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The Films of 2007 - Preview

2007 is already shaping up to become another good year at the cinema with several new movies that are genuinely worth getting excited about.

Of the obvious event movies, Spider-Man 3 is already getting fans excited from its first two trailers, Shrek The Third should keep the kids amused, Captain Jack Sparrow will be looking to sail away with another mighty box office haul, and there’s the return of Jason Bourne to look forward to.

Yet, aside from the obvious, there’s also plenty more to savour – not least in the pairing of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez for Grindhouse, Dame Judi Dench playing it bad in Notes On A Scandal, Clint Eastwood going Japanese for Letters From Iwo Jima and another double bill from George Clooney in the guises of black-and-white World War Two thriller The Good German and, of course, Ocean’s Thirteen (with Al Pacino).

So kick back and take a look at some of the films we think might rock your world over the next 12 months (and we’ll keep adding to it as release dates and movie details become clearer!)…


Apocalypto

Apocalypto
Director: Mel Gibson
Starring: Rudy Youngblood, Raoul Trujillo, Dalia Hernandez, Gerardo Taracena
Plot: When his idyllic existence is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, a man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him. Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of his love for his woman and his family he will make a desperate break to return home and to ultimately save his way of life.
Reason for seeing it: Okay, so he’s had his problems in 2006 but Mel Gibson’s talent as a filmmaker has never been in question. With Apocalypto he proves why. The film is a brutal assault on the senses, a thrilling chase movie that really has to be seen to truly be appreciated. It may be shrouded in controversy (Mayan groups have criticised its depiction of their civilization and the anti-violence brigade are up in arms) but Mel knows how to get the adrenaline pumping when it comes to making movies that pack a punch.
Release date: January 5

Read the review l Mel Gibson interview l View the photo gallery


Smokin' Aces

Smokin’ Aces
Director: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, Andy Garcia, Common, Jeremy Piven
Plot: Mob boss Primo Sparazza has taken out a contract on Buddy “Aces” Israel, a sleazy magician who has agreed to turn state’s evidence against the Mob. The FBI places Aces into protective custody-under the supervision of two agents dispatched to Aces’ Lake Tahoe hideout. But when word of the hit spreads a collection of bounty hunters, thugs-for-hire, deadly vixens and double-crossing mobsters join the hunt.
Reason for seeing it: This is Joe Carnahan’s first movie since the excellent Narc and it boasts a crackerjack cast and a trailer (or two) to die for. We’ve seen it already and we can confidently tell you that it’s a totally insane, utterly violent head-fuck of a ride that confirms Carnahan as a director to watch. The movie industry is packed with Tarantino wannabes – but Carnahan could just be the guy to outdo Quentin for sheer gangster cool and nutty OTT violence. What’s more, it features a revelatory performance from a certain Mr Reynolds, here playing things straight and walking off with the movie.
Release date: January 12

Read our review l Ryan Reynolds interview l Andy Garcia interview l Photo gallery


The Last King of Scotland

The Last King Of Scotland
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson
Plot: Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan heads to Uganda in search of some excitement and adventure. Once there, he meets the country’s new leader, Idi Amin, and is offered the chance to become his personal physician. But as the young doctor settles into his new life of luxury, he slowly becomes aware of the shocking truth behind Amin’s iron-fisted rule and becomes desperate to escape the tyranny.
Reason for seeing it: Kevin Macdonald’s film opened the 2006 London Film Festival to widespread critical acclaim and features a towering central performance from Forest Whitaker as Amin. There’s talk of an Oscar, especially since the actor has already walked off with a fair few accolades. See it for yourself and witness a masterful performance in a film that packs a very powerful punch.
Release date: January 12

Read the review l Forest Whitaker interview l Watch clips and features l Photo gallery


Rocky Balboa

Rocky Balboa
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Antonio Tarver, Geraldine Hughes, Tony Burton
Plot: Long retired from the ring, former heavyweight champ Rocky Balboa spends his time mourning for his late wife and running a restaurant in Philadelphia. But when a computer simulation suggests that a Rocky in his prime could beat the current world champion, he is given an unexpected shot to step back into the limelight.
Reason for seeing it: You have to hand it to Stallone, the guy keeps coming back. Anyone who thought Rocky Balboa was done and dusted had better think again. This is a glorious throwback to the spirit of the original that features one of the finest performances of Stallone’s career. Sentimental it may be – but once that theme tune kicks in and Rocky takes to those steps, you can’t help but cheering him through another 10 rounds in the ring.
Release date: January 19

