The Monuments Men


The Monuments Men amidst the monuments.

The Monuments Men amidst the monuments.

(2014) War Dramedy (Columbia) George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnanyi, Holger Handtke, Michael Holland, Zachary Baharov, Michael Brandner, Sam Hazeldine, Miles Jupp, Alexandre Desplat, Diarmaid Murtagh, Grant Heslov, Audrey Marnay. Directed by George Clooney

World War II wasn’t just a fight for freedom; it was also a fight for the soul of Europe. Some of the greatest achievements of mankind were put at risk. There was a small cadre of men who devoted their lives to saving these works of art and architecture near the end of the war – this is their (fictionalized) story.

Frank Stokes (Clooney) is an art historian and the curator of the Fogg Museum at Harvard University. He is aware that the Nazis have stolen art from Jewish collectors and museums throughout the territories they conquered in Europe. Most of it is meant for a museum that Hitler is building in his own honor in Austria, although some is being destroyed outright – Hitler, not a fan of modern art, burned hundreds of Picassos, Dalis and other modern artists as kind of the ultimate art critic.

Given the go-ahead by FDR to protect these artists and significant buildings and also to retrieve them and restore them to their rightful owners, Stokes puts together an eclectic collection of middle-aged men who are far from fit for the most part; Chicago architect Richard Campbell (Murray), art restoration expert James Granger (Damon), sculptor Walter Garfield (Goodman), a British museum director looking for a second chance Donald Jeffries (Bonneville), theatrical impresario Preston Savitz (Balaban), and Jean-Claude Clermont (Dujardin) a former French painting instructor.

They undergo rigorous physical training that really underscores how out-of-shape they are and head off to France shortly after the invasion of Normandy to begin to track down the stolen art. Claire Simone (Blanchett), a curator at the Louvre in occupied Paris, had watched helplessly as SS officer Viktor Stahl (von Dohnanyi) appropriated pieces for Hermann Goering and for the Hitler museum. She is devastated when he takes everything as the Allies close in on Paris and becomes suspicious of Granger, thinking that the Americans are no better than the Nazis, wanting these priceless works of art only for themselves.

In the meantime, one of the Monuments Men gets to the cathedral at Bruges to protect the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo (the only work of his that left Italy during the great artist’s lifetime) only to die in the attempt. As we might say now, poop gets real, cuz.

Eventually they get wind that the Nazis stored most of the works in castles and mine shafts throughout Germany but an order has gone out signed by Hitler himself that should the Fuehrer die or Germany fall, everything is to be destroyed. Not only that but a Russian contingent is out to find the stolen art also but not to return to its rightful owners, but to keep as war reparations. The nearly impossible task just got a timer put on it.

Clooney takes the many hats of producer, director, co-writer and star and it may be one too many hats. The movie, based largely on Robert M. Edsel’s non-fiction book of the same name, has essentially Hollywoodized the story of the Monuments Men, fictionalizing their characters and some of the events (although much of what happens story-wise is what happened reality-wise but not all). I’m one of those guys who prefers watching a true account of what really happened rather than seeing something that is jazzed up, romanticized and a gloss thrown over it. I guess I’m into history more than mythology.

That said, the entertainment quality is pretty high. When he was the wiseacre from SNL doing comedies like Stripes and Meatballs, who’d have thought that Bill Murray would become one of the best dramatic actors in America? He has done just that however, and he damn near steals the movie, his expressive face showing puzzlement, sorrow and pain when informed of the intended fate of the art. He also has a scene where he gets a Christmas message from his wife and granddaughter that Preston plays over the camp’s Public Address system in which you watch his loneliness and pain come bleeding out – without him changing his expression hardly at all. It’s masterful work.

Sadly, most of the rest of the cast gets little in the way of any sort of background and they seem a little cookie-cutter to me, although the impressive cast does their best to breathe life into them. Blanchett is a great actress but perhaps there could have been a great French actress – a Julie Delpy, a Marion Cotillard, a Juliette Binoche or a Ludivine Sagnier – cast instead. At least we wouldn’t have been as distracted by a French accent that seems more Looney Tunes than authentic.

The film raises the question as to what the importance of art is to a society and of course the answer is “essential.” Art is the soul of any civilization; should that soul be destroyed, so too is the civilization and that was the evil of Hitler; he didn’t only want to wipe the Jews from the face of the Earth, he wanted to wipe European civilization out as well and substitute his own warped version of it. Not everyone in the film agrees with Frank Stokes’ assessment of the importance of the mission of the Monuments Men (heck you might even disagree) but even if you do, the movie is surprisingly entertaining although in the interest of fair and truthful reporting, I slept through about 15 minutes of it early on.

This is the kind of movie they used to make when the War itself was either in full force or had just ended. While it lacks the snappy moxie that directors like Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges imbued in their films, it captures much of the same spirit nonetheless.  It’s kind of refreshing to be able to say in this instance, “they do make ’em like that anymore!”

REASONS TO GO: Compelling story. Murray is amazing here and Goodman and Dujardin not far behind.

REASONS TO STAY: Can’t decide whether to be a drama or a comedy and misses the mark for both.  

FAMILY VALUES:  Some war violence.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The actor playing an older Frank Stokes after the war visiting an important piece rescued by the Monuments Men is in fact George Clooney’s dad Nick. Producer Grant Heslov and composer Alexandre Desplat also make cameos.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/17/14: Rotten Tomatoes: 34% positive reviews. Metacritic: 52/100.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: Saving Private Ryan

FINAL RATING: 7/10

NEXT: Winter’s Tale

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New Releases for the Week of February 7, 2014


The Monuments MenTHE MONUMENTS MEN

(Columbia) George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville. Directed by George Clooney

In the waning days of World War II, it became evident that the Nazis weren’t just planning on a final solution regarding Jewish lives but also the culture of Europe as well. Thousands of piece of art, stolen by the Nazis, were going to be destroyed and in the retaking of Europe, thousands of buildings with historical and architectural significance were going to be reduced to rubble. To prevent this from happening, FDR tasked a group of museum curators, artists and architects to saving what they could as time ticked down to the last gasp of the Third Reich. This true story shows that these men, hardly soldiers at all, became soldiers for the saving of humanity’s finest achievements.

See the trailer, featurettes, a promo and a clip here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)

Genre: War

Rating: PG-13 (for some images of war violence and historical smoking)

A Fantastic Fear of Everything

(Cinedigm) Simon Pegg, Amara Karan, Clare Higgins, Alan Drake. An author of children’s books decides to make a career change into a crime novelist. While doing research into Victorian-era serial killers for his latest book, his already fragile psyche takes a turn for the worse especially when a Hollywood executive, sniffing out a potential blockbuster, gets involved.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: R (for language)

Gloria

(Roadside Attractions) Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora. A woman approaching middle age still feels young. She hangs out at the social dance clubs of Chile and while she’s lonely, she makes the best of things. Then she meets Rodolfo, a passionate lover who turns her life inside out. The trouble is Rodolfo is a bit of a roller coaster ride, and she must call upon emotional reserves she never knew she had to gather her inner strength to stand up for herself and for the things that will ultimately lead to her own happiness and fulfillment.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Dramedy

Rating: R (for sexual content, some graphic nudity, drug use and language)

Hasee Toh Phasee

(Reliance) Sidharth Malhotra, Parineeti Chopra, Adah Sharma, Manoj Joshi. A prospective groom is given seven days to prove himself to a suspicious father of the bride and given the task of installing the mischievous sister of the bride in a hotel. To save money, he installs her in the flat above his own home, putting her in contact with his quirky family. This being Bollywood, they become closer than they intended, fall in love and several musical numbers ensue.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opens Thursday)

Genre: Bollywood

Rating: NR

The LEGO Movie

(Warner Brothers) Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman. Emmet, a perfectly ordinary LEGO minifigure is mistaken for a kind of savior and drafted into an epic quest to stop an evil would-be dictator, a task for which he is hopefully and woefully unprepared.

See the trailer, clips and a promo here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Animated Feature

Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)

Nurse 3D

(Lionsgate) Paz de la Huerta, Katrina Bowden, Corbin Bleu, Boris Kodjoe. A sadistic nurse who spends her nights luring married men into dangerous liaisons forms a friendship with a young and naive student nurse. But when she spurns her more intimate attentions, the sadistic nurse goes on a bloody rampage.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, 3D

Genre: Horror

Rating: R (for bloody violence, strong sexual content, language and some graphic nudity)

The Vampire Academy

(Weinstein) Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Gabriel Byrne, Joely Richardson. Two best friends – a princess of the mortal vampires and her half-human, half-vampire protector, must navigate the pitfalls of high school while the half-human must protect her charge from those who would exploit her from within vampire society and the evil immortal vampires who want her dead. From the bestselling young adult book series.

