Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Movies Preview: What I'm Seeing and Why

As I grow older there's one thing I keep noticing is happening. I'm going to the movies less and less. Part of it is time, another is money, but most importantly there's interest. I'm finding myself less and less interested in what's coming out each year. Still somehow 2014 is pulling together some great looking stuff, surprisingly. Much of it I plan on seeing whether it's in theatres or via Redbox. In the end here is my "new years resolution" of new movies for the coming year.
Also these are only going to be movies with a set date. Yes there are other titles that may be set for 2014 but are still in development so it's hard to guarantee. I just want to talk about what IS set. Then at the end of the year I can do a "review" of sorts.

-The Lego Movie: I don't really watch trailers anymore. Mainly because I pretty much know what I do and don't want to see based on other means like prior knowledge to the project, buzz, opinions from friends, etc. At first I thought this was going to be a disaster waiting to happen. Looked like a cash in project from a distance. But then I saw the trailer before a screening of Despicable Me 2 (I think it was) and I was proven wrong. This looks like an excellent, animated movie being done the way it should be, in stop motion with actual Lego pieces. I'm in.

-Noah: Darren Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors. So far I have liked all of his movies on one level or another. So when he comes out with something new I'm like a Star Wars fan when a new edition comes out. Regardless of how it looks I'm gonna check it out. This one I am a little hesitant about, though. Can't say I'm much of a Russel Crowe fan, so that's a bad sign. Also I heard rumors that test screenings, while leaving an overall positive response from Christian and Jewish audiences (aka the target audience), also seemed to present Noah as a mega environmentalist. As opposed to, you know, following through with the direct message he received from God to save all the creatures of the Earth. So here's hoping with a slight worry it may turn out bad. May just wait for Redbox on this one.

-Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Easy explanation. First Captain America was good fun as were all the other recent Marvel flicks. Didn't need to see the trailer but it was shown before Thor 2 and this looks bad ass. Looks like more of the same that we saw in Iron Man, The Avengers, Thor, etc, and that is just fine. Not everything has to blow our hair back with innovation. Sometimes more of the same is a good thing. Sometimes 'fun' is enough for 2+ hours in the theatre.

-Rio 2: I have a special fondness for Rio. Something I share with my wife. And while I love the first one I can't imagine it would have been the same if I didn't watch it with her. This will definitely be a date movie for the two of us (as weird as that may sound to some, going to see a kids movie). I just hope it has the quality of a sequel like Despicable Me 2. They should have plenty of new material to work with since Blu and Jewel got together in the last one and had kids. If anything the movie will be very cute to watch and enjoy.

-Godzilla: Holy fuck I am excited! I would say this is what I'm most excited for over the rest. We've been missing out on a lot of Godzilla theatrically for over a decade. The last one to be released here in theatres was Godzilla 2000 and was very poorly received. Before that was the Matthew Broderick American version that was so bad that most fans, and Toho themselves don't even consider it a real interpretation of Godzilla (I don't and it will never hold a place in my Godzilla collection). Then there was Godzilla 1985 but was was re-edited from the Japanese film, The Return of Godzilla. Same goes for Godzilla King of the Monsters from 1956 which was re-edited for American release. What I'm trying to say is that ALL theatrical releases of Godzilla here have either been re-cut, terrible remakes, or bad examples of what can be done in Japan. So for what I hope will be an amazing Godzilla movie to be finally making it's way here is a joy. This is definitely one I plan on seeing opening weekend. Not something I do very often anymore. But for this I will as with one more on this list.

-How to Train Your Dragon 2: Pretty much same reason I'll be seeing Rio 2. A movie I share a special connection with, with my wife. However I did like Rio more than HTTYD. And I feel this one has a slightly better chance (is that the right word to use?) of not being as good as the original. But the first one was far better than I read about so I'm ready for this one to potentially surprise me again.

