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Release Date: September 14, 2012
Studio: Sony Pictures
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Bingbing Li, Johann Urb, Boris Kodjoe, Oded Fehr, Kevin Durand, and Shawn Roberts
Plot: The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, Alice, awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex.

Thoughts: In 2002 if you would have told me after I watched the horrible adaptation that was Paul WS Anderson’s original Resident Evil that they would follow it with four sequels I would have laughed in your face. Yet here I am writing about Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth movie in the horror turned action series. Not only that, but I’m excited for this latest installment, as I was the last one. This series has turned into a guilty pleasure and I hope a sixth, seventh, and eighth movie follows this one. Keep them coming and I’ll keep watching them and will be entertained.

The new movie introduces fan favorite character (and my personal favorite character from the games) Leon S. Kennedy, along with Ada Wong and Barry Burton from the games. The movie brings back Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, who had a cameo in the closing minutes of the last film, along with the return of characters that died in past films, including Oded Fehr as Carlos and Michelle Rodriguez as Rain. Which side, good or bad, these characters are on is unknown, but I’m sure it will be a fun ride finding out. Noticeably absent from Retribution are Claire and Chris Redfield, portrayed by Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller in Afterlife. Rumor has it that they will return in a sixth movie, if it gets made… And I have no reason to think that it will not get made.

Release Date: August 29, 2012
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and Guy Pearce
Plot: Lawless is the true story of the infamous Bondurant Brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic gangster tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant’s family in his novel “The Wettest County In The World”, the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation’s most notorious crime wave.

Thoughts: I should really be more excited for this film. It has a lot of the things I like in my gangster movies and yet, for some reason, the trailer’s have underwhelmed to the point where I’ll likely wait for this movie to pop up on Netflix or TV before I actually watch it.

Lawless is a film that stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jason Clarke as brothers who run a bootlegging business during prohibition era America and finds them hunted by the authorities as they try and build up their increasingly illegitimate business. Directed by John Hillcoat, the man responsible for one of the most depressing films of the last decade in The Road, and the terrific western The Proposition. I cannot help but feel like the star power of Lawless might hurt it more then make it great. Unfortunately for Shia LaBeouf, it is hard for me to buy into him being increasingly more dramatic in his films. He has shaken his Disney image but he has yet to shake his sense of comedic timing in his more serious roles and I cannot help but get the feeling from the trailers that, as the youngest brother of the core group, he’s going to be the one designated with unleashing the quippy one liners this film will have.

Now, what is likely going to get me to see the film is really if the word of month is good enough that I’m practically forced to go to the theater by friends just to see it. Unfortunately, though, I cannot help but shake the feeling that this film will be underwhelming even with all the talent that is on the screen.

Release Date: August 17, 2012
Studio: Universal
Director: Simon West
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Charisma Carpenter, Terry Crews, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Plot: The Expendables are reunited when Mr. Church enlists them to take on a seemingly simple job. When things go wrong, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory, where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time – five tons of weapons-grade plutonium, more than enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary they seek revenge from.

Thoughts: I feel like I’m in a minority when I say that I’m not a big fan of the first Expendables. To me it was like a lot of the straight to DVD films that most of the cast was starring in before this big nostalgic reunion. It was too violent for its own good with poor acting, poor story telling, and poor directing- even if the cast was having a blast on screen (literally and figuratively).

For me, I do have some raised expectations when it comes to The Expendables 2, with a change in director and writers. But most of all because of the inclusion of some of the more funnier leading action man of yesteryear in Arnie, Bruce Willis, and Jean Claude Van Damme (who also impressed the hell out of me in JCVD). I’m hoping for a film that improves on the first one. The trailers have been pretty cool and I’m hoping this is just a lot more fun then the first film and that it becomes a little more cheesey (on purpose) and a bit little less serious. If director Simon West gets the tone right this time around, I think it will be safe to say that The Expendables is the newest action franchise for a lot of these yesteryearers,. I’m just hoping this one pans out, especially since I’d like to see a few new Chuck Norris movies- it has been far too long, even if he’s spent his break saying things that, well, I don’t necessarily agree with.

Release Date: August 10, 2012
Studio: Universal
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Zeljko Ivanek, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn and Albert Finney.
Plot: Writer/director Tony GIlroy expands the Bourne universe created by Robert Ludlum with an original story that introduces us to a new hero (Jeremy Renner) whose life-or-death stakes have been triggered by the events of the first three films.

