportedly strenuous behind-the-scenes back-and-forth regarding Carl Rinsch‘s ambitious directorial debut, featuring international star Keanu Reeves. While it has us worried, rumors are rumors and some of the most volatile of sets have produced great films, so we’re hoping this is a year-end surprise.
What studio releases are making you hesitant? Which do you think will deliver?
— By Jordan Raup, Nick Newman, Danny King, Amanda Waltz and Jack Giroux