A few days ago, I wrote a piece outlining a dozen of the films that I’m really looking forward to in the coming year. Of course, there can’t be good without evil, so it would make sense that for every potentially great movie set to unspool in the coming 12 months, there’s something hideous lurking in the shadows. A lot of these titles don’t even yet have trailers cut for them. I may turn out to be completely wrong, and, if so, I will be happy to say so. Some of them I desperately want to work. I’ll hold out hope. But, these look like movies to try your best to avoid.
The Last Stand Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to action film leading man status looks to be about as disastrous as his stint as the governor of California. Johnny Knoxville gets second billing as if we’ve traveled back ten years in time. Knoxville also appears to be doing his mentally impaired routine from The Ringer. I don’t mind a little nostalgia, but Arnold is way too old to even remotely sell this nonsense; he looks like he’s had more work done than Joan Rivers. “I’m the sheriff!” is their catchphrase? Seriously? The Last Stand looks positively dreadful, and it opens January 18.
Grown Ups 2 Just when you thought Adam Sandler couldn’t possibly get any lazier, he starts making sequels to his crappy movies. This time he’s adding co-star Taylor Lautner, because why the hell not? Serious question: has any entertainer more egregiously abused their fan base over the years than Adam Sandler? They seem to be wising up and are staying away from junk like Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy. Oh well, at least Rob Schneider’s working and off the streets. Grown Ups 2 opens July 12.
A Good Day to Die Hard John McClain goes to Russia. Wait, Russia?? Does anybody at Fox understand what made the first Die Hard such an ironclad classic and perhaps the best pure action movie of all time? It had nothing to do with crazy stunts and over-the-top pyro. The original Die Hard worked because we cared about the characters. The original Die Hard didn’t need a high concept plot. It was contained in one building, and the action took place more or less in real time. Plus, it was rated R. The “bigger” they go with Die Hard, the more they lose what makes it special. A Good Day to Die Hard opens February 14.
The Hangover Part III A lot of people liked the first Hangover movie, but, in all honesty I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t hate the second one. Director Todd Philips chose to use the words “Part II” in his sequel’s title as an homage to The Godfather, which is interesting since Godfather II isn’t a plot point for plot point reenactment of the first Godfather. The second Hangover is the worst kind of Hollywood cynicism: just change the setting and nobody will notice that we made the exact same movie again. Maybe they’ll right the ship, but my hopes aren’t very high. The Hangover Part III opens May 24.
Riddick Another one of these? Is anybody besides Vin Deisel and the most undiscerning sci-fi nerds excited about seeing this? Diesel himself has had to return to The Fast and Furious franchise just to regain his footing as a box office attraction. Now, they’re making another Riddick after the first one (itself a sort of sequel to the little seen Pitch Black) bombed almost a decade ago? There is simply no demand for this movie. Poor Katee Sackhoff deserves better. At least they have the sense to release this in early September after the big summer movies have come and gone. Riddick opens September 6.
World War Z This one is based on a pretty great book, but evidently the shoot was a disaster and considerable reshoots (something like 30-40% of the movie) were required. Damon Lindelof was brought in to do extensive rewrites specifically for the reshoots. You may remember him fondly as one of the showrunners of Lost. Or you may remember him as the writer of Prometheus. The choice is yours. World War Z was one of several high profile movies to get bumped into 2013, and it’s never a good sign when a movie’s scheduled release date gets moved backward into the following year. Maybe they’ll figure out how to fix it, but it doesn’t look promising. Director Mark Forster’s last film was Quantum of Solace. Take that how you will. World War Z opens June 21.
Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor That has to be one of the worst titles in movie history. Or at least one of the most confusing. There are three movies coming out under the Tyler Perry banner in 2013. Two of them he wrote and directed himself. One of those is a new Madea movie, and those usually turn out to be halfway decent. That leaves this drama, which stars Kim Kardashian, to be the one that sucks. You read that correctly: Kim Kardashian is in it. Yes, that Kim Kardashian. It opens March 29.
The Big Wedding Robert De Niro stars in a Katherine Heigl romcom. Take a minute to wrap your head around that, especially after De Niro’s great turn in Silver Linings Playbook. The romantic comedy is a genre that’s been on life support for years, and this one being set around a wedding isn’t promising. The makers of most romcoms seem to have a contempt for their largely female audience that rivals Sandler’s for his. Buffy fans should take notice: Riley Finn is in this. The Big Wedding opens April 23.
The Starving Games Nine-year-olds everywhere are going to be stoked for this one. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, two of the premiere hacks in show business, are back with their latest “film” which is described in a press release as “a spoof movie that parodies The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, and the Harry Potter saga.” Friedberg and Seltzer (the auteurs behind modern classics like Epic Movie and Vampires Suck) don’t know the difference between referencing something and crafting a joke about it. They simply parade pop culture references across the screen. Oh, and they love blows to the groin. These two cretins make Sandler look like Billy Wilder, while Albert Brooks can’t get financing for his next project. The Starving Games (see what they did there?) has no published release date.
The Great Gastby I really hope I’m wrong about this one. I am a huge fan of Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge; the tango scene alone is just pure, unadulterated cinema. His follow-up, Australia, was an unwatchable disaster. His film version of Fitzgerald’s classic novel looks to be on firmer footing than his horrendous western, but this is another example of a big studio movie that was delayed for a lot of tinkering, and missing your release date is usually a bad sign unless your name is James Cameron. The cast is great. Luhrman is extremely talented (only a talented person could make something as bad as Australia). The trailers promise an opulent production. It’s based on tremendous source material. I just have a bad feeling about it. The Great Gatsby opens on May 10.
White House Down No, it’s not a sequel to Black Hawk Down; it’s Air Force One without the plane. Also, it’s a remake of a movie called Olympus Has Fallen, which comes out just three months earlier. Like in past years when Hollywood gave us two movies about volcanoes or two movies about asteroids hitting the earth, 2013 will give us two (two!) movies about the White House being overrun by terrorists. Apparently, my apartment building has better security. Both will probably suck, but I put this one on the list because it was directed by Roland Emmerich, who has no idea how to do this kind of ridiculous material with any kind of self-awareness. Emmerich will plow through this nonsense as if he were making Schindler’s List. White House Down opens June 28.
Battle of the Year: The Dream Team The subtitle makes it seem like a sequel. It isn’t. Josh Holloway plays the coach of an American break dancing team preparing his b-boys for an international competition in France. That’s Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer on Lost. As a break dancing teacher. Take a moment for that to sink in. I hope it turns out like Stomp the Yard meets Last Tango in Paris. The trailer indicates a movie that takes itself very seriously. It opens September 13.