25 movies to watch in 2012 – July to December

This post originally appeared at TheMovies.co.za

Back at the beginning of the year I profiled the 25 most interesting and eagerly anticipated movie releases from the first 6 months of 2012. Now it’s time to consider the treats in store for cinemagoers in the second half of the year.

The Dictator:
The latest no holds barred, politically incorrect comedy from Borat and Ali G star Sacha Baron Cohen. This time Middle Eastern dictators are the target as Cohen plays an eccentric Gaddafi-esque ruler forced into hiding in New York City. With Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley and John C Reilly. Overseas the film sports a mixed 58% Fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. Very uneven apparently, mixing satirical brilliance with many misfire moments.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 16 May (United States), 6 July (South Africa)


The Amazing Spider-Man:
The Spider-Man movie franchise gets unexpectedly rebooted with lanky Andrew Garfield donning Peter Parker’s tights and dorkiness. Emma Stone is Gwen Stacey and Rhys Ifans one-armed Doc Connors in this “untold story,” which sees Spidey out to discover why his parents abandoned him. A rare 3D movie that begs to be experienced in that format.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 3 July (United States), 13 July (South Africa)


The Woman in Black:
This one was a surprise hit for star Daniel Radcliffe. In his first grown-up role post-Harry Potter, Radcliffe plays a young Edwardian Era lawyer, who is forced to visit sinister (and obviously haunted) Eel Marsh House while wrapping up an estate. Based on the novel and stage play. A resoundingly “old school” horror film from resurgent Hammer Film – more about mood than gore.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 3 February (United States), 20 July (South Africa)


Magic Mike:
Cinema chains have no doubt already marked this one down for their Girls’ Night Out evenings. Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey and Joe Manganiello all get their kit off for this comedy drama about a male stripper/entrepreneur living the good life in Miami. Surprisingly directed by Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh.
Trailer Tuesday profile.

Release date: 29 June (United States), 20 July (South Africa)


The Cabin in the Woods:
It’s taken months for it to reach us, but it looks like South Africans (all 10 of us who care) will be able to watch Joss Whedon and Drew (Cloverfield) Goddard’s genre-smart, funny and highly original take on horror movies. Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly and Anna Hutchison are some of the college kids subjected to an unusual experiment when they vacation in a remote log cabin. 90% Fresh.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 13 April (United States), 27 July (South Africa)


The Dark Knight Rises:
Christopher Nolan wraps up his super smash hit Batman trilogy with this highly anticipated comic actioner, set 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight – which is, of course, a very tough act to follow! This time Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has to contend with brilliant, brutal terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) and slinky Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Also with Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and returning Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 20 July (United States), 27 July (South Africa)


Brave:
Pixar-Disney’s big 3D release of 2012, which hopefully should make up for the disappointment of Cars 2. Brave is the first Pixar tale to be in the traditional folk tale mould, as well as feature the animation studio’s first female lead – a feisty princess rebelling against tradition in the Scottish highlands. Even if this apparently “safe” fantasy adventure doesn’t sit amongst Pixar’s best efforts, you know it's still going to be stunning. Voices of Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 22 June (United States), 3 August (South Africa)


Haywire:
It’s taken almost 9 months to reach South African cinemas, but locals can finally watch Women’s MMA star Gina Carano deliver as a convincing action heroine in Steven (Traffic) Soderbergh’s stab at the action espionage genre. As a betrayed agent on the run, Carano delivers her devastating kicks, armbars and triangles to an A-list cast including Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas. 80% Fresh.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 20 January (United States), 10 August (South Africa)



Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:
This alternate history actioner could be marvellous over-the-top fun... or it could be awful. From Timur Bekmambetov, the director of Wanted, and produced by Tim Burton, so you know this one is gonna be all about the visual flair. Based on the mash-up novel of the same name, Benjamin Walker plays the 16th US president in his youth, when ol' Abe was an ax-wielding vampire slayer. Supposedly a bit too serious and one-note for its own good.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 22 June (United States), 10 August (South Africa)


Ted:
Family Guy and American Dad’s Seth MacFarlane makes his debut as a live-action feature film director with this R-rated comedy. Mark Wahlberg is a man whose best friend is his childhood teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane) – a vulgar, talking creature magically brought to life. Ted, however, gets in the way of Wahlberg’s relationship with surprisingly accepting girlfriend Mila Kunis. A simplistic premise but it should still please MacFarlane fans.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 29 June (United States), 17 August (South Africa)



The Expendables 2:
Brace yourself for another action hero overload. The first film kind of disappointed – it just wasn’t fun – so Sylvester Stallone has upped the roundhouse kicking quotient by adding Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris to a cast that already includes Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren. No doubt due to fan demand, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger have bigger roles this time as well.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 17 August (United States), 24 August (South Africa)


Total Recall:
Arnie fans may be resistant to this remake, also based on the Philip K Dick short story, about an ordinary guy (Colin Farrell) whose attempt to liven up his existence with implanted memories reveals he was once a spy. Maybe. Cue Kate Beckinsale out to kill him and Jessica Biel fighting at his side. The film looks like it delivers the slick sci-fi action goods, but hopefully it's got some brains as well. From the maker of Die Hard 4 and Underworld.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 3 August (United States), 31 August (South Africa)


