We've already had some cracking releases this year already haven't we? From a group of assembled Avengers, to planetary exploration with the spaceship Prometheus, we've been (relatively) amazed by a spiderman, seen the rise of a Dark Knight, oh and there have been a few more expendables too. But what's next?

The action's flowed thick and fast and there's no respite in sight, with another load of gunfights, explosions and intergalactic excursions hovering on the horizon. To keep you clued-up on the various viewing pleasures on offer over the next 12 months, here's a run down of the biggest blockbusters that are vying for your hard-earned pennies. Popcorn at-the-ready, it's time to start planning those movie nights.

 


Out now/In Upcoming Weeks

Killing Them Softly (21st September)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini

Ok, so we all know that Hollywood has rehashed the heist-gone-wrong formula to the point of becoming a joke (Ocean's 12 anyone?). But what sets this intense drama apart is a return to form from Brad Pitt; the fantastic source material from crime novel supremo George V. Higgins, and a strong supporting cast, which includes the legendary Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini. Just try not to hum The Fugees' catchy classic while you're watching it.


Looper (28th September)
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt

When a film is labelled 'the new Matrix' you can almost sense the collective groan from all those of us left sorely disappointed by flops such as Jumper and Wanted. Looper's the latest to be burdened by that tag, but early reviews indicate that this futuristic thriller is up to the challenge. After supporting roles in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, Joseph Gordon Levitt turns leading man as a hitman whose target is someone sent back in time, only to find that it's his own future-self (Bruce Willis). Talk about rotten luck.


Taken 2 (October 5th)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen

The tense tale of ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills rescuing his kidnapped daughter was one of 2008's surprise hits, propelling the distinguished Liam Neeson from elder journeyman to bonafide hardman in the process. This follow up sees him and his very particular set of skills returning in, quite literally, explosive style. But his dippy daughter can't have been taken again, surely?  Oh no, prepare for this twist: this time he's the one being taken, by some rather angry Balkan crime lords out for revenge. Despite its mixed reviews, it's probably best that you see it, or he will look for you, he will find you, and he will kill you.


Out Later This Year

Skyfall (November 9th)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw

23 is the magic number for Ian Fleming's iconic secret-agent series, and it sees Bond come back with an absolute bang. It's business as usual for the man with a golden-eye for the ladies; kicking criminal-arse and saving the world, all whilst impeccably dressed and remarkably unflustered. This time a creepily-sinister Javier Bardem is the schemer with Jimster in his sights, as a whirlwind tour of fast cars and fight scenes across some of the world's most striking locations ensues. Add this to the requisite quota of guns, gadgets and girls galore, and Skyfall promises to send even the biggest of Bond fans to 00-heaven.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14th)
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis

Set some 60 years before the start of the events of Lord of the Rings, this time it's funny-man Martin Freedman following in Elijah Woods' hobbit-sized footsteps, as the protagonist of a grand journey across Middle Earth. While a more suitable title might have been The Hobbit: An Unexpected Trilogy, thanks to the spreading of the relatively slim book's content, for many, Peter Jackson's reprisal of Tolkien signals the return of the king. Only time will tell if The Hobbit can scale similar heights, but it should more than enough for a decent fantasy fix and to lose yourself in the CGI-constructed world of beasts and epic battles.


Out Early Next Year

Django Unchained (18th January)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Christopher Waltz

Variety's the spice of strife when it comes to the character context of Tarrantino's action-packed offerings. After gangsters, Yakuzas, stuntmen and Nazis, the maverick director returns with a typically eclectic cast in this story of a freed-slave-turned-bounty-hunter. We're taken on a rip-roaring ride of blood-splattered mayhem, as the eponymous Django (Jamie Foxx) tries to rescue his missus from Leonardo DiCaprio's charismatically-menacing plantation owner. If Tarrantino reigns in his propensity for self-indulgence (Death Proof almost proved the death of me), this could be a winner.


Cloud Atlas (March 22nd)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw

The most all-star cast ever compiled come together for an undertaking of gargantuan proportions, in a film unlike any film seen before. Ever. Well, at least that's how this movie seems to be pitched, but it's already polarising opinion. Based on David Mitchell's (no not that David Mitchell) award winning novel, we're presented with six narratives that explore the effects of individual actions that traverse across roughly 1,000 years of time and space. If you can get your head past a probably convoluted plot, and almost certainly mammoth running time, this latest offering from the Watchowski's might just be able to redefine your idea of 'epic'. Plus, The Terminal aside, you can never go wrong with a bit of Tom Hanks can you?

Also worth a look: Gangster Squad (January 11th), Elysium (March 1st), Trance (March TBA)


Out Summer Next Year

Iron Man 3
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Paul Bettany

2013 promises another superhero summer, and it's time to suit up as the iron-clad, billionaire badboy returns to our screens. In superhero franchises, the third instalment is often where things go pear-shaped, just ask Toby Maguire (pretty much forced into hiding after Spiderman 3). Literally death-defying stunts, an inspired villain choice (Ben Kingsley rumoured to be Mandarin), and a healthy dose of witty one-liners should ensure that Tony Stark reigns again. Well, as long as the bad guy doesn't have a giant magnet, then he'd be screwed. Keep your iron the Blu-ray and DVD deals to keep you satisfied until its release.


Star Trek Into Darkness (17th May)
Starring: Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto

Anyone that tried not to enjoy J.J Abram's first Star Trek film probably found that resistance was indeed, futile, as it delivered an absolutely action-packed, intergalactic extravaganza. And now Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty and co. are back on the Enterprise once more, in the highly anticipated sequel to the 2009 hit. While the plot is still closely guarded, prepare for another warp-speed adventure with a new set of villains trying to make sure that Kirk and his crew don't live long and prosper. Fingers crossed that it's out of this world.


Kick Ass 2 (19th July)
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nicholas Cage, Jim Carrey, Chloe Moretz

Mark Millar's comic-book-crusader came to the big screen in Kick Ass, which received widespread acclaim thanks to it's not-so-super hero's perfect balance of awkward dorkishness and genuine arse-kickery. Fast-forward two years and everyone's favourite high-school hero is patrolling the streets again, but this time he's teamed up with a full crew. Cue more explosions, crazy costumes, and laughs-a-plenty. Be sure to watch out for pint-sized, potty-mouth Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) delivering another show-stealing performance.


The Wolverine (26th July)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Bryan Tee

It's claws at the ready, but not a cat-fight in sight, as the follow up to X-Men Origins: Wolverine rolls out. This time the weapon-clad wildman journeys to Japan to train with a samurai. Erm ok, so I have to admit that plot sounds straight out of a Steven Segal straight-to-DVD 'classic'. Still, I'm quietly optimistic that Wolverine's penchant for slicing anything and everything that gets in his way, should make the action sequences worth the cinema visit alone. If it sucks, I'll leave it to you guys to inform Hugh Jackman.

The Best of the Rest: Man of Steel (June 14th), World War Z (July 21st), 300: Rise of An Empire (August 2nd), Robocop (August 9th)

Image credit: Cinema from Shutterstock