Favorite movies of 2012

My favorite animated features of 2012…

1. Rise of the Guardians (Disney)

2. Frankenweenie (Tim Burton/Disney)

3. Secret World of Arrietty (British dub) (Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli)

4. From Up on Poppy Hill (Miyazaki Jr./Studio Ghibli)

5. Zambezia (Triggerfish)

6. The Pirates! (Aardman)

7. Brave (Disney)

2012 genre movies I’d watch again…

1. Cloud Atlas (You’ll probably be confused as hell the first time, but keep at it. Ideally three viewings are needed to even start to ‘get’ it).

2. Skyfall.

3. Prometheus (But you need the extended ‘fan edit’, and ideally two viewings, to ‘get’ it)

4. The Avengers (But it works best after you’ve seen the super-extended chronological ‘fan edit’ of all the Marvel movies that led up to it).

5. Solomon Kane (Choppy in several places – director’s cut or fan-edit needed with new voiceover links – but deliciously and darkly faithful to R.E. Howard’s fiction)

6. Expendables 2 (2012’s best dose of Politically Incorrect Big Dumb Exploding Fun)

Honorable mentions: Looper; Paranorman; Tad, the Lost Explorer. Enjoyed ’em, wouldn’t watch them again.

Can’t even remember now: Amazing Spiderman; Dark Knight Rises; Total Recall; Battleship.

Genre movies not yet seen: Dredd; The Hobbit; Moonrise Kingdom; Atlas Shrugged 2; Life of Pi.

Survey of animated and FX-heavy movies due for 2013

So what cool and worth-mentioning movies do we have to look forward to in 2013? Movies that are either animated or FX-heavy fantasy/sci-fi?

February 2013: The Croods. Fun caveman comedy animation, originally an Aardman project but now in 3D from Dreamworks. Sounds like just what you need to liven up a dull February.

The Croods - Image 2

March 2013: Jack the Giant Slayer. Fairytale filmed on location in England which, together with a strong cast, sounds encouraging. But it’s been delayed a couple of times, and trawling the screenshots suddenly discourages much hope for it.


March 2013: Oz the Great and Powerful. $200m prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Has “worthy” and “over-stuffed” written all over it.


April 2013: Oblivion. Sadly not a movie of the famous Bethesda videogame. The bare sci-fi plot sounds like cliched “last-man-on-Earth” stuff, with a dose of demographics-friendly “last-girl-on-Earth” romance. But it’s also apparently based on an acclaimed sci-fi graphic novel, and it’s by the Tron: Legacy director — so there’s some hope for it.

Oblivion movie HD Wallpaper

May 2013: Star Trek: Into Darkness, aka Star Trek 12. I loved the original Shatner-era movies, and enjoyed the Picard-era Trek movies. But the recent teen-friendly reboot hasn’t lingered in my memory at all. Still, it’s sort-of Kirk-era Star Trek so I’m looking forward to it.


May 2013: Epic. Whimsical animated magical-forest adventure by the makers of the abysmal Rio. A preview image of the heroine riding on a humming bird, going to meet some cute mice, suggests the target audience will be 10 year old girls. Well good for them, they deserve a big-budget movie made just for girls (that isn’t Tinker Bell).


July 2013: Pacific Rim. Give Guillermo del Toro $200m worth of Transformers-like giant robots and giant monsters to play with, and the result is highly likely to be at least a little fun. For boys of all ages.


Summer 2013?: Gravity. George Clooney vehicle, a realistic near-future space disaster drama, in the Apollo 13 human drama tradition.


August 2013: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Dark fantasy creatures invade the real world. Based on a mother-daughter “young adult” novel. Doesn’t sound very promising.


September 2013: Riddick, aka Riddick 3. Third in the sort-of series. The first two movies were OK, as gory b-grade low-budget sci-fi movies go. But Riddick is a very interesting character, so it might be an enjoyable lads’ movie.


October 2013: The Seventh Son. Sounds like a standard-issue ‘young adult’ dark fantasy, intended for young teen males.


November 2013: Ender’s Game. Major sci-fi movie based on the famous novel, which it’s a fair certainty the scriptwriters will have gutted and re-shaped beyond recognition. Concept art by Darien E. Robbins…


November 2013: Thor: the Dark World. The first Thor was pretty well constructed and was mildly enjoyable, so… who knows?


November 2013: Singularity. Roland Emmerich’s (2012) disaster-movie(?) about nano-technology. Probably Emmerich’s usual highly enjoyable “no brain required” stuff, given the nature of his previous movies. Let’s hope he moves on to start Asimov’s Foundation trilogy after this, at last, along with a scriptwriter who can infuse them with Asimov’s intelligence.


Undated 2013: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo. Disney tells Nemo’s back-story. Cancelled in 2009, but now it’s said to be back, with the director of the superb The Social Network at the helm. So there’s hope.


Undated 2013: Imaginary Enemies. Interesting concept, and a live-action/animation mix. Young children’s ‘imaginary friends’ come back in the future to wreak havok, in the grown-up world.


Late 2013? The Europa Report. Apparently a serious low-budget sci-fi about the exploration of Europa, Jupiter’s frozen (but quite possibly life-bearing) moon.


December 2013: Beyond Apollo. The tagline “director of Cloverfield” turned me off immediately, since I found that movie unwatchable.


December 2013: Frozen. Disney’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. There’s singing in it. Now I’m all for a good old-fashioned 1950s song and dance movie, but I suspect this won’t be it.


December 2013: The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug. The theatrical release of the first movie had mostly tepid or hostile reviews, so we can only hope that the trilogy takes a leap with the second installment. No doubt everything will smooth out once we finally get the trilogy in full as an extended-cut DVD set.


And over in the “Big Dumb Hollywood” dept.: Iron Man 3 (it can’t be worse than the tedious Iron Man 2); Man of Steel (a Superman reboot); After Earth (yet another post-apocalyptic gloom-fest, yawn); World War Z (more post-apocalyptic gloom-fest, this time with zombies for added boredom, snooze…); Monsters University (sequel); Despicable Me 2 (sequel to an inventive but forgettable movie); The Smurfs 2 (sequel); Yogi Bear 2 (sequel); Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (sequel); Turbo (Cars rip-off, but with racing snails…); Elysium (politically-correct “evil sci-fi megacorp” Jodie Foster vehicle); Mighty Mouse (desperate reboot of an old character); Lone Ranger (desperate reboot of an old character); Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (sequel to a very poorly reviewed first film. Why bother?).

Also vague rumours about movie adaptations of the classic SF novels Rendezvous with Rama, Neuromancer, Snow Crash. The latter would be especially awesome, if they get it right.


The video for The Octopus Project’s new track “Whitby” is an animation made using over 4,000 bits of colored card stock. But instead of heading for the scissors draw, the band chose to design each shape in Photoshop, then had a scrapbooking die-cut machine cut them out automatically. Then the hard work of the stop-motion animation filming began! Add music that mashes up electopop with twee, and you have an interesting slice of the digital-crafting-music-animation zeitgeist…

The Prometheus Trap

Cool-looking 90-minute Prometheus fan-film and prequel, Prometheus Trap… looks like they have some talented FX and stage lighting people on board, even if the sound and dialogue both seem a little flat. Out now…