Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hollywood 2014

Quite without warning, 2013 turned out to be a fantastic year at the cinema, for big budget blockbusters and smaller thought-provoking films alike. 2014 will have a tough act to follow, and the scheduled slate of films may not look too hopeful at first glance. Worry not as there are movies to be excited about – especially since the year includes releases by Christopher Nolan, David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky! Here's a list of 24 noteworthy films releasing in 2014, including one big movie to beware of.

Note: All release dates mentioned are for the USA, for the sake of some order. They are also, owing to arbitrary whims of the studio overlords, subject to change.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Action, Thriller
Release date: January 17th
Pushed back from 2013, this is another attempt to restart the Jack Ryan franchise. Important: this is Kenneth Branagh’s first film as director after Thor. Not important but interesting: Jack Ryan is played by Chris Pine, Captain Kirk himself!

The Lego Movie
Animated, Comedy
Release date: February 7th
If you’ve not watched the trailers of this awesome-sauce movie, you are doing yourself a major disservice. Switch to a new browser window, youtube the trailers and ROFL. George Clooney can wait.

The Monuments Men
Action, Drama
Release date: February 7th
George Clooney directs himself, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin in this WWII-era movie. Surely, there is little doubt in wanting to watch it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Comedy, Drama
Release date: March 7th
Wes Anderson’s wonderful world of whimsical weirdness. Watch!

Muppets Most Wanted
Comedy, Adventure
Release date: March 21st
I’d watch this Muppets movie even if it did not have the muppets. It has Tina Fey play a Russian prison warden. Can you imagine the fun in her pulling a Russian accent in a comedy?

Drama, Adventure
Release date: March 28th
Darren Aronofsky goes big budget mainstream with a retelling of the Biblical story of Noah. Stars Gladiator as Noah, his wife from A Beautiful Mind, Hermione as his daughter, Percy Jackson as his son and Hannibal Lecter as his granddaddy. Considering the director’s forte, it would be something to watch Noah’s obsession with building the ark.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Superhero, Action
Release date: April 4th
Marvel’s movie of the year. CapAm’s best bud Bucky from WWII era returns as the dashing villain Winter Soldier. The trailer makes it look as good as most previous Marvel-studio directed movies. Note: Robert Redford plays a S.H.I.E.L.D. top brass.

SciFi, Thriller
Release date: April 18th
Worth watching if only to see Johnny Depp *not* play a Tim Burton weirdo. Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer of the The Dark Knight series & Inception makes his directorial debut with this sci-fi, and follows the blue-print of his mentor: from the multistar cast (Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy and Paul Bettany) to the sci-fi landscape setting.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Superhero, Action
Release date: May 2nd
Marvel’s numero uno hero is being milked for all its money worth by Sony. This video-game looking movie will make truck-loads of money again, while dropping the credibility of the character, director and actor another few notches.

Action, Fantasy
Release date: May 16th
After the 1998 fiasco, it is time already to get a good Godzilla film. But positioning it the year after Pacific Rim, this Godzilla will have to be mighty impressive to win over the masses. To its credit, the trailer takes gigantic steps in the right direction.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Superhero, Action
Release date: May 23rd
This movie brings together most of the mutants from the previous X-Men movies, even featuring a face-to-face with old and young Professor X. It also marks the return of Bryan Singer to the franchise that kick started the superhero revolution in Hollywood. I truly believe this director does not have a single bad film in him.

Fantasy, Adventure
Release date: May 30th
Four years after her last starring role, Angelina Jolie stars as the evil witch from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty in this alternative take on the fairy tale. Note for younger boys: Elle Fanning plays the princess!

Edge of Tomorrow
SciFi, Action
Release date: June 6th
Interest in the movie fell when the title was changed from the fantastic All You Need Is A Kill to the meh Edge of Tomorrow. Tom Cruise saves the world again, Groundhog Day style! It’s a scifi action film though, and I have a soft spot for those.

22 Jump Street
Release date: June 13th
21 Jump Street was surprisingly wicked. If the self-aware trailer of the sequel is anything to go by, we are looking at an absurd R-rated comedy franchise to entertain our generation!

