Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Most Anticipated Films of 2014

With so many big-budget hopefuls competing for the box office crown this year, I figured I would throw together a list of the films I am looking forward to most in 2014. Keep in mind this isn't necessarily a list of films that I think will be the best or the highest grossing, but rather movies I can't wait to see in the coming year. Given there are so many, I'm going to do the trendy thing and include a top 14 for the year instead of the usual 10.

Honorable Mention:   The LEGO Movie  (2/7/2014)
When I first heard they were making a "LEGO" movie I thought it was a stupid idea. Perhaps it still is, but the trailers have actually won me over in spite of my preconceived notions. The LEGO Movie boasts a pretty impressive cast of comedic actors and seems clever enough to appeal to both adults and kids. I'm managing my expectations, but part of me thinks this could be the break-out animation comedy of the year.

#14   Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles  (8/8/2014)
After the steep decline of the original live action TMNT adaptations, it has been a long road to a reboot for the heroes in a half-shell. With the polarizing Michael Bay (you'll notice the new Transformers film isn't on this list) serving as producer of this long-awaited return for the turtles, opinions are already mixed for most fans of the franchise. I for one have loved the ninja turtles since I was a kid, so for pure nostalgia alone I have to include this one on the list (even though my expectations aren't incredibly high).

#13   Maleficent  (5/30/2014)
Fairy tale adaptations are tricky and seem to go one of two ways in recent years. Either it's a raging commercial success (Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful) or it's an utter box office bomb (Jack the Giant Slayer). With a promising teaser trailer and the perfect casting choice in Angelina Jolie, this movie has a lot going for it that could lead to box office dominance. Not much is known about the story itself (though since it's based on a fairy tale there's only so much they can deviate), but hopefully the finished product can end up living up to its potential.

#12   The Monuments Men  (2/7/2014)
It's fairly well-known that this movie should have been an Oscar contender during the past year if it weren't for production delays that cost it its prime release date at the end of 2013. Now it's poised for release during the doldrums of the notoriously weak part of movie season, which should serve in this film's favor. Given that there are a gaggle of high-profile stars in a historical drama with plenty of comedic appeal (based on the trailer), I predict this one will clean up during the slow month of February.

#11   Muppets Most Wanted  (3/21/2014)
If anyone's read my top ten list from 2011, they'll know that I thoroughly enjoyed the first(ish) Muppet film starring Jason Segal and Amy Adams. When I heard there would be a sequel starring comedy geniuses like Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey, I knew this was going to be on my "most anticipated" list. Already the marketing for this film has employed some of the self-deprecating cleverness that the previous film brought to the table, and one can only hope that the film itself will live up to the hype.

#10   Godzilla  (5/16/2014)
After the disaster that was the 1998 Roland Emmerich film of the same name, Warner Brothers hopes to infuse new life into the famous lizard's legacy with 2014's Godzilla. I've been a huge fan of Godzilla since I was a kid, reading books in elementary school about the monster as well as the (horrible, in retrospect) cartoon featuring the titular monster's little brother, Godzuki. All that cutesy stuff is clearly gone with this film, however, and with a teaser trailer that hints at a darker, more serious tale, as well as a faithful adaptation of the character design and sound effects of the original Gojira, I can't help feeling pretty excited for this somewhat risky blockbuster hopeful. Plus it stars Bryan Cranston, which is always a plus.

#9   The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1  (11/21/2014)
Based on my glowing reaction to the last film, it may be surprising to some that the follow-up to the hugely successful Catching Fire is so low on my list. While I can honestly say that I still think this movie will be great, my pre-knowledge of the source material and the fact that it's the first in a two-part story limits my excitement for the final product. That being said, I'm sure it will be incredible to see District 13 come to life as the uprising really gets underway in this first film. It'll make a ton of money and I'm sure to be there opening weekend.

#8   The Amazing Spider-Man 2  (5/2/2014)
While I liked the first Spider-Man film it did suffer from its close proximity to the original Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire in the lead. There were a lot of things I enjoyed, like the new interpretation of the character by Andrew Garfield as well as the updated visual effects, but a lot of that first film felt slightly inferior. Despite these misgivings I instantly was won over after seeing the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Promising an escalation of super-villains to Avengers proportions, this sequel to the 2012 film could be the start of something massive. For sheer ambition alone this film gets a place on this list, and I can only hope director Marc Webb can pull off all of the amazing things this film is promising. 

#7   Transcendence  (4/18/2014)
As a huge fan of a certain producer of this film and of sci-fi films in general, this one was obviously on my radar. Coming off of a 5-film collaboration with Christopher Nolan as his director of photography, Wally Pfister takes over directing duties for this Johnny Depp starring mind-bender about a dying man transferring his consciousness into a computer. The premise is intriguing and the cast is absolutely phenomenal (Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, among many others). If all goes according to plan, this could be the surprise hit of the year and a great start to Pfister's future career as a director. 