See the trailer, a clip and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Teen Horror Comedy

Rating: PG-13 (for violent bloody images, sexual content and language)

Four-Warned: February 2014


The Monuments MenEvery month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Most of the movies will never play theatrically where you live (unless you live in either New York or Los Angeles) but many of those that won’t will be available through Video-on-Demand; check with your local cable or satellite providers to find out if any specific movie is available through that medium.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE
1. THE MONUMENTS MEN (1.1)
2. WINTER’S TALE (1.2)
3. WELCOME TO YESTERDAY (1.3)
4. NON-STOP (1.4)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. THE WIND RISES (1.3)
2. A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING (1.5)
3. THE LUNCHBOX (1.6)
TIE. REPENTANCE (1.6)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

FEBRUARY 4, 2014

SCORNED (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. While on a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, a woman discovers he’s having an affair with her best friend and spirals into an uncontrollable rage and lust for revenge. Release Strategy: VOD only. RATING: 2.2 Clearly a play on the “hell hath no fury” thing.

FEBRUARY 7, 2014

7 BOXES (Shoreline) Genre: Action. A wheelbarrow delivery boy in a busy Mexican market makes a delivery that will involve him in a crime of which he has no knowledge. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 IndieWire described it as “Fast and Furious with wheelbarrows;” who knew the world needed a movie like that.
A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING (Indomina) Genre: Comedy. When a children’s book author becomes a crime novelist and researches Victorian-era serial killers, his life becomes infused with paranoia and intrigue. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 If Simon Pegg is starring in it, I’m already halfway in the door.
A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Drafthouse) Genre: Horror. Deserters from a battle during the Second English Civil War find themselves running into a horror far worse than the one they left. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 An atmospheric period piece from the director of the excellent Sightseers.
AFTER THE DARK (Phase 4) Genre: Thriller. 20 college students, confronted by imminent nuclear catastrophe, must decide which ten of them will enter an underground shelter and reboot the human race. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Actually looks kind of fascinating and thought-provoking.
CAVEMEN (Well Go USA) Genre: Romantic Comedy. After years of meaningless one-night-stands, an L.A. ladies man looks for true love – which is incredibly difficult to find. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Didn’t see anything in the trailer that would indicate that this is any different than a thousand other rom-coms out there.
HASEE TOH PHASEE (Reliance) Genre: Bollywood. In order to prove his love to his betrothed, a young man puts her sister up in his house – and quickly becomes closer to the sister. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 No, I don’t get it either.
KIDS FOR CASH (SenArt) Genre: Documentary. While a small town celebrates a strict judge who means to keep the kids of the town in line, one parent dares to stand up and question his motives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 An indictment of the judicial system working hand-in-hand with for-profit prison systems.
THE LEGO MOVIE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Animated Feature. An ordinary LEGO mini-figure is mistaken for a hero and ends up hanging out with Batman, Wonder Woman and all the LEGO heroes. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 There is some appeal here but damned if I can put my finger on it.
LOVE AND AIR SEX (Tribeca) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A depressed man recovering from a breakup flies to Austin in order to “accidentally” run into his ex but instead runs into another couple breaking up who are hell-bent on keeping him and his ex from getting back together. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Kind of confirms my theory that young people have far too much time on their hands.
THE MONUMENTS MEN (Columbia) Genre: Historical Drama. A group of art experts at the conclusion of World War II try to save art and architectural treasures stolen by the Nazis from being destroyed. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.1 Thought this was going to be an Oscar contender for last year but still looking forward to seeing this big time!
NURSE 3D (Lionsgate) Genre: Thriller. Living a double life, a nurse develops an unhealthy obsession with a beautiful young colleague. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Paz de la Huerta like you’ve never seen her before; this looks very sexy but kind of unchallenging.
THE OUTSIDER (RLJ/Image) Genre: Action. A British mercenary searches for his missing daughter and discovers that a corrupt cyber-billionaire may be at the center of the mystery. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I’m always up for seeing James Caan, but Craig Fairbrass looks like an action star in the making.
THE PRETTY ONE (DADA) Genre: Drama. When a beautiful young woman dies in a car accident, her wallflower of an identical twin takes over her identity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Zoe Kazan is an up-and-coming actress who has a brilliant future ahead of her.
SOMEONE MARRY BARRY (FilmBuff) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Attempts to find a trio of friends woefully socially inappropriate friend a wife backfires when his new girlfriend turns out to be just like him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Tyler Labine has been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since I first saw him in Reaper.
VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) Genre: Young Adult. Attending the academy to learn to protect a member of vampire royalty, a human girl becomes embroiled in a far-reaching conspiracy. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 Shouldn’t this be a series on the CW?
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Cinedigm) Genre: Action Comedy. Office drones trapped on an island during a corporate retreat led by a psychotic ex-Marine must find a way to survive…despite themselves. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 JCVD as the villain and a pretty decent cast as the cubicle losers…might be worth a look.

FEBRUARY 12, 2014

THE NEW BLACK (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. Examines the thorny issue of gay marriage in the black community and how the right wing are using faith as a means of pursuing their agenda. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Draws interesting parallels between the current fight for Gay Marriage and the Civil Rights movement; I may have to check this one out.
ROBOCOP (Columbia/MGM) Genre: Science Fiction. Critically injured in the line of duty, a cop is reborn as a cyborg law enforcement but he isn’t willing to give up his free will without a fight. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.7 A remake of a beloved 1987 Paul Verhoeven film that looks like it might actually hold up to the original…let’s hope.

FEBRUARY 14, 2014

ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Screen Gems) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Chronicles the relationships of two new couples from the first meeting into the bedroom and then into real life. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.6 A remake of a forgettable 80s rom-com with an African-American cast; I don’t think even Kevin Hart can save this one.
ADULT WORLD (IFC) Genre: Comedy. A would-be poet has to take a job in a sex shop to make ends meet. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Could be pedestrian faux-sex comedy fare but looks to be elevated by the great John Cusack.
DATE AND SWITCH (Lionsgate) Genre: Comedy. A pair of high school seniors make a pact to help each other score before the prom – until one of them reveals that he’s gay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 What starts out as a typical high school sex comedy turns into a funny movie about acceptance; I wish it luck but talk about an uphill battle.
DOWN AND DANGEROUS (Artis) Genre: Thriller. An expert drug smuggler must find a way to extricate himself and a beautiful woman from his past from a sticky situation. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 I’m not sure that this is as badass as it thinks it is.
EASY MONEY: HARD TO KILL (Cinedigm) Genre: Action. After doing time for drug smuggling, a paroled convict finds going straight is much harder than he thought. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Indistinguishable from a dozen other films like it.
ENDLESS LOVE (Universal) Genre: Romance. Based on the 70s Brooke Shields film, a guy from the wrong side of the tracks woos a beautiful woman from a wealthy family, much to her father’s displeasure. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.0 Can’t say as it looks like it adds anything to the original film.
GIRL ON A BICYCLE (Monterey Media) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A bus driver in Paris falls for a beautiful woman on a bicycle until he accidentally hits her with his bus. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Once again proof that there is nothing quite so French as a sex farce – even when the players are members of a variety of European Union countries.
GUNDAY (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. Two boys rise from abject poverty to become Calcutta’s most beloved crime lords in the 70s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 I still have trouble wrapping my head around what appears to be a gritty crime thriller interrupted by big musical numbers.
JIMMY P. (IFC) Genre: Drama. The story of the relationship between a French psychologist and a member of the Blackfoot tribe who suffered from psychological issues following World War II. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 This might be one of Benicio del Toro’s most electric performances.
THE RETURNED (levelFILM) Genre: Horror. A treatment for zombies that allows them to live relatively normally begins to run low, causing worldwide chaos. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 A Spanish take on the zombie flick with a very interesting premise.
WINTER’S TALE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Romantic Fantasy. Love blossoms during an epic battle between good and evil that spans a century. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.2 A fine cast that includes Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly has me intrigued.

FEBRUARY 19, 2014

CHILD’S POSE (Zeitgeist) Genre: Thriller. An upper class Romanian mother does whatever she can to keep her 30-year-old son out of jail after a car crash takes a life. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.9 Further testimony that Romanian cinema is some of the world’s best.

FEBRUARY 21, 2014

3 DAYS TO KILL (Relativity) Genre: Action. A dying CIA Agent agrees to take on one last mission in order to obtain a radical cure for his disease finds it to be making a deal with the devil. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 Kevin Costner is undergoing a bit of a career renaissance at the moment and I’m eager to see what he does with this.
BAREFOOT (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Romance. The black sheep of a wealthy family takes a free-spirited, charming girl as his guest to his brother’s wedding where she impresses everyone – especially him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Looks a lot better than I thought it might be; we’ll have to give this one a look.
ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. One of Broadway’s greatest treasures and most treasured gadflies is still breathing fire at age 87. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 From the golden age of Broadway to now, Elaine Stritch has been a part of it all.
HIGHWAY (UTV) Genre: Drama. A beautiful young bride, abducted just before her wedding, is caught in the middle of a game of chicken between the gang that has her and her wealthy and powerful father. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Stockholm Syndrome, Bollywood-style.
HOLY GHOST PEOPLE (XLRator) Genre: Thriller. Searching for her lost sister in the Appalachian mountains, a teenager runs into a snake-handling cult who knows about her sister’s fate. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks absolutely creepy.
IN SECRET (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Comedy. A sexually repressed Parisian woman trapped in a loveless marriage embarks on a tragic affair. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 A stellar cast headlines this latest lushly-filmed version of the classic Therese Raquin.
OMAR (Adopt) Genre: Drama. Deeply in love with the alluring Nadia, a young Palestinian man risks everything that he stands for. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 There are a lot of movies coming out of this region detailing the difficulties of daily life; I’m not so sure this one distinguishes itself particularly.
POMPEII (Tri-Star) Genre: Swords and Sandals. A gladiator in Pompeii fights corrupt politicians to win the heart of his lover but an erupting volcano may put paid all his ambitions. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.5 Could be really good but Paul W.S. Anderson hasn’t put out a movie on this scale that has really moved me.
THE WIND RISES (Touchstone/Studio Ghibli) Genre: Anime. A nearsighted young man dreams of flight and becomes the designer of amazing aircraft. Release Strategy: Limited (expands February 28). RATING: 1.3 Set to be legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s last feature.

