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Top Five Most Anticipated Films of Summer 2014

May 7, 2014

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Anticipation is funny. It can really let you down or surpass your expectations. I’ve experienced that at the end of each summer, having either been let down by a film I was really looking forward to – or, on the flip side – been blown away by a film I only had a mild curiosity for. That will definitely happen again this summer. It’s easy to look at this summer and feel like we’re getting more of the same, with the expecting sequels, raunchy comedies and animated fare overshadowing sleeper hits and indie favorites. While some of them will indeed feel like a rinse-and-repeat formula, there were assuredly be others that rise about the rest. My fellow film enthusiasts here at Keeping It Reel have joined me in compiling our own select five “Most Anticipated Film” that’ll hit theaters this summer.

 

I’ve purposely looked beyond most of the sequels coming from established properties, specifically the ones in which I have a good idea what they have to offer. You seen one X-Men movie led by Wolverine, you’ve seen them all, right? Godzilla, at the end of the day, is a giant reawakened monster mutated by nuclear radiation. That’s all it needs to be. Nothing wrong with either of those movies, but they’re a good example of getting what you pay for. I’m looking at this summer and determining which films really pique my curiosity and get me both excited and optimistic for something rewarding, intriguing moving and/or entertaining. Again, some of these are bound to disappoint, but there are guaranteed gems somewhere here as well.

It’s always fascinating to me to see the differences and similarities in these lists. One man’s #1 is another man’s #4! From what I can tell of my selections, it looks like summer won’t begin for me till July/August.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the list!

Crafted by yours truly, along with Brendan Hodges, Mark Pracht and Tim O’Brien….

 

 

 

 

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5. 

 

Brendan – TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

I’ll admit it- I’m a Michael Bay apologist. His films always are guilty of having too much muchness, with whiz-bang-boom adolescent antics dominating every frame. But. It takes indisputable skill to be a master of this type of entertainment, and his movies are so enthusiastic about their unapologetic crudeness, I feel like I’m in on the joke too. The “Transformers” series might be trash, but it’s honest trash, and there’s real value in that. “Age of Extinction” is sure to disappoint on every level but one: it’s destined to be one of the craziest, dumbest, loudest rides this summer, and entertainment like these have their place. (June 27th)

 

Mark – SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR 

You can’t deny the shock that the first “Sin City” film made in 2005. It was a visual marvel, really embracing what digital cinema could bring. On that level it was a tremendous success. I also feel like it was the first inkling that Frank Miller’s style of storytelling was on the wane. I like the cast that Miller and Rodriguez have assembled, I love noir, and I still find the visual style compelling. (August 22nd)

 

Tim – X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Released in 2011, “X-Men: First Class” was everything a superhero movie should be; legitimately good, entertaining, quality story, great cast. Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise, and this one looks like a doozy. As if the original cast – Michael Fassbender, James MacAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence among others – wasn’t enough, Hugh Jackman joins the cast in a story that bounces back and forth between present time and the 1960s. Bring on the summer! (May 23rd)

 

David – BEGIN AGAIN

John Carney directed the moving Irish musical film “Once” which was my #1 film of 2007. (Not surprising if you’ve been paying attention, considering “Inside Llewyn Davis” was my #1 from last year). Carney returns to the genre with the American film, “Begin Again”, a feel-good romantic dramedy about a group of struggling musicians in New York City. Starring Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, Mos Def, Ceelo Green and Catherine Keener, and featuring the songwriting talents of Gregg Alexander (of The New Radicals), Danielle Brisebois, Rick Nowels, Glenn Hansard and Carney and more. This could be a refreshing and enjoyable break from the deluge of blockbusters with potentially some contagious tunes as well. (July 4th)

 

 

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4. 

