Looking Ahead to Summer Movies coming in 2014

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It’s largely been a summer season of atrocious movies and I think most of us are glad that autumn has set in and winter is rapidly approaching. However, with remakes and sequels dominating the marketplace in 2014, things aren’t looking any brighter, in fact, their looking as bleak as an ancient conduit.

The ‘tent-pole’ flop of the summer award goes to The Lone Ranger, which only grossed a domestic of $88 million and cost Disney $200 million plus to make. Jerry Bruckheimer has now split from Disney, it’s a sad affair and no doubt The Lone Ranger contributed to his final parting. They made 22 films together! However, trifling domestic victories were claimed by Iron Man 3, Man of Steel and Fast & Furious 6 – not that these successors were actually any good. 2012 was, domestically, the biggest box-office year in movie history, and in all fairness, 2013 somehow wasn’t far from it. As always with the movie industry, it appears to be the best of times and the worst of times.

Plans appeared well laid out for 2013, it was looking well balanced, but by July and August the wreckage had piled too high. This includes the White House blowing up yet again in White House Down, which unsurprisingly grossed $30 million less than Olympus Has Fallen with $100 million. The White House mirrors the destruction of San Francisco (Star Trek), New York (Man of Steel) and World War Z and Pacific Rim; chaos is everywhere. How many times can one watch CGI festering movies before they all just blend together in a heap of decaying junk?

Unfortunately, this explosive recurrence of ample CGI isn’t going away anytime soon. IMDB’s managing editor, Keith Simanton, sums the problem up effectively: “once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world.”

So, is 2014 looking any better in terms of less CGI destruction, sequels, space trips, superheroes and foolishness? Absolutely not, but there are a couple of tasty looking biopics and spec scripts in the mix – though they will probably get drowned out and suffocate in the pile-up.

To be honest, “Nobody knows anything,” wrote screenwriter William Goldman in what could just be the truest thing ever written about Hollywood. So, take my following scrutiny lightly and get rid of any sentiment – stuffs always changing.

Here are my personal prospects for the main studio’s summer movies (with May to August release dates):

Sequels:

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Marc Webb is persistent in bringing us this sequel from the rebooted sequel The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s not only getting confusing, but Peter Parker must be getting tired. I am.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return ­– Is it trying to be a remake of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or just another deficient sequel? I’m not sure, but Oz the Great and Powerful was terribly cloudy, though I did appreciate the affirmative allusions to the master Georges Melies. With no-one singular behind the film for me to get excited, I’m just not getting excited at all.

22 Jump Street – The first one was extremely funny and with the same crew behind the sequel, I’m confident I’ll come out having had a good laugh.

How to Train your Dragon 2 – Other than a collection of nice voices, I’m not certain what this one has in store for me. I might go, but I probably won’t (there’s nearly always something better you can watch these days).

Think Like a Man Too – How clever, a sequel to Think Like a Man, but with ‘too’ instead of ‘two’. Either way, I can’t imagine this film will be worth anyone’s time.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction – Stop torturing society Michael Bay!  

X-Men: Days of Future Past – It’s a fight for survival across two time periods, the characters must change the past to change their future. It sounds fanatical for Marvel geeks. Bryan Singer will direct again, and credit to him for doing a really good job with these movies. I’m just not taken.

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Fast & Furious 7 – James Wan will never stop. I am a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise however, and will no doubt be racing to see this one.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Will undoubtedly be packed with more CGI destruction and risk of the Earth at stake than in Rupert Wyatt’s prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which actually had a moderately touching storyline.  Lets hope director Matt Reeves doesn’t try his Cloverfield tricks on this one.

Planes: Fire and Rescue – A DisneyToon sequel to Planes. I’m sure it will be fun for the kids – that’s all.

The Expendables 3 – I enjoyed the first, the second was a shame – the third can only be dreadful. However, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Wesley Snipes will all be making appearances – Stallone really does love to dumb the status of our ancestor heroes. I will be dragged to the big screen once more no doubt, intrigued by the notion of what last stand the ‘big boys’ have in store.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – A sequel to Sin City, based on the graphic novels. Robert Rodruguez and Frank Miller co-direct. I simply can’t wait! Sin City was incredible – yes it will be hard to top aesthetically, but who cares? In this case, I’d happily have more of the same. I’m a fan.

Prequels:

Maleficent – A fantasy thriller with Angelina Jolie will either make me gawp or snicker the whole way through. It’s interesting to see Robert Stromberg take his hand at directing after being craftsmen of the century (production designer) on films such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. I’m hoping for something fresh and prosperous, but I can’t help get the feeling it’s another route down The Lone Ranger road for Disney.  

Remakes:

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Godzilla – It’s a reboot of the Japanese film franchise and a further remake of the 1998 film of the same name. We know what to expect, a heightened experience from the first: more destruction, more at stake, a more spectacular monster etc. I can’t help myself wanting to go see it though.

The Loft – It’s the remake where Hollywood ruins European cinema once more. However, Erik Van Looy, the original Belgian director of the Belgian horror film, will be directing it. But, there are numerous disastrous remakes of European and Asian movies by Hollywood; not to mention Michael Hanake regurgitating Funny Games shot by shot back in 2007. Just embrace the subtitles Western audiences!

