Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014: Marvelsplosion

I set myself a "By the Oscars" deadline to get this on, before I'd seen too many of the movies, or before too many of them had been trashed and, shockingly, I actually hit it.

It's sequels aplenty this year, and Marvel has no less than four properties ready to screen.  There are two Johnny Depp movies, two with Channing Tatum, and even a couple based on the Bible.

Enjoy, 2014 moviegoers!


Lone Survivor, January 10
The story goes that Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch took hefty paycuts (although it's humourous to imagine that their paycheques would be anywhere near eachother) to get this movie made. Based on the true story of a botched mission in Afghanistan, Lone Survivor has been hailed as one of the best war movies in years.
Her, January 10
Her is nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and while it almost certainly won't win (although it could well win a writing award), it's certainly worth a viewing. Set a few years in the future, it, ostensibly, tells the story of Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with his computer operating system.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, January 17
Booted from its original Christmas Day release to make room for Wolf of Wall Street, Chris Pine takes over the Jack Ryan mantle held, most recently, by Ben Affleck. It gives Tom Clancy's super-analyst more of the Casino Royale treatment, and gives a 21st century upgrade to him.  Kenneth Branagh directs, while Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner co-star.


The LEGO Movie, February 7
While obviously aimed at kids, The LEGO Movie has enough to appeal to adults, too. Filled with characters from other franchises - Batman, Han Solo, Gandalf - in Lego form, the film also features a bevy of voice cameos to keep nerds and dorks alike entertained.
The Monuments Men, February 7
Like Jack Ryan, Monuments Men was bumped from its Christmas Day release date, but rather to avoid a head-to-head battle with Scorcese's pic. Directed by and starring George Clooney, Monuments Men tells the story of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program tasked by the Allied Armies during World War II to rescue the artwork plundered by the Nazis from being lost forever. Filled with award winners - Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin - but apparently not with the most compelling story, this has suffered more than expected after release.
The Wind Rises, February 28
The Wind Rises may or may not be Hayao Miyazaki's final feature film as a director, but it's still going to absolutely worth seeing. It's adapted from Miyazaki's own manga, and portrays a fictionalized version of the life of Jori Horikoshi, a Japanese engineer who created the A6M Zero fighter aircraft. The film was the highest-grossing film in Japan in 2013, and has earned a nomination for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award.


300: Rise of an Empire, March 7
300: Rise of an Empire was pushed back seven months from August 2013, and, with luck, that time was spent ironing out whatever was going to spoil the original. Zach Snyder does not return in the director's chair, although he contributed to the screenplay and acts as a producer. What 300 did for strategic mountain passes this film is going to try to do for naval warfare, focusing on more battles that took place during the second Persian invasion of Greece.
Muppets Most Wanted, March 21
Jason Segel allegedly declined involvement with Muppets Most Wanted, saying that he'd accomplished his goal of bringing them back to the big screen. I think they finished it without telling him. A who's who of stars again make appearances - Christoph Waltz, Stanley Tucci, Lady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, among many many others - while Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, and Tina Fey start as the centerpieces of the heist that the Muppets find themselves embroiled in.
Noah, March 28
In the first Biblical releases this year, Darren Aronofsky directs Russell Crowe as Noah, framing - judging by the trailers - his ark-building mission more as a measure to save his family from the apocalyptic flood he has foreseen than as an order from God. Jennifer Connelly pairs again with Crowe (she also played his wife in A Beautiful Mind), and Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, and Nick Nolte make appearances.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier, April 4
The sad little brother of the Avengers franchise, Captain America has difficulty adapting to the current culture. Chris Evans does an admirable job, but there's only so much that can be done with a character exemplifying the 1950s America zeitgeist. Plenty of Marvel mainstays make themselves known - Black Widow, Maria Hill, Nick Fury - and Sebastian Stan reprises his role as Bucky Barnes, eventually to become the eponymous Winter Soldier.
Transcendence, April 18
Wally Pfister - better know as Christopher Nolan's cinematographer - makes his directorial debut, and does so while bossing around the likes Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, and Paul Bettany. Not a bad way to break in the director's chair. Depp plays a scientist who, faced with a terminal illness, downloads his mind into a computer, and becomes more powerful than he could have imagined. Screenwriter Jack Paglen is also making his debut.
The Immigrant, April TBD
Admittedly, The Immigrant won't be on many must-see lists - writer/director James Gray hasn't done anything since 2008 - but the headlining cast is enough to pique my interest. Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, and Marion Cotillard star in this story about a Polish family's arrival in Manhattan in the 1920s. Six-time Oscar nominee Patricia Norris does costume design for the film.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2, May 2
The beginning of blockbuster season starts with a bang, with the return of Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. Mark Webb returns to direct, as does Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy - although early screenshots of the film show Peter catching her with webbing after she's thrown from a bridge, and Spiderman comic fans will know what that could mean. Featuring appearances from Jamie Foxx as Electro, Paul Giamatti as The Rhino, and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, hopefully this will not suffer the same villain overload as Spider-Man 3.
Million Dollar Arm, May 16
I'm sure this will be fairly Disney-fied, and I'm sure it will be less about sports than I would like, but the story of a sports agent trying to adapt cricket bowlers into Major League Baseball pitchers intrigues me. It also doesn't hurt that the writer, Thomas McCarthy, helped to pen Up.
X-Men: Days of Future Past, May 23
Bryan Singer returns to direct this sort-of double sequel (to X-Men: First Class and X-Men: The Last Stand) about mutants and time travel. In the original comic, the two storylines featured were (at the time, the present) 1980 and 2013, and involves an heavily expanded role for Kitty Pryde. The film is a who's who of the X-Men universe, old and new - Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Michael Fassbender, Shawn Ashmore - and may introduce Sentinels into the storyline. I'm pumped.


