Summer 2014: 20 Hollywood movies we can’t wait to see

Zig Marasigan
Rappler's movie reviewer Zig Marasigan shares what he thinks will make a big splash in Hollywood's annual summer movie season. Which flicks will you be watching?

The arrival of Captain America: Winter Soldier last March 26 unofficially kicked off the pre-summer Hollywood rollout. Although the North American summer doesn’t quite line up with our country’s hotter months, Filipino audiences can always expect Hollywood to spread their biggest releases from early April all the way to the end of August. Although local theaters don’t always show the movies at the same time, buzz will build up around the international release dates.

With 300: Rise of an Empire, Divergent and Captain America: Winter Soldier all firing the first shots in the battle for the box-office, we can expect the full force of Hollywood to strike over the month. Here are my picks for 20 of Hollywood’s most anticipated summer releases all the way until August. 

1. NOAH


Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson

Noah is the cinematic reimaging of the classic biblical tale of Noah and his ark. But Noah promises to be drastically different from the bible story traditionally depicted in children’s books.

Why We Should Care: Director Darren Aronofsky has built his career on stories that are well outside Hollywood’s comfort zone. After supposed deals to helm both Robocop and Wolverine fell  through, Noah became the Academy-award nominated director’s next project.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Noah marks Aronofsky’s first foray into big budget Hollywood. Religious criticism notwithstanding, the film will prove if Aronofsky has the mettle to handle material of both epic scale and budget. 

2. TRANSCENDENCE


Director: Wally Pfister
Starring: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman

When a revolutionary scientist is nearly murdered, his mind is uploaded into a computer. The result saves consciousness, but at the cost of his humanity.

Why We Should Care: It isn’t often that we see Johnny Depp take on a role outside of the usual Disney fanfare and Tim Burton project. Finally seeing him stretch his acting arms a little is as refreshing as it is long overdue.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Aside from the attention on its talented cast, Transcendence is also director’s Wally Pfister’s feature length debut in the director’s chair. Recognized mostly for his work as Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer, Pfister has a lot of ground to cover outside of just fancy lighting and visuals. 

3. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric 

When the concierge of a famous European hotel is framed for murder, he enlists the help of his lobby boy to help clear his name.

Why We Should Care: It isn’t often that Wes Anderson’s work has the privilege of showing in local theaters. It’ll be a rare treat to see The Grand Budapest Hotelprojected on screenswhen it’s released exclusively to Ayala Cinemas in mid-April.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Despite the critical buzz surrounding The Grand Budapest Hotel, audiences shouldn’t expect a drastic departure from Anderson’s usual style of storytelling. Viewers who aren’t particularly fond of Anderson’s quirky narrative style have a high chance of feeling more of the same. 

4. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST


Director: Seth McFarlane
Starring: Seth McFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson

A cowardly sheep farmer must transform himself into a quick-handed gunslinger in order to win back the love of his life.

Why We Should Care: Writer and director Seth McFarlane takes the lead role in his own film. But because of his impeccable comic timing, he can prove to be just as effective on camera as behind it.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Seth McFarlane’s humor is an acquired taste for many, and the setting might prove to be too alienating for local audiences. 

5. MALEFICENT


Director: Robert Stromberg
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley 

Maleficent retells the story of Sleeping Beauty through the eyes of its villain. This time around, we’re given far more than the fairy tale we’ve grown to love.

Why We Should Care: Angelina Jolie is picture perfect as the iconic villain Maleficent. And as far as fairy tale reimaginings go, Maleficent takes the genre a step further by providing a sense of breadth and scope not often found previous fairy tale reboots. 

Why We Should Be Cautious: Maleficent sees another first time director helming another big-budget tentpole release. While director Robert Stromberg may have the visual effects experience to bring Maleficent’s world to life, his ability to weave a compelling story is still in question. 

6. TRANSFORMERS 4: AGE OF EXTINCTION


Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor

The Transformers are back in their fourth film. This time, we bear witness to the events after the invasion of Chicago as the Transformers reunite to face a new threat against Earth.

