The Top 5 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

In a world of 24-hour news cycles, where marketing flacks start hyping their studio’s films before casting has even finished, I thought we’d go ahead and get a jump on the slate of movies scheduled for the year. Yes, it’s still a year away, but if 2012 is indeed the end of the planet, I’d hate to imagine that these five tiny films aren’t afforded enough online print. It’s never too early to get excited about movies that haven’t even begun filming, is it?

Assuming that Steven Spielberg actually follows through on his promise to direct “Robopocalypse,” the film—based on a Daniel H. Wilson novel—holds immense potential. The novel is already a critical favorite, described as an “Andromeda Strain” for a new century.

Set in the not-too-distant future, “Robopacalypse” is about robots that have made our lives a lot easier: they help clean our kitchens, drive our cars, and fight our wars—until they are turned into efficient murderers by a sentient artificial intelligence buried miles below the surface of Alaska. What? That sounds batshit. But, robots, murder, and Spielberg! There are hundreds of ways this could go wrong, but just as many reasons it could be one of the many great sci-fi films of 2013.

Oz: The Great and Powerful
Hollywood has wanted to make a proper Wizard of Oz movie for years, and there are a number of them in production. This one, however, looks to be the first to get off the ground, and the cast—and a potentially racy story—offer some heady potential.

James Franco will star as the young Wizard in this Wizard of Oz prequel and it will tell the story of Oz—a fast-talking huckster who wears a velveteen frock coat—and how he falls in love with Glinda (the Good Witch). The two combine forces to fight the Evil Witches Evanora and Theodora. Mila Kunis will play Theodora, Rachel Weisz will play Evanora, and Michelle Williams is set to play Glinda. That’s a great combination of talent and sex appeal. Even more promising is the fact that this will be Sam Raimi’s first film since “Drag Me to Hell.”

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo

David Fincher (“The Social Network,” “Fight Club”) is a director that rarely lets us down (excepting “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). He, along with Aaron Sorkin, turned a movie about the founding of a social network website into one of the most riveting films of 2010. He ended last year with the much lauded “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and he looks next to embark on “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

The rabbit in his hat this time may just be Michael Chabon, the “Wonderboys” novelist who has been tapped to adapt the script from Jules Verne’s classic novel. The focus will turn on Nemo and how he created his underwater vessel, the Nautilus. It is a Disney remake, but I wouldn’t expect a Disney take from David Fincher; I’d expect something closer to a movie that a Trent Reznor score would feel comfortable in.

Iron Man 3
After the relatively benign “Thor” and “Captain America,” the box-office phenomena “The Avengers, the upcoming surefire hits “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Superman: Man of Steel,” next summer may be the year that superhero fatigue fully sets in and Marvel will have to follow-up an all-star superhero movie in 2013 with the franchise responsible for Marvel’s good fortunes.

Will it atone for the lackluster “Iron Man 2”? Maybe. The bad news is that Jon Favreau won’t be returning as director, but the good news is that Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”) will, and Robert Downey, Jr. is still a commanding presence. The hitch arises if Black has to weave an Iron Man plotline into a potential Avengers sequel. All due respect to “The Avengers,” but we go to an Iron Man movie to see a movie about Iron Man. Not Nick Fury.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again
This is a gimme, the second half of The Hobbit movie that kicks off this year with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” The great news is that The Hobbit will attract all of those Lord of the Rings fans, as well as the many—like myself—who loved The Hobbit but didn’t care much for the LOTR novels (or the movies). It also has a couple of cast members going for it that the LOTR movies did not, namely Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaugh) and Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins). The bad news: There’s a lot of LOTR characters in the movie that don’t belong, and despite the fact that The Hobbit was shorter than any of the LOTR movies, it’s being broken up into two films, which suggests that there may be the potential for a lot of bloat, a problem Peter Jackson had with the LOTR films.

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