JoBlo.com's 2014 Summer Movie Preview!
Summer movie season is upon us and to get you in the mood, while helping you narrow down your own must-see list, we've compiled our Top 20 most-anticipated picks! Blockbusters, popcorn-flicks, comedies, CGI-fests, franchises, and more fill the summer crowd and it typically (hopefully) makes for a wild ride. It's hard to predict what will be a hit or miss, and our line-up includes the flicks we most want to see either because they look awesome, hilarious, or somewhere in between (either intentionally or not). As usual we're anticipating the usual dose of disappointments, surprises, and explosive moments that make for a popcorn-munching summer at the movies. So, let's take a gander, cross our fingers, and hope for a good season.
Read on for our list and let us know what YOUR Top 20 picks are at the end!
The latest sci-fi opus from the visionary duo, The Wachowskis, comes in the form of JUPITER ASCENDING, an ambigious-looking adventure tale set in a futuristic galaxy and starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, James D'Arcy, and Terry Gilliam. Tatum stars as Caine, a pointy-eared badass with bleached blonde locks who is out to save Mila Kunis' Jupiter, a "chosen one" figure who is said to be a princess of...something. It's all a bit confusing, but in The Wachoswkis we trust when it comes to the genre, although we think it's going to be a tough sell to your everyday moviegoers.
CLOUD ATLAS was a magnificent surprise from the filmmakers, but it also showed that modern audiences may not be ready for such a bold (and lengthy) flick. JUPITER ASCENDING feels like it's slightly more engaging on that front, but we're concerned it will likely only reach the uber geeks. Still, we're on board whenever the duo puts something together and beyond that, we have to find out if Sean Bean survives to the end credits.
The first trailer for this one had us pretty damn freaked out. Based on the real-life accounts of New York police officer Ralph Sarchie, DELIVER US FROM EVIL is the latest "true events" horror shocker to hit the big screen, following on the heels of last year's massively successful (and scary as shit) THE CONJURING. Directed by SINISTER director Scott Derickson, DELIVER US FROM EVIL stars Eric Bana and Édgar Ramírez as a cop/priest duo who fight the darker evil that transcends everyday criminals and crosses over into the supernatural. Co-starring Sean Harris, Olvia Munn, and Joel McHale, this one has got all the trimmings of a summer box office "seat jumper" and we're certainly down for some good scares, even at the expense of a few sleepless nights.
The latest entry in the "from cartoon to live action" genre has Angelina Jolie embodying the role of MALEFICENT, the evil sorceress from Disney's 1959 animated classic SLEEPING BEAUTY. The villain-centric flick is an origin tale that also shows the villains' perspective of the events of the old film and co-stars Elle Fanning (as Sleeping Beauty), Sharlto Copley, Brenton Thwaites, and Juno Temple. The pic is directed by first-time helmer Robert Stromberg, a veteran visual effects artist.
The film certainly looks amazing in terms of visuals and Jolie fits the part of MALEFICENT like a glove; it's uncanny. There's fear that this could turn into just another visual ride, though, much like SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, but with Jolie on board and hamming it up like crazy as the famed villainess, there is more incentive to catch this one then not.
What can we say, we're suckers for the Favs! Jon Favreau's latest pic, CHEF, centers on a chef who loses his restaurant job and tries to renew his career and his life by starting up a food truck business. While the trailer for the film seems to give away the whole movie, we're more looking forward to the bits you don't see, such as the character moments and comedic bits that are sure to be "peppered" throughout. With an awesome cast that includes Favs, Robert Downey Jr., John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Emjay Anthony, Dustin Hoffman, and (oh yeah!) Sofia Vergara, this one has all the right "ingredients" to be a light, flavorful feel-good comedy that we don't see too often anymore.
Favreau has been dabbling mostly in the big-budget universe since making his way with early hits like SWINGERS and ELF, helping jump start the Marvel Cinematic Universe with IRON MAN and IRON MAN 2, as well as COWBOYS AND ALIENS, so it's nice to see him return to his roots a bit and serve us up a dish of his old recipe independent comedy. Okay, we're done with the food puns.
Dreamworks animation had a massive hit with 2010's HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, which soared to a $494 million worldwide gross and spawned it's own TV show. Now, the gang is back on the big screen with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2, which reunites the old cast, including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, and T.J. Miller, while adding the likes of Cate Clanchett, Kit Harington, and Djimon Hounsou. Taking place five years after the original, the dragon-riding vikings of Berk are now into their teenage years, making for a more grown-up tale, but with the same adventurous spirit as the first film.
We're sure to see a ton of new dragons and no doubt some thematic elements that deal with family and friendship, but that's all part of the animated movie formula. In a summer movie season absent of anything Pixar, HTTYD 2 is looking like the animated pic to beat and a worthy contender at that. Plus, we get another pulse-pounding score from John Powell, which gives us even more incentive to hop on this dragon.
