FEATURE: A look At All Geek Films Coming In 2014

FEATURE: A look At All Geek Films Coming In 2014

Well, 2013 has come and gone and as the New Year dawns, it seems only fitting to take a look at a few of the films we have to look forward to. This is an expansion on a previous article of mine, in which I only looked at the biggest films.

I could probably talk about all the films coming out next year, but I'm reserving it to anything that can be labeled a "hype" or "geek" film. Something that fits on CBM.com. The criteria is that they be adventure-oriented and, for the most part, based on well-known source material. Although some films are "hyped" for other reasons, and some are talked about on this site simply because they are science fiction.

Some of these (like the first entry) don't really have a lot of excitement around them. But they still merit mention on what is essentially a list of Hollywood's attempts to capitalize on well-known source material. And that is what is all the rage right now. It’s just the reason I have an article to write in the first place.
We live in an era where if anything was ever really popular, it has to now be made into a new movie. That can be both a good and bad thing.

On the one hand, there are a lot of great fictions out there with real followings, some of which have yet to be appreciated by the mainstream audience. So I think it’s wonderful that at the time we live in, just about any fan of anything is getting their major motion picture.
On the other hand, people also complain about the way Hollywood is now milking certain franchises to death, and clogging up the box office with unnecessary continuations or retellings of long-finished stories. As you’ll see, there’s a a bit of both in the list of films ahead, and we will take a close look After all, there are a lot of great franchises out there that people love, and it's great to see new versions of them! Others, not so much. In the sections to come, I think you can easily see the difference.

ONE FINAL NOTE While I'm open to any and all opinions, I do not tolerate flaming. In addition, there always seems to be one type of fella who pops up in every page like this and flames up says things like "Stop judging movies you haven't seen yet!" People like that take all the fun out of websites like these. Yes, clearly we will wait until we see it to pass final judgment (most of the time). But we can also all talk about our expectations. They might be wrong, they might be right, but that's what we have to pass the time. That’s why we’re here.. Now, onward...

Jan. 10: The Legend of Hercules

Directed by Renny Harlin
Written by Daniel Giat, Giulio Steve, Renny Harlin, & Sean Hood
Produced by Boaz Davidson, Danny Lerner, Les Weldon, & Renny Harlin
Starring Kellan Lutz
Music by Tuomas Kantelinen
Cinematography by Sam McCurdy
Edited by Vincent Tabaillon
Released by Summit Entertainment

Like I said, no one is exactly "hyped" for this film. I don't think you'll see any tents pitched outside the theater for this one. Nevertheless, it's based on a very famous, and perhaps the oldest, fantasy hero, and is one of two films coming out this year to do so. So I'm including it.
The first thing I notice about this film is that I'm frankly astonished it's getting a theatrical release. Maybe it's the bad CGI, or the hackneyed plot, or the lack of acting on the main character's part (does he say a word in the trailer?) but any way you spin it, this movie just screams direct-to-video. Yet it's getting the full blockbuster treatment.

Another thing you will notice is that the film has virtually nothing to do with the...well... the legend of Hercules (or Heracles, as it is ;) ). Aside from the fact that the main character is the son of Zeus (which is true for almost all Green heroes) and has superhuman strength, there's no resemblance to the actual myth. The filmmakers have told their own story about a young prince, raised by his stepfather the king, who falls in love with his brother's betrothed, is sent off to be a gladiator, and returns to fight for his beloved. An entirely different story. And while I'm not a history major, does that not look like the Roman gladiatorial arena he's in?

The film is from Finnish director Renny Harlin, who at one point was making big action films like Die Hard and Cliffhanger. After making what was then the biggest flop in history, Cutthroat Island, his career slowed down a bit, and he's often been relegated to cheesy fare like Deep Blue Sea and 12 Rounds. Personally, I'd like to see him get something better than this.

Jan. 17: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Based on literary characters created by Tom Clancy
Written by Adam Cozad & David Koepp
Produced by Mace Neufeld & Lorenzo DiBonaventura
Starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Keira Knightley, David Paymer, & Colm Feore
Music by Patrick Doyle
Cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos
Edited by Martin Walsh
Released by Paramount Pictures

Since the publication of The Hunt for Red October in 1984, Jack Ryan has remained an endearingly popular literary character. Unfortunately, he is also notoriously difficult to have a consistent film franchise with. Consider that this is the fifth Jack Ryan film, stars the fourth actor to play the role, and is the second reboot in a row.
This time, the filmmakers have decided to forego adapting any of the books, and tell a new story written directly for the screen. This is apt to ruffle a few hardcore fans' feathers.
The film is goes back to the character's origins a la Batman Begins or . While I'm not a follower myself, it seems from what I've read online that Ryan's backstory is already well documented in the books. Fans are already criticizing the film's more action-adventure oriented appeal, and even the title just sounds far more Hollywoodized.
Mace Neufeld has been the producer for all the Ryan films, and is here joined by Transformers and G.I. Joe producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura, while Kenneth Branagh is of course the director. It seems that after years of making costume dramas, he is now starting to get a taste for Hollywood blockbusters. (He'll be a back to his forte next year with Cinderella)

If you're a solid Jack Ryan fan, this film may seem like it's a major deviation on Hollywood's part. If not, it may just be a good time at the movies.

Jan. 24: I, Frankenstein

Directed by Stuart Beattie
Based on the graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux.
Frankenstein characters created by Mary Shelley
Screen story by Kevin Grevioux & Stuart Beattie
Screenplay by Stuart Beattie
Produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Andrew Mason, & Sidney Kimmel
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovsky, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney, & Kevin Grevioux
Music by Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil
Cinematography by Ross Emery
Edited by Marcus D'Arcy
Released by Lionsgate

I'm not going to lie. This sounded like a cool premise. Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein's monster, battling an army of evil creatures in modern times? Unfortunately, the moment the trailer hit, I realized it's even more cheesy-looking as the Underworld movies from whose producers it comes.
Stuart Beattie wrote one of my all-time favorite films, Collateral and also had a hand in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Unfortunately, he also co-wrote G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, so his work is something of a mixed bag for me. This appears to be in the negative section.

Feb.07: The Lego Movie

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Based on The Lego construction toys
Story by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord, & Christopher Miller
Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Produced by Dan Lin & Roy Lee
Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, & Allison Brie
Music by Mark Mothersbaugh
Released by Warner Bros.

If you'd have asked me a couple of years ago if there was going to be a full-fledged major motion picture featuring Legos, I would have just told you that you were crazy just for asking. But it makes sense, really. For years now, Lego has been expanding from just toys into the realm of video games and actual storytelling. It only makes sense that a movie would eventually be on the horizon.

