If you get some time to leave your bunker in 2012, check out these flicks; be sure to wear your gas mask…
Released: 1 February
“What are you capable of?” asked the trailer for this mash-up of found-footage movie and sci-fi superhero thriller. It’s about a group of teenagers who possess telekinetic powers that gradually increase in destructive strength. Hollywood may be busily converting the classic Akira for western audiences, but it looks as though director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis may have beaten them to it; as the youths use their new-found abilities to pull off various pranks, one of their group begins to display a murderous appetite for destruction, a bit like Tetsuo in Katsuhiro Otomo’s seminal anime.
The trailer that arrived last month placed Chronicle high up on our must-watch list, and while we’re growing a little weary of the found footage genre, the grungy, quasi-realism of Trank’s movie could make for a great alternative to next year’s glossier comicbook movies. There are some fantastic images and special effects in here, too, including a fantastic bit where half a dozen police cars are swept away by a gigantic telekinetic wave, and an amusing moment where a child is menaced by a floating teddy bear.
After that trailer, Chronicle went from being a film we’d barely heard of to one we’re eagerly anticipating.
Released: 9 March
We’ve already written lots and lots about John Carter in previous posts, but that’s because we’ve every faith that director Andrew Stanton can pull this one off. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original John Carter books inspired an entire generation of writers and filmmakers, and movies such as Star Wars and Avatar can all be traced back to his much-loved pulp adventures.
Stanton has a rich well-spring of inspiration to draw on, then, in this tall tale about Carter, an American Civil War veteran who ends up fighting exotic creatures and falling love with a princess on Mars. The special effects look stunning, and the director’s experience in computer animation really shows here, with Willem Defoe unrecognisable under a layer of pixels as Carter’s 12-foot-tall alien ally, Tars Tarkas.
A rip-roaring pulp yarn, John Carter doesn’t boast the fascinating concepts of some of the other sci-fi movies on this list, but its spectacle alone makes this one of our most anticipated movies of 2012.
Released: 13 April
Luc Besson co-wrote and produced this action thriller, which looks rather like Escape From New York relocated to an orbiting space station. Guy Pearce is the laconic, cigarette-smoking hero, who gets a shot at freedom when he’s tasked with rescuing the president’s daughter, played by Maggie Grace.
Everything points to a fun, breezy and pleasingly retro adventure – the international trailer released last week even features lots of blazing laser cannons (it feels like ages since we’ve seen one of those in a genre film), and Pearce looks to be on form as a wise-cracking, unreconstructed hero.
It’s also thought that Lockout will get an R rating in the US, so it’s likely to be one of the more violent, sweary movies on this list.
Released: 1 June
Ridley Scott makes what we hope will be a triumphant return to the sci-fi genre with Prometheus. Scott and his fellow filmmakers may have been reluctant to describe this as a prequel to Alien, but whatever its relationship to that 1979 classic proves to be, we’re clamouring to see it. Filling in the history of the Space Jockeys, the creators of the strange, horseshoe-shaped ship carrying the xenomorph eggs in Alien, Prometheus stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron as a group of explorers who encounter something nightmarish on the edge of space.
One of the most secretive film productions we’ve seen in years, the few bits of information Fox has divulged have been quite encouraging. Scott’s built some huge and spectacular-looking sets for Prometheus, which gives us hope that the film doesn’t suffer from the same depressing over-use of green screens and digital sets that made the Star Wars prequels look so cold and unengaging.
If we could pick fault with anything, though, the promo pictures released a couple of weeks ago showed Rapace and her fellow actors looking extremely polished and air-brushed, though, with Fassbender displaying the sort of slick, well-oiled side-parting you’d expect to see on a 30s matinee idol – we were rather hoping that Prometheus would have the same battered, lived-in look as Alien. Maybe the characters’ extra-terrestrial encounters will leave them looking rather less pristine.
Released: 22 August
Like last year’s The Thing prequel, Total Recall’s one of those movies that some might argue shouldn’t be made. Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 original is a fondly-remembered action staple, even if it is rather less mordantly satirical than his other sci-fi masterpieces, RoboCop and Starship Troopers.
It’s evident, though, that director Len Wiseman’s trying to do something different with his version of Total Recall. For one thing, Doug Quaid (played by Colin Farrell) won’t be getting his ass to Mars this time, with his identity crisis adventures taking place in future city on Earth. What we appear to be looking at, then, is a sort of futuristic Bourne Identity, with Farrell running around trying to discover the facts behind his erased past.
Various images, both official and otherwise, have shown off some rather cool-looking floating cars and stylish sets, and from a visual standpoint, Total Recall 2012 looks more like Minority Report than Verhoeven’s bloodthirsty blockbuster. If you’re still not convinced, there’s still the presence of the great Bryan Cranston to consider; he’s stepping into Ronny Cox’s old shoes as sneering corporate bad guy, Vilos Cohaagen. Even if this Total Recall can’t match the brilliance of the 90s Schwarzenegger vehicle, at least we know it’ll have a highly watchable villain.
Released: 28 September
There are many reasons to look forward to this time-travel sci-fi thriller. First, it’s written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom). Second, its cast is excellent, and includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, who play the same character at two different points in time.
And then there’s the premise itself, which sounds complicated yet fascinating – so complicated, in fact, that we’ll let the filmmakers’ synopsis do the explaining: “The story takes place in a world where a crime syndicate can send their enemies back in time and a group of killers known as ‘loopers’ eliminate those enemies, so there’s no evidence of the murder in the crime syndicate’s present time.”
Johnson apparently worked with Shane Carruth on the script, which might explain why it sounds so intricate – Carruth was responsible for the brain-melting yet fantastic Primer, after all. Looper sounds like a twist on such films as Twelve Monkeys (or going further back, the film that inspired Gilliam, 1962’s La Jetée), and if it’s anywhere near as good as those, then we’ll be very happy indeed.