2014 | The Year Ahead

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2014 is shaping up to be another year in which films are released. So, with everyone giving their two cents on their best and worst movies of 2013 right now, I thought it would be interesting to look forward and try and pick out what will be on peoples best and worst lists for 2014.

Looking over this years slate of releases its all looking rather predictable. Marvel will be releasing its obligatory sequels and starting a new franchise, there are big tent pole releases, and a few big name directors releasing long-term projects. Predictable isn’t necessarily bad however, there is certainly enough to get excited about.

January

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As always, the start of the year looks very thin on the ground in terms of quality film releases. This month is filled with paint-by-number films. There is an odd-couple comedy (Ride Along), an animal animation (The Nut Job), a completely inept retelling of a greek legend (The legend of Hercules), and TWO found-footage horrors (Devils Due and Paranormal Activity: The Marked One).

It says something that my pick of the month is I, Frankenstein. Not because I think it is going to be any good. Quite the opposite. I’m picking this out as an early contender for worst film of the year. Never have I seen a film treat its source material with such bare faced contempt (and no, I don’t care that it is purportedly based on a graphic novel).

What the hell is Aaron Eckhart doing with his career?

The only other release that stands out this month is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Hollywood has for years been trying to mould the series of Tom Clancy novels into a bond-like movie franchise. Never before has their intentions been so blatant. Their is promise here, Chris Pine has shown that he has more than enough talent to lead his own film, and with Kenneth Branagh behind the camera, this could be a fun ride.

February

THE LEGO MOVIE

February is known to be the month in which Hollywood scrapes the bottom of the barrel. While there are some such projects on the horizon (Vampire Academy), there is hope that things might not be so bad this year.

For starters their is the release of The Lego Movie. In all honesty, based on the trailer, this could go either way. But loving lego as a kid, and being familiar with the irreverent humour for which the brand has become associated with, I can’t help but be a little excited for a Wreck it Ralphesque romp.

Also set for the release in the early going in The Monuments Men. With a prestigious cast and what looks to be a snappily written script, it has enough going for it to catch my attention. However, for whatever reason, what publicity material I have seen so far reminds me of that of The Men Who Stare at Goats, a film that I was also excited for up until its release. Let’s hope it isn’t such a disappointment.

There are also two big name releases later on in the month. A remake of a Paul Verhoeven classic, Robocop, and Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii. Neither look to be anything special, but if I were to pick one that might just turn out to be a pleasant surprise, I would have to go with the former

March

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March, the end of the cold season (in more than one way). Things are starting to pick up here heading into spring. The highlight of the month comes early in the for of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’ve never been a massive Wes Anderson fan, but after Moonrise Kingdom I am more than happy to give his next effort a chance.

Much later on in the month sees the release of Darren Aronofsky’s passion project, Noah. Being a big Aronofsky fan, I am naturally excited. But what has been on show so far doesn’t seem to present it as  anything more than an average, if not more secular, retelling of the biblical tale. Still, I have faith in Aronofsky

There are a number of other projects slated for release this month . The Grace of Monaco‘s trailer doesn’t divulge much, but it has a more than capable director at the helm in Oliver Dahan, and an interesting synopsis to boot. César Chávez on the other hand doesn’t look like straying too far away from your bog standard biography fare. Still, this isn’t enough to write off what is an interesting story. Finally, The Raid 2, a filmwhich seems to have forgotten what made the first so original and exciting, yet may well still pack a good punch.

For some, the release of Veronica Mars will be the highlight of the month. Having seen the trailer, I think it’s one to be left for the fans of the show.

There are also three big name releases throughout the month, though none of them are anything to be excited about. It kicks of with 300: Rise of an Empire. It should be noted that a sequel to an average movie is never a good thing. Later on in the month we are treated to The Need for Speed, a film that looks to have pretentions of being the next Drive, yet seemingly lacking the depth of even the Fast and Furious franchise. And finally Muppets Most Wanted, which is a move away from the more grounded (if that’s even possible for a Muppets movie) approach of its predecessor, and back to the capers we are used to seeing from them. It doesn’t look like a good move.

April

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April is clearly all about Captain America: The Winter Soldier. For his Avenger counterparts Thor and Iron Man,the second part in their respective solo franchises were rather forgettable. The trailer for The Winter Soldier does nothing to make us think that it will be any different for Cap. The first entry was at its best before our hero got pumped full of super-steroids, sadly, unlike Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, we are unlikely to see a back-to-basics Captain America.

