Back for its fifth year, today comes the first multiple volume look at the various feature releases hitting cinemas in 2013. Organised in alphabetical order, each volume explores many of the films set to screen at the big multiplexes, the boutique art house theaters, and on premium V.O.D. over the next twelve months. The remaining volumes in this series will go online every few days between now and late January.
I've confined my list to films that have either set a 2013 release date or have begun/completed production with the intention of a release next year. Even then, however, the system has undergone a slight change this year to handle the sheer number of films on the way. Around 420 films are covered in this guide, and I'm pretty sure I'm missing a few that I can't quite think of at the moment.
The new system means each volume will now operate on a two-tier system. Each volume will consist of most films getting a full analysis while a further half dozen or so will undergo a shorter examination. Not that the latter films are any less important, it is often because there is simply not enough information available to give them a proper analysis.
Opens: August 16th 2013
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, James Marsden, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Analysis: Coming off acclaim for his survival drama "The Deep," Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur is re-teaming with his "Contraband" star Mark Wahlberg on this adaptation of Steven Grant's graphic novel series. "Brotherhood" creator Blake Masters penned the script for what Kormákur calls a pulpy comic adaptation with a sensibility akin to 1980s buddy action comedies like "48 Hrs" and "Lethal Weapon".
The plot sounds like a spin on "Infernal Affairs"/"The Departed" with Wahlberg as a DEA agent and Denzel Washington as a Naval Intelligence officer. Having spent months reluctantly working together as members of a narcotics syndicate, each is unaware that the other one is an undercover federal agent. A failed attempt to nab millions from the cartels sees the duo suddenly disavowed by their superiors and on the run.
James Marsden, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward and Edward James Olmos also star in the film which Kormákur is currently editing and is said to clock in at just over two hours. According to his contract, the filmmaker has to deliver an R-rated movie to the studio. However, it could reportedly end up being less than that because coarse language seems to be the only issue at present - and he's not averse to cutting it.
The tone is said to be surprisingly comic, and yet not a satire. In an interview during promotion for "Flight," Washington says he's not sure how it's going to turn out. He adds: "It's either going to be a little funny or a real tragedy … I don't know what it is, all I know is we were acting stupid." Shot in Louisiana and New Mexico last summer, it is scheduled to close out next summer with hopefully a few laughs.
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Gwyneth Paltro, Oscar Jaenada, Barbara Goenaga
Director: Carlos Saura
Analysis: Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura ("Salomé," "Tango," "I, Don Govanni") has recently been shooting this $10.4 million Spanish-language biopic in France and Spain. The story looks at the emotional turmoil painter Pablo Picasso's suffered whilst creating the famed mural "Guernica" over a 33 day period. Said mural showcases the destruction of the Basque town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War.
Antonio Banderas has reportedly been offered the role of Picasso in numerous projects over the years, and he's turned it down each and every time so far. He finally picked this one in which to portray the man, saying in interviews that he has huge respect for the artist who was born only a few blocks away from where he was.
This also explores the complicated relationship between Picasso and French artist Dora Maar, played by Gwyneth Paltrow who funnily enough speaks Spanish fluently. Vittorio Storaro ("Apocalypse Now") is also onboard as cinematographer. No word on a date yet, but it's likely this will make a festival debut sometime in the second half of the year.
Opens: April 12th 2013
Cast: Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, Alan Tudyk, Christopher Meloni, Lucas Black
Director: Brian Helgeland
Analysis: "L.A. Confidential" scribe and "A Knight's Tale" director Brian Helgeland takes on the color divide in baseball with this biopic of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson, played by Chadwick Boseman, was the first African-American to ever play in Major League Baseball. The film also follows the Dodger's general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) who first signed Robinson to the minors and then helped bring him to the big leagues.
The film's trailer looks fairly solid and contains some impressively shot compositions. However, the overbearing sepia tone, the Jay-Z music (trailer only though, it's NOT in the film), and some awkward line deliveries - it all seems to be a bit too earnest. Even for someone like me who has zero interest in baseball, the story is interesting and potent enough to stand on its own two feet. I worry that this overly stylised filmmaking could take away from proceedings rather than enhance the story.