Edge of Tomorrow, June 6
Though I'm not sure I buy Emily Blunt as an action hero (although Tom Cruise will have no problem with it), this Groundhog Day-like sci-fi film looks pretty interesting. Essentially, Tom Cruise is a soldier in a war against an invading alien race who is stuck in a time loop, re-living the day he is killed in battle, only to become more and more skilled with each re-incarnation. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) directs.
22 Jump Street, June 13
The team behind the surprisingly enjoyable 21 Jump Street returns for the aptly titled 22 Jump Street. The first film showed us that Channing Tatum has some real comic timing, and all directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have done since 21 is direct The LEGO Movie and the pilot of Golden Globe-award winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine. All the principals from the first film return - Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, Dave Franco - and so long as it doesn't become a parody of itself, it should be a hit.
How To Train Your Dragon 2, June 13
Five years after the events of the first film, humans and dragons are living in harmony. Hiccup and Toothless, however, discover an ice cave, full of wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider. It should be another very fun movie, which hopefully won't suffer from any Part 2 problems - How To Train Your Dragon 3 has been announced for a June 2016 release.
Transformers: Age of Extinction, June 27
Oh, who the hell cares? I'll see this, it won't be especially good, but it'll be fun as hell. Josh Duhamel and Shia LaBeouf are gone, Mark Wahlberg steps in and Nicola Peltz plays the requisite eye candy (although, she is a mechanic's daughter, which is super original).


Tammy, July 2
This appears to be the same role Melissa McCarthy has played countless times before, but this may actually be a chance for her to really spread her wings. Directed by her husband Ben Falcone, and also starring Toni Collette, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, and Dan Aykroyd, this could actually be a summer hit.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, July 11
Andy Serkis reprises his role as Caesar, leader of the race of apes that is quickly gaining dominance over the planet. The remaining humans - among them, Gary Oldman and Judy Greer - are trying to band together in an uprising. Matt Reeves directs, and if his last two films - Let Me In and Cloverfield - are any indication, it'll be a suspenseful ride.
Jupiter Ascending, July 18
The Wachowskis (not the Wachowski Brothers, as the poster asserts) look to follow up 2012's convoluted but satisfying Cloud Atlas with a more straightforward - well, as straightforward as it gets - space drama. Mila Kunis stars as a (chosen) woman targeted by the Queen of the Galaxy for assassination, while Channing Tatum is tasked with her protection. Sean Bean probably plays a bad guy. It's also not coming out on the day that the poster says.  Man, I picked a bad poster.


