This year, there are CIA thrillers and CIA rom-coms, 3-D-ized reissues and 3-D sequels, and movies that look at marriage and relationships from every which way.
There is kids' fare, there is literary fare, there are comic-book adaptations and fairy tales, and there are a handful of documentaries and art-house titles that opened in New York and Los Angeles in the final hours of 2011 to qualify for Academy Award consideration, finally making their way to this neck of the woods.
So, here are a few possibly noteworthy entries. Fingers crossed.
- Steven Rea, Inquirer movie critic
Spring Arts - Film:
Safe House (Feb. 10) Denzel Washington is a rogue CIA operative being watched over by Ryan Reynolds in a secured agency facility, when everything goes kablooey, sending the two of them - captor and captive, veteran spy and new guy - on the run. Action, intrigue, double-crosses galore.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace 3-D (Feb. 10) "Confer on you, 3-D glasses, the Council does," the floppy-eared green guru of George Lucas' space sagas might say. The 1999 prequel gets retooled for stereoscopic viewing, with Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson as the Jedi knights on a mission to Naboo. Naboo in three dimensions!
The Vow (Feb. 10) Rachel McAdams is in a car crash and a coma, and then wakes up and can't remember that she's married to Channing Tatum (or maybe it's Tatum Channing?), so he has to woo her all over again. Michael Sucsy, of the Drew Barrymore/Jessica Lange Grey Gardens, directs. Valentine's Day amnesia movie - mark your calendar before you forget.
This Means War (Feb. 14) Star Trek's Chris Pine and Warrior's Tom Hardy are best-buds CIA agents who discover they're dating the same girl - Reese Witherspoon - and launch secret-ops campaigns to do each other in. Call it Spy vs. Spy, just don't tell Mad magazine.
The Secret World of Arrietty (Feb. 17) Japanese animation god Hayao Miyazaki oversaw this adaptation of Mary Norton's magical novel The Borrowers, about a family of teeny-tiny folk living in the walls and floors of some regular people's house.
Tyler Perry's Good Deeds (Feb. 24) No Madea here, as the prolific writer/director/producer/cross-dresser/star heads into dramedy terrain, playing a wealthy corporate chief, soon to be married, who falls for a struggling single mom. Gabrielle Union and Thandie Newton are the women tearing him apart.
John Carter (March 9) Pixar auteur Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo) adapts Edgar Rice Burroughs' sci-fi pulp adventure about a Civil War veteran (Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch) who ends up on Mars, imprisoned by 12-foot-tall Avatar-style creatures. There's a beautiful princess (Lynn Collins) to rescue, too.
Mirror Mirror (March 16) A new twist on ye olde tale of Snow White (another one, Snow White and the Huntsman, is coming in June), with Julia Roberts camping it up as the Evil Queen, Lily Collins as an empowered Ms. White, and Armie Hammer as the handsome prince.
21 Jump Street (March 16) The late-'80s TV show that made Johnny Depp a star is now a buddy-cop comedy, with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as a pair of bumbling undercover police dudes who go back to high school to bust a drug ring. And yes, Depp cameos.
The Hunger Games (March 23) Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson star in this postapocalyptic survival-of-the-fittest fable, based on the mega-selling Suzanne Collins trilogy. We smell franchise.
The Wrath of the Titans (March 30) Unleash the Kraken - again! Sam Worthington is back as Perseus, Liam Neeson is back as Zeus, and Ralph Fiennes is Hades redux in the sequel to 2010's surprise mythological megahit Clash of the Titans.
Titanic 3-D (April 6) Jack and Rose meet on the biggest ocean liner in the world, which now looks so enormous it's about to crash into the projection booth at the back of the stadium-seated theater. Yes, James Cameron is king of the world, so he can do whatever he wants - like reissue his 15-year-old movie in 3-D.
The Five-Year Engagement (April 27) Jason Segel, fresh from resurrecting the Muppets' careers, stars opposite Emily Blunt in Nicholas (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) Stoller's comedic study of a couple and their long, winding, obstacle-strewn path to marriage.
The Avengers (May 4) The calendar says spring, but Hollywood says summer, and this is the baby, based on the Marvel Comics superhero title, that kicks it all off. Yup, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye team up to save the world, under the watchful eye (and eye-patch) of Nick Fury.
And also coming this spring . . . the much-hailed high school football doc Undefeated (February) . . . the Ralph Fiennes-does-Shakespeare Coriolanus (Feb. 17) . . . the father/son indie Being Flynn (March), with Robert De Niro and Paul Dano . . . the Lasse Hallström feel-gooder Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (March 9), with Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt . . . the Will Ferrell goofball Mexican drug war indie comedy Casa de mi Padre (March 16) . . . the Dardenne brothers' festival-winning The Kid With a Bike (April 13). Plus, lots, lots more.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or email@example.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/.