FEBRUARY 25, 2014

SILENT BUT DEADLY (Indican) Genre: Horror. The residents of a retirement home are being stalked and murdered. Who is doing it…and why? Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 I will admit that the cast, including Dawn Wells and Lee Meriwether is intriguing but the trailer looks cheesy as hell.

FEBRUARY 28, 2014

THE BAG MAN (Cinedigm) Genre: Crime Thriller. Several lowlifes are summoned to a remote bayou motel by a crime boss for reasons unknown. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 You had me at “starring John Cusack and Robert De Niro.”
HAIRBRAINED (Vertical) Genre: Comedy. A Harvard reject strikes up an unlikely friendship at his second choice school. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Along the lines of an Accepted only with an insufferable lead.
THE LUNCHBOX (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. Through an inadvertent mis-delivery of a lunchbox, a young housewife is connected to an aging man who constructs a fantasy world through exchanged notes. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.6 Looks amazingly charming; the kind of movie that represents the best of Indian cinema.
NON-STOP (Universal) Genre: Thriller. A Federal Air Marshal, battling a fiendishly clever killer whose designs may be more than mere ransom, finds that he is the chief suspect in the crime. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 Liam Neeson in an action thriller? Slam dunk!
REPENTANCE (CODEBLACK) Genre: Psychological Thriller. A life coach with a controversial philosophy finds himself in the crosshairs of a deeply troubled client. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Awesome cast and looks like edge-of-the-seat thrills.
SON OF GOD (20th Century Fox) Genre: Faith. The makers of the hit TV series The Bible turn to the big screen to capture the life of Jesus Christ. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.0 I have some reservations about this and not all of them are rational.
STALINGRAD (Sony Classics) Genre: War. Starving and desperate, Russian soldiers try to hold the city of Stalingrad from a determined and disciplined German foe. Release Strategy: IMAX 3D. RATING: 2.1 A true epic seen through Russian eyes.
WELCOME TO YESTERDAY (Paramount) Genre: Found Footage Sci-Fi. A group of teens manage to assemble a time machine one of their fathers had invented with catastrophic results. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.3 Could be really good…or could be REALLY bad.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
The LEGO Movie, The Monuments Men, RoboCop, Endless Love, Winter’s Tale, 3 Days to Kill, Pompeii, The Wind Rises, Non-Stop, Welcome to Yesterday

2014 Preview


2014 PreviewOnce again the box office pulled in record numbers for the second consecutive year as 2013 rolled in with a bang and out with one as well. While the quality of the summer blockbusters was disappointing, there were enough good movies out there to keep the ticket takers busy. This year was also the end of an era as Blockbuster shut the doors on the last of their video stores, confirming that streaming had become the home video delivery method of choice. While cable and satellite continued to do strong numbers, that was mainly due to original programming and less to Hollywood blockbusters.

This year Marvel continued to dominate with big numbers for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. DC also finally got a non-Batman hit as Man of Steel did big enough numbers to warrant a sequel. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire looks to surpass the original’s box office frenzy and has become the newest major franchise for Hollywood to plant their flag in. Despicable Me 2 surprisingly became the highest grossing animated feature of the year, although Frozen may well surpass its total eventually but probably not until we’re into 2014 if it does at all. Alphonso Cuaron’s Gravity was also a surprise hit, although those who saw it were not surprised at all.

While most fanboys and studio execs are rubbing their hands in anticipation of 2015, that doesn’t mean that 2014 will be without some movies to look forward to. As always, Cinema365 will do our level best to see as many of the films that come to Orlando as our schedule will permit. We’ll also be reconfirming our commitment to cover the Florida Film Festival as completely as we’re able – the 2013 edition provided movies that were on independent release schedules for much of the rest of the year and popped up theatrically throughout 2013. We’ll also try to catch movies we’ve missed in the theaters on DVD, although our stated goal of one review every day falls under the category of best intentions.

Before we get to the good stuff, the usual words of warning. While we do our best to give you the most accurate information regarding release dates, Hollywood – like any good woman – frequently changes their mind. Literally within a few weeks of this being posted there will have already been several changes and the farther out in the preview the film appears, the more likely it is to have had its release date changed. Look back at the end of 2014 at the calendar here and you’re not likely to recognize it. Check our weekly preview for more accurate information about what is coming out in the Orlando area (which includes all wide releases) and our monthly Four-Warned feature for more detailed information about independent releases.

So let’s fire up the Delorean and take a trip into 2014. Buckle your seat belts – it’s likely to be an amazing ride!

JANUARY

The year begins with the holiday holdovers dominating the box office and the multiplex screens, although some films that have had Oscar-qualifying runs in December see wide release in January. Most of the rest are cast-offs and low-budget horror movies that the studios generally have low expectations for. However, there are generally a few movies (particularly towards the end of the month) that are known to be a cut above, either in quality or box office appeal. This year we’ll see an offshoot of a popular found footage horror franchise and a graphic novel interpretation of a classic literary character.

I, FrankensteinDON’T MISS

I, FRANKENSTEIN
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2013
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovsky, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney, Socratis Otto, Caitlin Stasey, Mahesh Jadu.
STORY: A war has erupted between the demonic and the stone gargoyles who are vigilant over the affairs of men. Caught in the middle is a creature whose immortality is at the crux of the struggle and could tip the balance either one way or the other. The monster in question: none other than the legendary creation of Frankenstein.
PROSPECTS: The Underworld movies have done pretty well in the January slot and the involvement of the producers and creators of that franchise are likely to show stylistically in the movie. Fans of big effects-driven franchises will also likely be casting their eyes about for something new as the latest installments of The Hobbit and The Hunger Games will have about run their course by the time this comes out.
OBSTACLES: Eckhart really hasn’t had a breakout hit movie of his own yet to establish that he can shoulder a franchise on his shoulders, although he did well in The Dark Knight. The Frankenstein monster hasn’t really been the subject of a box office hit in nearly 70 years.
FACTOID: The movie was originally scheduled for release in August but Lionsgate moved it out to January to allow work on the extensive CGI to be completed properly.

SHOULD SEE

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES
RELEASE DATE: January 3, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Andrew Jacobs, Molly Ephraim, Richard Cabral, Carlos Pratts, Eddie J. Fernandez, Jorge Diaz, David Fernandez Jr., Kimberly Ables Jindra
STORY: A Latino family faces a demonic incursion with videocameras as they attempt to document the strange events happening to them.
PROSPECTS: The name recognition of the franchise should bring people into the theaters, enough to recoup the modest production costs quickly. That there wasn’t an installment of the main franchise this past Halloween may whet the appetites of devotees even further.
OBSTACLES: A complete offshoot of the original mythology of the series may be off-putting to some fans.
FACTOID: The lost tapes from Paranormal Activity 3 act as a linking device with this film.

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
RELEASE DATE: January 17, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Peter Andersson, David Paymer, Colm Feore, Nonso Anozie, Gemma Chan
STORY: A young CIA analyst named Jack Ryan discovers a monstrous plot by a Russian terrorist to subvert the Western financial markets and throw the economies of the West into chaos.
PROSPECTS: The Tom Clancy series has enjoyed a great deal of success over the years and is popular with older audiences who tend to stay away from the multiplex in the summer.
OBSTACLES: This is a complete reboot of the film series with all-new actors in every role. This is the first Jack Ryan film in 11 years.
FACTOID: This is the first film in the franchise not to be based on a specific book written by Tom Clancy.

MIGHT SURPRISE

GIMME SHELTER
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2014
STUDIO: Roadside Attractions
STARRING: Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones, Ann Dowd, Dascha Polanco, Stephanie Szostak
STORY: A young homeless pregnant teen finds her way into a suburban shelter where she finds comfort, empowerment and a connection with her fellow residents. This enables her to find leadership capabilities and maturity that she never knew she had in her.
PROSPECTS: A strong cast and a fair amount of buzz make this a possible indie breakout hit in a month where there are few prospects for such.
OBSTACLES: May appeal more to the female filmgoer than the male. Has the star power but the subject matter may keep audiences away.
FACTOID: Has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones song or concert film of the same name.

ALSO

January 1, 2014

THE RAILWAY MAN (Weinstein) is based on a true story of a British Army officer who is tormented in a prisoner of war camp during World War II by a Japanese soldier. Decades after the war he discovers that soldier is still alive and sets out to confront him, but that confrontation doesn’t go the way he imagined it would.

