In the midst of the summer movie season (which might I add has been very hit and miss), I thought I’d use some foresight and look ahead to what’s in store for all us cinefiles in 2014.
1. The Amazing Spiderman 2
Growing up with the Raimi trilogy, I was beyond skeptical when I heard that Sony was rebooting one of my favorite childhood franchises. Despite a cardboard villain and B movie writing, I ended up enjoying “The Untold Story” in the Amazing Spider-Man. While a vast improvement over the legendary cluster @$#& that was Spider-Man 3, Amazing Spider-Man didn’t quite wow me like Batman Begins or similar reboots. Finally unchained from the origin story however, director Marc Webb is getting the band back together for another go around and its shaping up to be….something. Jaime Foxx as Electro/Max Dillon, with a jerry curl to boot? Paul Giamatti as the Rhino, donning a mech suit and Rhinoceros underwear? Chronicle’s Dane DeHaan as a dark and gritty Harry Osborn, the villain from the Muppets movie as his dear old dad? Writers of Star Trek onboard? With more baddies, more love story, and more plotlines this could either be a horrible, tear your hair out train wreck; Or the best Spider-Man film ever to hit celluloid. Web shooters crossed (Just for good measure, keep Topher Grace far away from this)
2. The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Journeying to Middle Earth….one last time. Some would say its one too many considering this go around isn’t based on any published source material, but rather J. R. R. Tolkien’s shorthand notes that he jotted down to further link the Lord of the Rings saga with the preceding Hobbit duo. I loved every 48 fps bit of the Hobbit, and after seeing Benedict Cumberbatch as a giant freaking dragon in the Desolation of Smaug trailer; I’m ready for Peter Jackson to take my money in advance. Although possible disrespect of source material gives me the heebie-jeebies, I have faith in team behind the camera and have since I was a wee lad.
3. Captain America: The Winter Solider
I didn’t get what I was expecting with Joe Johnston’s Captain America film, picturing more of Saving Private Ryan with Captain America, and instead getting an Indiana Jones style pulp. Ultimately though, I thought the film fit the summer blockbuster bill well, but Chris Evans never quite fit the star spangled boots well in my eyes. He impressed me a smidge more in the Avengers, and hopefully he’ll shed his wooden demeanor Pinocchio style this time around. Evans won’t have to bear the shield alone, joined by Black Widow and Anthony Mackie (Gangster Squad, Pain and Gain) wing suiting up as the good Captain’s trusty partner, Falcon, for what’s being described as 70’s style political thriller. Folks close to production have regarded it as Avengers 1.5, and the basis for the plot is one of my favorite Captain America stories, which will finally bringing the ultra badass Winter Solider into the public eye. I’m not going to reveal his big secret, but expect some tear jerking flashbacks from Steve Rogers. I would be totally sold, if not for Marvel Studios gambling their Avengers money on the You, Me, and Dupree directors at the helm. Come on, didn’t you have the Italian Job guy on that shortlist?
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Let me kick this off by admitting that this should be my number one. The follow up to my favorite X-Men film, doubling as one of my favorite films, period. Check. Based on my all time, set in stone, most cherished X-Men story ever put to print. Check. Then Bryan Singer (Jack the Giant Slayer, Superman Returns) signed on to direct pared up with screenwriter Simon Kinberg (X3: The Last Stand, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), and the X-Men geek within me threw up a little. Matthew Vaughn rolled the dice, did something completely out of left field, and brought legitimacy to a franchise I long thought dead. SO WHY DON’T WE GIVE IT TO THE X3 GUY TO @$#& UP ALL OVER AGAIN. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse they dug up Bryan Singer’s career so he could stick up a big middle finger to the Firstclassmen, only singing four of them onto his time travel team-up while bring back the near entirety of his X2 roster. Although it might seem like I’m outright bashing the film, the future X-men and the past X-men sharing the screen together has huge potential. Plus, we’re finally getting the mutant hunting Sentinel robots after six films (hopefully not in the Jack the Giant Slayer CGI). Simon Kinberg also impressed me with his polish on the first Sherlock Holmes movie, and Disney seems to believe in him a heck of a lot, sticking him onto the newly acquired Star Wars franchise. We’ll see.
