Over the last few days, we've been pin-pointing 100 of the films we're most looking forward to over the next twelve months. Of course, they won't all be great — and some will be terrible — but they all give some reason for hope, to one degree or another.
Sadly, that's not the case with every film due for release. Don't get us wrong, we try to keep an open mind about everything, and we like nothing more than being surprised by a film had initially looked unpromising. But not every picture in 2013 can get our pulses racing in advance, and as such, we've picked out a few films that we're approaching with serious caution, and that we'd advise others to do the same with. Disagree? Got your own films you're dreading? Let us know in the comments section. And stay tuned for more from our 2013 preview next week.
Synopsis: General Cypher Raige returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai. But when When an asteroid storm damages Cypher and Kitai’s craft, they crash land on Earth, and with father dying in the cockpit, Kitai must trek across the hostile terrain to recover their rescue beacon.
What You Need To Know: Once upon a time, M. Night Shyamalan was potentially the most exciting new voice in commercial cinema, thanks to smart, well-executed pictures like "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable," films which revolved around character and story rather than effects. But the filmmaker's been on a steady decline over the last decade, culminating in "The Happening" and "The Last Airbender," two of the worst major movies that we can remember getting a theatrical release. To his credit, he seems to realize something needs to change, pairing with megastar Will Smith (and his offspring Jaden), and taking a backseat on the writing, working from a script from Gary Whitta ("The Book Of Eli") and Stephen Gaghan ("Traffic"). But the product, if the trailer is anything to go by, is a plot where Smith Jr. runs away from ropey CGI baboons. Shyamalan's arguably always been a better director than writer (though not much of either of late), so maybe it'll do him good, but right now, this is coming out months after "Oblivion," and looks half as interesting. And "Oblivion" doesn't look that interesting in the first place.
Release Date: June 7th
"The Big Wedding"
Synopsis: A divorced couple are forced back together for their adopted son's wedding.
What You Need To Know: What happens if you combine the complete works of Nora Ephron, Nancy Myers and Shawn Levy, put them in a blender, sieved off any trace of how human beings actually behave, sprinkle on jokes rejected from the writers' room of a CBS sitcom, and disperse between a bunch of movie stars who want to buy another summer house? You get the trailer for "The Big Wedding," the feature directorial debut of "The Bucket List" writer Justin Zackham. Doing for actors in mediocre interior-design-porn rom-coms what "The Expendables" did for action stars, the film unites Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace and Robin Williams (along with British actor Ben Barnes, in brownface) in an unholy ensemble. Among a pretty terrifying roster on this list, this might be the least enticing of them all, especially given that it's another one that got delayed six months at the last possible moment.
Release Date: April 26th
Synopsis: A suburban family are tormented by a terrifying extraterrestrial force.
What You Need To Know: There's plenty of terrible-looking horror films on the way in 2013 (mostly of the found footage variety), but none looks as poor as "Dark Skies." The latest from Scott Charles Stewart, who made a fierce case with "Priest" and "Legion" for being the worst director currently working, it seems, from the preview, to be a Shyamalanish riff on "Close Encounters" and "Poltergeist," with a TV-level competence level, cast and production value, and what appears to be an ill-conceived child abuse metaphor. On the plus side, there does seem to be some comedy there; it's hard to watch the trailer, with Josh Hamilton's silent scream, or Keri Russell repeatedly banging her head against a glass door, and not laugh out loud once. On the minus, none of this humor is intentional. Oh, and J.K. Simmons is in it, finally providing an answer to the question "Is there anything we wouldn't pay to see J.K Simmons in?"
Release Date: February 22nd
"GI Joe: Retaliation"
Synopsis: After the Joes are betrayed and massacred by villain Zartan, who's posing as the U.S. President, Roadblock, Lady Jaye and Flint must go on the run to find the only man who can help them — the original Joe.
What You Need To Know: Massive delays were nothing new in 2012, but there was one that was more egregious than the others. How can bad can a film be if, five weeks before release, with merchandise already in stores, and having splashed out for a Superbowl spot, you delay it a full nine months? Director Jon Chu ("Justin Bieber: Never Say Never") didn't have much work to do to pull out something less incredibly terrible than Stephen Sommers' original, which barely even got the franchise going, but even the shared charisma of Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson doesn't seem to be enough to save this one, which allegedly had contentious reshoots to convert the film to 3D, and add a little more of star Channing Tatum, who'd been killed off early in the original take. We suppose fans of the toys (and if you consider yourself one of those, rethink the choices that have led you to this point) may be delighted, but this seems like a mish-mash of characters we don't care about, action that seems entirely weightless, and awkward, laugh-free banter. Surely the only person really keen to see this in Stephen Sommers, in the hope that it vindicates his work on the last one…
Release Date: March 29th
"A Good Day To Die Hard"
Synopsis: John McClane heads to Moscow to track down his wayward son, only to discover that he's caught up in a terrorist plot.
