Synopsis: For the first time ever, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang we know and love from Charles Schulz’s timeless Peanuts comic strip will be making their big-screen debut; like they’ve never been seen before in a CG-animated feature film in 3D.
Release Date: November 6, 2015
Thoughts: Admittedly, I have a very soft spot in my heart for the simple hand-drawn animation that gave the early Peanuts films and TV specials such heart. And it’s a bit of a shock that it took so long for a studio to capitalize on the lasting impression the characters in Charles Schulz’s imagination have left on the public. Though the film isn’t due for release until late in 2015 and plot details are unknown, a teaser morsel has been released (which we’ll probably see before every animated film for the next 22 months) and while it may be a little too brightly fancy free, I’m looking forward to seeing the gang in a new film. After all, it’s been 34 years since Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty, Sally, Lucy, Linus, and the rest have had a film in theaters. It’s time.
Synopsis: In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.
Release Date: August 1, 2014
Thoughts: I should start out by saying that I’m totally familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy comic and all of the characters introduced within. Teased first at the end of Thor: The Dark World, the full trailer for Marvel’s latest “Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here” film has an awful lot of impressive looking images that we’ve come to expect from an effects driven superhero film. What I find it’s lacking, however, is some justification for being so tonally blasé. It’s seems preciously desperate to come across with the same structured sarcasm as Marvel’s The Avengers even though that blockbuster already earned its stripes by bringing characters together already established in solo films. With a meaty cast like Chris Pratt (Her), Zoe Saldana (Out of the Furnace), Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), and Vin Diesel (Riddick) on board the film isn’t lacking in star power…I just hope it’s not nearly as comic-booky as it looks.
Synopsis: After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother.
Release Date: July 2, 2014
Thoughts: Ok…let me just say something that no one seems really willing to say: Melissa McCarthy has not delivered on the promise put forth in her rightfully praised breakthrough (and Oscar nominated) performance in Bridesmaids. She just hasn’t. She hasn’t. You can disagree all you want but having watched McCarthy rehash the same character in films like Identity Thief, This is 40, The Hangover Part III, and The Heat not to mention her last severely awful hosting gig at Saturday Night Live I’m just not on her bandwagon anymore. Like The Heat, this first trailer for Tammy has zero laughs, finding McCarthy pulling the same shtick we’ve seen her do countless times. That’s depressing considering the impressive roster of actors involved with the movie like Susan Sarandon (Jeff, Who Lives at Home), Dan Aykroyd (This is My Life), Kathy Bates (Titanic: 3D), and Allison Janney (The Way Way Back). I’m actually dreading this movie.
Synopsis: A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Thoughts: It was on the set of Enemy that star Jake Gyllenhaal and director Denis Villeneuve discussed the A-list actor coming on board Villeneuve’s next project: 2013’s highly effective (and high up on my best of the year list) Prisoners. So even though it was completed first, Enemy is just getting ready for a release in early March. A much smaller film that the Hollywood studio-backed Prisoners, Enemy suggests another moody puzzle of a film the director seems to have such a knack for. I wasn’t always the biggest Gyllenhaal fan but he’s taken on some dynamite roles in the last few years (see End of Watch if Prisoners didn’t convince you) and I’m getting a friendly vibe from this first look at Enemy.
Synopsis: An alien seductress preys upon hitchhikers in Scotland.
Release Date: April 14, 2014
Thoughts: Adapted from Michael Faber’s darkly comic novel from 2000, Under the Skin is a curious foreign product for star Scarlett Johansson (Her) finding her playing a beautiful alien who truly is a maneater. I’ve seen a few previews of the film over the past year and they’ve all been decidedly artsy and obtuse. I get the feeling that director Jonathan Glazer wants us to know that this isn’t your run of the mill horror film. OK…we get it. Now let’s see what ScarJo has up her alien sleeves…
Synopsis: A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon.
