2013: Revenge of the Sequels

2013: Revenge of the Sequels

With 2013 only a stones throw away, it looks like we’re in for another good year at the box office.

Unfortunately for what you make up with in terms of movie quantity, you may be disappointed by the lack of originality when it comes to the scripts. We seem to be awash with sequels in 2013. Not only that, but action sequels!

  • Monsters University: Mike and SulleyMonsters University [sequel]. We all know the magic between Mick and Sulley, but were they always that close? In Monsters University we’re going to find out as we head back to their uni days of pranks, jokes and of course studying. Even with Monsters Inc being nearly 12 years old, I’m sure that Pixar will be able to pull another classic film out of the bag. Definitely looking forward to this animated sequel.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [sequel]. The first film came out in 2012 and was reasonably okay from the scripts perspective, but nothing ground breaking. What lifted the first film out of the 2012 tide-of-mediocre movies was the cinematography style it used to depict its gruesome look at society. Hopefully in Catching Fire the script will be better written, without compromising the look that the first one achieved. Jennifer Lawrence is staring again as the lead protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, hopefully this film will also include more character development. Catching Fire is currently scheduled for our screens in the last quarter of 2013.
  • The ImpossibleThe Impossible. Based on a true story as one family is caught with thousands others by the 2004 tsunami catastrophe. Ewan McGregor plays the husband and father of three children who are celebrating Christmas as the waves crashed over the islands of Thailand. Separated by the destruction and saved by nothing less than a miracle, the family members try to find each other, as well as bringing hope to those around them. For me, this is likely to be the tear jerker of the year I think. Hitting our screens on the 1st of January… cos this is what you need to see as you recover from your hang overs 😉
  • Iron Man 3 [sequel]. Tony Stark does not have an easy life, beside the billionaire thing. Even after saving the world, and various cities multiple times, his life just gets more and more dangerous. I’m not entirely sure how all these Marvel films are meant to hang together, but surely after Iron Man faces the ‘Mandarin’ we’ll be free of bad guys for once. Plus isn’t a Mandarin a type of orange? No doubt this will be a decent film, whether it’ll be another classic Marvel film depends on how well Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow come together on-screen.
  • Django Unchained. A Western film, shot by Tarintino, staring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. It is surely going to be good! Even though the film deals with racial prejudices, human bounty hunting and forced labour, Django Unchained looks like it could be a good balance of action, story and even comedy. Perhaps the true dark nature of the film isn’t shown in the trailer, but with Tarintino behind the camera it should be another great film. Check out the trailer below:
  • Les Miserables. The epic musical that is based on Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel is finally being turned into a film, one that I cannot wait to watch. I’ve listened to the musical version of the novel dozens of times, sometimes (thanks to YouTube) a few times a day while working on projects. Hugo’s novel examines the nature of law, death and grace, as well as the complex issues of philosophies, hierarchies of society and religious beliefs. All set to the most amazingly composed musical scores you can imagine. The Les Mis’ 25th anniversary performance is all on YouTube if you want to check it out. Thankfully this new film, staring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, is hitting the UK screens early 2013. Amazingness!
  • Now You See Me. A series of banks are robbed by a known group of illusionists, the only problem is that during the robberies they’re on stage in the centre of Las Vegas’ biggest and brightest casinos. Yet the crowds still reap the financial rewards of their criminal activities. With its mind bending trailer, this film looks like it could swing to either being a brilliant masterpiece  (i.e. Inception) or a disastrous flop (i.e. Next). I have more than a sneaking suspicion that there’s going to be a massive twist at the end of this movie. I’m very much looking forward to this one coming out in June 2013, hoping its a cross between The Illusionist and 21. Oh yeah its also got Morgan Freeman and Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland) in it too.
  • Oblivion. Tom Cruise stars alongside Morgan Freeman in this futuristic spin on what looks like another “everything you’ve been told is a lie” kind of film. A blend of Minority Report, Inception, The Matrix and even some Star Wars thrown in for good measure. I’m not entirely sure how this film will pan out, it looks like it could just be the product of the films mentioned above, but it has lots of potential. Scheduled for an April release over here in the UK.
  • Superman... again!Man of Steel [sequel]. I’ve lost count of how many Superman re-makes and re-launches there has been, but none of them have ever had Zack Snyder directing them! Hopefully this re-make will appeal to a wider audience, no doubt that’s what they’re shooting for as it deals with Superman’s earlier years. Growing up in rural Kansas, Clark finally becomes a journalist, in between saving the world. How many times have we heard that told?
  • World War Z. Perhaps the 2013 film I’ve been waiting the longest for to come out. World War Z follows UN worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family as the world is torn apart by a global deadly zombie pandemic. Based on the book by Brooks (which is great BTW), this film has been long-awaited for by many. Sadly coming a year or two too late to ride the zombie-high wave caused by The Walking Dead, this film should still be a big hit. I’m quietly confident that this film will make it into my top zombie apocalypse films.
  • Star Trek into Darkness [sequel]. Trailer shown below. Sherlock Holmes is on the Enterprise! Okay perhaps not Sherlock, but Benedict Cumberbatch is staring alongside Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in this Star Trek sequel. Apart from a lot of destruction, death and fire, its hard to know from the trailer and posters what the plot for this story is. Cumberbatch plays the bad guy, that’s fairly obvious. Plus he’s bad enough to force a star-ship (probably not the Ente

