2014: A look ahead at movies
The successive slapping about you’ve been hearing is actually the sound of new films flopping week after week at the box office (“Devil’s Due,” “I, Frankenstein,” “The Legend of Hercules”). Instead, viewers are lining up to catch up on the Oscar-nominated flicks in time for Academy Awards in March.
It’s a perfect time to look ahead to the new year in film. It’s a year of hobbits, robocops, muppets, nymphomaniacs, and World War II treasure-seekers. So, in the spirit of that film, in this bleak time, it’s fitting to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt: “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”
The Monuments Men: Based on a true story, this George Clooney-directed period thriller sends a group of treasure hunters into Germany to rescue stolen artwork. The film stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett.
Vampire Academy: Hopefully more like Hogwarts with a bit more bite than “Twilight High,” “Vampire Academy” focuses on the struggles of a group of teens caught between two battling blood-sucking clans. Based on a series of young adult novels.
RoboCop: A long-delayed reboot which hopes to shine up the cyborg cop, who became an icon in the ‘80s before suffering the indignity of successive sequels and made-for-TV flicks. Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson tag along for the ride this time.
About Last Night and Endless Love: This Valentine’s Day, it’s a double dose of love, ‘80s style, with remakes of the romantic flicks of the era. In “Last Night,” David Mamet’s play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” is recast with Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall and Joy Bryant as the bed-hopping buds. And “Love” remakes the Brooke Shields camp classic of young lust with the dreamy Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde. Sadly, no Lionel Ritchie on the soundtrack.
Winter's Tale: Romance is still in the air with Colin Farrell as a mysterious burglar who decided to enter the home of a young heiress who subsequently dies in his arms before he realizes he has the gift to bring her back. The film marks the feature film debut of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind,” “The DaVinci Code,” “I am Legend”).
3 Days to Kill: Kevin Costner attempt to “Liam Neeson” his career as a secret service agent with a limited lifespan who’s given a potentially life-saving drug in exchange for one final assignment and the chance to reconnect with his estranged daughter (played by Hailee Steinfeld).
Pompeii: Love erupts in the time of Mt. Vesuvius, as a young slave attempts to save his beloved amidst the chaos. Paul W.S. Anderson (“Resident Evil,” “Alien vs. Predator” directs).
The Bag Man: Let’s face it, both John Cusack and Robert De Niro are far from their glory days, but this seedy little noir thriller looks like it could play to both their strengths. Cusack stars as a small-time thief hired by De Niro to retrieve a mysterious bundle from a sleazy motel.
Non-Stop: Liam Neeson returns to reclaim his crown as King of the Winter Action Movie (“Taken,” “Taken 2,” “Unknown,” “The Gray”), starring as an air marshal whose plane is under siege by terrorists hoping for a large chunk of cash.
300: Rise of an Empire: The sequel of greased-up, glistening gladiators gets a hearty shot of estrogen as Lena Heady stars as Queen Gorgo, who, along with General Themistokles, goes into battle against RuPaul...er, I mean Xerxes.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Another all-star Wes Anderson outing, combining his old standbys (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman) with some new faces (Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law) in a very Wes-Anderson-looking hotel.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Everyone’s favorite time-traveling pooch and his young buddy venture to another dimension - the third one, as the former show gets the big-screen treatment. Hopes that this will not be a Smurf-like transition are heightened by the fact that it is directed by Rob Minkoff, responsible for “The Lion King” and “Stuart Little.”
Bad Words: Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut in a film that finally gives the talented comic star the chance to get his hands dirty as a petulant man who returns to the competitive world of middle school spelling bees to reclaim his lost glory.
Need for Speed: Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul stars as a street racer who joins a cross-country race to right some wrongs that led him to prison. Think of it as “Breaking Cannonball Run.”
Veronica Mars: After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the beloved, prematurely pulled TV show gets a second life on the big screen, with Kristen Bell returning as the now-adult detective who returns to her hometown for a reunion and solves another mystery.
Divergent: In an attempt to siphon off some of the fans of “The Hunger Games” before the final chapter is released later this year, this young adult futuristic romance finds its citizenry separated not by class, but by character traits. All the youngsters are pitted against one another in a death match.