What You Need To Know: You might have expected that after the bloated, unexpectedly dour "Live Free And Die Hard" that the "Die Hard" franchise had been put to bed, but with the film proving the biggest-grossing in the series, that was hardly likely, and so John McClane has been wheeled out once again, this time bringing along his son Jack, played by "Spartacus" actor, and "Jack Reacher" villain Jai Courteney. By the odd-numbered "Die Hard" rule (the original and "…With A Vengeance" are worthwhile, "Die Hard 2" and "Live Free…" not so much) we're due for a good one, but the talent assembled is less than blinding; a screenplay by "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "The A-Team" writer Skip Woods, and everyone-else-was-busy action helmer John Moore ("The Omen," "Max Payne") in the director's chair. Even the supporting cast, bar "The Lives Of Others" star Sebastian Koch, seems more suited to a TV-level "Die Hard" spin-off then a sequel to the most perfect action movie ever made, although Jai Courteney at least showed presence in "Jack Reacher." And while the trailers suggest a little more spark than in Len Wiseman's fourth film, it still doesn't really feel like "Die Hard," particularly with ludicrous, CGI-aided stunts that would look implausible if it was the Hulk doing them, let alone a 60-year-old New York cop. A Good Day To Give Up On A Franchise?
Release Date: February 14th.
"Grown Ups 2"
Synopsis: Lenny has relocated his family back to the small town where he and his friends grew up. This time around, the grown ups are the ones learning lessons from their kids on a day notoriously full of surprises: the last day of school.
What You Need To Know: With his last two films, "Jack and Jill" and "That's My Boy" proving his least successful "traditional" starring vehicles since "Eight Crazy Nights" a decade ago, Adam Sandler, continuing his quest to actually become his character from "Funny People," has made his first ever sequel. "Grown Ups 2," a followup to the 2010 film that's Sandler's biggest ever worldwide grosser, reunites Sandler with Chris Rock, Kevin James and an increasingly grateful David Spade and Rob Schneider for more hilarious antics. Wait, did we say hilarious? We meant toxic. The filmmakers having not quite realized that the target audience would probably not notice if the exact same film was projected a second time, so the plot, such as it is, sees Taylor Lautner and Milo Ventimiglia as bullying frat-boys, with half of the male cast of "SNL" cameo-ing too. It's too early to tell more about the content, but rumors are that Kevin James will fall over, there'll be jokes about poop and making out with old people, and the female characters will all be nagging shrews. It will also make more money than every movie you actually like in the next twelve months.
Release Date: July 12th
"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters"
Synopsis: Years after surviving an encounter with a witch in a gingerbread house, Hansel & Gretel have grown up to become badass witch-slayers, but come across their most fearsome adversary yet.
What You Need To Know: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" might have died a death at the box office last year, but that hasn't stopped Paramount from pressing ahead with the release of "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" later this month. Mainly because they'd already delayed it a year, and they can't just not release any movies like they did in 2012. It was a promising prospect on paper; a horror-comedy directed by "Dead Snow" helmer Tommy Wirkola, and produced by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay. But when one remembers the other films from Ferrell & McKay's company (or tries; things like "The Goods" and "The Virginity Hit" passed into obscurity almost immediately), you start to feel a little nervous. And trailers seemed to reveal a film that's essentially a bloody, misogynistic version of Terry Gilliam's "The Brothers Grimm," with the comedy handled by leads Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton; both talented actors, but hardly the new Mike Nichols and Elaine May when it comes to comic timing. Gorehounds may end up being satisfied, we're not sure anyone else will be.
Release Date: January 25th
Synopsis: "The Host" is a love story set in the future, where earth is occupied by a species who erase the minds of their human hosts, leaving their bodies intact. Melanie Stryder is one of the last surviving humans who fights back, risking her life for the people she cares about most—Jared, Ian, her brother Jamie, and her Uncle Jeb — proving that love can conquer all.
What You Need To Know: We might be free of the "Twilight" movies for a few years, but Stephenie Meyer's shitty storytelling lives on, with this adaptation of her 2008 novel, her first best-seller away from her trademark vampire saga. She didn't stray that far from the material she made her name on, though, with a love-triangle (or quadrangle, we suppose) set-up, albeit with an "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers"-style twist. Some might take comfort from the presence of Andrew Niccol (writer of "The Truman Show," director of "Gattaca"), but "In Time" proved that he's been off his game for a long time, and the drab visuals of the trailer are hardly comforting. Plus the "Twilight" movies also proved that talented filmmakers like David Slade and Bill Condon can only do so much with the material. The presence of Saoirse Ronan in the lead role gave us some comfort until we remembered "The Lovely Bones," and some of the other cast, which includes Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Max Irons and Jake Abel, look to be a little adrift with the material.