Thoughts: Today, Universal looks to keep its very popular Bourne series of action movies alive with The Bourne Legacy. Goodbye Matt Damon and a big welcome to the series to Jeremy Renner, who is the go to guy who was able to stand out next to Tom Cruise in the latest Mission: Impossible and was able to prove that he had the chops to be among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.

Also gone is director Paul Greengrass, whose shaky/frantic style was seen in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. A lot of people are fans of Greengrass’ style, but personally I hate it and it killed the two sequels to director Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity, which I thought was a refreshingly good action movie. I look forward to see what Tony Gilroy decides to do with Legacy. He wrote the scripts for all of the Bourne movies, so he knows the characters and story inside out, and his direction in Michael Clayton was award caliber.  He knows how to put an audience on the edge of their seat and keep them there for a thrill ride. Lets hope that he can do the same in The Bourne Legacy. I know that Universal is at the edge of their seats.

Release Date: July 20, 2012
Studio: Warner Brothers
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine.
Plot: Eight years after Batman took the fall for Two Face’s crimes, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy. (via IMDB)

Thoughts: Well the end is in sight for a journey that began eight years ago and is arguably one of the greatest cinematic trilogies of all time. Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise took comic book movies to a new level. Placing the character in the real world and giving the characters and story that sense of realism that could make you believe that this could actually happen. The Dark Knight Rises is shaping up to be THE movie of 2012.

The Dark Knight Rises, like it predecessors, boast an impressive cast. Joining the returning Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I think out of three films, this cast seems to be the best by far. Nolan has said that he didn’t want to save anything from this movie and this looks like it. While not a lot is known officially about the story, that hasn’t stopped the fanboys and internet writers from speculating.

From the trailers and other footage that’s been released, It seems like Nolan is sticking true to his word. There’s already a sense of epicness to this and a feeling that this will easily top anything that’s been done in the two previous films. Hardy and Hathaway look impressive as Bane and Selena Kyle/Catwoman. I like the fact that the film is set quite a while after the events of The Dark Knight. (8 years is official figure I keep hearing). Not only is this a great story setting but this could be a great move for Warner Brothers. With Nolan definitively stating this is the last Batman film he is directing. It’s been rumoured that he will be on the reboot as a producer much like his role on next years Superman Reboot “Man Of Steel”.

If that is the case, this reboot or next series of films could take place in those eight years. Bale has recently said he would up for a fourth film if the story is right- but we’ll have to wait and see. The Dark Knight Rises will be giving an epic conclusion to this wonderful journey and I think it will be the best movie of the summer. I’ve seen The Avengers and loved it, but I just think that TDKR will be better. Nolan hasn’t let us down yet and I think he will be able to top everything else we’ve seen. Either way, July 20th can’t come quick enough for this Bat-Fan.

Release Date: July 3, 2012
Studio: Sony
Director: Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Denis Leary and Rhys Ifans.
Plot: Peter Parker, an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy, and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets.

As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance — leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

Thoughts: When Sony first announced they were abandoning Spider-Man 4 and rebooting the series (so soon after the last flick int he series) I was pissed off. As off the mark as 3 was, I still wanted to see that series continue and get a proper ending. Or in the very least a better ending that it did get. But no, Sony didn’t want to fight to keep Sam Raimi on the project and instead we would get a reboot by the director of 500 Days of Summer, a great movie but by no means a movie that screams “I’m ready to direct Spider-Man!”

Months and months later and we only a few weeks from The Amazing Spider-Man coming out, and I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to it. The cast lives up to the title and really is amazing. Andrew Garfield looks spot on as Peter Parker (much better than Tobey Maguire ever did) and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is inspired casting. Bringing it back to High School, a setting that Raimi jumped over for no good reason, was a great idea. The footage looks great and I’ve stayed away from spoilers, so I will genuinely be going in not knowing much and will be ready to be surprised.

Release Date: January 20, 2012
Studio: Sony, Screen Gems
Director: Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein (Shelter, Storm)
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, India Eisley, Michael Ealy, Kris Holden-Ried, and Stephen Rea.
Plot: [Underworld Awakening] brings a stunning new dimension to the epic battle between Vampires and Lycans, as the first film in the franchise to shoot in 3D. 

Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.

Thoughts: The Underworld series ranks right up there with the Resident Evil movie series in terms of guilty pleasures. It is awful, yet at the same time strangely addictive and entertaining. Plus, it’ll be great to see Kate Beckinsale return as the vampire who loves squeezing herself into skin tight leather and shooting guns with an endless supply of bullets. It hits theaters at the end of January. It is a little surprising that Scott Speedman’s Michael Corvin isn’t returning along with Beckinsale, but maybe that is just a little surprise that the action flick has in store. We’ll have to wait and see.

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