Movie Preview: Sci-fi, fantasy and superheroes still rule in 2013
James Franco in "Oz: The Great and Powerful."
Updated: January 23, 2013 8:18AM
While we’re calculating the likely Oscar winners from 2012, we might as well start looking ahead to movie highlights of the coming year.
Of course, it’s no surprise that many of the major titles, on the mainstream track at least, are solidly grounded in the big-box-office trinity of superheroes, sci-fi and fantasy — since seven of last year’s ten top grossers fell into at least one of those categories.
So, here’s a sampler of contenders for the next 12 months on the super-sci-fantasy front, plus a handful of comedy-drama alternatives to try for a smaller piece of the pie.
“Man of Steel” (June 14): The Superman franchise gets a big-time reboot with producer Christopher Nolan (the “Dark Knight” trilogy) reportedly working closely with director Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchman”) to deliver a darker, more angst-ridden Supes along the lines of the troubled (yet tremendously popular) Batman. Amy Adams co-stars as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon provides the villainy as the evil General Zod.
Also in the pipeline: “Iron Man 3” (May 3) and “Thor: The Dark World” (Nov. 8), each carrying on the $1.5-billion dollar momentum of last summer’s “The Avengers.” “Kick-Ass 2” (June 28) representing the improbable (but welcome) return of teenage crime fighter Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and homicidal teen heroine Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), with Jim Carrey joining the fray as Colonel Stars and Stripes. And “The Wolverine” (July 26) with Hugh Jackman returning as the slicing dicing X-Man renegade, with the promising addition of James Mangold (“Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma”) as writer/director.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (May 17): After his successful 2009 reboot of the “Star Trek” movie franchise, director J.J. Abrams returns with the crew of the starship Enterprise (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg) for a spin-off of “The Wrath of Khan” — featuring Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”) reportedly filling the dangerously handsome shoes of Ricardo Montalban.
And let’s not forget: “Pacific Rim” (July 12) featuring giant robots fighting giant Earth-invading monsters, with the gigantically talented Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Hellboy”) directing. Plus “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (Nov. 22) with arrow-slinger Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) heading back into the arena for the first of three sequels following her near $700-million global debut. And “Oblivion” (April 19) featuring Tom Cruise as a robot repairman assigned to the ruined planet Earth who discovers disturbing secrets about a recent ravaging war with alien invaders.
“Oz: The Great and Powerful” (March 8): Reportedly budgeted at $200 million and with director Sam Raimi (the “Spider-Man” trilogy), this prequel of sorts to “The Wizard of Oz” features James Franco as the Kansas circus-magician-turned-wannabe-wizard; Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis as perhaps good, perhaps not-so-good witches; and a sky full of malevolent monkeys.
With more on the way: Since “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has racked up more than $800 million worldwide after one month in theaters, it stands to reason that a whole lot of people are looking forward to “The Desolation of Smaug” (Dec. 13) — and a better look at that nasty dragon. “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” offers a new take on the all-grown-up, bounty-hunting, former fairy tale kids (Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton) — as well as one of 2013’s best titles. And in “Jack the Giant Slayer” director Bryan Singer (“X-Men”) upgrades the old beanstalk saga with a farm boy (Nicolas Hoult) leading an expedition to rescue a princess from the land of the giants.
Sans sci-fi, fantasy and superheroes:
“42” (April 12) Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential,” “Mystic River”) directed this drama about the signing of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Harrison Ford plays Dodgers manager Branch Rickey. “Saving Mr. Banks” (Dec. 20) features Tom Hanks as Walt Disney contending with Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers during the filming of “Mary Poppins.” “Stand Up Guys” (Feb. 1) unites Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken as con-man colleagues trying to figure out which of them has a contract to kill the others. “The Lone Ranger” (July 3) revamps Tonto and Kemosabe (Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer) the big-budget Jerry Bruckheimer way — with the promising presence of Gore Verbinski (“Mousehunt,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”) as director. “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (March 15) pits Steve Carell against Jim Carrey as ultra-grandiose Las Vegas stage magicians whose partnership has vanished into thin air. And “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” (Dec. 20) rewards patient fans of the 2004 Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd comedy with a long-awaited — and now totally newsworthy — sequel.