Read the review l Sylvester Stallone interview l Photo gallery


Brad Pitt in Babel

Babel
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Adriana Barraza, Koji Yakusho
Plot: When two young Moroccan goat-herders randomly fire their rifle at a tourist bus, one of its American passengers is injured sparking a major international incident. The gunshot has lasting ramifications for two American tourists, their Mexican nanny, and a Japanese father and daughter.
Reason for seeing it: Having impressed with his films 21 Grams and Amores Perros, Iñárritu now delivers another thought-provoking piece of cinema that could, quite possibly, land Brad Pitt an Oscar nomination. Though flawed, Babel closed last year’s London Film Festival in fine style and contains many issues that are relevant to today’s world. It’s complex, intelligent and always fascinating if sometimes a little pretentious. Watch out, too, for quality performances from Bernal and Yakusho.
Release date: January 19

Read the review l Photo gallery


Black Book

Black Book
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman
Plot: A Jewish woman takes up with the Dutch Resistance towards the end of WWII and is persuaded to infiltrate the Nazi HQ by using her looks to seduce the local commandant. But when she unwittingly falls for him, her motives are called into question by the Resistance, who believe there is a traitor working in their midst.
Reason for seeing it: It’s been a while since Dutch director Paul Verhoeven really put out a classic but this comes pretty close. It’s a gutsy, old-school war film that contains plenty of the director’s trademarks. And it’s bloody exciting to boot. As one critic put it after seeing the film: “Tits and Nazis, what more could we expect?”
Release date: January 19

Read the review l Watch the trailer


Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond
Director: Edward Zwick
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Sheen, Arnold Vosloo
Plot: A diamond smuggler is forced to unite with a fisherman to find a priceless diamond in the middle of Sierra Leone’s civil war. The stone in question could provide the key to salvation for the both of them.
Reason for seeing it: There’s an Oscar buzz surrounding DiCaprio’s performance in this explosive blockbuster with a message from Zwick. The director hopes the film will expose some uncomfortable truths about the diamond trade, as well as the situation in African nations where child armies are rife. But in typical Hollywood style, there’s plenty of explosions to keep the film multiplex friendly. It should become one of late January’s talking points.
Release date: January 26

Read the review l Leonardo DiCaprio interview l Photo gallery


Bobby

Bobby
Director: Emilio Estevez
Starring: William H Macy, Emilio Estevez, Laurence Fishburne, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Anthony Hopkins, Christian Slater, Freddy Rodriguez, Elijah Wood
Plot: 22 individuals staying at a hotel for different purposes share the common thread of anticipating Robert Kennedy’s arrival at the primary election night party, a night that will change their lives forever.
Reason for seeing it: Anyone lucky enough to have seen Bobby as part of the line-up for last year’s London Film Festival will already know that this is one of the best films of 2007. Estevez has assembled a remarkable cast and delivered an emotional powerhouse of a movie, complete with timely messages and a strong sense of “what would have happened if…?”
Release date: January 19

Read the review l Emilio Estevez interview


Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx at the Cannes press conference for Dreamgirls

Dreamgirls
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson
Plot: Effie White, Deena Jones, and Lorrell Robinson – three friends from Chicago – are a promising singing trio called The Dreamettes. Accompanied by their songwriter C.C. White (Effie’s brother), they travel to New York to compete in a talent show at the Apollo Theatre. Although the girls lose this first bid for fame, their talent attracts an ambitious manager by the name of Curtis Taylor, Jr., who uses unscrupulous tactics to move the girls from backup singers of superstar James “Thunder” Early to superstars of their own.
Reason for seeing it: Based on the popular Broadway show of the same name, Dreamgirls is another of the year’s Oscar hopefuls and could well walk away with the lot. It’s said to be better than Chicago and features a fine breakthrough performance from Hudson, as well as a strong role for Knowles and a revelatory one from Murphy. So get those dancing shoes on and see what all the fuss is about!
Release date: February 2

