Summer Movie 2014 Recap
To be honest,
in cinema circles, the summer of 2014 will probably be remembered more
for so many things that happened off the silver screen than on. It was
a fairly lackluster May, June, July and August at the local cineplexes.
There were a few box-office blockbusters, a few box-office bombs and
a lot of "filler" in between. Usually, I go to preview screenings and
talk to other reviewers and audience members about the flicks - what
I've seen that I have liked, what I've seen that I didn't like, what's
coming out in the weeks ahead, etc. But this summer, the talk was more
often about the many entertainment greats that left us. Robin Williams,
Lauren Bacall, Sir Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Joan Rivers,
Eli Wallach, Casey Kasem, Ann B. Davis, Ruby Dee, Jimi Jamison. And
if it wasn't the celebrity death trifectas, the talk was about a new
"Star Wars" movie now filming that will feature Harrison Ford, Mark
Hamill and Carrie Fisher. It was dreaming about the cool charity contest
where you could win a role in "Episode VII" and how insanely awesome
that would be. It was lamenting Ford's ankle injury. Or, we'd barely
talk about the flick being screened that night and instead would lament
about all of the strife and violence and turmoil happening throughout
the world in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq and right here at home along
the Mexican-U.S. border and in a St. Louis suburb few had heard of before
a couple of weeks ago. Movies have always been a great escape for me
and millions of others. So, before we get into the fall and holiday
movie season, let's take one last look back at the Summer Movies of
2014 and how they tried to provide a temporary respite from a crazy,
- Three Movies Everyone
Should Have Seen: 1) "Life Itself;" 2) "Dawn of the Planet of
the Apes;" and 3) "Guardians of the Galaxy"
- Three Movies More People
Should Have Seen: 1) "Belle;" 2) "Get on Up;" and 3) "Hercules"
- Three Movies Too Many
People Have Seen: 1) "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles;" 2) "Transformers:
Age of Extinction;" and 3) "Godzilla"
- Three Movies That Nobody
Should Have Seen: 1) "Sex Tape;" 2) "A Million Ways to Die in
the West;" and 3) "Tammy"
- Three Movies I Haven't
Seen But Really Want To: 1) "Boyhood;" 2) "Chef;" and 3) "Snowpiercer"
- Three Movies That Got
Panned That I Kind Of Liked: 1) "The Expendables 3;" 2) "As Above,
So Below;" and 3) "Step Up: All In"
- Best Performance Of
The Summer (Male): Chadwick Boseman, "Get on Up"
- Best Performance Of
The Summer (Female): Angelina Jolie, "Maleficent"
- Most Promising Newcomer
(Male): Ansel Elgort, "The Fault in Our Stars"
- Most Promising Newcomer
(Female): Gugu Mbatha-Raw, "Belle"
- Favorite Cameo:
Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, "A Million Ways to Die in the West"
- Top Animated Film:
"How to Train Your Dragon 2"
- Best Opening Credits:
"Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"
- Best End Credits:
"22 Jump Street"
- Most Overused Location:
Las Vegas ("Think Like a Man Too," "Godzilla," "The Expendables 3,"
and "Step Up: All In")
- Best Movie With The
Worst Ending: "Edge of Tomorrow"
- Worst Movie With The
Best Ending: "The November Man"
- And, finally, The Three
Movies I'm Most Looking Forward To Next Summer: 1) "Avengers:
Age of Ultron;" 2) "Jurassic World;" and 3) "Tomorrowland."
Fall Movie 2014 Preview
It may be hazy, hot, and
humid along much of the East Coast this week, but the signs of autumn
are starting to appear. Bags of Halloween candy are beginning to pile
up in the aisles of supermarkets, Targets, and Wal-Marts everywhere.
The National Football League celebrated its opening weekend of touchdowns,
field goals, and life-altering brain traumas. And, yes, commercials
and trailers are starting to appear in earnest, showcasing the flicks
that will be vying for award attention between now and the end of the
year. So, without further ado, I give you my annual preview of the flicks
that are on their way to theaters this fall and holiday season. Let's
start with the 10 flicks I find people asking me the most about:
1) "Interstellar" (Nov.
WHO'S IT GOT? Matthew
McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Jessica Chastain
WHAT'S THE PLOT? In the near future, a group of scientists blast off
into space to find a new world to colonize when Earth can no longer
produce enough food to support its population.
