To get a bit mythological for a second here, it’s time to get our Janus (I said “Janus”) on today. Last week we looked back at the best of 2013, but now it’s time to look ahead as well to see what 2014 has in store for us. Yes, it may not be the geekgasmic convergence of awesomeness that is 2015, but there is still plenty to get all giddy about. Here are 15 of them.
Yes, it’s a remake of one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed films in pop culture made by a legendary director in Paul Verhoeven, and what’s more, it’s a remake that’s tossing out a lot of what made the original stand out (PG-13? Really?!) and heading off in its own direction (Black suit? Human hand? What?!). But its that last bit that actually has me the most intrigued. That an the fact that its Jose Padilha behind the camera. Padilha may not be a household Hollywood name, but anybody who has seen his two high octane Brazilian actioners Elite Squad 1 & 2, knows that the man can direct the hell out of an action movie. Couple that with the talented Joel Kinnaman in the tin suit facing off against a game Michael Keaton, and we might just fins ourselves in the position where this is definitely not the Robocop we know and love, but it may just be a great movie all on its own.
The Hunger Games was solid film, the best of the YA adaptations at the time, that not only cleaned up at the box office, but made a star out of the internet’s girlfriend, Jennifer Lawrence, so when Francis Lawrence (no relation) was tasked with replacing original director Gary Ross for the next 3 films, he had some really big shoes to fill. And boy, did he ever fill them. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire he produced not only a sequel that upped the dramatic stakes as much as it did the technical accomplishments, but he also gave us an adaptation that pulls off the nigh impossible task of being startlingly faithful, and yet also improving on its source material in place. In short, its the best YA adaptation we’ve seen to date, and it ended on one humdinger of a cliff hanger that millions of fans are looking to see resolved.
When guys complain about life not being fair, they’re actually silently swearing at Ryan Gosling at that time. Blessed with looks that appear almost photoshopped, an flappable air of cool, and tons of acting talent, it seems like the Gos is just been placed on this Earth to make the rest of us boyfriends and husbands look inferior. And now he’s going to step his superiority up a notch by also becoming a director.
And if just his name wasn’t enough, for his directorial debut – a dark neo-noir fantasy How To Catch a Monster about the trials of a mother and son and some magically twisted city under the sea – he’s also assembled one hell of a cast in Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn and Matt Smith. Yes, that Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame who just spent the last four years making us love him as he went on adventures across space and time in his flying blue box.
Whether or not you love or hate their movies (and I most definitely find myself squarely in the camp of the former), you can’t deny that Andy and Lana Wachowski make some of the most visually inventive and awe-inducing sci-fi epics around. And their latest, Jupiter Ascending, seems to fit that mold perfectly. It’s a proper space opera with a story spanning galaxies, and starring Mila Kunis as the potential Queen of the Universe and an alien supersoldier Channing Tatum with elf ears and bleach blond hair. That last sentence should already be enough for you to buy your tickets.
Speaking of Channing Tatum… My complete disdain for ol’ “Charming Potato” was well documented. In my opinion, he was just a taller, whiter Taylor Lautner with slightly better acting and some good dance moves. That was of course before I laughed my butt cheeks off at him in 21 Jump Street, the 2012 R-rated comedy sleeper hit, that just about nobody expected to be as good as it was. I mean, it was a raunchy reboot of a cheesy 1990’s cop show that’s really only remembered for a catchy theme song and introducing the world to Johnny Depp. And yet, Tatum and co-star Jonah Hill, under the direction of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, produced what was arguably the funniest film of the year. And judging by the trailer for the cleverly titled sequel, 22 Jump Street, they haven’t missed a step in doing it all over again.
Auteur Darren Aronofsky is known for impeccably shot and dramatically challenging, artistic fare, most of which, despite the ginourmous punch to the gut they usually deliver, are usually of the small-scale variety. So when the Oscar nominated director decides to tackle not only a big budget disaster epic, but one that offers a sure to be controversial retelling of one of the most well known Biblical events, you can be damn sure that people are going to sit up and take notice. Throw in a Viking-looking Russell Crowe as the titular Noah, who is tasked by God with saving his family and all the animals on Earth from a devastating flood, and a superb looking trailer, and you can easily see why this is one to look out for.
Joe Johnston’s first Captain America flick was a decent film, doing a superb job of introducing Chris Evans as the star-spangled Avenger, but then just getting a little CG happy and going (pun not intended) off the rails a bit in the third act. Even after the brilliant turn that Evans had as Cap in The Avengers, the inevitable sequel was just that: inevitable, but nothing more. And then we heard that it was being based on “The Winter Soldier”, one of the very best Captain America comic book story arcs ever written, and all of a sudden there was a buzz. When people started seeing little snippets of incredibly cool action at Comic-Con, that buzz escalated. And then that gobsmacking first trailer hit, and all of a sudden that buzz had become the roar of millions of fanboys all losing their proverbial shit the same time.
It’s Oceans Eleven, but set in WWII. Those seven little words are in fact all the justification necessary to find the George Clooney directed/starring The Monuments Men on this list. The fact that it’s based on one hell of a true story and boasts a killer cast that includes Bill f–king Murray is all just gravy.
