Sometimes writing these lists, you end up picking some duds. But the worst is when I pick a movie and it doesn't even come out that year. There's been a few in 2013 that got pushed back to 2014 and a couple of them are in this next section. Most of the time it has to do with post-production problems. Other times it's simply that the studio does not have any faith in the project. I always can find a filler if that happens this year (hell, I even forgot until the last minute that the Veronica Mars movie was coming out next year!). As much as I love doing these lists, I relish the moments when I find myself in the theater watching something that I haven't previewed or heard little about and it just blows me away. Good times, those are.
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore
Director: Jaume Coulet-Serra
Writers: John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, Ryan Engle
Release Date: February 28
I'd be pretty content if Liam Neeson just pumped out a thrilling action flick every year where he takes names and kicks ass. There doesn't have to be a cool plot or even well-drawn out characters - just Neeson with a gun and a badge (but he doesn't know how to use it!), knockin' heads and basically being a badass. I could live with that - and Non-Stop seems to be making sure our Neeson butt-kicking quota gets filled next year. They even brought on board the guy who directed him in 2011's Unknown. That movie was okay (Neeson elevated it from terrible to mediocre), but this movie does indeed, look like non-stop action - OMG I just now got the title! I'd pretty much recommend any thriller/action movie that takes place on a plane - there's Flightplan, Red Eye, Airplane! (yeah that's a comedy, but damn if it wasn't thrilling!). I guess I'm a sucker for airplane movies (not necessarily airplane movies like Red Tails or Flightboys - those movies about pilots and their planes are just plain boring! In fact they are a lot similar to movies about guys and their horses - just do it already! Sheesh.) Give me ridiculously plotted thrillers that have no basis in reality every year and I'll show you a happy man (which is me. I'd be the happy man in this scenario.)
Starring: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writers: Adam Cozad, David Koepp
Release Date: January 17
Jack Ryan is having a bummer of a time. Not only did his movie get bumped from December to the box office graveyard of January, Tom Clancy passed away leaving an ominous and possibly fortuitous sign into how this movie is going to fare in theaters. Like I've already admitted, I'm a spy nerd (so much in fact that I trudged through the book Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy because it's the greatest spy novel ever. Spoiler alert: it's not). So Jack Ryan should be right up my alley - it's just that there is no way the studio has any faith in this movie if they moved it from the lofty heights of a Christmas release to the radioactive zone that is the after-holiday release of January The film looks good enough, although it makes it painfully obvious that this is not just a spy film, but a man trying to balance his personal life with his newly found life as a spy. I winced when Costner says "This is geopolitics, not couples therapy." OKAY I GOT IT. Thank you for shoe-horning this romantic B-plot into my spy movie! Maybe this will turn out to be like Casino Royale's well-written romance - but I'm not holding my breath. The cast is wonderful - I love Kenneth Branagh as the villain. He's also directing, which is wonderful because he did Thor and he's proven to be a very versatile director as of late. This should be a good movie, but who the hell knows at this point?
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Evan Daugherty, Vanessa Taylor
Release Date: March 21
Yet another YA novel that's making the cover pages of movie magazines claiming to be the next Hunger Games when the Hunger Games only just came out last year! Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this slew of dystopian, apocalyptic storytelling, but Divergent has me a little hesitant to actually invest myself into finding out more about the series. Whereas The Hunger Games, I saw the trailer and immediately wanted to read the books. I'm not so keen on Divergent. Maggie has read all three and has enjoyed them for the most part, but she hasn't loved them enough for me to actually sit down and read them. I'm content to just check out the movie at this point. While I think the story is interesting, there's something bland about the setting. Maybe it's because it veers too close to being a combination of Twilight and the Hunger Games (factions are like the Hunger Game's districts, a manipulative, ruling authority much like the Volturi in Twilight, and of course, shirtless dudes). Neil Burger is directing and his last film, Limitless, was awesome. I dug the look and feel of that film. However, I don't like the look of Divergent- it's too many dark blues and greys that all the people seem to blend together. Maybe that's what they're going for, I don't know - I'm not a film student! Still, it's going to be worth checking out (I know Maggie will most definitely want to go see this, so maybe I'll get to tag along).
Starring: Sullivan Stapleton, Rodrigo Santoro, Eva Green
Director: Noam Murro
Writers: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad
Release Date: March 7
This was on my list last year with a release date of August! I don't know how this movie got pushed back so far, but here it is, hoping that lightning strikes twice in March. 300 is credited for the rising tide of Hollywood summer tentpole movies being showcased in the month of March. I don't believe that this semi-sequel (which is also a prequel? I don't know, the story is all over the place) is going to reach the lofty heights of its predecessor, but it could be a fun movie. Lots and lots of films have imitated the look and feel of Snyder's 300, but none have really come close to matching the tightly-focused epic either in story or visually. Hopefully this sequel, which focuses on a number of different characters, most notably Xerses, the Persian King and Greek leader Themistocles, can deliver the goods. Not much is revealed about the plot, which could be all sorts of convoluted because there's just so many different battles and figureheads that it's going to be hard to follow (at least for my tiny brain). Plus the movie just looks dark - I hope the movie doesn't look so drab throughout, otherwise I might be squinting the whole time just trying to figure out what's what. Still, I'm excited - the original 300 was fantastic and Zack Snyder did contribute to this screenplay. This may not live up to the original, but it still could be a fun action flick.
Voiced by: Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig, America Ferrera
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writer: Dean DeBlois
Release Date: June 13
It's surprising how long it has taken for this sequel to come out. The original came out four years ago to much fanfare and success - and it was warranted. It was a fun and funny original animated movie with really great characters AND it had dragons! You can't go wrong with dragons! Which is why I'm really excited about the sequel - one of the original co-writers and co-directors is back. The only reason he came back was so that he could end up doing a trilogy. He says he wants to make the second one a lot like Empire Strikes Back: "What I loved especially about Empire is that it expanded Star Wars in every direction: emotionally, its scope, characters, fun. It felt like an embellishment and that's the goal." So yeah, if it comes anywhere close to what Empire did to Star Wars, this should be pretty sweet. This time around, Hiccup and Toothless find themselves caught up in a new threat because of the rapid expansion of the Vikings (because now the Vikings have dragons to ride, they've basically discovered new lands - and new dragons!). Yay! New dragons! I am totes excited about this one!