And can I just say, this movie just looks awesome!

Now, of course, there is no actual plot to Lego. It's just a style of toys, often used by other franchises like Star Wars and DC Comics. So a "Lego movie" has to simply be its own story, told through Legos. And, somewhat ingeniously, they picked the oldest, most formulaic, Joseph-Campbell-Hero's-Journey, “you’re-the-chosen-one” plot in existence. If this was used in a movie that was supposed to be serious, we might grown at the unoriginality. But doing it in a self-parodying, comedic kind of way? Boy is that just perfect for a film enacted by friggin' Legos! And it kind of reminds me how great that formula always was in the first place!

Plus, it's got friggin' Batman in it! And other DC superheroes! In a weird way, this is actually the first film to feature multiple DC superheroes all together. Lego beat Zack Snyder to the punch! That's not even to mention cameos from Ninja Turtles, Abraham Lincoln, and who knows what else?

This is the first of two films this year (the other being 22 Jump Street) from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who appear to be a couple of fun-loving, witty filmmakers. I wish them all the best in the future.

Feb. 14: Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters

Directed by Mark Waters
Based on the book Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Screenplay by Daniel Waters
Produced by Don Murphy, Susan Montford, Michael Preger, & Deepak Nayar
Starring Zoey Deutch, Danila Kozlovsky, Lucy Fry, Dominic Sherwood, & Olga Kurylenko
Music by Rolfe Kent
Cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts
Edited by Chris Gill
Released by The Weinstein Company

Um....Sure. Okay, so here's another movie I don't know that anyone is looking forward to. It's obviously an attempt to cash in on the teen-fantasy-book-series approach that's been popular in recent years, and this particular story seems to be a deliberate attempt to combine Harry Potter and Twilight in order to make a lot of money, rather of a story the writer really wanted to tell. While other films here are milking franchises, this is definitely milking the genre for all it’s worth.

Then again, Mark Waters has shown himself to be a talented, versatile director, helming everything from Mean Girls, to The Spiderwick Chronicles to Mr. Popper's Penguins. (Okay, so I’ve never actually seen any of those movies, but they were supposed to be good, right?

So, if you get sucked into this (no pun intended), it might actually be a basically decent film. But probably not.

Feb. 07: RoboCop

Directed by Jose Padilha
Screenplay by Nick Schenk, Joshua Zetumer, & James Vanderbilt
Produced by Marc Abraham, Gary Barber, Roger Birnmaum, & Eric Newman
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, Michael K. Williams, Jennifer Ehle, Marion Jean-Baptiste, & Miguel Ferrer
Music by Pedro Bromfman
Cinematography by Lula Carvalho
Edited by Daniel Rezende

This probably stands as one of the most unnecessary remakes ever made. I mean, really, RoboCop ? Yes, this is what you would call “milking the franchise.” Big time.
Now, while using the original as a jumping off point, the writers are using it to tell something of their own story. This is one of Alex Murphy being at risk of losing his humanity, rather than having already lost it and slowly gaining it back. When I saw that, I thought it was an interesting twist. But I still think it’s stupid. In fact, I don't know if I blame the movie's existence more on greedy Hollywood execs, or writers who want to use it to show off their cleverness and advance their careers. Even the presence of Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Keaton makes me scratch my head more, that they stooped to this.

So now I have to ask the question: Why a remake at all? It seems, to me at least, that, if you really want to resurrect the RoboCop series, the best thing to do may be to simply make a completely new chapter in the established series.

Think about it. RoboCop, despite being a great sci-fi film, bore the curse of never having a decent sequel. If 1990’s RoboCop 2 was hokey, 1993’s RoboCop 3 made it look like The Dark Knight. They also never gave real satisfaction to Alex Murphy’s story arc. By the end of number three, he hasn’t gone anywhere from the first film, nor has the storyline with his family. There was never any real sense of closure.

It has now been twenty years since RoboCop 3. It seems likely that, while Murphy’s organic attributes would start to age, his robotic body would remain as energetic and agile as ever. Where is he in his life, twenty years later? Has he regained any notion of human life? His long lost son is now an adult. What's going on there? Now that's a movie I want to see! Heck, it could even make for a triumphant return of Peter Weller to the role after all these years! That would gather massive amounts of hype.

Instead, they just remake the original. I guess it was easier.

Feb. 21 Pompeii

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Screenplay by Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler, & Michael Robert Johnson
Produced by Jeremy Bolt, Paul W. S. Anderson, Robert Kulzer, & Don Carmody
Starring Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Jessica Lucas, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris, & Paz Vega
Music by Clinton Shorter
Cinematography by Glenn MacPherson
Edited by Michelle Conroy
Released by TriStar Pictures & FilmDistrict

I feel a little bit weird about listing this as a "hype" film, as the famous thing that it is based on is a real life event that killed 33,000 people. Nevertheless, it definitely is a full-fledged adventure film made for the masses. I can't help but think that it wouldn't really be okay if this event had happened, say, fifty years ago. But after nearly 2,000 years, it's a bit more acceptable.

Of course, the elephant in the room is that this is a Paul W.S. Anderson film. If you were to ask most people who should helm the film version of the destruction of Pompeii, I don't think most would respond "The man behind the Resident Evil series, Alien vs. Predator, and that weird Three Musketeers film recently.”
That said, it seems to have toned down his over-the-top style from The Three Musketeers. And it was apparently co-written by Academy Award winner and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. Although it doesn't look like his name is even going to appear on it now, so that's a bad sign.

It's certainly not trying to be the next Titanic, but just judging just from the trailer, it looks halfway decent. But then, most crappy movies do.

Oh, who am I kidding this is going to be bad.

Mar. 07: 300: Rise of an Empire

Directed by Noam Murro
Screenplay by Zack Snyder & Kurt Johnstad
Produced by Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Thomas Tull & Bernie Goldmann
Starring Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Rodorigo Santoro, Lena Headey, David Wenham, & Hans Matheson
Music by Junkie XL
Cinematography by Simon Duggan
Edited by David Brenner & Wyatt Smith

Did I say something about needless franchise continuations?

This is the first of two long-awaited (is "awaited" the right word?) sequels to Frank Miller adaptations this year, coming in before Sin City 2. While the first film was extremely visually innovative, it didn’t’ exactly leave a story that fans were just dying to see continued. No, any desire for a sequel would simply be to see the visual style continued. But it was also eight years ago. They're not really striking while the iron is hot.
I find it kind of hard to believe they actually got Frank Miller to write another graphic novel just so they could adapt it. I can believe that he never actually then published the thing.

