Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Most Anticipated Films of 2015 – Part 1: Blockbusters

Blockbuster movie making has become the business of sequels, which on one hand is a little sad (because where is all the great original stuff we use to have?) but on the other hand we still get awesome stuff we all cannot wait to see – like a new Avengers film, a new James Bond adventure and a new Star Wars outing. These are the big films to see in 2015:


Release: May 1st
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot: In the wake of the events of Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Tony Stark tries to restart a dormant peacekeeping program, using his AI technology. He creates Ultron, a highly intelligent robotic defender whose purpose is to hopefully replace the Avengers and protect the Earth from future alien attack or whatever threat the Earth may face next; however, Stark’s ego blinds him from the fact that he has given Ultron too much control and intelligence. Ultron, like many other AI systems in past films, realizes that mankind’s primary threat is from themselves; and thus, it devises a grand and terrible plan to destroy humanity. It is up to the Avengers to stop it.
Director: Joss Whedon
Editor’s Thoughts: Joss Whedon did a fantastic job with The Avengers, creating one of the most fun and best superhero films to date. Avengers: Age of Ultron is probably 2015’s most anticipated film and likely to be the year’s Box Office champion. It will be interesting to see how Whedon gives all the characters their moments while introducing new characters (as it stands right now, there are fourteen returning MCU characters and six new ones – this film is jam packed). The trailer certainly sets a darker tone. So far, Phase II has kept things relatively light, much like Phase I, never going too dark, preferring humor and fun action. Could Age of Ultron usher in a much darker Phase III?
Trailer: Here

Title: Tomorrowland
Release: May 22nd
Genre: Action/Adventure Sci-Fi
Plot: Casey Newton and former boy-genius inventor Frank Walker find themselves transported to Tomorrowland, a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their shared memory. Casey’s scientific curiosity leads her on a mission to find the secrets behind Tomorrowland, dragging Frank with her. He has been disillusioned by life, but seeing this wondrous place might reignite the spark within him.
Director: Brad Bird
Editor’s Thoughts: Tomorrowland is Disney’s latest endeavor to take something from their theme parks and turn it into a film franchise (it worked with Pirates of the Caribbean, but not so much with The Haunted Mansion). The creative team behind the film is very well suited. Brad Bird is producing, directing and co-writing. He has a very strong background in animation (highlighted by The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille) as well as action films (his first live-action feature was Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was quite entertaining; this is his second). Damon Lindelof is producing and co-writing as well. He is one of the more prolific sci-fi writers working right now in film and television (he is best known for his work on Lost, Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, and the new brilliant HBO drama The Leftovers). The film looks to be a very fun and entertaining sci-fi adventure.
Trailer: Here

Release: June 12th
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot: Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, a new functioning theme park is thriving on the Island of Isla Nublar. It is known as Jurassic World. But with attendance dwindling, the owners of the park want bigger and badder attractions, turning to genetic engineering to create new, scarier dinosaurs – which of course backfires, leading to dinosaurs once again rampaging across the island putting human lives in danger.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Editor’s Thoughts: Writer-director Colin Trevorrow made a great small indie film with Safety Not Guaranteed. Now, we will see if he can make Hollywood blockbusters too. Jurassic World looks and feels a lot like the original Jurassic Park, seemingly relying a lot on nostalgia for that film. Hopefully, however, the film will try to be its own thing too and not just a complete rehash. The cast is great and the teaser promises grand action and visual moments.
Trailer: Here

Title: Inside Out
Release: June 19th
Genre: Family Comedy Animation
Plot: Riley is a young girl who has recently been uprooted from her Midwestern life, as her father has taken a new job in San Francisco. But, this is a story about Riley’s emotions (Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness). They live in Headquarters, the control center within Riley’s mind. They guide Riley through her daily life. The move to San Francisco has sent Headquarters into a state of turmoil. Joy tries to maintain control, as Riley’s most important emotion, keeping things positive, but forces try to work against her.
Director: Pete Docter
Editor’s Thoughts: Inside Out is a new original idea from Pixar, which is really good to see as the studio has started to produce an alarming amount of sequels recently (three of their last four films have been sequels – additionally, two of their next four are also sequels) when they have been known for their wonderful original films. Inside Out has a great creative team with director Pete Docter and writer Michael Arndt (Docter also directed Monsters, Inc. and Up, while Arndt wrote Toy Story 3), leading me to believe that Inside Out should see Pixar return to it standard of high quality films.
Trailer: Here

Release: July 1st
Genre: Action/Adventure Sci-Fi
Plot: In the year 2029, John Connor is engaged in the seemingly never-ending war against the machines; however, the humans might have the advantage. This leads SkyNet to try a new plan to kill Connor in the past, once again targeting his mother Sarah. Connor sends his friend (and father) Kyle Reese back in time to help protect his mother.
Director: Alan Taylor
Editor’s Thoughts: It does feel unnecessary for there to be yet another Terminator film (coming on the heels of two less than stellar outings); but, Terminator: Genesys does boast a great cast and a new approach to the material. Director Alan Taylor is also a strong choice, as he brings a fantastic grasp of epic visuals (see his work on Game of Thrones or Thor: The Dark World) and a gritty realism, both of which should benefit the series. The film seems to be some sort of sequel/reboot, as it does tell a similar story to the first Terminator, but in a new way. Hopefully, Taylor and his fine new cast will return the series to its better days (those under director James Cameron) with a film that features great action, characters and sci-fi themes.
Trailer: Here

