2013 is shaping up to be a big year for movie / TV if you are fans of particular superhero, science fiction, or action-adventure franchises. And naturally, I am! I was thinking of all that I was anticipating this year, as well as a few things that I’m not really in order to fill out the numbers, and here is what I came up with. In ascending order of level of anticipation and excitement:
12. GI Joe: Retaliation
The first GI Joe film is easily one of the worst movies I have seen. Even if I dumb down my brain to “this just a cartoon made in live action” it’s still bad. Terrible characterization (Snake Eyes notwithstanding) and one of the biggest flaws you can have in a “superhero” – or even just regular “hero” – movie, which is that for 85% of the story, the good guys just lose consistently (see also The Fantastic Four, the original X-Men movie, or Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol.) Anyway, as someone has said, this movie – which was originally supposed to come out last year but was delayed for months for 3D conversion or to give Channing Tatum a bigger role, depending on who you believe – has the biggest casting upgrade for a sequel ever, with the Rock and Bruce Willis joining the proceedings. So the sequel holds a train wreck-like appeal to me. It’s not that it has to be bad (like a real train wreck would be), but my eyes will be inexorably drawn to it with little hope of resisting the next time it is an option on an international flight that I’m taking. Will it be good? Probably not. But will it be enjoyable? Maybe, if they give us at least a bare minimum level of characterization, and a couple of genuine hoo-yeah! moments.
I assume this movie will be better than GI Joe, yet I have to say that I am not really remotely drawn to see it. I assume that I will someday, and I assume it will be better than the previous (nearly unbearable) installment, but still it features Hugh Jackman running around being supercool with claws, and thus just doesn’t engage me at all. I don’t like Wolverine as a character, though I recognize that he’s one of the most significant superhero characters created in my lifetime. He’s just significant for all sorts of reasons that I don’t like. Hugh Jackman is, of course, a capable actor, but how many more Logan performances does the guy have in him? This movie will be his fifth starring turn, not counting a cameo in the last XMen movie, with a seventh appearance on the horizon. But then, I ask the same question about Wolverine in the comics, and yet he keeps showing up.
10. Thor: The Dark World
The first Thor was fine, it didn’t have anything really wrong with it (except for Loki’s ultimately incomprehensible plot), but I’ve never been a fan of the character in the comics, and wasn’t deeply invested in the movie. The Avengers provides plenty enough “Thor” to satisfy me, but still the world the movie created was pretty impressive, and a follow up is not unwelcome.
9. A Good Day to Die Hard
All right, it’s not that I’m particularly keen to see a new Die Hard, even if the original was arguably the most important action film ever made. Pretty much everything that made that movie great has now been lost as the franchise has largely moved from pseudo-realistic to hyped-up nonsense. But then someone has commented that it may be more realistic than we think – if someone had been through so much craziness as John McClane has, and survived, he’d probably wind capable of being of a mega-action hero as well.
But Die Hard winds up higher on this list than all the previous movies that I’ve mentioned not because I think it’s likely to be better, but because I figure there’s less chance of being annoyed by it. Bruce Willis is making his fifth appearance as John McClane, and his second appearance on this list. Will there be more Die Hard movies? Let’s start thinking of titles now: Die Hard Forever, Dying to Die Hard, Die Hard Into Darkness…
I will probably not see Despicable Me 2 in the theatres, and I may not even watch it on the plane. No doubt some opportunity will arise someday in conjunction with my children. But I did enjoy the first movie, more so than it’s Dreamworks-produced cousin-film Megamind. Steve Carell is always fun, and makes the best established star of an animated film to use a funny accent since Mike Myers in Shrek. I caught an odd teaser trailer for the sequel recently which was confusing as anything else, but it got my girls excited, and I’m looking forward to a diverting hour and a half of family-friendly viewing.
7. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
I liked the first Hobbit movie, even with its over-length, goofy Dwarfish-musical numbers, and gratuitous Elijah Wood cameo. Once it got going (admittedly, this was about 40 minutes into the movie), I enjoyed it a lot. So I’m looking forward to catching the middle three hours of this absurdly long film. Martin Freeman makes a good anchor (even if I still sometimes hear Orson Bean when I think of Bilbo Baggins), and of course Benedict Cumberbatch is voicing one of the main baddies, so that’ll be fun.
