Film: Spring Arts 2012

By Chris Heller
Published on March 22, 2012, 1:00am | Comments

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In order of scheduled release date. Dates subject to change at the whim of a studio executive.

MARCH

THE HUNGER GAMES – Set in a dystopian future where teenagers fight to the death on live television, this sure-to-be hit stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen – not that we need to explain, since this adaptation has been advertised everywhere. Read the books if you must, but don't miss the movie. (3/23)

THE RAID: REDEMPTION – An Indonesian martial arts film about a criminal safe house in Jakarta, The Raid wowed audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Speaking for all action fans, let's just say it's about damn time it got to the states. (3/23)

MIRROR MIRROR – Julia Roberts as a wicked queen? In a long-winded retelling of Snow White? Thanks, but we'd rather munch on an apple laced with arsenic. (3/30)

WRATH OF THE TITANS – ''Bro, remember when we clashed with those Titan punks?'' ''Yea, we clashed 'em up real good. Showed 'em what's what.'' ''You won't believe this shit, but, they're back.'' ''What?'' ''Yeah, bro.'' ''No way, bro! Grab your 3-D glasses. This shit just got real.'' (3/30)

BULLY – A powerful, breathtaking documentary about teenaged victims of bullying. This is must-see, in every sense of the word, which is why the MPAA better knock its rating down to PG-13 from its idiotic R. (3/30)

GOON – Sadly, this isn't an adaptation of Eric Powell's excellent comic series – even if Seann William Scott looks like a chug-head. Instead, Scott plays an aspiring hockey thug, working his way through the minor leagues with an iron jaw and killer right cross. We'll stick to the funny pages. (3/30)

INTRUDERS Clive Owen stars in a Spanish horror story about a faceless demon that possesses children. (3/30)


APRIL

AMERICAN REUNION Things to expect from American Reunion: more band camp jokes, gratuitous nudity, more apple pie jokes, the death rattle of Eugene Levy's career, and a reminder that American Pie came out 13 years ago. But hey, at least the gang's back together! (4/6)

TITANTIC (IN 3-D) – This is one of those movies you're either thrilled to see, or don't give a lick about. We're still trying to figure out how James Cameron will manage to project Billy Zane's smarm in three dimensions. (4/6)

DAMSELS IN DISTRESS – After 12 years, Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona) is back – and from the looks of Damsels in Distress, he's not changed much, still dissecting the lives of preppy kids with self-deprecating wit, still taken by the group dynamics of the privileged, and still an acquired taste for mostly everyone. (4/6)

THE HUNTER – Your ill-timed art house movie of the season is The Hunter, the adaptation of a Julia Leigh novel. Willem Dafoe plays the titular hunter, hired by a biotech conglomerate to track down the last remaining Tasmanian tiger – and for what it's worth, his performance looks rave-worthy. (4/6)

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS – Joss Whedon calls this mystery of a movie his ''loving hate letter'' to horror. Almost nothing is known about the plot and characters – and based on Whedon's penchant for genre-bending surprises, we suspect that's a good thing – but all signs point to this movie's greatness. (4/13)

THE THREE STOOGES – Finally, our long national nightmare is over -- America is getting a Three Stooges origin story! (4/13)

CHIMPANZEE – Say what you want about the dangers of depicting wild animals in deceptive human ways, but the string of nature documentaries Disney has churned out since Earth are top notch. Shot over three years in the jungles of the Ivory Coast and Uganda, Chimpanzee looks to continue that tradition. (4/20)

THE LUCKY ONE – So, Zac Efron's still trying to be an actor. If only persistence and Nicholas Sparks adaptations curried the academy's favor, he'd be the Spencer Tracy of our time. (4/20)

DARLING COMPANION Diane Keaton stars as a woman who loves her dog more than her husband – but then her husband loses her dog! This is gold, people! (4/20)

THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT – And finally, the worthwhile comedy of the season rears its Apatow-produced head. Muppets buddies Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller reunite with this R-rated comedy about a couple that keeps putting off their big day. Come for Segel's comic bumbles, but stay for the killer cast he's put together to back him up, including Emily Blunt, Alison Brie and Chris Pratt. (4/27)

THE RAVEN – John Cusack plays Edgar Allen Poe as he tries to hunt down a murderer who mimics his stories. Decency, thy name is Hollywood. (4/27)

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS – A fun-looking kids' flick from the minds behind Wallace and Gromit about a swashbuckler who's competing for the ''Pirate of the Year'' award. If you've got little grommets of your own, just don't forget: It could be much worse than this. (4/27)