The 5 Best Films of 2012

The 5 Best Films of 2012

top-20120movies-hobbit-batman-the-gray

Well it’s nearly the end of 2012 and the cinemas are pretty much closed for business for another calendar year.

I thought I’d take some time to look over the best 5 films I caught at the cinema this year. If someone wants to sponsor me in 2013 to watch and review even more films… I won’t say no!

Hopefully you’ll agree about at least some of these movies. In no specific order the best 5 films of 2012 are:

The Grey

The Grey with Liam Neeson

A plane crash in the Arctic leaves a crew of oil-workers stranded with little means of rescue. Unprepared for extreme cold, injured and without basic supplies – the forecast for their survival looks as bleak as the snow-covered landscape. Shortly before nightfall, the seven survivors realise the temperature and injuries are the least of their worries, as they’ve crashed in the centre of an Arctic wolf hunting area.

Carnivorous eating machines stalk and pick them off, can they find shelter or a way to survive the wolves? Can they even survive their hostile group of lowlife’s and criminals.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and Liam Neeson’s performance is as strong as it can be. The other members of the group also put in great performances, inspiring emotions of hatred and compassion at the right times.

Definitely worth a watch, although perhaps avoid if you’re planning a trip to the Arctic!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

 in The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyPerhaps the biggest film of the 2012; The first third of the Hobbit trilogy!

Most of us have seen at least one film of The Lord of the Rings films but An Unexpected Journey tells us of how a reluctant Bilbo originally came to own the almighty one ring. With a cast full of Dwarves, as well as Gandalf the Gray, the party of amateur adventurers start on one of the most perilous and important adventures to ever take place in Middle Earth.

Their mission is to reclaim a great lost city of Dwarves, taken by the fire-breathing Smaug dragon. The Lonely Mountain lays full of Dwarven gold and guarded by the beast that forced their ancestors from their empire. Can a bunch of fiery and high-spirited Dwarves really take back the mountain?

Although its long at almost 3 hours, and perhaps a touch on the slow side to begin with, once the action arrives its relentless until the end. Of course the end isn’t actually the end, it’s just a set up for the 2nd film, but you don’t feel cheated of your money.

With a lot of action, sparingly used 3D effects to complement beautiful scenes, and quite a bit of humour, this is a great film.

Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Andy Serkis (Gollum) and all the others really make this film, with solid performances. Not to mention the spectacular visual effects that fill this film from the moment it starts.

In fact it’s so good, I’m off to see it again at the cinema, only days after watching it the first time. A cinema first for me I think.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises - Its been some time since Gotham City got its new night-time, black clad saviour. However times are changing.

Bane, a new super terrorist, has emerged to bring Gotham back to its knees. What’s worse is Bane has also turned the cities populous against themselves. More daring and more deadly than Batman ever could be, how can our favourite Bat face up against this new foe.

One of the biggest and most anticipated films of 2012, it should be no surprising that this film made it into the list. Perhaps a touch too long, but then so much happens in it how could you remove any of the scenes.

I’m a massive fan of Christian Bale (Batman) and Tom Hardy (Bane) films, both of them put in epic performances again in this new film classic.

Skyfall

 Skyfall with James Bond is back and this time he’s not entirely playing by MI6’s rules. Left to die out on a mission, Bond is less than pleased with the agency and country he’s tried so hard to protect.

Now the United Kingdom is under attack, specifically MI6 and M (Judi Dench) herself.

Washed up, ragged and out of the loop – can Bond even get his clearance back, let alone stop the terrorist Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem).

From China to Scotland, quite a few different locations pop up in this great film, including the bizarre Battleship Island off of Japan’s coast.

Perhaps one of the best films I’ve seen, the plot to Skyfall is both engaging as well as secretive and twisted. The trailers I saw left half of the film completely unknown to me, which was brilliant and rather refreshing. Daniel Craig‘s rough-edged version of Bond is my favourite rendition of this character, being more true to how I think a highly strung yet still emotional engaged spy could be.

