New movie years always starts out slow, but in just a few short months, some big films will start hitting theaters. Think of the current lull—The LEGO Movie notwithstanding—as a way to build hype and drum up excitement for what’s to come. And, as we take a peek at this year’s outlook, there is plenty to get excited about, especially during the month of May, which is particularly loaded with some good titles: The Amazing Spider-man 2, X-men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla.
To complement our “Most Anticipated” gaming series, we thought we’d share what movies in the science fiction/fantasy genre we’re most looking forward to. This obviously isn’t a list of every single movie scheduled to come out, but it’s a taste of what our own staff will heading to the theaters to see throughout 2014. If a movie you’re looking forward to didn’t make the cut, don’t take it personal! We probably want to see that movie, too. Lists are inherently limited, and exclude awesome stuff. But the show must go on, as they say.
In no particular order, here are our most anticipated science fiction and fantasy movies of 2014:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
This one picks up right where the previous reboot left off, exploring Peter Parker’s internal struggle as Spider-Man as he battles a handful of tough new villains. Sony Pictures has released a few different trailers leading up to the release, but the most recent one really ran the gamut of witty humor and fun action, which has been a staple of the films ever since Sam Raimi helmed the first Spider-Man in 2002.
We’re expecting Spider-Man to juggle at least three different villains in the upcoming flick—Electro, The Rhino and possibly The Green Goblin/Hobgoblin—and there have been hints we’ll see others, too. There have also been hints that the sequel will be pretty traumatic for Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s love interest, which will no doubt ramp up the drama quite a bit. If the upcoming film is anything like the 2012 reboot, it’ll surely be a huge box office success.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)
Michael Bay’s take on the Transformers universe died a slow, painful death following the first film’s release back in 2007, relying on too much style with very little substance. But three years after the third movie was unleashed, Bay is back to torment the beloved franchise with yet another live action interpretation.
Kind of a reboot, kind of not, Transformers: Age of Extinction introduces an all-new cast of human characters, and the introduction of the fan favorite Dinobots, which we saw in the first teaser trailer. The footage we’ve seen certainly looks spectacularly explosive—a staple of Bay’s directing style. But it’s yet to be determined if Age of Extinction will be mind-blowing, like the first film, or simply mind-numbing, like the last two. We’re edging toward the latter.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
How good was X-men: First Class? Better than many of us expected, that’s for sure, especially given how lack luster the previous X-Men:The Last Stand had been. But it’s a big reason why this year’s “sequel,” as it were, is so highly anticipated—it might end up being the biggest comic book movie of the year, which includes some good company.
The huge ensemble cast from First Class returns, with some new (but familiar) faces making an appearance; some old faces from the franchise are making an appearance, too. Days of Future Past will span two time periods, and focus on Wolverine teaming up with the younger versions of his teammates in a battle to change the past, which will ultimately affect the future. We’ve only seen one hugely emotional trailer for the film so far, but Days of Future Past definitely seems to be shaping into what could be the hit of the summer.
Godzilla (May 16)
Godzilla has always been campy and fun. But the famous kaiju, which first made an appearance back in 1954, became a mockery when Roland Emmerich released his 1998 interpretation. Man, was that terrible; it showed that Emmerich clearly didn’t have a grasp on the material. Gareth Edwards’s take, however, shows a lot more promise, and judging from the first trailer alone, will be hugely entertaining on an enormous scale. Think of how big the kaiju were in Pacific Rim, and multiply that by three.
Not only does the trailer leave us hopeful, but the film’s cast, which includes the red-hot Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe, will surely help add some emotional resonance. The scale and tone make the 2014 interpretation look absolutely terrifying, in the best way possible, and we can’t wait to see if Hollywood can redeem itself and put the 1998 debacle behind it.
Interstellar (Nov. 7)
Having only seen a short teaser for Christopher Nolan’s first post-Dark Knight Rises film, we’re already confident Interstellar will be an incredible movie. Focused on man’s discovery of a mysterious wormhole, Interstellar will explore the journey of a group of explorers as they attempt to surpass the limitations of human space travel.
That short plot synopsis alone is intriguing as it is, but throw in Nolan’s name, along with a cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Casey Affleck, and there’s no doubt that Interstellar will live up to its growing hype. Given Nolan’s portfolio of work, that’s almost a given at this point.
300: Rise of an Empire (March 7)
We loved the first 300 because of the awesome action, cheesy one-liners and extreme brutality, and Rise of an Empire definitely looks to follow in those foot steps. Taking place before, during and after the events of the 2007 film, Rise of an Empire will center on Themistocles of Athens as he does battle against invading Persian forces, led by both mortal-turned-god Xerxes and Artemisia.
