The Top 25 Must See Movies of 2014
While 2013 still has many, many gems left to unfold this holiday season, there is no denying that in our current movie climate, eyes are already darting forward to 2014. After all, another summer is over and many of Hollywood’s next round of big budget spectacles will be glanced at long, long after that big blinking crystal ball in Times Square makes it cumbersome descent.
Thus, we at Den of Geek thought it would be as timely as ever to begin the countdown to 2014’s most anticipated titles and figure out what cinema has in store for us in the not-so-distant future.
Release Date: February 12, 2014
The first big studio release (at least for the geek community) in 2014 is an early Valentine’s Day present. Enter the touching love story of a man and machine who have an ass-kicking, killing cyborg baby named RoboCop in this remake. Directed by José Padilha, the reboot will attempt to win over even the most ardent skeptic with a slew of fan favorite castings, including Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Ehle, Jackie Earl Haley, Michael K. Williams, Abbie Cornish and Samuel L. Jackson. Of course, the real star will be The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman stepping into the titular big metallic boots. The remake clearly wants to make the brand its own by taking a page from the Rolling Stones and painting it black. Fans will decide if it’s a success next February.
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
Release Date: March 7, 2014
A ridiculously long time coming, 300: Rise of an Empire burst back onto the scene with a killer trailer in front of this summer’s Man of Steel. While the film is unlikely to win over the many critics of the 2007 original, the follow-up, which is only produced and co-written by Zack Snyder, promises more variety, and hilariously exaggerated sex and gore with plenty of speed ramping. See naked glistening men fight by sea! See naked glistening men fight by land! No matter how one feels about its visual absurdity (or Frank Miller’s Middle Eastern politics) there is one fact no one can deny: this sequel has replaced Gerard Butler with Eva Green. Therefore it could very well exceed the one about dining in Hell or something like that.
UNDER THE SKIN
Release Date: March 14, 2014 (UK)
One to look forward to, just based off all the film festival buzz this year, is the upcoming "Scarlett Johansson is a Pod Person" movie. That's right, this is a psychosexual horror piece that appears to owe more than a little David Lynch from previously semi-retired director Jonathan Glazer (Birth, Sexy Beast). In this surrealist sci-fi, Johansson is Laura, an alien honeypot sent to Earth to gather information on our spiecies as she feeds on the men that she seduces. However, she eventually may grow to appreciate us, even as more of her kind come to invade our world. It may be a little bit Body Snatchers and a little bit Species, but this looks to also be a disturbing and hypnotic piece of arthouse terror most of all. While the only confirmed release dates are in the UK and Germany, we can gaurantee the "Scarlett Johansson is a Seductive Naked Alien Movie" will have a U.S. release and soon.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
Release Date: March 21, 2014
If someone told you three years ago that The Muppets would once more be one of the best family franchises in Hollywood, you’d laugh them all the way back to the swamp. But as it turns out, it is very easy being green at the box office when you have such enduring icons as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of the gang. Nothing beats a classic and Muppets Most Wanted promises more of that joy to come. With James Bobin of the 2011 picture, as well as Flight of the Concords, returning to the director’s chair, there is no reason that this should not deliver the goods again. Especially with new celebrity cameos/team-ups like Tina Fey, Tom Hiddleston, Salma Hayek, Christoph Waltz, Ricky Gervais, Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo.
Release Date: March 28, 2014
The Biblical Epic is experiencing a Second Coming in Hollywood. Sure The Passion of the Christ made $600 million in 2004, but producers thought that meant viewers just wanted to see more Jesus stories, except with lions. Now a decade later, Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) is leading the charge of changing that attitude. As the project he dropped out of The Wolverine to direct, Noah is a $130 million gamble on audiences wanting to once more see their favorite actors play Biblical dress up. If Charlton Heston could play Moses, why not Maximus as Noah? Also, with Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly cast, this marks a semi Beautiful Mind reunion! Now that is something to awe movie fans.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Release Date: April 4, 2014
For those who cannot wait for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Studios is happy to kind of, maybe, quietly give you just a taste of it next April. They’re sneaky like that. Based on Captain America’s most popular comic book story, Winter Soldier promises the return of Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in a supposed throwback to the 1970s spy thrillers the likes of which Robert Redford would star in. Speaking of which, it does have Robert Redford! But it also has the return of the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), fresh off being turned into a fan favorite under the tutelage of Joss Whedon, as well as Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), and NEW superhero The Falcon (Anthony Mackie)! Plus, who doesn’t want to see more of The Avengers’ cycloptic BMF super-leader, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)?