SAFE – Jason Statham stars as a former elite special agent who has to rescue an abducted girl, fight off warring mafia factions, and avoid capture at the hands of corrupt cops. If that sounds familiar, it's because you've seen Safe before. It's also known as Every Jason Statham Movie Ever Made. (4/27)

BERNIE – Keep your eyes on this one, it's got the potential to be a surprise hit. The ingredients: Richard Linklater and Jack Black, the true-life story of a gay man who killed his 81-year-old millionaire lady companion, and a mockumentary style that's attracted praise for its self-awareness. (4/27)

ELLES – For the foreign-language crowd, mark your calendars for Juliette Binoche's latest, a French and Polish drama about a journalist who investigates a prostitution ring among female college students. The surprise to it all? Sexual identity and empowerment are presented hand-in-hand with the world's oldest profession. (4/27)


MAY

THE AVENGERS – Marvel spent years planning for The Avengers, and for all that work, the final product has the look of something painstakingly focus-grouped to death. That's a shame, but it won't stop the huge box-office returns from piling up. (5/4)

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL ­– We all love cheeky old Brits, so why not throw the lot of them into a movie together? Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and plenty more star in this offbeat comedy about a retirement hotel in India. Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love). (5/4)

DARK SHADOWS – Johnny Depp was allegedly obsessed with the Dark Shadows soap opera as a child, and so, he's turning it into a movie. And since it involves vampires and the occult, Tim Burton is going to direct it -- and he's apparently turned it into a full-on comedy. (5/11)

THE DICTATOR – Is Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie about a Middle Eastern dictator meant to be cutting satire? Is it controversial for controversy's sake? Is it even any good? This much is for certain: It'll be very dirty, very inappropriate and very funny. (5/11)

GOD BLESS AMERICA Now this is what satire looks like. Bobcat Goldwait helms a comedy about a terminally ill cancer patient who goes on a killing spree after watching one too many reality television tantrums. God Bless America looks totally out there and unbelievably dark, but has potential to be a worthy successor to Goldwait's last, World's Greatest Dad. (5/11)

BATTLESHIP – You either want to see this kind of movie, or you don't. (5/18)

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING – We expect the world's longest book commercial. (5/18)

HYSTERIA Hugh Dancy plays Mortimer Granville -- or as history's kinkiest might remember him, the inventor of the first vibrator. Call it a hunch, but we'll bet Dancy doesn't have much trouble with that whole ''pleasure'' thing. (5/18)

CHERNOBYL DIARIES – Oren Peli's building a strange horror empire of sorts. He's got all those Paranormal Activity movies, at least a few more episodes of ABC's The River, and now, Chernobyl Diaries. Don't expect anything new here – if you've seen Peli's found-footage tricks already, you know the drill – but don't be surprised to discover that it all still works. (5/25)

MIB 3 – Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and all the alien-hunting boys in black return for a sequel that absolutely nobody is clamoring for. Other great signs for director Barry Sonnenfeld: The script wasn't finished when filming started, that very same script was re-written three times during production, and worst of all, Lady Gaga has a cameo. (5/25)

MOONRISE KINGDOM – It's almost unfair to say that Wes Anderson's movies are twee – they're too pretty to deserve such a derisive tag. And then you hear about Moonrise Kingdom, and how it's about a pair of kids who run away from their New England island town, and you remember. Yes, you certainly remember. (5/25)


JUNE

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN – Let's get this straight: The guy who wrote Drive also wrote a gritty, violent re-telling of Snow White? And nobody's begun to take odds on when America's suburban moms rise up and boycott it within an inch of its life? Boy, this'll be fun.(6/1)

PROMETHEUS – Ridley Scott's Alien prequel that he refuses to admit is an Alien prequel. Nonetheless, it has all the makings of brilliance, like a phenomenal cast that includes Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron. Although Scott hasn't done sci-fi since the days of Blade Runner and Alien, it's certainly looking like Prometheus will be a worthy successor to those landmarks. (6/8)

ROCK OF AGES – It's an adaptation of a Broadway musical, but it's starring Tom Cruise? It's a comedy, but the lead actress is country singer Julianne Hough? There must be an audience for this sort of thing. (6/15)

THAT'S MY BOY – Is this a funny Adam Sandler movie? With Ken Marino, David Wain and Happy Endings' David Caspe behind the script, that rarest of rare film sightings seems like it's on the horizon. Even though Sandler plays a debauched lout who moves in with his son (Andy Samberg), and even though he does it all with wacky voices and a dumb costume, we can't help but hope. (6/15)

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER – There is no combination of words in the English language as beautiful as ''Abraham Lincoln hunts vampires.'' (6/22)

