2014 in Film

It’s a new year, and a new set of exciting films are waiting in the wings. Keeping in tradition, here’s my pick of films to watch in 2014.

This year is going to be an epic one for cinema, from sequels to franchise reboots, to the return of some old favourites (I’m looking at you, The Hobbit: There and Back Again and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1). Release dates provided are international ones, but since Ster-Kinekor has upgraded to a full digital cinema system, they’ve said that we in South Africa should be getting these releases parallel to international dates. Let’s hope that remains true!

Without further ado, I give you 2014 in Film:

Films marked with an asterisk (*) are my must-see most anticipated picks.

  • I, Frankenstein [24 January] – a retake on the chilling horror story, starring Aaron Eckart and Bill Nighy.
  • The Lego Movie [7 February] – Lego Batman on an adventure. ’nuff said.
  • 300: Rise of an Empire [7 March] – Zack Snyder produces this follow-up that takes place before, during and after the events of 300.
  • * Noah [28 March] – Darren Aronofsky, he of the famed psychologically-driven character films, directs this Biblical interpretation starring a star-filled cast including Russel Crowe and Emma Watson.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier [4 April] – Steve Rogers and the Black Widow team up to take on a mystery that may endanger the entire world. Set two years after The Avengers, the duo soon encounter a powerful adversary – the Winter Soldier.
  • * Transcendence [18 April] – Wally Pfister, longtime cinematographer for Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut in this sci-fi thriller starring Johnny Depp, and Morgan Freeman. The story is very compelling: Dr Will Caster strives to create a machine that possesses sentience and collective intelligence. Like any good sci-fi film that doubles as a “thinking man’s action movie” (á la The Matrix), many philosophical implications and questions shall inevitably be brought up when discussing this film. One of my highly anticipated picks for the year.
  • Amazing Spider-Man 2 [2 May] – Eduardo Saverin – I mean, Andrew Garfield – is back as Spidey, shootin’ webs and takin’ names. The trailer hints at the possibility of a Marvel villain team-up movie following this. Looks really good too.
  • Godzilla [16 May] – the kaiju to end all kaijus is back in all its 21st Century CGI 3D glory. It stars Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe.
  • * X-Men: Days of Future Past [23 May] – The first trailer looks insanely epic. A time-travel story arc that brings the characters of the original and new X-Men movies together for the first time, this one stars Jennifer Lawrence, The Wolverine (aka Hugh Jackman), Michael Fassbender, Ellen Page, Sir Ian McKellen and most of Hollywood’s other A-listers.
  • 22 Jump Street [13 June] – Jencko and Schmidt are back, this time going undercover in college. I loved the first movie, and this one promises to continue that fun. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Jonah Hill in comedy.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [11 July] – the apes are rising against man. Will be interesting to see how they play the sympathies here. Enjoyed the first one, and looking forward to more. Starring motion capture expert Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) and Gary Oldman.
  • * Jupiter Ascending [18 July] – Mila Kunis stars in this sci-fi film by the inimitable Wachowskis (of Matrix and V for Vendetta fame). Jupiter is an unlikely hero who must fight against the Queen of the Universe to claim her birthright as the universe’s next leader. Also, did I mention Mila Kunis is in this? 😛
  • Guardians of the Galaxy [1 August] – Marvel’s Phase Two is wrapping up, and GOTG starts taking us intergalactic. With characters like Rocket Racoon (played by Bradley Cooper of all people), you know this is going to be a riot – of laughs, action, and more CGI than your brain can even comprehend. Sounds fun.
  • * Sin City: A Dame to Kill For [22 August] – Frank Millar and Robert Rodriguez direct this much-anticipated sequel. It packs an ensemble cast including Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Eva Green and Joseph Gorden-Levitt.
  • Jane Got a Gun [29 August] – Natalie Portman is Jane, a good girl married to one of the worst baddies in town. She decides to take matters into her own hands when her husband returns home with eight bullets in his back. A classic western movie starring Natalie Portman – what more is there to say?
  • * Interstellar [7 November] – Christopher. Freaking. Nolan. One of my favourite directors returns. This time, it’s a haunting sci-fi tale: a wormhole is discovered that can connect widely separate regions of spacetime… and a team of explorers embarks on the greatest voyage of mankind. According to The Hollywood Reporter: “The plot is beleived to involve time travel and alternate dimensions.” The teaser trailer is chilling, and builds intense expectations for a Nolan movie. He’s teaming up with his brother Jonathan Nolan on this – much like when they worked on Memento together. It has the complete Chris Nolan package: Hans Zimmer music, brilliant actors like Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matthew McConaughey. And of course, it includes a dash of Michael Caine to round it all out. This one’s going to be epic indeed – it’s being filmed with a combination of anamorphic 35mm film and IMAX photography.
  • * The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 [21 November] – It started with a spark in Catching Fire, and now the rebellion is searing into a blaze with Mockingkay Part 1. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen as she prepares to take on the Capitol – but not before discovering some harrowing secrets buried (Hunger Games fans – excuse the expression :P). If it’s anything like Catching Fire, I’m certain this one’s going to be another blockbuster. Julianne Moore also enters the franchise as Coin with this, so they’re certainly taking things up a notch.
  • * The Hobbit: There and Back Again [17 December] – Bilbo and the band of dwarves finally made it to the Lonely Mountain in Desolation of Smaug. But that film had one of the best cliffhangers I’ve ever seen, and it only builds up the expectations and anticipation for this final instalment in Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy (yes, there, I said it like it is). This one will definitely include the Battle of the Five Armies – and the tragic consequences of it. We’ll get to see more of the glorious Smaug. And it’ll be interesting to see where they go with the Tauriel-Kili-Legolas triangle (Tauriel was a new character introduced by the filmmakers, played by the brilliant Evangeline Lily). It’ll certainly take on a darker theme as we slowly transition into Lord of the Rings territory. What I’m most looking forward to in this one: Gollum! Missed that guy in the second film. Let’s hope he returns. PJ has proven himself to be capable of interpreting the mighty Tolkien’s work, so let’s hope he manages to stand on his own with this third movie that will indeed have to draw on additional materials, given that the story arc of The Hobbit begins to dwindle now that we’re onto film three.

