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Fantasy Epics
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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (3D)

DATE  December 13
DIRECTOR  Peter Jackson
CAST  Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy, James Nesbitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Aidan Turner, Lee Pace, Stephen Fry, Evangeline Lily, Ian Holm

SEE ALSO  If you're a big Tolkien fan, try reading some of his sources, like the 13th century Prose Edda and Poetic Edda. If you're really keen, read them in the original Norse.

SYNOPSIS  Bilbo (Freeman), Thorin (Armitage) and their band of dwarves continue into Mirkwood on their way to the Lonely Mountain and Smaug. Meanwhile, Gandalf (McKellen) investigates the Necromancer's stronghold of Dol Guldur.

WHAT TO EXPECT  After An Unexpected Journey, this will be more of the same - though in a less unexpected fashion. So as Bilbo continues to creep towards badassdom, Thorin continues to confront his demons and we're treated to enemies in the form of giant spiders and less-than-hospitable elves as the small band continue towards their destination. Hopefully by next year there will be less of a 48fps backlash and people can just focus on the story too.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

DATE  February 22
DIRECTOR  Tommy Wirkola
CAST  Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Thomas Mann, Zoe Bell

FUN FACT  This was originally due for release in March 2012.

SYNOPSIS  Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Arterton) survived the attempts of a witch to cook them alive as children, and have grown up to become witch hunters and experts in the supernatural. When Muriel (Janssen), an evil sorceress, starts plans to sacrifice a huge number of children during an upcoming ceremony, the pair widen their hunting interests to include sorceresses and get after her.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Lengthy delays to a film's release date aren't usually good news, but neither should we write this off and assume it's bad. We're promised a comedy-horror with loads of gore and violence rather than the usual fairytale tone. If that's what this delivers, the only people complaining will be the witches.
• Watch the trailer below

Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters

Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters

DATE  August 14
DIRECTOR  Thor Freudenthal
CAST  Logan Lerman, Anthony Head, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Jake Abel, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Mark Hamil, Missy Pyle

BASED ON  The second book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

SYNOPSIS  Percy Jackson (Lerman) is a demi-god, son of Poseidon, and spends his summers learning how to be a hero at Camp Half-Blood. But the camp is under attack from monsters, and Percy and his friends Annabel (Daddario) and Grover (Jackson) set off on a mission to find the Golden Fleece and save it.

WHAT TO EXPECT  This is a lower-budget and partially recast sequel to the 2010 original, but what the new cast loses in star power (Brosnan, say) it picks up in character talent (Head, Fillion, Tucci). It may not win vast numbers of new fans for the franchise, but those who already enjoy Riordan's adventure books should find lots to enjoy here.

I, Frankenstein

I, Frankenstein

DATE  September 18
DIRECTOR  Stuart Beattie
CAST  Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Aden Young, Jai Courtney, Miranda Otto, Yvonne Strahovski

BASED ON  The graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux, who also wrote the Underworld screenplay with Len Wiseman.

SYNOPSIS  Frankensteinstein's creation, who calls himself Adam Frankenstein (Eckhart) has survived into the modern day and travels to a city where he becomes embroiled in a war between two clans of immortals.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Beattie's only previous film as director is Tomorrow When The War Began, which was a hit in Australia but didn't really break out worldwide. He has a lot of experience as a screenwriter, however, and films like 30 Days Of Night should have given him a solid grounding for this. Also, Eckart as stein's monster? It feels counter-intuitive, but it just might work.

Seventh Son

DATE  October 18
DIRECTOR  Sergey Bodrov
CAST  Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harrington

BASED ON  The Spook's Apprentice and follow-up books, by Joseph Delaney

SYNOPSIS  Tom Ward (Barnes) is the seventh son of a seventh son, apprenticed to Master Gregory (Bridges), and learning how to be a Spook like him, fighting dark forces and generally being a Dude. Master Gregory's old nemesis, Mother Malkin (Moore) has escaped her prison, and Gregory only has until the next full moon to train Tom up to fight her and save the world.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Bodrov made the impressive Mongol a couple of years ago, so we know he can handle big scale action and old-worlde settings. What we've seen of this one in production looks like a very old-school fantasy, all medieval trappings and sinister dungeons, and it feels like a long time since we've had one of those. Lovers of the book should be aware that this bears almost no resemblance to that plot, beyond the bare premise, but Bridges looks to be an authentically grumpy Master Gregory.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

DATE  August 9
DIRECTOR  Gore Verbinski
CAST  Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, Helena Bonham-Carter, Mason Cook, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale

BASED ON  The radio show character created in 1933 by either George W. Trendle and Frank Striker (it's disputed a little).

SYNOPSIS  John Reid (Hammer) is left for dead when his fellow Texas Rangers are attacked, but his life is saved by Tonto (Depp). The pair team up to take on a corrupt railroad company and save some people. To be honest, it's all under wraps right now so we're a little unsure ourselves.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The trailer emphasises the action and makes this look as dark and serious as possible - perhaps to distance it from, say, Wild Wild West. Expect a few more zany trailers as we get closer to release, since we're fairly sure that Depp's take on Tonto is a little more off-kilter than the one we're used to.
• Watch the trailer below

Jack The Giant Slayer (3D)

Jack The Giant Slayer (3D)

DATE  March 22
DIRECTOR  Bryan Singer
CAST  Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ian McShane, Ewan McGregor, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremmer, Bill Nighy, Warwick Davis

SEE ALSO  There's a 1962 film called Jack The Giant Killer, the original title of this one, but it has no real connection with this plot.

SYNOPSIS  Jack (Hoult) goes along with a group of knights to rescue a princess (Tomlinson) who's been transported to a giant's kingdom in the sky by a magic beanstalk. But the two kingdoms are set for a collision thanks to the plotting of Lord Roderick (Tucci) with the giant king (Nighy).

WHAT TO EXPECT  The trick for this one will be hitting just the right tone, balancing derring-do, fairytale magic, grown-up humour and a spot of genuine emotion. Shot in 3D and in some stunning locations, at the very least it should look pretty.
• Watch the trailer below

Oz The Great and Powerful 3D

DATE  March 8
CAST  James Franco, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Abigail Spencer

BASED ON  L. Frank Baum's Oz books. Still, this is an original prequel, and can't use elements introduced by the 1939 film. So no ruby slippers, for example.

SYNOPSIS  Oscar Diggs (Franco) is a small-time circus magician of dubious ethics who is swept away to the magical land of Oz. He thinks he has it made - but the three witches Evanora (Weisz), Theodora (Kunis) and Glinda (Williams) are standing in his way and looking good doing it.

WHAT TO EXPECT  It looks utterly stunning, and we're excited to see what Raimi will do with a full-on fantasy world. Really, our main concern is that it might reignite the ancient war between blondes and brunettes by pitting Kunis and Weisz against Williams.
• Watch the trailer below

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

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Oz The Great and Powerful
Jack The Giant Slayer
The Lone Ranger
Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters
I, Frankenstein
Seventh Son
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

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