Best of 2013

Evil Dead, Jane Levy,
“Evil Dead”
Synopsis: A group of teenagers head to a woodland cabin to assist in helping a friend kick a drug habit. But a reading of the Necronomicon found inside releases ancient demons.
What You Need To Know: After years of speculation about either a proposed “Evil Dead IV” or an “Evil Dead” remake, producer Sam Raimi simply stepped up to the plate and decided to take control of the thing itself. What’s resulted is a film that, on the surface, retains the glossy visuals of contemporary horror pictures, sans the grit and grime of Raimi’s no-budget originals. But there’s a lot of potential here, from Raimi’s own stewardship of the project (as well as co-producer Bruce Campbell's) to the selection of little-known Fede Alvarez making his directorial debut with a script polished by Diablo Cody. An early peek suggests all the familiar elements are there, including chainsaws, broken cellar doors and overzealous trees, with a dark, grim tone, so the spirit of the original has been honored. Now, what’s different is greater cause for concern.
Release Date: April 12th

Fast & Furious 6 Paul Walker Vin Diesel Dwayne Johnson small
"Fast & Furious 6"
Synopsis: Dominic and Brian's crew of high-octane thieves head to Europe for their biggest heist yet, with DSS agent Luke Hobbs still on their tail, only to come into conflict with a rival gang.
What You Need To Know: It's rare for a franchise to hit its stride with the fifth installment, but that's exactly what happened with 2011's "Fast Five," which brought brilliantly-executed action sequences and a knowing self-awareness about its own dumbness to the long-running automative action series. It was a huge hit, so Universal snapped up director Justin Lin to make his fourth film in the franchise, this time the actioner sees Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, et al. (bolstered by a returning, back-from-the-dead Michelle Rodriguez) heading to the U.K. and to Spain, with Dwayne Johnson's supercop still on their trail. While Jason Statham turned down the chance to make it a triad of slap-headed action stars, rising actor Luke Evans took on the villain part instead, with Gina Carano, "The Raid" 's Joe Taslim and supermodel Clara Paget joining the fun as well. It won't be Shakespeare, but if Lin can deliver the way he did on the last film, it should be a pretty good time at the movies.
Release Date: May 24th

Hangover III
“The Hangover Part III”
Synopsis: Alan grieves over his late father, reuniting the Wolf Pack in a darkly comic misadventure.
What You Need To Know: Sure, some audiences bitched and moaned about “The Hangover Part II,” which transparently replicated several elements from the first picture with little variety. And yet, they still came, making the film the highest grossing R-rated comedy in history. But with director Todd Phillips interested in putting this franchise to bed (unless “Lil’ Hangover” becomes a reality – Warner Bros., call us maybe?), it’s certainly possible that this is the take-no-prisoners blowout of all comedy sequels. The 'Hangover' films feature the characters skirting the edge of death at times, and taking a lighthearted look at some very dark ideas. With no pressure to make a fourth film (probably?), we could see the “Very Bad Things”-type ending we always imagined for these characters. Or, you know, it could be the exact same shit again. John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy are the new additions this time around.
Release Date: May 24th

The Heat, trailer
“The Heat”
Synopsis: An FBI agent and a cop team up to bring down a drug lord.
What You Need To Know: “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig brings it back to the '80s with this buddy cop movie, pairing straight-laced Sandra Bullock with live-wire Melissa McCarthy. The R-rated comedy actioner doesn’t look that far removed from “Beverly Hills Cop” or “Midnight Run” (perhaps Harold Faltermeyer should score?), but apparently the gags in this film have a heavy R-rated slant with content that would have petrified the censors back then. Commercially, this is a gamble: Will female audiences turn out for a film in a genre that’s always been heavily male-dominated, and will men want to watch two women in an action-heavy setting? It’s the sort of gamble that seems exciting to us: the idea of savvy lady cops in a scenario usually reserved for middling comedians and slumming tough guys is the sort of conceptual genre-bending that could potentially alter mainstream gender roles. Also, hey, it seems funny.
Release Date: April 5th

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
Synopsis: Bilbo and the dwarfs continue their quest towards the Lonely Mountain, where they’ll do battle with the fiery dragon Smaug.
What You Need To Know: If you’ve seen 'An Unexpected Journey,' or really any of “The Lord of the Rings” films, you pretty much know what to expect. While the first 'Hobbit' film was considered slower and a bit more lightweight, the next two should pick up the pace considerably. And while no one is really clamoring for any more of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien-fueled “world building,” few doubt Jackson’s skill with elaborate set-pieces and action sequences. What’s interesting is if Jackson has any desire to keep the films family-friendly after throwing in some casual beheadings in the first effort – how much will he indulge the intensity of the coming dragon and giant spider attacks? We might never again consider these films relevant awards bait, but there’s no reason Jackson can’t deliver a few old-school adventure theatrics.
Release Date: December 13th

