Two weeks into January, it’s time to talk about what’s exciting us for 2014: the blockbusters, franchise sequels, arthouse gems, franchise sequels, auteur masterpieces, stories of mystery and wonder and franchise sequels that we’ve got our eyes on.
We’ve got a top 25 on the way, but first up here are the movies that didn’t quite make it. The ones we didn’t quite agree on, don’t think are going to quite work, or don’t know quite enough about just yet. We’re also leaving out Under The Skin, Only Lovers Left Alive and We Are The Best! as thanks to last year’s LFF we covered them in our best of 2013 list.
So without further caveats, in the traditional parlance of the ranked list these are the wildcards that together we refer to as…
The Hobbit: There and Back Again – more slightly turgid antics from Peter Jackson as he grinds out another hollow-feeling CGI fest that feels like a simulacrum of past glories. If you buried his Lord of the Rings in the Pet Sematery, it would come back and knock on your door in the form of the Hobbit movies – the resemblance is close, it moves and speaks in the same sort of way, but in your bones you know the spark has gone. Still, this is the conclusion, so there’s a certain amount of satisfaction/relief to be had.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: in a post-pandemic virus-devastated Earth, Gary Oldman tries to team up with talking monkeys. The first one was forgettable, but post-apocalypse might be more fun than pre-apocalypse (movie-wise, anyway) and you can’t go wrong with a bit of Oldman.
The Raid 2: Berendal. Just pure, solid, brilliant action, hopefully. People will be using words like “kinetic”, or “pure cinema in terms of its physicality”, or even “guilty pleasure” AKA THE WORST PHRASE IN THE WORLD, but forget all that. The bottom line is t’s very very very snappily edited footage of guys fighting each other. What’s that other phrase they used to use for John Woo films? “It’s like ballet”. Well, ok, let’s go with that. It’s like ballet. POW! BASH! ZOINK! OMG HIS EYEBALL.
The last English-language attempt at a Godzilla flick was fairly woeful, but the new one has a great cast (including Water White himself, Bryan Cranston) and comes directed by the guy behind Monsters, the very wonderful ultra-low budget giant monster flick that balanced quiet dread with moments of real poetry. I just hope it doesn’t have an ending that involves 40 skyscrapers getting knocked down but everyone being really happy nonetheless. Are you listening, Man of Steel and Star Trek Into Darkness? NEVER FORGET. Anyway, the trailer looks good.
Michael Fassbender dons a paper mâché head to play northern keyboard enthusiast Frank Sidebottom in biopic Frank. I just can’t get a fix on this movie without knowing more, although I suspect I may still not have a fix on this movie even after I’ve seen it. To this day, Frank Sidebottom remains gloriously unfix-on-able. There’s no trailer yet, so lets take a look at the real thing.
Tom Cruise will be ruining the time loop / alien war movie The Edge of Tomorrow, based on the novel All You Need Is Kill (much better title). All You Need Is Kill had a 19 year old Japanese protagonist. But the again, Cruise was in the Last Samurai, so that’s kind of close, right? We love a good time loop at Whitlock&Pope, but harbour a quiet dread that this might be this year’s Oblivion.
Also: Michael Keaton plays a paunchy, mentally notable ex-superhero actor haunted by his old character in Birdman, Robocop is rebooted in a way that will probably be kinda watchable BUT REALLY WHY BOTHER, Tim Burton directs an actual movie again instead of bunch of tiresome CGI whimsy with Big Eyes, Ridley Scott directs Christian Bale in Exodus aka KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: THE PREQUEL (no, not really), and the Matrix Siblings direct Mila Kunis as a Russian janitor called Jupiter who must rise up because she’s “the one” in some far-future dystopia in Jupiter Rising aka PLEA$E CAN WE MAKE THE MATRIX AGAIN: THE MOVIE.