Gangster Squad:
The director of Zombieland pulls together a highly impressive cast – including Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte and Giovanni Ribisi – for a stylish crime drama set in the 1940s and early 50s. In this “Untouchables for the West Coast”, a band of Los Angeles detectives resort to unlawful measures to take down Penn’s all-powerful crime boss.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 7 September (United States), Unknown (South Africa)


Dredd:
This British production could be great and gritty, or cheap and nasty. Reportedly more faithful to the 2000 AD comic that that 1995 Sylvester Stallone flick, Karl Urban is the grim, helmeted, all-in-one law enforcer in a dystopian future where humanity is crammed into grim mega-cities. Olivia Thirlby is rookie Judge Anderson and Lena Headey the film’s drug-peddling villain. Shot for 3D and filmed in Cape Town.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 21 September (United States), 28 September (South Africa)


Looper:
Time-travel sc-fi fans love a good mind fuck. And here we have Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a hitman forced to hunt down and execute his future self (Bruce Willis). Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels round out the cast of this techno-crime noir from acclaimed writer-director Rian Johnson. Here’s hoping the execution is as strong as the intriguing concept... unlike last year’s In Time.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 28 September (United States), Unknown (South Africa)


Sinister:
Incredibly well received when it screened at the SXSW festival in Texas earlier this year, this effective and artistically controlled horror flick comes from the writer-director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and the producer of Paranormal Activity. Ethan Hawke is a true crime writer who accidentally puts his family at risk from a malevolent pagan entity called Baghul.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 5 October (United States), Unknown (South Africa)


Frankenweenie:
Tim Burton remakes his career-launching live-action short as a full length stop-motion animated film for Walt Disney Pictures. Transplanting the Frankenstein tale to suburbia, Frankenweenie sees young Victor resolve to bring his dead dog Sparky back to life. Given the subject matter (death and letting go), it could mix some real heart with Burton’s gothic aesthetic. In black & white, and 3D.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 5 October (United States), Unknown (South Africa)


Wreck-It Ralph:
Disney’s other big animation release of 2012 is this comedy, sure to please gamers and geeks. John C. Reilly voices an arcade game bad guy who, after 30 tedious years of 8-bit villainy, decides to wander between video game universes, reinventing himself as a hero. It’s going to be fun playing “Spot the Well-known Video Game Character.” Jane Lynch even pops up, barking orders as a Gears of War-style sergeant.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 2 November (United States), Unknown (South Africa)


ParaNorman:
Didn’t get your quirky animated horror thrills from Frankenweenie? The studio responsible for quirky Coraline (one of my all-time animation faves) releases this stop-motion comedy about a young social outcast with the ability to communicate with the dead. This skill comes in handy when a witch’s curse triggers a zombie invasion of Norman’s home town. Looks as fun as Monster House.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 17 August (United States), 9 November (South Africa)


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2:
Five movies later, novel series adaptation The Twilight Saga wraps up with an epic face-off between the “vegetarian” Cullen vampires, their supernatural allies and the powerful Volturi coven. All because of a little misunderstanding regarding the hybrid daughter of Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart). As usual, expect this final instalment to be love-it-hate-it-or-mock-it stuff. Only for the already converted.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 16 November (United States), 16 November (South Africa)


Skyfall:
Daniel Craig’s third outing as Ian Fleming’s iconic British secret agent, 007. This time James Bond has to come to the defense of MI6 head M (Judi Dench) when her past surfaces to threaten the Secret Service. Javier Bardem is the villain; Naomie Harris the chief Bond Girl and American Beauty and Road to Perdition’s Sam Mendes provides the directing pedigree. Here’s hoping this one makes up for the visually incoherent, disappointing Quantum of Solace.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 9 November (United States), 30 November (South Africa)


Rise of the Guardians:
It’s the fairy tale Avengers! DreamWorks Animation’s 3D release for the festive season is based on the children’s books by William Joyce. Looking refreshingly more serious and action-packed than most other animated flicks these days, Guardians has Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), Jack Frost (Chris Pine) and the Sandman joining forces to defeat the Boogeyman (Jude Law).
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 21 November (United States), 7 December (South Africa)


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:
Who isn’t giddy at the thought of returning to Middle-earth? This live-action version of Tolkien’s fantasy adventure The Hobbit comes to the big screen in 3D, 48fps and 2 parts (like Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter 7). A young, hesitant Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is recruited by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to join 13 dwarves on a quest to retrieve treasure from Smaug the Dragon (performed by Benedict Cumberbatch). With the Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson helming this prequel, expect new and familiar faces. Guaranteed to be one of 2012’s biggest box office hits.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 14 December (United States), 14 December (South Africa)


The Great Gatsby:
Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann applies his distinctive, hyper-stylised aesthetic to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic: a tale of romance and deception in New York during the frenzied decadence of the Roaring Twenties. Leonardo DiCaprio is the mysterious title character, while Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton also star. Brace yourself for a Spectacular Spectacular.
Trailer Tuesday profile.
Release date: 25 December (United States), 4 January 2013 (South Africa)


Django Unchained:
Whether the end result is overrated or not, it’s always worth sitting up and paying attention when a new Quentin Tarantino film is imminent. Here the writer-director is back muddling genre expectations with this Spaghetti Western set in America’s Deep South. Jamie Foxx is a badass slave Django who strikes a deal with Christoph Waltz’s bounty hunter to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from Leonardo DiCaprio’s showy plantation owner.
Watch the trailer.
Release date: 25 December (United States), 18 January 2013 (South Africa)

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