Opens: December 25th 2013
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi
Director: Carl Erik Rinsch
Analysis: This 3D fantasy-adventure marks the first full feature from acclaimed commercials and short helmer Carl Erik Rinsch. "47 Ronin" fuses the familiar true story of the title with Japanese-influenced magical elements including giants and witches. The result has drawn comparisons to both "Gladiator" and "The Lord of the Rings."
Filmed throughout much of 2011, the story follows a group of outcast samurai who seek vengeance upon the treacherous warlord who slaughtered their master. Keanu Reeves, playing a half-Brit/half-Japanese man, leads a Japanese cast that was picked for authenticity rather than box-office appeal. All the scenes were reportedly shot in both Japanese and English.
Right off the bat the project seemed like a very costly $170 million gamble for Universal Pictures, especially considering the way "Sucker Punch" and "Immortals" fizzled at the box-office that year. Throughout filming came reports of a very difficult working environment on set, Rinsch's lack of feature film experience apparently causing some friction.
Then came the delays. Originally slated for November this year, the project got pushed back all the way to Christmas 2013. Reshoots to bolster Reeves' role have resulted in the budget creeping to at least $200 million (others say higher), and then came reports of Rinsch's removal from the editing room - reports that were later shot down.
Universal has certainly stepped in to take a more hands on approach to the movie than they had originally intended. The question is if all these issues during the production process will have any effect on the final film? Despite the troubles, Rinsch is said to have delivered something fairly eye-popping. For Universal's sake, let's hope it turns out to be the next "300" rather than the next "John Carter."
300: Rise of an Empire
Opens: August 2nd 2013
Cast: Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton, Jack O'Connell, Callan Mulvey
Director: Noam Munro
Analysis: A prequel and 'side-quel' to 2007's major international hit "300," this follow-up will cover some of the back story of Persian ruler Xerxes as well as various key battles between the Greek and the Persian armies. One of those skirmishes, and likely the film's key set piece, will be The Battle of Artemisium. The massive naval engagement took place concurrent with the battle at Thermopylae and visually could prove even more impressive.
While film critics were not fans at all, Zack Snyder's highly stylised comic book adaptation "300" remains a very popular action movie with the populace. Everyone was impressed with it raking in nearly half a billion dollars in box-office and costing only a fairly economical $65 million. Despite it being a wild fantasy take on a famous event, in subsequent years it has come under heavy criticism for its highly xenophobic, homophobic and pro-militarism sensibilities.
Although much of that can be blamed on the hardcore right-wing viewpoints of the comic's creator Frank Miller, one wonders if it gave the studio pause before moving forward with this. Snyder was initially slated to come back, but opted to helm "Man of Steel" instead. Unexpectedly taking his place is Noam Murro, known mostly for helming the little seen comedy "Smart People."
The cast is dominated by three leads - "Strike Back" star and Aussie actor Sullivan Stapleton as Greek leader Themistocles, "Casino Royale" actress Eva Green as Artemisia of Caria, and a returning Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes. Shot in Bulgaria over the past few months, it is expected to have a very similar filmmaking style to the first. It will also screen in both IMAX and 3D when it opens early August.
Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart, Leslie Bibb, Jamie Chung, Jonathan Schaech
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Analysis: As a genre it seems ghost thrillers have been done to death (no pun intended), yet "The Grudge" director Takashi Shimizu has come up with a fun angle. Here, the action is set onboard a trans-Pacific red-eye flight where the passengers are terrorised by a ghostly force. Yes, it's a spin on one of those early episodes of "Supernatural," but it's still a good one.
The confined and volatile nature of the environment makes for a solid setting, added to that a cast of young good lookers like Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart, Leslie Bibb and Jamie Chung. The fun trailer, set to a slowed down cover of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," is a winner. Who knew overhead compartments could also be a source of terror?
A delay from late summer this year doesn't bode well for its quality, but that was said to be due to competition from the likes of the Sam Raimi-produced "The Possession" and the Joel Silver-produced "The Apparition" which both opened in August to ordinary reviews. I don't expect the critics will be any more thrilled with this, but here's hoping it's a fun diversion.