Release Date: April 18, 2014
When Wally Pfister announced his imminent retirement from cinematography (at least for now), cinephiles wept. Yet it was also a time to rejoice, for the man who lensed The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Moneyball was now stepping into the director’s chair. Frequent collaborator Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas even championed his transition by producing this first feature, a star-studded science fiction thriller poised to impress. Will (Johnny Depp) is a computer scientist who is attempting to map the human brain with euphoric technology. But after tragedy, his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) must upload his own mind into a computer. From there, it gets confusing. With a cast that also includes Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Paul Bettany and Morgan Freeman, Transcendence would intend to live up to its title.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Release Date: May 2, 2014
Sony’s Spider-Man franchise has always had the best (financial) luck during the first weekend of May, a prime real estate spot that Spider-Man carved out in 2002. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2, they seem poised to recreate history in the sequel to the 2012 reboot. Andrew Garfield is back as the adventurous webhead that must balance wisecracks and crime fighting with high school life, including girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Yet, his life is about to get a whole lot more complicated as former childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) reenters his world, bringing father Norman Osborn’s (Chris Cooper) troubles with him. These may or may not include Electro (Jamie Foxx), the Rhino (Paul Giamatti), and a possible rumored green meanie to reappear as well. Also, featuring Felicia Hardy (Felicity Jones), director Marc Webb will have a lot to cover in this entry, but sampled footage online looks promising. Could this one swing the web-slinger to new heights?
Release ate: May 16, 2014
Okay, the last time Hollywood sent Godzilla stomping over easily smash-able cityscapes, the box office and critical response was lukewarm AT BEST. But this 2014 effort should be different. For starters, the beast actually looks like Godzilla! With an impressive cast that includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, David Strathairn, and Juliette Binoche, Gareth Edwards has assembled some serious talent to react to this giant monster movie. It is still unclear whether this final Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures collaboration can outdo Pacific Rim, but having the big green guy back up from the depths and 40-stories high will be an event hard to pass up.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Release Date: May 23, 2014
It is a rare thing when the SEVENTH film in a franchise feels like the freshest idea ever. Emboldened (or inspired) by Marvel Studios’ terrific success with The Avengers, 20th Century Fox appears to be pulling out all the stops to give fans the X-Men movie they have long craved. Not only is director Bryan Singer of the first two still-loved films back, but so too is most of the cast from those flicks. Also returning are Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence from the groovy 2011 prequel, X-Men: First Class. But best of all, everything in between those films, including two or three clunkers nobody can truly remember, are about to get erased from continuity with a time travel story based on the much-lauded Chris Claremont and John Byrne comic book that is still revered by fans to this day. If you’ve seen the viral marketing for the Sentinels, the alternate timeline and especially Peter Dinklage rocking a ‘70s ‘stache as the big bad, you know that we are in for a treat that could rival anything coming from the House of Mouse.
Release Date: May 30, 2014
To date, the need to revisit and “revitalize” classic fairy tales, particularly still adored from the Disney catalogue of the 20th century, has been a mixed bag. I doubt many were happy with either poor attempt at a Snow White film in 2012, and $1 billion or not, I have yet to meet someone who genuinely enjoys Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Still, there is something devilishly RIGHT about Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. Another reimagining from Walt Disney Pictures’ vault, the studio is taking what was by far the best thing in their adaptation of Sleeping Beauty (1959) and making her the center of her own fiendish film. Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) is there too, but this movie will live or die on Jolie representing one of the great Disney villains of all time. And if 2012’s misbegotten Snow White and the Huntsman proved anything, it is that these live-action adaptations are so much better when movie star scene-chewing evil is drowning out the rest of the colorful production.
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST
Release Date: May 30, 2014
Admit it, no matter what he did to Brian, you like Seth MacFarlane. Or you at least tend to like his projects when they are fresh and new. Otherwise, Ted would not be the highest grossing R-rated comedy in the world. So, when he announces that his first follow-up will actually feature him in live-action--along with Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson and Sarah Silverman no less!--we are intrigued. The fact that it is set in the west? We cannot wait. The Western has set the stage for many a great comedy premise in the past, including in no small way Blazing Saddles. Granted MacFarlane is no Mel Brooks, but if he can deliver the laughs of Ted in the era of Sheriff Bart, we still may be in for a raunchy and politically incorrect time.
