FEATURE: 2012 - It's Gonna Be Big

We're one month into 2012 and various people have already started going on about how the world is going to end. Details are still cagey on whether or not it will actually involve John Cusack running away from a lot of stuff or something about neutrinos that has no scientific basis in fact. What we do know is that 2012 is going to be a good year to head to the cinema. Although film releases so far have been mainly awards-bait material such as The Artist and The Descendants, they've set the bar pretty high for their big screen successors. But what a year it is set to be. Instead of rattling through every single film to be released in the next 11 months, I've decided to present you with the Top 10(ish) movies I'm most excited about. So without further ado, here's the Assorted Buffery shortlist of what to look out for in 2012. Click on the movie title headers for trailers.

Daniel Radcliffe's starring role in this adaptation of the play, itself taken from Susan Hill's novel, has led to many people labelling the film as 'What Harry Did Next', understandably so given its horror/Gothic-y overtones. However, this is Radcliffe all grown up, portraying a father looking to take care of his young son and having to take a particularly dodgy job as a result. Early reviews have been favourable, praising his performance (well he's had plenty of 'look scared' practice) and it seems that the film is genuinely scary which is refreshing. No doubt Jen, our resident horror movie buff will be looking forward to seeing this one when it's released nationwide on February 10.

Heading into more serious territory now with the latest offering from David Cronenburg. A Dangerous Method follows the complex relationship of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and his protogé Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). Things begin to break down between the pair when a Russian patient, Sabina (Keira Knightley, back in a corset), arrives and begins an affair with Jung. The film has already been a hit on the festival circuit and with man-of-the-hour Fassbender in a starring role, this will be one for both drama lovers and psychoanalysts. I mean let's face it, when else are you going to see Magneto and Aragorn in a film together? Oh wait... A Dangerous Method is released here on February 10.

Way back in 1999 (was it really that long ago?!), we were introduced to four guys who made a pact between them to lose their virginity by graduation and followed the hilarious consequences that included, amongst others, milfs, 'pale' ale and an infamous encounter with an apple pie. After the two follow-up sequels, the American Pie series became a seemingly endless cycle of straight-to-DVD features that failed to replicate either the comedy or the success of the original trilogy. Now, the gang is back together for their high school renuion; Jim and Michelle are married with a child, Oz and Kevin are succcessful career-men, Finch is nowhere to be found and Stifler is... well Stifler. Reuniting the entire original cast, including Eugene Levy's awkward dad, American Reunion takes us back to East Falls High and from the look of the trailer, back to the racy humour that made it such a hit on the first place. Head to the school reunion on May 2. 

For me, Rian Johnson is one of the most exciting directors working in Hollywood today with the fantastically quirky Brothers Bloom and his debut, high school film-noir Brick which I adore. His latest, Looper, is another collaboration with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and promises to be another genre-bending feature. Gordon-Levitt works as a hitman for the mob, travelling through time to take out his targets until he recognises one of those as future self, played by Bruce Willis. Leaving aside the fact that I am yet to work out how Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to grow up to be Bruce Willis, this looks like it's going to be a good mix of action and sci-fi. There's no trailer out there there yet but we'll see what it's all about when Looper is released over here on September 28.

Fairy tales are the current go-to source material for several blockbusters coming up in the next couple of years and Snow White has got two interpretations this year with this film going up against Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror. From the trailer, Mirror Mirror looks awful, a gaudy, pantomime style mess that even Julia Roberts' ham-acting and Armie Hammer's chin couldn't save. By contrast, Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman is taking it back to the fairy tale's darker roots via Middle Earth with far more battles and weaponry than you usually see in a story about a princess. Starring a glowering Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart as Snow herself and Charlize Theron pulling out all the bad-guy stops for the Evil Queen, I am really quite intrigued to see this one being a sucker for both fantasy and cool fairytale adaptations. While the casting of Kristen Stewart has caused a ruckus on the Internet, I think she's a fair actor when she's not cast opposite a sparkly vampire and a permanently semi-naked werewolf. The trailer is all about Theron though and she could be the scariest Evil Queen since the Disney version scared the bejesus out of me when I was younger. Snow White will arrive in cinemas on June 1.