The other big release of the month is Transcendence, the Cronenbergesque tale of a man’s consciousness being transferred to a computer. Since the first trailer hit there seems to be a significant amount of hype building up around the project. I myself am not yet sold on it, but there is no reason to believe that this doesn’t have the potential to be something great.

Other possible picks for the month are Dom Hemingway, what looks to be a raucous tale of a British playboy with Jude Law hamming it up (in a good way). And St Vincent, about which I know very little other than Bill Murray is in it, and frankly, that’s enough.

Was anyone really crying out for a Rio 2?

May

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Was anyone really crying out for a The Amazing Spider-man 2?

Yes, we are getting another Spider-man movie, even after the complete disaster which was the last. Just to make things worse it seems that the filmmakers have been taking notes from the film that killed Spidey’s last incarnation, adding 3 villains to the equation. It’s going to be crap.

Marvel’s second film of the month will no doubt be a better one. X-Men: Days of Future Past marks the return of Bryan Singer to the franchise, and with him Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. It is particularly interesting that this film borrows from a plot that I vaguely remember watching in the cartoons as a kid. Nostalgia abound.

The newest incarnation of Godzilla is also out this May. A look at the teaser trailer draws the picture of a much darker interpretation, and a much scarier one to boot. I’m intrigued, but I also simultaneously aware that monster movies have a track-record of not following up on great teasers *ahem*Cloverfield*ahem*.

The last noteworthy release of the month is Disney’s Maleficent, as will become more common as we head later into the year, there is very little material to get a sense of how this retelling of Sleeping Beauty might pan out. However, the fact that is being directed by a visual effects supervisor isn’t exactly reassuring.

June

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More Sequels!

How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a strong basis on which to build upon, and the new trailer makes it look like a solid follow-up, if not a somewhat unremarkable one. 22 Jump Street follows on the heels of its surprisingly entertaining predecessor. Whether it will be as successful is debatable. But it won’t. And then there’s Transformers: Age of Extinction …

Perhaps an early contender for the award for ‘Most Contradictory Project Choice’ is Clint Eastwood’s decision to direct the big screen incarnation of Jersey Boys. Yes, that’s right, the man who played Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name is going to be bringing this to a theatre near you. I suppose he did show a knack for this sort of thing earlier in his career.

Last of all for June is Tom Cruise in The Edge of Tomorrow. It looks to be this years Oblivion mixed with a little Source Code. It should be entertaining enough.

July

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This is the one I am going to be looking forward to throughout this year. Rise of the Planet of the Apes could be the start of something special. With its predecessor surprising many by being a reboot that actually did the original justice, there is a chance that this years entry could only build upon that and set the foundation for a classic franchise. The first teaser trailer does nothing to trample those hopes, and perhaps most importantly, Andy Serkis will be reprising his role as Caesar. This is my pick for best big-budget film of the year.

Shaping up to be the (unintentionally) funniest film of the year is the the Wachowski brothers’ Jupiter Ascending. Anyone who can look at Channing Tatum dressed up as an alien, and not laugh, is  a better man than I. In all seriousness though the Wachowski’s have been on a bad trajectory since the release of The Matrix, and there’s not enough here to make me think they are about to right it. It LOOKS beautiful though, and Sean Bean is in it.

Other than that there is not much else going on here. Dwayne Johnson is set to play Hercules in Hercules: The Thracian Wars.

Is material so scant that we need two Hercules films in one year?

There’s also a new step up film (Step Up All In)…

Holy mother of God.

August

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9 years of waiting. 9 years of waiting and we might (don’t hold your breathe) be getting another Sin City movie. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For was originally slated for release last year, but received a hefty shunt back to August of this year. Production problems are never a good sign of things to come. Still, there is enough here to give us hope. The presence of both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Josh Brolin, plus a small portion of the original cast, can only be a good thing.

There is yet another Marvel release in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy. Like many others I’m sure, I am not familiar with the source material, neither was I even aware of it, but what I have seen, I like. Put a talking racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper no less) in any live-action film and I’m liable to watch it.