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Release date: June 13th
How To Train Your Dragon broke a few conventions and soared to new heights in the Animated tentpole genre (98% on Rotten Tomatoes!). Will the sequel go the way of Pixar’s Toy Story 2 by setting even higher standards for Dreamworks? One can always wish.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Release date: June 27th
Beware! (Clue: You watched Transformers 2, therefore 3 got made. You watched 3, and 4 is ready to assault you. Get the pattern?)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Fantasy, Thriller
Release date: July 11th
The first film was unexpectedly good – thanks to the Gollum team (Andy Serkis & Weta Digital) for their creation of Caeser, the ape. The same team returns, with many more apes in tow for what looks like a rousing sequel.

Jupiter Ascending
SciFi, Action
Release date: July 18th
Post Matrix, the Wachowski siblings have been redoing the high-concept future/alternate world again and again, with success (Cloud Atlas) and ugly failure (Speed Racer). Here’s another one, an interplanetary tale with an actual “Queen of the Universe”. Deemed worth the interest because it stars Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. Also, Sean Bean (chalk up another screen death!).

Fantasy, Action
Release date: July 25th

The Rock plays Hercules with a lion-skin cloak. What more do you need to know?

Guardians of the Galaxy
Superhero, Action
Release date: August 1st
A raccoon that fires rockets and a talking tree set in the same universe as the Avengers (ref: post-credit scene from Thor 2). I have little faith in the setting. But this is a Marvel film; they are known to have a stamp of quality about them (ignore the megalomaniacal Iron Man 2). Watch this for the supporting cast: Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly and Lee Pace. Fact: there will be a post-credit scene.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Superhero, Action
Release date: August 8th
Megan Fox stars as April O’Niel in a Michael Bay produced movie by the director of Wrath of the Titans. This spells disaster any way you look at it. But it is still about the turtles, living in a sewer, munching Pizza and ninja-kicking Shredder and his foot clan.

The Expendables 3
Action, Action
Release date: August 15th
After the second film (co-starring Van Damme and… Chuck Norris!), the franchise has become another level of w00t! This time the roster includes Blade, Braveheart, Indiana Jones and Desperado (Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas).

Sin City: A Dame to Die For
Crime, Thriller
Release date: August 22nd
Expect stylized over-the-top violence and dead-pan over-acting in this sequel to the 2005 cult film. Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordeon-Levitt and Eva Green join some returning actors in 4 more short stories set in the high contrast black & white world of crime-ridden Sin City. Best news: Mickey Rourke returns as Marv.

Gone Girl
Thriller, Drama
Release date: October 3rd
David Fincher directs Ben Affleck in a thriller. Think The Game. (If you haven’t watched it, do so now!). 2014 would have been good enough with a film by Fincher, but it gets better.

Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release date: November 7th
A Nolan film! His last two non-Batman films were about illusions (The Prestige) and dreams (Inception). This time, he’s taking us through a wormhole across space & time. In glorious IMAX 2D.

War, Action
Release date: November 12th
Brad Pitt is a US Army tank commander in WWII Nazi Germany, and his nickname is Wardaddy. Count me in!

Dumb and Dumber To
Release date: November 14th
They don’t make them dumb comedies like they used to. But we gone lucky this time, with the original stars and directors returnin’.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
Drama, Action
Release date: November 21st
Catching Fire was an excellent sequel to The Hunger Games, and now the franchise goes all out rebellion in this first of the two-part finale. Francis Lawrence continues as director, taking the action to the capital and the hidden District 13.

Release date: December 12th
Batman is Moses! The title suggests that the move will depict the 10 plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. But the question to ask his, how much of the story will the film cover before and after these events? And more importantly: Can this be Ridley Scott’s return to form, or even… … swan song?

The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Fantasy, Adventure
Release date: December 17th
Smaug will fall, Sauron will rise and a great war will be fought. Friendships will be formed and a destiny will be set. A tale will be told and two series will be bridged. One film to bring them all, and in the darkness (of the cinema) bind them!

Other movies that may catch your interest:: Robocop remake, a Disney-animated Marvel superhero movie called Big Hero 6, an untitled Cameron Crowe Hawaii film, PT Anderson's Inherent Vice and David O. Russel's Nailed.

Have a fantastic 2014 at the movies, weekend to weekend!

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