5. Can You Come Home Again to Middle-Earth?We expected the release of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit to be a big deal - but we doubt anyone expected the Oscar-winning director to take J.R.R. Tolkien's original Middle-earth novel and stretch it out into not two, but three, films. Be that as it may, the question was "Can you go home to Middle-earth Again?" - and now, with the release of the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, we have an answer. Maybe it was the sight of familiar characters like Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and Gollum (Andy Serkis) or the lighter, more playful tone of the film; whatever it was, An Unexpected Journey recaptured that magic Jackson created with LotR, and even augmented it with modern effects and a revolutionary high frame rate 3D format that could mark a new turning point in filmmaking (provided audiences support it). Indeed, we can go home to Middle-earth again, and are happy to be back. Hopefully the next two films - Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again - keep this good thing going.
4. IMAX or 3D: Which is Worth our Cash?While very few people complained about The Avengers' post-converted 3D, other films like Men In Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man were somewhat underwhelming with their use of the format. Animated films like Brave, ParaNorman and Wreck-It-Ralph were fun in 3D, but nothing revolutionary. The quality of Prometheus' 3D is more open to debate. On the other hand, The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall were both shot in IMAX aspect ratio (*Skyfall technically did NOT use IMAX cameras) and left most moviegoers wowed. With crisp high-def visuals on a massive screen, IMAX brought the spectacle back to blockbuster films in a way that even the best home theater systems are unable to do. With 3D still getting as much hate as it does love (and 3D TVs not exactly taking the nation by storm) it's pretty easy to declare IMAX the winner in 2012.
3. Is There New Life in Old Ideas?This year offered several reboots, remakes and new adaptations of familiar properties . 21 Jump Street was the only indisputable winner, garnering a warm (lucrative) reception and propelling stars Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill to higher levels of stardom. Amazing Spider-Man and Snow White landed in the middle, while remakes like Dark Shadows, Totall Recall and Red Dawn were pretty lackluster in both fan reception and box office performance. The anomaly is Dredd, a movie that arguably did justice to re-introducing the character and franchise - but maybe people were sick of re-heated leftovers by the time the fall season arrived? While these respective films varied in degree of quality, one thing is for sure: on the whole, recycled ideas didn't offer many new thrills for movie fans.
2. Who is King: Superheroes or Sci-Fi?Both sides had their champions (The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper) as well as their duds (Ghost Rider 2, Battleship, Total Recall) and a few that films fell in the love/hate middle (Amazing Spider-Man, Prometheus). However, given the box office returns and critical consensus, it's easy to declare superheroes the winner this year. But fear not, sci-fi fans: DC's 2013 tentpole Man of Steel is still a big unknown, and Marvel's "Phase Two" films (Thor 2 and Iron Man 3) have to prove that post-Avengers solo films will still be crowd pleasers. Meanwhile, sci-fi will be getting heavy hitters like Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim; TRON Legacy director Joseph Kosinski's new film Oblivion; M. Night Shyamalan teaming with Will and Jaden Smith for After Earth; District 9 director Neil Blomkamp's new film Elysium and many other entries. In 2013, we could have a different clear winner in this battle between genres...
1. Does a Shared Movie Universe Actually Work?Strong Reviews and a billion-dollar box office later, Marvel Studios stands vindicated in their ambitious dream to build a shared movie universe (thanks in large part to writer/director Joss Whedon). The Avengers was a phenomenon and a fun film, to boot. Meanwhile, Disney managed to inculcate a whole new generation of young boys with a love for Marvel superheroes (see: my nephew Quinn, age 3). Marvel Studios has forever changed the game: Sony will be expanding their Spider-Man universe, starting in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (possibly connecting it with Marvel's Universe); Fox has launched their own X-Men/Fantastic Four Marvel Universe; and DC Comics will launch their Justice League movie team film in 2015 to rival The Avengers 2. Welcome to the new blockbuster franchise playing field, folks.
What Are Your Questions?While we answered our 5 Big Movie Geek Questions in 2012, there were some other minor questions we raised, which you can read below (with brief accounts of our answers). ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:
- Will Dark Knight Rises be as good as Dark Knight? [Depends who you ask.]
- Will The Hungers Games be the next hit movie franchise based on YA books? [Yup.]
- Will Batman or The Avengers rule the summer box office? [Marvel won the box office battle.]
- Will Paranormal Activity 4 actually answer more questions than it raises? [No, just throw more half-cooked scares at us.]
- Will The Wachowskis' Cloud Atlas redeem them from a string of bad movies? [Yes... to the few people that saw it.]
- Which will be more fun - a Lincoln biopic or the ridiculous action/adventure of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter [Depends who you ask... but... Lincoln.]
- Is Twilight REALLY gone for good after Breaking Dawn - Part 2? [Probably not - the reboot/spin-off/prequel talk has already started.]