With the end of the year just around the corner, it's time to get ready for the onslaught of cinema that awaits us in 2013. While it's likely most of the films coming out after the Mayan apocalypse won't be home run classics, there's still a huge palette of interesting and bombastic movies waiting for us in the coming year. There's a lot of big studio blockbusters and a good helping of smaller films that all look like they'll be worth checking out. With that, here's a list of forty films (in the order of their release dates) that have sparked this author's curiosity and should get you looking forward to another year at the multiplex.
40. Gangster Squad (1/11)http://youtu.be/bRVvEHk7xOs Despite delays caused by the shooting that took place in Aurora earlier this year, Ruben Fleischer's ode to gangland violence doesn't look to have lost any of its slick and stylish appeal. The story of a group of police officers working outside the law in order to stop the mob from taking over Los Angeles sounds like a fresh new spin on The Untouchables formula. And based on the trailer, it looks like there won't be any shortage of gunplay action to soak up with your eyeballs. Sporting an impressive cast list (Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte and Sean Penn to name a few) and a pulpy sense of two-fisted fun, Gangster Squad looks like it could be a fantastic way to kick off a year at the movies.
39. The Last Stand (1/18)http://youtu.be/oc0x-jiewTE Although he popped up for a quick one-liner or two in The Expendables 2, it's The Last Stand that is the true herald for Arnie's return to the big screen. He'll be teaming up with director Jee-woon Kim (director of the stunningly brutal I Saw the Devil) for his American debut. The plot seems simple enough: A cartel leader is on the run and his last stop before escaping to the Mexican border is a tiny speck of a town that happens to have Schwarzenegger as its sheriff. Johnny Knoxville will be around as comic relief, and even stalwart actors like Forest Whitaker and Harry Dean Stanton will be showing up. If you have any affection for Arnold and his body of work, this is a must-see for next year.
38. Mama (1/18)http://youtu.be/7Am7i7uM9r0 Anything with Guillermo del Toro's name attached to it is worth searching out, even if he's just producing. That's the case with Mama (directed by newcomer Andres Muschietti), a supernatural horror film that looks to be chock-full of eerie atmosphere. Two young girls are left alone in the forest for five years, until they are found and taken in by their uncle and his wife. In attempting to raise the children, the couple discovers that they may not have been as alone as they thought, since they keep referring to a mysterious being known only as, "Mama." And in typical horror movie fashion, crazy things start happening. In the wake of all the cheap "found footage" horror movies that have over-saturated the genre, it's refreshing to see a horror movie that looks well-made and almost classy in its presentation. This could be a nice little scare to start the new year off right.
37. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (1/25)http://youtu.be/mAzqMhVHh0c When the first trailer landed for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, it looked like another Van Helsing-style snorefest. But, after releasing the red-band trailer (above), the movie showed that it could actually be a nice little gory diversion from the usual January doldrums. Turning the familiar siblings into supernatural hunters-for-hire seems like an obvious but playful way to spin a new story. And if the trailer above is any indication, this won't be a family-friendly fairy tale at all, and that's what makes it a tad interesting. With a witty Jeremy Renner (hot off both The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy) headlining, this revisionist take on the classic fable may have a little blood in its veins after all. With support from the strong and sexy Gemma Arterton and a villainous turn by the ever-sultry Famke Janssen, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has the chance to be the first one of these medieval fantasy re-tellings that gets it right. Yeah, I'm talking about you, Snow White and the Huntsman.
36. Vs a.k.a. All Superheroes Must Die (1/29)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjkyiC9GaeE Actor/writer/director Jason Trost made one of the greatest movies ever, The FP. It's an incredible comedic endeavor that works because of how seriously it treats itself, its characters and the world they inhabit. It looks like Trost is taking that same care and attention to his new film, VS (rebranded as All Superheroes Must Die for the home video release) but is losing the comedy in favor of a grim hyper-reality. A group of superheroes are captured by their nemesis (played by the always wonderful James Remar) and forced to compete in a series of twisted games in order to save a whole host of innocent hostages. It looks like Trost is taking the superhero genre and mixing it together with a bit of torture porn. Sounds like a good time to me! If it's anywhere near as well-crafted and honest as The FP, All Superheroes Must Die could usher in a new creative voice in genre filmmaking. Although it's been touring festivals for a while now, we'll all get the chance to see it when it hits DVD and Blu-ray on 1/29.
35. The ABC's of Death (1/31)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFgrFENQ4oQ One sub-genre of horror that has been sadly missing from the moviehouse is the anthology film. Collecting a group of short stories together always has a campfire atmosphere attached to it, and it looks like The ABC's of Death is planning to throw a whole can of gasoline on that fire. Twenty-six directors each made a short horror film, each film representing a letter of the alphabet. The sheer size of this endeavor makes this a must-see movie, and it doesn't hurt that there are a couple noteworthy genre names attached to some of the shorts. Angela Bettis (May), Ti West (The Innkeepers), Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes), Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) and a whole slew of up-and-coming filmmakers are lending their voice to this unique horror experiment. The distributors of the movie (Drafthouse Films) even held a contest for the film that would represent the letter, "T." UK director Lee Hardcastle won with his claymation splatter fest, "T is for Toilet." You can watch that NSFW segment here. The ABC's of Death will be released on VOD on January 31st, with a limited theatrical run starting March 8th.