For vintage tastes, eighties action stars Arnie, Sly and Bruce are all back in some form. Arnold Schwarzenegger chases a Mexican drug dealer in The Last Stand (Jan. 18), Sylvester Stallone stars in Bullet to the Head (Feb. 1) as a hitman who teams up with a cop to avenge a killing; and Bruce Willis heads off to Moscow in A Good Day to Die Hard (Feb. 14) the fifth in the John McClane series. As well, Brit tough guy and hairless heir apparent to the action crown, Jason Statham, is lined up for no fewer than four movies this year, starting with Parker (Jan. 25), followed by Hummingbird (March 15), Homefront and Heat.
The 1940s-set Gangster Squad (Jan. 11) has a strong cast (Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone) but a suspicious throwaway release date in a drama about Los Angeles police detectives trying to stop mobster Mickey Cohen (Penn). In Stand-up Guys (Feb. 1), Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin are old cons trying to reunite the old gang, amid double-crosses and Viagra mishaps.
Fairy tales and fables
Despite two Snow White movies flopping last year, the studios keep trying the adult fairy-tale movie. The best choice is a remake of the Pygmalion myth, simply called Her, directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), with Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with his computer, despite the presence of Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara in his life.
Otherwise, Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as sibling witch hunters getting revenge on their childhood abusers in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (Jan. 25). Brian Singer directs the live action Jack the Giant Slayer (March 1), about a young man who breaks the truce with the giants. On the lighter side, James Franco stars in the Sam Raimi-directed Oz the Great and Powerful (March 8), offering a back story to the Wizard behind the wall.
Easily the most fascinating entry here is a remake of Brian De Palma’s 1976 horror classic, Carrie (March 15), directed by Kimberley Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) and starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie, with Julianne Moore as her mother. Fanticipation is also high for Evil Dead (April 12), the remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult fave, about five twentysomethings in a remote cabin and a wood full of demons.
Otherwise, the unkillable franchise Texas Chainsaw 3D (Jan. 4) is back, the seventh film since 1974. Canadian theatre and indie film director Ed Gass-Donnelly (Small Town Murder Songs) takes a genre turn with The Last Exorcism Part II (March 1). And there’s also I, Frankenstein (Sept. 13), with Aaron Eckhart as the man-made monster, caught between the usual immortal warring clans.
Remakes and Sequels
Graphic novelist Frank Miller returns with a double whammy, writing and producing 300: Rise of an Empire (Aug. 2), a prequel to the 2006 hit Greek historical fantasy, 300. He’s also co-directing, with Robert Rodriguez, the neo-noir film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Aug. 4), with Jessica Alba and Mickey Rourke.
For incurable romantics, the 1987 film Dirty Dancing has spawned a prequel, a TV series and a stage musical. Now it finally gets a straight-ahead remake (July 26), with the original choregrapher, Kenny Ortega, in the director’s chair.
In Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17), director J.J. Abrams follows his satisfying 2009 Star Trek reboot with the crew of the Enterprise encountering another of those unstoppable forces of darkness that will probably get stopped by Kirk and Spock, who boldly go into their sixth decade. Just to keep in the game, Disney is re-releasing the 2005 George Lucas film, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 3-D (Oct. 4).
Really – two blockbusters about attacks on the White House in one year? The first is Olympus Has Fallen (March 22), directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), with Gerald Butler and Morgan Freeman in a plot about Korean terrorists trying to take the President hostage. White House Down (June 28), directed by Roland Emmerich (and starring Channing Tatum, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx), is another drama of a secret agent who must save the President after the White House is overrun by a paramilitary group.
Along with the aforementioned Warm Bodies, World War Z and R.I.P.D., there are at least three other zombie movies in the pipe: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Zombieland 2 and the 3-D animated Night of the Living Dead: Origins. Narcissistic vampire stars with personal issues are so 2012, but hundreds of shambling extras in non-speaking roles are recession-proof. For cost-conscious movie studios, zombie invasions are a no-brainer.