Films of 2014 (Possibly) Worth Getting Excited About

So it’s January. The wonderful time of year where my wallet and I get to recover from a season of too many movies (except for a couple that haven’t made their way to theaters yet). I don’t plan on seeing any of this month’s new movies because it wouldn’t be a January without everything sucking.

So what should I do? Well, it should be obvious from this post’s title. Imma do that thing where I tell you what movies I’m most excited about in 2014. Maybe you’re unaware of what cool movies are on their way, so here I am to help you get excited.

…or not.

You see, there’s not much I hate more than getting my expectations up for a movie that ends up sucking. In order to combat the possible disappointment of many of these anticipated movies, I will not only be telling you why I’m excited about them, but also why there is reason to be concerned with how they could turn out.

The Lego Movie (February 7th)

Why should you be excited?

We’re truly blessed, guys. We get two movies this year directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the geniuses behind the original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. There is nobody better in this business to handle The Lego Movie than these guys. They know how to take franchises, both for kids and adults, and free them of the cynicism usually associated with movies based on existing properties, instead injecting their projects with a unique, fun-loving personality. They have proven twice now that they won’t play it safe just because people have their own expectations.

Why should you be worried?

The children’s book “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and the ’80s TV show “21 Jump Street” didn’t have much going on when they were handed to Lord & Miller. Legos, however, are a long-running and hugely successful franchise. Due to this, there are more reasons to believe that corporate hands could intervene and potentially curb the directing duo’s insane genius and daring. Unfortunately, it isn’t that difficult to imagine the movie turning out like one huge commercial for the toy line. That would be almost as frustrating as stepping on a Lego piece barefoot.

The Monuments Men (February 7th)

Why should you be excited?

George Clooney has a proven track record for directing good movies (The Ides of March, Good Night and Good Luck), and this time he brings along a truly amazing cast including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and John Goodman (with a few other big names). If they can nail the tone correctly, then that cast might be all the film needs to be a fun, fresh take on the usually-dour war genre.

Why should you be worried? 

Unfortunately, the reasons to be concerned are numerous. The film is written by Grant Heslov, who also wrote Clooney’s disappointing The Men Who Stare at Goats. More troubling, the movie was pushed back from awards season to February, which is never a good sign. Finally, the trailer just doesn’t make the film look that great to me. The jokes feel easy, and the themes heavy-handed.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7th)

Why should you be excited?

Wes Anderson returns after Moonrise Kingdom, which was by far his most successful film, doing away with some of his most alienating habits that really hurt films like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. As the trailer suggests, this one seems to be very Wes-y, which can be a good thing in these days of unoriginal ideas and stylistic uniformity. This one also takes place in the 1920s, which is quite a departure from his usual current-day scripts. Also, the cast is freaking enormous.

Why should you be worried?

The cast is freaking enormous. While that could be a positive, I feel like Moonrise Kingdom suffered the most from having too many actors and thus not enough screen time for the vast majority of them. Also, many have joked from the trailer that it almost seems like a parody of a Wes Anderson movie rather than a Wes Anderson movie. So the question is – will the Wes bubble burst? Is he becoming too caught up in his own wacky trademarks? Will audience expectations of an Anderson movie get the best of him? I have a feeling that, for better or worse, that question will be answered with The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

Muppets Most Wanted (March 21st)

Why should you be excited?

Honestly, this only applies to people like me who love Jim Henson’s Muppets characters and enjoyed 2011’s The Muppets. Disney spent a lot of time and money trying to reboot these characters, so this sequel will be judgement day for whether or not it was a flash in the pan or if the Muppets truly are back in classic form. Luckily, this one has the same director, one of the same writers, and the same musician. In addition, the lineup of non-felt stars is already sounding impressive, with names like Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Christoph Waltz.

Why should you be worried?

The first trailer wasn’t very good (at least the second one was a slight improvement). Beyond that, the one man who really pushed for the return of The Muppets, Jason Segel, is not returning for the sequel in any capacity. Obviously, it’s hard to say how much of an impact he single-handedly had in making the first one so great, but if he was the heart and soul as many have said, his absence could have a major negative effect on Most Wanted. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4th)

Why should you be excited?

