2013: Movies of Interest

The first of the two big Movie Seasons is almost upon us… indeed I daresay it starts rather soon.  Last year, I wrote about the upcoming flicks that had captured my interest.  I thought it would be a fine idea to do so again.  In fact, if I can remember in time next year, maybe this’ll be an annual feature.

Here are the movies that have caught my interest this year, in a sort-of-order of my interest:

  1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug With a few relatively minor caveats (Storm Giants, anyone? What the Helsinki was that, and how, exactly, was it even remotely necessary for the movie?) I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the planned Hobbit trilogy, as I had expected to.  Being a huge fan of both the Lord of the Rings books and movies, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the next Hobbit movie is my top flick-to-see in 2013.
  2. Man of Steel Only one comicbook superhero ranks higher on my all-time favorite list than Batman, and that is his boyscout, super-powered, primary-color-clad sometimes friend and rival Superman.  So yes: I plan to see the latest incarnation of the cinematic Superman, and I have very high hopes.
  3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Dear Wife and I quite enjoyed first Hunger Games movie (well, I did; I can’t really speak for Dear Wife, but it is my belief that she enjoyed it).  I finished reading all three books last year, and I’m quite looking forward to the second installment in the film franchise.

    Those are the movies that I expect I’ll actually see in the theaters.  After that… there’s a big drop in the likelihood that I think I’ll manage to catch anything else on this list.


  5. Pacific Rim I think I’ve mentioned before how much of an anime geek I am.  Not the hugest one around, but still… enough of one that I totally grok where this movie is going.  Giant Robots (called “Jaegers“, no less) versus Giant Monsters (“Kaiju“).  This is totally live-action anime.  And so, I’m excited for this movie.  I figure, though, that this could go one of two ways: this could be this year’s Inception… or this could be this year’s Prometheus.  With Guillermo Del Toro directing, I’m hopeful it’s more like the latter… but then again, Ridley Scott carried a lot of cache into Prometheus… Assuming the sci-fi and fantasy community tends to lean more toward the former than the latter, then you can be sure, even if I miss this in theaters, I’ll queue it up on DVD as soon as I’m able.
  6. Star Trek: Into Darkness I saw and enjoyed 2009’s Star Trek reboot – although a few things about it left me unsettled. (Red Matter?  And really, [Spoilers] did you need to blow up Vulcan?  And with all that time-traveling going on, you really couldn’t, you know, travel back in time and save the planet?  The last fact really miffed me fiercely.  Once you’ve established that time travel is an option, you better have a dang good reason why it can’t be used again to undo later events in the story.)  Regardless of those snafus, I enjoyed the Star Trek reboot enough that I’m very interested to see the next in the new series.  Added to that the mystery of who, precisely, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing – is it Kahn Noonien Singh? Is it Gary Mitchell? Is it some other dude who combines the attributes of Kahn and Mitchell? – adds to the intrigue and interest in this film.  As I expect this movie will skip the time travel plot problems of Star Trek, I expect this will actually be a better movie.  Still… I figure I’m unlikely (all things considered) to catch this in theaters.  So, as with Pacific Rim, I’m sure I’ll be queueing this up on DVD as soon as available.
  7. Oblivion The trailer for this flick has at least intrigued me – it’s hinted that not is all as it seems for Tom Cruise’s character, nor for desolate planet Earth in the far future.  But what really catches my interest: Morgan Freeman as some sort of Resistance/Rebel leader.  Is there any role that is not automatically cooler when played by Morgan Freeman?  That gives me promise that this film can live up to the ideas presented in its trailers.
  8. After Earth ‘Tis the Year for “In the Future, Earth has been abandoned by Humans”, isn’t it?  The attraction of this particular version of that story is in having real-life father-and-son acting team Will and Jaden Smith play a father and son stranded on an inhospitable future Earth struggling to survive.  The downside? It’s directed by M. Night Shyamalan (whose last few movies have not exactly been great, and who lost whatever remaining goodwill he had left as a director when he miscast and ruined the fundamentally un-ruinable big screen adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender) – so don’t expect the trailers to pint that little fact out.  The possible saving grace? This is Will Smith’s baby more than it is Shyamalan’s.  Regardless, I’m interested, but I’ll see what the critics have to say.
  9. Ender’s Game This one very nearly snuck up on me.  There’s very little buzz about Ender’s Game that I’ve seen so far.  Many, many years ago I read (and enjoyed) the novel as well as the companion novel (Ender’s Shadow).  I have yet to read (and not a terrible great interest in reading) the supposed sequels to Ender’s Game. (My understanding, for the most part, is that they diverge in some pretty radical ways from the story, characters, and world presented in Ender’s Game.) Anyway… I’m interested to see and hear more about this before casting judgment.
  10. World War Z Funny… I think I saw this title on a list of movies I made somewhere, once before.  Oh yeah: It was last year’s list.  Obviously, World War Z didn’t make it out in 2012.  But I find myself more interested now than I was then, thanks to several trailers that have given me a better idea of the film.  On the other hand… long delays and changes in release dates usually don’t bode well for a film.
  11. Elysium What was that I said above about the year for desolate or abandoned future Earths? Okay, so the Earth of Elysium isn’t really desolate or abandoned, but it may as well be: it’s a place where the poor and downtrodden are confined while the rich live high above.  (And the meek shall inhereit the Earth?)  What Elysium has going for it is a top-calibre cast, including Matt Damon and Jodi Foster.  Again, however, other than this, I know relatively little about the movie.  So I’ll take the wait-and-see approach.
  12. The Wolverine Remember when I said Superman was the superhero who ranked just above Batman at the top of my personal superhero pantheon?  The guy right below Batman is Wolverine.  And yet… I did not see the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie.  I heard the reviews were pretty bad.  But I’m open-minded.  I’ll wait and see what the buzz says about Logan’s second solo-outing.  On a semi-related note… I’m still keen to catch X-Men: First Class on DVD some time.

