Seven signs that the end is nigh:
1. Oblivion (March 20): Tom Cruise stars in this movie as a repairman on an Earth where most of the humans have left after an alien war.
2. After Earth (June 7): In M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, a father and son (Will Smith and son, Jaden) are space travellers who become stranded on our planet, 1,000 years after humanity abandoned it.
3. This Is the End (June 14): Seth Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, take the director-writer duties in this mock-Cloverfield scenario. It begins with a celebrity party at James Franco’s house (guests include Rogen, Emily Watson and singer Rihanna) that ends with the destruction of the world, except for Rogen, Franco and a few of their friends.
4. World War Z (June 21): UN investigator Brad Pitt races against time to investigate the aftermath of a zombie pandemic.
5. Baja Dunes (Aug. 9): Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9, in the near future, has the 1-per-cent living on a space station while the rest of humanity survives on the ruined Earth.
6. Heart Land: a group of children struggle to survive in a postapocalyptic America.
7. Pacific Rim (July 12): Guillermo del Toro directs this sci-fi invasion film in which humans build huge robots to defend themselves from huge aliens.
Biography and real life
“Based on a true story” is one of the surest ways to win awards and earn the ire of fact-checkers. This year offers 42 (April 12), the story of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), who broke baseball’s colour bar, with Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey. Tom Hanks gets two biographical roles, as Navy SEAL Captain Phillips (Oct. 11), who was rescued from Somali pirates, and as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 20), with Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. Hands of Stone features Gael Garcia Bernal as Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, with Robert De Niro as his manager. With Devil’s Knot, Canadian director Atom Egoyan offers a dramatic take on the 1993 Arkansas child-murder case that left three teens wrongfully jailed, starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth.
Reunions are the comic theme in 2013. With The Hangover Part III (May 24), Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms find a reason to get plastered again. In The Internship (June 7), Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers) reunite as middle-aged interns at a tech company. Finally, Will Ferrell returns as pompous newsman Ron Burgundy in Anchor Man: The Legend Continues (Dec. 20), with the usual gang (Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate).
Otherwise, Bridesmaids’s breakout comic star, Melissa McCarthy, plays both sides of the law this year, as a con artist in Identity Thief (Feb. 8) who steals Jason Bateman’s identity, and in Paul Feig’s The Heat (April 5) as a cop buddy with Sandra Bullock. And for the boomer set, in The Big Wedding (April 26), Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton play a divorced couple pretending to be still married for their son’s wedding.
Man of Steel (July 14): The 80-year-old original superhero gets born again, with Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Ma and Pa Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon as the nasty Kryptonian General Zod.
Iron Man 3: “Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher,” sneers The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) forcing industrialist superhero Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to step up again, armed with his high-tech sarcasm.
The Wolverine (April 28): The blade-fingered, side-burned brute (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan this time to train with a samurai warrior.
Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8): In what looks suspiciously like Whack-A-Mole: The Movie, thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) takes his mighty hammer to a gang of Dark Elves.
R.I.P.D (June 19): No, the acronym doesn’t mean “ripped,” even though Ryan Reynolds stars. Based on Peter Lenkov’s comic, it stands for Rest in Peace Department, with Reynolds as an undead cop setting out to solve his own murder.
Kickass 2 (June 28): Teen superheroes Kickass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) join other costumed citizens (including Jim Carrey) to battle Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in this second film from the Marvel Comics series.
Crimes and Punishments
Among the genre pile of thrillers and cop dramas, Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects (Feb. 8), with Jude Law as a malevolent shrink and Rooney Mara as his patient, looks most promising. Also intriguing is Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain (April 26), a true-life kidnapping and extortion story set among Florida bodybuilders, starring Duane (The Rock) Wilson, Mark Wahlberg and comic actress Rebel Wilson. Wahlberg also stars in the noirish Broken City (Jan. 18) as a detective assigned to follow the wife of the New York mayor (Russell Crowe).