Oh, 2014 was exhausting, movie wise! Maleficent, magnificent, (Angelina Jolie winner of the best face acting award of the last 50 years), the vibrant Guardians of the Galaxy, Scarlett Johansson stepping up in a major way with Under the Skin, Lucy and the voice of Her, and Mockingjay Part 1, a surprising success along with the two best films of the year: Hobbit 3 (er, that’s what most people call it), and the super stellar, Interstellar, one of the best films of the last twenty years, in this genre, addressing big issues, at a personal level. I don’t care what some carping critics have said, this blew me, and all my friends and family, away!
Then there was Edge of Tomorrow which I so wanted to like. But, meh! Shame. Emily Blunt was great. Tom Cruise was just cruising and the tiny, weeny plot idea was not quite as big as it thought it was.
So onto 2015. On paper it doesn’t seem as big as 2014, but there are sure to be some surprises, especially at the end of the year as we don’t have the posters or trailers yet. Of course, there’s plenty of superhero action to feast on, some neat space opera and some curious, cooky stuff too.
With Michael Bay amongst the producer credits, this is likely to be bombastic, male, slightly mysogynist and set for a great run at the box office. With a frankly underwhelming poster, this is another twist on the time machine narrative with an unlikely bunch of teenagers finding the plans for a machine. I’m a sucker for time travel, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed
Bruce Willis runs a pleasure resort. Gorgeous androids exist to provide, well, pleasure for their clients. It’s an old fashioned sf thriller (with hints of Wanted and Nikita), using modern CGI techniques. Some early previews say it lacks atmosphere and panache, but if it can tease out a decent performance from Bruce Willis, then it’s got to be worth it!
The Phoenix Project
Seen some snotty comments about this, but it looks like an independent film with integrity, guts and some story-telling chops. A group of scientists develop a machine that brings dead things back to life. The experiments start small, but, I guess we can all see where it’s going. A chiller, and hopefully a guilty pleasure!
So, with Matrix in its DNA (the Wachowskis at the helm as writers and directors) this promises to be entertaining and conceptual. Add Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne to the mix and we have an intriguing mix of ieas and acting talent. It’s an origin story for the human race, and a cosmic battle for control. Sounds great! (Originally due for last year, it fell in post-production, over to 2015).
Good vs evil martial art action, packed with supernatural mystique, Seventh Son delivers a fast paced thriller from the ancient past. Jeff Bridges as a super cool knight and Julianne Moore as a supremely malevolent witch, it’ll be diverting and escapist fun.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
This is could be much better than it sounds. The main point of the film seems to be to take the nice Mr Colin Firth and turn him into a filthy, swearing swine. It has a 1960s’ spy movie aesthetic but with a touch of misogyny and Lock, Stock and Barrel thrown in too. Not sure it sure should be in this run of SF and Fantasy movies but the foot blades as weapons are just enough for me.
It’s hard to say “Chappie” without hearing the South African accent. This is the latest movie from Neill Blomkamp, which means it’ll have some inventive twists and an empathetic heart beating through a quirky centre. Chappie is a robot who can think and feel, and has to learn to live in a dangerous, human world. It’s District 9 meets Wall-e.
Divergent sits squarely in the Hunger Games / Maze Runner / YA Dystopia market, and was pretty good once it moved off its simplistic exposition of society’s divisions: thinkers, warriors, law-makers etc. The action and the acting was effective and worked well for its target audience with some neat CGI. Insurgent is more of the same, but broadens out as Tris (the excellent Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) seek the hidden secrets behind society’s divisions, whilst battling Kate Winslet’s peppy Jeanine.
(January UK/April US 2015)
An intriguing take on the thinking robot trope Ex-Machina is stylish and powerful, with its deceptive combination of shiny surfaces, deep emotions and future shock. A geeky programmer plays the human part of a Turing Test, to see if the new AI form can pass, or if the human wins. Ava is the AI, half human body with a visible android appearance, and is beautifully played by the silky toned Alicia Vikander. 2015 could be Vikander’s year, she’s in Seventh Son and Man from U.N.C.L.E. and several other movies.
