We have a few more months until summer officially starts, but the summer movie season is already well underway. The first wave of big name blockbusters hits theaters all month with some of the year’s biggest names and franchises debuting over the next few weeks. Talking with a friend over coffee last weekend, I confessed my inane winter movie predictions. Every year my head spins as I look ahead at the summer blockbuster list packed with comic book adaptations, sci-fi adventures and highly anticipated sequels. Last winter I remember cornering a friend and badgering her about which trailers she’d seen, what movies she most anticipated, and in an alternating stream of shouts and whispers said something like “2013, is going to be the best year in movies…of..all..time. Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Thor 2, The Hunger Games 2, Star Trek 19‽ 1939 has nothing on 2013. 1994 was amateur hour.” My battered colleague likely responded with “yeah…I should probably go…I think I….left my microwave on at home” and rushed away. Even after all this hype and burned bridges, once the Oscars arrive I’ve moved on to rooting for Gravity and The Dallas Buyers Club, the big budget films a long-lost memory of fleeting ecstasies. Judging the dramas coming out in 2014 is exceedingly difficult as you can not easily predict how certain key aspects of the films will turn out, namely the acting, writing and direction. But a trailer alone can give you a good idea of how an action movie will fare. Take The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as an example. When the new trailers came out the initial reaction (after the delirious excitement dissipated) was one of hesitation as fans saw the screen filled with one-too-many villains, and multiple story arcs. That initial reaction mirrors well the reaction to the film itself (more on this below). But as often as we are disappointed by action movies, or surprised by unheard of dramas, we always look ahead to the next year with renewed eagerness. And with that in mind, I can comfortably say that 2014 will be the best year for movies…of…all…time.
FLASHBACK: REVISITING APRIL’S FLASHFORWARD
1. Captain America: The Winter’s Soldier. The internet has been awash in commentary describing this film as the deepest, most layered installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The winter soldier provides a strong villain to the film and the movie offers its viewers more than a simple popcorn flick. (RT 89%).
2. Transcendence. With open arms, I add Johnny Depp’s newest film to the list of FB/BS’s most anticipated movies that ended up being utterly terrible (my favorite whiff being I, Frankenstein). With a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has also been added to the list of suspect Depp films. (As a side note: Paut Bettany is one of my personal movie heroes. He superbly walks the line between respectable movies like A Knight’s Tale, Iron Man, etc. and my personal guilty pleasures (aka terrible movies) like Legion and Priest. His career fascinates me so much that if he were to star in a remake of Gigli, I’d be the first in line at the midnight showing). Head over to Three Rows Back for a well done review.
3. Locke. All reports suggest that Tom Hardy delivers a strong performance here. Reviews (RT 91%) are strong, even if box office results are lagging. Dan the Man’s movie review offers a great analysis of the film.
1. Draft Day. Not surprisingly, there hasn’t been much chatter about this movie in the blogging world. What does surprise me is the 62% it racked up on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn’t think it would get that high. Maybe Kevin Costner knows how to make sports movies or something, I don’t know.
2. Goodbye World. Consensus indicates that the film’s story-line is erratic in its depiction of a post-apocalyptic world created by a devastating cyber attack.
MAY’S MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS:
1. X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Release Date: May 23, 2014 (US)
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
This movie gives me goosebumps. Please note that this film has replaced Captain America 2 as FB/BS’s most anticipated movie of the year (to this point). As a kid, the X-Men were my jam. I’ve since graduated to Batman fandom but my youth is painted in the blue and yellow of the X-Men. My parents used to work at my hometown baseball stadium and would bring my brothers and me to watch the games. While they worked, we would sneak a roll of quarters from their cash box and go play the X-Men arcade game for hours. My older brother always picked Wolverine which was completely unfair. I will always love the X-Men and even though I haven’t loved the X-Men movies as of late, I always look forward to exploring their world on-screen.
