I look forward to seeing them all!!!

2012 movie preview

Everything old is new again … and again! As in 2011, Hollywood will focus on prequels, sequels and re-makes for the next 12 months. Franchises from Spider-Man to the Jason Bourne saga will be re-launched with new names on the marquee.

They will all vie at the box office with a new genre: 3D conversions of vintage blockbusters.

Among them are: James Cameron’s Titanic; George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace; and Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast.

The surprise success of the 3D version of The Lion King in 2011 is responsible for this unique trend. Meanwhile, 3D in general — especially for big-action pictures — is expanding and not shrinking, despite a backlash from tech-weary fans.

None of this recycling rules out the fresh and original. No one — not even Hollywood suits who hate taking risks — can stop innovative filmmakers from seizing on new creative ideas. But the pillars of Hollywood commerce in 2012 will still be bizarrely familiar.

Some titles may become instant classics anyway. In the prequel category, Peter Jackson will offer The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This is based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s book, The Hobbit, which explains the origins of The Lord of the Rings.

Sequels with key stars returning include: The Dark Knight Rises; Ice Age: Continental Drift; Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; American Reunion; The Expendables 2; Men in Black III; The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2; Wrath of the Titans; Dairy of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days; Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; Taken 2; Underworld Awakening; and Journey 2: Mysterious Island (a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth from 2008, itself a re-make of the 1959 movie). And, of course, we will get the long-awaited 007 film Skyfall, with Daniel Craig returning as James Bond after a four-year hiatus.

Re-makes include: Baz Luhrmann’s version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel The Great Gatsby, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the role Robert Redford essayed so languidly in the 1974 film; Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables with Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman; Total Recall with Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale; and, uniquely, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.

In this stop-motion animation, Burton is turning a brilliant short he made in his youth into a feature film that deals metaphorically with his own angst-ridden youth growing up in Burbank.

As a re-make bonus, the TV show 21 Jump Street is getting the movie treatment, with Johnny Depp reprising his Tom Hanson role but playing support to Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in the starring roles.

Re-booted franchises include: The Amazing Spider-Man, with Marc Webb directing instead of Sam Raimi and Andrew Garfield in the title role as Spider-Man/Peter Parker; and The Bourne Legacy, with Matt Damon missing and Jeremy Renner becoming the focus in a whole new character and saga. You could put Snow White and the Huntsman in this category, too, with Kristen Stewart as the fairest of them all. Plus Judd Apatow’s This is 40 expands on the secondary characters that Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann played in Knocked Up.

Before you despair about the death of originality, be assured there are those fresh ideas.

Remarkably, five new titles this year come from three of Canada’s most acclaimed directors. David Cronenberg has two films for 2012: A Dangerous Method with Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen in a Freud-Jung psychological free-for-all; and Cosmopolis, with the odd and interesting trio of Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti and Jay Baruchel co-starring.

Sarah Polley has her already-acclaimed Take This Waltz ready for the summer, with Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams and Sarah Silverman co-starring roles, while Stories We Tell is set for the fall. Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children, adapted from the Salman Rushdie novel, is also coming.

Internationally, significant films will include Angelina Jolie’s feature directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey; Marc Forster’s World War Z, the zombie apocalypse project that had Brad Pitt outbidding Leonardo Dicaprio for the rights to the novel; the Disney action adventure flick John Carter, from the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel; the new Disney-Pixar animation Brave, a tale set in the Scottish highlands; Rodrigo Garcia’s drama Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close and Mia Wasikowska; John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; Lynne Ramsay’s celebrated We Need to Talk About Kevin; and the Farrelly’s Brothers’ biopic, The Three Stooges.

Also coming are: Ridley Scott’s sci-fi adventure Prometheus; Joss Whedon’s Marvel comics superhero movie The Avengers; Curtis Hanson’s surfing film, Of Men and Mavericks; Ang Lee’s long-awaited The Life of Pi; Larry Charles’ The Dictator, a new satire with his pal Sacha Baron and Megan Fox as the femme fatale; James Watkins’ The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe as a man named Arthur (and not a boy named Harry); Baltasar Kormakur’s thriller Contraband with Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale; and Timur Bekmambetov’s wildly weird Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, an undead project brainstormed by Tim Burton.

Meanwhile, Tom Cruise looks unfettered in the trailers for Rock of Ages, while Jack the Giant Killer looks like it will be a ride into the sky for the boy with the beans. Nicholas Hoult stars as young Jack in this re-imagining of the classic fairytale.

A closer look at 10 key titles:


With Christopher Nolan back as director and Christian Bale once again playing Batman/Bruce Wayne, this part of the saga is set eight years later. A terrorist arrives in Gotham City, forcing Batman out of hiding. Expect this to be the blockbuster of the year!


Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins this time because the character is obviously younger, but familiar faces from The Lord of the Rings cycle return, including Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee and of course Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum. Bilbo becomes the first Hobbit to ever have a world adventure and he will come into possession of the one ring that binds them all, setting up the rest of the saga.


The tagline on the posters is “The Untold Story” and Sony-Columbia executives are so confident a sequel to the reboot is already planned. The trick will be whether audiences accept Andrew Garfield as the web-slinger so soon after Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy.


I have seen seven minutes of Tim Burton’s footage during a set visit in March — and it looked as fabulous on screen. Very moody, clever and emotionally transcendent. If the whole enterprise lives up to my sneak peek, this is going to be an animated classic, however haunting and disturbing the story of a weird little boy and his re-animated puppy is for audiences.


Adam Shankman’s 1980s period piece co-stars Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta as young lovers while Tom Cruise plays the outrageous rock star Stacee Jaxx.


Sam Mendes’ 007 flick cost a reported $200 million so expect plenty of effects-driven action scenes as Daniel Craig returns to play James Bond. His last time around was Quantum of Solace in 2008.


Looking for the origins of humankind, explorers travels to the outer reaches of the universe in Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi. Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender headline the top-notch cast.


Joss Whedon’s re-invents the Marvel Comics universe by bringing together the members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency. Their goal? The usual. They have to save the Earth from annihilation by alien invaders. Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson and other familiar Marvel faces co-star. As a bonus, Whedon cast Lou Ferrigno as the voice of the Incredible Hulk.


Critics may hate the Twilight series but Twihards are enraptured. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner finish their vampire adventure off in style (or so we all hope and pray).


The best 3D conversions involve animation, including major Disney and Pixar titles from Beauty and the Beast to Finding Nemo. But Canadian filmmaker James Cameron has pioneered much of the new 3D technology, so having him convert his 1997 meha-hit melodrama may prove to be intriguing.