Release Date: March 29th
Synopsis: Set in the present day, Frankenstein, freed from his creator, becomes involved in a noirish mystery involving a war between immortals in an ancient city.
What You Need To Know: Oh, Aaron Eckhart. While almost every other actor involved in "The Dark Knight" series got a major career boost, the one-time Harvey Dent has made a series of questionable choices since that film, most notably the awful "Battle Los Angeles." And now, he's stuck behind a dodgy make-up job in this horror actioner, presumably because Paul Bettany was busy or something. From the mind of "Underworld" creator Kevin Grevioux, who appears to have gone through his old scripts and used find/replace to swap mentions of 'vampire' for 'Frankenstein,' the film's ended up in the hands of Australian writer/director Stuart Beattie, whose "Tomorrow, When The War Began" was a hit at home, but picked up derisive reviews in the rest of the world. Some might be tempered by the news that Bill Nighy is playing the bad guy, but that didn't help the "Underworld" movies either, and that at least had the selling point of Kate Beckinsale in a catsuit kicking ass, not a guy with a disfigurement wandering around in a trenchcoat. An early September release date makes it pretty clear that Lionsgate's best case scenario for this one are capturing some of the audience that are missing a "Resident Evil" movie at that time of year.
Release Date: September 13th
"Jack The Giant Slayer"
Synopsis: Adaptation of the classic fairy tale, about a simple farm boy whose magic beans unlock the way to a kingdom of giants in the sky; giants who are in no way friendly…
What You Need To Know: All being well, the fairy-tale craze is starting to dry up, bar some high-profile Disney films like "Maleficent" and "Cinderella" on the way. But there's still a few films that should have been 2012 entries to filter through, and the most expensive of them is "Jack The Giant Slayer." Anyone who was hoping for the return of "Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer to stripped-down small-scale fare is going to be disappointed; this is a big, effects-filled fantasy epic. It also, and it hurts us to say, because we'd like a Singer comeback as much as anyone, looks pretty terrible, with ropey effects for the giants, and a broad, campy tone. We're not quite convinced yet that Nicholas Hoult is the star that Hollywood wants him to be, and while there's some reliable players in the supporting cast (Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Eddie Marsan), "Snow White & The Huntsman" proved that a host of fun character actors does not a watchable film make. Maybe Singer's got a piece of "Princess Bride"-esque fun up his sleeve, and maybe those effects will be improved by the time of release (less than two months away now…), but right now, we can't think of a single person who's actively looking forward to seeing this.
Release Date: March 1st
"The Last Stand"
Synopsis: A former LAPD cop, now sheriff in a small border town, must gather together a motley crew to stop a fugitive drug kingpin from making across the border to Mexico.
What You Need To Know: 2013 is the year that the Korean new wave make it over to Hollywood, thanks to Bong Joon-Ho's "Snow Piercer" and Park Chan-Wook's "Stoker." But one of the compatriots has something on the way that looks much, much enticing, as Kim Jee-Woon, director of "A Tale Of Two Sisters," "A Bittersweet Life," "The Good, The Bad & The Weird" and "I Saw The Devil," has arrived with "The Last Stand," which is also notable for marking the return to leading man duties for former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The idea of the action legends teaming for a neo-Western was an appealing one, but sadly it looks pretty generic; a lost 1990s actioner mixed with "I am old" gags for Arnie, and unspeakably-aggravating looking comic relief for a inexplicably second-billed Johnny Knoxville (what is it, 2005?). Maybe Kim's been able to put his stamp on it in a way that isn't evident from the marketing, and we're sure "The Expendables" crowd will have a good time, but this looks pretty disappointing to us.
Release Date: January 18th
"Olympus Has Fallen"
Synopsis: The White House is under attack and only one intrepid Secret Service agent can save the President.
What You Need To Know: Duelling projects can't be helped, but there's always going to be one loser, and when it comes to this year's trend of White House-set actioners, "Olympus Has Fallen" is sounding like the "Volcano"/"Infamous"/"Deep Impact" to "White House Down"'s "Dante's Peak"/"Capote"/"Armageddon." Gerard Butler, fast becoming a sign of box office disaster after "Chasing Mavericks" and "Playing For Keeps," plays the heroic secret service agent, with Aaron Eckhart as the president, and Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell, Dylan McDermott, Ashley Judd and Melissa Leo among the supporting cast. Director Antoine Fuqua's career post "Training Day" hasn't been especially memorable, and with pre-sale experts Millennium Films holding the purse strings, expect this to be closer to one of those Asylum blockbuster copy cats that to a real competitor to Roland Emmerich's higher-profile actioner.