But I might be too hard on it. After all, the visual style was neat, and they are changing it up a bit, with a naval battle, and some new, different action types of action scenes. That could be fun, I'll admit. But I'll have to wait until video to find out.

Mar. 07: Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Directed by Rob Minkoff
Based on the animated segments Peabody's Improbable History by Ted Key
Written by Craig Wright
Produced by Alex Schwartz & Denise Nolan Cascino
Starring the voices of Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Mel Brooks, Stephen Colbert, Stanley Tucci, Leslie Mann, Allison Janney, Stephen Tobolowsky, Patrick Warburton, Lake Bell, & Dennis Haysbert
Music by Danny Elfman
Released by 20th Century Fox

I have very scant memories of watching this cartoon as a child. My father remembers it more clearly than me. In the age of the "This thing was popular once, let's make a movie!" sentiment, this seems ripe for the plucking. And why not? Cartoon series are some of the most cherished nostalgic memories, and people might think this is a really cool thing to share with their own kids now.
Needless to say, DreamWorks animation has a pretty solid track record. The film is also directed by Rob Minkoff, one of the directors of the Lion King. After a few live action features, he's back to his old home of animation. The film looks well done, funny, and even educational for kids. So if you grew up with the cartoon, be sure to take your kids to see this one!

Mar. 14: Need for Speed

Directed by Scott Waugh
Based on the video game from Electronic Arts
Screenplay by George Gatins, John Gatins, & George Nolfi
Produced by John Gatins, Patrick O'Brien, Mark Sourian, & Shane Black
Starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Dakota Johnson & Michael Keaton
Music by Nathan Furst
Cinematography by Shane Hurlbut
Edited by Paul Rubbell & Scott Waugh
Released by Walt Disney Studios

I guess making all that meth would give someone a need for speed. Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul stars in this film adaptation of the popular video game. It's also clearly hoping to cash in on the popularity of the Fast & Furious films.
Now, video game adaptations aren't exactly known for their brain. This one, from Act of Valor co-director Scott Waugh, doesn't seem to be an exception. True, you don't need an epic (or remotely original) plot to watch fast cars go vroom, but this seems to be particularly uninspired and ham-fisted. If the dialogue in the trailer is any indication, this movie will be leaving people cringing for two hours. Plus, Aaron Paul is laying on the gritty voice so thick he's making Christian Bale look good. And is it just me, or does the car action not even look that great? I mean, compared to the Fast & Furious movies, I'm not really seeing anything that makes me go "Whoooo."

All that being said, this film has Michael Keaton in it. So that bumps it up an automatic two notches.

Mar. 14: Veronica Mars

Directed by Rob Thomas
Based on the television series created by Rob Thomas
Written by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero
Produced by Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge, Danielle Stokdyk, & Kristen Bell
Starring Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, Enrico Colantoni, Amanda Noret, Sam Huntington, Krysten Ritter, Jerry O'Connell, & Jamie Lee Curtis
Music by Henry Jackman & Josh Kramon
Cinematography by Dan Kutchins
Edited by Daniel Gabbe
Released by Warner Bros.

While not something everyone and their cousin is going to recognize, Veronica Mars has a substantial fanbase who are very excited about this movie (including myself). The series aired on UPN and The CW from 2004 to 2007, and garnered major acclaim for its exceptional quality. Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith both lavished praise on the show online, and both then had cameos in season two.
Since it was cancelled abruptly, fans never got a satisfying ending. But like Firefly before it, its cult following has now resulted in a major motion picture. This time, the film was actually financed in part by the fans, who donated money through kickstarter.com, in order to see the film made. Thank you 21st Century!

For those unfamiliar with the show, Veronica Mars followed the adventures of a teenage girl (Kristen Bell) who, after the death of her best friend (Amanda Seyfried), becomes an amateur detective, solving mysteries with her P.I. father. It was a very intelligent, real, grounded series with fantastic characters and terrific stories. The film picks up nine years after the series' end (and therefore takes place two years in the future), at Veronica's ten year high school reunion.

If you haven't seen the series, do so. If you have a lot of free time, and can watch the first season before March, hold off on watching the trailer. It may ruin one of the best surprises. But either way, go see the film in March. Show your support for awesome, smart, creative story telling.

Mar. 21: Divergent

Directed by Neil Burger
Based on the book by Veronica Roth
Screenplay by Evan Daugherty & Vanessa Taylor
Produced by Lucy Fisher, Pouya Shabazian, Douglas Wick
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Kate Winslet, Tony Goldwyn, & Ashley Judd
Music by Junkie XL & Hans Zimmer
Cinematography byAlwin H. Küchler
Edited by Richard Francis-Bruce
Released by Summit Entertainment

Weren't we just talking about movies cashing in on the young-adult-adventure-book-series craze? Here's another one! And actually, this one is far more popular and taken far more seriously.
I've never read the books, but it does look like a cash-in on The Hunger Games and seems very formulaic. It's your standard dystopian-future-based-on-hindering-some-element-of-the-human-spirit-let's-finally-fight-back storyline. In this case, the nature of the dystopian future specifically panders to teenagers, dealing with that classic teenage sense of identity, of who they will be, and of rebelling against conformity. Yep, all together, it's actually kind of a perect mix for a best-selling young-adult series. And that's just what it is!

The film is from Neil Burger, the director of The Illusionist and Limitless. But I don't think it offers anything too great to make you rush out and see it.

Mar. 21 Muppets Most Wanted

Directed by James Bobin
Based on The Muppets "by Disney"
Written by Nicholas Stoller & James Bobin
Produced by David Hoberman & Todd Lieberman
Starring Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, & David Goelz
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography by Don Burgess
Edited by James M. Thomas
Released by Walt Disney Studios

Hey, it's the Muppets! I feel like the children of our generation are very fortunate that Jason Segel brought this franchise back. If you have kids, take them to see it. If you don't have kids, no one will think any less of you for going to see it anyway. It’s the Muppets!

Mar. 28: Noah

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Screenplay by Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel
Produced by Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Arnon Milchan, & Mary Parent
Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, & Marton Csokas
Music by Clint Mansell
Cinematography by Matthew Libatique
Edited by Andrew Weisblum
Released by Paramount Pictures

Darren Aronofsky makes a Noah's Ark movie. Wow, that sentence sounds intriguing. It's been a while since we had a good Biblical epic, and the story of Noah's Ark, to the best of my knowledge, has never had a big-budget major motion picture adaptation.
Of course, it's a story everyone knows, so to actually see things like the animals being led onto the ark, in a big movie like this, for the first time ever, is pretty neat. And who else would you cast as Noah but Russell Crowe? Seriously, that just seems right.

