Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Most Anticipated Movies of 2014

It's that time of year again! Because the dawn of a new year in film is upon us, I figured I'd share the films with which I'm most excited to see in 2014! (Please note that all release dates of the films could change). Here they are in alphabetical order:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Redford

I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of the Captain America comic. That's why I was pleasantly surprised when the 2011 film turned out to be so good. When I saw the first trailer for this highly-anticapted sequel, I have to admit to getting goosebumps. I really hope the story follows what is teased in the trailer -- particularly when Cap says, "I thought the punishment usually came after the crime," and, "This isn't freedom (pointing to the war machines and weapons), this is fear." For once, I'd love to see a major blockbuster address concepts such as this without going all "AMERICA! F*^% YEAH!!!" When it comes to comic book film adaptations, I think only Guardians of the Galaxy will give Cap a run for his money this year. Plus, with the inclusion of heroes Black Widow (Johansson) and Falcon (Mackie), and villain Winter Soldier (Stan) (which, if you know anything about comics and who the soldier is, then you knew right after watching the first film that he was destined to come back!), this film is shaping up to be epic. To be released: April 4, 2014.

Edge of Tomorrow
Directed by Doug Liman
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Kick Gurry, Charlotte Riley, and Lara Pulver

Originally based on the Hiroshi Sakurazaka 2009 novel All You Need is KillEdge of Tomorrow finds Tom Cruise throwing his hat in the sci-fi genre once again. The film's premise follows Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Cruise), somewhat of a bumbling desk soldier, who is dropped into battle against the ruthless, hard-to-kill Mimics -- an alien race that seems hellbent on taking over the earth. Within of his "suicide mission," Cage is killed. But he soon finds himself awakening to just hours earlier, before the battle. Cage is stuck in a time loop where he has time to get to know the enemies' techniques and become a better soldier. Along the way, he meets Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a special forces soldier who Cage discovers is also stuck in a time loop, making her somewhat of a war hero. Directed by Doug Liman (Go, The Bourne Identity) and with a gaggle of supreme screenwriters -- including Steve Kloves (the Harry Potter films), Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), Tim Kring (NBC's Heroes), and Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Mission: Impossible III, Transformers, Star Trek), this film promises to have plenty of fast-paced action and, hopefully, some good writing! To be released: June 6, 2014.

The Equalizer
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Starring Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Haley Bennett, Melissa Leo, and Bill Pullman

Anyone who was a kid/teen/young adult in the mid-1980s might remember the 1985 TV show The Equalizer (starring Edward Woodward) about a retired CIA agent turned private investigator named Robert McCall who is available for hire if there is a problem one doesn't know how to solve. Screenwriter Richard Wenk (Vamp, 16 Blocks, The Mechanic, The Expendables 2) is writing the adaptation and with director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) teaming back up with star Denzel Washington as McCall, I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with it. Plus, the ultra-talented Chloe Grace Moretz's involvement helps the film's star power. To be released: September 26, 2014.

Gone Girl
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Fugit, Tyler Perry, and Kim Dickens

Ben Affleck has been on a roll lately. After a brief hiatus from Hollywood -- taking time to spend on his family -- he came back a stronger presence when he directed the movie adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Gone Baby Gone, then moving on to direct (and star in) The Town and last year's hit Argo, as well as improving his acting by taking roles in State of PlayThe Company Men, and will next be seen as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the highly anticipated Batman vs. Superman. Now he's starring in director-who-can-do-no-wrong David Fincher's movie adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl. Affleck will star as former journalist Nick Dunne, whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing shortly after they move from New York to Missouri. Was it Nick who was behind his wife going missing, or did she have a hand in her own fate? Both are deceptive and take the audience on a deceptive ride. To be released: October 3, 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Benecio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, and Glenn Close

This has been the big buzz release for 2014! Marvel's movie adaptation of a comic book series which hasn't seen much following. However, now, because of its ties to the broad Marvel cinematic universe -- and a dream cast -- the film. The team is basically formed by Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) to be more proactive in protecting the galaxy from major threats, as opposed to reacting to crises as they happen. There promises to be plenty of action and I can't wait to see what director James Gunn (Slither, Super) does with it. To be released: August 1, 2014.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, and Benedict Cumberbatch

After the impressive second installment of Jackson's Hobbit trilogy (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), I'm ready for Smaug's razing of Lake-town! I have to admit that I was a little worrisome and skeptical of this extended trilogy when An Unexpected Journey was released. However, after Desolation, I'm all on-board! To be released: December 17, 2014.

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, and John Lithgow

Christopher Nolan's next venture pits him back in sci-fi with this film about a newly-discovered space wormhole which a group of explorers and scientists travel through in order to transcend previous limitations on human space travel. The plot still remains somewhat nondescript but its buzz has got moviegoers excited seeing how Nolan is one of the new formidable filmmakers today. Plus, add a splendid cast, as well as writing by Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan, and you've certainly gotten my attention. To be released: November 7, 2014.

The Interview
Directed by Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen
Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, and Randall Park

After having a so-so hit with their apocalypse-themed This is the End, BFF writing team Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen have teamed up to pen their own version of a CIA comedy thriller (think Argo meets Confessions of a Dangerous Mind meets Spies Like Us). In this movie, Rogen and buddy James Franco have teamed up once again to portray television talk show host Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen), who get an interview with the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. Upon hearing the news of the interview, the CIA asks Skylark and Rapoport to assassinate Kim. Comedy ensues. To be released: October 10, 2014.

