2012: Movies I’m Looking At Loving (Final Countdown!)

Welcome back folks! Welcome to the much, much, MUCH belated final part of my list of movies for the year 2012.

We had the initial list which was a list of movies that fall under the aegis of Guilty Pleasures, which was followed by the first half of this list of movies I anticipate in the year ahead. Granted I feel like a pretty big arse for having such a huge gap but it was bad enough by itself, so I’m going to just shut it now and let you get on with the movies! Enjoy…

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13. The Gangster Squad (release: starting September 2012)

Every kingdom comes up bloody, every castle’s built on a pile of bones. When I came out here, L.A was nothin’. Back east I was a gangster, out here I’m God.”

With these opening lines from the trailer, Sean Penn sets a nice tone for what lies ahead. Apparently based on a true story, the movie chronicles the story of the LAPD (who else!) and their battle against gangsters and the mob in the 1940’s and 50’s. From what I can tell, it follows a group of cops that come together to do the “no holds barred” thing, taking the war to the mob from beyond what the law allows them. In a sense I think this rings some bells and hearkens back the Untouchables (a classic, albeit a lie-filled one) with the basic premise of a group of cops going gung-ho against the mob with one big-bad as the focus. But with this cast starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone (for whom I’m a total fan-boy at this time) and Sean Penn and also starring Giovanni Ribisi and Robert Patrick… well the sheer acting prowess on display here is enough to make me cough up some cash and sit my arse squarely in that cinema hall. Throw in the promise of some good old-fashioned gangster tom-foolery and some kick-arse action and you’ve got one hell of a reason to check it out!

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12. Moonrise Kingdom (Released May 2012)

Right at the start let me just say that this being a movie written and directed by (a personal hero/idol) Wes Anderson and starring Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis and Anderson regulars Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray is enough for me to watch the movie.

That said, the story and setup is nothing to sneer at either. In quintessential Anderson style, we get a nice and quirky little story here with a wonderful ensemble to play it all out. The story centres around a young boy and girl (played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) who met and became pen-pals over the course of a year and some (remember pen-pals? Or is it just me getting on in years…? Do young folks even remember writing letters by hand anymore?) and decided that they would meet the summer after their first meeting and run away together. Their destination? A secluded cove on an island, which they name Moonrise Kingdom. The movie itself follows this, the inevitable chaos and search for the two young-lings who in the early throes of being in love and the things that follow from thereon until things finally will come to that moment of truth for all involved.

Anderson does a magnificent job of creating memorable and insane characters and stories that simultaneously amuse, astound and touch the viewer and from the look of it, this movie should be a nice new entry into his library of work.

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11. The Great Gatsby (Release : December 2012)

For those not aware (yes I’m a snob and it saddens me people don’t read!) this 1920’s set period piece is based on the ever-classic book of the same name and starring the talents of Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgarton, Isla Fisher and Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular Gatsby. Directed by Baz Luhrmann of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge fame, this will definitely be a visual and sensational feast for all who see it, but if they can do the story justice, this will be a movie to be reckoned with – and perhaps DiCaprio will finally get that award for best actor that has eluded him for a little too long I’d wager. Though one never knows.

Essentially a story of love, lust and the wild life that was the way during the Roarin Twenties, the story itself is a celebrated classic following the quest of Gatsby to try and win back the love he had to let go once, told through the eyes of the story’s narrator (here portryed by Maguire) over a heady period wrought with madness, passion and wild-parties. I really enjoyed the book and with the early peeks at how it’s looking, I’m very much hoping that they finally have a worthy version of the story on film – the cameo from Amitabh Bachchan not-withstanding. I like the man’s movies from back in the day but the purpose of him here and his acting skills here? Meh, doubtful of both.

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10 The Man With The Iron Fists(Release : November 2012)

Anyway, this one is going to be nothing but utter and total fun all the way. I mean seriously, it’s a kung-fu madhouse movie penned by the RZA (Samurai in Californication) who also directs here and the dastardly Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds, Hostel, Grindhouse). In addition it’s cast includes Russell Crowe (looking more badass than he has in a while), Lucy Liu (hot and deadly as ever!), Rick Yune (The Fast and the Furious), Dave Bautista (the animal Batista to all the wrestling fans in the house!), Pam Grier (respect!), the lovely Jamie Chung and RZA himself.

Hardly a deep, thought provoking movie, this one’s been in development between the two writers since 2005 apparently and from what I hear they went into some seriously ridiculous detail both in terms of story and details – so I hold out a lot of hope for this one to be just one of the most fun flicks in a while and if it’s more, all the better!

Anyhow, the PLOT of the movie is set in 19th century China and follows a blacksmith (RZA) who makes elaborate weapons. He is forced to unite with a bunch of warriors and assassins to protect the village and basically kick some serious arse! Not too complex, but I’m not expecting anything as such. RZA and Roth have stated that this is a total homage to the martial arts movies made by the legendary Shaw Brothers of Hong Kong cinema and as such should be a blast – don’t take my word for it, check out the insane trailer!

