While the 2014 film year hasn't fully formed yet, there are enough release dates to give you, the fearless reader, a sampling of things to come in the next 12 months. There are a lot of movies coming your way, and I couldn't fit every announced film into this story. Get off my back, will ya!
Rather than break it down by month, which would just be too easy, I am going to go by category. Keep in mind that all of the titles mentioned are subject to changed release dates or studio heads vomiting upon seeing them, sending their cinematic asses straight to video.
MORE SEQUELS AND PREQUELS
Not surprisingly, this is the biggest category of them all in 2014, and probably will remain the biggest yearly cinematic genre until the final movie screen burns down during the alien insect apocalypse. Hollywood loves those franchises.
Mercifully, Peter Jackson's scorching of the Shire will come to an end with The Hobbit: There and Back Again (December). The first two movies were pretty bad, and the second took the series to a point where I was bored out of my mind. To me, this series is going down as a lifetime moviegoing disappointment, and that's from a guy who worshipped Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Big blockbuster franchises continue with the likes of Transformers: Age of Extinction, another chapter in the fighting robot movies directed by Michael Bay and not starring Shia LaBeouf (Mark Wahlberg is his replacement). We're also getting The Hunger Games, Mockingjay: Part 1, the third movie in a series that is suddenly promising. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes features Caesar mobilizing his ape army, but not against James Franco, who left the series to go build skyscrapers or learn bladder surgery or something.
For the kids, we'll get Night at the Museum 3, Muppets Most Wanted, Dolphin Tale 2 (Oh boy!), Planes: Fire and Rescue, Rio 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and, of course, Nymphomaniac: Volume 2, which comes out just one month after Nymphomaniac: Volume 1. Oh, wait, I believe I got my categories mixed up. Those two films fall into the "It's Actually Really Kind of Porn" category.
That's not all: add The Expendables 3, Dumb and Dumber To, Resident Evil 6, 22 Jump Street, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Purge 2, 300: Rise of An Empire, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and too much more to fit into this article.
After the colossal success of Marvel's The Avengers, Columbia Pictures looks to do a similar thing with Spidey and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There are lots and lots of villains battling with the webbed avenger in this one, which brings to mind the overly loaded Sam Raimi-helmed Spider-Man 3.
Both cinematic X-Men universes come together in the time traveling X-Men: Days of Future Past, which will give us young and old versions of the superheroes (Hugh Jackman's semi-ageless Wolverine occupies both sides of the story). Both versions of Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen, will be present. Sweet.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier comes with Robert Redford in tow, and Guardians of the Galaxy (which had a little teaser trailer in the latest Thor movie) will deal with some of the weirder characters in the Marvel universe.
MORE BIG, BIG MOVIES
In what is sure to make some of his haters happy, Tom Cruise dies repeatedly in Doug Liman's big budget alien war epic Edge of Tomorrow. After losing a lot of credibility in The Lone Ranger, Johnny Depp will star in the promising Transcendence, in which he plays a scientist who becomes a crazed computer. Director Christopher Nolan returns with Interstellar, a movie shrouded in secrecy, but we know it has McConaughey and wormholes.
Angelina Jolie will star as the title character in Maleficent, where the Sleeping Beauty baddie gets her own movie. Jolie creeps me out already, so I expect this one to give me nightmares. Hubby Brad Pitt stars in a currently untitled WWII tank drama written and directed by David Ayer.
Directors Andy and Lana Wachowski return in what looks like something akin to an intergalactic Snow White minus the dwarves in Jupiter Ascending, starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum.
If none of the above stoke your movie furnace, take heed, for we will also be witnessing the rebirth of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson.
WE'VE RUN OUT OF BOOKS TO ADAPT! LET'S MESS WITH THE BIBLE, AGAIN!
The most promising of this lot would be director Darren Aronofsky's upcoming Noah, starring Russell Crowe as the title character, and a whole lot of animals. Christian Bale will be doing the Moses thing in Ridley Scott's Exodus, while Nicolas Cage, in what surely counts as a new low for him, will star in the remake of Kirk Cameron's Rapture drama, Left Behind. Yep, they are remaking Left Behind.