21 and Over
"The Hangover" and "The Change-Up" scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore make their directorial debut on this $13 million teen comedy starring a bunch of unknowns. The story follows a promising student celebrating his 21st birthday with his two best friends on the night before his big medical school exam. Hopefully it'll be better than this year's god awful "Project X".
Volume A: The ABC's of Death, About Last Night, About Time, Admission, A.C.O.D., Adult World, After Earth, Afternoon Delight, Aftershock, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, All Is Lost, Anchorman: The Legend Continues, The Angriest Man In Brooklyn, Angry Little God, Are We Officially Dating?, As I Lay Dying, Ass Backwards, At Any Price, August: Osage County, Austenland
Volume B: Backmask, Baggage Claim, Bailout: The Age of Greed, Battle of the Year, Beautiful Creatures, Before Midnight, Belle, The Best Offer, Better Living Through Chemistry, Beyond The Hills, Big Sur, The Big Wedding, Black Dog Red Dog, The Black Marks, Bling Ring, Blood Ties, The Brass Teapot, Breathe In, Broken City, Bullet to the Head, The Butler, Byzantium
Volume C: The Call, Can a Song Save Your Life?, The Canyons, Captain Phillips, Carol, Carrie, A Case of You, Cavalry, CBGB, Chavez, Child of God, Chinese Zodiac, Closed Circuit, Closer to the Moon, Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers, C.O.G., The Colony, Come Out and Play, The Company You Keep, The Congress, Concussion, The Counselor, The Coup, The Croods, Crystal Fairy
Volume D: Dallas Buyers Club, Dark Blood, Dark Skies, Dead Man Down, Decoding Annie Parker, The Deep, Delivery Man, Despicable Me 2, Devil's Knot, The Devil's Rapture, Diana, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His & Hers, Disconnect, Dom Hemingway, Don Jon's Addiction, Dorothy of Oz, The Double, Drift, Drinking Buddies, Driven
Volume E: The East, Eden, Elsa and Fred, Elysium, Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, Emperor, Empire State, Empires of the Deep, Ender's Game, The English Teacher, Epic, Errors of the Human Body, Escape From Planet Earth, The Europa Report, Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, Everything Will Be Fine, Evil Dead
Volume G: Part 1: Gambit, Gangster Squad, The Gatekeepers, Get a Job, Getaway, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Ginger and Rosa, Girls Against Boys, Girl Most Likely, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, Gods Behaving Badly, A Good Day to Die Hard
Volume G: Part 2: Graceland, The Grand Masters, Grand Piano, The Grand Seduction, Grave of the Fireflies, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Great Expectations, The Green Blade Rises, A Green Story, Greetings from Tim Buckley, Growing Up (and Other Lies), Grown Ups 2
Volume H: The Hangover Part III, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, The Heat, Hell and Back, Hell Baby, Her, Hidden, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Homefront, Horns, The Host, The Host 2, How I Live Now, Hummingbird, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunt
Volume I: I Frankenstein, The Identical, Identity Thief, I'm So Excited, In a World, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, In Fear, Inside Llewyn Davis, Insidious Chapter Two, Interior Leather Bar, The Internship, In the Blood, The Invisible Woman, Iron Man 3
Volume J-K: Jack Ryan, Jack the Giant Slayer, Java Heat, Jayne Mansfield's Car, Jimmy Picard, jOBS, Jurassic Park 3D, Justin and the Knights of Valour, K-11, Kick-Ass 2, Kid Cannabis, Kill Your Darlings, Kiss of the Damned, Kon-Tiki, Knight of Cups
Volume L: Part 1: Labor Day, The Last Days On Mars, The Last Exorcism: Part II, The Last Stand, Last Vegas, Laurence Anyways, Leo the Lion, Leviathan, Le Weekend, Libertador, The Lifeguard, Like Someone in Love, The Little Mermaid 3D, The Loft
