After analyzing and picking apart the fantastic films of 2013, we must go forth and look ahead to 2014. To be honest, I’m more excited about writing this list next year, as 2015 is going to be the year to end all movies with an absolutely ridiculous slate of films. But 2014 is no slouch either. We’ve got some big sequels and adaptations on the way, but more importantly we get a return from the best director working in Hollywood today, so that alone wets my appetite. We got a lot to cover though, so enough tomfoolery and shenanigans. There’s time travel, giant monsters, biblical epics, a sequel twenty years in the making, and…turtles? Here it is – My Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2014!
Quick Honorable Mentions: A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Exodus, Transcendence
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release Date: April 4th
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Emily VanCamp, Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, Robert Redford
Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo (You, Me and Dupree)
*Sigh* I cannot believe I’m allowing myself to get suckered into the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet again. After enduring the absolute and utter disappointments that were Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, I find myself looking forward to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I’m not crazy about the first film, but liked it a lot. The trailer to this sequel though is hard to ignore, and there are several reasons why this just might be the best Marvel Studios film yet. It finally looks like we are going to get a bad ass villain (The Winter Soldier) in this universe, and Robert Redford coming into the fold is certainly intriguing. And while I’m probably setting myself up for disappointment, this looks like it just might have some substance to it. With a character like Captain America, I can’t imagine they are going to play the “let’s just have fun and make jokes” card. I’m expecting something truly special here, and for this to incorporate what I love most about superhero movies – great character development, and a serious tone. But if they make this thing a comedy, and force scenes that do nothing but set up for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I am done with Marvel. Impress me, Cap…impress me.
9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: July 11th
Starring: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Jason Clarke, Andy Serkis
Director: Matt Reeves (Cloverfield)
When I first saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I went bananas for it (no pun intended). To be perfectly honest though, it hasn’t aged well. Every time I sit down to watch it, I become more and more unimpressed. Maybe it’s James Franco, I don’t know. This sequel has certainly remedied that problem with casting Gary Oldman as the lead human, but that’s really about it. Kerri Russell…eh. And I’m not crazy about Jason Clarke. I’m excited, but for me to really love this movie, I’m going to need more than just Caesar. Although those final seconds in the teaser where he’s just holding his army is pretty fricking awesome.
Release Date: May 16th
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe
Director: Gareth Edwards
I don’t care if it was 16 years ago, there’s still a bad taste in my mouth from the 1998 Roland Emmerich version. I’ve tried gallons of Listerine to wash it out, but it’s still there. It’s amazing what an awesome trailer can do though. So, yeah…wow. It’s Intense. It’s Scary. And you see just enough of Godzilla to get you excited, but not too much. That cast isn’t too shabby either. I never thought I’d be interested in this film in a million years, but here we are.
7. 22 Jump Street
Release Date: June 13th
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
Directors: Phil Lord & Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)
The explanation in the trailer of why it’s no longer 21 Jump Street was all I needed…completely sold on this film. I really liked the original when I saw it in the theater, but after a second viewing, I absolutely loved it. 21 Jump Street really is one of the better comedies I’ve seen in years. After not liking Jonah Hill early in his career, I’m slowly becoming the dude’s biggest fan. Him and Channing Tatum are a hilarious duo, and this trailer gave me more of the same. I guess there’s potential to fall into the Hangover trap, as this looks exactly like the first movie, except in college. Maybe there is, but as long as the great Hill/Tatum chemistry is there, I’m not worried at all. I think we can cut out the Johnny Depp cameo this time around though.
