My ‘Best of 2013’ film list is still not complete (I still have a couple films to watch before I finish and publish), but in the meanwhile I’ll leave you with the ten films that I am looking forward to the most in the next twelve months. What strikes me most from the list is how serious things seem to be, it seems like the stakes are always at a world level. The things that separate these films from the rest is the focus on character. No matter how big your film is, if it’s all explosions and pretty visuals then it all feels empty. These films (at least from the initial trailers) seem to be doing it right.
I mentioned how serious things look in most of these films, well this one might be the biggest offender. It’s a tale as old as time and one that everyone knows on some level. From what I’ve read, director Darren Aronofsky introduces even more fantastical ideas into his story than it already had. I think it’s a great idea since it’s a new take on a tale that has been told many times before.
It’s no surprise that this expensive film looks gorgeous albeit a bit dark, but I like that Aronofsky isn’t just playing it safe and in fact is going all out in his $130-million passion project. A very capable cast, a very capable director as well as a great looking first trailer is a very good sign that we could be in for something special.
9. 22 Jump Street
People like to complain about how comedy sequels usually offer up more of the same. I don’t always see that as a bad thing especially when said thing was such a success the first time. 21 Jump Street surprised the hell out of everyone and was one of my top films of last year. The biggest shock was without a question Channing Tatum’s performance. I don’t think anybody really thought he could be so funny as he brought some serious laughs.
The first trailer seems to promise most of what worked from the first film. There’s Ice Cube, Nick Offerman, hell, even Dave Franco and Rob Riggle return, both behind bars. Were the first film surprised, this has a little more to live up to since it promises exactly what the ending of the first film teased, Tatum and Hill undercover in college. 21 Jump Street managed to parody reboots as well as successfully reboot the series, 22 Jump Street looks to do the same with comedy sequels.
8. Jupiter Ascending
Another Channing Tatum film that is not really a Channing Tatum film at all. Tatum along with Mila Kunis are part of the puzzle and the vision of the Wachowski siblings as they aim space high once again. With a comfy summer release date and the recent success of Gravity, the Wachowski’s, Tatum and Kunis may just have a major hit on their hands.
It’s a huge year for science-fiction and the trailer for this one hit with a bang. It promises Earth as a small part of a bigger picture, Mila Kunis as Jupiter and Tatum as the man(?) who must protect her. The first trailer looks gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us.
It’s much more than just a big lizard. First off, Pacific Rim opened up my eyes and showed me how epic (and fun) giant monsters could be. Well, the original giant monster is about to make those Jaegars and Kaiju’s look like animals at a zoo. I love the tone that this film is promising and how serious it’s taking something as ridiculous as a giant radioactive lizard.
The soldiers jumping from the planes with the red smoke, landing on the monsters back is one of the best trailer scenes I’ve seen. The slow reveal of Godzilla, the giant daggers on his back, they are awe-inspiring. Throw in an extremely talented cast with names such as Bryan Cranston, Aaron Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen and you have the perfect mixture of character spectacle.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
This is only one of two films from this list where a trailer has not been released. We have seen and heard enough however, to know that this one is set to be Marvel’s weirdest film yet. That’s not a knock on the film, in fact it’s great to see that even with all of the success Marvel has attained that they are not afraid to take chances.
I will admit that during the teaser for the film at the end of Thor: The Dark World, Benicio Del Toro as the Collector left me a bit cold. Of course, that’s only a part of what Marvel and director James Gunn have in store for us. You have Chris Pratt ready to explode to superstardom with the Robert Downey Jr. combination of hero and smart ass. You have a walking, talking tree, a green alien chick played by Zoe Saldana, a hulk like beast played by Batista and oh yeah, Bradley Cooper voicing a raccoon.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Marvel is up again as the lead-up to the Avengers sequel continues. Even though that sequel is right around the corner, I like how much of a self-contained story this one seems to be. The First Avenger was one of my favorite of the Marvel movies so far because of the time the film took place as well as that dark ending. That ending wasn’t really given the chance to be explored since it came right before the behemoth that was the Avengers, that’s understandable. Now that the Captain has his own sequel, well they can dig in and deal with the fact that everyone Steve Rogers knew is now dead.
Yeah, you have the falcon/Anthony Mackie character being introduced but it still seems somewhat grounded, as much as a film like this can be grounded. You also have Robert Redford in a Marvel film, along with Nick Fury and the Black Widow and well, I can’t say that it worries me too much because Captain America is such a strong character. If he didn’t get buried in the Avengers well he won’t be in this one either and I have confidence his star will shine even brighter in his own film.
This movie is still a year away, just released a trailer and still managed to blow our minds (mine anyways). It’s such a solemn, reflective trailer that actually doesn’t show any film footage. Christopher Nolan remains a master at playing his cards close to his chest and not revealing anything up until it’s time for the film’s release.
Everything that I love seems to be involved in this film, from space exploration, the wonders of our universe and man’s need to find answers, it’s all there. I can’t wait to see how Christopher Nolan puts it all together. I really don’t need to see another frame of footage up until the actual movie comes out. It was such a perfect teaser that I’m sold completely.
3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1
This is the other film that has no trailer yet, and well that’s because it’s also about 11 months away. Catching Fire surprised the hell out of me to the point that I’m not really sure this film can live up to that one. I will take a wait and see approach when it comes to what they have in store with the splitting up of Mockingjay into Part 1 and Part 2. I really hope they do succeed and that Part 1 is not just a transition into Part 2 much like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was.
I prefer to be an optimist than a cynic so I do want Part 1 to top Catching Fire, but I must also admit that it will be an extremely difficult task. The Hunger Games franchise is an extremely popular, commercial one that also manages to mean something and remain dark despite of how huge it is. I hope it remains that way until the end, and I guess my doubts are the reason this is only number 3.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
This is going to be all kinds of crazy and epic. I can’t really put it a better way than that. How else can I explain old Magneto/Professor X and young Magneto/Professor X with Wolverine bridging the gap in between timelines. The tease after The Wolverine played perfectly and once the actual trailer was released, well there’s no good way to articulate it, at least I can’t find a way.
X-Men First Class worked so brilliantly because of how perfectly cast the film was, well you still have all of those amazing actors as well as the older actors who added so much to the first X-Men films. The only way this film can fail is if there’s too much going on or it’s too confusing. Well, it seems like director Bryan Singer (returning to the franchise) has things in control and the trailer shows plenty of smart action as well as heart. This movie is just waiting to be unleashed and explode our brains.
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
There’s no denying that I’m a huge Planet of the Apes fan. I’ve loved the franchise since I was a young boy. I anticipated Rise of the Planet of the Apes and was beyond ecstatic when I left the theater after that first viewing. I’ll never forget the moment Caesar first uttered that ‘No!’ and the entire audience gasped. Moments like those are the reasons that I love movies.
I was a fan of the original suits and make-up for the apes, but being unleashed to Andy Serkis and the motion-capture, there is no going back. I can no longer see it any other way. To me these are not only real animals, they are real characters. One could even argue that the apes are even more fully realized characters than the humans.
The trailer for the new one doesn’t show too much, but what it does show is tone. It shows the fall of mankind, it shows Caesar as that leader, and it shows the apes ready for war. I don’t really know what it was that first hit me with these films, but there is a love there, and so for me this was such an easy decision.