Honorable Mentions:

These are the movies I feel like I want to see (in theaters, where possible). But a few other movies have hit my radar, too. Some of these I have no interest in seeing theaters, but may be interested to catch on DVD later, some it’s practically too late to catch in theaters, and some I just don’t know enough about.

Oz the Great and Powerful There’s no way I’ll find the time to see this before it makes its way out of theaters.  I’m interested in it, but not enough to try to make the time, and especially not enough to to press the issue when there’s a brand new wee bairn at home.

Frozen Frankly, I don’t know enough about this movie yet.  I think it’s an animated Epic Fantasy sort of movie.  But… I’m not really sure I’ve read about it right.  If and when I hear more, I’ll make a judgment at that time.

Monster’s University It’s Pixar and it’s not Cars.  So that’s a good thing.  On the otherhand, while I enjoyed the previous Monster’s Inc., I didn’t love it enough to want a sequel.  This movie seems… I dunno… gratuitous.  But because it’s Pixar and, Cars and Cars 2 notwithstanding, Pixar has a lot of goodwill with me, I can almost garauntee I’ll watch it on DVD at some point.

The Lone Ranger I was convinced, when I heard about this, that it had “Epic Flop of John Carter Proportions” written all over it.  I thought: Johnny Depp (no matter how good an actor he is) in a racially insensitive portrayal of Tonto?  This thing is going to get cremated in the blogosphere!  Now I’ve seen the trailers and I’m… less convinced.  And the buzz is actually pretty decent.  And word is Disney has done a lot of legwork (enough? I don’t know) to make good with Native Americans over the casting and portrayal of Tonto.  (I’m that mythical “1/16th” Native American, which basically doesn’t mean anything, except that a deep respect for Native American peoples has been passed down in my family, owing to that ancestry as told in family legend.  I haven’t done the genealogy work to back up that claim.  But the end result is that I’m a little sensitive to the question of how American Indians are portrayed in stories.)  So… If all that holds true… well… you can expect The Lone Ranger to do bonzo at the Box Office.

Iron Man 3 I have not seen Iron Man 2 (nor, for that matter, The Avengers).  So I know there is Zero Percent chance I’ll make it out to see Iron Man 3.  I at least owe it to the movie to see the two preceeding flicks (even if I still manage to avoid Thor because I think the idea of “Thor” as a superhero character is basically a bit cheesy and overwrought).  I did see and enjoy the first Iron Man movie, though, and I enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Stark.  So, whenever I get around to picking up Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, I’ll eventually follow that up with Iron Man 3.

What happened to 2012’s Movies?

As for the 2012 movies that I had listed previously?  As alluded above, I did see the first Hobbit movie and the first Hunger Games movie.  I also caught Dark Knight Rises and Brave at the theaters.  I did not get a chance to see The Secret World of Arietty, but that’s okay, because I’ve always consumed anime on the small-screen in the past.  (I love Hayao Miyazaki, but I’ve never seen a Miyazaki movie in theaters.)  Prometheus was… well… based on all the reviews I heard, it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.  And life’s too short to waste a few hours on a basically dumb movie.  The Amazing Spider-Man, as predicted, I did not see.  I still expect I’ll see it on DVD eventually.  Also didn’t see The Avengers, so no, I did not contribute to that massive box office haul.  John Carter, I heard, was actually better than many gave it credit for.  But, again… well… my own sense of it was not super-positive from the trailers.  (I said it looked “vistual-tastic”, but I also worried, based on the trailers, that there wasn’t much “there there”.  I still sort of feel that way.)  Again, life’s too short. 