Writer/director David Ayer has been doing solid films for years, but with 2012’s End of Watch he turned it all up a notch. Several multiples of notches actually, making it one of the best films of that year, period. Up until now though, Ayer has been content to essentially just tell the various tales of the Los Angeles police force in five different films (hey, if you’re good at something, stick with it, I guess) but now it was time to step way outside of his wheelhouse with Fury, a WWII tank drama that boasts one incredibly talented cast led by the always exciting Brad Pitt. And despite the smells emanating from co-star Shia LaBeouf, this looks like it will be anything but a stinker.
Back when we first started hearing rumblings about the next X-Men film, I posited my dream fanboy scenario of how Fox could use “Days of Future Past”, one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed X-Men stories of all time, to reconcile the divergent timelines between Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class and Bryan Singer’s original X-Men trilogy. It was highly ambitious, fanboy rambling on my part. It also turned out to be true.
Boasting arguably the biggest principal cast ever assembled for a superhero film, this film seems to be the very definition of epic. Add to that the recent rumours that this film will also be introducing massive fan favourite baddie, Apocalypse, to kick off the next chapter in this saga, and you have the ultimate fanboy movie.
If I had drawn up a list like this back in 2011 and included Rise of the Planet of the Apes on there, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to hear myself think over all the laughs of derision. I mean a sorta-reboot, sorta-prequel to an once great sci-fi franchise that had long since lost whatever lustre it once had, directed by a relative nobody and starring goofy James Franco and the kid from Harry Potter who always looks like he just stepped in dog poo? There was no chance in hell that this was going to turn out good, right? Wrong. Oh so wonderfully wrong,
Director Ruper Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes blew the proverbial socks off audiences and their competition – who before its release wasn’t even aware that they had competition – alike, making a killing at the box-office and even picking up an Oscar nomination.
And despite the fact that Wyatt has pulled out, he’s been replaced Cloverfield and Let Me In‘s Matt Reeves, who – judging by the chill inducing recently released trailer – is definitely not slacking off on this franchise’s momentum any time soon.
Godzilla is supposed to be the King of the Monsters. He has a gigantic cult following and a firmly cemented spot in pop culture history. And yet, there’s a whole generation of filmgoers that have no idea what a good Godzilla movie looks like. Director Gareth Edwards is looking to change all that. Washing the taste of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 reboot attempt out of film fans’ mouths, this new movie will be going back to the monster’s roots, making him as fearsome and monstrous as he originally was. So forget that Reese Witherspoone chinned lizard who can apparently play peek-a-boo with attack choppers behind buildings, this looks like the “Gojirra” movies that fans have been waiting for.
I can tell you in one very brief sentence what we actually know about the story for Interstellar – something to do with wormholes in space… and growing corn? And you know what? That’s all you need to know. Because all you have to do is look at the list of names attached to this, realize just the absolutely insane amount of talent that’s been gathered together here, and promptly wet yourself in anticipation for this sci-fi epic: Directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, and starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, John Lithgow and Ellen Burstyn, among others.
Between all of them, there’s so much awards gold that they in danger of having a giant, fire breathing dragon coming to take over the set.
Even with the current box-office domination that Marvel is enjoying, Guardians of the Galaxy is, in my opinion, the biggest thing they’ve ever done, and possibly will do. Now I know some of you might be thinking I’ve gone off my meds again, because how can it be the biggest Marvel movie when we still Avengers: Age of Ultron next year? Quite simply, this could be a game changer. Selling a man in a hi-tech suit, a supersoldier, a thunder god, and even Honey I Shrunk the Kids in spandex to general audiences is not that hard, if you really think about it. Convincing them to see a movie starring a foul mouthed, cigar smoking raccoon, a giant talking tree, that one guy from Parks & Rec, a knife toting green guy, a sword toting green lady, and a haute couture Benicio Del Toro is a whole other matter.
But if they pull this off, if writer/director James Gunn can convince audiences to not only buy into the kooky, crazy, over the top space opera world, one that even exists on the fringes of comic book fandom, then all bets are off for Marvel. By proving that they can make just about anything work, it will give them free reign to make some even ballsier film choices, opening up the floor to a whole assortment of characters that you would never consider to be good movie material.
Plus, Guardians of the Galaxy just looks to be a stupid amount of fun!
Speaking of game changers… When Gareth Evans released The Raid in 2011, he rewrote the landscape of martial arts action movies. Everybody that had written up lists of the best martial arts action movies suddenly had to make some amendments to them, right at the top. Possessing a pace and simplicity that’s as grievously brutal as the jaw dropping, eye popping martial arts action on display, The Raid was just one of those rare films that gets just about everything it does right, blowing your mind and leaving you physically drained from the non-stop barrage of awesomeness.
And for the sequel, Evans promised to somehow surpass even that ludicrously high mark.
But lofty promises are dime a dozen in the movie business, especially when it comes to sequels of acclaimed hits. Except this time, it looks like those promises are actually being met, and maybe even exceeded.
Last Updated: January 16, 2014