Now, apparently the film is taking some definitive liberties with the Biblical story. I can tell you right now that it features Emma Watson as Noah's adopted daughter, and another character who is a fallen angel. The film's early screenings have met with some controversy, leading to disagreements between Aronofsky and Paramount over changing the film's final cut.

The film shouldn't rely too heavily on peril (as it's literally God's will that they survive), and I'm hearing that there's a heavy focus on Noah's personal drama. So that's good. My greatest fear is that they'll try something stupid to make it more exciting, like a leak getting sprung in the ark while they're afloat, and needing to stop it.
At any rate, it's definitely going to be a very noticeable presence at theaters this year, and it will probably inspire some network TV specials about Noah's ark. So keep your eyes open!

Apr. 04: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeeley
Produced by Kevin Feige
Starring Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Frank Grillo, Georges St-Pierre, Garry Shandling, Jenny Agutter, Chin Han, Maximiliano Hernandez, & Stan Lee
Music by Henry Jackman
Cinematography by Trent Opaloch
Edited by Jeffrey Ford & Mary Jo Markey
Released by Walt Disney Studios

Marvel Studios made a huge breakthrough in comic book filmmaking with their Phase One, churning out well-done, superbly-cast origin stories that were true to their roots and to the spirit of the characters, while being incredibly entertaining. Their sequels, on the other hand, seem to leave a bit to be desired. Both 2013 films Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were abysmally disappointing. Let's hope this is the one to turn it around.

Obviously, the Winter Soldier arc is a very famous one in the comics, and it is cool that they are sticking to the comics, and bringing that to life. Of course, it will not be a direct adaptation, and largely involves its own plot elements. There's actually a lot going on here, between other new villains like Crossbones and Batroc, and whatever's going on with Robert Redford's character. The filmmakers are now saying that it has the feel of a 1970s government-conspiracy movie, so I like that. Fans should be very happy that they are bringing in Steve's good buddy Sam Wilson, AKA The Falcon. Unfortunately, he is decked out in military colors and hardly resembles the character.

For me, however, the biggest concern about this movie is the presence of The Black Widow. Now, it sounds just right that the sequel to Captain America features Steve teaming up with a female SHIELD agent and having a romantic interest along the way. They're just changing the agent in question from Agent 13 to the Black Widow, and relegating Sharon herself into a small role.
This is clearly done simply for the reason that Scarlett Johansson is a big star and was a big part of the Avengers, but the character hasn't gotten her own film. So they want to capitalize on her while they can. This sounds like the sort of Hollywood studio crap that Marvel Studios was created to get away from. As far as I know, Steve and Natasha have said about three words to each other in all of Marvel history. So yes, that makes me angry. I understand, due to their national background there might be a connection between Black Widow and the Winter Soldier. But in that case, she should have gotten the small role, and Sharon the bigger one.

I think this film has a lot going for it simply on the merit of it being from Marvel Studios. Let's hope the Black Widow angle doesn't tarnish it too much, and that Marvel Studios can get back to being a great symbol of faithful comic book storytelling.

Apr. 18: Transcendence

Directed by Wally Pfister
Written by Jack Paglen
Produced by Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove, Kate Cohen, Marisa Polvino, Annie Marter, David Valdes, & Aaron Ryder
Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Cole Hauser, & Clifton Collins Jr.
Music by Mychael Danna
Cinematography by Jess Hall
Edited by David Rosenbloom
Released by Warner Bros. (U.S.)

If you're a film nerd, here's a movie whose hype within that community is largely based on the fact that it is the directorial debut of a well-known cinematographer. Wally Pfister, director of photography on all of Christopher Nolan's commercial films to date, gets behind the camera in a different way here. It speaks volumes as to how respected a DP Pfister is that the film has garnered this much hype over him. It doesn't hurt that Nolan (along with his wife/producing partner Emma Thomas) is an executive producer, something I'm shocked was not mentioned in the trailer.

As for the film itself, it is a general "What happens when we take technology too-far, oh noes it takes over the world" subgenre film, mixed with a similar Frankenstein "Playing God" aspect of uploading a human mind into a computer. This does look like it's well done, and that the apocalyptic peril could be really strong. Plus, it's got a great cast! I would expect nothing less from the debut of someone as respected as Pfister. Congratulations, Wally!

May 09: Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

Directed by Dan St. Pierre & Will Finn
Based on Dorothy of Oz by Roger Stanton Baum.
Oz characters created by L. Frank Baum
Screen story Randi Barnes
Screenplay by Adam Balsam, Randi Barnes, & Barry Glasser
Produced by Lea Michelle, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, James Belushi, Hugh Dancy, Patrick Stewart, Megan Hilty, Oliver Platt, Bernadette Peters, & Brian Blessed
Music by Bryan Adams & Toby Chu
Released by Clarius Entertainment

different filmmakers wanted to make this. If not, though, it’s amazing that a film can cash in on another by adapting the same material. That’s what you get for being in the public domain.

Like The Legend of Hercules, this film just feels direct-to-video to me for some reason. For one thing, it's not coming from any major studio, so I don’t' know how it's getting a wide release. Also, the animation looks crazily cheap. It may be an honest effort by some much smaller filmmakers, the Oz stuff is just getting tiring.

May 02: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Directed by Marc Webb
Story by James Vanderbilt
Screenplay by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, & Jeff Pinker
Produced by Avi Arad & Matthew Tolmach
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Chris Cooper, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Denis Leary, Felicity Jones, B.J. Novak, Sarah Gadon, Marton Csokas, & Chris Zylka
Music by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Johnny Marr, Michael Einziger, & David A. Stewart
Cinematography by Dan Mindel
Edited by Pietro Scalia & Elliot Graham
Released by Columbia Pictures

All right, so I know I've been complaining about franchise-milking, and many people criticize The Amazing Spider-Man for even existing. Yet despite all that, I was actually all for it! Spider-Man was/is not through having his stories told. The sheer amount of love people all over the world have for this character is great, and the potential for onscreen stories is vast. In fact, I’d say cutting it off where they did would be a waste. If the old crew didn’t want to return, then the idea of new people being brought on to continue the legend from a new angle was more than okay for me.

