Sci-Fi and Fantasy Movies on tap for 2014

I don’t know if mainstream science-fiction is getting better or worse, but one thing is for sure: between all the endless reboots, remakes, comic/manga adaptations their has to be something good, bold and maybe even original that craps out from the Hollywood turn-style of sci-fi and fantasy films for 2014. Elysium (2013) may not have been the big-budget, sophomoric follow-up we all craved from District 9 director Neil Blomkamp but it was still a good, imaginative effort that was enjoyable as pure popcorn-pushing entertainment. However, the underlying message about lacking a robust healthcare system and helping the impoverished couldn’t have been any more obvious and transparent. Gravity (2013), from director Alfonso Cuaron, was a more focused affair of sci-fi that actually contained quite a bit of real science and managed to so closely replicate the isolated, infinite void of space unlike any other space-faring venture I have yet to see. The only problem with Cuaron’s take on survival in the final frontier was that it hung so heavily on Sandra Bullock’s performance, as she was literally flying solo throughout 2/3rd of the movie. While she was more than convincing as the novice astronaut-engineer Ryan Stone trying to maintain her composure throughout the whole ordeal of always teetering on the verge of life and death, I had a more difficult time believing her backstory of a transient mother bereft of both home and daughter. Regardless, Gravity has been the best vehicle to date for use of 3D in cinemas. It truly is something that requires you to disconnect from the net, log-off social media and get out and go to the theater for a unique experience. So here’s my list of sci-fi and fantasy hopefuls that will either bust or be awesome:

 

Winter’s Tale

 

Out Now

Want a movie to take your girlfriend to that features flying horses, an alternate-reality NYC and Colin Farrell? Enter Winter’s Tale. A love-story based on the novel of the same name, and also has a hilariously miscast Will Smith playing Satan and Russel Crowe caked-up with a scar to outfit the archetype of a hallmark villain. Based on the trailer below, your girlfriend will either be crying from the “love-the-dying-girl” angle or laughing at Farrell muttering lines like “I’ve had no memories for as long as I can remember.” Dude, you either just blew a paradox fuse or someone “polished” up this script a little too much.

 

 

Project Almanac [formerly known as “Welcome to Yesterday”]

 

Originally scheduled for a February 2014 release, now pushed back until early 2015

Another film that plays with the idea of time-travel, except this one requires all suspension of belief because there is no fantasy in this movie. Playing out as a found-footage film, a band of teenagers discovers hidden directions and what appears to be the parts to assemble a make-shift time machine out of…. an XBox 360, of all things. I kid you not, it actually reveals this in the trailer below. Of course stupid teenagers doing stupid things while jumping back n’ forth in time never turns out good. Based on the fact that the time machine is partially constructed from an Xbox, this movie could be absurdly fun to watch or just absurd. Here’s hoping for the former.

 

 

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

 

March 7th (USA)

Already released in China to massive financial and critical success, this film is a re-telling of the classic Chinese pilgrimage of a Buddhist monk traveling to the western regions and back. The tale is an account of monk Xuanzang’s odyssey, and the source material is separated into four novels detailing the suffering and trials of the Tang Sanzang’s dynasty travels. The movie is a prequel about how Monkey, Pigsy and the other monk’s finally meet and come together, with a good measure of satire thrown in for broader appeal. The USA trailer is grand, and this movie definitely looks to be a riot good time.

 

 

Jodorowsky’s Dune

 

March 7th

We all know “Dune” was officially made into a movie in 1984 and was a massive financial and critical failure. While the film has since gained cult status, this documentary tells of one the greatest sci-fi movie adaptations that was never made via storyboards, awesome conceptual art and interviews with then cast/crew. The trailer piqued my interest and if you love sci-fi as much as I (BUSTIN’ OUT THE FATTY FAT DOPE STUPID RHYMES), then this is a must-see:

 

 

Divergent

 

March 21st

Featuring Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley and Theo James

Another tween-rebellion dystopian novel (a la The Hunger Games) adapted into film. The book, by author Veronica Roth, is about a young woman named Tris trying to discover her place in society through a standardized test that deciphers what the person’s strongest virtue is. If the test does not yield a proper result, the person is stamped as “Divergent” and can choose to flee or fight from the ruling Fascism, because y’know anything remotely different and unknown in the future is always the threat. Jump to the trailer below and have pretty much the entire plot spoiled for you much like every trailer nowadays:

 

Noah

 

March 28th

Featuring Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins

Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, Black Swan), this is myth combined with the storyteller’s (Aronofsky) own take on this biblical epic. Aronofsky is known for doing some pretty avant-garde, ballsy stuff and apparently some test screenings back in late 2013 didn’t go over so well with the devoutly religious. But if Aronofsky’s pedigree as a writer and director is anything to go by and pending that the studio keep his final cut and don’t get cute with it, we could be in for a mind-blowing interpretation of the Ark. Also, any TV spot or trailer for a film that requires it’s own “explanatory message” specifically for faith-biased consumers let’s you know that something potentially in this movie is sooooo controversial that it has religious fanatics in a hot mess.