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Release Date: March 7th
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham
Director: Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox)
It’s Wes Anderson. Its got a trademark Wes Anderson cast. The end.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Release Date: August 8th
Starring: Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Whoopi Goldberg, Alan Ritchson, Jeremy Howard, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Danny Woodburn
Director: Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans, Battle Los Angeles)
Okay…a few things here. First of all, this is a 100% total personal bias. By no means do I think this is going to be some unbelievable film that will change the course of cinema. The Ninja Turtles were my childhood though, so anytime there’s a movie about them, I’m going to get excited. The problem is this film is littered with red flags galore. Michael Bay producing…yikes. Megan Fox as April…yikes. Whoopi Goldberg…yikes. Jonathan Liebesman directing (Battle Los Angeles)…yikes. Its been delayed a couple times…yikes. This movie has all the potential to absolutely rip my heart out, and then have a giant robotic Michael Bay take a huge dump on it. But the one positive I’ll say about Michael Bay producing is this – It gives the Turtles franchise a budget they’ve never had before. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even see Krang and the Technodrome, something I’ve been waiting to see in live action literally my whole life. But again…Michael Bay is involved. Am I worried about scenes where Michelangelo farts on a foot soldier and says “Smell ya later, dude.” *Sigh* Yeah…I am. At the end of the day though, I’m going in with huge blinders on and will be expecting the absolute worse. If it sucks, I’ll just go home and watch the classic 1990 original live action film. Also, quick random note. Mickey from Seinfeld (Danny Woodburn) is playing Splinter?! This might be the greatest casting in the history of film, or the worst…I haven’t decided yet.
Release Date: March 28th
Starring: Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler)
Darren Aronofsky is one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. His last two films (Black Swan and The Wrestler) speak for themselves. The cast is obviously stupendous, and the subject matter seems like something Aronofsky can potentially hit out of the park. Normally this would be higher on my list, but the trailer underwhelmed me significantly. As great as Aronofsky is, he still has The Fountain on his resume, and I got a slight Fountain vibe from this trailer. I’m excited. I think it will be great. But I’m a little concerned.
3. Dumb and Dumber To
Release Date: November 14th
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels
Directors: The Farrelly Brothers (The Three Stooges, Stuck on You, There’s Something About Mary)
When the Farrelly Brothers came onto the scene in 1994 with the original Dumb & Dumber, they followed it up with Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. They were on their way towards having one of the most celebrated careers in the Comedy genre. In 2000, they made Me, Myself, and Irene, which was okay. That was their last decent film. Since then, its been a comedy of errors instead of just comedy. To be honest, when these guys lost their touch, the genre itself just hasn’t been the same. In 2014, they return to their roots with Dumber and Dumber To, with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprising their roles as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne respectively. The original Dumb and Dumber is one of the greatest comedies ever made. Could this sequel suck? Absolutely. While it’s not #1 on my list, it’s the film I’m rooting for the most. I desperately want this movie to work. While I have confidence in Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, I’m not sure I do in the Farrelly Brothers.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Release Date: May 23rd
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Ellen Page
Director: Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2, The Usual Suspects)
When I first read about this, I’ve been salivating for it ever since. I absolutely cannot wait for this film. I do want to heed this warning though – if you’re coming into this thinking Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are going to have large roles, you’re going to be disappointed. I think this is more of an X-Men: First Class (2011) sequel then people realize, the only wrinkle being a lot more Hugh Jackman. That doesn’t bother me as I loved First Class. As someone who’s been a big supporter of the X-Men franchise in general, I’m hoping not only is this a great film, but I’m hoping it makes a truck load of money. The one aspect that has me nervous though is Bryan Singer. While he did a remarkable job with the first two X-Men films, the argument can be made his last good movie was in fact X2 all the way back in 2003. I’ll say this though – if he can deliver on this film, I’ll forgive him for Superman Returns…maybe.
Release Date: November 7th
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn
I don’t know what it’s about. I have no clue what to expect. But I do know this…the director is Christopher Nolan, and that should be good enough for everybody. I absolutely cannot wait to see what this mastermind has up his sleeve yet again.
The Worst Movie of 2014 will be…
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Release Date: January 3rd
Starring: Andrew Jacobs
Director: Christopher Landon (Burning Palms)
A normal Paranormal sequel would be bad enough (which is also happening this year), but a spin-off to the franchise!? The horror…the horror. When I watched this trailer, I got visibly ill. I was shaking at how utterly terrible this looks. I would rather watch 20 hours of Tim Tebow coverage on ESPN then this film. But you want to know what the scary part is? It’s right around the corner (January 3rd). As Oscar season winds down, it’s like this film has been festering beneath every movie theater in America…just waiting to erase all the great films I’ve seen in the last two months. It’s coming…it’s coming.