That being said, I was not a fan of The Amazing Spider-Man, simply put, because it did not ever feel like Spider-Man. The entire thing tried to "Nolan-ize" the character, putting him in an edgier looking costume, coming out mostly at night, and popping up in the backs of people's cars. Seriously, in what universe is that Spider-Man?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 represents an amazing example of filmmakers seemingly listening to the fans, admitting they made a mistake, and fixing it in a subsequent film. The costume is entirely back to basics, and Spider-Man is out in the daylight for a good portion of the film, having high-flying action scenes, and dealing with the effects on his personal life. For the first time in over six years, I really feel like a true Spider-Man film is coming out. Now, the villains in this film don't look anything like their comic book counterparts, but hey, I'll take it.

There is clearly a storyline here that was envisioned back in the first film. It's kind of neat that, in this series, the existence of Spider-Man and all the villains have a common origin, rather than a series of coincidental happenings. While it may seem like villain overload akin to Spider-Man 3, Electro will be the main baddie this time around, with Oscorp being the larger evil force behind all of them , and it’s clearly all building towards something bigger. And if Norman Osborn is going to be the villain in future films, we all know where that's headed with Gwen Stacey. No, I don't mean he's going to get her pregnant!

I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the idea to spin off Venom and Sinister Six movies. That’s definiteivle franchise-milking on a whole new level.
“Hey, we need to make a crossover movie like The Avengers.”
“But we only have the rights to Spider-Man and Ghost Rider.”
“That’s okay, just make movies about Spider-Man’s villains. Then ‘cross them over.’”

But that's neither here nor there. For the moment, this looks like a good movie that will lead to good movies to come.

May 16: Godzilla

Directed by Gareth Edwards
Story by David Callaham & Max Borenstein
Screenplay by Frank Darabont & Max Borenstein
Produced by Jon Jashni, Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, & Brian Rogers
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey
Edited by Bob Ducsay
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures

I grew up watching the classic Godzilla films with my cousin, in all their cheesy glory. It’s pretty awesome that that same Godzilla is going to be rearing his ugly head on the big screen in a major big-budget CGI extravaganza. This is the second attempt by American filmmakers to make a Godzilla movie, and these fellas are already showing that they’re getting it more right than their predecessors. We’ve seen very little from the film thus far, but that fact alone, that it’s Godzilla and the real Godzilla, is fairly awesome. That's what we love, as fanboys, when filmmakers just cut out all the bullcrap and just give us the character, as it should be, straight up, pure, true, and simple.

Of course, the Godzilla films are really about the humans involved, and how they take down the big guy. The film should have good action, sure, but it should also be a good adventure with a decent human group as well. With a script co-written by Frank Darabont (though uncredited) and a very impressive cast, right now I'm choosing to hope that his will be something incredible, and possibly the beginning of a great new film series.

May 23: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Directed by Bryan Singer
Story by Bryan Singer
Screenplay by Simon Kinberg & Matthew Vaughn
Produced by Bryan Singer, Lauren Schuler Donner, Matthew Vaughn, Simon Kinberg, & Hutch Parker
Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Peter Dinklage,Daniel Cudmore, Lucas Till, Omar Sy, Booboo Stewart, & Bingbing Fan
Music by John Ottman
Cinematography Newton Thomas Siegel
Edited by John Ottman
Released by 20th Century Fox

I'll be perfectly honest, this film kind of ticks me off. In the beginning, it was simply going to be X-Men: First Class 2. Then we start hearing that the original trilogy cast will be in it, andgot very excited that it would also X-Men 4 to boot! Sure, it’s an attempt to cash in on The Avengers crossover element. Sure, the time travel plot is merely a means to an end, and they’re simply borrowing some stuff from “Days of Future Past” to make it happen. But who cares? X-MEN 4!!!
Yet the more we see and hear from this film, the more it becomes plain that this still is simply X-Men: First Class 2 , with Wolverine. The other original trilogy cast members will have what seems like glorified cameos, all to serve as a plot device to get Wolverine back in time. Rogue’s role was small enough to not even make the final cut.
Fans have been complaining for a long time that the films focused too much exclusively on Wolverine. Now he's even getting in on the First Class action.

Now that I've ranted on about that, could a movie about Wolverine teaming up with the First Class crew against Sentinels be entertaining? Absolutely. But let's not mistake it for anything else. This is certainly not the revival of the mainstream series that we thought it was going to be, and once it's over, they'll go right on with the First Class series.

May 30: Maleficent

Directed by Robert Stromberg
Based on the film Sleeping Beauty, directeed by Clyde Geromini, Les Clark, Eric Larson, & Wolfgang Reitherman. Story of Sleeping Beauty told by Charles Perrault and by Jakob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm.
Written by Paul Dini & Linda Woolverton
Produced by Don Hahn & Joe Roth
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Juno Temple, Miranda Richardson, Imelda Staunton, & Peter Capaldi
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography by Dean Semler
Edited by Richard Pearson & Chris Lebenzon
Released by Walt Disney Studios

Okay, I'll admit, now I’m really starting to see how this whole franchise-milking stuff is getting out of control

Walt Disney Studios and prodcuer Joe Roth both seem intent upon remaking some of the classic Disney stories into modern day live-action films. Together they made the 2010 mega-hit Alice in Wonderland and Roth produced 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman for Universal. Now they reunite to retell the story of Sleeping Beauty. In 2015, Disney will release new live-action versions of Cinderella and The Jungle Book

Here is also another example of a man revered in one department of filmmaking having his directorial debut. Two-time Oscar-winning production designer Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland) reunites with Roth and Disney to bring the untold story of Maleficent to the screen. The film is jam packed with Disney superstars. Producer Don Hahn brought us Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King in the '90s, while co-writer Linda Woolverton was one of the writers on The Lion King and penned 2010's Alice. Comic book fans should rejoice that the other writer is Paul Dini, one of the masterminds behind Batman: The Animated Series

So yes, clearly the film has a lot of talented people involved. Whether it's actually an inspired piece, or just a plea to remake an old hit remains to be seen. I think it's a little bit gothic, especially for the target audience, and I'm not sure why Sleeping Beauty is so young. And is it just me, or does this idea, telling the story of the not-so-really-evil villanous witch from a classic work, smack of Wicked. Anyway....

Jun. 06: Edge of Tomorrow

Directed by Doug Liman
Based on the book All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Screenplay by Dante Harper, Joby Harold, Steve Kloves, Christopher McQuarrie, Tim Kring, Jez Butterworth, Roberto Orci, & Alex Kutzman
Produced by Erwin Stoff, Gregory Jacobs, & Jeffrey Silver
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, & Jeremy Piven
Music by Ramin Djawadi
Cinematography by Dion Beebe
Edited by James Herbert
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures

This isn't really based on anything particularly famous, and doesn't have a huge amount of hype based on anything else, but it is a sci-fi film and has been discussed on this website a lot, so I'll include it with the rest.