-The Expendables 3: The last two were fucking awesome! Most of the original cast returns with some new, old faces like Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas. I can't get enough of these movies and their testosterone fueled action that makes me want to go home and lift weights or do anything generally manly. Opening weekend just like the last two entries in the franchise. I will be there, I guarantee it!

-Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: A sequel we've been waiting quite a while for. The first one came out almost a decade ago. It blew my hair back in it's general amazing-ness. I have never read the comics but I thought it was great none the less. Knowing there is a lot of source material left I know A Dame to Kill For won't be just a cash in. They'll use real material right from the comics. That and it's being done by Robert Rodriguez again with further collaboration with Frank Miller, the original creator of the comics. I haven't seen a second of footage but if it's half as good as the first one was, we're in for a great sequel.

-Interstellar: Dear Christopher Nolan. I loved Memento, I thought Insomnia was pretty good, and Batman Begins blew my hair back as did Inception. While I think your ego gets stroked just a little too much by your fans and by your own hand I do have one wish to request. Please deliver with Interstellar. All I've seen is your teaser trailer and you've already got my money. Give me some old school sci-fi. Something about real space travel. Not something with crazy aliens and intergalactic trade federations. Give me something in a similar tone as 2001 and Solaris. Something long, dull, boring, and immersive as hell just like (what I'm sure) real space travel is like. Give me a reason to care about every little discovery your astronauts make. Don't make this a big budget SyFy channel movie. Make this a space drama. A drama we haven't gotten in a long time. If you can do that I will promise to keep my faith in every project you do after this. With all my love...

-The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: Seen the first one multiple times and I did see Catching fire. Both are very entertaining and very exciting movies. While to me the ultimate fight to the death for the sake of a sick sport movie goes to Battle Royale, I still like these. I'm curious what happens next so this is on my radar for sure. I know a lot of people complain that these movies among others are being split into multiple parts, but I think it's great and should continue to be a trend. Sure it costs more but we get more of the story instead of a compact, less exciting 2 hour movie. Not always a blessing, but HP7 was a lot more exciting because of it as I'm sure Mockingjay will be.

-The Hobbit: There and Back Again: Have seen the full Lord of the Rings Trilogy as well as the two movies that came before this one. If this is anything like the last two I'm sure I'll find it to be pretty entertaining. Not a big fan of this franchise, but enough to let my butt go numb from 3 hours in the movie theatre. That and I liked the cliffhanger the last one left us with, even though it doesn't take too much thinking to figure out what happens. But it's the ride that counts, not always the ending.

And of course some commentary on other titles coming out.

The first that comes to mind is Paranormal Activity: The Mark Ones. I am not surprised a once great, short series of horror movies went down the tube faster than a pop star flies off the handle. Paranormal Activity was an astounding masterpiece in modern horror, 2 was a step down but still acceptable, 3 raised it back to a great level, and 4 fell apart so hard it almost hurt. For The Marked Ones I knew I would have to watch the trailer to see if I would even consider considering spending my time and money on it. Words cannot describe how bad it looks. The trailer itself had so many cliches not just for horror and the franchise it is in, but in the genre of 'Hood' movies. Yes. The Marked Ones could be re-labeled Paranormal Activity In Da Hood and it would be more accurate. Not to say that's why it looks bad, it's all in execution and the execution of what's available looks terrible with no new ideas.

What has me really confused is that there's a listing less than a year later for a Paranormal Activity 5. 5? I thought Marked Ones was 5? Turns out Demons In Da Hood is a spin-off of the franchise. Which I was happy to find out because that gives me reason to disregard it if Paranormal Activity 5 turns out okay. And I hope 5 turns out okay. I hope they jump back from the many mistakes they made in 4, and to explain exactly what the hell happened at the end. Here's hoping Halloween 2014 can give us an okay sequel.

