The films to watch in 2013
Movies reviewer Cas Harlow picks the Top 10 films to look forward to in 2013.
16There are many superb films to look forward to this year.
January has kick-started with a flurry of promising efforts – Tarantino's Django Unchained, Denzel Washington's Flight, Daniel Day-Lewis's Lincoln and Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty. There's a bunch of highly-anticipated actioners – Walter Hill's promising Stallone action-thriller Bullet to the Head; Arnie's first lead action-vehicle in a decade, The Last Stand; and Willis's A Good Day to Die Hard, all in time for Valentine's Day. Beyond that are plenty of great entries I've reluctantly put into a Top 10, for your consideration.
10. The World's End
The final part in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy will surely be highly anticipated by fans of the previous instalments: Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. After a rom-zom-com and a buddy-buddy-action-horror-comedy (not forgetting the Pegg/Nick Frost sci-fi comedy Paul) this looks likely to be a comedy-disaster-movie. With both Pegg and Frost reuniting under Wright, expect World's End to be packed with great one-liners and many film references and, hopefully, be one of the funniest films of the year. Out August.
9. Man Of Steel
It's always worrying when they repeatedly reboot a series (c.f. three different Hulks in a decade). Personally I didn't think Bryan 'X-Men' Singer's 2006 Superman Returns was that bad, but $380M Box Office results simply weren't enough to justify the $200M budget. With the new Spider-Man movies proving to be a good – if too-quick – use of reboots, it's possible Zack Snyder's Man of Steel may also become the definitive new Superman flick. Snyder himself is hit-and-miss, tending towards style-over-substance (300, Sucker Punch) but with a teasing trailer and solid support from the likes of Crowe, Costner, Fishburn, Michael Shannon and Amy Adams, Henry Cavill stands a good chance of resurrecting DC's other big hitter in the wake of Batman's conclusion. And with Superman's old nemesis –General Zod – touted on the credits, I'm holding out hope for this. Out June.
8. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Many have probably forgotten Sin City, a stylish adult graphic novel adaption, co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and the author Frank 'The Dark Knight Returns' Miller himself and boasting an ensemble cast. Its success should have demanded a sequel a while back, but better late than never, and at least most of the major players are returning, including Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Michael Madsen, as well as new additions, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Josh Brolin. Of course Sin City was the first step in Mickey Rourke's epic comeback (eclipsed by his Oscar-robbed The Wrestler and the more prominent Iron Man 2). Perfect as the gritty anti-hero Marv, who is also central to the sequel, thankfully Rourke's back on-board and therefore so am I, especially considering A Dame to Kill For offers significantly better material for Rodriguez to work with. Expected October.
7. Iron Man 3
Without Jon Favreau's Iron Man films (bookending the less successful Hulk reboot), Phase 1 of Avengers may never have happened. They remain the best of all Marvel's projects, in part because of Favreau's direction, but mainly because of Robert Downey Jr's pitch-perfect performance – and to think the majority of his action-acting here involves just close-up shots of his head with computer read-outs around it! Although the second film had its moments – Rourke makes for a great villain – it wasn't as good as the first, but that shouldn't put you off what could easily be the best of the lot; the first truly great threequel. Why? Two words: Shane Black. The writer/director behind Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, who also did the scripts for the likes of The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Last Boy Scout – and for the first two Lethal Weapon movies! With villainous support from the likes of Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley, and a dark and brooding tone, it looks like they’re taking Iron Man back to basics whilst also pulling out all the stops with the imperative to keep the momentum flowing after the monumental success ofAvengers. Sure to be a quality pre-summer Blockbuster, I can’t wait. Out April.
After his critically praised and commercially successful indie sci-fi drama, District 9, audiences have been desperate to see what writer/director Neill Blomkamp would come up with next. How about a Big Budget action sci-fi flick about a ravaged post-apocalyptic Earth where the rich live on a luxurious space station named Elysium. You must have already seen the pictures of a heavily-armed, bald-headed Matt Damon fighting through the futuristic wasteland, and, if not, check them out. This looks very interesting; the first in a set of sci-fi big hitters that may just make 2013 the biggest sci-fi movie year ever. Coming at the end of the Summer, Elysium’s probably hoping to capture the Looper crowd with a September release.