Definitely worth a watch. Definitely worth a Blu-Ray purchase too!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games with Jennifer LawrenceIn a dystopian future a realm of 12 districts put forward a pair of lottery chosen people to fight in a brutal series of televised survival matches, ‘The Hunger Games’. The games were derived for part entertainment purposes, mainly for the wealthy Capitol population, and part retribution of a past rebellion uprising. Allowing no-one to forget that the Capitol control everything in the 12 districts – from life to death itself.

Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) nominates herself as the female participant for her district when her younger sister is original chosen by lottery. From the poorest of the districts, Katniss teams up with her male district counterpart to challenge not only the other contestants, but the very nature of the games themselves.

This film was probably the one I was least expecting to like. I saw the trailers and couldn’t help but think they’d just taken the powerful Japanese film of Battle Royale and slapped Hollywood all over it. Added a blatant romance plot line, removed the 18-certificate hard-hitting graphical realism and weaved in an ending that you could see coming from the first 15 minutes.

Well to be honest the ending shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but this film was well shot and reasonably well scripted. It also has a great cinematography feel to it, with strong resemblance in both footage and style to world war 2 POW films. Perhaps the most important sign it was a great film was the fact it inspired such deep conversations among our group immediately after viewing it. I don’t think any of us were expecting to be debating society or worldly morals – but we sure did afterwards.

2012 Movie Summary

Looking back, I think it was a fantastic year at the cinemas. From desolate Arctic suspense to horrific dystopian societies, it was quite a mix! The only major let down I thought, was the Alien prequel Prometheus. Perhaps it was an okay film by itself, but the fact it was meant to be part of the amazing Alien franchise, it fell significantly short in my eyes.

How about you though?

What one film would you add to this mix if you could?

Perhaps you rated the action packed Avengers or fairy-tale Snow White and the Huntsman higher?

Let me know, I’ll definitely need some DVD inspiration in 2013

Best Zombie Apocalypse Films

Best Zombie Apocalypse Films

I’m a big fan of zombie films and other similar apocalyptic style scenarios, so I thought I’d compile a top 5 of my favourites. However it turned out to be a little bit larger, so in no particular order:

Dawn of the Dead (1978/2004)

Probably to the anger of any die-hard Z fans, I’ve grouped Romero’s and Snyder’s remake here together as I think they’re both brilliant films. A small band of people awaken to find their world crawling with bloody thirsty zombies. They turn to the nearest supply filled stronghold, a shopping Mall. Can they sit out the plague until it burns itself out? Can they survive the relentless pounding of fists against metal shutters? Can they even survive each other.

Crowd of the dead in 'Dawn of the Dead'
Crowds of zombies swarm in the original ‘Dawn of the Dead’

 

Land of the Dead (2005)

Romero’s latest addition to his zombie franchise. The zombie population have done it… they have taken over the entire planet. Now only one vast walled city of humans survive. When civil unrest and plans to over-throw the cities government mix with increased intelligence in the zombie popultion, can the humans maintain their last foothold on Earth.

Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland Rules
Rule #1. Cardio

A shy student and a gun-slinging zombie-killing adult team up with 2 sisters to ride-out the zombie plague in this zom-com.

If you’ve never heard of a zom-com, it stands for zombie comedy. Who’d have thought those two genres would fit so well together. In honesty I wasn’t expecting much when I sat down to watch this, but Zombieland was a lot better than what I thought it would be.

Loved the rules too :)

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The second zombie comedy I’ve mentioned in this list, but perhaps the better of the two. Co-written by Simon Pegg, this film follows a recently dumped guy trying to get his girl friend back, as well as keep his mum and dad (“He’s not my dad!”) and friends alive from the towns population of zombies. Where’s the safest place you know? Is it as strong as the Winchester!

28 Days Later (2002)

A man awakens in hospital after a long coma following a car crash. He finds himself locked into the hospital ward, but when he gets outside onto the streets of London he finds the whole capital city deserted. Not only must he stay alive where all the food has rotten, but it turns out some of the population has survived as bloody-thirsty rage-filled monsters.

28 Days Later
Alone in a destroyed London. Well, not entirely alone.

Crazies (2010)

The population of a small peaceful farming town in Iowa suddenly starts turning on one another after a military cargo plane crashes in the nearby water supply. Not a zombie film, but should be watched by any Zombie-fans. I think George A. Romero would see this as a worthy remake of his 1973 film of the same name.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

This is the highly influential film that most zombie fans class as a masterpiece by Romero. Although remade twice since, this original has the best atmosphere and constant genuine dread that the zombies will get you in time.

Think I’ve missed any classics? Feel free to share what you think is the best.