 

Brendan – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Simply, the trailers won me over. The tone and style seem like a massively budgeted Firefly or Farscape (or any other B-franchise), and that’s only a good thing. Chris Pratt is becoming one of my favorite up and coming performers today, and the rest of the cast is sure to impress. “The Winter Soldier” is a tough act to follow, but I hope audiences will be interested due to how wildly different it seems to be from what most might be used to. (August 1st)

 

Mark – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

I’m one of those people who weren’t particularly offended by “The Amazing Spider-Man” in 2012. No, I didn’t really see the need to re-visit the origin tale, but I have to admit that I actually liked the way the Marc Webb and his team attacked the story. There’s also the bonus that Andrew Garfield has embraced many more facets of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man character, ones that Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire left untouched in favor of a sad-sack hero. (May 2nd)

 

Tim – 22 JUMP STREET

I’m noticing a trend in my list. 2012’s 21 Jump Street was a hugely pleasant surprise, and the movie that convinced me that Channing Tatum is a pretty good actor. Tatum and Jonah Hill showed off an impeccably easy chemistry, perfect in its real friendship. Now……..is a sequel necessary? No, not by a long shot, but as far as entertainment value goes, this one looks like a gimme. Sequel!!! (June 13th)

 

David – DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield” and “Let Me In”) takes over where director Rupert Wyatt left those “damn dirty apes”, in the forest just outside of San Francisco, if you remember. “Dawn” picks up ten years later, with Caesar (Mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis) now leading a nation of chimps, orangutans and gorillas, who are seemingly the only living beings left after the devastating virus that ravaged the planet, killing off humans. Or at least, that’s what these genetically evolved primates thought. They come across a group of human survivors (consisting of Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee) and, of course, you can imagine things don’t turn out so well for either race. I was just as impressed as everyone else by the last movie and am really curious what Reeves and company will do with this one. Only downside: four screenwriters were involved. Hmmm…. (July 11th)

 

 

 

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in Camogli, Italy

 

 

3. 

 

Brendan – X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST 

Here’s a curious case, and not in a good way (and I don’t mean the Singer controversy). I’m an X-Men guy, fascinated by what I think is the best ensemble in the Marvel universe. I love “X:2”, and “First Class” left me wanting more, but every additional minute of footage I see seems to lessen excitement, not increase it. The costumes are strange, the tone is be off, and the trailers haven’t really clued us in on the story or any fun set pieces. This went from being my most anticipated summer movie to a film with static interest, and I’m praying it’s due to the marketing, not the finished film. Still- I feel obligatory confidence in the project, and the cast is sure to impress. (May 23rd)

 

Mark – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Two reasons I’m jazzed. One, I’m convinced this will either be the best movie Marvel Studios ever gets off the ground, or it will be a massive disaster. It may even still be a financial disaster, even if it’s good. That kind of uncertainty is rare for a summer action picture. I’m also in love with the idea that this film simply can’t have cross-overs galore. I’m excited to see a Marvel property stand on its own, without the aid of cameos and co-stars. (August 1st)

 

Tim – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 

I didn’t read the comic book source. I had no preconceived notions going in what this should be like. Then, I saw that trailer and I was convinced in a big way. Bradley Cooper as a wise-cracking, gun-wielding raccoon? Vin Diesel as a talking tree? Oh, and Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana? I wonder what the tone will be, how goofy, but the premise seems like a great jumping off point. (August 1st)

 

David – THE TRIP TO ITALY

Welsh comedian/impressionist/actor Rob Brydon and English comedian/impressionist/actor Steve Coogan reteam with writer/director Michael Winterbottom for this follow-up to their hilarious comedy “The Trip” from 2011. That movie, in which Brydon and Coogan play a variation of their own personas was a sleeper hit the summer it came out. I can’t recall the number of people I persuaded to see it. The concept is the same, this time trading a food-tasting road trip of Northern England for Italy (Liguria to Capri), repeating a winning recipe of one-upping each other with celebrity impersonations as the two pontificate about life, relationships and their respective careers. You can’t find too many films about male friendships that don’t involve revolve around a man-child or two, which is one reason why watching these guys work off each other is so rewarding. Winterbottom doesn’t just roll the camera for laughs though. Like the previous film, I’m certain there will be some poignant and relatable moments to be found. (August 15th) 

 

 

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2. 