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9. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Released : June 2012)

This movie looks just lovely. Hilarious, heart-breaking and brilliant.

Remember the asteroid-end-of-the-world movies from a few years ago? They all had that one special mission going to destroy it and save the world. Well in THIS movie… they failed… Yeah.
As the asteroid (named Matilda…) nears Earth, Dodge (Steve Carell) finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic once the end is officially announced. The world is in chaos with some people hanging on to their daily lives, going to work and all that and other folks who just want to go wild because hell – what’s left to keep trudging on about? Dodge decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart because hell, it’s not like there’s much left to lose right? After all, the world is going to literally end in a couple of weeks! Accompanying him on this chaotic quest is his neighbour Penny (Kiera Knightley) who he became friends with after he found her crying on the fire escape – she’d just kicked out her boyfriend after he cost her a chance to go home to England to see her family again. Long story short, they agree to help each other reach their respective goals in the short time they have left and from thereon it’s an apocalyptic road-trip unlike any other.

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8. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Released April 2012)

One of the more quirky and interesting movie ideas I’ve come across in a bit, this one really cauthg my eye – it’s one of those films that will either be utterly fantastic or utter flop, so ususual is the premise.

Alfred “Fred” Jones (Ewan McGregor) is a man with Asperger’s who is a salmon fisheries expert in Britain. When a consultant named Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) who is working for a wealthy Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked) asks for help fulfilling the sheikh’s vision to introduce salmon fishing to the desert country of Yemen, Fred rejects the idea as impossible and a waste of time and resources. In the meanwhile however, Patricia Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas), the British PM’s press secretary, fastens onto the project as a “good will” story of Anglo-Arab cooperation to distract the voters from all the bad news coming out of Afghanistan and pressures Fred into working with Harriet and the sheikh to implement the project. Fred gradually comes to believe in the sheikh’s quest and even finds the possiblity of love with Harriet in the midst of this insane project to bring salmon fishing to a desert nation.

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7. Looper (Release : September 2012)

Hand’s down one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year by folks like myself (fans of Sci-Fi) as well as many others, this movie looks to be insane and intense on a lot of levels.

A purely science-fiction setup is built into the very core of this movie, making it a rare thing, a pure Sci-Fi thriller – something that’s not been done all that well by Hollywood for a while.

The Premise of this one is simple : In the future time-travel exists but is utterly and totally illegal. However, certain criminal elements like the mob/mafia of the time has access and uses it when they need to – and by that I mean that in this time, when the mob says they’re going to rub you out, they’re literally going to do just that. They send assassins called “Loopers” back in time to take the target out in the past. Joseph Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with some eerily good make-up) is one of the best except that this time when he gets sent on his latest assignment, the target is himself – 30 years older (Bruce Willis). He lets himself go but then has to go on the run because his old bosses are now after him as well and from there everything goes all to hell as we try to figure out what the hell is going on! Co-starring the lovely and talented Emily Blunt and the awesome Jeff Daniels, this promises to be one hell of a ride and I for one can’t wait!

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6. Brave (Released June 2012)

Well folks, it’s been awhile and we have yet another Pixar animation coming our way – one that actually has been advertised and built up for quite a while now. In fact I hear that for the first time in 25 years (damn… makes me feel old…) Pixar has totally rewritten their computer animation system for this movie and the visuals (what little I’ve seen) looks really good!

With the voice talents of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd and Julie Walters, the movie boasts a good cast of talented actors, though how they all do at voice, we shall see. The story is set in the Scottish highlands and follows the adventure of a girl archer named Merida who defies ancient custom and creates an uproar and then after some mishap and troubles, she must find a way to solve a curse befalling her family and save the day, of course, before it’s too late.

Granted, not exactly the most unique premise off-hand, but all indications are that the good folks at Pixar have not only lived up to expectation, but done some things a bit better and created a very good movie here. So I’ll remain hopeful until I finally see it.

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5. The Amazing Spiderman (Released June 2012) – SEEN!

This movie is one that I was a bit uneasy about for quite a long while, but between the fact that I think Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spiderman) is a talented actor and visually seems a much better fit for the titular character (though the hair looks a bit daft!) and the fact that the writer’s have gone pretty far to bring elements of the comic into this one like replacing MJ with Gwen Stacy (played brilliantly by Emma Stone) who in point of fact was Peter Parkers first love. And definitely a better choice of actress than Kirsten Dunst…

With a great new villain in The Lizard (Rhys-Ifans) and supporting roles of the Ben and May Parker played by the awesome Martin Sheen and Sally Field repectively and Dennis Leary as Gwen’s police Captain father, there is a lot of promise in this movie though, and all the teasers and early feedback indicated as much. So while not the greatest of the year, unless screwed up, this should be a good watch.

