2012 is going to be a tough year for Hollywood to top. The year’s most anticipated movies — such as “The Hunger Games,” “The Hobbit” and the new Bond movie, “Skyfall” — were, for the most part, relatively well received by fans and also performed quite well at the box office. However, there are quite a few films slated for release in 2013 that look promising, as well, including several sequels to popular franchises.
While there are quite a few films I’m looking forward to this year, here are the top five I’m most excited about:
5. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (release date Nov. 22)
Of Suzanne Collins’ three “Hunger Games” novels, the first one is my favorite. It’s a tightly-written, harrowing thriller that’s impossible to put down once you start reading it. Although I enjoyed the other two books in the series, “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay,” I have slightly more mixed feelings about them. Still, I think the second book, “Catching Fire,” definitely has cinematic potential, and I’m looking forward to the film version this fall.
In “Catching Fire,” Katniss and Peeta are forced to return to the arena to fight for their lives in an all-star version of the “Hunger Games,” where past winners are forced to battle each other. I’m curious to see how the film makers go about adapting the book. The first part of the book had a few weaknesses (I think Collins perhaps spent a bit too much time focusing on the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle), but the book picks up speed as Katniss and Peeta prepare for their second round of the Hunger Games.
I’m also excited to see the addition of Finnick Odair, a past Hunger Games winner, to the story. Finnick is one of those characters it’s easy to write off at first as a stereotype, but throughout the story, you learn he’s not quite as shallow and self-centered as he first appears.
4. “Man of Steel” (release date June 14)
There’s quite a bit of pressure riding on this summer’s Superman reboot, “Man of Steel.” For starters, it’s probably Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ best shot at developing a new superhero film franchise, after the conclusion of its only currently successful superhero franchise, Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, this past summer. Warner Bros. and DC Comics also desperately need “Man of Steel” to be successful if they want to have a shot at creating a Justice League mash-up film.
“Man of Steel” has, I think, the potential to be the surprise hit of the summer. I was impressed with the most recently released trailer; Christopher Nolan is producing the film, and you can see hints of his trademark artistic style in the trailer’s footage. A darker, grittier tone could help to breathe new life into the Superman franchise, à la “Batman Begins.” This might also be a good tone for the proposed Justice League movie to take and could help the film to find its own unique voice rather than appearing to be an “Avengers” copycat.
3. “Iron Man 3” (release date May 3)
While I’ve enjoyed all of Marvel’s individual superhero films leading up to “The Avengers,” Iron Man has always been my favorite character from the Avengers team. I’m excited to see Robert Downey Jr. take on the role again in “Iron Man 3,” and to see how Marvel handles the first of its individual superhero films released after the success of last summer’s “The Avengers.”
I like the more serious, slightly darker tone the film appears to be taking. Iron Man is the most brashly self-confident member of the Avengers team, but like any person, he still has his weaknesses, and this film seems to be pushing him to his limit. He’ll have to face down a new villain, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), and it will be interesting to see how Tony Stark copes with life after the Avengers.
However, I hope the film isn’t too dark, and that they still include plenty of Tony Stark’s famously snarky wit, which is part of what makes the Iron Man character so much fun to watch. I’m also looking forward to this year’s other Marvel stand-alone film, “Thor: The Dark World” (Nov. 8).
2. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (release date Dec. 13)
Although originally I was a little concerned about Peter Jackson’s decision to split “The Hobbit” into three parts rather than two, I’m feeling much better about it after seeing the first part, “An Unexpected Journey.” I thoroughly enjoyed the first film and thought it was a fun, rousing adventure, and I’m curious to see what Jackson plans to do with the final two films.
I suspect the second film, “The Desolation of Smaug,” will include one of the book’s main action set pieces, a battle with giant spiders in the forest of Mirkwood, as well as the escape from the dungeons of the Wood-elves. I’m guessing Peter Jackson will either end the story right before or right after Bilbo sneaks into the lair of the dragon Smaug.
Since Peter Jackson is expanding the series into a trilogy, I’m hoping he’ll have more time to delve into the backstory of the “Necromancer,” the character who eventually becomes the all-seeing eye of Sauron. Though we didn’t catch a glimpse of him in “An Unexpected Journey,” Benedict Cumberbatch is credited for the role, and I’m very curious to see what the “Sherlock” star might do with the character.
1. “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (release date May 17)
J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” film is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I’ve been eagerly (and yes, somewhat impatiently) 😉 waiting for this sequel. I loved Abrams’ first “Trek” film. He took some huge risks with his origin story: recasting new actors as some of science fiction’s best loved characters, altering “Star Trek” canon, and portraying characters we thought we knew in a different way. But those risks paid off, and the result was both a love letter to the classic science fiction series and a reboot that breathed some much-needed life into the franchise.
So far, Abrams has been very tight-lipped about the plot of the sequel, and the trailer teases more than it reveals. We know Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing the film’s villain, but we don’t know what villain it will be (the trailer doesn’t confirm the rumors Cumberbatch will be playing Khan, but it doesn’t disprove those rumors, either). Whatever Abrams has planned, I think it will be worth the wait.
So, what films are you most looking forward to in 2013?