Assassin’s Creed — Movies based on video games haven’t been particularly successful yet (at least, with more discerning audiences), though many of us continue to hold out hope that the next one will finally buck the trend (I thought it would be Timothy Olyphant’s Hitman. I was wrong). Eventually one of these have to hit, and with Oscar-nominated Scott Frank (Out of Sight) on screenwriting duties, why can’t it be Assassin’s Creed? After all, with video games looking more and more cinematic, how hard could the transition be? Plus, though he’s never played the game himself, Michael Fassbender — who will star in the movie — signed on based on the idea behind the film. In Fassbender I trust.
Cinderella — The dark, re-imagined fairy tales have not hit with audiences (and the idea itself has already worn out its welcome), so Kenneth Branagh’s straight-laced live-action Cinderella with Lily James in the title role feels like a refreshing change of pace. The casting of Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine, and Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother seals the deal. With Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and Chris Weitz (About a Boy) on screenwriting duties, how could this go wrong? (The Answer: Lots of ways, but I believe in Branagh).
Frankenstein — Daniel Radcliffe has found some success outside of the Potter world (specifically, Woman in Black), but this could be his post-Potter breakout. The clever Max Landis (Chronicle) takes a new spin on the Frankenstein story, centering the movie on Radcliffe’s Igor, who will finally get a backstory as the main character to James McAvoy’s supporting Victor Von Frankenstein. Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay rounds out the cast. Paul Maguire’s cinematic re-interpretation was recently pushed into 2015 to give it some separation from Stuart Beattie’s I Frankenstein with Aaron Eckhart and Yvonne Strahovski.
Inside Out — Pixar’s sequels have not been as stellar as their original movies of late, so it’s heartening to see a new idea out of the studio for 2015. Inside Out will follow an 11-year-old girl hurtling toward puberty while also relocating with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco, but the movie itself will take place primarily inside the girl’s mind, with her emotions competing with one another for control. The voice cast is outstanding. From the L.A. Times:
Anger, a short red square with a necktie voiced by Lewis Black; Disgust, a querulous green sprite (Mindy Kaling); Fear, a thin-shouldered purple wimp (Bill Hader); Joy, a perky yellow fairy (Amy Poehler); and Sadness, a round blue mope with glasses (Phyllis Smith).
Warcraft — Two video-game movies on the same most anticipated list? What has become of this place? Here’s the deal: Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) — one of the short-list of directors better suited to direct the new Star Wars franchise than J.J. Abrams — is directing, and he has a brilliant sci-fi/fantasy mind. Word is, Warcraft will be a hardcore fantasy epic based on the mid-90s version of World of Warcraft, and according to Jones, the “names are big and a spellcheck unfriendly, there will be mythical creatures all over the place, the magic will flow and so will the talk of prophecies and ancient artifacts.” World of Warcraft fans will have two years to line up a date for the movie, and they’ll probably need every second. Ben Foster, Travis Fimmel and Paula Patton have already been cast.
Jurassic World — It’s been 20 years since the original Jurassic Park , and the thing I most excited about is finding out if director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Gauranteed) can possibly improve on the look of the original with two decades of technological advancement. Like Gravity, it has the potential be an eye-catching IMAX, 3D blockbuster, and if that’s not enough reason to look forward to Jurassic World, Jake Johnson (New Girl) and potentially Chris Pratt will join Bryce Dallas Howard in the cast.
Ant-Man — Another expansion of the Marvel Universe, Ant-Man is particularly compelling because of the geek cred behind it. Joe Cornish (Attack the Block is writing the screenplay, while Edgar Wright (The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy) will be sitting the director’s chair. Paul Rudd will be in the title role, and rumors have suggested that Rashida Jones may play Janet Van Dyne. It won’t be the box-office smash that Iron Man was, but it should make geeks very happy.
Batman vs. Superman — Whether we think Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is necessary or will even be good is almost beside the point now. It’s two years away, but Batman vs. Superman is one of the most talked about movie on the Internet now. That’s in large part due to the casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as a “tired and weary” Batman, and the anticipation level is owed to our curiosity over whether Affleck will validate everything the naysayers think, or if he will shove their doubts right back into their faces (I am hoping for the latter).
Avengers: Age of Ultron — The sequel to the third highest grossing film of all time, built inside one of the most successful cinematic universes of all time is obviously a slam dunk. The fact that James Spader — one of the most wry, deadpan actors in Hollywood — is playing the villain, and will voice Whedon’s ultra-wry dialogue only makes it that much more compelling. The addition of Elisabeth Olson (as the Scarlet Witch) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as Quicksilver) doesn’t hurt, nor does our expectation that Whedon will likely kill off a character. For maximum devastation, it should be Tony Stark, but I suspect cooler heads (and Marvel’s money bags) will prevail, meaning it’ll be someone like Pepper Potts. Bah!
Star Wars VII — Here’s what we know about Star Wars VII: It will be a continuation of the series that will pick up 20 to 40 years after Return of the Jedi. J.J. Abrams will direct. Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan are tasked with screenplay duties. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill will almost certainly return. Chewbacca is probably in it. Saoirse Ronan has auditioned for a role, but according to her, “so has everyone.” John Williams will compose the score. It will be filmed in the UK. The leads will be a 17-18 year old tough-cookie girlt and a 19-23 year old “charismatic, funny guy.
That’s essentially all we know, and the less we know, the more we will anticipate the return of the most successful sci-fi series of all time under the leadership of a director who is bound to improve upon George Lucas’ last trilogy.