May was a busy month in the life of this humble reviewer with an uptick in work/personal life ventures leading to a delay in this month’s Flashforward. The bad news is that many of the best movies debuting in June have already hit the theaters. The good news is that all the real-life work will pay off with a promotion/reassignment at the end of the month which will give me more time to obsess over movies and hopefully turn the Film Noir Series into an ongoing piece. As for FB/BS’s ongoing Flashforward series, May turned out to be a very solid month. X-Men: Days of Future Past dazzled audiences and was as good as advertised, relying on strong performances by its stellar cast and continuously improving visuals which properly portray the abilities of our mutant heroes. While Godzilla came close to overshadowing the franchises past missteps by providing us with the elusive monster flick that is both epic and intelligent, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, took its franchise a few webslings back with an overburdened and needlessly busy plot. In the drama department, James Gray’s direction and Marion Cotillard’s acting were praised in The Immigrant (at this point it’s foolish to expect anything less from Cotillard). Seth Rogen and crew delivered one of the best comedies of the year so far in Neighbors (which may be dethroned this month by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s 22 Jump Street). While we laughed at Rogen and Efron, we groaned at Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in their newest nauseating comedy Blended. Million Dollar Arm rounds out our selections for May’s Flashforward and provided an enjoyable yet overly derivative family movie night.
JUNE’S MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS:
1. Edge of Tomorrow
Release Date: June 6, 2014 (US)
Director: Doug Liman (Swingers (1996), The Bourne Identity (2002), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005))
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson
I’ve been fooled by Tom Cruise movies a few times before (okay…many, many times), but this looks like a respectable addition to his collection. Unlike Mathew McConaughey, Cruise hasn’t parted ways with his bread and butter. McConaughey may have ditched the rom-coms for more substantial dramas (and an Academy Award) but Cruise keeps dipping into the action well, churning out mostly mediocre films about once a year (Oblivion (2013), Jack Reacher (2012), Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol (2011), Knight and Day (2010). Oblivion fell a few steps short of worthwhile and is better served by only looking at the great visuals and ignoring the questionable plot and hidden subtexts). Having Emily Blunt on board for Edge of Tomorrow puts me at ease as she has proven she knows how to handle the weird amalgamation of sci-fi realism with Looper (2012, which is amazing) and The Adjustment Bureau (2011, which didn’t live up to it’s potential). In these three movies, Blunt follows a very satisfying arc starting with sought-after-female, to tough-and-protective mother, to all around exoskeleton wearing badass. With Edge of Tomorrow, I’m confident we’ll get all the right ingredients for a great action movie. Whether or not this batch can be anything more than great remains to be seen.
2. 22 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street (2012)
Starring: Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill
Hill and Tatum go undercover again, this time chasing down drug deals in college. In the first film, the duo showed amazing chemistry using physical humor and witty lines to great effect. This is all to say that I embarrassed myself in theaters by laughing like a fool through the first movie and using all my popcorn napkins to wipe away my tears. Next to Neighbors this is my most anticipated comedy of the year (at least that I know about now). On a side note, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller may be the most fun duo in Hollywood. Their filmography together is short but includes Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), 21 Jump Street (2012), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013), The Lego Movie (2014) and now 22 Jump Street. That’s really only three series but with a Lego Movie sequel scheduled for release in 2017, the duo have established a substantial presence.
3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
Director: Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch (2002), How to Train Your Dragon (2012) )
Starring: Jay Barucehl, Cate Blanchett, Garard Butler, Kristin Wiig, Jonah Hill
This movie is almost guaranteed to be a hit as it captures a wider demographic swath than any other movie in this post. HTTYD2, follows the same band of characters from the first movie as they set out on new adventures with new dragons. One of Dreamworks’ hit series, How to Train Your Dragon has picked up the slack while Kung Fu Panda and Shrek fizzled out. The most successful original movie in their recent line-up, the first film helped bridge the company forward as it tinkered with new series that were financially successful but dampened by mixed reviews (Rise of the Guardians (2012), The Croods (2013), Turbo (2013), and Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014), the last of which wasn’t really original but isn’t one of the ridiculous number of sequels and spin offs that Dreamworks unleashes into the family film market).
4. The Rover
Director: David Michod
Starring: Guy Pierce, Robert Pattinson
I have high hopes for this movie. Some cracks in the foundation are notable but this might be the most realistic and grim depiction of a post-apocalyptic world since The Road (2009), and The Book of Eli (2010, I don’t care what you say, The Book of Eli was great), although it will likely be less grim than the former and more realistic than the latter. While this is a shaky measure, the trailer suggests that the movie’s two stars both deliver strong performances. Pierce especially as he provides a menacing and brutal caricature needed for the film. It might not be perfect, but The Rover looks to be an interesting addition to the post-apocalyptic genre and a welcome reprieve from its usual mediocrity (I’m looking at you Goodbye World).
4. They Came Together
Director: David Wain (Wanderlust (2012), Role Models (2008)).
Starring: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Jason Mantzoukas
With a long list of cameos and a strong central cast, this movie is sure to rattle off laughs. Unfortunately, like movies of a similar vein, the moments may not produce a great movie overall. But I trust Rudd and Poehler to swim against the perpetual stream of generic rom-coms and poke fun at the genre even if they occasionally succumb to its tricks and cliches.
1. Transformers 4: Age of Extinction
Release Date: June 27, 2014
Director: Michael Bay (Generic Explosion Movie 1, 2, 3…29)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Brenton Thwaites, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci
I know what you’re thinking, “How is this only Transformers 4? Haven’t these movies been bothering us for like 10 years? Haven’t we seen enough of Shia LeBouf screeching?” Well it really is only the fourth installment and we’ve only endured 7 years of anguish. But there are talks of three new movies coming up including an action figure/action figure crossover with a Transformers/GI Joe combo movie (which would mark the end of cinema as we know it. Two colossal forces of cinema evil conspiring together to destroy the whole system. Hollywood Studios would close up shop as even they realize how shameful their greed had become. Movie theaters would shut down. Blog writers would scour the theaters for memorabilia and posters of Emily Blunt with that massive sword thing. Pets would roam the streets and the cries of infants would go unanswered as we try to figure out what went wrong and how we ever appeased such evil for so long). For the record, (in case you haven’t surmised this yet), I hate these movies. Except when I’m watching them. I know that doesn’t make sense. But I hate everything about these movies; their recycled storylines (Small Soldiers pulled off the humans-caught-in-a-war-between-two-lines-of-action-figures much better back in 1998), their usually terrible acting, their terrible humor, and their gutting of content in exchange for explosions, which Michael Bay sprinkles in his movies more than a heavy handed McDonald’s fry cook with the salt shaker/cannon. So when I flip through the channels and catch one of these movies mid-action sequence, I might stick around for a minute or two. Even with all this hate I can’t resist the visuals. But one LaBoof line and I scurry along, feeling dirty for being complicit in Bay’s denigration of the sci-fi/action genre. Dropping LeBouf and adding Mark Wahlberg and the Dinobots characters may help (I grew up with the Beast Wars version of Transformers and not the truck variety), but I don’t think my disdain will abate anytime soon.
2014 Overall List:
Most Anticipated Film of 2014: X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Least Anticipated Film of 2014: Winter’s Tale
Thanks for reading!