Muppets Most Wanted: Ricky Gervais, whose blink-and-you-missed-it cameo in “The Muppets,” is now given the lead role with his felt friends as they tour Europe and find themselves caught up in a jewel heist. Salma Hayek, Tina Fey, Christoph Waltz, and Stanley Tucci all come along for the ride.
Nymphomaniac: Part One: Director Lars Von Trier's much-buzzed-about, two-part drama focuses on a woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who recounts her past adventures to the man who saved her from a savage beating. The Sundance hit has been quite the curiosity since it released a number of posters of its cast members all making their best “O” face. Part 2 to be released April 4.
Noah: Visionary director Darren Aronofsky decided to tell the fable of an ark-building boater (Russell Crowe) and his quest to cram the world’s population of animals into what must be the smelliest ship since that cruise ship last year that went days without any plumbing.
Sabotage: Arnold Schwarzenegger still tries to remain relevant as the head of an elite DEA task force whose members are being taken out one by one by a mysterious drug cartel. David Ayer (“End of Watch,” “Street Kings”) directs.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The Avengers juggernaut hooks up another car to its endless money train, this time thrusting Cap into the modern world to stop a Russian baddie known as the Winter Soldier.
Draft Day: Ivan Reitman enters his fifth decade of directing with Kevin Costner in the lead as the Cleveland Browns’ GM comically struggling to get his first-round pick.
Oculus: A woman (Katee Sackhoff) tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a ghost. If you’re a fan of the supernatural, scary mirrors, creepy children reciting poetry, consider your month made.
Rio 2: Blu, Jewel and their fledglings fly off to the Amazon. The city-bred Blu tries to fit in and impress his wild father-in-law. Kind of like “Meet the Fockers” with feathers.
Transcendence: Marking the directorial debut of a longtime Christopher Nolan cameraman, “Transcendence” looks like a variation of “The Lawnmower Man,” as Johnny Depp plays a terminally ill scientist who places his brains inside a computer, giving him power beyond his wildest dreams.
Bears: Disney Nature takes a look at the life of Alaskan bears.
Earth to Echo: A group of young friends investigates a series of bizarre text messages they receive after a construction project begins in their neighborhood. Fans of the superhero flick “Chronicle” may find this to be vaguely similar.
The Other Woman: Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton and Leslie Bibb play a trio of unlikely allies who gang up on a philandering fool who somehow manages to sneak time in for all of them in this revenge-porn comedy by Nick Cassavetes.
Walk of Shame: Elizabeth Banks is a reporter whose life-changing interview could be compromised after the titular tryst leaves her stranded across town without a phone, ID, money or a ride.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Not a sequel to the sequel, but the extension of the remake of the comic. Got that? Do you really even care? You are told that you must see this regardless of what it’s about or you may upset the cosmic cinematic universe. You wouldn’t want that hanging over you, now would you?.
Chef: A chef (Jon Favreau) loses his restaurant job and starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his former passion, all the while piecing back together his estranged family. Favreau directs with a bunch of his buddies stopping by, like Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. (must...resist...Iron Chef joke).
Neighbors: Kelly and Mac (Rose Byrne and Seth Rogan) are a young couple settling down in a peaceful neighborhood whose world is turned upside down when a fraternity straight out of “Animal House” moves in next door. Also stars Zac Efron as the frat president and chief troublemaker.
Godzilla: In this, his 60th year of life, the city-stomping beast is once again resurrected on America’s shores, but judging from the trailer, he’s grown quite a bit from previous incarnations, and there is no sign of Godzookie in tow.
Million Dollar Arm: Jon Hamm plays a sports agent who heads overseas to lure some ace cricket players into MLB.
Blended: Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore head to Africa. As if the nation does not have it hard enough.
X-Men: Days of Future Past: The young mutants return and send Wolverine on a mission back in time in order to alter the future because, well, that always seems to work out for the best.
A Million Ways to Die in the West: Seth MacFarlane attempt to recreate the magic of “Ted” in this western comedy starring Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson and Neil Patrick Harris.
Maleficent: Angelina Jolie takes on one of the most notable Disney villainesses in this live-action adaptation of the “Sleeping Beauty” legend.
Edge of Tomorrow: A soldier in the future (Tom Cruise) fighting in a war with aliens finds himself caught in a time loop. Emily Blunt also stars in this “Groundhog Day with Guns” sci-fi flick.
