On this year’s calendar, June 21st marks the start of summer. But those of us with our heads on right live our lives from Friday to Friday, not just by little numbers and boxes on pieces of paper. This Friday sees the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a summer blockbuster of the most straightforward order. As such, Summer 2014 starts NOW. What follows is a detailed list of almost every movie that looks worth seeing in this most loathsome of seasons.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Let’s be real, you know all about this movie. Another Spidey flick with marked potential - a stellar cast, a director who excels at character moments, and superpowers worthy of the biggest screen - which will allegedly do whatever 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man did for you. Stay seated through the end credits if you want to see a clip from [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942).
This one is interesting for a few reasons. At first glance, it doesn’t hold much promise: it’s directed and co-written by John Slattery (actor of Mad Men fame), who has neither directed nor written any features before, and its metascore currently sits at 28/100. However, the film could be carried by its reputably entertaining stars. Christina Hendricks and Philip Seymour Hoffman lead a cast supported by John Turturro, Richard Jenkins, and Eddie Marsan. Notably, God’s Pocket contains the second-to-last complete performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman (his last fully-filmed project is July’s A Most Wanted Man).
THAT is how you tease a summer blockbuster. Director Gareth Edwards’ low-budget monster movie... inventively titled Monsters... was generally well received. It looks like we’re in for a treat with Edwards’ not-so-low-budget take on one of the most classic of movie monsters.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Bryan Singer is steering the X-Men ship once again, and for that I am thankful. First Class was entertaining for a while, but Singer’s first two X-Men movies stand head and shoulders above every other entry in the franchise. The sheer number of characters involved worries me just a little though.
That’s it. That is all it should take to convince one they need to watch [Maleficent](movie:39352) someday. A rental, at the very least. Angelina Jolie as Maleficent is just about as spot-on as casting can get.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Seth MacFarlane’s follow up to Ted. It’s more of the same from Mr. Family Guy. A Million Ways is comedy ‘western’ that was written by, directed by, and stars MacFarlane, which makes it pretty easy for moviegoers to decide whether or not they’ll see this one.
Edge of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise stars in this Groundhog Day sci-fi epic from Doug Liman, the director of The Bourne Identity (woo!) and Jumper (bleh). Edge of Tomorrow reminds me a lot of Oblivion: there’s an abundance of potential, in this case thanks to Emily Blunt and a pretty good trailer, but the sight of Tom Cruise takes me right out of any movie (Tropic Thunder being the exception there).
The Fault in Our Stars
This year’s second adaptation of a Young Adult novel starring Shailene Woodley. While Divergent targeted the too-massive Hunger Games fanbase, TFiOS has more in common with the likes of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Woodley’s Hazel Grace is quick-witted youth who finds love and life in fellow cancer-support-group-goer Gus. The book is a well-told tale, and if director Josh Boone has done his job, there is a great chance you will cry more than you did while watching Toy Story 3. Didn't cry watching Toy Story 3? Neither did I, let's be friends.
22 Jump Street
From what I’ve heard (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and seen (The Lego Movie), Chris Miller and Phil Lord are the surest bet for good fun at the theater these days. All of the key players from 21 Jump Street are back, along with a couple additional screenwriters, so you can probably expect more of the same.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
After four long years, the wait is finally over... the World Cup kicks off this week! More importantly (I love soccer like little else in this world, so use that to put my excitement for [How to Train Your Dragon 2](movie:44736) in perspective), June 13th marks the big screen return of Hiccup and Toothless. Thankfully, writer/director Dean DeBlois, composer John Powell, and the stellar cast have all stuck around for the sequel (Chris Sanders worked alongside DeBlois on the first Dragon, but he left to develop The Croods). I’m incredibly excited to see what challenges are taken on in this sequel and beyond. How many family features handle topics like Hiccup's loss of limb in the first film and go on to age their main characters this drastically? Something special is happening over at Dreamworks, and I can’t wait to continue the ride.
A biopic about The Four Seasons (a ‘60s rock group) from Clint Eastwood. It has Christopher Walken, and I don’t think that’s ever a bad thing.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
The fourth Transformers flick directed by Michael Bay, and the start of a new trilogy. Will Bay direct the following two? Do people care? Personally, I liked the Age of Extinction trailer well enough. I’ve got little reason to believe the full feature will be exceptionally different from its predecessors though. However, the new cast, which includes Marky Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci (Easy A, The Hunger Games), and T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley, Cloverfield), is a step in the right direction.
Earth to Echo
Super 8 x Chronicle = ? A group of kids follow a digital treasure map and find an alien at the spot marked by x. Kids aren’t allowed to have aliens though, so angry adults and adventure follow. Earth to Echo is a found footage film led by young ones - will the movie find a large enough audience not bothered by those aspects?
Deliver Us from Evil
On one hand, it has Eric Bana. On the other... Olivia Munn and Joel McHale? Eric Bana’s New York police officer tackles a series of demonic possession-related crimes in this horror thriller based on real-life cases. The director (Scott Derrickson, Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose) likened Deliver Us from Evil to the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail; that comment alone just about warrants the cost of a movie ticket.
The trailer for this one reminds me of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which I loved. Another good sign is that Begin Again is written and directed by the guy who made the well-regarded music drama Once. The cast is one of my favorites compiled for any film this summer: Keira Knightley (again, Seeking a Friend), Mark Ruffalo (aka the Hulk), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game), Catherine Keener (The Soloist), James Corden (Stormageddon’s dad in Doctor Who), and Mos Def.