January 3, 2014

OPEN GRAVE (Tribeca) stars Sharlto Copley as a man who wakes up in a pit full of dead bodies with no memory of how he got there. Fleeing to a nearby farmhouse, he discovers it is inhabited by others who have had exactly the same experience. As they try to discover what has happened to them, they find that there is an even greater threat that is hungrier than they could possibly imagine. Opening in limited release.

January 10, 2014

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Summit) is the first of two films on the mythological Greek hero. This one stars Kellan Lutz and is directed by Renny Harlin and is more of an origin story of the iconic legend.. HER (Warner Brothers) features Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely socially awkward man in the near future who develops a passion for his personalized operating system. Directed by Spike Jonze so you know it’s off-beat. LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) is based on a true story of four Navy SEALs who go on a mission to Afghanistan and wind up ambushed. Their mutual sacrifice for one another and their bravery under fire show how truly amazing our men and women in uniform are. Mark Wahlberg stars.

January 15, 2014

GENERATION WAR (Music Box) opens in limited release and explores five different people in Nazi Germany at the height of the Second World War. There are those full of patriotic fervor, those living in terror as Jews, those who have ambitions of stardom and those who are swept up in the tides of history.

January 17, 2014

In DEVIL’S DUE (20th Century Fox), a new husband obsessively documents his wife’s pregnancy but as the days count down to her due date, her actions become more and more disturbing and he soon realizes that sinister forces may well be at work. NUT JOB (Open Road) is an animated feature about an ambitious squirrel who after inadvertently destroying the winter food supply of his fellow squirrels seizes upon an idea to rob a nut store. In RIDE ALONG (Universal) a man who wants to marry the sister of a cop and aspires to be one himself must go on a ride along with his prospective brother-in-law to prove his worth – in the most dangerous neighborhoods of Atlanta. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube star in this comedy. JAMESY BOY (Phase 4/XLRator) which opens in limited release concerns a young street kid who ends up in jail. There he meets a convicted murderer who becomes his protector and mentor, turning his life around in the most unexpected way.

January 31, 2014

LABOR DAY (Paramount) is about a reclusive mother and her son, reeling from tragedy. Into their lives comes an escaped convict who turns out to be not what he seems. Originally coerced into harboring him, they find that in the brief span of a holiday weekend he is changing their lives forever. In THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (Focus) three friends in a show of support for one who’s been heartbroken determine to give up dating. However that turns out to be far more easier said than done.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

A look back at how last year’s previewed movies did at the box office. The budgets and box office numbers are courtesy of Box Office Mojo. My verdicts are based on the typical studio formula that for a movie to break even it must make twice its production budget; any movie that achieves that will be labeled as profitable. I define hit movies as those that make three times the production budget and blockbusters as anything that makes $200 million in domestic box office or more, or made five times the production budget with a minimum of $100 million in domestic box office. These totals don’t include ancillary merchandising, home video sales or broadcast/cable sales, all of which are sure to push the bottom line beyond profitability. When production budgets aren’t available, I’ll be making a guess based on production values and star power. The first four movies listed are the four main previewed items; I’ve also chosen a selection of other major releases that made the preview issue as well.

THE GANGSTER SQUAD (Warner Brothers) Budget: $60 Million. Domestic Gross: $46.0M Total: $105.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE LAST STAND (Lionsgate) Budget: $45M. Domestic Gross: $12.1M Total: $48.3M Verdict: Lost Money.
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (Paramount/MGM) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $55.7M Total: $225.7M Verdict: Hit.
JOHN DIES AT THE END (Magnolia) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $141,951 Total: $141,951 Verdict: Probably Lost Money.
MAMA (Universal) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $71.6M Total: $146.4M Verdict: Big Hit.
TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $34.3M Total: $39.1M Verdict: Likely Broke Even.
BROKEN CITY (20th Century Fox) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $19.7M Total: $19.7M Verdict: Flop.
MOVIE 43 (Relativity) Budget: $6M. Domestic Gross: $8.8M Total: $29.9 Verdict: Hit.
PARKER (FilmDistrict) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $17.6M Total: $42.2 Verdict: Lost Money.
A HAUNTED HOUSE (Open Road) Budget: $2.5M. Domestic Gross: $40.0M Total: $59.9 Verdict: Hit.

FEBRUARY

After a first month of the year that is generally quiet, a few loud noises begin to emerge as a long weekend and the prospect of Valentine’s Day (this year falling on a Friday) make the studios start to put out some of their better releases. This year we can expect a reboot of an 80s classic, a Liam Neeson action movie, a franchise wanna-be on a hit young adult book series (where have we heard that before?), an epic disaster movie and a delayed but anticipated movie that was thought to be a leading Oscar contender this past year.

PompeiiCAN’T MISS

POMPEII
RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2014
STUDIO: TriStar
STARRING: Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Paz Vega, Jessica Lewis, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland
STORY: A slave turned gladiator falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who is betrothed to a corrupt senator of Rome in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius whose eruption will wipe Pompeii from the map.
PROSPECTS: Harrington is an up-and-comer who impressed on Game of Thrones. Disaster movies always tend to pique the movie-going audience’s interest and swords and sandals movies are hot this year.
OBSTACLES: In addition to this there are two Hercules movies and a 300 sequel so some may wait for the two upcoming S&S entries to come out. Harrington is an unproven box office commodity.
FACTOID: The teaser trailer for the movie was released six months before the release date and on co-star Carrie-Anne Moss’ birthday.

SHOULD SEE

THE MONUMENTS MEN
RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2014
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville
STORY: Near the end of World War II a small group of art historians, architects and artists attempt to save Europe’s great works of art from being destroyed by the Nazis. Based on a true story.
PROSPECTS: Definitely has the star power to bring in some decent box office numbers. Damon has already done a successful movie set during the war in Saving Private Ryan.
OBSTACLES: Sad to say that general audiences might not care about saving art. Was originally scheduled for a Holiday release but pushed out to February which might lead one to wonder whether the studio has any confidence in it.
FACTOID: Daniel Craig was originally cast in the Matt Damon role but had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.

ROBOCOP
RELEASE DATE: February 12, 2014
STUDIO: MGM/Columbia
STARRING: Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle
STORY: When a Detroit cop is critically injured in the line of duty, a robotics corporation seizes the opportunity to save his life and add some modifications. With new abilities, he has the ability to sweep crime from the streets but is he more machine than man?
PROSPECTS: A remake of a popular 1987 movie, the premise is even more timely given the drone technology that has become a recent controversy. Robot movies tend to do well these days.
OBSTACLES: What worked in 1987 may not necessarily work in 2014. Kinnaman is an unknown quantity as a lead actor.
FACTOID: Miguel Ferrer appears in both movies although in different roles.

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE WIND RISES
RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2014
STUDIO: Touchstone
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Mandy Patinkin, Stanley Tucci, William H. Macy
STORY: Jiro dreams of flying but his nearsightedness rules out being a pilot. Instead he becomes an engineer and designs incredible planes.
PROSPECTS: The latest and last film from the legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Considered a favorite to win an animated feature Oscar at the next Oscar ceremony.
OBSTACLES: Anime has not yet found a large general audience in America.
FACTOID: Most of the sound effects were created with human voices.

ALSO

February 7, 2014

THE LEGO MOVIE (Warner Brothers) brings the play toy, long a staple of direct-to-video animation, to the big screen with classic characters from the playset, ONE CHANCE (Weinstein) which opens in limited release is the unlikely story of opera singer Paul Potts who went from being an unknown shop assistant to a national sensation in the UK after winning the TV show Britain’s Got Talent.

February 14, 2014

ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Screen Gems) is an updated version of the classic 80s romantic comedy. Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall star. ENDLESS LOVE (Universal) is not an updated version of the classic 70s romantic adventure. Instead, it’s the story of a beautiful young woman from a wealthy family who falls in love with a working stiff against the wishes of her father who tries everything in his power to keep the two separated. Good luck with that. VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) is based on the bestselling young adult book series about a vampire princess and her human protector in an exclusive private school for bloodsuckers. Shouldn’t this be on the CW? WINTER’S TALE (Warner Brothers) stars Colin Farrell and Jennifer Connelly in a story of an ageless man who spans generations in New York City and the star-crossed love he holds for a desperately sick young woman.

February 21, 2014

3 DAYS TO KILL (Relativity) features Kevin Costner as a brilliant spy and assassin who yearns to spend more time with his family but must complete one last assignment before retiring – which unfortunately coincides with his promise to watch his teenage daughter while his wife is out of town. IN SECRET (Roadside Attractions) is the latest version of the Emile Zola novel Therese Raquin to hit movie theaters. A sexually repressed housewife embarks on an illicit affair that has far-reaching and tragic consequences. An all star cast headlines this limited release.

February 28, 2014

In NON-STOP (Universal) an Air Marshal tries to foil an extortionist’s plot on board a Transatlantic flight only to discover that he himself is being framed for the crime. Liam Neeson stars. SON OF GOD (20th Century Fox) comes from The Bible producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett and covers the life of Jesus Christ. WELCOME TO YESTERDAY (Paramount) is a found footage thriller about some teens who discover a time machine. Their innocent messing around will lead to catastrophic consequences. Damn kids!

