This will be the first year in over a decade that doesn’t have a Harry Potter film and the first summer in years that doesn’t have a Transformers sequel dominating the highly coveted Fourth of July slot. That being said this year boasts some of the usual entries, unexpected (and hopefully not completely unnecessary) sequels like G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Underworld: Awakenings and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The same could be said for a couple of uncalled for reboots such as the Burton/Depp restart of Dark Shadows and the déjà-vu inducing relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man.
On the other hand, there are some unquestionably awesome films slated for this year. The superhero super group, The Avengers will start off the summer movie season, hopefully fulfilling legions of fanboy expectations. Not to mention, The Dark Knight Rises, which has one film critic in particular counting down the days. (just over 200 as of Jan 1st)
There’s even a decent helping of selections for genre fans this year. The Blair Witch-esque sci-fi indie Chronicle comes out in February. (If you haven’t seen the trailer, watch it.) As well as the genre benders Cabin in the Woods and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. So scroll through my list and get acquainted with some of the standout releases for 2012. The films are listed in chronological order according to release date. Enjoy.
1. Underworld: Awakening
January 20, 2012
Synopsis: Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.
Critic’s Comments: Kate Beckinsale has been absent from the Underworld franchise since 2006. However when I saw Selene burst from her (yet-unexplained) cryo-stasis in the trailer for the aptly named Underworld: Awakenings, I was very excited. I can only expect that there will be plenty of Beckinsale kicking vamp, Lycan and human butt in tight spandex and slo-mo. And really, what else do you need?
February 3, 2012
Synopsis: Three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to their developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over.
Critic’s Comments: Since I’ve seen this trailer a couple of months ago, there has been little to no fanfare for this film. The premise looks really cool and surprisingly it’s one that I cannot remember having been done before. The ‘found footage’ craze has been dying a slow death lately, so it remains to be seen if this film will be innovative enough to overcome the ‘Paranormal Catfish stuck in Cloverfield’ criticisms. We’ll find out in about a month.
3. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
February 17, 2012
Synopsis: Johnny Blaze aka Ghost Rider (Nicholas Cage) has hiding out in remote Eastern Europe and struggling to repress his curse. Blaze is recruited by a sect to take on The Devil (Ciaran Hinds), who wants to take over his mortal son’s body on the kid’s birthday. Idris Elba plays an alcoholic warrior monk tasked with finding Ghost Rider. Johnny Whitworth plays a criminal who is recruited by The Devil to find the boy and is later turned into a demonic creature.
Critic’s Comments: You would hard pressed to find someone who hated the first Ghost Rider more than I did. I thought it was a complete and utter failure on just about every level except for some ‘ok’ CGI with the demon. Yet somehow, the film went on to gross over $200 worldwide. So when news of the sequel starting hitting the web, I couldn’t have cared less. That was until I saw the bad-ass trailer featuring a far more demonic Rider and some Road Warrior looking chase scenes. Spirit of Vengeance is directed by Neveldine/Taylor, the hyperkinetic dynamic duo behind the Crank movies. That with the always-reliable Idris Elba might make this a ride worth taking.
4. The Raven
March 9, 2012
Synopsis: A fictionalized account of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life, in which the poet pursues a serial killer whose murders mirror those in the writer’s stories.
Critic’s Comments: Now I’ll watch John Cusack paint a fence, so my opinion may be a little skewed here. Watching the trailer for The Raven, I was immediately reminded of (in a good way) films like From Hell and Sleepy Hollow. Seeing how Depp doesn’t seem to stray too far from the Burton or Disney camps these days, it’ll be interesting to see how Cusack will do in a period role, especially when that role is the master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe.
5. Hunger Games
March 23, 2012
Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year old from a poor territory that was once Appalachia, becomes a gladiator in a reality-show that is a battle to the death against other teens from the 12 districts of the former United States.
Critic’s Comments: I have never read any of the books so all I have to go on is what I’ve seen in the trailers. The premise seems horrific to be honest, like a tween version of The Running Man mixed with a little Death Race. I know the books are bestsellers so I know from my friends who have read them that Hunger Games seems poised to become this years Twilight.
Newcomer Jennifer Lawrence has been making quite a name for herself recently in films like Winter’s Bone and X-Men: First Class. That and the impressively diverse casting of Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci should be enough cred for any film buff to want to check out.
6. Cabin in the Woods
April 13, 2012
Synopsis: “The Cabin in the Woods” storyline provides a new twist on a classic scenario — in this case the young-people-stranded-in-the-woods horror trope. Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford will play white-collar co-workers with a mysterious connection to the cabin.
Critic’s Comments: I was not very eager to watch the trailer for this film when I first ran across it on Apple Trailers. After watching three times in a row, my opinion changed drastically. Cabin in the Woods that the old horror trope of young kids getting stuck in the woods and turns it on it ear. From what I was able to gather from the trailer, it looks like there’s elements of The Truman Show and Surviving the Game mixed in there as well. I’m definitely on board for this one.
7. The Avengers
May 4, 2012
Synopsis: The Avengers will bring together the super hero team of Marvel Comics characters for the first time ever, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk and more, as they are forced to band together to battle the biggest foe they’ve ever faced.
Critic’s Comments: ‘Nuff Said…
8. Snow White and the Huntsman
June 1, 2012
Synopsis: Snow White, a princess, escapes her evil stepmother with the help of a huntsman who was supposed to kill her but instead trains the princess to fight back.
Critic’s Comments: In light of the current fairy tale trend, we’ve all been seeing with shows (Once Upon a Time, Grimm) and movies (Red Riding Hood), I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked to see a Snow White reimagining. What I was shocked by was how friggin cool the trailer looked. Snow White seems to borrowing heavily from the LOTR and The Narnia films in the sense of epic scope, which may just work in the films favor. But ultimately, they had me at Charlize.
Part #2 – COMING SOON…