“The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.” (source) Richard Linklater (the Before Sunrise series) filmed Boyhood over the course of twelve years for the sake of using the same actors, aging as living things do, to portray a parent-child relationship from grade school to college. In a word? Ambitious. This is one of those movies whose trailers I don’t watch because I’m already sold on the project.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes turned out better than I think most people expected it to. This time around, Dawn just might exceed expectations again, despite the bar now being set pretty high. The same writers are back (with a third), the cast sees a slight improvement in stars Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Gary Oldman, and Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) has taken over behind the camera. Plus, Andy Serkis is still commanding the screen as Caesar... I could do with revisiting the Planet of the Apes world a few more times in the future.
From the director of Bad Teacher and Orange County, starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Lowe, Jack Black, and Rob Corddry. It’s a comedy. Apparently. Segel and Diaz accidently sync their sex tape to their friends’ and family’s devices thanks to the Cloud, and so race to destroy every bit of tech they can get their hands on.
Planes: Fire & Rescue
The sequel to a major motion picture that was originally meant to be merely a direct-to-DVD spin-off of two movies that not many people seem to like. Take whatever expectations you’d like out of that, if it even made any sense.
Wish I Was Here
Ten years after helming the wonderful Garden State, Zach Braff has returned to the director’s chair. The film stars Braff as a 30-something father who learns things about himself as he takes a more direct approach in teaching his two kids about life. If nothing else, it will probably have an enjoyable soundtrack.
Poor title, but excellent promise. Via Peter Sciretta at Slashfilm:
I Origins, a haunting film that explores the idea of a supreme maker, the afterlife and the concept of souls through the eye of a science-grounded skeptic [Michael Pitt].... [It] is an intellectually stimulating film, but also a very accessible one. This is the kind of movie that will leave you in profound conversation well after leaving the theater. It is brilliant beyond your expectations.
Interested? Then do yourself a favor and don’t watch any trailers. Oops.
The Wachowskis do sci-fi again. The life of an average Jane (Mila Kunis) is flipped on its head when “a genetically engineered ex-military hunter” (Channing Tatum) tells her she’s galactic royalty. Another ambitious, expansive effort from the Wachowski siblings. Sean Bean is in Jupiter Ascending; his character probably dies.
Earlier this year, Renny Harlin and Kellan Lutz told The Legend of Hercules... with little success. Are Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson a more well-suited pair? Probably. Hercules might be a good bit of mindless fun.
Guardians of the Galaxy
It’s Marvel, a violent raccoon, a walking talking tree, and Chris Pratt. Sounds like a crowd pleaser of the highest order. The studio hasn’t swung and missed yet, and it’s coming off what may have been its most critically successful entry thus far, so momentum is in Guardians’ favor. Director James Gunn’s previous work includes 2006’s Slither and 2010’s Super.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The TMNT by way of the Michael Bay machine. I’m nervous for and lack overall faith in the project, but maybe some awesome ninja turtle action will be redeeming enough. Megan Fox, Will Arnett (Arrested Development), and William Fichtner (Elysium, Prison Break) star alongside the pizza-lovin’ dudes.
Into the Storm
Ever wonder what it would look like if Twister was produced in this age of handheld cameras and excessive CGI? Into the Storm presents an answer. Twister is a nostalgic favorite of mine, so Into the Storm is most definitely on my radar. Richard Armitage (The Hobbit) and Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead, Prison Break) star next to a group of high school students who are documenting an outbreak of tornadoes.
Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional) aims to deliver a respectable action vehicle for leading-lady Scarlett Johansson. While moving product for drug cartels, Lucy’s body ingests some of the illegal stuff and develops superpowers. Morgan Freeman also features.
The Expendables 3
These sequels don’t need descriptions, do they? This franchise's third entry has fallen into the relatively inexperienced hands of director Patrick Hughes (Red Hill). Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer, Kellan Lutz, and Ronda Rousey join the ensemble cast.
Jeff Bridges’ passion project finally arrives. Based on a novel that predates the current dystopian Young Adult franchise obsession by almost twenty years, The Giver tells the tale of a teenager who learns of love and loss through memories transmitted to him by an elder they call... the Giver. As author Lois Lowry wrote it, the Giver and his community live in a world without emotion or color. Jonas, the teen who was selected to receive the community’s memories, faces tough choices once he gets a taste of what his society has deprived him and his peers of.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Looking past the music selected for that trailer, it appears as if the Sin City sequel many of us have been clamoring for for years has finally arrived. Is it too late to reel in whatever fans the first film made? Counting myself as one of them, I’d say no. A Dame to Kill For looks like a grand ol’ time, and I can’t wait to feast my eyes on it.
If I Stay
Chloë Grace Moretz looks to remind everyone that she’s one of the most talented and entertaining actors of her age. If you like movies that make you cry, remember this flick about a newly-orphaned teenager who wakes up in a coma and gets to choose whether to rejoin her family in death or wake up from that coma to be with a boy (and go to Juilliard, but... a boy).
The director, Kevin Greutert, is following up his efforts on Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter with this horror flick about a woman (Sarah Snook) returning to her childhood home, where she is more or less held captive by a spirit who is going through some things right now. Written by Reno 911! and Night at the Museum’s Robert Ben Garant.
To September and Beyond!
No Good Deed (9/12), a thriller starring Idris Elba; no more need be said. The Maze Runner (9/19), an adaptation of yet another popular Young Adult series. The Drop (9/19), Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and James Gandolfini in a crime drama written by the author of Gone Baby Gone? That speaks to me. The Boxtrolls (9/26), from the studio that brought you ParaNorman; again, that’s all one needs to know. Gone Girl (10/3), another drama/thriller from David Fincher, a master of the genre; the trailer is great, but the teaser poster is peerless.