So, that’s where I stand on movies in 2013.  How’s about you?


23 thoughts on “2013: Movies of Interest

  1. I would definitely recommend picking up X-Men First Class on DVD. I really enjoyed it, not just for what it was, but also because I had a sense while watching it of “This is what the Star Wars prequels SHOULD have been!” (Okay, maybe that didn’t add to my enjoyment, but it didn’t hurt.) 🙂

  2. I’ll second the “X-Men: First Class” recommendation! Loved the casting of young Professor X and Magneto, and that it was an action movie where people actually took time to talk to each other between battles. (Movies that don’t do this annoy me with what I cannot but perceive as their lack of depth.)

    I’ve seen “Oz” and enjoyed it well enough; cute, colorful, came *this close* to making me tear up, at times.

    Very much looking forward to “The Wolverine” and the second “Hobbit” installment, and I’m also looking forward to more information about “Frozen”. (Disney? Animated? Fairytale-based? I’m listening, tell me more!)

    And like you, I’ve got some catching up to do with Iron Man before I consider seeing the third film.

  3. Well, you’ve covered a lot of ground here, but I’ll try to be brief. (Unsuccessfully, as it turned out. 🙂 )

    I do recommend both The Avengers and X-Men: First Class (the latter seems to be a popular recommendation 🙂 ). Not great, but very enjoyable, though each tails off toward the end (though for different reasons, as I’ve talked about on my blog) .

    And life is indeed too short to waste any of it seeing the first Wolverine movie, about which I remember almost nothing.

    From my point of view, the biggest thing Elysium has going for it is that it was written and directed by the guy who did District 9. Plus it has Jodie Foster.

    I wasn’t sure at first where you were going with the Inception vs. Prometheus thing. For all of Prometheus’s faults (documented pretty much everywhere), I’d take it in a minute over Inception. Part of that is just a gut reaction, part of it is the level of acting, part of it is that Inception is basically a guy movie, and I tend to prefer movies and stories where women get to be interesting, too.

    Speaking of which, here’s my take on Iron Man. The first one was okay. The second one was less so (less Jeff Bridges), and the third looks even more problematic. For one thing, is it actually possible to do the Mandarin in some way that isn’t offensive? Certainly in the comics he was very stereotypical. But my bigger qualm is that, based on the trailer, it’s going to be “Tony the hero has to man up and toughen up to rescue his beloved Pepper, who’s been tied to the railroad tracks and maybe tortured by the evil Asian guy.”


    On the other hand, there is another way they could go. In the comics, Pepper has been known to suit up, too. Which nobody would expect from Gwyneth Paltrow…

    Could be we’ll be seeing Rescue. That would be cool.

    What am I looking forward to?

    Elysium, definitely. Kick-Ass 2 is already marked on my calendar. And I am curious about The Lone Ranger, because Depp is in it. He’s my favorite actor, at least partly because of the movies he chooses.

    • Anthony, that last bit makes me think about something. I’ve noticed that British actors tend to have filmography that is miles longer than their American counterparts. They will be in a movie, two TV shows, and narrate a BBC special in the time that their American colleagues might knock out one movie and be slated for another one. Compare Jeff Bridges with Bill Nighy, for example. Born about 8 days apart, but Bill Nighy has 30 more roles than Jeff Bridges, despite starting his film career 25 years later.

      I’m also aware that many Hollywood movies, especially the blockbusters, are cast with an eye to who the cast will draw in as an audience. Until now, it never occurred to me that this has led to American actors acting as sort of first-line movie critics for us. Not knowing anything about a movie other than its potentially racially-charged character, the fact that it’s Johnny Depp indicates that, well, maybe it’ll be okay, because we trust that he picks the roles with thought and consideration. Yet Ben Kingsley, who has received many awards for his acting, does not quell the racial concerns of the Mandarin , even though he is actually of Asian descent, unlike Johnny Depp, who has no verified American Indian ancestry. And yes, I know that things like “Mandarin” and “Oriental” and all that are charged terms, as well, and that being of Pakistani descent is very different than being of Han Chinese origin, for example. But then, so are the many different Indian tribes that often all get lumped together, too. This is not to say that I think either approach is a good or bad one. Just noting an interesting phenomenon. 🙂

      • Lisa, this is interesting. On the more general point, British vs. American, I’ll have to think about that, but one factor is probably that Hollywood movies take a long time to make these days. David Fincher and Christopher Nolan, for example, usually take at least two years to make a picture. John Ford would have made six movies in that time. It’s a different era.