After the god awful 90’s reboot of the popular Kaiju franchise, we Americans have a long way to go with our giant, scaly monsters. Normally I wouldn’t be excited for something like this all considered, until I heard who’s steering the ship on this one. Going through almost as many rewrites as cities Godzilla topples, David Callaham (Expendables), Frank Darabont (AMC’s The Walking Dead), David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel), Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3), and relative newcomer Max Borenstein with only a few spec scripts under his belts, have all taken a pass. Filling in the director’s chair is Gareth Edwards, who famously directed the independent film Monsters that received positive reviews almost unanimously. If that doesn’t get butts into seats stars are ranging from Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass, Savages) and Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins, Inception). With Pacific Rim rapidly approaching, and the creative clout for this film, I’d bet my bottom dollar on a Kaiju comeback.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
Kevin Feige and James Gunn are hitting the cosmic crapshoots to wager the Avengers big bucks on a Star Warsian team up, in space! By leaps and bounds the most fringe title Marvel Studios has ever produced, showcasing a colorful cast of quote on quote “badass space warriors”, human-alien space pirate Starlord (Chris Pratt), green skinned intergalactic assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), cosmic barbarian Drax (Dave Bautista), otherworldly archer (Michael Rooker), and gruff outlaw Rocket Raccoon and his shrubbery buddy cop Groot; who have as of typing this not been cast. Lee Pace and Karen Gillan have been cast as unconfirmed villains, with John C. Reilly and Glenn Close in supporting roles. Indie writers Nicole Perlman and Chris McCoy have written the script, with writer/director James Gunn putting on the finishing touches. James Gunn is an inspired choice, I thoroughly enjoyed his tiny little film Super, and after Joss Whedon knocked our collective socks off with the Avengers, an off the wall pick is just what the doctor ordered. At this point Marvel could announce a “Not Brand Echh” movie (It’s worth a Google) and it would make my most anticipated list. And to be frank, it’s already better than Green Lantern.
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Among the wave of reboots and remakes flooding the cinema these days, in 2011,- 20th Century Fox brought back the world-conquering ape franchise to nearly 500 million dollars of success. Now they’re throwing all that out the window. New director, new writers, and a new cast for the most part; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is shaping up to be a quasi-reboot in its own right. Matt Reeves is heading back into the post-apocalyptic genre after Cloverfield took audiences and the box office by storm. Among the original scribes, Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, Side Effects) and Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard, Unstoppable) are handling rewrites. Caesar is inheriting a whole ape army, which will take part in a brutal civil war with the human resistance, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke filling out the ranks. I’m intrigued by the idea of taking a time jump and basically starting from scratch, and the talent behind the camera is tailor fit to bring it to the big screen.
8. Ninja Turtles
I can’t stress this enough, this is here purely based on my nostalgia for the Saturday morning cartoon. Ninjas, turtles, pizza! Its every six year old’s dream, and next summer I get to watch Michael Bay and company sodomize it…yay. I’ll go on the record saying that I believe the first Transformers movie is a fine action movie, it was flashy with some passable humor and I enjoyed it. Then the sequels were released and I jumped ship before I couldn’t watch an explosion ever again. I would actually be willing to watch a Michael Bay directed Ninja Turtles movie, but to the contrary Mr. Bay dug into his Platinum Dunes toy chest and handpicked possibly the worst director in all of Hollywood, Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans). The diabolical duo hired no-name actors to play the turtles, MEGAN FOX TO PLAY APRIL O’NEIL (I guess a nice rack makes up for someone comparing you to Hitler), and whitewashed the ethnical diverse cast by casting Caucasian actors to embody historically Asian roles, Master Splinter and Shredder. The script has gone from space turtles and a space rat being hunted by military ninjas, to something resembling more closely the turtle lore. The culprits? Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol), Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (Iron Man), John Fusco (Young Guns, Young Guns II), and Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman). I see the Iron Man guys on that list so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but at this rate we’ll have another Dark of the Moon situation on our hands. Hopefully I still have the 90’s VHS lying around.
I guarantee this claim will be chum in the water to die hard Nolanites, but I wasn’t overly impressed with what I saw in the Dark Knight Rises. It’s well known that Nolan was contractually obligated to make the film in order to fulfill his passion project, Inception, and I think those corporate politics shine through in the final product. That doesn’t detract from my love of Chris Nolan as a director; he’s talented but not infallible. I believe if you put godlike devotion into anyone they’re going to get a little full of themselves (Just take a look at the Phantom Menace), but Nolan’s moving out of blockbuster territory and back to his roots with this sci-fi love letter Interstellar is certainly uplifting. Developed alongside real-life physicist Kip Throne, Chris Nolan and his co-writer Jonathan Nolan seek to bring their grounded style to theoretical physics. Like any Nolan picture the talent is of the highest pedigree, reteaming with DKR stars Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway plus Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain for added star power. After seeing what Nolan’s capable of when he brings his A-game, I’m sold on him tackling some smaller, more from-the-heart motion pictures.
10. Fast and Furious 7
What started as a street level drag racing franchise has evolved into an action packed heist series, the poster child for diversity in the movie world. Raking in over half a billion dollars in its last outing, there’s no end in sight to the Fast and the Furious phenomenon. Justin Lin, a mainstay whose trilogy has propelled Fast and Furious to its high level of notoriety, is moving on to other projects. Architect of horror James Wan is taking the driver’s seat (pun very much intended) with almost the entire Fast 6 cast coming back. The only exception being the Rock, who is tied up in the filming of Brett Ratner’s Hercules of which he portrays the title hero. Jason Statham of the Transporter films will be menacing Dom and his fellow street racers, picking up where the events of Tokyo Drift leaves off. The prospect of James Wan switching genres certainly is appealing, and with Chris Morgan still handling script duties the franchise seems destined to remain crazy fun, but please get the freakin Rock back.