Read the review l Beyonce interview l Jennifer Hudson interview l Photo gallery


Notes On A Scandal

Notes On A Scandal
Director: Richard Eyre
Starring: Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Bill Nighy
Plot: When Sheba Hart joins St. George’s as the new art teacher, Barbara Covett senses a kindred spirit. But Barbara is not the only one drawn to her. Sheba begins an illicit affair and Barbara becomes the keeper of her secret. Notes On A Scandal is a story of loneliness, loyalty, envy and love.
Reason for seeing it: If nothing else, the prospect of seeing Judi Dench playing the villain of the piece! She’s amazing and the one actress most likely to give Helen Mirren a run for her money in the awards stakes. The controversial storyline is also certain to set tongues wagging, especially in light of another provocative screenplay from Patrick Marber, the man behind Closer.
Release date: February 2

Read our review l Cate Blanchett interview l Watch the trailer


Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Steve Coogan, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton
Plot: A top London cop is transferred to a less threatening rural town in England full of garden parties and neighbourhood-watch meetings. But the seemingly idyllic burg is soon rocked by a tough case.
Reason for seeing it: The comic geniuses behind Shaun of The Dead return for another hilarious romp in what looks set to become of the British releases of the year. Advance word is as hot as the fuzz itself on this one, while the list of cameos is said to stretch as long as your arm. We’re predicting that men-of-the-moment Wright and Pegg will prove that Shaun was no fluke but rather the start of a brilliant film career.
Release date: February 16

Read our review l Simon Pegg and Nick Frost interviewed l Photo gallery


Clint Eastwood

Letters From Iwo Jima
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya
Plot: The story of the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Japan during World War II, as told from the perspective of two good friends serving in the Japanese forces, who watch helplessly throughout various battles as their comrades are killed.
Reason for seeing it: If Flags Of Our Fathers impressed US critics, then Letters From Iwo Jima – the second of two films about the World War II conflict – has had them bowing before Eastwood as a filmmaker. Letters has already been named film of 2006 by two US critical bodies and seems to be sweeping everything before it in the States. It could well be another masterpiece from the 76-year-old veteran and we can’t wait!
Release date: February 23

NBR hail Letters l Read our preview l Watch the trailer


Angelina Jolie in The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd
Director: Robert De Niro
Starring: Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro
Plot: Edward Wilson is recruited to join the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, at the beginning of World War II. His acute mind, spotless reputation and sincere belief in American values render him a prime candidate for a career in intelligence, as do his deeply embedded commitment to honour and quite secretive nature. As Wilson becomes a veteran operative in counter-intelligence during the Cold War, not even his wife Clover, nor his son Edward Jr, can divert him from a path that will force him to sacrifice everything in service to his country.
Reason for seeing it: It may be 13 years since De Niro’s last film as a director (A Bronx Tale) but early word suggests that he has come back strong with this insight into the origins of the CIA. Matt Damon is also said to be on excellent form as Wilson, while there’s reliable support from Jolie and the director himself. Given the role of the CIA in the fight against terrorism, the film should provide a timely reminder of how it all began!
Release date: February 23

Read the preview l Watch the trailer


The Good German

The Good German
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Tobey Maguire, Cate Blanchett
Plot: An American journalist who returns to Berlin at the close of World War II to search for his pre-war mistress. The journalist in question has been assigned to cover the Potsdam conference between Churchill, Stalin and Truman and inadvertently stumbles upon a conspiracy involving the Americans, Russians and missing Nazi scientists.
Reason for seeing it: The pairing of George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh is always cause for celebration so, if nothing else, The Good German ought to offer stylish and intelligent viewing. Critics in the US have been divided over its overall merits but there looks to be plenty to admire from the trailer, which suggests a noir conspiracy to rival the likes of Casablanca. What’s more, it features a rare outing for Maguire in the role of villain.
Release date: March 9
Read the preview


Zodiac

Zodiac
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jnr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards
Plot: As the sun is dying, an eight-man crew is sent on a mission to re-ignite the fading star with a major nuclear device, as well as finding out what happened to the team that went before them.
Reason for seeing it: There’s plenty of reason to get excited about this because of the presence of David Fincher as director. It’s been a while since Panic Room but the evidence suggests that he has crafted another dark, suspenseful thriller that plays to the strengths of its talented cast. What’s more, the unsolved nature of the real-life crimes should provide it with the same sense of intrigue that made last year’s Hollywoodland so compelling. We’re predicting a triumphant return from the Fight Club genius.
Release date: March 16
Read the preview