Title: Ant-Man
Release: July 17th
Genre: Action/Adventure
Plot: Scott Lang is a con-man who is taken under the wing of scientist Dr. Hank Pym. Lang is asked to become a hero when he and Pym must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. Pym gives Lang a super-suit that gives him the ability to shrink and increase in strength.
Director: Peyton Reed
Editor’s Thoughts: Ant-Man is the final film in Marvel’s MCU Phase II. Initially, writer-director Edgar Wright was in place to make the film, but he fell out with Marvel over the creative direction of the film, leading Marvel to pursue other options, including hiring Peyton Reed to direct and Adam McKay to work on the screenplay. It is a shame because Wright makes great films (while Reed makes mediocre films, generally). That said, Marvel has a history of creative differences with their directors (Alan Taylor, director of Thor: The Dark World, for one), because they have a very clear idea of what they want and where they are going with their films. What has made Phase II so great, though, is that Marvel brought in fantastic people to helm their films (Joss Whedon, Shane Black, the Russo Brothers, and James Gunn to name a few). It would be sad to see Marvel go backwards creatively (as Phase II has been so much better than Phase I). Ant-Man, however, still has a great cast, led by Paul Rudd, and looks really fun.
Trailer: Here

Title: Spectre
Release: November 6th
Genre: Action Spy Mystery/Thriller
Plot: A mysterious message from James Bond’s past sends him back on the trail of the organization he uncovered in Quantum of Solace. Meanwhile, M battles in the political arena to keep MI6 alive after their recent security breaches. As Bond digs deeper into the organization (known as Spectre), he uncovers a terrible truth.
Director: Sam Mendes
Editor’s Thoughts: Sam Mendes has many of his Skyfall filmmaking collaborators as well as the main cast returning for Spectre; plus, the new additions are all fantastic (I am particularly excited about Christoph Waltz being the main villain, the addition of Andrew Scott, who is just wonderfully villainous in Sherlock, and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema – though he is replacing the equally brilliant Roger Deakins). There is speculation that Waltz is playing Ernst Blofeld despite being credited with the character name Oberhauser (we shall see). The James Bond films have been very good since Daniel Craig took over (even Quantum of Solace works well when taken as part two of Casino Royale). Spectre certainly has all the piece to continue that trend.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Release: November 20th
Genre: Action/Adventure Sci-Fi
Plot: Following the events of Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss Everdeen and District 13 rebel in full against the Capitol.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Editor’s Thoughts: Splitting The Hunger Games: Mockingjay into two films makes financial sense for Lionsgate (especially after the Box Office success of similarly splitting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Twilight: Breaking Dawn into two films), but as a consequence Part 1 has little bite. Part 2 looks to be a much more entertaining and satisfying film (at least from an action standpoint) as it is the culmination of the series and the character journeys. It is also likely to be the second biggest moneymaker of the year behind Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Hunger Games made Jennifer Lawrence a star, but I bet she is probably ready to move on to other things (more David O. Russell films?). Mockingjay – Part 2 is all set to be the best film in the series and the most impactful, finally giving Katniss something of real substance to do (not letting her off the hook emotionally, dramatically and narratively like the other films do), or at least we can hope so.
Trailer: Here (if available)

Release: December 18th
Genre: Action/Adventure Sci-Fi
Plot: The continuation of the Star Wars saga, following the events of The Return of the Jedi (presumably taking place quite a few years later).
Director: J.J. Abrams
Editor’s Thoughts: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is yet another hugely anticipated franchise film. Expectations are also very high, especially after the very lackluster prequel trilogy (which is practically unwatchable). George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney a few years ago. Disney has put together a great creative team for the new Star Wars trilogy, including writer-director-producer J.J. Abrams (he is only directing the first film, but producing the whole trilogy), writer Lawrence Kasdan (who was a big part of the original trilogy) and writer-director Rian Johnson (who is directing Episodes VIII and IX). John Williams is also returning to score the films (which is awesome). Disney is hoping Abrams can reinvigorate Star Wars the same way he revitalized Star Trek with his reboot. So far, Abrams has put together a phenomenal cast of new actors joining many of the returning stars of the original trilogy (like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher among others). Story details are being kept under wraps, but everything seems to be moving in the right direction.
Trailer: Here

Release: December 25th - Now July 31
Genre: Action Thriller
Plot: The plot is unknown at present, but it probably involves action, grand stunts and face changing.
Editor’s Thoughts: I am a huge fan of J.J. Abrams’s Mission: Impossible III. It is one of the best action films of the last decade (and it completely made up for the utter disaster that is Mission: Impossible II – a truly awful film). Brad Bird, making his live-action directorial debut, did a good job with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol as well (even if the villain was pretty weak from a character perspective). The Mission: Impossible films are fun, action-packed and feature brilliant stunts. Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise collaborated earlier on Jack Reacher, which is an underrated action film. This will most likely be a fun and very entertaining blockbuster.

Trailer: Here (if available)

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