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Features

Empire's Giant 2013 Movie Preview
185 films of next year profiled and explained


Animation And Kid Stuff
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Wreck-It Ralph (3D)

DATE  February 15
DIRECTOR  Rich Moore
CAST (VOICES)  John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Jack McBryer, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling

FUN FACT  Keep your eyes peeled for a whole host of real video game characters and references throughout the film, from Pac Man to Street Fighter to Sonic.

SYNOPSIS  Video game bad guy Wreck-It Ralph (Reilly) has spent 30 years in an arcade game wrecking a building that is then miraculously repaired by the game's playable character, Fix-It Felix (McBrayer). But Ralph, tired of being ostracised by his colleagues, goes off to try to become a hero elsewhere in the arcade. This threatens not only his home game but all those he enters, and soon he has to figure out a way to clean up his own mess.

WHAT TO EXPECT  This is one of Disney Animation's most likeable efforts in years, with Ralph proving an underdog it's almost impossible not to root for. Gamers will enjoy all the cameos and nods to their favourite arcade classics, but even if you don't know Chun Li from Guybrush Threepwood there's enough colour and humour here to keep you going.
• Watch the trailer below

All Stars

All Stars

DATE  February 1
DIRECTOR  Ben Gregor
CAST  Theo Stevenson, Akai Osei-Mansfield, Ashley Jensen, Fleur Houdijk

BASED ON  Akai Osei-Mansfield won the first season of Got To Dance, and has already appeared in Streetdance and Streetdance 2.

SYNOPSIS  When a local youth club comes under threat, a pair of determined schoolboys gather a dance crew to enter a competition and try to win the money to save it.

WHAT TO EXPECT  This is very clearly a tween version of Streetdance, aiming to extend the audience for all those Step Up imitators down to younger kids. As such, it should hit the mark: the dancing looks impressive from what we've seen, and the kids should connect with their peers at least. It may, however, not be for anyone over the age of about 16.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

The Croods (3D)

The Croods (3D)

DATE  March 22
DIRECTOR  Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
CAST (VOICES)  Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman

FUN FACT  This was originally planned as a stop-motion animation by Aardman way back in 2005.

SYNOPSIS  Grug (Cage) and his family, including rebellious daughter Eep (Stone), survive by staying near their cave at all times - but when an earthquake destroys it they discover, to quote another animated film, a whole new world. And more importantly, from Eep's point of view, a handsome stranger called Guy (Reynolds).

WHAT TO EXPECT  Director Chris Sanders' last film was the remarkable How To Train Your Dragon. Even if this is half as good, that would be something - and the trailer has some promisingly gorgeous creatures and the voice of Nicolas Cage.
• Watch the trailer below

Postman Pat: You Know You're The One

Postman Pat: You Know You're The One

DATE  May 24
DIRECTOR  Mike Disa
CAST (VOICES)  Stephen Mangan, David Tennant, Rupert Grint, Jim Broadbent

FUN FACT  Over 12 million Postman Pat books have been sold worldwide.

SYNOPSIS  Postman Pat (Mangan) delivers mail in the town of Greendale with his cat Jess, but becomes a sensation when he wins a TV talent contest.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The series is very low-key, entertaining kiddies but offering basically zero in the way of drama or conflict. We're told this is less soft and not a pre-school affair, but at the same time we doubt it's going to be violent or terribly threatening.

Despicable Me 2 (3D)

Despicable Me 2 (3D)

DATE  June 28
DIRECTOR  Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
CAST (VOICES)  Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong

SEE ALSO  The Minions, a spin-off focusing on the little yellow dudes who work for Gru, will be out in December 2014.

SYNOPSIS  Gru (Carell) has cleaned up his act and renounced villainy now that he's father to three adoptive daughters. But he's called into action against a new threat - even while this new terror steals Gru's own minions. We suspect that Wiig's character may be a love interest for Gru, too.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Everything we've seen suggests that this will be on a par with the first film, which was a clever comedy with a surprisingly big heart. Also, there will be more from the Minions, who seem to be so universally adored that they would run away with the next US Presidential election.
• Watch the trailer below

The Smurfs 2 (3D)

The Smurfs 2 (3D)

DATE  July 31
DIRECTOR  Raja Gosnell
CAST (VOICES)  Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christina Ricci, Anton Yelchin, Alan Cumming, Brendan Gleeson, Hank Azaria, Katy Perry

FUN FACT  Those hats the Smurfs wear are Phrygian caps, worn in ancient times by the inhabitants of Phrygia in central Anatolia. Don't say we never teach you anything.

