Simon Moore explores ten of 2012's potential cinematic highlights...
2011 is almost over. This is a fact. Calendars will back me up on this. So sooner or later you will have to deal with this. Films for the rest of this year look to be the sticky, syrupy Christmassy sort. We are now scraping the bottom of the barrel. Unless of course Happy Feet Two happens to change the face of cinema forever with its gritty reboot of penguin dance crazes.
Not holding my breath.
So, 2012 is where we look to now; where the promise of new films that may or may not sound credibly entertaining still holds true. Behold, I offer you some films to possibly maybe get excited about in the year ahead...
The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists (a.k.a The Pirates! Band of Misfits)
Released 28th March
Directed by Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt
Probably the most fun anyone will have with their trousers on in the new year. The trailer that isn’t a charming little song tells us there’s a band of misfit pirates trying to win the coveted Pirate of the Year award. Queen Victoria hates pirates. Charles Darwin is fascinated with the Pirate Captain’s ‘parrot’. There’s a monkey butler with his own cue cards, and a Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate.
It is, of course, Aardman animation behind it all, the creators of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run. An all-star cast (which usually spells trouble) look very promising, as even Hugh Grant plays against fumbly rom-com type for once to shiver his timbers as the Pirate Captain.
Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie (Kurenai no buta 2)
Released 2012 Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Not a lot known about this one, save the phenomenon of its existence. Studio Ghibli aren’t really much for sequels, but Hayao Miyazaki has mentioned in interview that he wants to return to animating everyone’s favourite flying pig. Porco is much older now, somehow caught up in the Spanish Civil War. Now we hope against hope that Miyazaki isn’t just having us on.
Released 18th May Directed by Larry Charles
Again, no trailer yet, only the promise of the funny to come. Sacha Baron Cohen teams up once more with his Borat director Larry Charles to tell ‘the heroic story of a dictator who risk his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.’ With a logline like that, and a picture of Cohen in costume that makes him look like a cross between Colonel Gaddafi and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, this looks to be a welcome return to form after the disappointment of Brüno.
Released 9th March Directed by Andrew Stanton
Okay, it’s a Disney film. That is something that may count against it, but it is also Pixar’s first venture into live action. What’s more, on the strength of the latest trailer, this adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Princess of Mars novel looks nothing short of powerful. They haven’t slipped into the usual trailer trap of agitated choirs and orchestral stabs; we’ve got a classy Peter Gabriel song that builds just the right kind of mystic Martian atmosphere this material needs.
Quick story sum-up: Taylor Kitsch plays an American Civil War veteran somehow transported to Mars, held prisoner by giants and roped into fighting another senseless war. As a bonus, nobody as yet has told him he’s their ‘only hope’ or the ‘chosen one’. If this is a trap, the cheese is looking pretty tasty right now.
The Iron Lady
Released 6th January Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
An odd one here. Not sure whether we’re supposed to sympathise with Margaret Thatcher’s struggle to be taken seriously in the male-dominated world of politics, or with Meryl Streep’s struggle to keep up that horrific accent. Thatcher’s a big ask for a British audience’s sympathy, so it’s hard to tell if Phyllida Lloyd is aiming for an Elizabeth-type biography of a strong woman or a Nixon-type tragedy of power in the wrong hands. Either one is still going to feature Meryl ‘Mamma Mia’ Streep, so proceed with caution.
The Woman in Black
Released 10th February Directed by James Watkins
More huge expectations, given this is based on the supremely terrifying book by Susan Hill. It’s about a young lawyer, haunted by a strange woman as he tries to put a dead client’s estate in order. Some impressive cinematography and a seasoned horror director inspire confidence, but it’s the surprise lead who must prove himself here.
This is Daniel Radcliffe’s first role for some years away from his Harry Potter comfort zone. Whether he nails it or not, we’ll have to wait and see. We can but hope he doesn’t drift back into Exploring Yet Another Secret Part of Hogwarts autopilot. You’re a lawyer, Harry...
Released 17th August Directed by Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman
Technically, there should be three or four ‘r’s in that title, in keeping with the gloriously Scottish setting. Pixar’s first female-led feature sees the tomboyish Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) defying custom and her humongous father in a bid to make her own way in the world.
We can count on seeing bears of all sizes, ominous monoliths and kilts flapping in the wind, and, given Pixar’s track record, some sights to stick in your mind for years to come. Count in Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane, and you have spring and summer 2012 belonging to one Pixar Incorporated.
Released 27th April Directed by Joss Whedon
“If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it.” Yeah, thanks Iron Man. Inspiring words there. So what does the trailer tell us those half a dozen Marvel films have thus far only hinted and winked at? The Avengers desperately wants to be sharp and witty, we know this much. Heroic writer/director/comics fan Joss Whedon has risen to the challenge by....referencing what each character does. Thor is grumpy. Captain America is also grumpy. Iron Man says things quickly and that makes them funny. Black Widow wears a catsuit. Hulk is big and green. Nick Fury has an eyepatch. Hawkeye...fires arrows? Expect gushing reviews about the special effects, is what I’m saying.
Snow White and the Huntsman
Released 1st June Directed by Rupert Sanders
Next up for the Gritty Reboot treatment is the centuries-old fairytale of Snow White, passing over other ripe Disney candidates like Flubber and Mary Poppins. Never mind, this looks gorgeous, if pushing their limits a bit with Charlize Theron’s questionable Historical Accent.
Kristen Stewart proved she can act outside of Twilight office hours with 2010’s The Runaways, so there’s every chance this could be a credible, thrilling new take on a classic story. If nothing else, it’ll have Mirror Mirror to make it look good by comparison.
P.S. If you are even vaguely tempted to check out the Mirror Mirror trailer, be warned: Julia Roberts. That is all I will say.
The Dark Knight Rises
Released 20th July Directed by Christopher Nolan
In the immortal words of the Bisto advert, one must always save the best to last. In fact, do I even need to say anything about this one? You already know you’re going to see this. I know it, you know it, Batman knows it. He knows everything. Come on, keep up.
Despite this, Batfans seem fraught with panic that somehow Nolan will fuck up a franchise he saved from a decade of rubber-nippled purgatory. You know what, I think he’ll manage. Scratch that, he’ll more than manage, he’ll ace it. Given the incredible job he’s done re-establishing Ra’s Al Ghul and Joker as plausible, threatening villains, I can’t see him slipping up with Catwoman and Bane, can you?
What films are you most looking forward to in 2012? Let us know in the comments below...
Simon Moore is a budding screenwriter, passionate about films both current and classic. He has a strong comedy leaning with an inexplicable affection for 80s montages and movies that you can’t quite work out on the first viewing.