Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Summer Movie Preview '14

I’m once again doing a Summer Movie Preview. Summer Movie season is a frustrating magical time of the year where Hollywood churns out its loud big blockbusters. I also tend to spend most of my free time in the movie theater during this season. So last year there were a ton of movies I was super excited for and most of them let me down. I think this has affected me as I now find it hard to get all that enthusiastic about this year’s offerings. That’s kind of sad.

Anyway today we’ll be taking quick looks at movies that have come under my radar that will be hitting theaters this summer (I tend to think of May, not April, as Summer Movie Season). If I missed anything or if there’s a film you’re excited about feel to let me know in the comments.

Click below for more.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
(Release Date: 5/2/14)
What’s Up: A sequel to the Spider-Man film reboot where Spidey faces several new enemies.

Pros: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return as Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy, and both of them were great in the first one. Spider-Man’s costume has been altered to fully look like the comic counterpart, meaning we have the most accurate looking live action version of the character ever made (both in costume and in actor frame). Looks a bit more fun than it’s predecessor.

Cons: I counted at least three villains in the trailers which is worrying because usually when a superhero movie features three villains it’s so bad a film that they have to reboot the series (See: Batman and Robin; Spider-Man 3). I don’t believe that J. Jonah Jameson is in this movie either which means we’ve entered the “nightmare scenario” for Spider-Man movies.

Beta's Interest Level: Moderate. I liked the first one but I haven’t seen anything from the trailers that make me super interested in the sequel. I’m also slightly concerned that director Marc Webb might kill off Gwen Stacy because that’s what people think they’re supposed to do with the character and it’s really killing my anticipation for the film.

(Release Date:5/30/14)
What’s Up: A live action film that is based around one of the coolest villains Walt Disney ever convinced: Maleficent. In what appears to be one part Wicked and one part Alice in Wonderland the film is both a serious, action oriented re-telling of Sleeping Beauty and a humanizing origin tale of its villain.

Pros: The effects look pretty neat. Certain aspects of the story seem intriguing. Maleficent is totally a character modern audiences could use more of (though probably as a villain but whatever).

Cons: It bears some similarities to Snow White and the Huntsman and, while I found enjoyment out of it, I imagine most people will find that annoying. If the live action Alice in Wonder is the blueprint for this film then it may be fruit of a poisoned tree.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. I think the film looks fine but I can see it also being boring and/or stupid depending on execution. I’m prepared to make any predictions in that regard at this point.

(Release Date: 5/16/14)
What’s Up: Sixteen years after the disastrous attempt to make an American version of Godzilla Hollywood is at it again, this time with Gareth Edwards in the director’s chair. Whether or not they truly learned their lesson after all this time is the question of the day.

Pros: Godzilla is an awesome enough property to at least attempt to make a new film. All the images of Godzilla so far look spot on. The trailers imply that the film is horror in nature, not unlike Cloverfield which I enjoyed. Supposedly Godzilla will battle other monsters in the film.

Cons: Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen play a married couple which I just know is going to creep me out when they play twins in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. There’s too many unknowns for me to be excited or otherwise suspicious of this flick. It looks like it might be cool but then again how many people thought the 1998 flick might be cool before being metaphorically being burned alive by the movies crappiness? We’ll find out next month.

Edge of Tomorrow 
(Release Date: 6/3/14)
What’s Up: Groundhog’s Day meets, um, generic science fiction war movie? Also starring Tom Cruise which I assume  will be either the selling point or the deal breaker for this flik depending on who you are.

Pros: Meh, I dunno man.

Cons: The science fiction parts feel familiar but really I’m not really bothered by it.

Beta’s Interest Level: Low. I don’t really seem to care one way or another.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 
(Release Date: 6/13/14)
What’s Up: A sequel to the very popular How to Train Your Dragon from 2010. It seems to take place a few years following the first one.

Pros: It looks good from a CG stand point. In a year where there will NOT be a Pixar film someone needs to fill the gap.

Cons: Aside from the inherent problems that come with being a sequel I can’t really think of any Cons for this one.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. Honestly I wasn’t nearly as into How to Train Your Dragon as most people were so I’m not particularly interested in a sequel. But I will say I’m not sure what more stories could be told in this universe. The first one seemed fairly conclusive to me and it spawned an animated series that would have answered any lingering issues so how exactly are they going to pad this film out?

A Million Ways to Die in the West 
(Release Date: 5/30/14)
What’s Up: Seth MacFarlane’s latest movie and follow-up to his directorial debut Ted. It’s a comedy western that will likely be vulgar and may or may not be hilarious.

Pros: MacFarlane can be genuinely funny so this film should be able to do its job as a comedy. It has plenty of comedy star power in its cast including Sarah Silverman and NPH.