I’m sad to say that this film just doesn't look good. Tom Cruise just isn't a very likeable leading man anymore, and the Groundhog Day plot takes away any dramatic tension. Seriously the hero literally can't die, and will continue living that day until he accomplishes his goal. Adding to that, the action looks strange and unimpressive, as do the clunky suits everyone's running around in.
Lastly, just look at that list of writers! Oh, there's some impressive names in there, but can you say "too many cooks in the kitchen?" It's obvious the studio really wanted this film to be something, and went to great lengths, hiring a lot of different writers, to make it so. And it’s one of the few non-franchise sci-fi films out this year. But it's one that I'm going to skip.

Jun. 13: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Written & directed by Dean DeBlois
Based on literary characters created by Cressida Cowell
Produced by Bonnie Arnold
Starring the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harrington, Cate Blanchett, & Djimon Hounsou
Music by John Powell
Released by 20th Century Fox

I just watched the first How to Train Your Dragon and it was a very solid coming-of-age/unlikely hero/boy and his dog story. I enjoyed it, and I think they're hitting on the right notes in this sequel.
The right course to take with a sequel is to go deeper into the mythology and expand the world, discover new and darker ideas that the characters didn't know they were stepping into in the first, and then put those characters through a greater test than before.
This film looks to have all of that. There's more to the world of dragons that they discover, which now brings a war to their doorstep. And of course, it's all inexorably linked to Hiccup and his past, and he is going to be forged into more of a leader than ever. Sound just about right for a sequel to me. And lest we forget, it’s DreamWorks. So it will be good.

Jul. 25: Hercules

Directed by Brett Ratner
Based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore & Admira Wijaya
Produced by Peter Berg, Brett Ratner, Sarah Aubrey, Barry Levine, Beau Flynn
Starring Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell,
Cinematography by Dante Spinotti
Edited by Mark Helfrich
Released by Paramount Pictures & MGM

Like Oz, this is another example of two films based on the same idea, almost back to back. However, this one I don’t mind as much. First, the films are close enough together that it’s definitely just a coincidence, and second, because the first film was the direct-to-video worthy one. This film will undoubtedly have a much bigger budget and a much more professional-looking production. Unfortunately, it is most likely that it will still be bad.

Okay, so Brett Ratner's name has certainly become Mudd in the comic book film community. But you know, I kind of feel for the man. He has always been a very enthusiastic guy with big ideas and big dreams for the film industry. His enthusiasm actually got one of his student films funded by Steven Spielberg himself. He started out directing strictly comic fare like Rush Hour, but eventually moved up to the Hannibal Lecter film Red Dragon and the third X-Men film. Unfortunately, the latter basically destroyed his career, and after following it up with Rush Hour 3 he basically disappeared for years, resurfacing to make another silly, poorly received comedy Tower Heist, which was probably the best he could get.

So now, undoubtedly, Hercules is his attempt to get back in the game. And it might be good. The elephant in the room, however, the biggest is the casting of Dwayne Johnson as Hercules (I didn't know Hercules was Samoan!). If the casting is that off-kilter, it doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the film.
At this point, all I'm going to say is, you never know. I think the film is going to rely heavily on action, and it will be interesting to see how Ratner handles that. Until then, let's at least wait for a trailer.

Jul. 25: Jupiter Ascending

Written & directed by Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
Produced by Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, & Grant Hill
Starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by John Toll
Edited by Alexander Berner
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures

Here's another film whose attention is mostly gotten from its directors. Yet at the same time, I think many people at this point don't really care about the Wachowski brothers. They essentially made one well-received movie years ago, and they've been riding that wave ever since.

Adding to that, this film just looks stupid. I don't know if I'm going to be able to get the image of Channing Tatum with wolf ears out of my nightmares for the next six months. Remember what I said about The Lego Movie, that if someone tried this in a dramatic film, it would not play as well? I'm not them so I can't say for sure, but it looks like they just wanted to make an "epic space opera," and with that thought first, threw in a basic story around it, hitting on all the basic formulaic notes, so that they could resurrect their career.

I mean, it could work. There's some visually interesting stuff in here, and given their interest in philosophy, I'm sure it may hit on some of those notes. It doesn't look excruciatingly bad (wolf ears aside). It just seems uninspired, and like it has nothing all that new or interesting to entice me to go see it. In fact,

Jun. 27: Transformers: Age of Extinction

Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Krueger
Produced by Tom DeSanto, Ian Bryce, Don Murphy, & Lorenzo DiBonaventura
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, Sophia Myles, Bingbing Li, Titus Welliver, & Peter Cullen
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Cinematography by Amir Mokri
Edited by William Goldenberg
Released by Paramount Pictures

I hate the first three films. And I love them. I hate them because there’s so much to love about them, and I hate them far more than I do something like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra which is just garbage from beginning to end. All three actually have good stories that were perfect for Transformers films, with likeable characters, great action scenes, and awesome music. It’s just that all the things that are good about the films is completely undone by what seems like hours of “comic relief” and shameless military propaganda that have no place in a Transformers film. So that’s what I’m expecting from Transformers 4.

At this point, we have had a definitive trilogy, telling the story of Sam Witwicky, and featuring the (hopefully permanent) death of Megatron in the end. This new film picks up with an entirely new cast of human characters joining Optimus and the Autobots. The war against the Decepticons may be getting pretty stale by this point. bit we’ll just have to wait and see if writer Ehren Krueger has anything clever up his sleeve.

I must admit, I am worried by things like Mark Wahlberg's character being described as a "struggling inventor." And it looks like Bay is continuing to throw in Autobots based on whatever car or vehicle he likes, and assigning them random names (while undoubtedly making their robot forms into monstrosities).

But, of course, we have to mention the big news: The Dinobots will be making their live-action debut. How on Earth these things are going to be brought to life is a subject of both excitement and concern for me. I just hope they look cool, and decipherable, in both forms.

Either way, I’m bound to have a love-hate relationship with this movie, just as I have had with the last three.