22 Jump Street: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reteam to take their highly amusing buddy-cop formula to college. Most of the original cast returns.
How to Train Your Dragon 2: Hiccup and Toothless venture to a new part of the world in which wild dragons abound, but also unleash a new danger to their world.
Jersey Boys: Clint Eastwood directs the long-running, award-winning Broadway musical about a group of buddies who became the musical phenomenon known as The Four Seasons.
Transformers: Age of Extinction: Mark Wahlberg steps in a pile of Shia (LaBeouf) as a mechanic who tinkers with the wrong piece of equipment and ultimately stirs the Decepticons in this fourth installment of the Michael Bay series.
Deliver Us From Evil: More exorcism madness this year, this time with Eric Bana playing a cop who teams up with an unconventional priest to battle demons in the Big Apple.
Tammy: After having a crappy day (she lost her job and found out that her husband has been cheating), Tammy (played by Melissa McCarthy) roadtrips it with her cussin’ and boozin’ grandma.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Caesar the chimp still has a chip on his hairy shoulder and he rallies even more troops to battle humanity. Directed by Matt Reeves (“Let Me In,” “Cloverfield”).
Jupiter Ascending: The Wachowskis (“The Matrix,” “Cloud Atlas”) explore the outer boundaries of the universe with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. Mila plays a young woman targeted by the Queen of the Universe.
Sex Tape: A married couple (Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz) discover that their filmed fun has gone missing, and they set out to retrieve it at any cost.
Get On Up: James Brown gets the biopic treatment with Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in “42”) playing the Godfather of Soul.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Chris Pratt stars as a star pilot who teams up with a raccoon in this latest Marvel franchise factory. This will be a riskier move, as it is not is the immediate Marvel empire (hence the August release date).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Aliens invade Earth and leave behind a quartet of mutated warriors, who rise up against them to defend the world in this third cinematic reboot of the franchise. Starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett and William Fichtner as Shredder.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: Almost 10 years later, the bold original director Robert Rodriguez brings back most of the old gang for a set of tales in the hard-boiled noir world.
This Is Where I Leave You: The best-selling book of family dysfunction as they are forced to sit shiva for an entire week together after the patriarch’s death. Jason Bateman, Timothy Olyphant, and Rose Byrne star.
The Drop: Noomi Rapace and Tom Hardy star in this crime thriller that focuses on a lost dog, a scam artist and a killing.
The Boxtrolls: Based on the best-selling children’s novel “Here Be Monsters,” “Boxtrolls” follows a young orphaned boy raised by subterranean trash collectors who tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. Featuring the voices of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Ben Kingsley.
The Equalizer: Denzel Washington takes on the Russian mafia in this cinematic remake of the popular 80s-era series starring Edward Woodward.
The Interview: James Franco and Seth Rogan star as a radio host and producer who score an interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. Then, the CIA steps in and asks them to kill him.
The Judge: Robert Downey Jr. is a lawyer who comes home for his mom’s funeral only to discover his judge father is suspected of murder.
Paranormal Activity 5: What may be the last of the dying found-footage franchise.
Interstellar: Director Christopher Nolan returns to mess with our minds. “Interstellar” follows a group of explorers who discover a wormhole that could change space travel altogether. Stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck .
Dumb and Dumber To: Harry and Lloyd are back together after 20 years and attempt to rejuvenate the careers of all involved.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1: Katniss Everdeen adjusts to her new role as leader of a revolution in this first chapter of the last part of the trilogy.
Exodus: Ridley Scott gets his Bible on with this account of Moses' hand in leading the Israelite slaves out of Egypt. Christian Bale stars.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again: It feels like an apt title for the never-ending trilogy. Once can only hope that those little hobbits ultimately find what they seek in this conclusion to the trilogy.
Annie: Academy Award nominees Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx star as the little orphan and the big-money businessman who rescues her from poverty and the evil clutches of Miss Hannigan.
Night at the Museum 3: Details are still sketchy, but it looks as though the film may take place in a British museum this go-round, as Ben Kingsley is slated to play an Egyptian pharaoh on display who comes to life in the UK.
Into the Woods: Meryl Streep stars as a wicked witch who summons all the creatures of popular Grimm fairy tales in this musical that costars Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt and Chris Pine.