We’ve reached the beginning of a new year and with that comes what I like to call “Leftover Movies.” These are films released in January and February that seemed to be leftovers from the previous year that studios deemed too bad to release in the fall and have little expectation of making money.
This year’s prime example is Broken City. The film, starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones has performed poorly both critically and financially. Despite three big names in the cast, Fox realized it had a stinker on its hands and therefor released it as soon as possible so that they could eventually feature it in heavy rotation on the FX Network in two years.
But I don’t want to talk about bad movies with no expectations. I’m here today to discuss movies coming out this year that I feel could be really good. Instead of mentioning the obvious choices (Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness, Anchorman: The Legend Continues, etc..), here’s five movies I’m looking forward to that might not be on your radar.
Warm Bodies (Release date: February 1)
Just when you thought the zombie genre had been done to death (Yeah Puns!), Warm Bodies comes along. Based on the popular novel of the same name, Bodies follows R, a zombie aimlessly walking through life and bored out of his mind. But when he saves Julie from an attack, not only does he begin to fall in love with her, he also sets in motion the possibility of a cure for the entire undead race.
Based on the trailer, this film looks like it has a lot of potential. Thankfully steering clear of any relation to the Twilight franchise, Warm Bodies feels like a creative film that will balance the love story, comedy and zombie gore effectively. This also looks like an exception to my earlier theory of February releasing bad films. Let’s hope that is the case.
Elysium (Release date: August 9)
We don’t know a whole lot about this movie yet (and that might be a good thing). Starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, Elysium explores the two classes of people existing in the year 2159. The first lives in a luxurious man-made space station called the Elysium. The second class endures overpopulation in Earth’s ruin.
Like his first film District 9, director Neill Blomkamp appears to have created yet another futuristic thriller that tackles contemporary issues like immigration and government control. There’s plenty of space in the summer for mindless action movies so it’s refreshing to see one that appears to have some intelligence behind it.
This is apparently the year for sci-fi. Damon has Elysium, Cruise has Oblivion, Smith has After Earth and then of course there’s Star Trek. But of all these, Elysium is my most anticipated. Of course at this point all we have as far as footage is this kick-ass photo of Damon wielding some futuristic weapon called the Chemrail. That’s really all I need to see.
Gravity (Release date: October 4)
There’s one other sci-fi film I forgot to mention and that’s Gravity. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron whose last film was the masterpiece Children of Men, Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission working with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) in command of his last flight before retiring.
On a seemingly routine spacewalk, the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone-tethered to nothing but each other and drifting out into space. Now they have to rely on each other to stay calm, conserve oxygen and figure out how to get back to earth.
Cuaron crafted some remarkable unbroken shots in Children of Men, and it’s rumored that the opening scene of Gravity will be a single 17-minute shot. The film was originally slated to come out in 2012, but due to the endless amount of CGI and 3D effects, it will be released in October.
The Counselor (Release date: November 15)
Why am I excited for a movie that doesn’t come out for another ten months? Let me go over the reasons. Ridley Scott directing. Check. Acclaimed author Cormac McCarthy writing the script (His first screenplay). Check. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. Check!
The film centers on an attorney (Fassbender) who teams with Reiner (Bardem) to sell $20 million worth of cocaine. Pitt is reportedly playing the villain. The only way I’d be even more excited for this is if the Coen Brothers were directing, but I guess I’ll settle for the great Ridley Scott.
The Monuments Men (Release date: December 18)
What I just said about The Counselor goes for this film as well. Director, writer and star George Clooney leads a team of art historians and museum curators to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.
It’s like Ocean’s Eleven in World War II. And who’s this team of art experts? How about Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin. Oh and let’s thrown in Bill Murray just for the hell of it. Clooney can do no wrong in my book so this will undoubtedly garner great critical acclaim and multiple Oscar nominations.
So while you’re making your way through the summer robots, superheroes and zombies, keep an eye out for these films. What do all of these films have in common? They’re not sequels or prequels or remakes, just original pieces of work with the potential to be both entertaining and smart.