6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I quite enjoyed The Hunger Games when I watched it, though in retrospect I feel more aware of its weaknesses (the video below helped to do that). Still, I found the world the film created to be emotionally compelling, and so I am looking forward to the follow up. I have very little idea where the story is going, but am hoping that over the course of the next couple of years I get to somehow watch Katniss Everdeen tear the wicked unjust system that they all live under into shreds.
5. Iron Man III
Iron Man 2 was disappointing with a story that didn’t hold together very well. But that negative taste has been pretty much fully washed away by The Avengers, so I’m ready for Iron Man 3 to be a rousing success. I don’t really know anything about the director or the story, but the trailer looked exciting, and Robert Downey jr. (playing this character for the 5th time, counting one cameo) has not worn out his welcome yet. I’m hoping this movie will be a strong start to the “Phase 2” of Marvel movies.
4. Doctor Who – the second half of Season Seven
Returning to the small screen at the end of March, we have the concluding half of the latest season of my favorite show. The Christmas Special, The Snowmen, which sort of introduced new companion Clara, effectively whet my appetite for the rest of this series of adventures. I like the chemistry that actress Jenna-Louise Coleman has with current Doctor Matt Smith, and they’ve set up an effective mystery with Clara. Of course, there are about a dozen other mysteries they still have to resolve from previous years, so we’ll see what happens with all of that. Either way, I’m hoping for some strong stories with high concept plots, lots of humor, and surprising turns.
3. Star Trek Into Darkness
Did you know that JJ Abrams has only directed three movies? Of course, he’s done heaps of TV as well as lots of writing and producing. But I was surprised to realize that I’ve actually seen all of his turns as a feature film director, at least according to IMDB. The Original Star Trek (is that what we should call it? I mean the 2009 film by Abrams) was quite enjoyable in spite of some huge plot holes and that silly scene with the inflated hand. And the sequel definitely looks like it’s amped it up a bit. Of course, the big buzz on this movie is who is the villain being played by Benedict Cumberbatch? Is he Khan? Is he Gary Mitchell? Is he V’Ger? OK, maybe not. But this is looking like the guy’s year, and we’re trusting that he’s going to be fantastic!
2. Sherlock – Season Three
The other series that Steven Moffat is involved with, I recently read somewhere that it’s third season is due sometime this (northern hemisphere) Autumn. It’s about time. The cliff hanger finale of the second season was spectacular, sending us all into fits of wondering “How did he do that?” Of course, it’s TV, so they could make it anything they want, but we’re trusting that the revelation is going to have the smarts and consistency that we’ve come to expect from the show. Episode per episode, Season Two of Sherlock was better than the original – can the third season top it yet again? And will it be the last? Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are getting busier (see elsewhere on this list), so it may turn out that way. Hopefully not, though.
1 1/2. Doctor Who – the 50th Anniversary
I know I’ve already mentioned the rest of Season 7, but that ends at the end of May, still six months away from the actual anniversary of the show. No plans have been announced but we all have high hopes that there will some more celebratory fun going on on November 23 and the weeks surrounding. And I have high (and precarious) hopes that it will be everything I could dream of: an appearance by William Russell, an epic battle with the Sontarans and Rutans, a revelation of the first question, Paul McGann and the Last Great Time War, etc. High hopes, but so much room to fall. We will see.
1. Man of Steel
What am I more excited about than Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary? Or understanding how Sherlock survived that fall? It’s Man of Steel. And there are basically two reasons for it. The first is just…Superman. I love the character. More than Batman, Spider-Man, or even most of the Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s Roger Stern’s fault. And Dan Jurgen’s . And Jerry Ordway’s. And Richard Donner’s. And also a lot of others. But I enjoy the character. I know this flies in the face of popular opinion, but I find him much more believable than Batman. I find it easier to suspend my disbelief about a super-powerful alien who wants to help people than I do about a normal guy who somehow is trained to be the best hand-to-hand fighter, acrobat, detective, disguise artist, escape artist, spy, driver, pilot, thinker, businessman, etc in the world.
Anyway, the other thing that has sold me on Man of Steel is the trailer. There hasn’t been a great Superman film since 1978 – and interestingly, the film franchise has not been fully rebooted since then, until now. So if they can pull this off, and make a movie that works and has the same emotional vibe as the trailer, than that’s all going to change.
So…shaping up to be a fun year.