BRAVE Pixar hopes to wrestle back its animated crown with Brave, a Scottish fable about a girl who defies age-old customs to pursue her love of archery. This is Pixar's first fairy tale – and the first with a female protagonist to boot – meaning that we're wading into unfamiliar waters. (6/22)

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD – An ensemble comedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, this one follows a man's search for his childhood sweetheart amid the impending apocalypse. Directed by Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist). (6/22)

THE ROME WITH LOVE – Woody Allen follows up Midnight in Paris with a series of vignettes about people in Italy and the neurotic hijinks they attract. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz and Ellen Page. It'll also be Allen's first acting role since Scoop. (6/22)

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION – Here's the thing about the sequel to a blockbuster movie: Nobody needs to know what it's about. Retaliation probably has something to do with Joes and Cobras and whatever new toys Hasbro wants to unload this summer, but that's not putting anybody in the seats. Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson and Bruce Willis, though? That'll do it. (6/29)

MAGIC MIKE – You wouldn't guess it by the title or for that matter the director, but this is a comedy about male strippers, starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey and a whole ton of other beefcake types. Tatum used to be a stripper – seriously, he did – and it's allegedly based on his experiences on the pole. (6/29)

PEOPLE LIKE US – Chris Pine and Olivia Wilde star in a drama about a man who has to deliver $150,000 from his dead father's estate to a sister he never met. Alex Kurtzman, the Hollywood scribe behind Eagle Eye, Star Trek and Transformers, takes the helm in his directorial debut. (6/29)


JULY

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN – While some may grouse about rebooting Spidey's story so soon after the last iteration flamed out, we say bring it on. Andrew Garfield's the spitting image of Peter Parker, and with wizard screenwriter Steve Kloves involved, we expect nothing less than superheroics. (7/3)

ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT – The parents who take their children to the Ice Age movies sit them down to explain how things really played out, right? We just worry. (7/13)

TED – Mark Wahlberg plays a man whose childhood wish for his teddy bear to come to life comes true – just a few decades late, and with one hell of a lewd personality. Written and directed by Seth McFarlane, Ted has the look of a hit comedy. (7/13)

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan return for their victory lap. By now, everybody knows what we're getting out of these Batman movies – grit, scowls and hi-tech doohickeys – but that doesn't make any of it less exciting. The Dark Knight Rises is the end of an era. (7/20)

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH – In the vein of last year's Attack the Block, Neighborhood Watch pits ordinary types against alien invaders. This time, though, it's wholly of American sensibilities: Superbad scribes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote the script, while Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill star. If it's half as good as its British cousin, it'll be the funniest movie of the summer. (7/27)

STEP UP 4 – For the price of four Step Ups, you could definitely buy a Stairmaster. (7/27)


AUGUST

THE BOURNE LEGACY – Did you know it's been five years since the last Bourne movie? Tony Gilroy returns -- this time as a director -- but Jeremy Renner, not Matt Damon, will be throwing the punches. The dirty little secret of it all? Without Paul Greengrass and his interminable shaky-cam, this could be as good as the first. (8/3)

THE CAMPAIGN – It's all man children, all the time in Jay Roach's comedy about rural North Carolina politics, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galafianakis. If your taste in humor veers towards Eastbound & Down, The Campaign will be for you. (8/10)

TOTAL RECALL – Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel step into a remake of the Philip K. Dick story about memory loss, with a decidedly sharper political edge than the earlier version, whose most scandalous moment involved a three-breasted alien. Len Wisemen, of Underworld fame, directs. (8/17)

THE EXPENDABLES 2 – Sly Stallone is a tough guy! Jason Statham is a tough guy! Jet Li is a tough guy! Dolph Lundgren is a tough guy! Chuck Norris is a tough guy! Jean Claude Van Damme is a tough guy! Bruce Willis is a tough guy! Arnold Schwarznegger is a tough guy! (8/17)

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN – Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton fill an empty box with wishes for a child, and then plant it in their backyard. A 10-year old shows up on their front doorstep, and he's got a green thumb, or is made of plants, or something. If this sounds like the kind of movie one of Frank Zappa's kids would make up, it's because one of Frank Zappa's kids actually made it up. (8/17)

PREMIUM RUSH – Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In an action movie. About fixed-gear bicyclists. These jokes write themselves. (8/24)

THE WETTEST COUNTY – It'll take all summer, but this adaptation of a novel about bootlegging in Prohibition-era Virginia is what we're most eager to see. Directed by John Hillcoat, written by Nick Cave, and featuring a cast that includes Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman, The Wettest County will hold its own against whatever sweaty nonsense the waning days of summer throw our way. (8/31)

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