 

Brendan – JUPITER ASCENDING 

Being one of the few who truly loved the confounding and controversial “Cloud Atlas”, I knew I’d look to whatever the Wachowki’s next project was with great interest. I’m a Channing Tatum skeptic, but Kunis can act (READ: “Black Swan”), and “Les Miserables”‘ Eddie Redmayne will get another chance to shine. The trailers are amongst the most visually audacious this year, and if the narrative holds up, this may be one of the most dazzling films of the year. Still, the whole project is risky, making “Jupiter Ascending” a real gamble, but I remain hopeful for double sixes. (July 18th) 

 

Mark – GODZILLA 

The trailers have been lovely. Promising something grand, while also steeped in the sadness of a true disaster picture. There’s just something deeply interesting about the footage, the tone that Gareth Edwards is, seemingly, bringing to bear. It feels like a real movie, not summer schlock. Even my non-fan wife has responded to the unique nature of what has been shown to us. (May 16th) 

 

Tim – DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Back in 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of my most pleasant surprises. I’m a big fan of the original Apes movie franchise, and this one seems to be on the right track in a big way. Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke join the cast with Andy Serkis returning as ape leader Caesar. Very curious to see where this franchise reboot goes. (July 11th)

 

David – BOYHOOD 

A definite welcome break from all the CGI. I’ve stayed away from the trailer and held off on reading reviews. I want to come to Richard Linklater’s latest film fresh; all on my own. It was shot in just 39 days, but over an intermittent period of 12 years. It’s a story that captures the maturation of 7 year-old Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane), who navigates his way through dysfunction, divorce, puberty and first love. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, play the boy’s parents, in what is sure to be a raw and heartfelt look at growing up in all its hardships and joys. The concept alone is the intriguing factor, but knowing how Linklater writes his characters from such a genuine place, I’m so in. (July 11th)

 

 

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1. 

 

Brendan – GODZILLA

I expected to love Pacific Rim and hate Godzilla. The former came true, and I was swept away by the larger than life visuals and loving tone. The latter, however, looks like it’s about to be proven very wrong. The first full trailer blew me away, both in its excellent use of György Ligeti’s choral music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and in how bold and big the visual scope of the film appears to be. Godzilla seems to continue the Nolan/Mendes trend of the artful blockbuster, with elaborate visual design and mindful themes, making it, right now, my most anticipated film this summer! (May 16th) 

 

Mark – DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

I was deeply, deeply skeptical of Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. Then I saw it. I fell deeply in love with the film, even naming it #2 on my 10-best list that year. It was a film with surprisingly simple plot elements, all of the character’s goals felt personal, rather than epic for epic’s sake. It made the story feel immediate and real. It also showed real foresight in the storytelling. The climax felt earned, felt fulfilling, but also left the audience wanting more. I can’t wait to see what happens to Cesar next. (July 11th)

 

Tim – GODZILLA 

Yes, we all remember the 1998 diabolically bad – if entertaining – Godzilla reboot. A friend of mine, a diehard Godzilla fan, is psyched for this new entry, and when I saw the trailers for this one I was right on-board with him. If you’re going to do a Godzilla movie, do it right. Dark, dark and darker. Really looking forward to this one. (May 16th) 

 

David – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 

By the time the latest Marvel Studios movie comes around this summer, I will be ready. I’ll have seen two summer superhero sequels and a handful of other blockbuster franchise entries, but this is going to be something different. With a sentient tree and a talking raccoon in it, “Guardians of the Galaxy” kinda has to be, right? James Gunn (“Slither” and “Super”) takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe to outer space and introduces us to a team of intergalactic misfits while making a leading man out of Chris Pratt, who heads up a fine cast consisting of Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benecio del Toro and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Nuff said. (August 1st)

 

 

 

 

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