I AM HERCULES! bellows Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the trailer for Brett Ratner's new flick that seeks to reinvent the mythical legend for modern audiences. And, certainly, Johnson LOOKS like HERCULES, but is that going to be enough to pull off such a role? The lower-budget THE LEGEND OF HERCULES, starring Kellan Lutz, didn't fare as well at the box office earlier this year, but we're thinking that Johnson's persona and physical presence will be more of a draw for those that skipped the other version. Co-starring John Hurt, Ian McShane, Irina Shayk, Rufus Sewell, and Joseph Fiennes, this new version finds the demigod fighting both man and beast, as the trailer suggests, which should make for some decent big-screen throwdowns.
In all honesty, the biggest draw is Johnson, who has the charisma and presence to rise above the material in any flick he does. As an actor, his commitment is unwavering with each project he chooses, succeed or fail, and although there's trepidation over Ratner at the helm, we're thinking that this will be "The Rock Show" through and through and, in the end, that's what we really want to see anyway.
Oh, boy, the Ninja Turtles are back and this time they're bringing Michael Bay with them! While having Bay's name attached to this reboot of the popular franchise has many up in arms, we're still excited about the prospect of having our boys in green back on the big screen. While early script rumors that involving aliens led us all to believe that childhood's were being destroyed by the millions, it appears that there is still hope. While some aren't completely sold on the look of revamped turtles, the footage we've seen thus far is more than enough to get us in the door. Starring Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Tony Shalhoub, and Johnny Knoxville, the film has the potential to kick start a new franchise...or bury it.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman (BATTLE LOS ANGELES) the pic looks like it's got some big visuals and that "summer movie flavor" which we're hoping is more than just some explosions and flashy visuals. The biggest draw to the turtles has always been their personalities and as long as that's retained, then we should be able to rest easy and enjoy the ride. One thing's for sure; a lot of eyes are on this one.
Seth Rogen had a good summer last year with the hilarious THIS IS THE END and it looks like he may have cause to celebrate again this summer with NEIGHBORS. Co-starring Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lisa Kudrow, and Jake Johnson, the flick looks hysterical and word of mouth from advance screenings seems to support that. While Efron is still finding his footing, this feels like a perfect role to help shed the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL image and propel him into some better opportunities. Rogen has been doing mostly solid work, both in front of and behind the camera, and Byrne has proven her comedy shtick before in BRIDESMAIDS.
Director Nicolas Stoller has shown some great promise as well, having delivered some great work with FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, GET HIM TO THE GREEK, and THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT. The deck seems stacked to us. This should be a good one to enjoy with a lively crowd at the movies.
Writer/director Luc Besson gets back behind the camera for a new action film this summer, which is something he's been away from since the late '90's (unless you're counting last year's THE FAMILY...we're not). LUCY, the new sci-fi/action flick starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, and Min-sik Choi, is akin to the numerous high-concept thrillers Besson has been writing for the last decade with the main difference being that he's shooting it himself and shifting the lead to a female. The last time Besson gave us a female leads we got THE FIFTH ELEMENT and LA FEMME NIKITA, both of which have become cultural icons. Could the same happen for LUCY?
Besson definitely has a formula for his work, which can often work quite well (TAKEN, THE TRANSPORTER) or not (3 DAYS TO KILL, THE FAMILY), but we're most excited to see what he does with the beautiful, talented, and deadly Scarlett Johansson, who has more than proven her might in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Widow and is primed to once again test her mettle as the lead in her own franchise, even if it's one without a black catsuit.
Writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane had a hell of a debut with TED, his 2012 buddy comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, not to mention his long-running series Family Guy. That said, he's not universally loved by all, with some finding his blend of comedy relying too much on pop culture references and non sequitur stylings. With A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST it feels like MacFarlane may be able to break those chains a bit, while still retaining the humor his fans have come to know and love. The hard-R comedy seeks to tackle the genre tropes of the western genre in a way similar to BLAZING SADDLES, but likely with a bit more raunch.
Starring MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Wes Studi, and Liam F*cking Nesson, the first red-band trailer for the film had us rolling, making it a guarantee in our summer line-up. While some just aren't sold on MacFarlane's comedic style, we're happy to hitch a ride on this horse, even if just to catch the inevitable list of crazy cameos that are sure to pop up.
The Action Gods are at it again! And this time, there's more (and less) of them! Sylvester Stallone's aging action star retirement home franchise THE EXPENDABLES returns with a slew of classic stars joining the ranks, both old and new, in THE EXPENDABLES 3. If you haven't gotten enough info to sway you into the theater for this one from our set visit reports
, then we'll hit the cliff notes for you here. Take a deep breath: Starring Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, Glen Powell, Kelsey Grammer, and Robert Davi, the new film follows the team as they confront one of their former members in a clash vengeance that pits old vs. young and vice versa.