Adaptations:

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Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise stars in another 3D sci-fi film, as if the debris of Oblivion wasn’t enough. It’s an adaptation from the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – it could be unique but more likely it will be an extravagance of messy proportions. However, with Doug Liman behind it my hopes are higher than they should be for a 3D sci-fi blockbuster.

Hercules: The Thracian Wars – Of course Dwayne Johnson is playing Hercules in Brett Ratner’s adaptation of the graphic novel with the same name. It will be interesting to see how the visual effects and production design is pulled off in what could be a really enthralling film, or one of disastrous magnitudes.

50 Shades of Grey ­– The one everyone’s been talking about – how much sex will they show? I have to say, I loathed the book, but I am intrigued to see how they handle the film. There has been lots of controversy about Charlie Hunnam playing Mr. Grey. I think all the girls are gabbling that he’s not handsome enough to play Grey – poor Charlie.

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Guardians of the Galaxy – yet another Marvel comic superhero film produced by Marvel Studios. It is the tenth installment in the Marvel cinematic franchise and I can’t say that I’ve seen many – The Incredible Hulk was enough Marvel prescription for me.

The Hundred-Foot Journey – The novel by Richard C. Morais tells the story of two restaurant rivals based in France. It sounds interesting and with Lasse Hallstrom and Steven Spielberg behind the wheel, I’m certainly expecting something noble.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – a reboot of the film series that most of us remember watching as a kid. However, I don’t remember particularly enjoying it. My confidence is also diminished by the fact that Michael Bay is producing the film under his production company Platinum Dunes – the company that was to initially specialize in horror films!

Biopics:

Million Dollar Arm – A biopic of the two famous Indian baseball players, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who were discovered by the New York sports agent J.B Bernstein after winning a reality sports show. Moneyball, in 2011, was the last great inspiring sports (baseball) biopic I remember seeing – it will be tough to top!

Belle – A British period piece based upon the historical character Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed race daughter of the African slave and British naval officer. Dido meets the young lawyer John Davinier and catapults into a path of self-discovery and love. Set in 18th century Bristol Docks and shot entirely on location around Oxford, London and the Isle of Man, this may just be the British gem of the year. The film was also shot using Sony’s F65 SinyAlta camera in 4K!

Spec scripts (i.e. fresh, potentially original movies):

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A Million Ways to Die in the West Ted was brilliant so expectations are incredibly high for Seth MacFarlane’s new Western comedy. He is starring alongside Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson – waaa! It could be epic, it could be trash. Nevertheless this film is peaking on my shattered excitement chart for summer 2014.

Chef – Jon Favreau is starring, writing, directing and producing this comedy about a chef who loses his job and starts up a food truck. Blimey! However, he has got an interesting cast aboard with Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johanssen and Robert Downey, Jr. also starring. Appears like another hit or miss film.

Single Moms Club – A family movie or a movie for depressed single ‘moms’? The story follows a group of mums who bond and create a support group after an incident at their children’s school. Gossip alert!

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Neighbors – It’s the adolescent comedy with an engaging cast. A couple with a newly born child moves into a new neighborhood, but next door they soon discover the establishment of a fraternity house. I don’t think they’ll be happy about this somehow. The film stars the persistent Seth Rogen, the complimentary Zac Effron, the gorgeous Rose Byrne and the young James Franco (Dave Franco). It will be funny if I can manage not to grind my teeth to tatters.

The Familymoon – Another collaboration between Frank Coraci, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The romcom involves kids, blind dates, family resorts and a burgeoning relationship. I am hopeful, but you know my underlying attitude to romcoms…

Tammy – Ben Falcone’s debut film as director. It appears awfully unadorned. It is a comedy about a woman who loses her job and then learns her husband has been unfaithful – because we haven’t seen that one before.

Sex Tape – Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel have had enough of teaching in Bad Teacher and decide to get married and make a sex tape in Jake Kasdan’s new movie. Jack Black will also make an appearance – it’s about time! I’m hopeful this will be an amusing movie, but after 90 minutes of a couple simply searching for a tape, lets face it, things could get dull. I presume Cameron Diaz will lose an item of clothing here or there to keep viewers fully engaged – she didn’t exactly hold back in We’re the Millers.

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Jupiter Ascending – Another mind-boggling sci-fi film from The Wachowskis. Mila Kunis, our lead heroine, discovers that her DNA could mark her as the universe’s next leader. We can certainly expect oodles of fantastical adventure, which will no doubt receive a disproportionate bag of mixed reviews.

Jessabelle – Editor turned director, Kevin Greutert, teams up with comedy writer Ben Garant (known for Night at the Museum and Balls of Fury) to make a horror film for Lionsgate. The team has all had involvement in the Saw films, so perhaps we can expect common themes of bloodshed. However, in studying the plotline Jessabelle it just appears to be another rundown horror film were a widow goes on retreat and becomes possessed by an evil spirit. How corrosive.

Phew, that was a feat. To sum it all up, it seems the big studios are bringing us 13 sequels (it makes my blood boil), only 2 remakes, 6 adaptations, 2 biopics (they have to be interesting or I will scream) and apparently 9 polished specs (there is hope).

So, it is shaping up to be a pretty overcast summer of rotten sequels, but thankfully not too many remakes and a nice dosage of novel adaptations and specs, which should be refreshing. I’m keeping optimistic; not forgetting there will be plenty of independent gems buried six feet under and a few last minute revitalizations on the studio circuit. After all, we love cinema, right? So, let us embrace the trash.

What are you looking forward to next summer?

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