Volume L: Part 2: London Project, The Lone Ranger, Lone Survivor, The Longest Week, Long Time Gone, A Long Way Down, The Look of Love, The Lords of Salem, Lore, Love and Honor, Love is All You Need, Lovelace, Lowlife, Lullaby, Luv
Volume M: Part 1: Machete Kills, Magic Magic, Malavita, Mama, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Maniac, Man of Steel, Man of Tai Chi, The Man Who Sold the World, A Many Splintered Thing, Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box, Mary Mother Of Christ, May in the Summer, McCanick, Meet Me In Montenegro, Milo
Volume M: Part 2: Mindscape, Mobius, Mockingbird, Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist, Monsters University, The Monuments Men, Mood Indigo, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, A Most Wanted Man, Mother of George, Movie 43, Mr. Morgan's Last Love, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Much Ado About Nothing, Mud, Mystery Road
Volume N: Nebraska, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Night Moves, Nina, No, No One Lives, No Place on Earth, Non-Stop, Northern Soul, Not Safe for Work, Now You See Me, The Numbers Station, Nymphomaniac
Volume O-P: Part 1: Oblivion, Oculus, Odd Thomas, Oldboy, Olympus Has Fallen, One Direction Concert Movie, One Square Mile, Only God Forgives, Only Lovers Left Alive, Open Windows, Out of the Furnace, Oz: The Great and Powerful, Pacific Rim, Pain and Gain, The Paradise Trilogy, Paranoia, Parker, Parkland, Passion, The Past, The Patience Stone
Volume P: Part 2: Pawn, Pawn Shop Chronicles, Penthouse North, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Phantom, The Physician, Pieta, The Place Beyond The Pines, Planes, Plastic Jesus, The Playroom, Plush, Post Tenebras Lux, Prince Avalanche, Prisoners, The Prophet, The Purge
Volume Q-R: The Quiet Ones, The Railway Man, The Rambler, Random, Reality, RED 2, Red Light Winter, Red Machine, Red Wing, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Reykjavik, R.I.P.D., Riddick, The Rover, Runner Runner, Rush
Volume S: Part 1: S-V/H/S, The Sacrament, Safe Haven, Saving Mr. Banks, Scary Movie 5, The Scribbler, The Sea, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Serena, The Seventh Son, Side Effects, Sightseers, Simon Killer, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, A Single Shot, Small Apartments, Small Time, The Smurfs 2
Volume S: Part 2: Snitch, Snowpiercer, Someone Marry Barry, Something in the Air, The Sorcerer and the White Snake, Space Warriors, The Spectacular Now, Spring Breakers, Starbuck, Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Wars: Episode II & III 3D, Still Life, Stoker, Stories We Tell, Sweetwater, Syrup
Volume T: Part 1: Tar, Tarzan 3D, A Teacher, Thanks for Sharing, Therese Desqueyroux, Therese, They Came Together, They Die by Dawn, Third Person, This Is The End, Thor: The Dark World, A Thousand Times Good Night, Three Days To Kill, Three Worlds, The To Do List, Tom a la ferme, The Tomb, Tomorrow You're Gone
Volume T: Part 2: To The Wonder, Too Late, Touchy Feely, Toy's House, Tracks, Trance, The Trials of Cate McCall, Trust Me, Turbo, Twelve Years A Slave, Twenty Feet From Stardom, Twice Born, Two Night Stand, The Two Faces of January, Two Mothers, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, Tyler Perry Presents: We The Peeples
Volume U-W: Part 1: Under the Skin, Unforgiven, Untitled David O. Russell Project, Untitled Nicole Holofcener Project, Untitled Terrence Malick Film, Upstream Color, Venus in Fur, Very Good Girls, Virtually Heroes, Wadjda, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, War Witch, Warm Bodies, The Way Way Back, We Are What We Are, We're the Millers, Welcome to the Jungle, Welcome to the Punch, What Maisie Knew
Volume W: Part 2-Z: White Bird in a Blizzard, White House Down, The Wilderness of James, Winter Rose, Winter's Tale, Wish You Well, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Wolverine, Wolves, Words with Gods, World War Z, The World's End, You Are Here, You Can't Win, You're Next, You're Not You, The Young and Prodigious Spivet, The Zero Theorem