        I think Kingsley is a specific case, since he is an obviously great actor who will appear in pretty much anything (BloodRayne, Thunderbirds, The Love Guru). So, the fact that he’s in a movie is no assurance of anything. 🙂

        Not that Johnny Depp is only in great movies, but he’s been in some really good ones, and there have been times that I’ve seen a movie just because he was in it, and it’s usually been rewarding (The Ninth Gate, Pirates of the Caribbean). So, I always pay attention to what Depp decides to do.

        The other person making interesting choices these days is Chloe Moretz. Since Kick-Ass, most of her movies have involved some combination of horror, action, and violence, which is an unusual career path for a teenage actress in Hollywood. I just hope she doesn’t get sucked into high school comedies and teen romances. 🙂

        Les Miserables is a great example of what you say about Hollywood movies needing to draw an audience. Tom Hooper has said that if he hadn’t been able to get Hugh Jackman he wouldn’t have made the picture. That’s usually hype, but in this case I believe it. But why are Crowe and Seyfried in there despite their vocal weaknesses? Because they’re good enough, they can act, and they’ll draw an audience. But then you get down to Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, and Aaron Tveit, and they’re all tremendous, but they’re not going to get anybody into the theater. (Anne Hathaway was, I suspect, a bit of a lucky accident.)

      • Personally, I haven’t noticed this for my own self – not in terms of actors, anyway. I judge most movies (prior to there being any reviews about it) by three things: the genre (because life’s too short to watch movies in genres that aren’t entertaining to me), the director and/or producer (which serves the same filter purpose for me; I like the work and creative choices of certain directors more than others), and the trailer (I can usually tell whether I’m interested in a movie from the trailer, or whether I think it’s going to be boring to me; some movies that should appeal to me strike me wrong with their trailers, and I’ve found that this impression is usually accurate for me). After that, I find reviews from others (if I’m not first in line) can tell me a lot about whether I’ll like a movie – both positive and negative reviews can influence me in either direction, if the review is written well enough that I can tell why the reviewer either liked or disliked a given film.

    • Well, to be fair, there are a couple prominent female roles in Inception. But where I was going was there difference between high acclaim from a sleeper hit (nobody really expected Inception to do so well at the box office) versus high expectation and critical disappointment. Besides that, on the topic of strong women characters, I’m not sure it counts if they are dumb for mindless plot reasons. (the key woman role in Inception was anything but dumb…always one step ahead). Thanks for your recs. 🙂

    • Also – on the Mandarin…yes, I have similar concerns, which mirror my concerns about Tonto. The character is basic a racist portrayal straight from the yellow scare days. It’s right there in his name. Some things are better left in the past that spawned them. This was my feeling on Tonto, too, and a big party of why my original assumption was that Lone Ranger was going to bomb. But Disney’s pulled out all the marketing stops for this one, so… Now that I think on out, Disney is behind Marvel, too. I love the mouse, but… Someone needs to check the heads of the top brass there.

  4. Like you, I only get to see a few movies a year in the theater. This year will be even harder with a newborn in the house. I might get lucky and see one movie on the big screen this summer. When I do get into the theater, I generally pick those that I think are made for the big screen, those with spectacle that would be unforgivably diminished on my 27″ screen at home. The movies I’m most looking forward to are The Hobbit 2, Iron Man 3, Oblivion, and Star Trek. The Hobbit will be coming out late enough in the year that we might have an easier time getting out to see it. Out of the other three, if I had to pick just one, it would probably be Star Trek. I think it will have the most spectacle, and the first one was really enjoyable despite its flaws.

    I felt almost physically repelled by the latest Lone Ranger trailer. I love me some Johnny Depp, but that movie just looked awful to me.

    • Yet, I’m in the same boat as you. A newborn makes movie-going rather more than a little difficult. Heck, a toddler makes it tough, too.

      You’ll note that I have Lone Ranger not actually on my list. I doubt very, very, very much that I’ll see it. But I can see from the trailer that it is likely that it will do well in theaters. I enjoy Johnny Depp, too… but I have a lot of trouble believing that he’s American Indian. And, while there’s not enough to the trailers to see how respectful or cliched Depp’s portrayal will be, I’d have to lean toward the latter being most likely.

      I’m not certain whether that’s gong to sink this movie or not, or if the Pirates Of the Caribbean-like combination of humor and action will prove a winning formula again.

  5. Pingback: 2014: Movies of Interest | The Undiscovered Author

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