It’s not really news that Arnold Schwarzenegger is back this year. Everybody else in Hollywood is, too, so why not the former California governor?
Schwarzenegger made his return in January with the action tale “The Last Stand,” while fellow aging action star Bruce Willis returns this month in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the fifth installment in his “Die Hard” series.
Superheroes return throughout the year with “Iron Man 3,” “The Wolverine,” “Thor: The Dark World” and a new take on Superman with “Man of Steel.”
Animated pals revisit with follow-ups to “Despicable Me,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “The Smurfs” and “Monsters, Inc.”
Horror is resurrected with fresh stabs at “Carrie” and “The Evil Dead.”
Action crews re-enlist for more on the “G.I. Joe,” “The Fast and the Furious” and “Star Trek” fronts.
Comedy crews go for more laughs with “The Hangover Part III” and “Grown Ups 2.”
Even old favorites such as “Jurassic Park” and “The Little Mermaid” come back in 3-D reissues.
And the next chapters quickly follow for two of 2012’s biggest hits with “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
The second “Hobbit” originally was supposed to finish Peter Jackson’s prelude to his “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, until Warner Bros. and the filmmakers decided in 2012 to shoot more footage and make it another three-pack.
To expand the relatively slender “The Hobbit” into a three-movie epic, Jackson has borrowed heavily from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” appendices, which fill in much of the middle-earth back- story about dwarf history, elf lore and the mysterious comings and goings of Ian McKellen’s wizard, Gandalf.
“In ‘The Hobbit,’ Gandalf accompanies the dwarves on the journey, but from time to time, he disappears. He says, ‘Right, I’ve got some important things to do. I’ll meet you up at so-and-so,’ ” Jackson said.
“Tolkien wrote a lot of, like, story outlines for what was happening to Gandalf during that time, and it was all ‘Lord of the Rings’ stuff. ... We’ve been weaving that material into ‘The Hobbit,’ so this is ‘The Hobbit’ expanded, using Tolkien’s own text to do so.”
To many, this year might be the year of the sequel, if it didn’t seem like every year was already like that. But there are more than 30 big-name reboots, re-releases and sequels on tap this year, and that’s not even counting the book and TV-to-movie translations such as “The Lone Ranger.”
For some, including Jeremy Britten, Web communications manager at the University of North Alabama, knowing — or at least being able to guess — what you’re going to get out of a movie is a big draw for him.
“When I can get to the movies by myself or with my wife to see grown-up movies, we try to get out and see the best ones,” Britten said. He said he is only able to see a few movies a year at the theater because of work and raising three kids.
“Some things we definitely want to make the effort to see in the theater,” Britten added.
Britten said he grew up with “The Lone Ranger” television show and is excited to see it and also be able to pass it on to his kids.
“I’m excited that there is potentially renewed interest in ‘The Lone Ranger,’ especially now that I’m having a son who is turning 3 next month,” Britten said.
“It will be cool to see him experience ‘The Lone Ranger’ in a revitalized light.”
Going out to a movie, especially to see a movie that is an unknown, can be a bit of a risk. Staying home can be a better bet, especially when televisions today are larger with sharper pictures. Also, Netflix and DVRs have made high-quality programs people want to watch even more accessible at home.
“When we go, it’s an expensive venture and we’re very selective about what we go see,” said film historian and Pillar of Fire director Terry Pace, who also teaches English at UNA.
“With me, it’s usually word of mouth, critics I trust or word of mouth that I trust,” Pace said. “But I don’t go so much because it’s going to be a known quantity or comfort food.”
In Hollywood, summer starts the first weekend in May, and this year means Robert Downey Jr. suits up again as rich, flaky genius Tony Stark in “Iron Man 3,” back in leading-man form after 2012’s superhero ensemble smash “The Avengers.”
This time, Tony’s forced to fall back on his own survival skills after an enemy up-ends his universe.
“Tony definitely is brought out of his comfort zone, so there’s a lot of travel in this,” Downey said.
Steven McLain, a junior at UNA, said he’s most looking forward to “Man of Steel” because of the names such as Christopher Nolan, who is producing the movie, and Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe who are acting in it.
“Of course, Jim Cavill who is playing Superman, after this he is going to be a big name,” McLain said. “Especially if they get this movie right.”
Good comic book movies have been a long time coming, but their mark on cinema may be too strong.
“I’m from a generation that prayed for a really solid, triumphant comic book translation to the screen,” Pace said.
“Now there is just a proliferation of them, to where they have lost all meaning and have become cookie-cutter built.”
Pace said he doesn’t have a problem with sequels and reboots in general and said there are some, such as the new “Star Trek: Into Darkness” he is excited about. But the mass quantity of them tying up some of the most talented people in Hollywood is what he regrets.
“As much as I like a lot of these filmmakers ... these are people that I would prefer to see tackle original material,” Pace said.
“There are so many great stories to be told.”
TimesDaily staff writer Bobby Bozeman contributed to this report. He can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.