A Good Day to Die Hard
Release date: February 14
Despite all the beatings, foot lacerations and prolonged torture sessions, John McClane can't stop trying to die harder. In A Good Day to Die Hard, the hard boiled New York cop played by Bruce Willis is travelling to Russia to deal with his wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney). Only Jack is not wayward; he's a CIA agent working to stop terrorists stealing a cache of nuclear weapons. Veteran thespian Patrick Stewart is rumoured to be coming on board as a villain, so this time McClane might have an adversary as good as Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber to contend with. Yipee ki yay.
Release date: April 11
Oblivion is shaping up as one of the top films in a large crop of sci-fi blockbusters set for release in 2013. It stars Tom Cruise as a repairman sent to check drones on a post-apocalyptic Earth. There aren't meant to be any humans around, so it comes as some surprise when he is kidnapped by a cigar chomping Morgan Freeman and sent on a quest to find the truth about the planet's ruin.
Iron Man 3
Release date: April 25
Robert Downey Jr went some way toward repairing the damage done by the disastrous Iron Man 2 with a starring role in 2012's most popular film The Avengers. He's back to try complete the job in Iron Man 3. It will send Tony Stark to China for a battle against his toughest ever opponent, The Mandarin. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Lethal Weapon writer Shane Black is taking over from Jon Favreau as writer/director but all the usual cast of supporting characters will be back.
Star Trek Into Darkness
Release date: May 16
One of the most anticipated releases of the year pits Captain Kirk against an "unstoppable force of terror" from within Starfleet itself. The trailer looks amazing, with its closing montage of star battles, violent confrontations, romance and lots and lots of exploding stuff. Speculation has swirled about possible links between the film and Star Trek classic The Wrath of Khan. Is John Harrison, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, a new version of the space tyrant?
Release date: June 6
Will Smith and his real life son Jaden play a fictional father and son in this Avatar-esque sci-fi film by M. Night Shyamalan. The pair crash land on Earth, which had been evacuated 1000 years earlier on account of everything having "evolved to kill humans". Smith plays legendary space general Cypher Raige, who is injured in the crash and forced to send his teenage son Kitai into the murderous Earth jungles to find help. Hopefully the film is better than The Happening.
World War Z
Release date: June 20
The film with the most agonised, stop-start build-up of any 2013 release which does not feature any hobbits. World War Z stars Brad Pitt as a UN employee trying to stop a deadly zombie pandemic. Production has been beset by delays, with indecision stretching to the zombies' appearance (they just look like ordinary people having a really bad day in the trailer). Most of the blame has been pinned on director Marc Forster, whose only other feature was the widely despised Bond film Quantum of Solace. Still, it's a big zombie film with Brad Pitt in it, so how bad could things go?
Man of Steel
Release date: June 27
Superman is getting another reboot, this time from the makers of 300 and The Dark Knight. The film's trailer reveals its likely story arc, beginning with Clark Kent grappling with his demons, then conquering them and proceeding to fly around fighting things. Henry Cavill looks great as Superman and Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan is on board as a producer/mentor, so hopefully that will stop director Zach Snyder concocting another travesty like Sucker Punch.
The Lone Ranger
Release date: June 27
Johnny Depp stars as Tonto in this remake of The Lone Ranger. He is joined by Armie Hammer as John Reid - a man who comes back from the dead to become a vigilante who "rides for justice", a Lone Ranger. Yep, this sounds like the Batman Begins of the Western genre. It's put together by the people who made the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and if the trailer is anything to go by, there should be lots of big action set pieces to keep things interesting.
Release date: July 11
Massive green alien lizards rise from the ocean to destroy our cities. Humanity defends itself the only way it knows how - with giant fighting robots. This idea has already been covered pretty well in the original cartoon version of Transformers, Godzilla and Real Steel. But Pacific Rim is a feature from Guillermo del Toro, the Oscar-nominated director of Pan's Labyrinth, so the fights will at least be visually thrilling. Early viewers at Comic-Con 2012 were wowed by the film's mix of human emotion and overwhelming CGI.
Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall
Release date: August 8
Kick-Ass was a refreshingly self-aware take on the superhero genre which mixed dopey comedy, dark realism and comic book-style violence to great effect. Despite that, it didn't do well at the box-office and its sequel has had a tough time getting to cinemas. Original director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels) has been replaced by the cheaper Jeff Wadlow, who has never done anything good. However, the film's excellent stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz are back and the plot, which promises to be a dark story of vengeance, looks good.
Release date: August 15
In the year 2159, the one per cent live on a man-made space station called Elysium while the 99 per cent eke out an existence on a ruined Earth. A bald Matt Damon is a reluctant hero looking to bring a measure of equality back to the world while Jodie Foster plays a hard line official who will stop at nothing to preserve the idyllic space existence enjoyed by the rich. This is the follow up to the excellent District 9 from director Neill Blomkamp so hopes are high.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Release date: October (unconfirmed)
Robert Rodriguez and comic book legend Frank Miller team up in their long-delayed follow up to 2005's grim feature Sin City. The film will be both a prequel and a sequel to the original film, with a storyline linking past and future events. It will again explore all that is miserable, corrupt, violent and criminal in the fictional town of Basin City. Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke and Rosario Dawson are among a cast which would have been more impressive had the movie been released a few years ago.
Thor: The Dark World
Release date: November (unconfirmed)
Thor was equal parts fun and ridiculous so reports that its sequel is going to be more dark and moody have been met with some trepidation. Still the film is in good hands with Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor and its returning cast of Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. It will pit Thor against an ancient race of Dark Elves, led by Christopher Eccleston as Malekith, who are intent on plunging the universe back into darkness.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Release date: November 21
With no Twilight or Harry Potter to contend with, The Hunger Games has the world's teenagers at its mercy. Jennifer Lawrence returns as the world's most famous archer Katniss Everdeen in Catching Fire. It has her and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) trying to keep their love alive while being forced into another fight to the death.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Release date: December 12
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has received mixed reviews, but that hasn't stopped audiences forking out more than $500 million on the film in its first two weeks in cinemas. The Desolation of Smaug promises to build on that success, taking Bilbo Baggins' journey beyond the first six chapters of The Hobbit and into the lair of the great dragon Smaug, who will be voiced by Martin Freeman's Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch.
Picks for 2013:
Best actor: Oblivion will be perfect for Tom Cruise, but if Brad Pitt can save World War Z, he deserves this award.
Best actress: Jodie Foster as an evil one percenter in Elysium.
Top recurring character: A ruined Earth. The post-apocalyptic or apocalyptic planet plays a starring role in no less than six of these fifteen movies. The future is not looking bright.
Disappointment of the year: Pacific Rim. Guillermo del Toro is an excellent director but the trailer for this film looks like Godzilla vs Real Steel. World War Z and The Lone Ranger also have huge disappointment potential.
Best film of the year: Elysium. With an agonised nod to Star Trek, Man of Steel and Kick Ass 2, you can't bet against the guy who made District 9.
Notable omissions:: Anchorman: The Legend Continues, The Great Gatsby, Oz: The Great and Powerful, The Hangover Part 3 and Warm Bodies. Les Miserables, Life of Pi and Django Unchained were not included because they were released and reviewed elsewhere during 2012.
- Herald OnlineBy Hayden Donnell Email Hayden