 

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

April 4th

Featuring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie and Robert Redford

OK, so I guess this movie is based on some popular Marvel Comic featuring the titular Captain fighting off evil-doers? In the sequel (there was a first one?), the Captain and Black Widow band together to battle with this crazy polar opposite version of Captain America, known only as “the Winter Soldier.” Ooohhh, my bones are tingling with angst and anticipation already. Words, Stop. Now. Trailer:

 

 

Under the Skin

 

April 4th

Featuring Scarlett Johansson

Based on the novel by Michael Faber, this film has already garnered massive critical acclaim with audiences at festival screenings lauding the movies style in comparison to Stanley Kubrick. Directed by Jonathon Glazer, Scarlett Johansson plays a derelict alien prowling the streets for reclusive, lonely men to prey on thru sexual deception, all but leaving them as empty husks after coitus. Think Species (which was also good) but stylized with much more finesse and better locales (ie: anywhere except LA and NYC). Check out the first US trailer below, which reveals little to no plot and thus spoiler free:

 

 

Transcendence

 

April 18th

Featuring Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kata Mara, Cillian Murphy and Paul Bettany

Directed by Wally Pfister, who has had an impressive resume as Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer, makes his debut with a sci-fi thriller. Dr.Will Caster (Depp), a well-regarded AI researcher, becomes public enemy number one by anti-technology fanatics when he reveals his goal to create a united artificial intelligence so grand it can perform calculations and possess intelligence beyond the entire human race. After being gunned down and with his life expiring in days, his wife and best friend make a bold decision to transfer Dr.Caster’s consciousness into an experimental AI system. All to soon, Caster becomes ubiquitous and sentient making it difficult to control his actions and putting humanity at great risk at the expense of his appetite for knowledge. Trailer below:

 

 

Earth to Echo

 

July 2nd

Little is known about this science-fiction adventure movie being directed David Green and produced by Walt Disney Studios except it’s in the vain of those classic 80’s movies were kids outsmarted their parents in the name of exploration and discovery. You can watch the teaser trailer below which shows a group of pre-teens gathering around a very foreign object, hopefully the whole movie isn’t shot as a “found-footage” feature:

 

New: Check out the updated, full length trailer below:

 

 

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

 

May 2nd

Featuring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti and Dane DeHaan

Not sure why we have a new Spider-Man trilogy so soon, but there is one constant between almost all comic book movies: They are insanely popular and almost always profitable. In part two, Spider-Man is doing his thing and New York is loving him for it until a triple threat of villains shows up to rain on Peter Parker’s parade. Spidey must now face a foe with far superior powers in Electro (Foxx), a street thug (Giamatti) who had the incredible luck of coming into a weaponized, mecha-suit of armor and his old pal Harry Osborn (DeHaan) might just show up for shits and giggles. Uninteresting Fact: Parts of this movie were shot in the downtown area of where I reside (which is obviously not NYC). Watch the first official trailer below:

 

 

Godzilla

 

May 16th

Featuring Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe and Elizabeth Olsen

Directed by British film-maker Gareth Edwards, this Godzilla is as distant as possible from the 1998 “reboot”. Edwards himself described the film as a “Man vs. Nature” scenario, a fight that man typically loses in epic fashion. From preview footage being shown around different circles in the industry, this reboot of Godzilla will go back to the roots of the franchise where the green giant rises up from the ocean and just flat-out destroys shit. Oh yeah, and it’s got Bryan Cranston running around screaming and emoting like crazy which is marvelous. The movie has already been a commercial success and talk of sequel is underway. Latest epic trailer below:

 

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

May 23rd

Featuring everyone from the prequel and the original Bryan Singer films: Sir Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry Jennifer Law… ah screw it

I really enjoyed the original trilogy and the prequels have been decent, so with the fusion of the old cast and new cast this could be very good, just meh or terrible. So far, it has been well received by the allegiance of X-Men fans and general public alike. With so many mutants, old and new, how is it going to be if and when we have a revolving door of crazy looking characters to appear for just a few lines to keep the status quo? There’s a time travel plot involved and Wolverine plays an integral role in protecting past and present mutants from becoming extinct. Here’s the teaser:

 

Here’s the full-length, feature trailer:

 

 

 

Maleficent

 