5). The Cabin in the Woods:

Anyone who has ever met me has probably learnt within a very short space of time that I am a big Joss Whedon fan. Like huge. So when news broke that his much-talked about horror project looked like it was never going to see the light of day, my heart broke a little. Yet, thanks in no small part to a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth in a leading role and Mr Whedon himself taken helm on The Avengers (more of that later), it has finally been given a release date. For any Aaron Sorkin fans (yes, I am one of those too), the film also stars Bradley Whitford, aka The West Wing's Josh Lyman, in a supporting role. This promises to be a mind-bending take on the horror sub-genre that follows the narrative of 'several friends stay at a cabin in the woods and chaos ensues' with a particularly intriguing tagline: 'You think you know the story'. Be warned if you do want to watch the trailer, it is a little spoiler-y so if you want to go into the film without any prior knowledge of actual content, just take a look at the awesome teaser poster. The Cabin in the Woods is out on April 13.

4). Skyfall

Bond is back this year, surviving his toughest challenge yet; Hollywood financial difficulties. After MGM's monetary worries were solved, James Bond's latest adventure, Skyfall, has gone into production with Daniel Craig back as the titular tuxedo-wearer, Sam Mendes in the director's seat and Judi Dench returning as spymaster M. This film promises to continue breathing new life into a tired franchise following the set-up by Casino Royale which was more in the Bourne vein of spy film. Quantum of Solace was a bit of a dip - I have seen it twice and still have no idea what on earth it's about other than Gemma Arterton getting covered in oil and Bond being really, really mad. Skyfall looks like it will be a return to some more conventions of 007s gone by with Ben Whishaw taking on the role of Q, Bond girls Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe and a Bond baddie in the form of Javier Bardem. Plotwise, it is going to be something to do with M's past coming back to haunt her, promising more electric encounters between acting heavyweights Dench and Craig when Skyfall drops into the multiplexes on October 26.

3). The Muppets:

All together now; It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights! Is there anything more joyful in this world than a Muppets movie? Jim Henson's felt creations have been entertaining us for generations and now, thanks to Disney and Jason Segel, they're back on our big screens. The Muppets follows Gary (Segel), Walter (Peter Linz) and Mary (Amy Adams) as they track down all the Muppets to get them back together and save their theatre from the evil plans of Chris Cooper's Tex Richman. Already released in the USA to positive reviews, we in the UK have had to wait what seems like a ridiculously long time for this to reach us. The film has also singlehandedly had the best marketing campaign ever in which we saw trailers that spoofed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Green Lantern and just about everything (I love Breaking Prawn). I cannot wait to for Kermit and the gang to arrive over here and, as Segel is a massive Muppet fan himself, you can guarantee it is going to be a well-deserved addition to the Muppet canon. It hits the cinemas here February 10 (there must be something very special about this day).

2). Prometheus

Ridley Scott's Alien was a gamechanger in both genres of science fiction and horror, marrying the two neatly into one chestbursting package that gave us one of the best heroines ever in Ripley and launching the career of Sigourney Weaver (but it did sadly lead to Alien vs. Predator). When rumours began circulating of another sequel in the Alien franchise, they weren't met with the greatest of enthusiasm as Alien: Resurrection was quite frankly awful (sorry Joss Whedon). Then Scott himself spoke out that this film was to be called Prometheus and wasn't a sequel but a prequel of sorts to the Alien story, sharing much of the same "DNA" but exploring the origins of existence itself. The film will visit the abandoned ship that led to the alien attack in the original film and fans are hoping that we will finally get the back story for the Space Jockey. The cast alone is a fantastic reason to watch this with Michael Fassbender (is there anything he's not in currently?), Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce and we'll get to see them in action on June 1.

1). Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 2

Just kidding.

I know I said this would be my Top Ten films to look out for in 2012 but I just cannot decide between these three. Each film is likely to elicit an excited squeak from me at the mere mention of their name and I know I am not the only one. So here they are, the big three, the ones it seems the entire world is waiting for.

1). The Avengers 

It's important to remember when talking of the Avengers that nothing like this has been attempted before. Never has there been a crossover of such magnitude nor has there ever been has many superheroes appearing together in one room. Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers will feature (deep breath) Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, Scarlet Johansson's cleavage Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Chris Evans' Captain America, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and the Big Bad himself, Tom Hiddleston's Loki. Marvel have been laying the groundwork for this film since Iron Man's post-credits sting in which Fury approaches Tony Stark to talk about something called the Avenger Initiative (at which point most geeks' heads exploded). Since then, we've had snippets of information in each film, feeding into the next one in the series including Stark's appearance in The Incredible Hulk, the locating of Thor's Hammer in Iron Man 2. Marvel have spent so much time building this project, it would be a shame to see it bomb but with anticipation this high, it's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, enough people will go to see it and ensure it's not a complete loss. On the other, it's a roaring success that carries on the creation of the Marvel universe on the big screen. I'm hoping so much that it is the latter. The Avengers will assemble April 27.

1). The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The release of the film is still just under a year away (too long, too long) but anticipation was peaked at the end of last year when Peter Jackson released the quite frankly awesome trailer, giving us our first glimpse of Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves. Like Skyfall, The Hobbit has had a tumultuous development; Peter Jackson said he wouldn't direct, Guillermo del Toro took the job, then he left, then Jackson was directing, Martin Freeman couldn't play Bilbo because of his commitment to Sherlock, then he could, then there was strike action and at one point, it looked like it was just never going to get made. Thankfully, everyone involved perservered and we LOTR fans get to journey back to Middle Earth this December. Split into two films, it's rumoured that Jackson has turned once again to the appendices of Tolkien's novel in order to give us a little more Hobbit action than the book would necessarily have yielded. The previously unmentioned cast members are fantastic too with Richard Armitage as the dwarven leader, Andy Serkis reprising his most famous and vocally distinctive role, several LOTR alumni returning like Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett and finally, Benedict Cumberbatch as both the dragon Smaug and the mysterious Necromancer. Do we really have to wait until December 14?

1). The Dark Knight Rises

The viral marketing campaign has already begun with lucky viewers of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol given an exclusive 6 minute screening of the DKR prologue featuring Tom Hardy's Bane. He may be mumbling and unintelligible according to reviews but he cuts an impressive figure. Bane is only one factor in the anticipation for this film though. Since Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan's take on the canon has been dark, frightening and outstanding, reinventing the character and making a franchise that is entirely relevant for this generation of moviegoers. Helped in no small part by a towering performance from the late Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight was huge, widely praised and still one of the best blockbusters ever produced. Add to this back catalogue the return of Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman, newcomers Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotilliard and Mr Hardy himself, TDKR is promising to be the movie event of the summer. Set a few years after the events of The Dark Knight, we'll be seeing an older Bruce Wayne who must face up to Bane and who knows how many other antagonists and become the hero that Gotham needs and deserves. It's simple. We watch the Batman on July 20.

Honourable Mentions: Carnage, Young Adult, Martha Marcy May Marlene (out now), Safe House (24/2/12), John Carter (9/3/12), Jeff Who Lives At Home (20/4/12), Men In Black 3 (25/5/12), Friends With Kids (29/6/12), The Amazing Spider-Man (4/7/12), The Bourne Legacy (17/8/12), Gangster Squad  (9/11/12), Django Unchained (26/12/12).

So in short, the world can't end in 2012. There are too many good films coming out.

- Becky

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