Mark Wahlberg in Shooter

Shooter
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Danny Glover, Rhona Mitra
Plot: An ace marksman is coaxed out of retirement to prevent a plot to assassinate the president, only to find himself framed for the eventual crime and having to prove his innocence.
Reason for seeing it: The plot is hardly original and even the trailer suggests a seen-it-all-before quality. But expect some muscular direction from Training Day helmer Fuqua, some top-notch attitude from a beefed-up Wahlberg and some suitably intricate set pieces. It could be fun, especially if you take the nods to other movies as they seem intended to be taken (such as Danny Glover praising Wahlberg’s shooting ability in an exchange that feels lifted right out of the original Lethal Weapon).
Release date: March 23

Watch the trailer


300

300
Director: Zach Snyder
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West
Plot: 300 Spartans put up a legendary fight against hundreds of thousands of Persian invaders in the Battle of Thermopylae.
Reason for seeing it: Based on Frank Miller’s acclaimed graphic novel, 300 could well become one of the most visually arresting films of 2007. Warner Bros are already so excited about the project that they have unveiled 20 mins of footage to the press and it looks awesome. Snyder has shot all of the action against a green screen backdrop to cut down on production costs and to get away with more violence – but far from making things look computer-generated, he looks to have created a gory historical epic in the mould of Sin City. This one looks really special.
Release date: March 30
Read the preview


Sunshine

Sunshine
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh
Plot: As the sun is dying, an eight-man crew is sent on a mission to re-ignite the fading star with a major nuclear device, as well as finding out what happened to the team that went before them.
Reason for seeing it: Danny Boyle looks set to become red hot again if the early word on Sunshine is anything to go by. Part Solaris, part Event Horizon with a little Armageddon thrown in, this space-set mystery psycho-thriller is hotly-anticipated and looks mightily impressive. Fox aren’t quite sure how best to market it but there’s enough buzz surrounding the project to suggest another sizeable hit.
Release date: April 6

Watch the trailer


Jamie Foxx

The Kingdom
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper
Plot: A team of US counter-terrorism investigators attempt to find the perpetrators behind a deadly attack on Americans in a Middle Eastern country. In order to work through the bureaucracy and cultural hostility, the team enlists a local police officer, but still find itself target for the terrorists.
Reason for seeing it: The subject matter may smack of cashing in on current events, while the plot and trailer suggests a cross between The Siege and Clear & Present Danger but the cast is impressive, the stunts look spectacular and it may just have some interesting things to say about Middle East politics. We’re giving this one the benefit of the doubt – but it could go either way.
Release date: April 20


Spider-Man 3

Spider-Man 3
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace
Plot: Spider-Man takes a trip into darker territory as he has to contend with villains such as Sandman, Venom and a vengeful former friend. What’s more, the course of true love will not run smooth with Mary-Jane.
Reason for seeing it: It’s hard to see where this might fail. Raimi has proven himself to be such a dab hand at delivering this franchise that the third film is a truly mouth-watering prospect, especially in light of the two excellent trailers that have so far provided a glimpse. The effects look amazing, Maguire looks a lot more complex and Spider-Man fans are already licking their lips at the prospect of seeing Venom brought to big screen life. Roll on May and the start of the Summer spectacle.
Release date: May 4
Spider-Man 3 image revealed


Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Bill Nighy, Chow Yun Fat, Keith Richards
Plot: The continuing adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow…
Reason for seeing it: So, Dead Man’s Chest disappointed – but it was still an entertaining romp and it featured another masterly turn from Johnny Depp. Although plot details are being kept closely under wraps, it’s sure to deliver some crowd-pleasing thrills and could well provide Depp with a last hurrah as Jack (even though he’s said he’ll be up for reprising the role again). What’s more, with Nighy and Rush jostling for chief baddie position, expect some top-notch fireworks and a beastie that’s said to make the Kraken look rather tame! Oh, and there’s the much talked about appearance of Keith Richards as Captain Jack’s father…
Release date: May 25


Ocean's 12

Ocean’s 13
Director: Stephen Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Ellen Barkin
Plot: The continuing adventures of Danny Ocean and his crew as they look to get one over master criminal Al Pacino…
Reason for seeing it: Needless to say, details remain sketchy on this one, suffice to say that the crew is back and looking slicker than ever. A teaser trailer suggests this could be pretty special, with Al Pacino looking as though he is enjoying playing the villain. What’s more, Andy Garcia seems to have enlisted with the good guys this time, while the camaraderie that exists between Clooney and Pitt looks to remain intact. Many have written off Ocean’s 13’s prospects even before it’s properly out of the blocks – but we predict huge things, not least because of the prospect of seeing Pacino and Clooney go head-to-head.
Release date: June 8