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Thoughts: First things first…I appreciate that this is truly a teaser trailer. We all know how much I’m in favor of the less is more approach and while a longer version of this may be released before the film comes out in April, I have to say that this first look at another low-budget horror film from wunderkind producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity 4, Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2, The Purge, Lawless, Sinister, Lords of Salem) gets the job done. That being said, these movies tend to open big (usually without advance screenings) and then sink like a stone once word of mouth makes its way around. One can only hope that Oculus will wind up being more ambitious than the rest and strike gold not only in the box office but with critics desperate for a good scare.
Synopsis: When her cop father is killed, a young woman tracks the murder with the apparent help of his ex-partner.
Release Date: TBA 2014
Thoughts: Adapted from the popular 1998 Japanese anime, the US version of Kite has been through some less than breezy days in its way to the big screen. Originally planned for 2008, the film lost some air when production details couldn’t be locked down. Then when there was a green light to move forward the original director (David R. Ellis) sadly passed away during filming in South Africa. With a replacement director wrapping things up Kite will get a chance to soar sometime in 2014 but fans are doubtful the overall impact of the original (which was heavy with the kind of sex and violence that would be next to impossible to secure in live-action format) can be matched no matter how flashy and amped up this first preview looks like the remake will be. I’m thinking this could be a nice little bit of high adrenaline distraction with the always interesting presence of Samuel L. Jackson (Oldboy, Django Unchained) keeping things grounded.
Synopsis: Brought together by a vandalism incident at their children’s school, a group of single mothers from different walks of life bond, and create a support group that helps them find comedy in the obstacles of life.
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Thoughts: Make no doubt about it, mogul Tyler Perry is one smart businessman. Writing, producing, directing, and sometimes regrettably starring in his own films, Perry (Alex Cross, Star Trek) can make films for pennies that rake in millions. Though his films aren’t as boffo profitable as they once were, each turn a profit so as long as tickets are sold his movies will continue to be churned out. I just wish the films were as good as the casts he manages to assemble. In his latest picture he’s gathered what could be called a “B” cast of familiar character actors from television in a story that looks like it could be called The First Wives Club are Waiting to Exhale. These films aren’t my bag but I will admit to being interested in seeing what dramatic chops comedian Wendi McLendon-Covey has in her bag of tricks.
Synopsis: Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends a slew of supervillains up against him.
Release Date: May 2, 2014
Thoughts: While I wasn’t married to the idea of Tobey Maguire being the one and only Spider-Man forever and ever, I wasn’t convinced in 2012 that Sony needed to reboot our webbed hero with The Amazing Spider-Man. The film, while impressive visually, was missing that special spark that all lasting superhero films need to stand the test of time. History has shown that some franchise films need to work out some bugs at first so I’m going to put faith in director Marc Webb and the creative time that this second go ‘round with Spidey hits the bullseye. Adding rising star Dane DeHaan (Lawless, Chronicle, The Place Beyond the Pines), Paul Giamatti (Saving Mr. Banks), and Jamie Foxx (White House Down, Django Unchained) to the mix, this special New Year’s Eve preview is shorter and more compact than the longer trailer released a month ago, truly teasing the audience with images of the nasty baddies that await them when the film is released in May.
Synopsis: After a bad blind date, a man and woman find themselves stuck together at a resort for families, where their attraction grows as their respective kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship.
Release Date: May 23, 2014
Thoughts: Wow…it’s hard to believe that it’s been sixteen years since Drew Barrymore (Big Miracle) and Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania) first worked together in the smash hit, The Wedding Singer! That 80’s set film was a pleasant retro flashback and succeeded because Barrymore was operating a peak charm and Sandler’s laid-back vibe had yet to be obliterated by a seemingly never-ending string of juvenile garbage films. After reuniting in 2004 for 50 First Dates, Barrymore and Sandler are joining forces again to see if lightning could strike for a third time. While Sandler’s films have miraculously made a boatload of money and Barrymore works consistently, neither has made a memorable film for ages…so could this pleasant (but very silly) looking comedy really work to their advantage? The Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci is back on board which could be a good thing…until you see he was also at the helm for dreadful efforts like Around the World in 80 Days, Zookeeper, and Sandler’s Click.
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