2013 film preview: A year of screen doubles

From slavery to metallic superheroes, we take a look ahead to the year’s new films, which throw up some intriguing pairings.

THE “EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION” DOUBLE BILL

The year kicks off with two of the world’s most famous directors examining one of the darkest stains on America’s soul: slavery. There, however, the similarities between Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (in cinemas from 18 January) and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (25 January) end. The latter approaches the tumultuous subject with the historical deference one might expect by casting Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president and homing in on his efforts to get his slavery-abolishing 13th Amendment through Congress. Django Unchained, on the other hand, is set two years before the Civil War starts, and sees Tarantino approach the subject the same way he approached Nazism in Inglourious Basterds: by filtering it through the prism of Italian exploitation movies and turning it into a wigged-out genre film starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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THE “GLASGOW GETS READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP” DOUBLE BILL

After all the hype over the past 18 months, Scottish audiences can finally see how Glasgow measures up as a supporting player in blockbuster films. Doubling first for San Francisco in Tom Tykwer and Larry and Lana Wachowski’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas (22 February), the city then plays Philadelphia in the Brad Pitt-starring zombie apocalypse epic World War Z (21 June). The latter has been plagued by production troubles and re-shoots, but going by the trailer, Glasgow has managed to stay off the cutting-room floor.

THE “RIPPED-FROM-THE-HEADLINES, TRUE-LIFE THRILLER” DOUBLE BILL

Few filmmakers shred nerves as effectively as Kathryn Bigelow and Paul Greengrass and both return in 2013 with hyper-intense true stories. Bigelow follows up Oscar-winner The Hurt Locker with Zero Dark Thirty (25 January), her full-on recreation of the US military’s decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Expect Greengrass, meanwhile, to bring the kinetic style of United 93 and The Bourne Ultimatum to the Tom Hanks-starring Captain Phillips (11 October), which tells the true story of the 2009 hijacking of a US cargo ship by armed Somali pirates.

THE “METALLURGICAL SUPERHERO” DOUBLE BILL

Superman returns – again – in Man of Steel (14 June), but at least this time Warner Bros have done a proper Dark Knight-style reboot of DC’s most iconic hero, casting Brit actor Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Michael Shannon as General Zod and – woo-hoo! – Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Watchmen’s Zack Snyder is directing and if that has you worried, take comfort from the fact that Christopher Nolan wrote the story and serves as its producer. Over in the Marvel Universe there are various X-Men and Avengers spin-offs, of which Iron Man 3 (26 April) looks like being the most fun, largely because it has been written and directed by Shane Black, who helped resurrect star Robert Downey Jr’s career with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang back in 2005.

THE “STEVEN SODERBERGH R.I.P.” DOUBLE BILL

He’s not dead, nor is he dying, but Steven Soderbergh is taking premature retirement from directing features in 2013 – and the loss of his prodigious output (27 films since debuting with Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989) is certainly be something to mourn. Savour then his final two movies. First up: Side Effects (15 March), a dark pharmaceutical-themed thriller starring Channing Tatum. Then comes his Liberace opus Behind the Candelabra (release date: TBC) in which Michael Douglas plays the flamboyant pianist and Matt Damon his lover. It should be the perfect swansong to an eclectic career.

THE “TRACHEA-BREAKING JASON STATHAM” DOUBLE BILL

Lovers of bone-cracking action cinema have plenty to get excited about with the release of two new Jason Statham films in the coming months. Modern cinema’s finest trachea-breaking tough-guy throws Jennifer Lopez a career a lifeline in action thriller Parker (8 March) and will play a homeless ex-Special Forces soldier in Hummingbird (3 May). Cue testosterone overload and (hopefully) the wearing of yet more chunky knitwear.

THE “GOOD ROBOTS” DOUBLE BILL

Transformers may have given movie robots a bad name in recent years but Guillermo del Toro is out to prove their blockbuster worth with Pacific Rim (12 July) – a loving tribute to monster movies in which giant robots piloted by humans are mankind’s only hope against a race of giant sea creatures. A lower-key tale of robot and human interaction is to be found in the brilliant Robot & Frank (8 March), a wry indie drama about an ageing jewel thief with Alzheimer’s (Frank Langella) who uses his domestic help robot to help him perpetrate crime.

THE “JAMES MCAVOY GOOD COP/BAD COP” DOUBLE BILL

Having been the standout in X-Men: Last Stand, Scotland’s finest above-the-title movie star mans up to play a hard-boiled detective intent on taking down his criminal nemesis (Mark Strong) in Eran Creevy’s super-stylish-looking London crime thriller Welcome to the Punch (March 15). He’ll then transform into a disgustingly corrupted and loathsome Edinburgh detective in the Irvine Welsh-adaptation Filth (Release date TBC).

THE “APOCALYPTIC COMEDY” DOUBLE BILL

Great comedy minds clearly think alike in 2013. In the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg directed This is the End (28 June), Rogen, Jonah Hill, Emma Watson, Michael Cera and a host of other celebs find themselves confronted with the apocalypse while attending a party at James Franco’s house. Over on these shores, meanwhile, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine end up in a similarly apocalyptic situation while on an epic pub-crawl to the eponymous pub in Edgar Wright’s The World’s End (14 August). It’s like Armageddon/Deep Impact all over again.

THE “FINAL FRONTIER” DOUBLE BILL

JJ Abrams made Star Trek sexy, funny and cool with his brilliant 2010 reboot, so expectations are high that Star Trek Into Darkness (17 May) will be one of the summer’s most satisfying blockbusters, especially with Benedict Cumberbatch boldly going evil as the chief villain. More intriguing, though, is Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón’s new film Gravity (ETA: late 2013), which teams George Clooney up with Sandra Bullock as a pair of astronauts who get stranded in deep space when their shuttle is destroyed in the middle of a routine space-walk. The film is so cutting edge, James Cameron told Cuarón that what he was attempting was at least five-years ahead of its time.