Why We Should Care: Shia Labeouf is appropriately traded out for Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. But the introduction of the fan favorite Dinobots is the film’s real crown jewel. 

Why We Should Be Cautious: It’s another Transformers. Despite the new cast andthe new robots, audiences can expect little more than the usual flurry of brainless explosions and steel-fisted gut punches as only director Michael Bay can deliver. 

7. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST


Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman

The X-Men films are finally coming together in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Professor Xavier and Magneto are forced to work together to prevent an anti-Mutant future.

Why We Should Care: Not only is the film based on one of the most influential story arcs in X-Men history, but the return of the original franchise director Bryan Singer marks a potential return to form for the series.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Thestory of Days of Future Past is an expansive one, and with a lot of problems left hanging from X-Men: The Last Stand, the film may be hard-pressed to condense what’s necessary to tell a good story. 

8. THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2


Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx

The Amazing Spiderman 2 continues Peter Parker’s search for answers to the fate of his parents. But when his search leads him to OsCorp, he realizes that the secret may actually lie with one of his best friends.

Why We Should Care: Building on the success of the first film, The Amazing Spiderman 2 tries to remain fresh by covering new villains while still seeding the familiar ones. This time, Spiderman faces off against Electro and Rhino.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Despite the warm reception of the reboot, it’s hard not to feel fatigued with Spiderman’s lack of evolution through the years. While other superheroes have moved well beyond their origin story, Spiderman is still just a film away from his. 

9. GODZILLA


Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston

After a long hiatus, Godzilla once again returns to the big screen. But Godzilla doesn’t seem to be the only city-sized behemoth as he faces down other creatures bent on destroying everything in their path.

Why We Should Care: The much anticipated reboot of the Godzilla franchise aims to tear away the campy, over-the-top pastiche that was the last film. Instead of a Hollywood name director, Godzilla is being helmed by relative newcomer Gareth Edwards.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Gareth Edwards’ inexperience may also prove fatal to the film. With only a single independent feature under Edwards’ belt, it may not be enough to rein in a star as big as Godzilla.  

10. EDGE OF TOMORROW


Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

When Lt. Col. Bill Cage is killed in action in a suicide mission against an alien race, he is thrown into a time loop where he is forced to relive his death, and the war, over and over again.

Why We Should Care: Based on the manga All You Need is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow runs with the book’s compelling science fiction premise and gives it to Hollywood action director Doug Liman whose work on the Bourne Identity makes him a worthy helmer for this summer sci-fi thriller.   

Why We Should Be Cautious: Despite Liman’s credentials, it wouldn’t be the first time Hollywood meddled too much in a good thing. The change in title may already be a sign of things to come, not to mention the drastic change in suit design, which is a far cry from the original book’s mecha-inspired battle armor. 

11. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS


Director: Josh Boone
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort

Why We Should Care: Young acting darling Shailene Woodley returns to work on films of small scale but great material. Outside of her stint on the recently released Divergent, Woodley’s taste in scripts has been flawless so far.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Director Josh Boone has seemingly come out of nowhere, with his feature length debut Stuck in Love, receiving mixed to negative reviews from critics. But even with another film already on his plate, he still has to prove that he has what it takes to command material like The Fault In Our Stars. 

12. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2

Director: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Kristen Wiig

Hiccup and Toothless are reunited once again to determine the fate of both humans and dragons. But this time, they have to contend with a mysterious new dragon rider.

Why We Should Care: The usual suspects from the first film are all back, and though co-director Chris Sanders will be missed, director Dean DeBlois was good enough to stay to continue their work from the original.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Despite the excitement surrounding the sequel, the charm of the original may have been best left untouched. Dreamworks has already announced a third How to Train Your Dragon film, and this may very well spell the beginning of the end of what should’ve been a good thing. 

13. 22 JUMP STREET


Director: Chris Miller and Phil Lord
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube

Jenko and Schmidt are once again tasked to go undercover. But this time, they’re sent to the unforgiving and relentless world of college.

Why We Should Care: The original cast and directors are back again. And coming off the success of Miller and Lord’s work on The Lego Movie, the sequel may hold up to be one of the cleverest comedies of the year.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Too much of a good thing is always a concern when comes to comedies. And with the first film being such a surprise success, the sequel has very high benchmark to match, especially with expectations set and audiences in anticipation.  

14. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell

After a simian virus has wiped out most of humanity, an all-out war between its survivors and the evolved apes will determine the fate of both species.

Why We Should Care: It’s the continuation of the surprisingly successful Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But this time, we have veteran actor Gary Oldman starring toe to toe with the computer generated Caesar.

Why We Should Be Cautious: 20th Century Fox’s desire to churn out a sequel as soon as possible caused director Rupert Wyatt to slip through the cracks. While director Matt Reeves has proven himself to be capable behind the camera, there’s no denying that Wyatt’s vision is what made the first film so surprisingly compelling. 

15. JUPITER ASCENDING


Director: Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis

Jupiter Jones lives a fairly average life. But when she is targeted by an ex-military hunter, Jones suddenly realizes that there may be more to her than she realizes.

Why We Should Care: The Wachowski siblings have a portfolio rich with science fiction credentials, and with Jupiter Ascending heralded as another Matrix, the Wachowskis may have a winner in their hands.

Why We Should Be Cautious: The Wachowski siblings have never been consistent with their quality of storytelling. Despite their big budget releases, they have often been marred by lackluster box office results and pretentious narratives. 

16. HERCULES: THE THRACIAN WARS


Director:
Brett Ratner
Starring:
Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes

The Greek demigod Hercules is sought out by the King of Thrace to stop a tyrannical Warlord and prove his mettle as the supposed son of Zeus.

Why We Should Care: While other attempts to bring mythology to the silver screen have failed, none of them had Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as its lead. But his box-office draw will be put to the test with this one.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Director Brett Ratner last three films have been middling to mediocre at best, and Hercules: The Thracian Wars may simply prove more of the same.

17. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Dave Batista, Vin Diesel

When Peter Quill finds himself to be a target of an interstellar bounty hunter, he is forced to team up with quartet of odd spacefaring misfits.

Why We Should Care: There is a gun-wielding raccoon. Mix that with director James Gunn’s predilection for oddball humor, and Marvel Studios may have a new blockbuster franchise in their hands.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Unlike previous Marvel films, Guardians of the Galaxy has little to draw on when it comes to establishing a whole new set of characters. With a lot of lore to cover and little screen time, Guardians of the Galaxy risks brevity for the sake of story. 

18. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES


Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Megan Fox, William Fichtner

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are given a 21st century update in a Hollywood reboot that hopes to take down both Shredder and the international box-office.

Why We Should Care: Paramount Pictures has gone through a number of full script rewrites to make sure their comeback is done right.

Why We Should Be Cautious: Director Jonathan Liebesman may have a penchant for spectacle, but his previous work in Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans leaves him particularly lacking in terms of character and story. 

19. THE GIVER


Director: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Brenton Thwaites Meryl Streepm Jeff Bridges

In a world where conflict, racism and sickness is eradicated, a young boy is entrusted with a responsibility that ultimately determines the fate of his people.

Why We Should Care: Based on the award-winning children’s book by Lois Lowry, The Giver provides some rich material that can be made both exciting and thought-provoking.

Why We Should Be Cautious: From the trailer alone, it’s easy to see that the adaption has taken liberties with the source material. While it’s too early to tell on what kind of ramifications these changes will have to the film, audiences can expect more than a few other departures from the original novel. 

20. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR


Director: Robert Rodriguez, and Frank Miller
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Sin City is back with a new collection of stories to tell, with characters both old and new coming together for another dose of neo-noir.

Why We Should Care: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are both returning with aphone book worth of notable actors to continue to Sin City saga. Based on the second book In the Sin City series, there are still a number of stories worth bringing to screen.

Why We Should Be Cautious: The original Sin City was captivating because of its intriguing stories and novel visual style. But nearly a decade later, A Dame to Kill For may not be able to replicate the success of the original film. – Rappler.com

 

Zig Marasigan is a freelance screenwriter and director who believes that cinema is the cure for cancer. Follow him on Twitter at @zigmarasigan.

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