#6 **tied**  How to Train Your Dragon 2  (6/13/2014)
Coming at the peak of cinema's obsession with 3D, 2010's How to Train Your Dragon was an immersive, visceral experience with moments of humor and heart-tugging emotion (helped immeasurably by the tremendous Oscar-nominated score by John Powell). When DreamWorks announced their plan to release a sequel in 2014, I have to admit I was a little skeptical. These kinds of animated sequels rarely pan out (see Monsters University), but the trailer as well as Powell's return make this one of my must-see films of the year. Hopefully the returning talent can create something equally as entertaining this time around.

#6 **tied**  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes  (7/11/2014)
I know this is the second tie I've allowed in the last two weeks of posts (see my best of 2013 list for my last tie), but I had to make a judge's ruling on this one. I feel equally as strong about the story, visuals, performances, and the score as I did for HTTYD (as its inclusion on my best of 2011 list will attest). The difference was the serious tone and the connection to a classic sci-fi franchise like Planet of the Apes. Even though this film is primarily in different creative hands, the new talent involved as well as the promising teaser trailer make me confident that this will be a worthy follow-up to the terrific Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Hopefully this will make an appearance on my best of 2014 list.

#5   Captain America: The Winter Soldier  (4/4/2014)
Though it wasn't my favorite of the Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers, I still greatly enjoyed the original Captain America: The First Avenger for what it was. Chris Evans did a great job portraying a sincerely heroic character that isn't always easy to pull off these days. With The Winter Soldier, however, Steve Rogers seems to be a little jaded after all the terrible things he's seen in this modern era. Promising to be a political thriller and with enormous action set pieces, this continuation of Marvel's "Phase 2" could potentially end up as the best Marvel film to date.

#4   The Hobbit: There and Back Again  (12/17/2014)
Coming off a killer cliff-hanger that ended The Desolation of Smaug, I am extremely excited for this year's culmination of all things Tolkein in this final installment of The Hobbit series. There and Back Again might not be the most action-packed of titles, but rest assured this could easily end up being the best of the trilogy. Fire and death will rain down upon the poor city of Dale, while armies of orcs assemble at the seemingly abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur for an all-out assault (hinting at a certain Battle of Five Armies). I cannot wait for this film, which also is supposed to tie in the events of the Hobbit films with the much loved Lord of the Rings trilogy. Let's hope this will leave the world of Middle Earth on the high note it deserves. 

#3   Guardians of the Galaxy  (8/1/2014)
This might seem like a strange choice for those not following the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they wouldn't necessarily be wrong. Indeed, Marvel is taking an enormous gamble by investing huge sums of money for such a little-known property as Guardians of the Galaxy. However it is the innate strangeness of it that excites me so much about this film. It's poised to be unlike anything we've ever seen before, and that can only be a refreshing experience for most moviegoers. I doubt everyone is going to love this film, but I for one cannot wait to find out what Marvel has cooked up in this odd-ball space epic. Expect a trailer with the upcoming release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

#2   X-Men: Days of Future Past  (5/23/2014)
Speaking of trailers, perhaps none of 2014's newly released trailers excited me quite as much as X-Men: Days of Future Past. I'm a pretty huge fan of the X-Men films and was excited for director Bryan Singer to finally return to the franchise where he revolutionized the modern comic-book movie back in 2000. With most of the cast from his original X-Men films returning (in small roles, most likely) as well as the entire cast of the excellent X-Men: First Class, this instantly became a film I can not miss. Even when actors like Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender are finding enormous critical acclaim with Oscar nominations and wins, they still find time in their surely busy schedules to return for an X-Men film (which is definitely an encouraging sign). This is another big gamble for 20th Century Fox, but from what I've seen so far it looks to have paid off. Can't wait for May 23!

#1   Interstellar  (11/7/2014)
Was there any doubt? As a HUGE fan of Christopher Nolan (see my reviews of Inception and The Dark Knight Rises for more on that) I've been following this project since it was first taken over by Nolan after his Batman trilogy ended. With a stellar (pun intended) cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, a mind-blowing concept, and an intriguing teaser trailer, this project has looked better and better the more I've learned about it. Almost all of Nolan's frequent collaborators such as composer Hans Zimmer are on board, all but guaranteeing the quality we've come to expect from Christopher Nolan films. Based on real-life theories regarding wormholes and time travel by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, and written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan (The Prestige, The Dark Knight and TV's Person of Interest), this has all the ingredients to become one of the best science fiction movies ever made. Seriously.

*That wraps it up for my list! What movies are you guys looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments section below and tell me why you're excited for it! Also, don't forget to like us on Facebook!