Release Date: May 16, 2014 (US)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliettte Binoche, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn
Sporting a solid cast and slick marketing, 2014’s Godzilla appears to be a strong edition to the monster’s collection. 1998’s Godzilla (starring Matthew Broderick as Ferris Buehler a decade or so after he danced in a Chicago parade) is reason enough for many fans to stay away from this newest reboot. I’ll admit that 1998’s debacle may have been the first time I saw a movie in theater and realized “uhhh… This movie is terrible.” I was only 9 years old but Broderick and Roland Emmerich’s film took the shine off of movies forever and opened my eyes to the monstrous reality that movies can be bad (Predator offered an amazing start to my movie-watching career and I was cruising along well until Godzilla). At least Emmerich is consistent, having directed films like 2012, 10,000 B.C., Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and other large-scoped disaster/apocalypse/monster movies. Apparently his films hit well enough, often enough, for studios to keep putting him up at the plate, since he is still getting big budgeted movies, most recently White House Down (2013). What were we talking about? Right. 2014’s Godzilla looks smart enough to be a success and brings a much stronger cast than the Broderick bunch.
3. The Immigrant
Release Date: May 16, 2014
Director: James Gray
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner, Juaquin Phoenix, Dagmara Dominczyk, Antoni Corone
I know what you’re thinking. A drama movie? In May? Can’t we have more comic books movies? If you’re one of the growing number of movie fans sick of the binge of comic book fodder and monster movies, The Immigrant may be arriving at just the right time. Featuring a cast likely on many people’s if-he/she-is-in-this-movie-I-will-see-it-for-sure list (my personal list is headed by Christian Bale and Natalie Portman), the movie is a period piece set in 1920’s New York City and stars Cotillard as a Polish immigrant struggling to reunite with her sister and find the “American dream.”
Release Date: May 9, 2014
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
A rare comedy entry to the Flashforward series, Seth Rogen’s Neighbors is like an inverted Old School (2003). With Old School we watched adult men, in various stages of exiting marital life, start a fraternity and convince college students to escalate their pranks and antics to maintain their independence and escape adult life. Here, Rogen and Byrne are a young couple just starting to build a family who engage in war with a fraternity next-door. Either way, the outcome for the audience seems assured and Neighbors figures to be one of the better comedies of recent memory. A great review is already up over at Cinema Parrot Disco.
5.The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Release Date: May 2, 2014
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti
Sticking with the theme of strong casts, I’ll mention that I have loved the previous performances of the younger actors in this film. Emma Stone (The Help; Zombieland; Easy A; Crazy, Stupid, Love and so many more), Dane DeHaan (The Place Behind the Pines, Chronicle) and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) are all talented and hopefully will continue to be offered strong parts in the future. Unfortunately, the jury has already reached a verdict on this film and the ballots have shown that this movie is drowning in a flood of confusion and excessive plot points. Reel Freak walks us through the film, offering a great review and clarity on the film’s unclear plot.
Release Date: May 23, 2014
Director: Frank Coraci
Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Joel McHale, Bella Thorne, Lauren Lapkus, Terry Crews
There may not be a pairing I hate more than Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. I would rather see Keanu Reeves and Kristen Stewart stone-face their way through a movie than watch these two make goofy noises and strange faces. Recognizing this personal bias, Blended still looks aggressively terrible. If the name Frank Coraci seems familiar, you might be right. He directed the critically acclaimed and universally lauded films Here Comes the Boom (2012, RT 38%), Zookeeper (2011, RT 14%), Click (2006, RT 32%), Around the World in 80 Days (2004, RT 31%). I assume Sandler and crew enjoy making these movies, and I don’t hold movies like this against them and their individual careers, but seeing them work in movies like this is just depressing.
2. Million Dollar Arm
Release Date: May 16, 2014 (US)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Starring: Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Alan Arkin, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton
Jon Hamm is a fine actor, and this may just be a tease for finer roles after the conclusion of Mad Men, but this movie appears to be another (poor) installment to the feel-good-by-breaking-down-racial-boundaries-through-the-magic-of-sports movie collection like Remember the Titans, Pride, etc. The heart of these films is in the right place (let’s be honest, it’s probably more focused on cornering the uplifting family film market than anything else) but these motivations do not always translate well on-screen
2014 Overall List:
Most Anticipated Film of 2014: X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Least Anticipated Film of 2014: Winter’s Tale (I’m not sure if this will ever be dethroned).
Thanks for reading!