Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Most Anticipated Films of 2014 – Part 1: Blockbusters

Title: Noah
Release: March 28
Genre: Action/Adventure Epic
Plot: Noah is inundated with apocalyptic visions of the world ending – a sign from God that a massive flood is coming to cleanse the Earth. It is up to him to take measures to protect his family (and the many species of animals).
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Editor’s Thoughts: I have a feeling that Noah is going to be a somewhat polarizing film, because it comes loaded with religious implications/expectations. Will the film live up to what Christians believe it should be? Personally, however, I am more interested to see what Darren Aronofsky does with his first Hollywood big budget, special effects-driven film. He is a very talented writer-director, who has made a career making films that feature wonderful performances and have a great edgy tone (I particularly liked Black Swan). Aronofsky has a very good cast (including the reuniting of A Beautiful Mind’s Crowe and Connelly) and crew; thus aesthetically and performance wise, the film should be very good, which leaves only Aronofsky’s interpretation of the Biblical story in question. I think it is going to be a fantastically visual and visceral event film (that is likely to anger some in the religious community).
Trailer: Here

Release: April 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot: Following the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers struggles to assume his leadership role within S.H.I.E.L.D. He still finds his place in the modern world difficult. But when S.H.I.E.L.D. faces a major new threat from the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier, Rogers must fully embrace his role, as well as face past demons.
Editor’s Thoughts: Marvel’s phase II films have been very good so far, both Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World are better than any of the phase I individual superhero films. Marvel’s cinematic universe has a great combination of action, adventure, comedy, and drama. Yet each film feels like its own thing too. The Winter Soldier looks like it going to be a great spy thriller style action film. The only question that I have regarding the film is the choice of directors, being that the Russo Brothers are primarily known for their work directing TV comedies (like Community and Happy Endings) and this is much different project. Marvel, however, is very pleased with their work and has already hired them to direct Captain America 3. Based on what I have seen, this looks like it very well could be 2014’s best superhero film.
Trailer: Here

Release: May 2
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot: Peter Parker continues to live it up as Spider-Man, enjoy his relationship with Gwen Stacy, and digging deeper into the mystery involved in the disappearance of his parents with everything pointing at Oscorp. His life is thrown into turmoil, however, when suddenly faced with multiple supervillains, including Electro and The Rhino.
Director: Marc Webb
Editor’s Thoughts: While The Amazing Spider-Man served as a decent introduction to the rebooted world of Spider-Man, it was not a great overall film (especially when compared to Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man films). That said, I do really like Garfield as Parker and Stone as Stacy. They are a great place to build from. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks like it potentially will be really good and entertaining. There has been a lot of complaining that it is overstuffed with villains (something many see as the downfall of Spider-Man 3), but the plan is for the series to stretch four films. Thus, if the character development is done right, it could be very satisfying to see Spider-Man exist in a bigger world, rather than just the typical new big bad of each film (which makes them all rather generic structurally). I am very excited to see if this lives up to its potential, as I am ready to enjoy good Spider-Man films again.
Trailer: Here

Title: Godzilla
Release: May 16
Genre: Adventure/Sci-Fi
Plot: Civilization trembles as a giant radioactive monster called Godzilla wreaks havoc and destruction upon mankind.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Editor’s Thoughts: For those who have seen Monsters, there is a particular excitement for Gareth Edwards directing of this new Godzilla film – one of gleeful anticipation, as Monsters is a great Godzilla-like thriller. Edwards also has a fantastic cast as well (including The Avengers: Age of Ultron’s Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch). A new Godzilla is not really a film that we really thought we needed, especially in the wake of the character’s terrible last iteration, but this film looks like it is going to be awfully good.
Trailer: Here

Release: May 23
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
Plot: The future is doomed. Both humans and mutants find themselves dwindling in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In an effort to change the future, the remaining X-Men send Wolverine back to the past to find the younger versions of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr and avert the events that lead to this nightmarish future.
Director: Bryan Singer
Editor’s Thoughts: The X-Men franchise is all a bit of a mess. X-Men: First Class (easily my favorite of the series) probably should have just existed as a reboot instead of part of the same continuing series (a series in which the timeline makes no sense). But this is not the case. It is also too bad that Matthew Vaughn did not return, as he did a great job with First Class. Instead, Bryan Singer assumes the role as director again (having directed the first two films in the series – both very overrated). It is also too bad that Fox and Singer have decided to once again make this a Wolverine-centric film (when in the comics it is Kitty Pryde that goes back in time, a character I and many really like, and would have been a nice change, plus they have Ellen Page playing her). I am sick of Wolverine and Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of him (even though I did enjoy The Wolverine) in this series. But, all that said, there are some cool things about this too. The First Class cast is fantastic and mostly all returning, plus it will be brilliant to see the interaction between the old and new versions of the X-Men (if there are any). Also, Peter Dinklage as Boliver Trask will likely be wonderfully fun. The film features a ton of characters, but Singer has done a decent job in the past with large ensembles; so I am not as worried about that as I am about him as the director in general (being that he has never made a truly good film – The Usual Suspects does not hold up upon multiple viewings and is maybe the most overrated film of all time). Yes, there is a lot of potential for this to be fantastic and I hope it is; but like the X-Men franchise itself, there is just as much potential for it to be a big disappointing mess.
Trailer: Here

