Farewell and off with you, 2011. The New Year is upon us, so why not count down our most anticipated movies of the next 12 months? (Warning: includes animation.)
Release date: 17 August
Okay, we’re starting our countdown of top five movies to watch for in 2012 with an animation, but hear us out. Any old cartoon is not going to tick the boxes for your regular Irish JOE, but we have high hopes that Brave could be a real highlight of next year.
For starters, Pixar are under a bit of pressure to deliver, perhaps for the first time. Between 2007 and 2010 they reeled off masterpiece after masterpiece: Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3 are up there with some of the best movies ever made, never mind animated movies. Last summer, however, Cars 2 was Pixar’s first real flop, so another Pixar movie with mixed reaction and it could be hard to rediscover the winning groove.
Brave, though, looks like it should be very, very good. It’s set in Scotland and the hero is, well, a heroine, leading to some to label it 'Bravetart'. In a potentially risky new departure for Pixar, the bulk of the characters are voiced by British actors, but they have at least got some of the most distinctive – including Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters and Kelly McDonald.
Release date: 3 August
This could be the sleeper lads hit of the year. Where The Hangover somewhat unsubtly played to our masculine sensibilities, Ted, from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, could raise things a couple of levels on the humour spectrum.
It is, to all intents and purposes, a romantic comedy for men. And for the most part the romance is between the main protagonist, played by Mark Wahlberg, and the teddy-bear he received when he was eight years old.
You see, this is no ordinary teddy-bear. This is a magically talking teddy-bear. A magically potty-mouthed talking teddy-bear. We got a sneak peek of this recently and the interaction between Wahlberg and the bear, voiced by MacFarlane himself, could make this one an instant comedy classic.
No trailer yet available.
Release date: 1 June
Ridley Scott was a master of sci-fi. But that was almost 30 years ago, so it’ll be intriguing to see what he comes up with when Prometheus is unleashed next summer summer.
In the space of three years (between 1979 and 1982), Ridley Scott treated us to Alien and Blade Runner, two of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made. He was subsequently replaced (and, some would argue, bettered) at the helm of the Alien franchise by James Cameron, who also returned to big-budget sci-fi with Avatar, and now Scott is out to re-establish himself as a master of the genre.
Prometheus is the next instalment of the Alien series, which has lost its way badly by becoming associated with all that Predator guff, and the advance hype about it has been, well, greatly hyped. Before Christmas, they even gave us pre-release teasers to the trailer. But we love that stuff, so we lapped it up.
It stars Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender so it ticks the right boxes when it comes to its leading players, although whether it’s another piece of cinema mastery to add to the proud Ridley Scott back catalogue that includes Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator, remains to be seen. Scott, after all, has also “treated” us such forgettable flapdoodle as G.I. Jane and A Good Year.
Anyway, here’s the first official trailer:
2. The Dark Knight Rises
Release date: 20 July
The next instalment of the Batman franchise hits Irish cinema screens in July. Christian Bale is the caped crusader again, Tom Hardy takes on the role of villainous Bane and Anne Hathaway becomes the latest Hollywood hottie to take on the role of Catwoman.
Each of the Batman movies has set a new bar for summer blockbusters and the early vibe about The Dark Knight Rises is that the upward curve is set to continue – the American football pitch explosion scene from the trailer below looks incredible.
Whether this will be the last one for a while remains to be seen – Bale has already declared that it is “the end of that Batman era”. If it is, then you can be damn sure that director Christopher Nolan will be intent on finishing things on a high.
1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Release date: 14 December
Nine years after The Lord of the Rings trilogy was completed with The Return of the King, Middle Earth will return to our screens again at the end of 2012. It’s been more eagerly awaited than virtually any movie in recent years, with the possible and inexplicable exception of all that Potter-mania.
Adding to the sense of anticipation were the almost interminable delays to the filming process. Heck, filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not even slated to be completed until March, but the release date of 14 December 2012 has been confirmed so regardless of any late hitches and the legendary perfectionism of director Peter Jackson, there should be enough time left for all that post-production.
For those of you wanting to catch a glimpse of the dragon Smaug, you’ll have been disappointed by the first trailer release shortly before Christmas, where Smaug was conspicuous by his absence.
Most of the cast from The Lord of the Rings, including Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis (as Gollum), are present and correct, with rising star Benedict Cumberbatch joining the fray as the voice of Smaug. Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn is a notable absentee, but as he wasn’t part of the original The Hobbit story, it would have been a bit of a stretch to include him now.