How ironic – or poignant, perhaps – is it that the movie slate for 2012 is full of dark, twisted horror films, Armageddon-drenched fantasies, "ultimate baddie" superhero movies and gruesome re-imaginings of our favorite fairytales?
Are we to read that Hollywood has correctly tapped into the world’s current economic gloom, providing us with a mirror of how we all feel right now? Filmmakers, after all, have historically been best at doing this: spotting a global psychological feeling and exploiting it, commenting on it, challenging it.
But what makes 2012 any different from any other year?
Only that – looking at a round-up of upcoming films – there appears to be a core thread of dark fantasy, fables and fairytales being released throughout next year. Movies that seem to cry out to an audience suffering from an overdose of their negative reality: You’re in a bad place right now, yes, we know, but go see all these characters battling similar and worse evils in other worlds and, yes, you’ll feel even darker, but [when you come out the movie theater] a whole lot better about your life too!
As I’m a massive fan of dark fantasy, sci-fi and fairytale-based movies, I feel this approach to filmmaking, and the enticing of an audience, is entirely the right one. And an exciting, bizarrely uplifting one too.
I’m a firm believer that viscerally enjoying some horror and darkness – whether it be by reading a book, watching a film or play, or playing a console game (just not doing it for real) – is a healthy way to balance out your mind’s basic, creative, instinctive need for experiencing both the light and dark aspects of life.
Cinema is, of course, an escape. So I can’t hide the fact I’m ridiculously excited that film in 2012 will take us on a tour-de-force of epic and all-encompassing fairytales, fables and fantasies.
Monumental twists on fairytale stories will occur with a two-horse ‘Snow White-off’ between "Mirror Mirror" and "Snow White and the Huntsman." Director Tarsem Singh’s "Mirror Mirror" is going for a younger audience with bright colors, whereas Rupert Sanders’ debut is turning "Snow White" into a Joan Of Arc-style knight battling the dark hordes of the Evil Queen.
Dripping with epic battle scenes filmed in the U.K., "Snow White" will be – along with "Jack the Giant Killer," Bryan Singer’s giant re-telling of man-eating fairytale "Jack and the Beanstalk" – ones to watch in 2012.
Pixar continues the fairytale-esque rundown with, potentially, their darkest movie since Wall-E, with a Scottish tale of a red-headed, feisty girl in "Brave" in August 2012.
Peter Parker returns – again – in Marc Webb’s "The Amazing Spider-Man" re-boot. Promising to get back to gritty, "down-to-Earth," spidey action, this one will see Spidey going up against Rhys Ifans’ "ultimate baddie," the Lizard.
And the Tultimate baddies
just keep on coming in 2012, because Marvel’s "The Avengers" finally sees Samuel L. Jackson’s (Nick Fury) ragtag band of superheroes – Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man – come up against a psychotic, world-destroying Loki. Then Batman returns (see what I did there?), in Christopher Nolan’s final re-creation of "The Dark Knight" saga with "The Dark Knight Rises" in July 2012.
Batman will also face an ultimate foe – the much-rumored terror that is Bane. Judge Dredd in September will cap off 2012’s dark dalliance into comic book superheroes.
And, if we sprinkle in director Andrew Stanton’s "John Carter" – with its array of sci-fi phantasmagorical Mars beasts, uglies and a "Star Wars"-level of warring factions – and add a few tablespoons of Ridley Scott’s familiar slimy, scary darkness with his expansion of the "Alien" pantheon in "Prometheus," we get the first two courses of a scrumptious horror-fantasy-laden meal that can only be finished off with one big daddy of all deserts.
Yes, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will cap off our terror-filled taste buds in December 2012, when Peter Jackson returns with the first of two epic movies to tread the path toward the Ring in Tolkien’s prequel to "The Lord of the Rings." And because we all know that Bilbo Baggins is heading for trouble, The Hobbit Part One will give us that disturbing, underlying yet magical feeling of impending doom that made the previous three "LOTR" movies work so wondrously well.
So then, children of the night, come join me and my dark friends on a journey of mayhem, murder and malice that is guaranteed to lift your spirits in 2012.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.