EDGE OF TOMORROW
Release Date: June 6, 2014
Everyone loves the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray must repeat the same horrific date until he embraces it. Now turn that premise into a war of alien invasion in which an inexperienced soldier must relive his death in battle again and again until he stops the space-aged scum, and you may have yourself a summer blockbuster. Granted, this will not be the first sci-fi film to experiment with such a premise (*cough* Source Code), but to be fair this is based on a pre-existing Japanese light novel called All You Need is Kill. Also, with a cast like Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton, it appears that killing will have a bit of a surplus too. Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Go), this picture could be a wild ride in alien fighting and time paradoxes redux.
22 JUMP STREET
Release Date: June 13, 2014
Comedy sequels are difficult, right Hangover? But if it there is one that is primed for a new adventure, it must surely be Jonah Hill’s comedic reimagining of 1980s teen show 21 Jump Street. In the 2012 film, Hill replaced Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise with himself and a perfectly cast Channing Tatum. Between Hill’s hyperbolic condescension and Tatum’s wonderfully delivered deadpan, the two made for a great buddy cop parody in the midst of a high school spoof where everything unhip in the 1980s (or even from the 20-something leads’ 2005 days) is now as Twitter-trending as the latest episode of Glee. Depp and DeLuise even made cameos as their old characters before being humorously killed off. And it left the perfect hook for a sequel: Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) is so impressed with their unconventional, but goddamn results-getting success, that he’s sending them to college. What college movie clichés can they spoof now? Smoking weed on the Quad? Getting into collegiate sports? Being hit on by a TA? The premise naturally lends itself to a sequel that can reuse the same set-up without feeling forced...at least this time. See you soon on 22 Jump Street.
FAST & FURIOUS 7
Release Date: July 11, 2014
Some will likely suggest that one year later is too soon for another refined and cultured Fast and the Furious picture. Can I just ask: Have you been watching these movies? Multi-layered storytelling they are not. The real question is if James Wan, director of Insidious and The Conjuring, can measure up to Justin Lin’s shadow after Lin resurrected the franchise from near DTV-death and into box office billion-dollar glory over the course of the last four franchise films. It is too early to know, but it should be fun to find out. As Wan has only improved as a filmmaker, just now coming off the best haunted house movie in at least a decade, the prospect of him trying his hand at action is intriguing. Plus, with Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, and Kurt Russell there, this testosterone-driven vehicle will have plenty of pork to push it over the finish line in the latest souped-up customizable car.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release Date: July 18, 2014
It is still hard to believe that after all this time, Fox was able to so successfully resuscitate the Planet of the Apes franchise. If one can recall Summer 2011, it was clear that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was on nobody’s radar. Yet, the film turned out to be the biggest surprise of the season with great action and even greater authenticity thanks to a heartwarming motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar. Fortune may favor the bold as Fox has again taken a step forward by doing the next film without the marquee name of James Franco. Indeed, superb character actors Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Gary Oldman are getting to lead an ensemble that still sports Serkis as Caesar in a world where the Apes truly rule. And with Matt Reeves at the helm, director of the vastly underrated Let Me In, Fox again has a mystery box of a franchise film that we cannot wait to unwrap.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Release Date: August 1, 2014
August 2014 will kickoff with Marvel Studios’ riskiest and most intriguing gamble to date, Guardians of the Galaxy. With nary an official superhero in sight, Guardians is a funky cosmic adventure complete with a talking raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. This movie could go sideways real fast, but under the watchful eye of cinematic deviant James Gunn (Slither, Super), this likely will be one of the more bizarre and entertaining comic book films made to date. However, will it find an audience? That level of box office curiosity leads us to our next anticipation…
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Release Date: August 8, 2014
Nothing says “relaunch” like Michael Bay. The producer who turned quaint 1980s nostalgia like the Transformers cartoon and action figures into billion-dollar blockbuster destruction porn is now producing the live-action TMNT reboot. Hell, he even threw in reconciled leading lady Megan Fox if you didn’t see the parallel already. Directed by his buddy Jonathan Liebesman (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Battle: Los Angeles), Bay’s new Ninja Turtles movie promises to be a departure from the many cartoons and Jim Henson original films, as the CGI adolescents are now fighting William Fichtner as the Shredder. This whacky redo is too intriguing to pass up from screening. The Turtles are back! Cowabunga!