COLD OR HOT? Rocket hot! I'm always up for whatever director Christopher
Nolan of "The Dark Knight" and "Inception" has in store for audiences
2) "Gone Girl"(Oct. 3)
WHO'S IT GOT? Ben Affleck,
Rosamund Pike, and Tyler Perry WHAT'S THE PLOT? A man's life spins
out of control when his wife disappears and he becomes the prime suspect.
COLD OR HOT? Sizzling! I still don't know the big twist from the book,
and I hope I don't find out beforehand.
3) "Birdman" (Oct. 17)
WHO'S IT GOT? Michael Keaton
and Edward Norton
WHAT'S THE PLOT? A former A-list Hollywood star (Keaton) who became
typecast after playing the superhero Birdman looks to make a comeback
by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway play. Madness ensues.
COLD OR HOT? In the geek circles that I travel in, this one is red-hot.
Keaton has always been one of the most beloved big-screen Batmen.
So, to see him tweaking his classic role alongside arguably the most
underrated Hulk (Norton) definitely has the movie nerd juices a-flowin'.
4) "Fury" (Nov. 14)
WHO'S IT GOT? Brad Pitt,
Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal
WHAT'S THE PLOT? Brad Pitt ... tank commander ... World War II ...
killing Nazis. Sold!
COLD OR HOT? Hot. Even a lingering case of LaBeouf-ilitis can't dim
this film's buzz.
5) "Unbroken" (Dec. 25)
WHO'S IT GOT? Jack O'Connell
and Domhnall Gleeson
WHAT'S THE PLOT? This is the true story of Louis Zamperini, the U.S.
Olympian who served in the Air Force during World War II, survived
a crash into the Pacific Ocean, spent 47 days adrift on a raft, then
two years in a Japanese POW camp.
COLD OR HOT? Hot and getting hotter. Most of the press will be centered
on director Angelina Jolie, who is looking to deliver a sweeping survival
6) "Inherent Vice" (Dec.
WHO'S IT GOT? Joaquin Phoenix
and Josh Brolin
WHAT'S THE PLOT? A '70s-era crime noir featuring Phoenix as a P.I.
who investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend's rich boyfriend
and becomes embroiled in a world of heroin, pimps, and ... surfing?
COLD OR HOT? Cool for now. At this time, no one quite knows what to
make of this latest effort by writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson.
7) "Dumb and Dumber To"
WHO'S IT GOT? Jim Carrey
and Jeff Daniels
WHAT'S THE PLOT? Dimwits Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) are back
and looking for Harry's long-lost daughter in the hopes that she'll
be able to donate a brain ... er, kidney to save her old man.
COLD OR HOT? Warm. After all, it has been two decades since the original
8) "Annie" (Dec. 19)
WHO'S IT GOT? Quvenzhane
Wallis, Jamie Foxx, and Cameron Diaz WHAT'S THE PLOT? The sun will
once again come out tomorrow for show biz's most famous orphan (Wallis).
COLD OR HOT? Cold. Wallis is adorable, but theatre traditionalists
are bristling at the classic musical being updated for the 21st century,
jettisoning its Depression-era setting and adding Auto-Tune to some
of the play's classic songs.
9) "The Theory of Everything"
WHO'S IT GOT? Eddie Redmayne
and Felicity Jones
WHAT'S THE PLOT? The love story between physicist Stephen Hawking
and his first wife, Jane, centering on the time in Hawking's early
20s when he was diagnosed with ALS.
COLD OR HOT? Warm. After his performances in "My Week With Marilyn"
and "Les Miserables," Redmayne has emerged as one of my favorite young
10) "Jimi: All Is by My
Side" (Sept. 26)
WHO'S IT GOT? Andre Benjamin
and Imogen Poots
WHAT'S THE PLOT? Benjamin stars as guitar legend Jimi Hendrix in an
unconventional biopic that centers on the year leading up to his legendary
performance at the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967.
COLD OR HOT? Hot. I personally can't wait to hear some of those classic
Hendrix guitar licks in Dolby Surround Sound!
TEN MORE THAT LOOK INTRIGUING:
"Exodus: God and Kings,"
"A Merry Friggin' Christmas," "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,"
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1," "Into the Woods," "Selma," "Foxcatcher,"
"Rosewater," "Men, Women & Children," and "The Hobbit: The Battle of
the Five Armies."