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (20th Century Fox) Budget: $92 Million. Domestic Gross: $67.4M Total: $304.7M Verdict: Hit.
IDENTITY THIEF (Universal) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $134.5M Total: $174.0M Verdict: Blockbuster.
BULLET TO THE HEAD (Warner Brothers) Budget: $55M. Domestic Gross: $9.5M Total: $9.5M Verdict: Major Flop.
NO (Sony Classics) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $2.3M Total: $2.3M Verdict: Probably Made Money.
WARM BODIES (Summit) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $66.4M Total: $117.0M Verdict: Hit.
ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (Weinstein) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $57.9M Total: $71.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
SNITCH (Summit) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $42.9M Total: $42.9M Verdict: Broke Even.
DARK SKIES (Dimension) Budget: $3,5M. Domestic Gross: $17.4M Total: $26.4M Verdict: Hit.
SAFE HAVEN (Relativity) Budget: $28M. Domestic Gross: $71.4M Total: $71.4M Verdict: Lost Money.
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (Warner Brothers) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $19.5M Total: $60.1M Verdict: Lost Money.
SIDE EFFECTS (Open Road) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $32.2M Total: $32.2M Verdict: Lost Money.

MARCH

As we hop into spring the studios hope that audiences will find films worth hopping into theaters over. There are some impressive offerings this year including the big screen debut of a beloved small screen cartoon, a big budget videogame adaptation, the sequel to a Frank Miller classic graphic novel, a Biblical epic and a young adult science fiction franchise kicking off.

DivergentCAN’T MISS

DIVERGENT
RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2014
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz, Ashley Judd, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney
STORY: In a future where people are divided into factions by their personality traits, a courageous young woman who doesn’t fit into any single faction threatens the entire order of things. She meets up with an underground movement and starts up a revolution against insurmountable odds.
PROSPECTS: Has many of the elements that made the Hunger Games series a major success – a popular book series, an up-and-coming young actress, a plucky heroine and a dystopian future. Could well be the next big film franchise.
OBSTACLES: So many young adult book series don’t translate into box office numbers. Last year’s The Host should be a warning to filmmakers who don’t believe that.
FACTOID: Woodley and Ansel Elgort played sister and brother here. In The Fault in Our Stars scheduled to come out later in 2014 they’ll play girlfriend and boyfriend.

SHOULD SEE

NOAH
RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Marton Csokas
STORY: A devout man is chosen by God to build an ark that will save his family and the animals on the Earth before an apocalyptic flood destroys everything.
PROSPECTS: Biblical epics are coming back into style as Christian audiences are exerting more clout at the box office.
OBSTACLES: Not sure how much director Darren Aronofsky will play to religious audiences.
FACTOID: Crowe and Connelly played husband and wife previously in A Beautiful Mind.

MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2014
STUDIO: DreamWorks Animation
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Ty Burrell, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, Lake Bell
STORY: A precocious talking dog invents a time machine which his boy promptly takes out on a joyride to impress his friend, causing a hole to rip in time. Mr. Peabody will have to fix the damage or risk the entire universe vanishing into the hole.
PROSPECTS: Parents will remember fondly the Jay Ward cartoon from the ’60s. Their kids will only see the talking dog.
OBSTACLES: Kids who are less familiar with the classic cartoon may be less excited to see this. The 3D animation might put off purists.
FACTOID: Robert Downey Jr. was considered for the voice of Mr. Peabody.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING : Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Hans Matheson, Jack O’Connell, Callan Mulvey
STORY: After his victory at Thermopylae, King-turned-God Xerxes turns loose his vengeance-crazed admiral Artemesia on the Athenians. The odds overwhelming against the Greeks, General Themistocles devises a bold plan.
PROSPECTS: 300 was a game-changer and a box office blockbuster. Although Zach Snyder isn’t directing he is producing and Frank Miller will be involved again as well.
OBSTACLES: Eight years have passed since 300 was released and there’s no telling if audiences are all that eager to see the sequel at this point.
FACTOID: Gym Jones who trained the actors who played Spartans in the first film had the same function for the sequel.

NEED FOR SPEED
RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2014
STUDIO: DreamWorks
STARRING: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Michael Keaton, Dakota Johnson
STORY: An underground race driver set up and jailed for manslaughter is released from prison, intent on clearing his name but more importantly getting revenge.
PROSPECTS: Based on a hit videogame franchise.
OBSTACLES: Based on a hit videogame franchise.
FACTOID: The drive-in theater depicted in the film is a real working drive-in movie theater in Georgia, one of only four left in the state.

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2014
STUDIO: Fox Searchlight
STARRING: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Matthieu Almaric, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray
STORY: The world’s best concierge takes a mere lobby boy under his wing amidst the scandal of a stolen painting in pre-War central Europe.
PROSPECTS: Wes Anderson’s last film, Moonrise Kingdom, was a critical and commercial hit.
OBSTACLES: Wes Anderson is also a very acquired taste.
FACTOID: This marks the seventh occasion Bill Murray has been cast in a Wes Anderson film.

ALSO

March 7, 2014

In GRAND PIANO (Magnet) Elijah Wood plays a concert pianist who hasn’t performed for years due to acute stage fright. Making his first concert appearance since the onset of his illness, he finds himself literally in the sights of a crazed sniper who will kill him at the first wrong note. Talk about a critic! HAUNT (IFC Midnight) is a haunted house movie with a twist; the sexual awakening of the teenage son of the family living there triggers the opening of an alternate dimension. Pretty much how it works in real life, right? Both of these horror flicks are opening in limited release and VOD.

March 14, 2014

TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOMS CLUB (Lionsgate) finds a group of single moms from all walks of life uniting after a disturbing incident at their children’s school. Perry headlines a star-studded cast. GRACE OF MONACO (Weinstein) features Nicole Kidman in the title role of the beautiful actress who became the fairy tale princess of a dashing young heir to the throne of Monaco, but behind the scenes all is not necessarily a happily ever after. VERONICA MARS (Warner Brothers) brings the cult hit TV show to the big screen in limited release. Famously the recipient of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the new film finds Veronica in law school and still up to her detective tricks. Kristen Bell and most of the rest of the original cast returns.

March 21, 2014

NYMPHOMANIAC PART ONE (Magnolia) is the first part of Lars von Trier’s latest film (opening in limited release) about a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac discovered by a bachelor badly beaten on his doorstep. As he nurses her back to health she recounts her erotic escapades. Part Two opens on April 18th. MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney) finds Kermit the Frog mistaken for a world famous criminal and only his fellow Muppets will be able to clear his name. He’s clearly in big trouble. In STRETCH (Universal) a limo driver trying to pay off a big debt gets a stroke of luck – a reclusive billionaire in the back of his car. However the rich man’s somewhat bizarre tastes may turn this savior fare into a final nightmare. A BIRDER’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING (Screen Media) stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as an obsessive 15-year-old birdwatcher who believes he’s found the discovery of a lifetime. Eager to cement his place in birding history, he runs away on the eve of his father’s remarriage to seal the deal. Opens in limited release.

March 28, 2014

A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 (Open Road) is the second round of the Marlon Wayans-pended horror spoof. CESAR CHAVEZ (Pantelion) chronicles the early years of the legendary labor leader’s career organizing the largely Latino farm workers of California. Michael Pena stars in the title role. In limited release is THE RAID 2 (Sony Classics) which picks up where the hit Indonesian action film left off with supercop Rama going undercover in one of Jakarta’s most notorious criminal gangs.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (Disney) Budget: $215 Million. Domestic Gross: $234.9M Total: $493.3M Verdict: Made Money.
THE CROODS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $135M. Domestic Gross: $187.2M Total: $587.2M Verdict: Big Hit.
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (Paramount) Budget: $130M. Domestic Gross: $122.5M Total: $375.7M Verdict: Hit.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (New Line) Budget: $195M. Domestic Gross: $65.2M Total: $197.7M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE HOST (Open Road) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $26.6M Total: $48.2 Verdict: Lost Money.
STOKER (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $1.7M Total: $12.1 Verdict: Lost Money.
TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION: CONFESSIONS OF A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $52.0M Total: $53.1M Verdict: Likely Made Money.
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (FilmDistrict) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $98.9M Total: $161.0M Verdict: Made Money.
THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $22.5M Total: $22.5M Verdict: Flop.
ADMISSION (Focus) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $18.0M Total: $18.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (Focus) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $21.4M Total: $35.5M Verdict: Made Money.
21 AND OVER (Relativity) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $25.7M Total: $45.6M Verdict: Hit.
DEAD MAN DOWN (FilmDistrict) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $11.0M Total: $18.1M Verdict: Flop.
THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (CBS) Budget: $5M. Domestic Gross: $15.2M Total: $15.2M Verdict: Hit.