May 30th

Featuring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Sharlto Copley

A prequel of sorts to Sleeping Beauty, Jolie looking anorexic as ever plays the titular character of Maleficent, otherwise regarded as the “Evil Queen” in Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent tells the tale of the queen before she turned really nasty and how she was the queen of the forest, trying to protect it from mankind and ends being bitterly betrayed by someone closest to her. Disney has been pumping out quite a few of of these more realistic, darker tales lately, and this one looks to be seductively twisted. Jolie’s performance has been praised unanimously by critics, but many Disney and fantasy fans have been polarized by the film as a whole. Watch the “Dream” trailer below:

 

Here’s the official, 3rd full-length trailer for “Maleficent”:

 

 

Edge of Tomorrow

 

June 6th

Featuring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton

I love love LOVE Emily Blunt but I hate hate HATE some of the crap she’s been in lately. I sincerely hope Edge of Tomorrow is better, and knowing that it’s based off the Japanese manga “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, I am enthusiastic she’ll be better off. After all, that exo-suit armor she wears in the trailer looks totally badass (and apparently nothing like the suits in the manga, but this is HOLLYWOOD so learn to settle). So yeah, that’s my ratio of how to gauge whether this movie will be good or terrible, Emily Blunt’s exo-suit. The film is basically Groundhog Day on steroids, with Cruise’s character getting killed in battle against a devastating alien force known as Mimics, only to wake up and repeat it all over again. UPDATE: The reviews are in, and so far this is has recieved very positive praise from critics and the movie-going public alike. I have personally seen the movie and have to say I was very, very berry impressed. Tom Cruise shows that he can still convincingly play a great sci-fi lead character and it was nice to see Blunt as a female heroin and not some stupid love interest for the male character. The trailer looks decent, and Cruise plays a convincing army schmuck:

 

Here’s the most recent IMAX trailer for “Edge of Tomorrow”. If you enjoy smart sci-fi that’s well directed with a talented cast, this is a must-see:

 

 

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction

 

June 27th

Featuring Mark Wahlberg, T.J. Miller, and Nicola Peltz

Micheal Bay brings us another CGI explosion-fest, this time featuring Dinosaur Transformers (Dinobots) as well as the Autobots and the Decepticons duking it out for supremacy or something. Feel like they’re beating a dead horse with this one. Here’s the SuperBowl trailer:

 

Here’s the latest feature-length trailer for “T4: Age of Extinction”:

 

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

 

July 11th

Featuring Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Judy Greer, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell

This reboot of “…the apes” series has started off very well, with the pleasantly surprising Rise of the Planet of the Apes released in 2011. This film is set to take place 10 years after the events in the preceding picture, where a virulent contagion has decimated mankind whilst the apes have been thriving intellectually and physically. Humanity must decide to make peace and share the planet, or start war and take back the planet. Teaser trailer is here:

 

Check out the latest full-length trailer for the new “Apes” film here. This one is looking better and better with each iterative preview:

 

 

 

Jupiter Ascending

 

UPDATE: Originally scheduled for a July 18th release, “Jupiter Ascending” has now been delayed until February 2015 due to inefficient time for completing the CGI sequences and Visual FX. What’s extremely peculiar about this delay is the timing, since the movie was pushed back literally less than a month before it’s release. I guess will see next February if distributor Warner Bros made the right call.

Featuring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne

The Wachowski siblings are back to form again, this time directing what could either be a absurdly cheesy orgasm of strange costumes and special effects… or a masterful, ethereal space opera. Jupiter Jones the janitor (say that 5 times fast), played by Kunis, mops floors and scrubs toilets for a living until a genetically-engineered humanoid bred for the military named Caine comes to Earth intent on finding and protecting Jupiter so she can claim her birthright of being Queen of the stars….no really, that’s essentially the plot. Obviously, numerous obstacles stand in her way such as the current regime hellbent on preventing “Jupiter Ascending…”Anyhow, the trailer details all this and more in a much more colorful veneer of style:

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

 

August 1st

Featuring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper among many, many others.

OK, I am officially hyped for this one and it’s release is right around my birthday, so I know what my birthday plans will entail….do you? Seriously, this is another Marvel comic adaptation about a group of misfits from all corners of the cosmos forming an uneasy alliance for a greater cause. One of the characters is a deadly Space-Racoon, aptly named Rocket, that’s been engineered to be an assassin while his sidekick Groot is literally a huge tree-stump humanoid hybrid that only says “I am Groot!” Pratt plays the sarcastic, petty thief Peter Quill who goes by the alias of “Star Lord”, which of course nobody in his company takes seriously. A manhunt goes underway when Quill actually steals a valuable orb that is sacred to the villain Ronan, and is forced to enter a tepid truce with the others to evade capture. The first teaser trailer was officially unveiled not to long a go, and this movie is by far high up on my list of must-sees:

 

