Maleficent — The fairy-tale re-imaginings haven’t been wildly successful yet, but there is reason to believe that first-time director, Robert Stromberg, can bring the same look and feel he brought as the visual effects supervisor on Pan’s Labyrinth to this dark tale told from the perspective of Sleeping Beauty’s evil nemesis. It doesn’t hurt that Angelina Jolie will fill the title role, or that the cast is rounded out by Elle Fanning (Princess Aurora), Juno Temple (Thistletwit), Sharlto Copley (Stefan) and Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) as King Kinloch.
Noah — Here’s all you need to know about Noah: It comes from Darren Aronofsky, who I believe is trying to get his redo on The Fountain with a visually sumptuous and dark, existential Biblical tale. Aronofsky has described his Noah as “a man who loves Earth and all of its animal inhabitants but has become disillusioned with the way humans have treated their planet,” so I expect something very dark and politically charged. Russell Crowe is set to play the title character, with Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins also on board. These images from Aronofksy’s Noah graphic novel should give us some hint as to what to expect.
Robopocalypse — Assuming that Steven Spielberg actually follows through on his promise to direct Robopacalypse, the film — scripted by Drew Goddard and based on a Daniel H. Wilson novel — holds immense potential. The novel is already a critical favorite, described as an Andromeda Strain for a new century. Comparisons to early Michael Crichton are aplenty. Set the not-too-distant future, Robopocalypse is about robots that have made our lives a lot easier: they help clean our kitchens, drive our cars, and fight our wars — until they are turned into efficient murderers by a sentient artificial intelligence buried miles below the surface of Alaska. What? That sounds batshit. But, robots, murder, and Spielberg! Rumors that Chris Hemsworth could board the project in the lead role make it all that more appealing.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — Wait, wait. Before you loosen your bowels, hear me out: My opinion of the first The Amazing Spider-Man was that, if it weren’t for the fact that the story had already been told, it could’ve been a great film, a better version of Sam Raimi’s first movie. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were an amazing pair, and Marc Webb did a good job with the film, too. What the movie was missing was a good, original screenplay. Now that the rebooted franchise has gotten the requisite origins story out of the way, they have the freedom to tell a better, darker story. Spider-Man 2 was the best in the Raimi trilogy, and I expect this one to be the best in Garfield’s, especially if Sony decides to take it to a that place and kill off Gwen in this installment.
The Hobbit Part 3 — I’m not that excited to be putting this on the list, but by the time it rolls around, The Hobbit Part 3 will be the most anticipated movie of the year, if only because it will finally see the end of a trilogy that has no business being a trilogy. How are they going to turn a very modest little book into three movies? I don’t know, but I’m really excited for it to end. It also has a couple of cast members going for it that the LOTR movies did not, namely Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaugh) and Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins). The bad news: There’s a lot of LOTR characters in the movie that don’t belong.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I — I feel similarly about Mockingjay Part I as I do about three Hobbit movies: It shouldn’t exist. Mockingjay is the weakest of the Hunger Games novels and therefore, the least designed to be broken in two. There’s not even a natural break for the movie. However, my hope is that the screenwriters find a way — in expanding the novel into two movies — to bring some new elements, and more life to a novel that clearly was written under a tight deadline. There are great characters in The Hunger Games and it’s a splendid universe. Hopefully, the two movies can give the final chapter the justice it didn’t receive in the books.
X-Men: Days of Future Past — 2011 was meant to be the year of the Superhero, but it turned out that the first one out of the gate, X-Men: First Class, was the best of a bunch that included Captain America, Thor and Green Lantern. The young X-Men are due again to compete against Captain America in 2014, and I expect a similar result: Matthew Vaughn is back, and James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence are more popular than ever. It helps, too, that it’s based on one of the most famous X-Men stories, a very dark one that involves a world where mutants are hunted mercilessly by sentinels. Lots of X-Men may die. That’s my kind of superhero movie.
King Dork — I cannot guarantee that King Dork will arrive in 2014 (though, that is its current forecast), as development on the film has stopped and started on several occasions. A director has finally been hired — Matt Piedmont (Casa de mi Padre) — and D.V. DeVincentis (High Fidelity) wrote the screenplay. Last I heard, Thomas Mann (Project X), Keir Gilchrist (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Nick Offerman were attached to the film. It is a brilliant, funny, amazing coming-of-age novel with a mystery twist — probably one of my favorite books of the last decade — and it’s really well-designed for a movie. With the right people behind it, it could be one hell of an amazing film, one I’ve been anticipating since Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s production company bought the rights back in 2006.
Jupiter Ascending — Nobody knows a ton about The Wachowski Sibling’s Jupiter Ascending, except that it’s being described as completely off-the-sh*t bat-wall, that it stars Charming Potato and Mila Kunis, an offer was made to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it’s expected to be the first entry in another Wachowski trilogy. This is the story, as broken down by Vulture, based on an anonymous source:
The story centers on an unlikely and reluctant heroine, a recent Russian immigrant — played by actual Ukrainian native Mila Kunis — who scrubs toilets for a living. Unbeknownst to her, however, she possesses the same perfect genetic makeup as the Queen of the Universe and is therefore a threat to her immortal rule. These other evolved beings are categorized into various groups, but all of them share at least some human DNA. The rest is animal DNA, which heightens their best qualities — e.g., soldiers obtain the fearlessness of wolves, workers obtain the industriousness of bees, etc.
Soon, an evolved bounty hunter — likely played by Channing Tatum — is sent out to dispatch the cleaning lady with the Great Pair of Nucleotides. However, true to Matrix fashion, they fall in love. From there, calamity ensues.
The Wachowskis, plus Mila Kunis, is enough to get me excited. The sci-fi Snow White story is just gravy.
The World’s End — I am super stoked about The World’s End the final part in the Cornetto trilogy that includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Once again, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will reunite with director Edgar Wright. The team behind it is a big enough sell, but the premise seals it:
The film starts 20 years after five childhood friends attempted an epic pub crawl. The friends reunite when one of them becomes hell-bent on trying the drinking marathon again. They are convinced to stage an encore by mate Gary King, a 40-year-old man trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, who drags his reluctant pals to their hometown and once again attempts to reach the fabled pub, The World’s End. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind’s. Reaching The World’s End is the least of their worries.