The first film quickly became a cult classic, so hopes will be high for the follow up. There’s plenty of slow motion green screen action going on, which audiences will no doubt love. But hopefully there’s a worthy story buried beneath all that Hollywood magic and overt machismo.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
Two years after The Avengers took place, and Steve Rogers (Captain America) can’t quite assimilate himself into modern America. But it’s not just Rogers’ inability to embrace his roll in the modern world—things for the red, white and blue aren’t always what they seem. Notions will be challenged, and gray areas explored. Robert Redford, who will act as the corrupt head S.H.I.E.L.D. honcho, Alexander Pierce, will surely give some existential weight to The Winter Soldier. And what of the Winter Soldier himself, who is apparently returning from Captain America’s past? We’re only two months away from finding out.
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
Based on the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow focuses on a future soldier, Tom Cruise, that gets stuck in a time loop—Groundhog Day-style—endlessly reliving his last day of battle. Filled with plenty of exo-suit mayhem, the movie will focus on humanity’s battle against powerful alien forces. Of course, Cruise’s role will be integral to the plot as he becomes a more skilled soldier every new day. The first, and so far only, trailer was full of impressive action and CGI. We can’t wait to see the exo-suits—maybe our future?—hit the big screen.
Jupiter Ascending (July 18)
This one can go one of two ways: it’ll either be awesome, a la The Matrix (the first one), or a meteoric flop, a la Speed Racer. Directed by the Wachowski brothers, Jupiter Ascending is a futuristic space opera that focuses on Jupiter Jones, who is identical to the Queen of the Universe; a hit has been placed on Jones as a result. The visuals look stunning, and perfectly fitting for a Wachowski film, though it’s hard to get past Channing Tatum’s weird pointy ex-military ears. We’re hopeful, if a little apprehensive, but the trailer definitely has us very excited.
Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1)
Guardians of the Galaxy is spawning from the Marvel universe, hoping to take advantage of the studios’s recent successes. The movie will feature a motley crew of weird characters, including a sarcastic raccoon, a talking, walking tree, and the lovable Chris Pratt, who has been cast as Peter Quill/Star-Lord. There hasn’t been a trailer for the movie yet, though footage was shown off at Comic-Con last year, and first-hand accounts I’ve read say the movie looks amazing. This is definitely one of the more unknowns of the year, but it has huge potential to be a hit.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again (Dec. 17)
The third and final act in The Hobbit trilogy, There and Back Again will attempt to wrap up Bilbo’s thrilling journey with the Company of Thorin. Your interest in the third film will definitely depend on how you felt about the first two movies. Either way, we can definitely expect some massive set pieces and beautiful scale. Peter Jackson lost some of that spark in the first Hobbit film, but regained his balance in the second, which came out in December of last year. Based on that, hopefully it means we’ll see Jackson end the trilogy with a bang.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Nov. 21)
The Hunger Games movies have turned out surprisingly well, especially the second film, so we can’t wait to see how Mockingjay (Part 1) turns out. This is the first half of the final book, which means we won’t get a conclusion to the series just yet. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be light on drama, as the film follows Katniss as she pays a heavy price for becoming a revolutionary leader.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Aug. 22)
Nearly a decade after the first film hit, A Dame to Kill For will follow the movie’s titular “Dame,” who is played by Eva Green. The film is in good hands, being co-directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, though we haven’t seen anything out of the Sin City universe for a while, so we’re a little skeptical if the interest is even there. In any case, expect excellent visuals, hard-boiled noire action and a gritty cast of characters as yet another graphic novel comes to the big screen.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Aug. 8)
I grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—both the cartoons and movies—when the franchise was at the height of its popularity in the 90s. But ever since peaking with Secret of the Ooze (the third film doesn’t count), we haven’t seen anyone take a stab at another live action interpretation. Somehow Michael Bay was given the reins, which makes us extremely skeptical that the movie will do well.
The Ninja Turtles have never been about explosions and slow motion action; they’re about acceptance, team work, and, duh, pizza. Can Bay temper his itch to fill the movie with explosions and ignore what makes the franchise so great? Luckily he is only producing on this film and not directing.
The supposed final designs of the turtles actually look pretty awesome, so at least there’s that. (And no, that isn’t them in the picture above. No official photo has been released yet.)
These are just fourteen flicks out of hundreds coming out this year, so this list is by no means comprehensive. Some honorable mentions include The Boxtrolls (September 26), The Maze Runner (September 19), Hercules (July 25), and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11). Movies like Maleficent (May 30) and Transcendence (April 18) are also on our periphery, but the movies mentioned above are what we’re most excited for, even if two are direct by Michael Bay. (To be fair, I’m not a Michael Bay hater, and consider The Rock one of my top five movies.)
Plenty of intrigue is around Godzilla, while Interstellar will probably grab plenty of nominations, which is why it’s slotted it at the end of the year. So what science fiction / fantasy movie are you most looking forward to?