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
Release Date: August 22, 2014
Nine years after the first one, some would suggest that a second Sin City film is at least half a decade too late. And yet, the thought of returning to Frank Miller’s freakshow world of B-level noir and hyped up comic book visuals—under the helpful eye of Robert Rodriguez, of course—is one that is hard to pass up, especially when much of the original gang is back together, including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, and Jamie King. However, a new installment also brings new faces like Josh Brolin, Jamie Chung, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven and Eva Green. Yes, Green seems determined to elevate every Miller adaptation in ’14, and this one is already off to a better start than the 300 antics. It is unknown whether the movie can prove she is indeed a dame to kill for, but she and the rest of the talent will certainly be worth the purchase of a theater ticket.
Release Date: October 3, 2014
A classic never dies. It just rises from the grave, again and again. Yet for their fourth official attempt to unearth the Undead count, Universal Pictures (now partnered with Legendary) is intent on going back to the “origins” of the vampire. Yes, it is true that the connection between Vlad Tepes (Vlad The Imapler) and vampires was first made by Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel Dracula, but let us not quibble over details. In this Halloween-timed vampire flick, Universal time warps to the 15th century. After the fall of Constantinople, Eastern Europe is in a world of religious and cultural upheaval. Out of the darkness arises a Romanian Prince Vlad (Luke Evans) whose unusual story will inevitably take him down the dark and damned path of the Nosferatu. Complete with Dominic Cooper, Charlie Cox, and Samantha Barks as a succubus claiming men’s souls, this would appear to be the first mainstream vampire movie in ages worth looking forward to.
Release Date: November 7, 2014
Intentionally, we have avoided numbering this list. But it is an easy guess what would be in the top spot if we did: Interstellar marks Christopher Nolan’s first original film after concluding The Dark Knight Trilogy. Set in the not-too-distant future, overpopulation and changing climates have turned Earth into an unsustainable hot mess with not enough crop or food to go around. In that context, a group of scientists and explorers set out through an inter-galactic wormhole to save humanity on a mysterious mission. Based on the research of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan’s screenplay bends time and reality to explore the far reaches of the cosmos and the role of man’s survival in it. And with a cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow, Wes Bentley, and Michael Caine, this is THE movie to anticipate in 2014.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1
Release Date: November 21, 2014
It all will be coming to an end…kind of. In actuality, it is very hard to end a franchise in our post Deathly Hallows world where even a single book can be dissected into two or three films. Still at the very least, the quality of 2012’s The Hunger Games and the hype for November 2013’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ensures that we’ll all be there to witness the dawning of the revolution in 2014. After the 75th Hunger Games in the upcoming sequel come to an unexpected end, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself as the postergirl for a rebellion against the Capitol and evil Donald Sutherland and Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s tyrannical regime. Katniss will find friends and love interests (Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth) swept into battle while she is the face of a new group of rebel fighters cast as the woman-powered trifecta of Julianne Moore, Natalie Dormer, and Lily Rabe. Viva la revolucion.
Release Date: December 12, 2014
And the Biblical Epics keep on running. If you ever wanted to hear Christian Bale gruff, “Let my people go!” here is your chance. With Ridley Scott returning to his genre of choice, big, old epics, Hollywood is revisiting the Moses story with Bale as the leader of the Hebrews, Joel Edgerton as Ramses, Pharaoh of Egypt, and Ben Kingsley and Sigourney Weaver in supporting roles. Imagine the parting of the Red Sea under Scott’s direction and with CGI’s visuals. Between Crowe as Noah and Bale as Moses, the Bible has never seemed so ready for a lil’ fisticuffs.
Release Date: December 12, 2014
Very little is known about this sci-fi epic other than Brad Bird is directing it. Repeat: the filmmaker behind The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is making a live-action sci-fi thriller. Also, it stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie and Brit Robertson. Originally entitled “1952,” the project is about a boy inventor who embarks on discovering something in our shared collective conscious known only as “Tomorrowland.” Still, we already know that it had you at Brad Bird.
THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN
Release Date: December 17, 2014
Now, the time has come to close out this list with what is (hopefully) the closing film on the Middle-Earth universe. Do not fret, for there will be many extended and alternate DVD and digital download cuts of this film to be released for when we are all upon the Western Shores. But until that day, we can bask in the final three hours of director Peter Jackson’s nine-hour adaptation of the 275-page JRR Tolkien novel, The Hobbit. In this closing chapter of the saga, Jackson has announced an attempt to bridge the gap between The Hobbit trilogy and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Whether he succeeds or not is immaterial. We will all be there to bid adieu to this cinematic legacy.
So there are the 25 films to anticipate and expect from next year’s schedule. Agree? Disagree? Wish we had included something with a little more transformation? Let us know in the comments section below!