APRIL

As the weather warms up and the rebirth of spring paves the way for the advent of summer, Hollywood begins to allow some early blockbusters to lead the charge. Marvel starts out early this year with the third film in their Phase II film slate and Johnny Depp stars in a thriller about artificial intelligence. Also look for the latest DisneyNature film and the sequel to a hit animated feature.

Captain America: The Winter SoldierCAN’T MISS

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2014
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Hayley Atwell, Toby Jones
STORY: Trying to adjust to life in the modern world, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America finds himself facing a shadowy enemy in Washington DC who has set out to destroy SHIELD and with it, the United States and discovers that a familiar face is now a foe.
PROSPECTS: The Marvel cinematic universe train shows no signs of slowing down. Captain America: The First Avenger was one of the best movies of the franchise thus far.
OBSTACLES: The Russo Brothers have replaced Joe Johnston as director. Part of the appeal of the first movie was how well it got the period right; now we’ll see Cap in an entirely modern venue.
FACTOID: A deleted scene from The Avengers in which Cap finds out the fates of Peggy Carter and his commando team has been included here.

SHOULD SEE

RIO 2
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, will.i.am, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jamie Foxx, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Garcia
STORY: Blu, Jewel and their three kids are torn from their beloved Rio de Janeiro into the wilds of the Amazon rainforest and must learn to cope with the most terrifying life form of all – the father-in-law.
PROSPECTS: The original Rio was one of Fox’s most popular animated films, particularly among Latinos which is recently proving to be a moviegoing force. Not a lot of competition in theaters for family films.
OBSTACLES: Lacks the marketing support found for Disney and DreamWorks animated films.
FACTOID: The species of Blu and Jewel is based on the Spix’s Macaw which is believed to be extinct in the wild and of which less than 100 are known to exist in captivity, although Brazilian authorities have initiated an aggressive breeding program in hopes of bringing the species back from the brink of extinction.

TRANSCENDENCE
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins Jr.
STORY: A scientist eager to take the next leap forward in artificial intelligence is forced by circumstances to have his own personality placed in a computer with potentially devastating results.
PROSPECTS: Depp provides star power and there are some parallels to the first Iron Man film which might resonate with fans.
OBSTACLES: These sorts of “thinking person” science fiction films have not tended to do well at the box office and there is an unusual amount of competition this month.
FACTOID: This is the directing debut of Wally Pfister, cinematographer for (among others) most of Christopher Nolan’s films.

SABOTAGE
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2014
STUDIO: Open Road
STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Sam Worthington, Harold Perrineau, Terrance Howard, Joe Manganiello, Max Martini
STORY: An elite DEA task force begins to get picked off and murdered on by one. After it is discovered that there is a substantial amount of money missing from their last bust, the survivors are being chased by their own government as well as the bad guys – or might be the same people.
PROSPECTS: It’s Arnold, after all. A pretty decent supporting cast and some good action moments in the trailer.
OBSTACLES: Arnold doesn’t have the box office pull he once had. In fact, he’s desperately in need of a hit.
FACTOID: Enos’ role was originally given to Malin Akerman who had to drop out due to pregnancy and Enos was given the part.

MIGHT SURPRISE

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2014
STUDIO: Sony Classics
STARRING: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Carter Logan
STORY: An underground musician reunites with his lover amid a world spiraling down into chaos in a story that has taken centuries to write.
PROSPECTS: Director Jim Jarmusch is one of the original independent directors and has a fairly passionate cult following.
OBSTACLES: A passionate cult following doesn’t necessarily translate to box office numbers. Also this is one of Jarmusch’ most mainstream offerings which might alienate some of his fan base.
FACTOID: The house next door to the bar where much of the action was filmed was torched for the insurance money shortly after filming ended.

ALSO

April 5, 2014

ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR (Warner Brothers) takes us to one of the largest islands in the world and to the indigenous lemur colony that lives there. This one is coming to us in IMAX. DOM HEMINGWAY (Fox Searchlight) is an English crime caper about a safecracker who after a stint in prison looks to even the score after he gets out. Jude Law stars in this limited release.

April 11, 2014

It’s DRAFT DAY (Summit) for the hapless Cleveland Browns (art imitates life) and the GM of the club, which possesses the top draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft is under enormous pressure to make a splash. Kevin Costner stars. ST. VINCENT (Weinstein) stars Bill Murray as a hedonistic war veteran who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young boy suffering through his parents’ divorce.

April 14, 2014

ALAN PARTRIDGE (Magnolia) opens in limited release and features Steve Coogan in his signature role from English television as an opinionated DJ who finds himself held hostage when a fellow DJ takes over the station after learning he’s being let go.

April 16, 2014

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (Tri-Star) is based on the incredible true story about the toddler who had a near death experience and came back claiming he went to heaven and knowing things that he couldn’t possibly know. His father, a small town pastor and volunteer firefighter, is tested in ways he never could have predicted by his son’s notoriety.

April 18, 2014

BEARS (DisneyNature) is the fifth in the annual Earth Day series of nature films, this time concerning itself with a family of grizzlies in Alaska. In OCULUS (Relativity) a woman attempts to exonerate her brother who was convicted of murder by proving that the crime was actually committed by a supernatural power. Good luck with that.

April 25, 2014

In EARTH TO ECHO (Relativity) three young boys start receiving strange messages on their cell phones. Further investigation leads them to discover an alien being who needs their help. E.T., phone home!!! THE OTHER WOMAN (20th Century Fox) stars Cameron Diaz as a woman who discovers her boyfriend is married to another woman. When she meets the wife, she finds out to her surprise that they have a lot more in common than the two-timer – he’s cheating on the both of them with yet another woman. The three of them decide to get their revenge and no guys, it won’t be pretty. THE QUIET ONES (Lionsgate) is loosely based on actual events in which an unorthodox professor of physics sets his students the task of creating a poltergeist – and they do. WALK OF SHAME(Focus) has a beautiful young reporter who has aspirations for the big time left stranded in L.A. after a one-night stand with a handsome stranger with no car, no cash, no wallet and just eight hours to make it to the interview for her dream job.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

OBLIVION (Universal) Budget: $120 Million. Domestic Gross: $89.1M Total: $286.2M Verdict: Broke Even.
42 (Warner Brothers) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $95.0M Total: $95.0M Verdict: Made Money.
PAIN AND GAIN (Paramount) Budget: $26M. Domestic Gross: $49.9M Total: $86.2M Verdict: Hit.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (Sony Classics) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $5.1M Total: $19.4M Verdict: Probably Broke Even.
THE HEAT (20th Century Fox) Budget: $43M. Domestic Gross: $159.6M Total: $229.9M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE BIG WEDDING (Lionsgate) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $21.8M Total: $21.8M Verdict: Flop.
SCARY MOVIE 5 (Dimension) Budget: $20M Domestic Gross: $32.0M Total: $78.4M Verdict: Hit.
EVIL DEAD (TriStar) Budget: $17M. Domestic Gross: $54.2M Total: $97.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE LORDS OF SALEM (Anchor Bay) Budget: $1.5M. Domestic Gross: $1.2M Total: $1.2M Verdict: Lost Money.

SUMMER

It might not seem like it now as we head into the dead of winter but on the horizon is the hot weather and hotter blockbusters of summer. This will be the first year in quite a while that there will be no Pixar movies in the multiplexes but there will be three different movies from Marvel, several big budget sci-fi epics, a legendary movie monster and movie villain both getting reboots, action films and comedies galore and of course family movies to keep the kids excited and their parents losing their minds to get the new merchandise and movie tickets all summer long. We’ll have a more detailed preview in April for the summer but here’s a taste.

Edge of TomorrowCAN’T MISS

EDGE OF TOMORROW
RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Jeremy Piven, Ciaran Hinds, Noah Taylor, Lara Pulver, Charlotte Riley, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Kick Gurry, Tony Way
STORY: An inexperienced soldier, killed within minutes in a suicide mission against a superior alien invading force, is caught in a time loop, improving his skills with each replay until he is within grasp of the key to winning the war.
PROSPECTS: Cruise still has plenty of box office magic. Science fiction remains a box office force.
OBSTACLES: Alien invasion movies have typically been of shoddy quality of late. The general public will be unfamiliar with the source material, a Japanese novel.
FACTOID: The Jeremy Piven character wasn’t added until re-shoots.

SHOULD SEE

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2013
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Chris Cooper
STORY: The emergence of Spider-Man has brought new villains to New York City and at last the inevitable happens; Peter Parker must fight a villain that is far more powerful than he is.
PROSPECTS: The Spider-Man franchise has been successful throughout all its incarnations and it shows no sign of slowing down now. With the main Marvel movies (how do you like that alliteration Stan Lee?) opening in April and August, ASM2 has the first week of the summer blockbuster season all to itself.
OBSTACLES: With no less than five Marvel movies (including the animated Big Hero 6) coming out this year there may be some burnout.
FACTOID: Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary-Jane Watson and filmed scenes but it was decided to make Gwen Stacy the main love interest and hold out Mary-Jane until Amazing Spider-Man 3 currently scheduled for 2016.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult
STORY: The X-Men of two generations fight for the survival of their species across time as Wolverine must travel into the past to stop an apocalyptic future from transpiring.
PROSPECTS: Brian Singer is back at the helm of the X-Men and has one of the most popular storylines from the comic book to work with and two sets of X-Men from the original trilogy and from X-Men: First Class to play with. The trailer looked absolutely fantastic.
OBSTACLES: See The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
FACTOID: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine has appeared in every X-Men movie, the only actor to have done so. This, his seventh appearance as the character is the most that the same actor has played a single character from a comic book in movie history.