Shrek

Shrek The Third
Director: Chris Miller, Raman Hui
Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett, Justin Timblerake.
Plot: When King Harold falls ill, Shrek must find a suitable heir or face giving up his beloved swamp for the throne. Recruiting Donkey and Puss, the green ogre sets out to bring back the rightful heir, Fiona’s rebellious cousin Artie. Meanwhile, in Far, Far Away, Fiona’s jilted Prince Charming storms the city with an army of fairy tale villains to reclaim the throne.
Reason for seeing it: It’s yet another returning franchise and yet another surefire hit. Whether Shrek The Third can surpass the feelgood value attached to the first two films remains to be seen, but with the cast intact, another inspired storyline, a great teaser trailer and plenty of pre-release buzz, this one looks set to become a winner. Certainly, Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation, feels confident – and that can only be a good thing.
Release date: June 29

Watch the trailer


Die Hard

Live Free Or Die Hard
Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie O, Timothy Olyphant
Plot: When terrorists target America’s computer system, it’s left to John McClane to prevent the unthinkable.
Reason for seeing it: There’s a lot of things that suggest Die Hard 4 won’t work. The presence of Underworld director Wiseman, for one; the fact that Willis is now the ripe old age of 51 for another; and the premise itself, which seems more than a little hokey. But the optimist in me believes that if it’s a mission good enough for McClane, then it’s a Die Hard worth going to see. And the first glimpse trailer suggests Willis looks in good shape and the action is as hard and spectacular as we have come to expect. Yippee-ki-yay!
Release date: July 6


Harry Potter

Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix
Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon
Plot: As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter enters full-blown adolescence, suffers a nearly debilitating crush and a powerful sense of rebellion. Harry is also beginning to feel especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike.
Reason for seeing it: Nothing will prevent this fifth film in the lucrative franchise from being a success, so it would be foolish not to include it in the must-see releases of the year. What’s more, the consistently darker tone of the movies could give rise to a genuinely thrilling slice of magic, especially since Ralph Fiennes’ looks set to turn Voldemort into a genuinely worthy adversary for young Potter.
Release date: July 13


Transformers

Transformers
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Bernie Mac, Jon Voight, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro
Plot: The Transformers come to Earth to continue a battle that has already ravaged their planet. On the one side are the virtuous Autorobots; on the other, the evil Deceptions. Mankind is caught in the middle.
Reason for seeing it: He may have his critics but when Michael Bay turns his mind to action, there are few better blockbuster directors of carnage. Pearl Harbor stank but Bay has made crowd-pleasers out of The Rock, Bad Boys and, to a certain extent, The Island. For Transformers, he’s united with executive producer Steven Spielberg for an all-action spectacular that hints at the pyrotechnic scale of Independence Day. The trailer looks awesome – but then there isn’t much talking and one suspects that plot will play distinctly second fiddle to mayhem and product placement.
Release date: July 27

Watch the trailer


The Simpsons

The Simpsons Movie
Director: David Silverman
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Albert Brooks, Minnie Driver
Plot: Television’s favourite animated family make their long-awaited big screen debut.
Reason for seeing it: July 27 promises to provide an epic battle at the cinema, what with Transformers and The Simpsons going head-to-head. This one has success stamped all over it, however, given the tried and tested formula of the TV series. The film features the same 2D animation that makes the series look so distinctive and is said to boast a number of surprise cameos – although the plot itself remains a closely guarded secret. Teaser trailers have been making audiences everywhere laugh out loud, so we’re anticipating that Bart and Homer will be the duo who give Harry Potter the biggest run for his money this summer.
Release date: July 27


Jason Bourne

The Bourne Ultimatum
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Paddy Considine, David Strathairn, Julia Stiles.
Plot: Assassin Jason Bourne uncovers more mysteries about his past which put him in the cross-hairs of a superkiller.
Reason for seeing it: Not much is known about the third instalment in the franchise, except that the cast looks top drawer and Greengrass continues as director after the brilliant Supremacy. Expect plenty of intrigue, some nifty stunts and more super-cool and calculated spying from Damon and co. Even though a trailer has yet to be released, we’re confident enough to predict that The Bourne Ultimatum will be one for the adults to savour.
Release date: August 3