Directed by Patrick Hughes (RED HILL) the film seeks to bring more "heart and soul" to the franchise, while injected some new blood as well. Hughes is fresh on the scene as are the younger cast, which may add some much needed oomph to the so far serviceable series, which has delivered on the action, but not so much in the other departments. However, as connoisseurs of old-school action, we're always ready to see our childhood heroes kicking ass on the big screen, no matter how many wrinkles and one-liners may appear.
Ah, yes, another TRANSFORMERS film from Michael Bay; Corny dialogue, Americana sprinkled everywhere, explosions, fast cars, implausible situations, more explosions, hot "girl-next-door" girls, slow motion, and a few more explosions. Sounds awful. We're so there! Toss in Mark Wahlberg, dinobots, and the long-awaited villain Galvatron and we don't need much more convincing. By now, most cinephiles know where they stand with Michael Bay. it's love/hate for the most part, but even those that purport to hate everything he stands for are often still found standing in line for his latest opus. And, that's okay! There's no shame in wanting to see some beautifully crafted Bayhem. At this point, we all know what we're in for and that's not such a bad thing.
Tossing aside the old lead of Shia "I'm not famous anymore" LaBeouf, Wahlberg now steps in as the chief human protagonist, flanked by Bates Motel's Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, Titus Willever, and the only name that should really matter here, Peter Cullen, as the voice of Optimus Prime. For us, seeing Prime fight the dinobot Grimlock and later ride on his back into battle is enough to punch our ticket, no matter how cheesy or Bayrific this one gets.
One of the more divisive of the superhero reboot genre, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 looks no less enticing, if even just to see if they can move away from the first film, which was yet another origin story of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Director Marc Webb is back at the helm, along with stars Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spidey) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), as well as a laundry list of villains that include Jamie Foxx as Electro, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin, Paul Giamatti as Rhino, and Chris Cooper as Norman Osborn, as well as a host of characters that all seem to allude to some future villain or another.
While the excitement meter seems to be split on this one (which has already been released overseas) there still exists a kind of morbid curiosity to see if it can actually pull off the feat of being the second most packed sequel of the summer (the first being X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST). While many fear a return to SPIDER-MAN 3 levels of exhaustion, there is also the perception that the promised Spidey spinoff films, including VENOM and SINISTER SIX, being born of the framework here, making TASM 2 a catalyst for the future Spider-Man Cinematic Universe. We have to see for ourselves how it all plays out...
Once again based on the comic by Frank Miller, SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is another jaunt into the harsh black-and-white world of criminals, deviants, murderers, vengeance seekers, and crooked cops that make up the SIN CITY world. Once again directed by both Miller and Robert Rodriguez, the sequel has many returning faces, including Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Jamie King, and Jessica Alba, while hosting a number of new ones, including Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Ray Liotta, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jamie Chung, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Lady Gaga, and Juno Temple.
The first film was renowned for its exemplary use of CGI (that's a first, eh?) in portraying Frank Miller's original comic, which is presented in black-and-white with a subtle use of carefully placed color. The hard-boiled, violent original is one of the most faithful translations of a comic ever made, lifting exact panels and putting them on the big screen and the sequel looks to be following that mold. Hardcore, bloody, cheesy, and riddled with the kind of noirish thrills that Frank Miller is so renowned for, we expect another fun trip back to the city of sin.
The damn dirty apes are back and this time they're talking! Perhaps that tagline didn't make it through the marketing folks, but that's certainly on the menu for the sequel to the newest franchise reboot of the original PLANET OF THE APES series, which saw it's initial kick off with 2011's RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. The new sequel, entitled DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, has the action set years after RISE and venturing into a post-apocalyptic environment that sees the lead Ape, Caesar (as portrayed by Andy Serkis), in charge of an army that is now communicating and maneuvering to take out all of humanity and rule the planet.
However, ol' Caesar has his work cut out for him as a band of human survivors, including Jason Clarke, Kari Russell, and Gary Oldman, put up some strong resistance. Directed by Matt Reeves (CLOVERFIELD), the next entry looks to be a much darker film as humanity appears to be at its worst and we anticipate the effects to be every bit as astonishing as the last film, with more awe-inspiring performances by the simian antagonists, especially from the masterful Andy Serkis. This is one DAWN we don't want to miss.
