By Alex Domine, A&E Columnist
Short of the last installment of Harry Potter, 2011 was a lackluster year for films. However, it'll turn around in 2012 with the return of the blockbuster phenomenon. Here are the top five most-anticipated films of 2012.
5. The Amazing Spiderman
Our generation grew up with Toby Maguire clad in red spandex as Spider-Man. However, Director Marc Webb and Columbia Pictures are planning to resurrect the story only five years after the previous trilogy closed.
It’s a bold move to reboot a classic story that was already successfully told less than a decade ago. The Sony website promises that this reboot will tell “a different side of the Peter Parker story.”
We can expect Andrew Garfield, previously seen as the dashingly whiney CFO in The Social Network, as Peter Parker. Co-starring along Garfield is Emma Stone as the love interest.
Spiderman will confront the comic villain Lizard as the antagonist. The original trilogy set the bar high for a remake so soon.
If we thought Maguire was good as high school students, Garfield better deliver to pass our judgment as college students. It hits the silver screen July 3.
4. The Great Gatsby
Toby Maguire ditched the red spandex suit to play Nick in the 1920s tale “The Great Gatsby.” Warner Bros. is revitalizing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, which was last seen in theaters more than 40 years ago.
"The Great Gatsby" is a required reading in many high schools, so the chance that the audience will have been at least exposed to the story is high. I usually prefer the books to the screen, but it will be a treat to see the 1920s in 3D. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jay Gatsby, taking Robert Redford’s place in the 1974 version. However, it’s not the actors I’m worried about. DiCaprio, Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton make a fine cast for sure.
It’s whether or not the 2012 revival will survive scrutiny against the 1974 version and the novel. The Great Gatsby will be released Dec. 25.
Animators cower in fear when they realize Pixar is releasing a film. Between the lacking results from Cars 2 and the recent death of Steve Jobs, the company's biggest shareholder, 2011 was an upsetting year for Pixar. Despite this, Pixar is unwavering with another promising 3D animation.
“Brave” is a landmark for Pixar. It is the first Pixar film to have a female lead, voiced by Kelly MacDonald. In addition, it’s the first non-sequel film since the company’s 2009 hit “Up.”
I’m betting the story of a 10th-century Scottish princess named Merida will re-establish Pixar’s authority in the animated world.
2. The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collin’s first book in her best-selling trilogy, “The Hunger Games,” is scheduled to appear in theaters March 23.
It’s a story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where 24 children – ages 8 to 18 – fight to the death as punishment for rebelling against the government.
Director Gary Ross sets the dark theme of the movie with a young cast including Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence. Evidenced by “Harry Potter” and “Twilight,” science fiction novels face danger when crossing over to the screen.
It’s that danger that makes “The Hunger Games” runner-up for most anticipated film of 2012.
1. The Dark Knight Rises
I have requested July 20 off work in anticipation of Christian Bale suiting up for the last installment of the Batman series.
The dark memoir of Bruce Wayne’s double life is the most anticipated film of 2012. The political themes in "Batman Begins" and Heath Ledger’s stunning posthumous performance in “The Dark Knight” have set up “The Dark Knight Rises” to be a colossus at the box office.
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne has brought an all-star cast this year, featuring Tom Hardy as Bane and Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle’s secret identity, Catwoman.
Academy Award Winning Actress Marion Cotillard also joins the comic book cast. Liam Neeson returns as Ra’s Al Ghul alongside other Batman veterans, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as Alfred.
What separates "The Dark Knight" series from other action films is its relevance to today’s society. Batman Begins was littered with political overtones of economic downturn and corrupt government.
"The Dark Knight" was Gotham City’s version of the war on terror. In addition to the success of the previous movies, the fact it’s the last installment and is a summer release will garner a few extra bucks at the box office.
The last installment of "The Dark Knight" series is a summer kickoff delivering an extraordinary cast and is the one thing that is making comic books and politics sexy. “The Dark Knight Rises” is the most anticipated film of 2012.
So despite a dull year for filmmakers in 2011, 2012 is featuring some promising flicks. I've grown tired of YouTube and Netflix. I'm ready for the return of the midnight premier.