Jul. 18: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by Matt Reeves
Story by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Scott Z. Burns & Mark Bomback
Produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, & Amanda Silver
Starring Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Judy Greer, Jason Clarke, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Toby Kebbell, & Judy Greer
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by Michael Seresin
Edited by William Hoy & Stan Salfas
Released by 20th Century Fox

I thought 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes was basically enjoyable, but I've always taken issue with its premise. Now, I only saw the first half of the original The Planet of the Apes, so please correct me if I am wrong. But wasn't the idea that the film takes place far, far, far, like millions of years, in the future, when apes have just naturally evolved to become manlike and very gradually taken over the planet?
Well, that doesn't make for a very exciting reboot. And so crunching that into a new origin story where it's all due to some magic drugs that does the whole thing over night, seems like a desperate plea for a franchise continuation. But like I said, it was enjoyable anyways.

The sequel seems like it will be more akin to the original films, with (talking) apes vs. man in a post-apocalyptic film all the way through. And with Matt Reeves directing from a script reworked by Scott Z. Burns, I don't doubt that it will be a good adventure film.

Even if it is the definition of unnecessary stretching out of a franchise. :)

Aug. 01: Guardians of the Galaxy

Directed by James Gunn
Story by James Gunn & Nicole Perlman
Screenplay by James Gunn
Produced by Kevin Feige
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Batista, Lee Pace, Benicio Del Toro, Karen Gillan, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Michael Rooker, & Bradley Cooper
Music by Tyler Bates
Cinematography by Ben Davis
Edited by Fred Raskin & Hughes Winborne
Released by Walt Disney Studios

When I first heard they were making a movie out of Guardians of the Galaxy, my initial reaction was the same as many: “What the heck is Guardians of the Galaxy?” Honestly, as a comic book fan, I had never heard of this series! But I suppose it’s gained enough of a following in recent years to deserve its own major motion picture within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And the more I hear about it, the more excited I am. I love group dynamics, and this seems to be the next fun super-group of characters. I've seen a little of James Gunn’s work, and it’s clear he’s a very humorous filmmaker who is perfect for this kind of genre. Chris Pratt in the lead role assures there will be plenty of humor, and I could not be happier about such a talented actor finally getting the exposure he deserves.
The rest of the cast is phenomenal. Whether it’s great big stars like Benicio Del Toro, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper, cult favorites like Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan, or quickly rising star Lee Pace as the main villain, this cast is sure to please everyone. The film itself will clearly have some major tie-ins with The Avengers, and I think we can all hope for a great , funny, and rousing space adventure!

Aug. 08: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
Produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Scott Mednick, & Galen Walker
Starring Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher, Megan Fox, Danny Woodburn, William Fichtner, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Arnett, & Abby Elliot
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography by Lula Carvalho
Edited by Joel Negron
Released by 20th Century Fox

Ah, this might stand out amidst all the films herein as the most feared, the most dreaded. Ever since Michael Bay was announced as producer, people everywhere have been skeptic. It's also being produced through Bay's Platinum Dunes which has heretofore specialized in crappy horror remakes. Now the film has continually been pushed back and back, and people are getting more nervous, as we've yet to see anything from it.

But one thing I'd like to come out in defense of is Megan Fox as April. Her acting has never really seemed bad to me, and her sex-kitten image has been what's mostly led to her not being taken seriously. Like Ben Affleck, I think we should give her a chance.
I'm more concerned about other decisions, like casting gruff-and-sarcastic Danny Woodburn as the voice of Splinter. The only reason I can see to do that is to turn Splinter into a cigar-chomping smart aleck.
But the most faith-deflating decision in the film was to cast William Fictner as Shredder and change his name from Oroku Saki to Eric Sachs. Get it? Oroku Saki, Eric Sachs. It sounds similar, but it's whiter! Heh heh. Oh, this film is going to be bad.

If Michael Bay thought fan reaction to Transformers was ugly, he hasn't seen anything. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is very beloved. Like really, really, really beloved. Like, an entire generation grew up on it, and every one of them still remembers everything about it. It probably inspires more nostalgia than any other franchise in the world. It is not something you want to screw up.

Sadly, that looks like exactly what they're doing. I mean, I hate to judge before we even see a pic, but yeah, it doesn’t seem good.

Aug. 15: The Expendables 3

Directed by Patrick Hughes
Based on characters created by David Callaham
Story by Sylvester Stallone
Screenplay by Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Sylvester Stallone
Produced by Avi Lerner, Kevin King-Templeton, Danny Lerner, & Les Weldon
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, Kelsey Grammer, & Robert Davi
Cinematography by Peter Menzies Jr.
Edited by Sean Albertson & Paul Harb
Released by Lionsgate

While I wasn't crazy about the first Expendables, I also realize that the second movie is the movie to see (which I haven’t).. It's essentially the film the first film wanted to be, getting all the action legends like Schwarzenegger, Willis, Van Damme, and Norris together in one film.
As you can see, although they've lost a couple, the series just keeps adding more and more old action stars as it goes on, and that's tremendous fun. These films don't even seem to be all about the action as they are about the stars. They just have fun getting whoever they can.

With such a large cast, I hope the film gives each man his due, and that a lot of stuff gets blown up. Well, I also hope the dialogue doesn't make you want to rip your eardrums out, like the first movie.

Aug. 15: The Giver
Directed by Phillip Noyce
Based on the book by Lois Lowry
Screenplay by Michael Mitnick
Produced by Jeff Bridges, Neil Koenigsberg, & Nikki Silver
Starring Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgård, & Taylor Swift
Cinematography by Ross Emery & Michael Swan
Released by The Weinstein Company

Like many people, I read this book for school as a youngster. My memory of it is sketchy at best, but I definitely the image of the title character on the cover, and I think it's awesome that Jeff Bridges is in the role. I also just think it's interesting that it's actually being helmed by a veteran director like Phillip Noyce. That gives it a little boost of credibility.
I can't really say a lot more about it until I go back and reread the book. But I will say that what made eyebrows pop all over the world was the casting of Taylor Swift. We'll see how that turns out, but yeah. That just sounds weird.

Aug. 22: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Directed by Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez
Based on the Sin City graphic novels by Frank Miller
Screenplay by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, & William Monaghan
Produced by Robert Rodriguez, Sergei Bespalov, Aaron Kaufman, Stephen L'Heureux, Iliana Nikolic, Alexander Rodnyansky
Starring Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe as Senator Roark, Josh Brolin, Jamie Chung, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Stacy Keach, Jaime King, Lady Gaga, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Mickey Rourke, Marton Csokas, & Juno Temple.
Music by Robert Rodriguez
Cinematography by Robert Rodriguez
Edited by Robert Rodriguez
Released by The Weinstein Company & Dimension Films

Hey, I'm a comic book fan, so I have to consider Frank Miller sacred. The first Sin City was incredibly innovative and creative in it's visual style, and I'm probably one of the few people who actually liked The Spirit. This franchise has obviously got a lot more of a brain in it's head than 300, and I hope that the large time gap has given them time to craft an enticing film. It features more adaptations of Miller's graphic novels, as well as an original story. And I think it be welcome refreshment of intelligent, artistic filmmaking.
Keep in mind that this film has probably the biggest amount of recast roles sine Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (remember that one?!!). Dennis Haysbert replaces the late Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute, Josh Brolin replaces Clive Own as Dwight (his character gets plastic surgery), and Jamie Chung replaces Devon Aoki as Miho. So they must have really wanted to make the film.

