I can’t remember a better year to be a geek and a movie lover than 2012. The Avengers crammed a pile of our favorite superheroes together onto one screen, and the summer iced that cake with The Dark Knight Rises. Love or hate the high frame rate, we got The Hobbit. Musical lovers got Les Mis while the friends they dragged along got Wolverine, Catwoman, and General Maximus (who next year turns into Jor-El) singing with a side dish of Borat and Bellatrix Lestrange. Talk about a strange dinner party. There were Nazis on the moon, time-traveling blunderbusses, Mandingoes, and for the love of John Carter, a vampire throwing a horse at Abraham Lincoln.
That’s a tough act to follow.
I’ve seen more movies this year–and in theaters!–than maybe any other year of my life, certainly any other year since I had children. I’ve been steeling myself for a while to accept that it was a special year and that 2013 just won’t be the same. It couldn’t be. Could it? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s look at what’s coming. It’s time for a movie year throwdown.
|Sci-fi and futuristic||Looper, John Carter, The Hunger Games, Prometheus, Men in Black 3, Resident Evil: Retribution, Chronicle, Cloud Atlas, Iron Sky||Star Trek: Into Darkness, Elysium, Ender’s Game, World War Z, After Earth, Dark Skies, The Host, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pacific Rim, Riddick, The World’s End||2012 was a pretty good year, even if we’d had nothing but Looper, The Hunger Games, and Cloud Atlas. But 2013 is ready for the sci-fi smackdown with our next entry in the Star Trek franchise, the next Hunger Games, Pacific Rim, Ender’s Game, and the long-awaited World War Z. Edge: 2013|
|Fantasy||The Hobbit, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman||Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Jack the Giant Slayer, Oz: The Great and Powerful, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones||You either loved or hated The Hobbit, and despite having two of the most amazing costume designers ever to put their work in front of a camera, neither of 2012’s Snow White stories was much to rave about. But they looked promising a year ago, and 2013 could tank just as hard. Tentative edge: 2013|
|True story/history-based (however loosely)||Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Argo||300: Rise of an Empire||Is 2013 the year that forgot history, or have I just not found those films yet? And I had to take one that really should be in the next category just to give one to 2013! Clear edge: 2012|
|Comics-based, graphic novels, and superheroes||The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Dredd||Iron Man 3, The Wolverine, VS (All Superheroes Must Die), Man of Steel, Thor: The Dark World, Oblivion, I Frankenstein, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Kick-Ass 2||The summer of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises was a huge contribution to this great year for movie geeks. But by sheer numbers and the return of Hit Girl, it’s edge: 2013.|
|Animation||Wreck-It Ralph, Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Lorax, The Secret World of Arrietty||Escape from Planet Earth, Planes, Monsters University, Frozen, From Up on Poppy Hill, Despicable Me 2, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Epic||There were the good times. The times of Brave and Wreck-It Ralph. And then there were the lesser times. There was Frankenweenie, which was like a very, very, very long version of its trailer. I’m not dying of anticipation from much of the upcoming list, but I’ll give it tentative edge: 2013 for optimism and a big-screen Mr. Peabody & Sherman.|
|Documentary||Indie Game: The Movie, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Jiro Dreams of Sushi||$ellebrity, Unity, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony||We Are Legion was both a moving story for those who already knew it and a solid introduction for those who didn’t, and I’ve heard great things about Jiro. But it’s hard to compete with the words “John de Lancie goes to BronyCon.” Edge: 2013|
|Toy-based||Battleship||G.I. Joe: Retaliation||Game-peg-shaped torpedoes or round two of something that wasn’t any good the first time? Draw. And a request to stop making movies based on toys, unless it’s Jenga.|
|Remakes, re-releases, and “haven’t we seen this?”||Total Recall, Dark Shadows, Finding Nemo 3D, Monsters Inc. 3D||The Evil Dead, Carrie, Jurassic Park 3D, Top Gun 3D, The Little Mermaid 3D, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones 3D, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 3D||I’m tenuously interested in The Evil Dead remake, but is the new movie motto, “If you can’t make something good, make something old 3D”? Edge: 2012 for Johnny Depp in excessive makeup over 100-foot-high Anakin nostrils. (Possible reconsideration after Top Gun volleyball scene in 3D.)|
|Other interesting bits not covered above but worthy of note||Skyfall, The Cabin in the Woods, Django Unchained, Safety Not Guaranteed||John Dies at the End, Noobz, Much Ado About Nothing, RED 2, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty||Horror Whedon or Shakespeare Whedon? Bond or RED? Edge: 2012, due to a lack of Tarantino in 2013.|
|And the winner is…||Giving half points for a “tentative edge” and none for the draw, it’s 2012 with 3 points and 2013 with 4 points. Anticipated winner: 2013|
I’m sorry, 2012. You were great, but it looks like you just might get taken down by 2013. Your obituary will tell how you were the Year of the Whedon, giving us both The Cabin in the Woods, dripping with Whedonosity in a commentary on classic horror tropes, as well as The Avengers, the third highest-grossing film ever. (In 2013, we’ll get his take on Much Ado About Nothing, with a lineup of the Whedon favorites, from Nathan Fillion and Amy Acker to Alexis Denisof and Tom Lenk.) You were the year of too-fast-to-count video-game cameos. Of the 50th anniversary of Bond. Of what may be Quentin Tarantino’s most controversial work–and that’s saying something when it’s a guy whose last film was about Nazis and had a title with two intentional misspellings that he preferred not to explain.
2013, you’re looking pretty. Captain-Chris-Pine-Kirk kind of pretty. And Pacific Rim kind of stunning. (Don’t let me down, Pacific Rim.) We’re going to be dropping in on Oz and going on a quest for the Golden Fleece with a bunch of half-bloods. You want superheroes? Like IronManWolverineSupermanThor? We won’t be able to recover from that many abs on display until Arrow gets cancelled. We’ll try not to get the vapors, because there are Jacks to keep straight. Tom Cruise will be playing a guy named Jack, but not Jack Reacher (that was 2012), and not Jack Ryan, which is 2013, but a whole other movie, which also has Chris Pine. The Girl on Fire will be on her Victory Tour, and it looks like the whole of Hollywood is coming along. (Did I mention Q goes to BronyCon?)
Once that’s through, I’m not holding my breath for two years of greatness to stretch into a three-year run of awesome, but we can hope. May the odds be ever in our favor.