Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Watcher - Five sci-fi/fantasy films for 2012

Superheroes are here to stay, for now. But the year ahead promises so much in the way of non-superhero cinematic goodness, that even if spandex isn’t your bag, you’re still sure to have a cracking good time, with some heavy hitters and potential new favourites looming just over the horizon...

In March, Disney/Pixar bring a genuine pulp hero to breathtaking life. John Carter (of Mars) adapts the adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s American Civil War veteran who wakes to find himself inexplicably transported to the Martian landscape of Barsoom, where his superhuman strength helps him turn the tide in an alien war. Carter’s original tale was a swashbuckling sci-fi romance, and the trailers promise action and spectacle - with some stunning production design and anything but little green men. Leading man Taylor Kitsch Eschews the typical rippling muscles of the superhero stereotype, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see Lynn Collins’s Martian Princess Dejah Thoris wearing clothes for a change. Oh, and Willem Defoe as a seven foot tall four armed green alien? Sold!

Five friends go to a remote holiday home in a forest. Bad things happen. But for the viewer, very very good things might just happen as MGM finally release the long delayed mystery project from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. 2012 might just be the year that Joss Whedon goes global, finally earning the recognition his status as a sci-fi fantasy visionary deserves. Although ‘The Avengers’ promises big shiny fun, the recently released trailer for ‘Cabin in the Woods’ promises a mind twisted sci-fi tale that bucks expectations in true Whedon style. Debut director and co-writer Drew Goddard has an equally impressive CV with screenwriting credits including ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Cloverfield’, and a cast headed up by Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth only serves to boost this project’s coolness factor.

In June, arriving a full 33 years after Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic ‘Alien’ (1979), comes the director’s belated prequel (or is it?) ‘Prometheus’. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the project ever since Scott and co-writer Damon Lindloff’s pronouncement that the project would no longer be a prequel, instead spinning an original tale that riffs on mythology and the origin of mankind. But let’s face facts here, it’s an Alien prequel, directed by the first and best visionary behind the whole Alien series. And if that wasn’t enough to make you sit up and take notice, the official pics boast gorgeous production design, and the ensemble cast is a veritable who’s who of hot actors, with Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlise Theron and Idris Elba to name but a few. Even the Space Jockeys back on board. WIN? (The trailer is released on Thursday - we'll update this blog post with an embed after that, so stay tuned! BF)

You may recall some buzz about ‘Underworld’ director Len Wiseman’s upcoming remake of 1990’s ‘Total Recall’, but the rumour mill seems to have gone quiet of late. But in August, the Watcher reckons it’s time to get your ass to the multiplex. Starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale with John ‘Sulu’ Cho and and Bill Nighy in supporting roles, fans are hoping for a fresh twist on Philip K. Dick’s source material with plenty of Arnie homage thrown into the mix. Gone is the Mars setting, instead a tale of global espionage and mind bending reality shifts awaits. There seems to be enough new ideas in play here to make this new take on the material worthwhile, and with Philip K. Dick inspired films proving to be some of the most enjoyable sci-fi fare of recent years, my fingers and toes are crossed.

Finally, December sees a rather expected, but long delayed journey from Peter Jackson and team who return to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth this with ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, the first of two films adapting the classic children’s book, and lest we forget, forerunner to ‘Lord of the Rings’. The departure of mooted director Guillermo del Toro due to production delays was disappointing news, but he still receives co-writing credit, and returning director Peter Jackson has been known to direct an excellent fantasy film or three in his time. With many actors returning to their iconic roles and a new leading Hobbit in Martin Freeman - plus Andy ‘Gollum’ Serkis pulling double duty as second unit director - the passion of all involved is clear. Best of all, this has even got me interested in re-reading the book. Roll on 2013 and ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’.

As the above list proves, although you might not be able to have so much as a cup of tea without missing the debut of yet another superhero film, there’s plenty still on offer for genre fans. There can’t possibly be any more quality genre flicks to cram an already bursting year of cinema... or can there?

Robert Barton-Ancliffe is looking forward to next year's hidden gem akin to this year's Rare Exports.

1 comment:

  1. This is very exciting.

    Looking forward to Promethius and The Hobbit!