The year ahead in movies: New heroes

A rebooted ‘Spider-Man,’ two Snow White films and lots of sequels are headed our way.

01/15/2012 5:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:08 AM

Before this year, Andrew Garfield was known mostly as “that guy from the Facebook movie.”

Come summertime, he’s going to be known as the new Spider-Man.

The rest of the year will bring lots more sequels and franchise installments, some highly anticipated (“The Dark Knight Rises”), and some highly questionable (“Taken 2” – really?).

Here are some of this year’s most-anticipated films (release dates are subject to change):

•  “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (opening Friday)

Based on the book about a young boy who searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father (Tom Hanks), who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Sandra Bullock stars as the boy’s grief-stricken mom.

Buzz: It hasn’t been the awards darling as predicted, but fans of the book are still eager to see it.

•  “The Hunger Games” (March 23)

The first of the films based on the popular (and surprisingly gruesome) books set in a future where a boy and girl are forced to participate in a televised fight to the death, with Jennifer Lawrence (an Oscar nominee for “Winter’s Bone”) starring as the heroine, Katniss Everdeen.

Buzz: Fans of the book may be too judgmental of the film version, but they can’t wait to see it.

•  “John Carter” (March 9)

Sci-fi actioner about a Civil War vet sent to Mars who discovers it to be inhabited by 12-foot-tall barbarians (who would’ve thought?) that take him prisoner.

Buzz: This is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom” series, so a small niche audience comes attached; this is one of Disney’s most-hyped live-action releases of the year (which isn’t a guarantee; look what happened with “Prince of Persia”).

•  “Mirror, Mirror” (March 16)

A romantic twist on the Snow White fairy tale following an exiled princess (Lily Collins) who enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her kingdom taken over by an evil queen (Julia Roberts).

Buzz: Has the advantage of being the first of two Snow White films coming out this year.

•  “The Avengers” (May 4)

Finally, after several superhero films (“Iron Man,” “Captain America,” “Thor,” “The Incredible Hulk”) leading up to this one, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the international agency S.H.I.E.L.D. bring together a team of superhumans to – what else? – save Earth from destruction.

Buzz: Fanboy anticipation is through the roof; bringing in Joss Whedon (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as director is a novel choice.

•  “Dark Shadows” (May 11)

Tim Burton directs this update of the cult TV series centering on the life of vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) and his run-ins with various monsters, witches, werewolves and ghosts.

Buzz: Another Burton/Depp collaboration always piques interest.

•  “Battleship” (May 18)

A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origin.

Buzz: Yes, this is based on the classic game, but how it will translate into a movie is questionable. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if someone can actually pull off the line “You sank my battleship!”

•  “Snow White and the Huntsman” (June 1)

In another take on the fairy tale, the huntsman (Chris Hemsworth of “Thor”) ordered to take Snow White (Kristen Stewart) into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the evil queen (Charlize Theron).

Buzz: While it follows “Mirror, Mirror,” this is decidedly darker in tone and will have more action, so perhaps it will attract a different audience.

•  “Prometheus” (June 8)

Ridley Scott directs this sci-fi/horror tale (that was rumored to be a prequel to “Alien”) following a team of explorers that discovers a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to a dark planet. Then they are attacked by, well, alien-looking things.

Buzz: Even if it’s not exactly a prequel, early trailers look fantastic.

•  “Jack the Giant Killer” (June 15)

A modern twist on another fairy tale in which the long-standing peace between men and giants is threatened, as a young farmer (Nicholas Hoult) leads an expedition into the giants’ kingdom to rescue a kidnapped princess.

Buzz: With Bryan Singer (“X-Men”) directing, this could be a fun, special-effects-laden adventure.

•  “Brave” (June 22)

Animated adventure following a princess who defies custom and brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, she must rely on her bravery and archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Buzz: This is Disney/Pixar’s big release of the year (and their first in a while to not be a sequel). Can Pixar keep its amazing winning streak going?

•  “The Amazing Spider-Man” (July 3)

The oft-debated reboot of the successful franchise with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, who becomes – well, you know.

Buzz: Whether the world really needed a reboot of the series aside, bringing in Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) to direct is inspired; Garfield has proven he can bring depth to a role, with strong performances in indies (“Boy A”) and studio films (“The Social Network”) – this will surely make him a star.

•  “The Dark Knight Rises” (July 20)

The final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy picks up eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight,” as terrorist leader Bane (Tom Hardy) creates chaos in Gotham City, forcing former hero Batman (Christian Bale) to resurface.

Buzz: Again, fanboy anticipation is ecstatic, though Nolan will have a lot to live up to after the critical success of “The Dark Knight.”

•  “Skyfall” (Nov. 9)

The next in the rebooted Bond series, as 007 (Daniel Craig) finds his loyalty to M (Judi Dench) tested as her past comes back to haunt her. Maybe she used to go by another letter?

Buzz: This next installment boasts a top-notch cast (that also includes Javier Bardem), but is Bond too dated?

•  “The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn, Part 2” (Nov. 16)

After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi. If you understood any of that, then you’ll be seeing this movie.

Buzz: The previous installments were critic-proof successes, and this final one could top them all.

•  “Gravity” (Nov. 21)

Sandra Bullock stars as the lone survivor of a space mission to repair the Hubble telescope who desperately tries to return to Earth and reunite with her daughter. George Clooney also stars.

Buzz: Director Alfonso Cuaron has plenty of experience with sci-fi, after “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Children of Men.”

•  “Les Miserables” (Dec. 7)

This musical based on the stage version of Victor Hugo’s epic of poverty, class and revenge sports a surprising cast – Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried.

Buzz: This certainly packs star power; many wonder if Crowe can actually sing (he can – he’s been fronting his own rock band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts for years).

•  “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Dec. 14)

Peter Jackson’s much-delayed labor of love finally hits the screen, following hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who journeys with a group of dwarves to reclaim a treasure taken from them by an evil dragon (is there any other kind?).

Buzz: An expected blockbuster.

•  “World War Z” (Dec. 21)

Based on the book by Max Brooks, a U.N. representative (Brad Pitt) interviews survivors in the wake of a catastrophic zombie war.

Buzz: Zombie popularity continues to thrive, but some are saying the book is unfilmable.

•  “The Great Gatsby” (Dec. 25)

Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”) returns with this take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, following a Midwesterner (Tobey Maguire) now living on Long Island who finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Buzz: Should be, well, great.

About Movie Maniac

The Eagle's Rod Pocowatchit offers his musings on the screen scene.

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