At first glance, 2012’s movie release schedule looks likes more of the same: bursting with predictable Hollywood blockbusters. Additions to mega-franchises such as James Bond, Star Trek and Men in Black battle for screen time with a torrent of superhero movies, this year starring Batman, Spiderman and The Avengers. But dig a bit deeper and 2012 looks like a pretty good year for cinema, with credible-looking literary adaptations such as of Life of Pi and The Great Gatsby countered by new comedies from Sacha Baron Cohen and the Bridesmaids team. We give you 12 to look forward to 2012 – you’ll have to bring the popcorn.
The Descendants Provisional UAE release: January 26 Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley After catching the gala screening at last year’s Dubai International Film Festival, we can’t get enough of this witty, soul-searching drama. Oscar-tipped Clooney plays Matt King, a liberal real estate broker whose wife is in a coma from which she will never recover Trying to make sense of his belligerent teenage tearaway daughter, he finds out said wife was cheating on him, beginning a tragi-comic Broken Flowers-esque hunt for his wife’s new partner, which only serves to bring the family closer together.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Provisional UAE release: January 26 Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock The indie flick stemming from Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel, Everything is Illuminated (2005), struggled to capture the diverse voices and great humanity of the author’s prose. The challenge will only be intensified with his second novel, which explore fantastical mind of 10-year-old Oscar, who lost his father in 9/11 and stalks around New York looking for meaning in chaotic world. Fingers firmly crossed for this big-budget production.
The Dictator Provisional UAE release: May 10 Starring: Megan Fox, Sacha Baron Cohen The idea of Transformers honey Fox on screen alongside Ali G, Borat and Brüno creator Cohen is just too good to be true. This time Cohen has invented a Colonel Gaddafi,-inspired dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy will never come to the country he has lovingly oppressed. The dictator is secretly replaced by a lookalike goat herder and must rebuild his life in New York City. Ingenious, no doubt.
Life of Pi Provisional UAE release: December 20 Starring: Tobey Maguire, Irrfan Khan, Tabu A playful tale of an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck, stranded on a boat in the pacific ocean with a Bengal tiger for company. Yann Martel’s original 2001 novel was a surprise hit, its light fantasy shadowing deeper spiritual questions which moved audiences across the world. A decade after that book won the prestigious Man Booker Prize, acclaimed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Brokeback Mountain (2005) director Ang Lee will bring Pi’s tale to the big screen.
The Avengers Provisional UAE release: May 3 Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson A superhero fans’ fantasy, this ensemble blockbuster unites the characters of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Incredible Hulk for two hours of multiplex Marvel mayhem. Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer Joss Whedon has been enlisted to pen a credible plotline that brings these superheros – all of whom have led eponymous films in their own right – onto the screen together. Meanwhile, new recruits to the world-saving team include Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow (described by Whedon as ‘a killing machine’) and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. We just hope the screens are big enough for all this.
>The Bourne Legacy Tentative UAE release: August 23 Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz Jeremy Renner is going to have a good year. Fresh from starring in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (a role created so he can lead the franchise when Tom Cruise grows too old), Renner appears earlier this year in The Avengers, and now here too. It turned a few heads when it was announced the fourth Bourne film was being made without the presence of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. To get over this stumbling block, the film focuses on the CIA trying to make sense of the post-Bourne world, with Renner playing agent Aaron Cross. Watch out though, Renner – Damon hasn’t ruled out returning to play Bourne if the production team is right.
The Dark Knight Rises Provisional UAE release: August 16 Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman Geektastic director Christopher Nolan was reportedly hesitant about agreeing to film his third Batman film, but it’s rumoured he was talked round in exchange for support toward his labour of love, 2010’s Inception. Set eight years after the last instalment, 2008’s The Dark Knight (the UAE’s 10th highest grossing film ever), we’re intrigued to see how Anne Hathaway tackles the role of Catwoman.
The Five-Year Engagement Provisional UAE release: May 17 Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt This sappy looking rom-com charts the ups and downs of a couple who are committed, but apparently just can’t find the time to tie the knot. Some things that get in the way are mundane – promotions, cross-country moves – and others less so, such as getting shot with a crossbow. From the team who brought us Bridesmaids, it’s already been tipped as one of the funnier feelgood movies of the year.
Skyfall Provisional UAE release: November, date TBC Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes Hopes are riding especially high for the 23rd James Bond movie. After Daniel Craig’s reinvention of the role in 2006’s Casino Royale, many fans felt let down by ridiculously-named follow-up Quantum of Solace (2008), which the star later blamed on a scriptwriters’ strike. Craig’s third turn will move away from the plot arc of those two movies, with Brit director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1999) taking the director’s chair. Javier Bardem has been named as the baddie, where he’ll hopefully reprise the spooky intensity of a similar role in the Cohen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. Judi Dench, thankfully, is retained for her seventh role as M.
The Great Gatsby Provisional UAE release: December 27 Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Amitabh Bachchan, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire After six previous renderings of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel on the silver screen, we’re not sure what more light can be shed on the life of great Jay Gatsby. Reuniting director Baz Luhrmann and star Leo DiCaprio from 1996’s Romeo + Juliet, it will no doubt look fantastic, adding a delicious gloss to the decadent glow of 1930s America. The filmmaker behind Moulin Rouge (2001) and Australia (2008), Luhrmann has a taste for the overblown, overwrought and over-long; qualities strangely at odds with Fitzgerald’s purposeful, elegiac prose and tales of loss and disappointment.
Lincoln Provisional UAE release: June 21 Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis Fresh from directing comic-book adaptation The Adventures of Tintin, mastermind Steven Spielberg has turned his attention to meatier themes with this biopic of the US’s 16th president. Based on the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, it comes two years after Robert Redford’s similarly-themed film The Conspirator, which focused on the president’s assassination. Spielberg’s film, meanwhile, will focus on the political collision of Lincoln and his cabinet at the end of the Civil War. Day-Lewis (pictured) was named as the star after Liam Neeson pulled out.
Gangster Squad Tentative UAE release: October 18 Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin Hype is already starting to build for this gritty gangster flick, set on bad streets of LA during the ’40s and ’50s. It’s a departure for director Ruben Fleischer, who is best known for the 2009 cult comedy favourite Zombieland, but has lovingly transformed chunks of LA into vintage film sets. The movie is inspired by memoir Tales of the Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman, which chronicles the specialist cops’ battles against gangster kingpin Micky Cohen, played by Sean Penn.