MALEFICENT
RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2014
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Kenneth Cranham
STORY: A pure-hearted and beautiful young enchantress is ruthlessly betrayed in her fierce protection of the forest kingdom and swears vengeance on the King who betrayed her and his descendants.
PROSPECTS: Maleficent is one of Disney’s most iconic villains and Jolie is a perfect fit for the role. Again, the trailer looked compelling.
OBSTACLES: Storybook fantasy has been somewhat overexposed lately with ABC-TV’s Once upon a Time and Wonderland.
FACTOID: The actress playing Princess Aurora as a young girl is Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, the daughter of Jolie and Brad Pitt.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, T.J. Miller, Titus Welliver, Peter Cullen
STORY: Following the final battle in Chicago in which it seemed the Decepticons were defeated for good, Optimus Prime is faced with a new Decepticon threat.
PROSPECTS: There is still a lot of love out there for the Transformers. Mark Wahlberg is a step up from Shia LaBeouf.
OBSTACLES: An entirely new cast but Michael Bay is still the director which might make for some continuity problems for some fans.
FACTOID: The Dinobots will make their first appearance in the film series.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2014
STUDIO: DreamWorks
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Djimon Honsou, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig
STORY: Hiccup the Viking and his dragon Toothless take on the power-hungry Drago who means to end the human-dragon cooperation that began in the first movie.
PROSPECTS: With Pixar not having a release this summer, this sequel to the hugely popular How to Train Your Dragon essentially has Pixar’s early summer spot all to itself.
OBSTACLES: The popular cartoon series based on the original movie may make this sequel a little bit less of an event than it might have been.
FACTOID: The first DreamWorks movie to use their proprietary software “Primo” and “Torch” for an entire production. These programs allow for more realistic movement and more subtlety in facial movement as well as better consistency in lighting.

JUPITER ASCENDING
RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, James D’Arcy, Tim Pigott-Smith
STORY: A young woman with a larger destiny is tracked down by a genetically-enhanced hunter and brought out to a larger existence among the stars.
PROSPECTS: The Wachowskis are some of the most inventive directors out there and their vision is always interesting.
OBSTACLES: Their last two movies have been less compelling and successful than the Matrix trilogy.
FACTOID: This will be the first film directed by the Wachowskis to be released in 3D.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2014
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Djimon Honsou, Karen Gillan
STORY: An unlikely group of heroes band together to face a cosmic force of epic proportions – and epic evil.
PROSPECTS: As the lead-in to Avengers: Age of Ultron and the final film of Marvel: Phase II this will certainly have the attention of Marvel fans. Has a definite Star Wars look to it.
OBSTACLES: This is based on one of Marvel’s less successful books and may not have the name recognition other characters have.
FACTOID: Tyler Bates wrote some of the score before filming began so that director James Gunn could set the pacing of the scenes to music.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2014
STUDIO: Dimension
STARRING: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaimie King, Jamie Chung, Dennis Haysbert, Clive Owen, Alexa Vega, Michael Madsen
STORY: Marv and Dwight team up to help out an old flame of Dwight’s get out of a sticky situation, only to discover they’ve been set up as patsy’s for the murder of her rich husband.
PROSPECTS: The first film was a fan favorite and the sequel has been eagerly awaited for more than a decade now.
OBSTACLES: Movies that wait this long to get made rarely generate the same interest.
FACTOID: Three characters from the first film had to be recast; Devin Aoki due to her pregnancy and Brittany Murphy and Michael Clark Duncan due to their untimely deaths.

MIGHT SURPRISE

TAMMY
RELEASE DATE: July 2, 2014
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, Toni Collette, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass
STORY: A woman going through a very tough time goes on a road trip to Niagara Falls – with her grandmother.
PROSPECTS: Melissa McCarthy is ridiculously hot right now. Her last two movies were among the highest-grossing comedies of the year.
OBSTACLES: McCarthy is essentially carrying the movie herself; in her past two movies she had Jason Bateman and Sandra Bullock to assist although Sarandon is a formidable actress she’s not really well-known for her comedy.
FACTOID: Sarandon has gone off on a road trip with another woman before – in Thelma and Louise.

ALSO

CHEF (Open Road) stars Jon Favreau as a highly regarded who loses his job and starts a food truck business to recalibrate his career and open the doors to reconnecting with his estranged family (May 9). LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN (Summertime) is an animated feature that has Dorothy…well, returning to Oz. Shocker. When she gets there her friends the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion are all missing so it is up to her and her new friends to find them (May 9). NEIGHBORS (Universal) has a newlywed couple moving in next door to a frat house which starts a war of nerves between the two homes (May 9). GODZILLA (Warner Brothers) reboots the legendary Japanese lizard and brings him to the West Coast of the United States (May 16). MILLION DOLLAR ARM (Disney) is based on a true story about a sports agent, desperate to save his business, who hits upon the idea of bringing Indian cricketers to play Major League baseball (May 16). BLENDED (Warner Brothers) reunites Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore as two single parents who don’t like each other with kids who don’t like each other forced to bring both of their broods on the same African safari of a lifetime (May 23). A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (Universal) is the latest from Seth MacFarlane, here a comedy set in the old west about a cowardly sheep farmer forced to find his courage to save his love (May 30). In THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (20th Century Fox) two extraordinary teens meet in a cancer support group and fall deeply in love (June 6).22 JUMP STREET (Columbia) sends Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill to college (June 13). JERSEY BOYS (Warner Brothers) is the film version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway music of the story of the Four Seasons pop group; Clint Eastwood of all people directs (June 20). THE PURGE 2 (Universal) takes place a year after the first film as America gears up for the next Purge (June 20). THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (Screen Gems) brings back the couples from the acclaimed film inspired by Steve Harvey’s best-seller for a wedding in Las Vegas where further romantic shenanigans threaten to derail the event (June 20). In DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Screen Gems) a New York Cop joins forces with a renegade priest to battle supernatural forces terrorizing the city (July 2). DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) picks up the story of the intelligence-enhanced ape Caesar after a devastating war between men and apes (July 11). PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE (Disney) follows the further adventures of Dusty Crophopper as he joins the aerial firefighting crew (July 18). HERCULES (Paramount/MGM) stars Dwayne Johnson as the titular Greek demigod in the second of two movies about him this year (July 25). SEX TAPE (Columbia) is a comedy about a suburban PTA couple who frantically try to recover a sex tape they made of themselves to reinvigorate their marriage when it gets accidentally lost (July 25). STEP UP ALL IN (Summit) is the newest installment in the inexplicably popular dance series (July 25). GET ON UP (Universal) is the biopic about the great R&B pioneer James Brown (August 1). THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY (DreamWorks) stars Helen Mirren in a charming tale against an upstart Indian restaurant at war against a snooty traditional French restaurant in a quaint village in the south of France (August 8). INTO THE STORM (New Line) tells the remarkable story of a plucky town Midwestern town in the maw of an unprecedented run of tornadoes (August 8). LUCY (Universal) is the latest from French action film maestro Luc Besson and stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman held captive who turns into a merciless unstoppable killer (August 8).TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Paramount) is a live action reboot of the hugely popular comic book/animated TV show from the 80s (August 8). THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) brings back the all-star action team with some new additions and subtractions facing their most vicious foe yet (August 15). THE GIVER (Weinstein) is set on a distant world where history isn’t written down but held by a single Receiver of Memory which is passed down to an adolescent boy; based on the Newberry Award-winning young adult novel (August 15). In WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (TriStar) stars Jim Caviezel as legendary high school football coach Bob Ladouceur who took an obscure Northern California high school and took it to heights unparalleled in the annals of high school football (August 22). In JANE GOT A GUN (Relativity/Weinstein) a woman must ask a gunslinger, her ex-lover, to help save her outlaw husband from a brutal criminal gang who wants to kill him (August 29). JESSABELLE (Lionsgate) is a horror movie about a young woman following a horrible accident in which her fiancée was killed recuperates in her father’s crumbling Louisiana mansion discovers a gift from her long-dead mother but also that there is a strange and sinister presence in the mansion that wants to destroy her (August 29). In THE LOFT (Universal) five married men who secretly own a loft where they can carry out their illicit affairs are shocked to discover the body of a dead woman there – and one of them is almost certainly the killer (August 29).

FALL

As the weather turns colder, Hollywood moves from big noisy blockbusters to Oscar contenders and smaller, more intimate films. While this is the portion of the preview that is most subject to change, we can still reasonably expect the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s second MIddle Earth trilogy, a sci-fi epic from Christopher Nolan, the penultimate chapter of a smash hit sci-fi franchise, the first Marvel animated feature and plenty of adaptation of children’s and young adult books.