Now will they stop delaying the film and just release the film already?!!!

Sept. 12: "Resident Evil 6"
Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Based on the Resident Evil video game series
Starring Milla Jovovich
Released by Screen Gems

So yeah, I've never seen any of the Resident Evil movies, and they don't exactly have good reviews. Director Paul W.S. Anderson has said, however, that he plans on this being the last film in the series.
That said, what really intrigues me is that no one seems to know what's going on with it. According to sources, Anderson stated that the film would start filming in fall of 2013, but there's been no news since then, either of filming, or even of the cast. Maybe it's just that people are so sick of this series they're not even bothering to report it.

Anyway, I'm going to have to sit down and watch this series one of these days just out of curiosity.

Oct. 17: Dracula Untold
Directed by Gary Shore
Based on the literary character created by Bram Stoker
Written by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless
Produced by Michael De Luca & Thomas Tull
Starring Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Samantha Barks
Cinematography by John Schwartzman
Released by Universal Pictures

You know, the farther down I get in this article, the more and more I'm beginning to realize just how shamelessly Hollywood really is gutting into any old famous franchise. Now, I've never read the book Dracula, and my knowledge of the history is scarce at best, but I just don't think a story about "the man before he became the monster," or however it will promote itself, will work. It just seems like a cheap, forgettable farce, that may be a starting point for the first-time director. It is interesting that, in spite of the no-name writers and director, it’s being produced by two of the biggest producers in Hollywood.
The director, Gary Shore, got himself noticed with the fake trailer for his proposed manga-inspired film The Cup of Tears. That should give an indication as to the hyper-stylized method this film will be taking. Coupling that with director-of-photography John Schwartzman could lead to some interesting visuals. But really, I think it'll just be a hyper-stylized, manga-style franchise-milker.

Nov. 07: Big Hero 6

Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams
Based on the comic book created by Steven T. Seagle & Duncan Rouleau
Written by Jordan Roberts
Produced by Roy Conli
Released by Walt Disney Studios

Take a little-known comic book mini-series from a few years ago and turn it into a full-fledged Walt Disney animated feature film? I'm in! I mean, I wouldn't know what to think if it were any other company, but it’s Disney! How cool is it that a Marvel comic adaptation will be a part of the Disney animated canon? Add in the mix of Eastern and Western culture, and character names like Wasabi No-Ginger, Honey Lemon, GoGo Tomago, and Fred, and one word comes to mind: Creative. I'm intrigued as all get-out! But that's about all I can say at this point.

Nov. 07: Interstellar

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan
Produced by Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas
Starring Matthew McConaghey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, David Oyelowo, Mackenzie Foy, & Matt Damon
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by Hoye van Hoytema
Edited by Lee Smith
Released by Paramount Pictures (U.S.)

So now we come to an original film that’s not only hyped as heck because of its director, but whose quality many are already assured of because of it’s director. I think Christopher Nolan’s real legacy lies in creating exciting action movies that actually merit major critical attention as well, and he’s shown everyone that you don’t’ have to sacrifice quality for spectacle. He’s been to Gotham City, Victorian England, and inside the human mind. Now he’s going into outer space.
As usual, the cast is phenomenal, and I think we’re all eager to see what the actual film will look like.

Nov. 21: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Screenplay by Danny Strong
Produced by Nina Jacobson & Jon Kilik
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Natalie Dormer, & Philip Seymour Hoffman
Cinematography by Jo Willems
Edited by Alan Edward Bell
Released by Lionsgate

I’ve written before about my distaste for the Hunger Games series. I simply do not feel it right to watch or read a story where the main character’s objective is to murder other children. Now, I’m aware that the final book, Mockingjay, does not follow the same survivalist formula of the first two. Nevertheless, since I won’t read the second book, there’s nothing to get me to read the third or be excited for it.
And even fans agree that the entire splitting-the-final-book-into-two-movies schtick is beyond shameless. It was done out of necessity for the Harry Potter series, but fans of Twilight and Hunger Games have told me just how ridiculous and arbitrary it is to do the same for those series. I fail to see how an artistic director trying to make a legitimate adaptation can succumb to such greedy executive garbage.
But if you're a fan of the book, even the padding they'll add to this film may not ruin it entirely.

Dec. 12: Exodus

Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, & Steven Zaillian
Produced by Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, & John Turturro
Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski
Edited by Lee Smith
Released by 20th Century Fox

Our second Biblical epic of the year. Would you believe I’ve never even seen The Ten Commandments, and this film still angers me? Like I pointed out with RoboCop, while I have no problem with sequels and Spider-Man reboots, unnecessary remakes bother me. And yes, I know this is not technically a “remake,” but let’s not split hairs. We all know what movie everyone will be thinking about when this one comes out.
More than simply Hollywood execs wanting to make a buck, I think this one has more to do with Ridley Scott wanting to go back to epic filmmaking, and thus turning to a source that lends itself to just that. But the only reason people know how well that story lends itself to film is because of another movie, someone else’s vision, one of the most classic films in all cinematic history, which he is trying to replace. So yes, seen it or not, that bugs me. Now I really need to see that movie.

Dec. 17: The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Directed by Peter Jackson
Screenplay by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, & Guillermo Del Toro
Produced by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, & Carolynn Cunningham
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Billy Connolly, Hugo Weaving, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Adam Brown, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Bret McKenzie, & Manu Bennett
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie
Edited by Jabez Olssen
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures

Once again, you may know that I consider this entire trilogy to be joke. Even saying the word “trilogy” when talking about the Hobbit makes me want to gag. People have been waiting for a film version of The Hobbit for a long time. What a shame it is that we instead get eight hours of Peter Jackson's fan fiction. I don't even care if the story, on it's own merits, is good. That's not what people have waited decades to see. It's a terrible mark on what was previously an endurable legacy for Jackson. End of story (and hopefully it will be).

Well, thanks for listening! It would be a great thing if all the films I said would be bad, turn out good; and all the ones I said would be good, turn out better! We’ll see you all in 2015!
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