UPDATE : Having now seen the movie I can say that my hope that it would be good paid off and then some! Despite a few moments where they could have chosen better, overall superior to ALL the Spidey movies with performances and story (and visual effects for sure!) – except perhaps parts of Sam Raimi‘s Spiderman 2 and especially that scene on the train which is still one of the coolest fight scenes ever made.

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4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 2012)

At long, long last… the prequel to Peter Jacksons spell-binding take on the Lord of the Rings is almost here! With the hilarious and talented Martin Freeman as young Bilbo (great choice in my opinion) and the returning Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom in addition to the great looking cast of Dwarves who will be the Hobbits’ companions on this journey, this is a very promising film.

A bit unexpectedly, the short book that showed us the early adventures of one Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven allies has been split into two parts. Though I can wager I’d make the whole story more than one movies’ worth were I in charge since there’s so much detail and stuff to explore here! But from what I gather, there are several sub-stories and details that in fact the film-makers have added into the existing narrative – something I do not quite understand and the dubiousness created by this information is what keeps this movie at #4 on my list instead of the top three position it was otherwise guaranteed.

Indications are that this first half follow the travels of Bilbo, Thorin and company on the first part of their journey through Mirkwood and meeting Beorn and all, about until their travels bring them to Laketown near the Lonely Mountain… So the sad part is that we’ll get no serious Smaug screen-time in this one, but on the plus side this means more time spent comfortably on the Spiders of Mirkwood, Goblins, Wolves and Beorn – not to mention Rivendell and the Elves! So yeah, really looking forward to this!

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold,
To Dungeons Deep and Caverns Old,
The Pines were Roaring on The Heights,
The Winds were Moaning in the Night,
The Fire was Red, it Flaming Spread,
The Trees Like Torches Blazed with Light…

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3. Sound of My Voice (Released April 2012)

One of the most intriguing movies on this list and potentially one of the most mind-blowing. Essentially the plot follows a guy+girl journalist pair who are investigating a cult. Nothing spectacular there really, but then they attempt to infiltrate it to try and find out what the secretive folks are doing and to check out their leader – a woman who claims to be from the future. At first one would think “Sci-fi!” and expect things to get twisty and weird and all that. But it doesn’t this is more of an exploration of people, of humanity. Raising questions about belief and faith, about emotion and letting your innermost inhibitions and hidden sides be exposed. Even from the brief trailer alone I find myself intrigued and wanting to be immersed in the story.

I ask you to watch this trailer and not be genuinely intrigued. (Unless you just hate these kind of movies, in which case never mind!)

(NOTE : This slot was originally occupied by the much-anticipated Prometheus but since I finished this list after the movie released here and I saw it, I elected to toss it… Because I don’t know about you but stunning visuals aside, about 1/3rd way into the movie I was groaning on the inside and by the end I wanted to kill Damon Lindelof, one of the most over-rated and worst things to happen to Hollywood in the last decade in my mind. Interestingly, I didn’t add any movie to the list, in fact I had split #10 into two parts (yes, I cheated, think of it like a mezzanine slot) and now I don’t have to do that! Isn’t it great how things work out?

ANYWAY! Back to the list…)

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2. The Dark Knight Rises (Released July 2012) – SEEN!

Hands down the movie I’ve been most DYING to see ever since The Dark Knight ended… the speculation and rumours about this movie have been a maelstrom since it’s predecessor with so many possible things it could have been.

But once again Christopher Nolan and team showed us how it’s done! Taking elements from a startling number of Batman comic story-lines and ideas, even more so than the first two movies, and even bringing in a HUGE number of little easter eggs and references (that are a source of much glee to knowledgeable geeks like myself!), they have crafted an almost monstrously large and sprawling script that staggers the imagination. With Tom Hardy as Bane, the primary protagonist, in a truly awesome performance that truly tested his acting skills as he had to not only physically tranform his body to be the imposing and terrifying mercenary, but he had to perform throughout the whole movie with most of his face covered. Despite that he was able to portray one of the most intimidating and deadly villains I have seen on screen and though he will (unfortunately) draw the inevitable comparisons with the late Heath Ledger’s masterful turn as The Joker, I will say that he was a very close second to that performance here.

The real scene stealers though were most definitely Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle who I find a good actress but was surprisingly great here – so good in fact that Nolan who pledged to walk away from the franchise has now hinted he would like to see her in a solo spin-off movie, one I would DEFINITELY watch – and also Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is a magnificent actor but had a surprisingly large amount of screen-time that he put to very good use.

[NOTE : Spoilers ahead!]