The Son of God tells the life of Jesus again. It got a PG-13 rating, so no flesh-ripping cat-o'-nine-tails in this one.
Of the upcoming films in the humor genre, most anticipated would be The Grand Budapest Hotel, from the king of quirk, director Wes Anderson. I'm also eager to see Jason Bateman's directorial debut, the nasty looking spelling bee laugher Bad Words.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will follow up their 2013 directorial debut triumph This is the End with The Interview, which reunites James Franco with Rogen in a film about a North Korean assassination plot. Rogen will also star with Franco's brother, Dave, and Zac Efron in Neighbors, which has the funniest preview trailer I've seen this year.
Seth McFarlane follows up his Ted with A Million Ways to Die in the West, a Western satire in which he stars with Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman. Iron Man duo Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. reunite in the Favreau-directed Chef, about a disgraced chef starting a food truck.
GIVE ME SOMETHING GOLDEN PLEASE! AWARDS CONTENDERS AND DRAMAS
Director Paul Thomas Anderson will be delivering Inherent Vice, based on a Thomas Pynchon novel about a detective investigating the disappearance of a past girlfriend. It stars Joaquin Phoenix, Jena Malone and Reese Witherspoon. Foxcatcher casts Steve Carell against type as murderer John du Pont.
Unbroken brings the interesting combo of Angelina Jolie directing a World War II drama with a script co-written by the Coen brothers. Gone Girl, the next film from director David Fincher, co-stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in a movie about a woman's disappearance on her wedding anniversary.
Star-studded casts make up two musicals. Clint Eastwood directs Christopher Walken in Jersey Boys, a musical based on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. There's also Into the Woods, starring Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Chris Pine in a modern take on Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and more.
Two 2013 holdovers would be George Clooney's WWII drama The Monuments Men starring Matt Damon, which lost its 2013 awards consideration slot due to "editing difficulties." There's also Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly. This one got mysteriously rescheduled after Naomi Watts bombed in Diana, another princess story. Director Terrence Malick attempts to rebound from his first bad movie, To the Wonder, with Knight of Cups, starring Christian Bale and Natalie Portman.
I expect that many more smaller and independent dramas will come onto the radar as the year progresses.
SAY ... THAT LOOKS LIKE CRAP
Does anything look worse than I, Frankenstein, Universal's attempt to reinvigorate the legend of Mary Shelley's monster? Aaron Eckhart immersed in bad CGI, wearing a hoodie and sporting a few scars to go with his gym-fed abs? Somebody is desperate for a franchise. Dracula, Untold looks to do something new with history's all-time most famous bloodsucker by focusing on Vlad the Impaler. Oh my.
I always tend to react with alarm and disgust when I hear Paul W.S. Anderson is directing something, and such is the case with Pompeii. Looks like Titanic with a volcano and minus anybody with decent acting chops. Wait ... Kiefer Sutherland is in there wearing a toga. There's hope!
In a rather disturbing trend, there are a bunch of '80s remakes that look less than promising. Robocop (with Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson), Endless Love, Poltergeist (with Sam Rockwell ... OK, that could work), About Last Night, Annie and TV show The Equalizer (with Denzel Washington) are all getting shiny new films.
MY SINGLE MOST ANTICIPATED FILM OF 2014
For me, it comes down to one word ... Godzilla!!!
Yes, Legendary Pictures will be rebooting Godzilla. (There's already a teaser trailer for it that gives plenty of reason for excitement.) I was at San Diego Comic-Con this year (yes ... I'm a geek) and I got my first glimpse of the big radioactive monster. Looks like director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) has gotten it right, with the right mix of old-time "Man in Suit!" looks mixed with modern CGI.
If this movie sucks, I will be a crestfallen, nonshowering slob drinking gallons of Ripple at the local watering hole. The one-two punch of lousy Hobbit movies and another bad Godzilla will finally do me in.