2013 Blockbuster Preview: MAN OF STEEL, PACIFIC RIM, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, and More

     December 23, 2012

PACIFIC RIM

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Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Max Martini, Rob Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., and Diego Klattenhoff.

Release Date: July 12, 2013 (3D)

Why We’re Excited About It: It’s been four long years since we last saw a directorial feature from the unendingly innovative Guillermo del Toro, and he’s making his return in a big, bad way with an epic-scale monsters vs. robots movie.  The first trailer promised some eye-popping fights between the giant monsters (Kaiju) and equally giant, human-manned robots (Jaegers), and with del Toro at the helm we can safely assume that this is absolutely not some Transformers rip-off with uninspired action sequence after uninspired action sequence.  The material is right in del Toro’s wheelhouse, and we’re already bracing for the intense spectacle to come.

THE WOLVERINE

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Director: James Mangold

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tee, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, and Svetlana Khodchenkova.

Release Date: July 26, 2013 (3D)

Why We’re Excited About It: Though 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine left much to be desired, there’s plenty reason to be hopeful about this sequel.  Director James Mangold has proven himself adept at handling drama (Walk the Line), action comedy (Knight and Day), and even Westerns (3:10 to Yuma), and everything we’ve seen from The Wolverine thus far promises a fantastically dark samurai story for the X-Men character.

ELYSIUM

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Director: Neill Blomkamp

Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner, and Diego Luna.

Release Date: August 9, 2013

Why We’re Excited About It: Director Neill Blomkamp’s feature directorial debut District 9 was not only a thrilling entry in the sci-fi genre, but also a wholly original story that spoke to larger social concerns.  His follow-up film, Elysium, promises to be no different, as this time Blomkamp tackles the controversial immigration issue by telling the story of a dying man who lacks access to the healthcare that would save his life because of his social status.  On top of that, it’s set in 2159 and features Matt Damon wearing some crazy tech/weapon device attached to his head.  Count us in.

THE WORLD’S END

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Director: Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike.

Release Date: October 25, 2013

Why We’re Excited About It:  Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are two of the most exciting, innovative, and flat-out funny comedies of the past 15 years (if not more), and The World’s End marks the final chapter in Wright, Pegg, and Frost’s informal “Blood & Ice Cream” trilogy.  As such, this one should already be on everyone’s radar, but throw in a pub crawl, an end-of-the-world scenario, and Martin Freeman, and you’ve got yourself the definition of a must-see.  Odds are pretty damn good that The World’s End is going to be, well, off the chain.

ENDER’S GAME

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Director: Gavin Hood

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Sir Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin.

Release Date: November 1, 2013

Why We’re Excited About It: Author Orson Scott Card’s beloved sci-fi novel finally gets the big screen treatment next year, and fans are eager to see if Gavin Hood does the story justice in his feature film adaptation.  He got off to a strong start by putting together an impressive cast, and we should see more marketing material soon that will give us a better idea of what’s in store.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

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Director: Alan Taylor

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Christopher Eccleston, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Zachary Levi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, and Idris Elba.

Release Date: November 8, 2013 (3D)

Why We’re Excited About It: Though Iron Man 3 will likely set the tone for Marvel films post-Avengers, November’s Thor sequel looks to be a different beast altogether.  Alan Taylor’s background on Game of Thrones promises some excellent world-building, and those involved have promised a more epic scope this time around (ie. exploration of realms other than Asgard). The inclusion of the Dark Elves and even the film’s title hint at a more gloomy tone for the continued adventures of everyone’s favorite god of thunder, and we’re eager to dive back in.

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

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Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amanda Pllummer,  Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Donald Sutherland.

Release Date: November 22, 2013

Why We’re Excited About It: Catching Fire is arguably the most cinematic book in Suzanne CollinsHunger Games trilogy, and its ripe with sequences that should be a joy to watch onscreen.  The abrupt departure of Gary Ross as director was a bit disconcerting, but Lionsgate seems to be happy with what Francis Lawrence has done on Catching Fire as they recently signed him to helm the final two installments, Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2.  Jennifer Lawrence is a phenomenal actress, so hopefully Catching Fire carries the same character-centric nature of the first installment while maintaining the spectacle of the book.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

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Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, and the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Release Date: December 13, 2013 (3D)

Why We’re Excited About It: Whether you loved or hated An Unexpected Journey, odds are you’ll still be seeing The Desolation of Smaug next December.  It’s tough to accurately judge Jackson’s decision to stretch The Hobbit into three films before we’ve seen how the rest of the trilogy plays out, and Smaug at least promises an extended battle with a nefarious, gold-hoarding dragon whose voice carries the sweet, sweet tones of one Benedict Cumberbatch.

ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES

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Director: Adam McKay

Cast: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, and possibly Kristen Wiig.

Release Date: December 20, 2013

Why We’re Excited About It:  McKay and Ferrell crafted one of the most quotable movies of all time with 2004’s Anchorman, and they’ve been trying like hell to get this sequel off the ground for quite a few years now.  The old team is back together (including producer Judd Apatow), and McKay has promised at least one fully choreographed musical number will transpire in the film, which is set during the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle.  The lead cast is made up of improv pros, and we absolutely cannot wait to see the ridiculousness that the team cooks up for The Legend Continues.

GRAVITY

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Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Cast: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock

Release Date: TBD Fall 2013

Why We’re Excited About It: Given that we’ve been waiting for this movie for years now, you could say that our anticipation level for Gravity is approaching critical mass.  The film—Cuaron’s first feature since 2006’s brilliant Children of Men—landed on our most anticipated list last year, when it was originally slated for release in fall of 2012.  Warner Bros. subsequently pushed the film back to 2013, but it’s expected to arrive in the fall in order to boost its awards chances.  Sandra Bullock carries much of the screen time alone, as she plays an astronaut stranded in space.  We’re hoping the finished product is worth the long, long wait, but given that this is Alfonso Cuaron it’s not a stretch to say it probably will be.

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