5. Pacific Rim
After his plans to shoot an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness with Tom Cruise were temporarily stayed by the similarly-themed Prometheus, acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro (Blade II, Hellboy,Pan’s Labyrinth) announced that he was going to make ‘a beautiful poem to giant monsters’. Although Cruise was going to stay on in a central role, he was eventually replaced by Idris Elba (Luther, Thor, Prometheus), but it’s clear from the trailer that the real stars are the robots. Part Neon Genesis Evangelion, part Crash and Burn, this is like Transformers, only with a real director helming it. Arguably one of the biggest movies of the year – not least in terms of epic scale and staging – the only reservations come with the announcement that del Toro's done a u-turn in terms of 3D-ifying the film, after initially stating that he didn't want to shoot it in 3D. We should take comfort from the fact that he is planning on taking considerably longer to do the post-production conversion than pretty much any filmmaker before. Released July. Bring it.
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
Easily the most anticipated sequel of the year, after J.J. Abrams’s phenomenal Star Trek reboot, I can’t imagine that there are many out there who won’t be flocking to see Into Darkness, an oddly-titled second feature which looks to be every bit as spectacular as fans have hoped for. Although the trailer doesn’t really give anything significant away, it does pitch this as quite a disaster-laden, world-changing sequel. All the cast members are returning from the first outing. And with Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch playing the man behind the chaos, we can only but wait to find out what Abrams and co. have in store for us. Suffice to say: it'll be big. Out May.
Hitting 50 hasn't slowed down Cruise and, if anything, his career is reaching another peak, the success of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the positive response to 2012's Jack Reacher – potentially the start to another great franchise for him – and films like the sci-fi actioner All You Need is Kill (think Source Code crossed with Universal Soldier), a fifth Mission: Impossible outing and, hopefully, a Reacher sequel starting to pop up on the horizon. Based on the graphic novel by the same name, Oblivion is directed by Tron: Legacy’s Joseph Kosinski, and focuses on a ravaged earth where Cruise’s engineer patrols and repairs automated drones, only to find a dark conspiracy within the wartorn shadows. Supported by Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko, this baby is yet another reason why sci-fi is going to be BIG this year. Expect it to be as visually impressive as Tron: Legacy and as captivating asMinority Report. Released April.
Just pipping Oblivion for the number 2 spot, yet another sci-fi, we get Alfonso Cuaran’s Gravity. Don’t recognise the name? He’s the man behind Children of Men. Honestly, that fact alone was enough to push this almost to the top of the list. With a story focussing on just two characters, trapped in the depths of space, it’s understandable that the cast is limited. Originally set to star Robert Downey Jr. and Natalie Portman, the roles eventually fell to Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Don’t be put off by Bullock – her Blind Side performance was a real shock to anyone who’s ever seen a Sandra Bullock film – and consider Clooney to be one of the most reliable actors working in Hollywood at the moment, after The Descendants, The American, and Michael Clayton. You may just have to take this one on faith but, trust me, this has the potential to be one of the best films of the year. Delayed for 3D conversion (again, don’t be too worried, the movie is largely CG, which always works better for conversions) it hasn’t had a UK release announced, but with a US release in October, hope for it by the end of the year.
1. Only God Forgives
Nicholas Winding Refn? Ryan Gosling? Reuniting after the best film of 2011, Drive? I was sold on this before I even had any idea what it was about. The story – boxing gangsters in Bangkok. The director’s pitch – a western-style thriller shot in the Far East, with a modern-day cowboy hero. Oh and Gosling learned Muay Thai boxing for the role. Considered to be something of a spiritual sequel to Drive, I expect this to be my favourite film of 2013. The trouble is, it was shot for nothing and will likely end up passing through the cinemas in a matter of days (succumbing to the likes of Star Trek in terms of screenings). Keep an eagle eye out for it in May. Not to be missed.
It's impossible to put together a definitive Top 10 list in a year where anything can change; some titles may be pushed back to 2014, whilst others from 2014 may be brought forward ahead of schedule (as happened with Jack Reacher and World War Z, which swapped 2013/2012 slots respectively).
Amidst the titles that didn't make the cut we have a couple of similarly-themed assault-on-the-White-House movies – White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen – one with Gerard Butler, the other with Channing Tatum; some horror remakes, including Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D (out now), Evil Dead and Carrie; the usual Hollywood remakes, like Spike Lee's Oldboy; another entry in Marvel's Phase 2, Thor: The Dark World; a couple more sci-fis, Will (& son) Smith's After Earth and Harrison Ford's Ender's Game.
There's another couple of prequel/sequels with 300: Rise of an Empire, Wolverine (it’ll be interesting to see whether this fixes the damage done by Wolverine: Origins), the back-to-basics Riddick, which promises to be darker and more in-line with the original Pitch Black, and the much-anticipated sequel to Anchorman (not to mention the sequel to Knocked Up, This is 40, which is out shortly). Hell there's even an Arnie-Stallone team-up for you in The Tomb later this year if you're worried about not getting an Expendables fix until 2014.
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