SYNOPSIS  Big baddie Gargamell (Azaria) kidnaps Smurfette (Perry) because she alone knows how to turn his new creations, the Naughties, into normal smurfs. And also probably because she's a girl and this is apparently the Dark Ages. Anyway, the rest of the gang teams up with their human pals Patrick (NPH) and Grace (Mays) to rescue her and generally save the day.

WHAT TO EXPECT  More tiny blue people running around in white tights to hopefully comic effect, with Harris, Mays and Vergara gamely playing along.
• Watch the trailer on Yahoo

Monsters University (3D)

DATE  July 12
DIRECTOR  Dan Scanlon
CAST (VOICES)  John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Dave Foley, Ken Jeong, Rob Riggle, J. B. Smoove, John Ratzenberger

FUN FACT  There's a fully functional website for Monsters University online.

SYNOPSIS  A decade or more before Monsters, Inc., James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Crystal) are members of the same fraternity, both planning to become scarers once they graduate. The pair are rivals, at least at first, but as we know they're going to end up as BFFs, so presumably that forms at least part of the plot.

WHAT TO EXPECT  It's Pixar, so our expectations are sky-high. The trailer was amusing, and if the plot remains a bit of a mystery right now, the pairing of Sulley and Mike is one that we're very happy to see again - and a cartoon set in college is an idea that hasn't already been played out a million times, so that's promising.
• Watch the trailer below

Justin And The Knights of Valour (3D)

Justin And The Knights of Valour (3D)

DATE  August 9
DIRECTOR  Manuel Sicilia
CAST (VOICES)  Freddie Highmore, Saoirse Ronan, Alfred Molina, Olivia Williams, Mark Strong, James Cosmo, David Walliams, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Charles Dance, Barry Humphries

FUN FACT  Director Manuel Sicilia won a Goya (Spanish Oscars) for his film The Missing Lynx.

SYNOPSIS  Justin (Highmore) wants to become a knight like his grandfather Sir Roland, slain years before by the evil Sir Heraclio (Strong). But Justin's father (Molina) wants him to study law - so Justin runs off to train with the Knights of Valour.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The trailer looks a little derivative - there's even a line nicked from Yoda, and one of the Knights appears to be modelled on Sean Connery in Highlander - but let's hope it brings some laughs.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

Turbo (3D)

Turbo (3D)

DATE  October 18
DIRECTOR  David Soren
CAST (VOICES)  Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Peña, Paul Giamatti, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Maya Rudolph, Kurtwood Smith, Luis Guzman

FUN FACT  DreamWorks actually partnered with the Indy Racing League to make the race scenes as authentic as possible, despite the fact that snails are involved.

SYNOPSIS  A garden snail, Turbo (Reynolds), feels the need for speed, but is held back by his nervous older brother Chet (Giamatti). A freak accident, however, leaves him able to compete against the whole of the Indy racing circuit. It's Days Of Thunder, but Tom Cruise is a snail!

WHAT TO EXPECT  DreamWorks Animation is hoping this will be the start of a new film franchise, complete with TV spin-offs. Whether it will prove sufficiently popular - and whether snails can be a sufficiently charismatic lead, remains to be seen, but it sounds amusing at least. If a rat can cook, why can't a snail race?
• Watch the trailer on Apple

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2: Revenge Of The Leftovers

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2: Revenge Of The Leftovers

DATE  October 25
DIRECTOR  Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
CAST (VOICES)  Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Benjamin Bratt, Terry Crews, Will Forte, Kristen Schaal

FUN FACT  Terry Crews takes over from Mr T. here as Earl, the town's fierce cop and loving father to Cal Devereaux (Bobb'e J. Thompson).

SYNOPSIS  Inventor Flint Lockwood (Hader) and his friends have been forced off the island of Swallow Falls after the disaster of the first movie, and are now working for Chet V (Forte) and his Live Corp Company on cleaning the island. But Flint discovers that his machine is still active and now making mutant living food like tacodiles and shrimpanzees, and has to save the day once again.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The first film flew under many people's radar but delighted practically everyone who saw it, giving us high hopes for this one. The characters last time were just barmy enough, and the incidental jokes - talking monkey Steve, the unbelievably ill-conceived ratbirds - kept the laugh rate up at stratospheric heights.

Planes (3D)

Planes (3D)

DATE  August 16
DIRECTOR  Klay Hall
CAST (VOICES)  Jon Cryer, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Carlos Alazraqui

FUN FACT  Note that the traditional animator's nod to classroom A113 at CalTech is included in the teaser here: one of the fighter jets has the number on its side.

SYNOPSIS  We know that the main character is called Dusty (Cryer) and that he's a single-prop plane that - judging by his name - is maybe a crop-duster. But if this teaser shows footage from the film itself, he may find himself playing war games.