Into the Woods
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, James CordenEmily Blunt, Christine Baranski, and Meryl Streep

Columbia Pictures first tried to have a movie made of this Broadway musical back in the early 1990s. Alas, despite dream casting (of some of the most well-known actors of that time), the production stalled and it was dropped. Flashforward 23 years later and Disney has picked it up, with the film's production being solidified when Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp both signed on. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Nine) was nabbed to adapt this musical which focuses on famous characters from Grimms' Fairy Tales (i.e., Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack (of the Beanstalk), Red Riding Hood, etc.), and is about a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who are cursed by a witch (Streep) to be childless. In order to break the curse, they must embark into the woods to collect special objects so they can break the spell and start a family. To be released: December 25, 2014.

Directed by Robert Stromberg
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Juno Temple, and Imelda Staunton

I'm not the biggest Angelina Jolie fan, but I'm excited to see this one. Maleficent comes in a close second to the Evil Queen Stepmother (Snow White) as the most evil Disney villain, and to have Jolie play her is brilliant casting! I also really love the idea of Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora. I only hope that the writers don't make Maleficent too much of a sympathetic character seeing how her past will be explored in this film. To be released: May 30, 2014.

Million Dollar Arm
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Starring Jon Hamm, Lake Bell, Bill Paxton, Alan Arkin, Madhur Mittal, Suraj Sharma, and Bar Paly

In the tradition of inspirational sports movies like Invincible, Disney is releasing this biographical film about sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm), who takes an unconventional approach to recruiting for the major leagues by traveling to India and recruiting cricket players (Madhur Mittal, Suraj Sharma) to play baseball back in the States. I like sports films ... especially ones that push the unconventional. So this one is right up my alley! To be released: May 16, 2014.

The Monuments Men
Directed by George Clooney
Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett

Based on the true story of specially-trained and -recruited art appraisers who were sent to Germany during World War II to save, restore and ship back priceless works of art that were seized by Adolph Hitler and his Nazi army -- as written in Robert M. Edsel's The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. The film brings back director Clooney and his writing partner Grant Heslov, along with a brilliant cast, to tell these soldiers' tales. For those who don't think art is important, it's movies like this that make me recall the famous quote by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II. When he was asked that the arts funding be cut in order to spend more money on the war effort, Churchill shot back, "Then what are we fighting for?" To be released: February 7, 2014.

Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jake Johnson, and Lisa Kudrow

I think what makes this film seem so funny is the fact that Seth Rogen is a married guy with a baby and married to Rose Byrne! But, if you're into frat humor, this will seem hilarious. There's not much to pick up about the story from watching the trailer other than it's the two parents who play pranks on the college frat guys, soon engaging in an epic prank war. My only guess is that the parents are hoping to get the frat guys evicted so they don't have to see or tolerate their debaucherous ways anymore. Either way, count me in! To be released: May 9, 2014.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Bar Paly, Anson Mount, and Lupita Nyong'o

With Liam Neeson starring, there are already many comparisons to Taken. Call it what you will. I don't care 'cause it's got Neeson in it! This time, Neeson portrays U.S. federal air marshal Bill Marks, who is on an international flight from New York to London and receives threatening text messages stating a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred to a special account. Marks tries to figure out who is behind the operation until it is discovered that the account is under his name and people think he is the hijacker. To be released: February 28, 2014.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Directed by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller
Starring Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Jaime King, Ray Liotta, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis

Originally slated for release in 2013, this follow-up to the hit 2005 film Sin City was pushed back to 2014 because of production issues and not wanting to release the film at the same time as director Robert Rodriguez's other sequel due out -- Machete Kills. This film and its stories are based on comic book writer Frank Miller's stories "A Dame to Kill For," "Just Another Saturday Night," and two new, original stories -- "The Long Bad Night" and an untitled story. To be released: August 22, 2014.

Welcome to Yesterday
Directed by Dean Israelite
Starring Sam Lerner, Ginny Gardner, Jonny Weston, Allen Evangelista, and Sofia Black-D'Elia

Probably one of my cheesiest picks, I know! BUT I actually like the whole "found footage" effect in films like this (see Cloverfield and Chronicle). And I'm definitely a sucker for time travel movies. So this kinda gets me excited. I might wait for DVD, but it still should probably be entertaining. To be released: February 28, 2014.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Halle Berry, Evan Peters, and Shawn Ashmore

X-Men: First Class was probably the best Marvel film (well, until The Avengers came along). It definitely surpassed any of the previous X-Men films. And I was excited at the direction with which director Matthew Vaughn was taking it. That's why I was ever-so-slightly disheartened when I found out that Vaughn was not going to direct the sequel, but, rather original X-Men director Bryan Singer would. I wasn't too crazy about Singer's take on the mutants; in fact, I felt it was too "quiet." It was cool to see the characters on screen in such a fashion, yet the story wasn't too impressive. X-Men 2 was a much better film. Nevertheless, after watching the trailer, my faith is restored. Especially when I found out the filmmakers are lifting the Days of Future Past storyline from the comics. Great story! Can't wait to see it! To be released: May 23, 2014.

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