Speaking of horror sequels let's talk about another horror sequel... kinda. A Haunted House was a horror comedy in the spoof style of Scary Movie. I was personally surprised on how much I laughed at it despite having moments of trying way too hard. I even wrote a review on it if you want to check that out. But this year there's going to be a sequel, something that is almost guaranteed to be terrible. Don't get me wrong, sequels can be good. Hell, sequels can be great! Evil Dead 2 was way better than the first. But in more of the same vein there's The Naken Gun 2 1/2. Not as strong as the first but still a very funny movie. But A Haunted House seems pre-destined to go down the path of Scary Movie. A franchise that got worse and worse with every new attempt they did. At least they're doing it now and not trying to re-ignite an old fire that burned a decade or two earlier...

It's funny because it should be 'Too,' but they're dumb.

...oh, yeah... that's happening. On November 14th a sequel to Dumb and Dumber will be released, 20 years after the original. Before I continue I agree there's no way it could be as bad as Dumb and Dumberer, the prequel that somehow got made back in 2003. Also this one is being done by the original creators and will feature Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels again, reprising their roles. But I have so little faith this will be any good. Does it have to be the original? No of course not. Should it be funny? Well no shit it should be funny. It just blows my mind how many studios try and re-ignite the same fire that burned years earlier and sell it to the same core fanbase that has watched the original 100 million times over. There's a reason Christmas Vacation 2 was a straight to video release, because it was not gonna be any good from the start. Will I give this a try? Sure, eventually. At least my expectations are reduced a big deal so it leaves a lot of room to make me satisfied with something that's at least okay.

Other than that I have little to say on the rest of the movies. But for fun here's a quick rundown in the order they're being released:
-Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Will probably be to the Jack Ryan movies what The Bourne Legacy was the Bourne movies. Fine for what it is but doesn't have major impact on the franchise
-I, Frankenstein: Or as I like to call it, 'Underworld: The Frankenstein Years.' P.S. I can't stand the Underworld movies.
-RoboCop: Another remake that will piss off fans and will delight ignorant, mainstream audiences. Could have been re-labeled with an original IP and been fine.
-The Wind Rises: I'm a Ghibli Studios whore. I will definitely see this knowing they made it. That and it looks like a more mature story, which is a nice change of pace.
-Non-Stop: What could turn out to be a pretty bad ass action thriller. Would probably warrant a Redbox rental, not a full ticket price.
-Son of God: An outdated idea to re-edit a mini-series (The Bible) into a feature. Would have worked better in the 60s or 70s when the mini-series wouldn't be available on home video.
-300: Rise of an Empire: An unnecessary sequel that will probably be okay. Looks like the first one which I'm sure everyone will expect. Will probably wind up forgettable.
-The Grand Budapest Hotel: I'm sure it'll be great like all other Wes Anderson flicks. Just got a long list I'm more interested in. I'll get around to this eventually.
-Sabotage: Just try and be better than The Last Stand. That's all I ask.
-The Amazing Spider Man 2: Thought the first one was fine. No major affection for this new franchise so if I miss it I'll be okay with it.
-X-Men: Days of Future Past: See my last comment. Although I never saw First Class. Sure it's entertaining, just not interested in enough. Would rather watch other titles.
-Edge of Tomorrow: I like the concept. May Redbox if I get a rent one get one free coupon code.
-22 Jump Street: Liked the first one, we'll see what happens with this one.
-The Purge 2: The sequel to a horror movie with an amazing concept that I'm yet to see. Will have to see first one first before any real interest can go here.
-Transformers: Age of Extinction: No Shia this time? Probably because he was too busy making Lars Von Trier's new artsy erotic film, Nymphomaniac. We know what we'll see in T4. Just be more like 3 than 2.
-Planes 2: Fire and Rescue: I thought nobody liked the first one...
-Horrible Bosses 2: Never saw the first. Heard it was funny. This sequel will probably make some people laugh and others angry.
-Unbroken: Directed by Angelina Jolie, written by the Coen brothers, will probably be good objectively. Sounds more like Oscar bait to me.

More will be announced or set as the year goes on. If there's any you wanted me to comment on and I didn't then go ahead and mention it. I'd love to give an apathetic response to a movie you're looking forward to and I don't care about.

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