Marvel’s latest blast of fun and adventure pits the various hot heroes of the moment against the ultimate enemy, Ultron, who takes Iron man, Captain America, Thor and co. out of their comfort zones and threatens to destroy humanity. And we have the delicious prospect of the twins, Wanda and Petro Maximoff, finally reaching the screen as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. I’m looking forward to it, but then I used to cycle round town looking for the rare marvel comics when I was young. Bless.
Brad Bird, the brilliant creator of The Incredibles, has fashioned a brand new movie mystery, harnessing the voice-acting talents of George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Judy Greer and more for this science busting adventure into another world, another time. It’s a Disney movie, in a good way, i.e. after they learned how to make great animated features from Pixar.
Mad Max Fury Road
Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) are just some of the reasons to hope that this reboot lives up to the iconic status of its predecessors. Max (Hardy) is moody and rebellious, Furiosa (Theron) is determined and inspired. The post-apocalyptic landscape is more familiar than it used to be so the characters and their fundamental re-connections with their own humanity will be an critical to the success of this movie
Well, the original was a blockbusting powerhouse, so why not bring it back for a new generation, with even better effects and a brand new storyline? Well, this is set some twenty years after the first movie and plays with the marketing vs real world themes as an experiment to create a new type of dinosaur goes spectacularly wrong. At a theme park. Of course. I think I’ve just wandered into a Scooby-do movie…
Another one with Judy Greer, but starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas this is Marvel’s brave attempt to make something of the secondary characters in the Marvel Universe, and fair enough it is too. The plot seems to involve the protection Hank Pym’s secret identity as Ant-Man, a huge heist, and the endless superheroic need to save the world. It’s got to be fun. Hasn’t it?
Bang! Crash! Invincible character, but not! Change the future by changing the past! Danger! Save the day! Phew. I don’t know why but it still looks good. This time the future needs to be reset, not the past which has become different and more dangerous, and Arnie turns up as the Guardian. Nothing like the former Governor of California to liven up a party…
I can’t find a poster for this, so here’s a nice picture of Ryan Reynolds. A wealthy man, dying of cancer endures an experimental procedure which transfers his consciousness into the dead body of another. But no-one seems to have carried out much due diligence on this cadaver, so a twisting, disturbing story ensues…
I’ve no enthusiasm for this. I loved the second FF movie with the Silver Surfer, and without the rest of the marvel universe to swirl around (different studio) its hard to inject the same degree of excitement for a reboot. To be fair, the stills look great, and the franchise needs a boost, with the tremendous success of the Avengers (and Dark Knight) casting a long shadow over the FF, one of the oldest superhero groups around.
There’s nothing decent on this yet, so will fill it in when the trailers and posters are released but from the various teasers and marketing stills available it looks pretty awesome. I understand that the third book in the series was the weakest but part 1 of Mockingjay was terrific, with some standout performances all round, and as parts 1 and 2 were shot back to back there’s every chance this final movie of the genre-defining sequence is set for a coruscating end.
Gravity crossed with Moon, The Martian is an investigation into the loneliness and determination of humankind. The first man on Mars may well be the last as every conceivable problem afflicts astronaut Mark Watney on his epic last stand. With Ridley Scott’s direction and a stellar cast including Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kate Mara there’s great hope for a cinematic triumph.
Heretically I loved the first Star Wars (now IV) and Phantom Menace, but not so much the rest, with their gnomic, furry aliens, and po-faced profundity. However, I’m a sucker for big stories and Lucas’ attempt at cosmic domination is fascinating. If the trailer’s anything to go by this new one looks modern and classy, and with JJ Abrams at the helm, it should be fantastic too.
So here’s to another incredible year of fantastic movies, with the usual range of unexpected, the brilliant and the downright kooky. Do you have any other movie suggestions? Let me know in the comment section below, or on Twitter.