WHAT TO EXPECT  It's a spin-off from Cars, but it's not a Pixar movie. Instead it's coming from Disney Toon Studios, home of direct-to-DVD and occasional theatrical releases. Don't expect this to be as big as a regular Pixar, in other words, but let's hope for the same charm.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube

Frozen (3D)

Frozen (3D)

DATE  December 20
DIRECTOR  Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
CAST (VOICES)  Kirsten Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff

FUN FACT  Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen

SYNOPSIS  Anna (Bell) is cursed with a frozen heart by her sister Elsa (Menzel), the Snow Queen. Anna's only hope of reversing the spell lies across a forbidding, frozen landscape - but she's helped along the way by mountain man Kristoff (Groff), his one-antlered reindeer Sven and a snowman (Gad).

WHAT TO EXPECT  We glimpsed some concept art for this on our last visit to Disney Animation and it looked gorgeous, so expect something as visually lush as Tangled - if noticeably whiter. Also, this one's going to have big musical numbers, and with Menzel among the cast that's no bad thing.

Epic 3D

DATE  May 24
DIRECTOR  Chris Wedge
CAST (VOICES)  Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Aziz Ansari, Beyonce Knowles, Steven Tyler, Judah Friedlander

FUN FACT  William Joyce's book The Leaf Men And The Brave Good Bugs. Joyce also wrote the source novels for Rise Of The Guardians and Meet The Robinsons.

SYNOPSIS  Mary Katherine (Seyfried) is a teenage girl who finds herself shrunk to tiny size and embroiled in a war between good and evil - one that will apparently affect the human-sized world as well as the tinies.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The depiction of a tiny view of the natural world compares favourably to Miyazaki's Arrietty last year, but we're still trying to shake off the Ferngully / Arthur And The Invisibles comparisons.
• Watch the trailer below

Mr. Peabody And Sherman (3D)

Mr. Peabody And Sherman (3D)

DATE  November 29
DIRECTOR  Rob Minkoff
CAST (VOICES)  Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ariel Winter, Ellie Kemper, Allison Janney

BASED ON  Mr Peabody and "his boy" Sherman originally appeared in the 1950s on the Rocky & Bullwinkle show.

SYNOPSIS  The synopsis on IMDB is so good we're just going to copy that: "A young boy and his dog, who happens to have a genius-level IQ, spring into action when their time travel machine is stolen and moments in history begin to be changed." Charles plays Sherman, Burrell voices Mr Peabody and Stephen Colbert is his nemesis, Paul Peterson.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The cast is an impeccable collection of comic talent - Colbert! Burrell! Tobolowsky! Janney! - and the synopsis makes us laugh, so we're hoping for a shaggy dog tale of more than average intelligence.

Walking With Dinosaurs (3D)

Walking With Dinosaurs (3D)

DATE  December 20
DIRECTOR  Neil Nightingale, Barry Cook
CAST  N/A

SEE ALSO  TV series Walking With Dinosaurs, The Land Before Time and Disney's Dinosaur.

SYNOPSIS  A 3D recreation of the world of the dinosaurs, mixing real locations with CG beasties to tell the story of a dinosaur separated from his family and making his way on the migration path alone.

WHAT TO EXPECT  It sounds like one of those worthy-but-slightly-dull made-for-IMAX movies, but we're hoping that the plot proves gripping even if it seems to be entirely dialogue-free.

Escape From Planet Earth

Escape From Planet Earth

DATE  February 14 (US)
DIRECTOR  Cal Brunker
CAST (VOICES)  Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, James Gandolfini, Craig Robinson, Paul Reubens

SEE ALSO  This is like the opposite story to Planet 51 (2009), where an Earth astronaut got caught on a suburban alien world.

SYNOPSIS  Scorch Supernova (Fraser) is a big hero on the planet Baab, so when he receives an SOS from the notoriously dangerous Earth he responds with no hesitation. But Scorch is captured, and it's up to his meek brother Gary (Corddry) to venture after him and save him from those nasty Earthlings.

WHAT TO EXPECT  We doubt this is causing Pixar many sleepless nights, but it looks to have a kid-friendly sense of humour and some decent sci-fi laughs.
• Watch the trailer on YouTube


Quick Poll   Which of these films are you looking forward to most?

Wreck-It Ralph
All Stars
The Croods
Epic
Postman Pat: You Know You’re The One
Despicable Me 2
Monsters University
The Smurfs 2
Justin And The Knights of Valour
Planes
Turbo
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2: Revenge Of The Leftovers
Mr. Peabody And Sherman
Frozen
Walking With Dinosaurs
Escape From Planet Earth


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