Cons: MacFarlane’s track record of offensive low brow humor and references may be a problem, as it was with Ted.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. I’m pretty interested in seeing how this flick goes but I’m keeping my expectations fairly low so I don’t find myself enraged.

X-Men: Days of Future Past 
(Release Date: 5/23/14)
What’s Up: A sequel to X-Men: First Class. At first it seemed to be something of a crossover between the cast of the original X-Men films and the new cast but judging by the most recent trailers fans of the original trilogy may find themselves disappointed by how little their favorite characters interact with the plot. We’ll see.

Pros: As I’ve said before X-Men: First Class is my favorite X-Men film so it will be cool to see a continuation of it. I did not appreciate Lucas Till when I first saw First Class but I’ve since seen All Superheroes Must Die and I’m pretty jazzed about seeing him in a costume again. Blink, one of my favorite X-Men, is making an appearance in the film which is something I never thought I’d see. Sentinels! Shawn Ashmore and Ellen Page back as Iceman and Kitty Pryde (which is a bit more bittersweet now that Page has come out of the closet and MY HEART HAS NOT YET RECOVERED) so maybe I’ll actually get to see them get more screen time than X-Men: The Last Stand…but probably not.

Cons: The list of characters is ludicrously high which means best case scenario a lot of characters are going to just be scenery with bare minimum characterization (which was exactly the problem with X-Men 3) and worst case scenario it’s a giant clusterf**k. As much as I love Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart their presence feels like it might be distracting from Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy who I thought were supposed to be the future of the franchise. The continuity of the franchise feels broken as this film clearly suggests that First Class was in fact NOT a reboot after all therefore bringing up a ton of plot holes. Wolverine appears to be the center of the plot, meaning that he as starred in every single X-Men movie except for one and that is f**king bullshit. Also no Cyclops…booooo.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. Unfortunately there are a lot of red flags that have popped up over production time and I’m super worried that this movie could end up being X-Men 3 all over again. I still want to see it, obviously, but I do not share the incredible amount of excitement other X-fans have. It will probably look super pretty regardless.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 
(Release Date: 7/11/14)
What’s Up: A sequel to the 2011 reboot of the Planet of the Apes movie franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Whoever came up with the title to this film, thinking there is a difference in thematic connotation between “Dawn” and “Rise”, should probably be fired.

Pros: Rise of the Planet of the Apes was great and I was dying for a sequel from the moment I walked out of the theater. Andy Serkis returns as Caesar, a role that earned him a ton of awards and nominations.

Cons: There’s a new director and the writing team appears to have doubled and both those facts work against the film’s ability to recapture the magic from the first film.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. I think this movie might be the victim of my lousy movie experience from last summer and I now don’t want to raise my hopes only to be disappointed. So yeah, I loved the first one and I’m interested in “Dawn of” but I’ll wait until it comes out before I get too worked up about it.

(Release Date: 8/8/14)
What’s Up: Scarlet Johansson stars in a movie by the director of The Fifth Element about a woman who gets superpowers after being a drug mule. Or something.

Pros: It appears to be an action movie starring a woman.

Cons: I’m not sure I know enough about the film to make that judgment.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. This is technically not the type of movie I’d normally be into BUT we’re living in a world where there are far too few female fronted action films and that appears to be what this is. So if we want more of the same, or even if you want Hollywood to ever make a Black Widow solo film, it would be in our best interest to do whatever we can to make sure this movie does well.

Jupiter Ascending 
(Release Date: 7/18/14)
What’s Up: The latest film from The Wachowskis, the duo behind The Matrix but also the duo behind the terrible Matrix squeals, the underwhelming Speed Racer live-action adaptation, and the overrated, over hyped and flat-out mediocre Cloud Atlas adaptation. I’ve been hearing about this movie for a long time now and I’ve yet to be convinced why I should give a shit.

Pros: If nothing else The Wachowskis are good at world building so likely Jupiter Ascending will have a fascinating lore behind it.

Cons: The film stars Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum and, though I do like Kunis, I’m worried as to whether they can carry a film like this.

Beta’s Interest Level: Moderate. The days where just putting The Wachowskis’ name on things would guarantee quality are long past. Whether this flick will be any good or not will be determined when we see it. I might skip this movie though and save it for next January so I can continue my annual tradition of starting the year with a Mila Kunis movie review.

Guardians of the Galaxy
(Ooga Chaka: 8/1/14)
What’s Up: The newest movie form Marvel Studios, and also the most unlikely of Marvel adaptations. Rather than being purely a superhero in nature the film appears to be at least part space opera.

Pros: Marvel Studios has been on a roll the last few years, not only pumping out hits but also critically acclaimed films, so Guardians of the Galaxy is coming from good stock. The trailer of the film has suggested that the movie may not be taking itself as seriously as other superhero films which will be a nice change.