My only unhappiness with this movie? Apart from a few nit-picky details that can be ignored really, I had only two grouses that stood out : (1) Why Marion Cottilard? I don’t find her all that wondrous an actress and here she had the added burden of being a VERY under-developed character amidst so many rich and full ones that it weakened her and her eventual reveal as the real big-bad in the end felt all that much less interesting as a result. (2) Bane breaking Batman’s back. In the comic he does and Bruce goes through a long journey with Alfred and eventually finds a Lazarus Pit and heals his broken spine (he was in a wheelchair!) – here they mention that his spine is so screwed that a vertebra is actually sticking out and they show it being simply pushed back in and then have him do push-ups and such and get back in shape. Why couldn’t he just have been badly beaten and leave it at that? We didn’t need the actually broken spine involved at all!!

Oh and lastly, for some reason I found that in the first half of the movie at least, Michael Caine’s accent seemed like he was trying too hard, far more than the first two movies where it was sharper and crisper and felt less like he was trying to sound a certain way – or maybe this was just me.

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1. The Avengers (Released April 2012) – SEEN!

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said?

Brilliant cast, masterful writer/director, mind-blowing special effects and sequences, great plot that keeps you glued from start to finish – this movie in a lot of ways has it all. It is without a doubt the peak of (in my opinion well deserved) success and such for Joss Whedon – one of the most under-rated and visionary story-tellers of this generation.

I expected the movie to be good because Marvel has done such a good job since Iron Man first released and even their weakest movies have been very good – not just as comic-book movies but as movies in general and of course, being a big fan of Whedon from all his TV work I expected entertainment galore. But this movie was entertainment and so much more. It was the springboard to a whole new level of movie, “adaptation done right” is a phrase that springs to mind because unlike the awesome Batman movies the last few years, this did not try and make a more “realistic” movie – this was comics brought to life. Almost literally! Robert Downey Jr. was his usual stellar self and Chris Hemsworth, Sam Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Evans all put in great performances enough to not be outdone/outshone. The remarkable one here that gave me great joy though was that after a genuinely annoying and (for me) pathetic Black Widow in Iron Man 2, Scarlett Johannson got a chance to really shine here and we got to see the Black Widow that the character should be – in fact she’s not alone, because as unhappy as I was to see Ed Norton replaced as Bruce Banner, his replacement Mark Ruffalo was really, really good, which made me so relieved and happy.

The movie as a whole was so damn good that after watching TDKR this past week I still found Avengers to be better, enough that it is #1 on this list whereas it was #2 when I first listed these out a few months ago.

Cannot WAIT for more Marvel movie goodness!

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To everyone still reading this and who’s actually made it all the way down this list, hope you liked it and found something new and interesting to add to your list of movies to see.

And to those who read the earlier editions of this list and have returned for this, many apologies for keeping you waiting, what can I say, I’m a strangely lazy fellow who can’t explain why I’ve posted pretty regularly but kept putting this one off despite it being pretty simple to complete.

Ah well… such are the mysteries of the human condition!

Thank you one and all, I’ll see you back here soon enough and in the meantime : Cheers!

PSSSST!!! In case you wanted to check out the earlier parts of this list, here you go:

2012: GUILTY CINEMATIC PLEASURES (PART 1)

2012: MOVIES I’M LOOKING AT LOVING (PART 2)

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4 thoughts on “2012: Movies I’m Looking At Loving (Final Countdown!)

  1. Thanks for the list! I always seem to need reminders about which movies I want to see because I see trailers and think “I have to see that!” and promptly forget when the time comes to pick one. I’m really looking forward to the Great Gatsby.
    I can tell you’re a guy from your list 😉 I’m not a huge action fan myself – I get too uncomfortable with the violence (you probably know that already from my recent blog post!) and I hate suspense (in real life, too) – but my husband makes me watch them occasionally, and I always end up enjoying them somewhat!

    1. Glad to help, makes the effort of making the list more worthwhile! (nice to see you drop in here btw! :))
      And I wouldn’t get too mad at the husband for making you watch that stuff, after all variety is the spice of life, the thing that keeps the mind active and nourishes the soul – besides, I’m sure you make him watch stuff from out of his preference zone and you well should!
      Which ones of these would you like to see btw? If you see the links, it’s a loooong list! 😀
      Cheers!

  2. Moonrise Kingdom, Great Gatsby, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, perhaps even Brave, as I’m currently obsessed with Scotland (thanks to the ‘Outlander’ books)! I’ve actually just started an official ‘movies to watch’ list, thanks to this blog post. Now there will be no more prolonged deliberations when it’s my turn to pick!

    1. I heard about that book, it’s an action/romance/drama kind of book right?
      And if obsessed with Scotland, you should see movies like Braveheart and Highlander 🙂 and Trainspotting if you want a real contemporary head-trip (hands down one of the most insanely awesome movies of all time!)
      Plan on sharing your list online or is “for your eyes only”?

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