After the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, it became clear that no modern director does epic fantasy quite as well as Peter Jackson. The current Hobbit trilogy, while eclipsed somewhat by Lord of the Rings, is a welcome, more lighthearted return to Middle Earth. The last two films have been thoroughly enjoyable and have set up the third installment for a finish worthy of the source material. This one will undoubtedly be making its way onto everyone’s list for what to look out for this year, but there is a reason for that.
The biblical epic has not really been attempted since Mel Gibson’s repulsively gory but lackluster offering with the Passion of Christ. So a director with the stellar credentials of Darren Aronofsky undertaking the genre is something to at least keep an eye on. Noah’s trailers both give off the visual grandeur appropriate for a global flood and careful intimacy between characters necessary for the human element in this story.
As the trailers proclaim, based on a true story, Monuments Men tells the tale of how a rag-tag platoon in WWII set about rescuing stolen art from Nazi thieves. Starring George Clooney (who is also the director), Matt Damon, and Bill Murray, it possesses all the hallmarks of a grand blockbuster whose trailers show much pomp and pizazz.
2014 seems to be the year of the superhero movie with Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men: Days of Future Past set for release. I am more excited for the latter because we get to see the mutants of the original trilogy and their younger selves in the same film, plus the return of Patrick Stewart as Professor X and Ian McKellen as Magneto is great. Also, my favourite Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage is portraying the villain. It has been described as ‘an anti-hero superhero movie’, so is set to have a darker tone than The Avengers. With an all-star cast, Guardians of the Galaxy is sure to be a box-office hit.
However, the film of 2014 I am looking forward to the most is the adaptation of John Green’s smash hit novel The Fault In Our Stars. Hopefully, the film reflects the greatness of the book and I think John Green will have more fans after its release, as it is a great love story of our generation.
A children’s film never goes amiss. Taking on the evil tyrant Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell), an ordinary LEGO mini-figure (Chris Pratt) must save the universe from being destroyed in The LEGO Movie with the help of Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and… Batman (Will Arnett).
While the trailer and its musical score made me bawl like a new-born babe, I have conflicted feelings towards X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s X-Men but it’s X-Men with time-travel: the potential for copious plot holes is so high.
And finally, Disney’s First Lady of Evil will grace our screens in Maleficent. Played by Angelina Jolie, Maleficent‘s plot is reminiscent of The Wicked Witch of the West’s story, and it will be fascinating to see how this fairytale is tackled differently.
The Grand Budapest Hotel looks like another slice of fried gold from Wes Anderson. Ralph Fiennes headlines as a hotel concierge bequeathed a painting by elderly guest/lover (Tilda Swinton), much to the chagrin of her son (Adrian Brody), resulting in a cat and mouse chase as they attempt to determine the paintings true owner. Also featuring the likes of Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, and Owen Wilson, Anderson has assembled a cast so esoteric it makes the heart swell. Expect a bonkers treat.
Terry Gilliams’s The Zero Theorem, stars Christoph Waltz as a computer analyst working to find the meaning of life. The Orwellian plot sounds pleasingly kooky and, if all else fails, the wonderful Waltz has a habit of winning an Oscar whenever anyone points a camera at him, so we can expect a characteristically top notch performance from him.
Finally, fans of smaller scale indie fare will no doubt find much to love in Zach Braff’s sophomore effort, Wish I Was Here, the “spiritual follow-up” to his charming 2004 debut Garden State. With Braff starring as an actor, father and husband struggling to find the purpose of life as he approaches his forties, perennial indie darling Kate Hudson as his wife and Scrubs alumni Donald Faison, this looks like it’ll be a funny, sweet and a tiny bit life-affirming.
Film in 2014 means two things to me: Mocking Jay and Maleficent. After the roaring success of The Hunger Games last year, and Jennifer Lawrence’s bright rising star, there’s little reason to doubt that the first part of the darkest installment in The Hunger Games trilogy will become the best.
Maleficent has long been in the making as a successful live-action fairytale adaptation for Disney. It reflects the fact that its original inspiration, Sleeping Beauty didn’t so much showcase Princess Aurora’s talents as show how they paled in comparison to the wicked sorceress Maleficent, who must rank as one of the Disney villain greats. Angelina Jolie’s casting should give the film its necessary A-list punch at the box-office, but as Disney’s most high-profile film of 2014 expectations will be high. Fortunately, the writing pedigree of Linda Woolverton and Paul Dini, responsible for co-writing The Lion King among others, gives me little cause for concern about Maleficent matching the dizzying heights of last year’s Frozen.
In Dumb and Dumber To we will finally be reunited with the idiotic albeit charming aspects of the first film that made us love it so much. And for those of you who actually like the Paranormal Activity franchise, you’ll be delighted to hear that a spin-off is to be released in late 2014, something that is sure to re-open the floodgates of mildly successful paranormal horror films.
As well as sequels, there are selection of new movies to look forward to. I don’t believe I am friends with anybody who has not yet heard of the spectacle that is to be The LEGO Movie. The movie features everything we’ve always loved about Lego, be it the plastic bricks (though not standing on them barefooted), the mini figures or the possibility to create a whole world made of plastic in your parents’ living room – not to mention superheroes and oodles of comedy.
Something a little more cutthroat is 12 Years a Slave which, with a killer cast of Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, is certain to guarantee class acting in a classic historical environment.
The How to Train Your Dragon franchise has been slowly building since the release of the first film in 2010, with a TV series and several short films being made in the past few years. However, nothing has come close to capturing the brilliance of the original. Regardless, the makers have not been afraid to play around with various styles and genres throughout the franchise. Hopefully this level of creativity will also be present with the release of the second feature-length film, How to Train Your Dragon 2 in July.
The first Sin City managed to look and feel original in an industry saturated with graphic novel adaptations. The second film looks set to be equally as exciting, with writer and co-director Frank Miller writing two stories exclusively for the film, meaning even fans who have read his graphic novels will have something new to be excited about. The continuation of Jessica Alba’s story from the first film should also give the feel of a sequel to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, even though I suspect it will be able to see it as a stand-alone film.
Those with a passion for nostalgia might enjoy the upcoming remake of 80s classic Robocop. The original rightly gained cult status with its mix of political satire, ultra violence and futuristic retro cheese. Though usually remakes of this sort bring nothing but disappointment, the signing on of the up and coming Jose Padilha, may be able bring us a new take on the classic tale.
Those seeking something different may be interested in the independent Irish movie Cavalry. It’s a black comedy involving a priest caught up in unsavoury dealings. Should it have the same combination of quality screenwriting and fine acting his previous work had, it should be one to look forward too.
Darren Aronofsky’s new film, Noah is a high budget attempt at bringing back the long dormant genre of the biblical epic. Ridiculously ambitious in its scope, you could be forgiven for expecting an expensive and epic failure. Aronofsky’s track record however, is impeccable, as is the on-screen pedigree of its cast, which includes Russell Crowe, Emma Watson and Antony Hopkins, to name a few.