Cons: I’m not sure I’m sold on Bradley Cooper being cast as Rocket Raccoon. While this isn’t really a Con for me it must be mentioned that as it’s based on a very unknown (pop culture wise) comic, isn’t directly tied to the Avengers movies and is probably more science fiction space film than a superhero movie it might be an uphill battle to attract the attention of the general public.

Beta’s Interest Level: High. I was pretty excited for the film to begin with but the trailer reveal from a short while ago really made me down to see this flick. I don’t know how successful it will be but I will certainly be going to see it.

Transformers: Age of Extinction 
(Release date: 6/26/14)
What’s Up: As proof that there is evil and injustice in this world this a fourth movie in the Bayformers film series. As with the previous three Bayformers movies this one will likely be low on plot and character development and high on frat humor and EXPLOSIONS. And probably it will be terrible.

Pros: It sounds like most, if not all, of the original human cast are gone which is good because at their best they were mostly annoying and a little funny but at their worst they were horribly written distractions from the real stars of the movie.

Cons: Hahahahaha, alright; let’s talk about this. The film comes from terrible stock, some of the worst movies I’ve seen in theaters ever, and so already it has very little going for it. Michael Bay has built a reputation for his action oriented action films that tend to go for spectacle over substance and nothing I’ve seen of this film so far has made me think this will be any different. Though the previous movies were all hits I do not believe that Michael Bay is really the right guy from a creative stand point to handle the Transformers as his Bayformers have been uninteresting supporting characters to their human counterparts rather than the other way around. The casting of a big star like Mark Wahlberg leads me to assume that the focus on the story line will once again be on the human cast as opposed to Optimus Prime and the other Autobots, which was easily the biggest problem with the previous three films.

Beta’s Interest Level: Low. F**k Bayformers. I may check this film out but I will likely attempt to wait as long as possible so that Hollywood can’t actually get my money. Bayformers are terrible but at least Bay has limited himself to only destroying one of my favorite childhood franchises.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
(Release Date: 8/8/14)
Goddamn it!

What’s Up: A reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film franchise produced by The Devil Michael Bay in which every single piece of news and info at every stage of production has been met with a toxic response from the TMNT fanbase.

Pros: Michael Bay will in fact NOT be directing the film. TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird have repeatedly claimed that this film will be good, Eastman even once saying of the script that it was easily the best Turtle film yet.

Cons: Someone (Bay?) decided to cast Megan Fox, the second worst actress in Hollywood, and even in the trailer it seems the ability to convey emotion through facial expression still eludes her. While the character designs of the turtles don’t bother me all that much their faces are downright grotesque and I can’t believe anyone green lit that. The character of The Shredder has been drastically altered as instead of being the Japanese Oroku Saki he is now a very white Eric Sachs (played by William Fichtner) presumably because Hollywood producers have become disgruntled over the tremendous lack of roles for white men in modern entertainment. In 2012 a script (supposedly a "first draft") for this movie leaked and it was pretty much the worst thing ever.

Beta’s Interest Level: I’ll say “Low” because I hate everything I’ve heard about and seen concerning this movie, to the point that I’m forcing myself to avoid ranting about it right this second. However as a potential train wreck of biblical proportions I have to admit I’m kind looking forward to seeing what this flick is like and I’m REALLY interested in reviewing it if it ends up being Dragon Ball Evolution level shitty.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
(Release Date: 8/22/14)
What’s Up: The latest from director Robert Rodriguez this is an extremely overdue sequel to the awesome 2005 Sin City adaptation. It is one half adaptations of Sin City comics by Frank Miller and one half original stories created by Miller just for this film. 

Pros: The original Sin City is one of the best comic book adaptations ever, perfectly translating to look and feel of the comic to the big screen (and clearly influencing Zack Snyder’s 300 and Watchmen) and from the looks of it seems Rodriguez is trying to do it again. Features a fantastic cast with several of my favorite actors including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Ray Liotta, and Christopher Meloni

Cons: Jessica Alba returns but casting Jessica Alba in anything rarely makes it better. Frank Miller is again listed as co-director which means his creative input, beyond the source material he originally wrote, was likely used. Seriously guys, it’s been damn near ten years and I’m not sure anyone cares about Sin City anymore. 

Beta’s Interest Level: High. Despite several misgivings I have about this flick the fact is that Sin City is one of my favorite movies and, as if they were tailoring making this movie just for me, they added Eva Green and JGL to the cast. You might be wondering why I would ever list Frank Miller’s involvement as a Con. Well that’s a long story, worthy of its own blog, but the short version is that Miller’s body of work for the last decade or so has been some of the most offensively terrible stories he’s ever done including The Dark Knight Strikes Again, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, The Spirit (possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen) and Holy Terror. I suppose the major issue is that ever since he wrote Sin City everything he writes sort of feels like Sin City. So, since this is a Sin City movie, that shouldn’t be a problem this time.

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