Release: July 18
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi
Plot: Jupiter Jones is just an average human woman (a janitor in fact), or so she thinks. Then one day she is targeted for assassination by the Queen of the Universe. Jones is rescued by an alien man named Caine who helps her begin her destiny to end the Queen’s reign.
Director: The Wachowskis
Editor’s Thoughts: Jupiter Ascending is the first chapter of The Wachowskis’ new Star Wars-like trilogy. It looks potentially really cool and ambitious. We have not had a good sci-fi series in cinemas for a while and it is a void that this can hopefully fill in a satisfying way. I really liked Cloud Atlas, a crazily ambitious film, and thus I have high expectations for this new project from the Wachowskis.
Trailer: Here

Release: August 1
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
Plot: American pilot Peter Quill finds himself lost in the far reaches of Space. And even worst, he is the object of a galactic manhunt after he steals an orb greatly coveted by Ronan the Accuser. But Quill soon finds the aid of a group of warriors, who band together in an effort to stop Ronan from recapturing the orb.
Director: James Gunn
Editor’s Thoughts: Guardians of the Galaxy is a big move for Marvel’s cinematic universe. Firstly, it expands it greatly by introducing many new characters and worlds. Secondly, it tests the box office waters for non-Avengers’ movies. And lastly, it introduces an element of weird into the universe – something that could be fantastic if done right. James Gunn (the director of things like Slither and Super) seems like a great fit to bring a bit of weird to Marvel’s films. And, he has a really great cast with him. I am unfamiliar with the comics; but based on what I have read and seen, Guardians of the Galaxy has a lot of potentially to be something wonderfully entertaining and different – something very much needed in Summer blockbusters.
Trailer: Here 

Title: Interstellar
Release: November 7
Genre: Action/Drama/Sci-Fi
Plot: A recently discovered wormhole allows a group of explorers to surpass the limitations of what is available to humans in their knowledge of the universe and travel vast distances through Space and discover new worlds.
Editor’s Thoughts: There is not a lot known about Interstellar at the moment, and the teaser trailer is vague on the plot as well. What we do know is that it is a new film by Christopher Nolan, and really that is enough. For me, this is probably the film I am most looking forward to in 2014 (although, The Grand Budapest Hotel is right there too). Nolan’s last original film was Inception, a theist-thriller that succeeded on every level of grand filmmaking. The expectations for Interstellar are thusly the same.
Trailer: Here

Release: November 21
Genre: Adventure/Sci-Fi
Plot: Though reluctant, Katniss Everdeen becomes the symbol of rebellion against the Capitol (building on the events of the first two films).
Director: Francis Lawrence
Editor’s Thoughts: Let me first start by saying how sad I am at the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, a wonderfully talented actor whose work I really enjoyed. He will be missed. I am excited to finally see a Hunger Games movie in which something interesting happens (or presumably happens, I have not read the books). In The Hunger Games, Katniss is let off the hook on having to make any truly difficult choices; and in Catching Fire, Katniss is left out of the loop (and so too are the audience by narrative design) and thus sidelined from the more interesting narrative going on behind the scenes, while we are left to watch what is basically the same movie as the first again. It feels like the audience, through Katniss, is finally being allowed to really get at the meat of the story – one that feels fitting in today’s times of social rife and staggering wealth inequality in large portions of the world. It will be interesting to see (at least for me) if Katniss actually becomes the real protagonist of her story for once and takes charge.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Release: December 17
Genre: Action/Adventure/Epic
Plot: Though Thorin and his company of dwarves have reached Smaug’s lair, can they defeat the dragon and reclaim their home? Will Bilbo, Gandalf, and the elves, men, and dwarves thwart the armies of orcs that come to face them in battle?
Director: Peter Jackson
Editor’s Thoughts: I enjoyed both An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, but it feels like There and Back Again will probably be the most satisfying of the three films (as it will provide closure, when the other two end just as things pick up). With only seventy pages left in The Hobbit, it will be interesting to see how Peter Jackson fills what is likely another long film, and how he connects it further with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Plus, the big battles that take place in this should be great.
Trailer: Here (if available)

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