21 JUMP STREET, often known as "the film that made me like Channing Tatum" was a surprise hit that catapulted Tatum and co-star Jonah Hill into comedy duo superstars. Hill had already won favor in films like SUPERBAD and MONEYBALL, but Tatum was having a rough start with flicks like G.I.JOE: RISE OF COBRA and FIGHTING. With 21 JUMP STREET we found that Tatum had some damn good comedic skills and now he's got the opportunity to prove it again with the sequel, 22 JUMP STREET. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (THE LEGO MOVIE), who also helmed the first film, the sequel finds Tatum and Hill taking their undercover antics to the college scene, which will surely provide them with more than enough material to milk the laughs.
When it comes to summer comedies we tend to expect the high-concept laughs to be big, bold, and raw. While there are a few other contenders, our eyes are on 22 JUMP STREET to be the comedy to beat. If it's anything like the first film (especially with returning cast members Rob Riggle and Dave Franco joining in the fun) then we anticipate at least a few laughs to send projectiles out of our noses. Otherwise, what are we here for?
Tom Cruise in a new sci-fi summer action flick? Sign us up! EDGE OF TOMORROW, based on the novel "All You Need is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, is directed by Doug Liman and stars Cruise as a soldier who dies on the battlefield and continues to come back, repeating the same day over and over again. Things change when he teams up with Emily Blunt's Rita Vrataski (aka Full Metal Bitch) to help train him and eventually win the battle and, hopefully, the war.
Cruise, even on his worst day, is one of the most reliable actors working in Hollywood today, so when you pair him up with yet another futuristic romp that has robotic suits, explosions, a "groundhog day" scenario, and co-star Emily Blunt looking badass and fine as hell, then you know there's something awesome brewing. Last year's OBLIVION was a solid hit for Cruise, who has launched himself into full-blown action star of late, and it feels like EDGE OF TOMORROW will be very much the same. In a summer movie season full of potential for both success and failure, we like to think that we can count on Cruise for a sure bet. Our money's on the table.
The fourth entry in Marvel's Phase Two is the biggest wild card yet: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Taking the Marvel universe further into the reaches of space and featuring characters that have yet to grace the big screen, it's the biggest gamble for the studio yet. Featuring a team of characters originating from the comics, including Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel), along with a supporting cast of characters that include Nebula (Karen Gillen), Yondu (Michael Rooker), Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou), and The Collector (Benicio Del Toro), amongst others, there's a very STAR WARS-esque vibe mixed with an off-kilter sensibility that looks to be the construct of director James Gunn (SLITHER), making for something that retains the magnetic flavor of the Marvel films, but with a sprinkle of zaniness.
That's not to say it's devoid of action, as the trailers promise some very cool-looking set pieces, which have got us all kinds of ecstatic to see, especially when playing over Blue Suede's "Hooked on a Feeling" in those badass trailers. A lot is hinging on the success of Guardians, particularly the expansion of the Marvel Universe into the greater reaches of outer space, which opens more doors to see the MCU fly to even greater heights. We're on board for that.
The King of All Monsters returns! For the past few years the new adaptation of GODZILLA has been teased, whetting our appetite for what looks to be the version we've all been waiting for, especially after enduring Roland Emmerich's disastrous "guilty pleasure" version from 1998. Director Gareth Edwards (MONSTER) is at the helm, bringing the giant lizard to life for modern-day audiences and he's assembled a stellar cast to help lead the charge, including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette BinocheDavid Strathairn, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, and even the mo-cap king, Andy Serkis, serving as a consultant in bringing the monster to life.
The first two Comic Con trailers revealed very little of the actual monster, which first debuted in the 1954 Toho film, yet served to stir excitement for the film like no other and every tease of footage since then has rallied viewers behind it even more. With the stress to not "f*ck it up" on his shoulders, Edwards seems to have taken the warnings seriously and crafted a monster movie that could live up to the legacy of "Gojira" while infusing new life into it for the next generation. Just hearing that roar in a crowded theater on opening night is enough to make this a can't miss for us.
It's been nearly three years since X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and eight years since X-MEN: THE LAST STAND and now a new entry in the X-franchise, the "inbetweequel" X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, which merges both time periods from the last two X-films and plays with elements of time travel and alternate realities, which are two very common tropes utilized in the source material, of which the film is loosely based. Not only does the film bring back the director of the first two X-films, Bryan Singer, but it also brings back the majority of both the "old" and "new" cast, making for one hell of an ensemble mutant superhero flick that could potentially be the best of the bunch.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Evan Peters, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, Omar Sy, Booboo Stewart, Bingbing Fan, and Daniel Cudmore, the flick also gives us our first X-film featuring the nefarious Sentinels, the bane of mutant existence since they were created and a serious force to be reckoned with in both the past and present. Judging from the trailers alone, this one has got us the most excited and most curious, if just to see if such a massive, time-spanning "inbetweequel" can deliver the x-citement and thrills we hope for.