Guardians of the Galaxy, August 1
James Gunn - he really hasn't done much - directs this Marvel tale of a space-based superhero squad that, honestly, no one really cares about. However, based on the casting, and the need to not cough up a flop in the Marvel Universe, this will probably actually be quite good. This film has ties to both The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World, so it would appear there's no plan to leave this film alone on an island. Bradley Cooper is probably the film's biggest star, although he's just doing voice work, but it also stars Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, Chris Pratt - whose star I hope continues to rise - and Vin Diesel.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, August 8
Heroes in the Half-Shell! Michael Bay made the turtles aliens, because he's dumb, and Megan Fox has been cast as April. Jiminy. But, with Will Arnett, Danny Woodburn, William Fichtner, and Whoopi Goldberg, this may not be terrible. Of course, it very well could be.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, August 22
After a nearly year-long delay from its original October 4 release date - which was apparently just a ploy to hold an October date for Machete Kills - this sequel is coming out nearly a decade after the original. Again under the direction of Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez and featuring an ensemble cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Rosario Dawson, this film has been plagued by production delays that everyone seems to keep blaming on everyone else. The source material proved successful in the first film, and with a couple of stories written especially for this movie, this should be a worthy sequel.
Big Eyes, August 28
Tim Burton directs this biopic of artists Margaret and Walter Keane - Burton actually commissioned Margaret to paint his former fiancée Lisa Marie. Amy Adams plays Margaret and Christoph Waltz plays Walter, and the film depicts their bitter divorce battle and Margaret's battle to get rightful credit for her paintings, which Walter had claimed as his own.
Jane Got a Gun, August 29
Natalie Portman. Enough said! Well, not really - this western also stars Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton, and Rodrigo Santoro. This came off the 2011 Black List, and about the only people that have been constantly involved seem to have been Portman and Edgerton - although in McGregor's role - and it's even on its second director. Still, though, initial plot points make it sound pretty interesting. Plus, Natalie Portman.


No Good Deed, September 12
I would watch Idris Elba run on a treadmill. This story of home invasion looks like it will be better even than that. Taraji P. Henson also stars.
The Boxtrolls, September 26
Man, they don't waste time turning children's books into movies anymore. This is a story about an orphaned boy named Eggs, raised by a group of trash collectors called Boxtrolls. Ultimately, Eggs needs to save his friends from an evil exterminator.


Gone Girl, October 3
Speaking of not taking long to adapt a book to the silver screen. Now, that being said, it doesn't look like they could have done it much better. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel, was tapped to write the screenplay, two-time Oscar nominee David Fincher will direct, and Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike lead the cast. This may turn out pretty well.
The Judge, October 10
Quite a cast leads The Judge, including Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, and Melissa Leo. David Dobkin directs this story of a successful lawyer who, upon returning home for his mother's funeral, discovers his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder.
The Interview, October 10
It looks like this may be the Pineapple Express 2 that This is the End joked about. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen direct this film about a talk show host and his producer (James Franco and Rogen), tasked by the CIA with assassinating Kim Jong-Un during an interview. Five bucks says there's pot involved.


Interstellar, November 7
Christopher and Jonathan Nolan wrote this, and Christopher directs. Even if the entire movie was just stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway reading the script in a planetarium, it would be fantastic. Please please please do not get pushed back.
Dumb and Dumber To, November 14
Completely ignoring the existence of Dumb and Dumberer, all the principal parties return for the long rumoured sequel to Dumb & Dumber. Twenty years later, we find Lloyd and Harry searching for one of their long lost children, in hopes of securing a new kidney. Cam Neely stars.
Fury, November 14
Brad Pitt returns to fight Nazis in David Ayer's Fury. I've enjoyed Ayer's previous works, particularly 2012's End of Watch, and if those films are any indication, this will not exactly be for the faint of heart. Michael Pena and Shia LaBeouf also star.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, November 21
As with years past, this will be absolutely huge. As has become the norm, this is split into two films, so don't expect a conclusion.


Exodus, December 12
Christian Bale has hopefully been working on his voices, as he portrays Moses in an adaptation of the Book of Exodus. Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver co-star, along with Joel Edgerton as Rhamses, for some reason, and Ridley Scott directs.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again, December 17
The last installment ended with Smaug en route to obliterate Dale. There and Back Again will feature plenty of fire, plenty of war, and plenty of riches. A wholly satisfying follow up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy will come to an end.
Into the Woods, December 25
Chris Pine. Emily Brunt. Anna Kendrick. Johnny Depp. Meryl Streep. I'm there.

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