InterstellarCAN’T MISS

INTERSTELLAR
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace
STORY: A group of intrepid explorers make use of a newly discovered stable wormhole to visit the furthest reaches of space.
PROSPECTS: Nolan is box office gold. McConaughey is fresh off of a likely Oscar-nominated performance and is in maybe the best stretch of his career. The buzz on this film is already extraordinary.
OBSTACLES: The glut of sci-fi films might have the general moviegoing population weary of space travel by the time November rolls around.
FACTOID: The movie was originally to have been directed by Stephen Spielberg but when he moved on to other projects, the film’s writer Jonathan Nolan suggested the project to his brother Christopher.

SHOULD SEE

THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2013
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Lee Pace, Sylvester McCoy, Jed Brophy, Graham McTavish, Benedict Cumberbatch
STORY: The conclusion of the epic trilogy as Bilbo Baggins assists Thorin and his band of dwarves in their final confrontation with the dragon Smaug.
PROSPECTS: The second film was considerably better than the first and leaves a ton of hope that this one will be the best of the three.
OBSTACLES: The Hobbit trilogy just hasn’t generated the same enthusiasm as The Lord of the Rings trilogy did.
FACTOID: Lee Pace kept his Elven sword from the film which he keeps in his umbrella stand.

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2
RELEASE DATE: November 26, 2013
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz
STORY: The three mistreated cubicle cowboys from the first film decide to set out on their own and start their own business but a slick investor with no scruples throws a monkey wrench in their plans.
PROSPECTS: The first film not only did strong box office but got a very high score from critics and audiences alike.
OBSTACLES: Sequels don’t always live up to the originals.
FACTOID: The Jason Sudeikis character lauded Applebee’s in the first film; Sudeikis later became a spokesman for the restaurant.

HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART ONE
RELEASE DATE: November 21, 2014
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
STORY: The series moves into its final confrontation as Katness Everdeen leads the people in revolt against the corrupt Panem regime of President Snow.
PROSPECTS: The series has taken off and become a huge hit across the board. There’s no reason to expect that the next to last film in the series won’t do the same.
OBSTACLES: Once again, heavy competition might hurt it’s box office chances….yeah, right.
FACTOID: To keep security on the set tight the production filmed under the alternate title “Seashore.”

EXODUS
RELEASE DATE: December 12, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley. Hiam Abbass
STORY: The Biblical story of Moses the Lawgiver who would lead his people from Egypt to the Promised Land and establish the laws of Yahweh in Israel.
PROSPECTS: Ridley Scott knows spectacle and while this may not be Cecil B. DeMille it certainly looks epic.
OBSTACLES: Christian Bale…as Moses?!?
FACTOID: Joel Edgerton found out he got his role as Ramses from friends who’d seen it leaked online before he was officially notified.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3
RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, Dan Stevens, Brennan Elliott, Skyler Gisondo, Anjali Jay, Patrick Gallagher, Matthew Harrison
STORY: The third installment takes the story to London.
PROSPECTS: A very popular series for families.
OBSTACLES: It’s been a while since the last one.
FACTOID: Writer Robert Ben Garant used to be on Reno 911! as an actor.

MIGHT SURPRISE

BIG HERO 6
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2014
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Not yet announced.
STORY: A genius in robotics and a team of reluctant first-time crimefighters must save the megalopolis of San Fransokyo from a criminal plot.
PROSPECTS: The Marvel name goes a long way to bringing in crowds and so does the Disney name. Could bring in younger and older audiences alike much like The Incredibles did.
OBSTACLES: The comic book the film is based on isn’t very well-known. Anime/manga which Marvel tried to emulate here hasn’t really risen above cult status here in the States.
FACTOID: The first Marvel film to be theatrically released through Walt Disney Animation Studios.

ALSO

ADDICTED (Lionsgate) is the true story of a successful author who nearly lost everything due to her sex addiction (September 5).THE GREEN INFERNO (Open Road) follows a group of activists trying to save a dying tribe in the Amazon who end up being taken hostage by the very tribe they were sent to save (September 5). In NO GOOD DEED (Screen Gems) a charming stranger enters the home of a mom and her kids and terrorizes them (September 12). RESIDENT EVIL 6 (Screen Gems) may be the violent conclusion to the successful horror videogame adaptation series but as almost nothing is known about the plot, it wouldn’t surprise me if this got pushed out a year (September 12). SEARCH PARTY (Universal) is a comedy about a groom lost in the Mexican jungle who must rely on his bumbling friends to rescue him (September 12). THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Warner Brothers) has four grown siblings forced to share the same house after their father passes away; also in the dwelling is their over-sharing mother, assorted spouses, exes and the potential for chaos (September 12). DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Warner Brothers) follows the amazing story of Winter and of her new companion Hope (September 19). In THE MAZE RUNNER (20th Century Fox) a young boy must discover the secrets locked deep in his own mind if he is to ever escape the mysterious enclosure known by his fellow memory-challenged inhabitants as the Glade (September 19). THE BOXTROLLS (Focus) is the latest animated feature from stop-motion experts Laika, set in the world of trolls who live in boxes and dwell in the shadows (September 26). THE EQUALIZER (Columbia) is the new big screen version of the classic 80s TV hit with Denzel Washington taking the lead role (September 26). GONE GIRL (20th Century Fox) is the latest from director David Fincher and stars Vince Vaughn in a thriller about a seemingly distraught husband whose wife has disappeared but may know more about the disappearance than he is letting on (October 3). ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Disney) stars Steve Carell in a big screen version of the illustrated children’s classic (October 10). In THE INTERVIEW (Columbia) a talk show host and his producer get sucked into a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea; Seth Rogen stars (October 10). THE JUDGE (Warner Brothers) stars Robert Downey Jr. as a hotshot lawyer returning home for his mother’s funeral and to discover the truth behind the fact that his estranged father, the town judge, is the prime suspect in her murder (October 10). THE BEST OF ME (Relativity) is the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation(October 17). BOOK OF LIFE (20th Century Fox), produced by Guillermo del Toro, is an animated feature set against a Mexican Day of the Dead backdrop (October 17). DRACULA UNTOLD (Universal) tells the story of Vlad Tepes, the man who would become Dracula (October 17). BUSINESS OR PLEASURE (20th Century Fox) features Vince Vaughn as a workaholic small business owner whose business trip to close an extremely important deal in Europe goes sideways (October 24). In PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5 (Paramount) the paranormal activities continue after a year off (October 25). In BLACKBIRD (Relativity) a promising singer is saved from committing suicide by a cop and the two fall in love, earning the disapproval of her parents who are more concerned about their daughter’s career than her happiness (November 14). DUMB AND DUMBER TO (Universal) brings back Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as Harry and Lloyd, possibly the dumbest people who ever lived (November 14). FURY (Columbia) stars Brad Pitt as the leader of a tank crew caught behind enemy lines in the waning days of World War II (November 14). In MCFARLAND (Disney) Kevin Costner stars as a track coach who transforms a group of athletes in a small California town into championship contenders (November 21). HOME (DreamWorks) is an animated feature about the most annoyingly optimistic alien in the galaxy forced to go on the run from his own race (November 26). PADDINGTON (Dimension) brings the beloved children’s books of Paddington Bear to life (December 12). ANNIE (Columbia) takes one of the beloved Broadway musicals of the last 30 years and turns it urban (December 19). INTO THE WOODS (Disney) turns Grimm’s Fairy Tales into a modern story; based on the Stephen Sondheim-penned Broadway musical (December 25). UNBROKEN (Universal) is the true story of an Olympic athlete who survived a World War II plane crash and a 47 ordeal in a raft only to be captured by the Japanese as a prisoner of war (December 25).

And with that, our preview comes to an end. 2014 promises to have its fair share of memorable times at the multiplex and we haven’t even scratched the surface; there will be hundreds of foreign and independent movies making their way onto VOD or local art houses as well as major studio releases that haven’t yet been assigned a date. Keep an eye on this space for further details. In the meantime, 2015 promises to be perhaps the biggest year at the movies of all time as near-slam dunk blockbusters are already filling up that schedule, including the first installment in the new Star Wars trilogy, the sequel to The Avengers as well as the first film in Marvel’s Phase III. We’ll also be seeing among other movies the long-awaited Superman/Batman team-up which promises to kick DC comics filmed franchise into overdrive, new movies or reboots in the Mad Max, Fantastic Four, Fast and Furious, Terminator, Jurassic Park, Insidious, Paranormal Activity, James Bond, Bourne, Hunger Games, and Kung Fu Panda franchises while the Minions of Despicable Me and the Penguins of Madagascar get movies of their own. There will also be live action versions of Disney classics Cinderella and the Jungle Book as well as the Assassins Creed videogame and the wildly popular erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey while the Peanuts comic strip gets its first full length movie in 44 years and that’s just scratching the surface. So if you can keep your appetites whet that long, you’ll have to make do with the many offerings of 2014 which should tide you over nicely. Cinema365 will continue to cover the big major releases as well as a goodly amount of indie and foreign releases and with our Four-Warned and New Releases features keep you up to date as to what’s coming out here in Orlando and around the country. Happy New Year and see you at the multiplex!