Synopsis: A DEA agent moves his family to a small town, but soon comes into conflict with a terrifying drug lord.
What You Need To Know: Jason Statham fans are spoilt for choice in 2013; the bald British bruiser has three films, starting off with Taylor Hackford's "Parker" in the near future, with "Hummingbird," the intriguing directorial debut from "Eastern Promises" writer Steven Knight following on later in the year (we've heard some good buzz, and it apparently stretches The Stath's acting muscles more than most). But the one we're most looking forward to is "Homefront," mainly because of the roster of talent alongside Statham. The actor will square off against James Franco, who plays the villainous drug baron, something that's sure to result in a gonzo, scene-stealing turn. Meanwhile, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth and Frank Grillo are also among the cast, and the script was penned by none other than Sylvester Stallone. We're not expecting the earth from this, exactly, but with sturdy programmer expert Gary Fleder ("Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead," "Runaway Jury") at the helm, this could be a fair amount of fun.
Release Date: TBD

Daniel Radcliffe Horns Header
Synopsis: An adaptation of Joe Hill's novel about a young man who, after the death of his girlfriend, wakes up sprouting horns that give him diabolical powers.
What You Need To Know: Unsurprisingly (given that he's the son of Stephen King), Joe Hill has over the last few years become one of the most lauded horror writers, but attempts to bring his work to the big screen haven't been so successful. Neil Jordan couldn't get "Heart-Shaped Box" made, and Mark Romanek's TV take on his comic "Locke & Key" didn't get past the pilot stage. But his second novel, "Horns," is finally on the way, at the hands of Alexandre Aja ("Haute Tension," "The Hills Have Eyes"), one of the most interesting horror directors of recent years. Daniel Radcliffe, in another interesting pick, takes the lead role, with Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Kelli Garner and Joe Anderson among the supporting cast, and the script comes from "In Treatment" writer Keith Bunin, so don't expect it to be a simple exercise in scares, especially given the excellent source novel.
Release Date: No idea; the TIFF/Fantastic Fest combo would make sense, but SXSW would also be feasible.

Saoirse Ronan How I Live Now
"How I Live Now"
Synopsis: An American girl comes to England to visit her cousins, only for society to collapse while she's there.
What You Need To Know: We might have survived the Mayan calendar, but the apocalypse is everywhere this year, mostly in the form of comedic takes on the end of days like "The World's End," "This Is The End" and "Rapturepalooza." But a more serious take comes from director Kevin Macdonald ("Touching The Void," "State Of Play"), with this adaptation of Meg Rosoff's best-selling young adult tale. Penned by Jeremy Brock ("The Last King of Scotland") and Tony Grisoni ("Red Riding"), it's got tough subject matter -- not least from the incestuous romance at the center -- but Macdonald's assembled a cast who should be more than capable of pulling it off, with the busy Saoirse Ronan and "The Impossible" breakout Tom Holland leading a mostly unknown cast.
Release Date: Sometime late in 2013, likely the fall. Probably a good bet for TIFF.

Catching Fire
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
Synopsis: Katniss and Peeta might have made it out of the Hunger Games, but their rulebreaking has made her a threat to President Snow, and so they're called back in for the Quarter Quell, an even more brutal competition that pits previous Hunger Games winners against each other.
What You Need To Know: While it was far from perfect, "The Hunger Games" was a pretty good stab at launching a new young adult franchise; leagues better than the "Twilight" movies, and stacked full of good performances, not least from lead Jennifer Lawrence. Barely eighteen months on, we're getting part two, which promises bigger and more spectacular action, and some new blood in the shape of top-notch character actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeffrey Wright, as well as rising star Sam Claflin. Expect it to look better than the slightly cheap original, with visually adept helmer Francis Lawrence taking over from Gary Ross, though whether he's capable of placing the same emphasis on character as his predecessor remains to be seen.
Release Date: November 22nd

Identity Thief Jason Bateman Melissa McCarthy
"Identity Thief”
Synopsis: When a mild-mannered businessman learns his identity has been stolen, he hits the road to bring the culprit back to his home state to be prosecuted.
What You Need To Know: Seth Gordon, the filmmaker behind “Horrible Bosses” directs, Craig Mazin, one of the main writers on “The Hangover Part II & Part III” penned the script, and the comedy is essentially a two-hander between Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, so you probably already have some idea of what to expect here. But there’s more, co-starring in “Identity Thief” is Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, John Cho, Genesis Rodriguez, Robert Patrick and "Breaking Bad" star Jonathan Banks (who played Mike Ehrmantraut). “Horrible Bosses” wasn’t as good as we hoped, and the early February date is just a week shy of a January dump date, but here’s to hoping.
Release Date: February 8, 2013