There are a couple of films that, as of yet, I know little to nothing about, at least one of them has to be good. Right?. First there’s Jane Got a Gun, a western starring Natalie Portman, and based upon a Black List script (always a good sign). There is also Luc Besson’s Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson as what sounds remarkably like a female Hitchcock. Let’s hope they don’t mess it up this time. And finally, later on in the month, The Loft, the remake of a relatively unheard of Belgian film with an interesting premise.

As for the rest of the month. Michael Bay plans to be shitting all over your childhood memories for the second time this year with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Sly Stallone plans on doing the same with just about all your favourite 80s action stars in Expendables 3.

September

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Details are thin on the ground for the releases currently chalked in for September. There are really only two notable projects. The reboot of the 80s TV show The Equaliser will star both Denzel Washington and Chloë Grace Moretz, two very capable actors whose presence alone is enough to get excited about the film.

Secondly there is The Boxtrolls. Again there is very little with which to gauge how good it will be, but the short teaser is both charming and beautiful to look at.

October

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October kicks off with David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Any Fincher film is a thing to get excited about, and this doesn’t look to be an exception. Fincher showed his talent for both adapting a novel and directing a taught thriller in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so this project will just be another chance for him to flex those particular muscles.

Seth Rogen and James Franco are teaming up once again for The Interview. After the hilarity that was This is the End, this is certainly a film to watch out for. In the same instances, I am fully aware of how this group of comedians (a group in which I include Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and co.) are anything but consistent in quality of output. Call it tentative anticipation.

Also out in October is The Judge, a comedy-drama starring Robert Downey Jr., who is increasingly showing that he has a knack for humour. Again, details are scant, but when a project can pull in not only Downey Jr., but also Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, and Billy Bob Thornton, it’s certainly enticing.

Unfortunately October will also see a Vince Vaughn movie (Business or Pleasure) and the second Paranormal Activity movie of the year (Paranormal Activity 5).

November

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I have already hosted the Interstellar trailer on this very blog, and for good reason. On what very little there is to see here, it seems that it may be a return to more dramatically engaging story telling for Christopher Nolan. There also seems to be a level of passion about the subject evident in the trailer. It is a subject that I too feel passionate about so maybe my overwhelming excitement is born out of that.

Finally we will be getting a proper sequel to Dumb and Dumber in Dumb and Dumber to, but my general feeling is this is all too little too late. Not to get all superficial on you, but my God! Have you see how old they look? I can’t imagine the film having the same relevance now as the original did.

The Hunger Games trilogy is now set to become the Hunger Games Quadrilogy, with the final instalment  of the novels being split into two for the big-screen, a la Harry Potter and the Twilight Series. Despite my fondness for it’s predecessors, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is not a film I’m going to get excited about. Not only will it struggle to find its own arc within the arc of the book it is based upon, but also I have heard word that Mockingjay is clearly the worst novel in the series.

Last of all is Fury, a film by David Ayer, the man responsible for 2012’s surprising success, End of Watch. It tells the story of a tank regiment in the last months of WWII. I have always thought that tank warfare provides the perfect setting for tense and claustrophobic action. Maybe Fury will be the first film to truly take advantage of that.

December

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So here it is. Just under a year from now, these are the films we should expect to see in theatres.

Most notable of all is what might be our last (but probably not) cinematic trip into Middle-Earth in the form of The Hobbit: There and Back Again. I have faith that this will be the best in the current trilogy. Firstly it will have all of the most epic action from the book as well as all of the emotional pay-off. Let’s just hope Peter Jackson doesn’t drag it out so long this time.

Just let this next sentence settle in for a second. Christian Bale will be playing Moses in Ridley Scott’s Exodus. Sold!

The Coen brothers written Unbroken will also be released  this month. While the synopsis hasn’t exactly got me hooked, I am fully aware that the Coen’s have the uncanny ability to turn any material into gold. It is being directed by Angeline Jolie though. I’m intrigued to see how she does.

Finally, Walt Disney’s obligatory Christmas release this year will be Into the Woods, starring Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. We all know there is nothing like a Walt Disney film to get into a festive mood, so I look forward to undoubtably watching this one when it rolls around.

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So that’s it! No doubt there will be many more releases throughout the year that I have either glossed over or haven’t been announced yet. There is bound to be at least one surprise that completely contradicts my predictions. Maybe Transformers: Age of Extinction will be Michael Bay’s masterpiece.

I suppose we’ll just have to wait to find out…

 

 

 

 

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