So there you have it: the movies I’m looking forward to watching this year. Be sure to visit Pixelated Thinking to read my reviews and thoughts on some of them. Follow me on Twitter to get the latest, too: twitter.com/RahulDowlath

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28 Films to Watch in 2013

Last year was one of my favourite years for cinema: some extraordinary films were released and I was privileged to have seen them. The Hunger Games (highest-grossing action film of 2012), Skyfall, The Bourne Legacy, Avengers Assemble and, of course, my no.1 film – The Dark Knight Rises. 

But from Sunday’s 70th Golden Globe Awards, it’s evident that 2013 is set to supersede last year when it comes to film. For the South African circuit, many of 2012’s nominees will only open in the next few weeks, and thus I have included them as part of my 2013 selection below.

I hope you enjoy this year’s selection. (2013 release dates given from the American circuit; local release dates may vary).

Award Season favorites (releasing in early-2013)

  1. Django Unchained: Written + Directed by Quentin Tarantino, starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio
  2. Les Misérables: Starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Sacha Baron Cohen
  3. Argo: Directed by Ben Affleck
  4. Zero Dark Thirty Directed by Kathryn Bigalow
  5. Lincoln Directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day Lewis

2013 Releases

  1.  A Good Day to Die Hard starring Bruce Willis. February 14th.
  2. Oz the Great and Powerful directed by Sam Raimi, starring James Franco and Mila Kunis. March 8th.
  3. Oblivion starring Tom Cruise. April 12th.
  4. Iron Man 3 Starring Robert Downey, Jr. May 3rd.
  5. The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mullligan, Isla Fisher, Amitabh Bachchan. May 10th.
  6. Star Trek: Into Darkness. Directed by J.J. Abrams, starring Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg. May 17th.
  7. After Earth Directed by M. Night Shymalan, starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith. June 7th.
  8. Man of Steel Directed by Zack Snyder, starring Russel Crowe. June 14th.
  9. Monsters University starring Billy Crystal. June 21st.
  10. Kick-Ass 2 starring Nicolas Cage. June 28th.
  11. Despicable Me 2 starring Steve Carell. July 3rd.
  12. The Lone Ranger directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp. July 3rd.
  13. Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro. July 12th.
  14. The Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman. July 26th.
  15. 300: Rise of an Empire written by Zack Snyder (300). August 2nd.
  16. Elysium directed by Neill Blomkamp, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. August 9th.
  17. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters starring Logan Lerman. August 16th.
  18. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones 3D directed by George Lucas. September 20th.
  19. Gravity starring George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, directed by Alfonso Cuaron. October 4th.
  20. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba. October 4th.
  21. Thor: The Dark World starring Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth. November 8th.
  22. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend), starring Jennifer Lawrence, Lenny Kravitz. November 22nd.
  23. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug directed by Peter Jackson, starring Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Ian McKellan. December 13th.

I hope to watch all these films above this year, and you can be sure to read my thoughts on a select few of them right here on Pixelated Thinking.