Release Date: March 22nd
Synopsis: The aging former spies (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) are brought together again to face off against an old adversary.
What You Need To Know: The original "Red" was a nearly irresistible premise — OAP spies teaming up to kick ass and crack wise — and the cast, which included Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary Louise-Parker and Brian Cox, was just as enticing. Unfortunately, what it didn't have was a passable script, making it one of the more disappointing films of the last few years. The sequel, which sees the gang (minus Freeman, who died in the previous film) reunite with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins and David Thewlis also on board, has unfortunately failed to rectify that, with original scribes Jon and Erich Hoeber (who also wrote "Battleship," presumably in crayon) returning. A brighter spot is the presence of "Galaxy Quest" helmer Dean Parisot in the director's chair, but that didn't help "Fun With Dick & Jane" much a few years back. The original proved to be a surprise hit in the fall a few years back; the sequel may have a tougher right at the tail-end of summer.
Release Date: August 2nd
Synopsis: A woman runs away from an abusive relationship, only to fall for a widower in her new home.
What You Need To Know: In 1999, Lasse Hallstrom won his second Oscar nomination, for helming "The Cider House Rules." Thirteen years on, the Swedish filmmaker has been absorbed into the Nicholas Sparks factory, following up 2010's "Dear John" with this second adaptation of a novel by the author of "The Notebook." And everything on the Sparks checklist is being ticked off. Attractive, blander-than-mayonnaise leads? Check, in the shape of Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough. Picturesque seaside location? Check. Kissing in the rain? Check. Hot-button issue dealt with in the most surface way imaginable? Check (domestic violence, no less). We know that we're not the target audience for this, but unless this turns out to be as serious surprise, we can't help but feel that the target audience deserve so much more than this kind of thing.
Release Date: February 14th
Synopsis: An engineer is sent to the escape-proof prison he designed, where he must team with another inmate to break out.
What You Need To Know: For much of the 1980s and 1990s, action fans dreamed of a potential team-up of their two great idols, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, but the only hint of it came with their pairing on the Planet Hollywood restaurant. Now they're getting on a bit, and Schwarzenegger has returned to acting from politics, the wish was finally granted, but to no great effect, in the two "Expendables" movies, and unfortunately there's not much reason to think that "The Tomb" will be much of an improvement. Penned by Miles Chapman ("Road House 2") and Jason Keller ("Machine Gun Preacher"), and directed by Mikael Hafstrom (who was behind the enjoyable "1408," but whose follow-up, "Shanghai," was so bad it never got a U.S. release, and whose one after "The Rite," was so bad we wish it suffered the same fate), there's not a glittering roster of behind-the-scenes talent, and aside from a slumming-it Amy Ryan, the rest of the cast list — 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel, Vinnie Jones — stinks of DTV action. Maybe it'll surprise us, but right now, it seems to be somewhere between "Prison Break" and a version of "Death Race" without the cars, and as such, pretty definitively inessential.
Release Date: September 27th
[Dis]Honorable Mentions: There's plenty of other stuff we're unsure of, including most of the films on the slate for January, including "Texas Chainsaw 3D," "Gangster Squad" (sorry, great cast, but this was bumped to January for a good reason), "A Haunted House," "Mama," "Movie 43" and "Parker." February's not much more fun either, with "Escape From Planet Earth," "Snitch" and one of several Tyler Perry films set for release.
March brings Steve Carell atop a strong cast in the promising-on-paper, less-so-in-trailer-form "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," and Halle Berry will take "The Call," while "Scary Movie 5" arrives in April, for our sins. "The Smurfs 2" lands in July, only just beaten to the punch for the title of the year's least-essential sequel by "Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters." Ethan Hawke continues his descent into Nicolas Cage-dom with "Getaway" in August, with "Insidious Chapter Two," "Satanic" and the "One Direction" 3D concert movie all arriving on the same day.
In September, we get "Battle of the Year 3D," a breakdancing movie starring Chris Brown and Josh Peck that we're yet to be convinced isn't an elaborate parody. The second two "Star Wars" prequels get 3D re-releases in September and October, joining "Jurassic Park" and "The Little Mermaid" as new-money-for-old-rope 3D re-releases. In October, "Haunts" wins the title of the year's most generically-named horror film, but it may yet be better than "Paranormal Activity 5." And Robert De Niro seems to be set on proving that "Silver Linings Playbook" wasn't the start of some kind of creative comeback, with "The Big Wedding" followed by "Malavita" in October and "Last Vegas" in December. Finally, at the end of the year, we're not sure about "47 Ronin," given its tumultous production history, but we're intrigued enough by the basic concept that we don't want to write it off entirely.