Watch the eagerly anticipated official, full-length second trailer below:

 

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 

August 8th

Featuring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner  and Abby Elliott

Another Micheal Bay ordeal directed by the guy who did Battle:LA. The plot remains a mystery and no teaser trailers have been revealed yet, although mumblings on the interweb confirm that the trailer for this reboot will run with Captain America 2. What we know so far is that motion-capture is being used on live actors wearing grey, turtle-like costumes and Megan Fox will play reporter April O’Neil while Will Arnett tags along as her cameraman and rival. Shredder and Splinter will also appear in the movie, although I have no idea in what capacity (most likely Shredder as villain and Splinter as the mentor).  I sincerely hope they don’t bust this franchise up because TMNT is coveted by so many that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, it would be a damn shame. Trailer will be posted below when made available. UPDATE: Theatrical trailer finally available for your viewing pleasure below:

 

 

Lucy

 

Formerly slated to release August 8th but moved up due to stiff competition from Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, now scheduled to release on July 25th.

Featuring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman

Luc Besson, director of the 90’s cult classic The Fifth Element is personally writing, directing and producing this movie about the titular character Lucy (Johansson) who gets forcefully roped into being a drug mule and accidentally ingests a powerful drug which gives her super powers. Much like “Limitless”, this film also uses the tagline of a super-drug purportedly allowing an individual to access more than 10% of their brain. Reportedly, this movie has the highest budget ever for a EuropaCorp production and is stated that Luc Besson has never put so many special effects in a movie, so I guess when we inch closer to the release date we’ll hear and see much more of this promising feature. Trailers are now officially available! Check out the one-minute TV spot below for a minimalistic preview that doesn’t show off any potential spoilers:

 

For the complete full-length, feature trailer for “Lucy” watch the video below:

 

 

 

The Giver

 

August 15th

Featuring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep,  Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, Taylor Swift, Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes

Adapted from the 1993 novel of the same, “The Giver” revolves around the life of  16-year Jonas who has been pre-ordained with the special task of being the “Receiver of Memory”. Eventually Jonas begins to discover the ugly truth behind his worlds history and conflict ensues. Duuuuuh. Watch the new theatrical trailer below courtesy of Yahoo:

 

Watch the original, shorter cut of the first theatrical trailer via YouTube below:

 

 

 

 

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

 

August 22nd

Featuring Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Jaime King, Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe, Clive Owen, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Jamie Chung, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Lady Gaga and Ray Liotta

I remember going in blind, knowing nothing about the original Sin City when I went to see it and being delightfully and pleasantly surprised. Not only did it surpass any expectations that I thought I had, the unique aesthetic style of the movie gave credence to Frank Miller’s graphic novel, adapted faithfully which translated into a successful breakout hit. Now that comic cross-overs to the big screen are a regular “thing” (remember, Sin City was released in 2005 when Marvel and others were testing the waters adapting their own comic-book and superhero franchises into successful cinematic experiences), it will be interesting to see how well this sequel can retain interest as it’s been nearly a decade since the original film’s release. Like the original, the film will be divided into several different stories each with their own unique characters and plot. Watch the new theatrical trailer below:

 

 

 

 

The Maze Runner

 

September 19th

Featuring Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter and Aml Ameen

Another film adapted from a dystopian YA novel by James Dashner of the same name, written in 2009. When protagonist Thomas awakes, he finds himself surrounded by a group of all males that have no memory or recollection of how they got there or who they were. With the only way out of the camp is navigating thru a deadly maze where some have ventured into but none have returned, Thomas decides to enter the maze with the hope of possible escape and discovering information about his identity, purpose and past. Seems a little abstract, but intriguing nonetheless. Check out the first cinematic trailer below:

 

 

 

Birdman

 

October 17th

Featuring Micheal Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, the delightful and delicious Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts and Amy Ryan

While this film is more of a “dramedy” then a sci-fi thriller or fantasy flick, I genuinely dig the concept at work. A once famous actor (portrayed by Keaton) notoriously known for playing a superhero on-screen struggles to mount a comeback on Broadway. Days before the play, Keaton’s character attempts to reunite with his estranged family and battle his own ego while trying to maintain some semblance of dignity. Watch the first theatrical trailer below:

 

 

 

 

Interstellar

 

November 7th

Featuring Matthew McConaughey (GAYBALLS), Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine

Not a huge fan of McConaughey but since this sci-fi spectacle is coming from Christopher Nolan himself, we could be in for a real treat. A wormhole is discovered and mankind sets out to send a manned scientific mission to explore this anomaly that has captivated all of Earth. Watch the second official trailer below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

One response to “Sci-Fi and Fantasy Movies on tap for 2014

  1. Pingback: WE’RE BACK ON THE ATTACK | hiddendefinition

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