Of all the superhero movies coming this year — and as always, there are a lot — the only one I’m excited about is this one right here. The first Captain America was my favorite Avengers-linked movie behind the original Iron Man, and the trailer for the sequel leads me to believe this will continue to be a fun, slightly campy, and visually spectacular addition. I’m literally just basing this on the trailer, since I feel like I need to include one of these movies on my list. But it does look awesome.

Why should you be worried?

Is Marvel already running out of steam? It may still be a little too early to say, but apparently Thor: The Dark World was one of the worst (at least according to the Internet — I didn’t actually find the time or interest to see it). If this trend continues, The Winter Soldier could indicate further signs of franchise fatigue. It’ll make a ton of money either way, but will the tank be empty by the time The Avengers 2 comes out? This movie should help point us towards an answer.

Godzilla (May 16th)

Why should you be excited?

Have you seen this trailer yet?! Whatever the film actually ends up being like, the trailer has sold me and most who watch it on this reboot. It appears epic in scope, but also goes down to the scale of individual people, played by some very talented actors. It’s also being directed by a guy named Gareth Edwards, who’s known for his own monster movie Monsters and who is reportedly a big fan of Godzilla. I’ve been waiting for another intense monster movie since Cloverfield, and everything indicates that this movie will be insane.

Why should you be worried?

Remember the last time Hollywood tried Godzilla? The one with Ferris Bueller? You might not remember it because most people tend to want to forget. It’s hard to reboot something so revered, especially when it comes to movies like this, where the Hollywood tendency is to make it a mindless, soulless special effects marathon. It’s not too much of a stretch to see this go the way of Pacific Rim, where ultimately the desire to stage giant fights meant that nobody cared about the human characters. And if nobody cares about the human characters, why have them at all?

22 Jump Street (June 13th)

Why should you be excited?

I’m so excited. This is a sequel to my favorite comedy and one of my favorite movies, and as I mentioned with The Lego Movie, I have the utmost faith in these two directors based on their previous work. The trailer indicates that we’ll be getting more of the same, which is perfect because I wished the original was 4 hours.

Why should you be worried?

Unfortunately, a lot of the jokes in the trailer are continuations of gags from the original. A major problem that kills a lot of comedy sequels is a reliance on the humor from the past movies (see The Hangover sequels for an extreme example), and I hope that this film can include enough original material, since the best part of the first one was how bold and original it felt. Oh, and Brie Larson isn’t coming back, which makes me sad.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13th)

Why should you be excited?

Uh, where to start? Not only does the trailer seem to indicate the same level of visual beauty of the first film, but it also promises a more grown-up, sophisticated plot to go along with its aging protagonist. The movie has the same director, screenwriter, cast, and the same (legendary) composer. It’s also a healthy sign that the movie is coming out four years after the original, which is just enough time to still be relevant without getting the feeling they’re just phoning in a sequel.

Why should you be worried?

Dreamworks isn’t always the best at making sure the sequels are just as good as the original. Shrek 2 and the 3rd Madagascar are hopeful examples, but the third and fourth Shreks, as well as Kung Fu Panda 2 don’t offer much reassurance. Though I do feel a lot more confident about this movie turning out great than most of the others on this list.

Think Like A Man Too (June 22nd)

Why should you be excited?

I’m joking.

Why should you be worried?

Still joking.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11th)

Why should you be excited?

Well, the first one was surprisingly great, and the people working on this one seem to be just as great. Matt Reeves, who directed my beloved Cloverfield, takes over as director, and the worst things about the first one — James Franco and Freida Pinto — are gone. Luckily we still have Andy Serkis as Caeser, and Gary Oldman is joining.

Why should you be worried?

There are a lot of ways this one can go wrong. At times it felt like Rise of the Planet of the Apes was just a few steps away from falling apart completely. Ultimately, it’s impossible to know how Reeves will stack up to the original director. In addition, the first already felt a bit like Fox just needed another old franchise to milk, so it’s easy to feel cynical about this franchise, especially with such goofy long names. Next up: “Battle of the War of the Hope of the Rise of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Gone Girl (October 3rd)

Why should you be excited?

By the time Gone Girl comes out, it will have been nearly three years since David Fincher’s last movie. He’s one of my favorite directors and has a pretty great track record, so even though I know next to nothing about this one, I’m still unashamedly excited for it.

Why should you be worried?

It’s supposedly a mystery film, and while I liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, his other mystery Zodiac is one of my least favorite Fincher movies. Also, the screenplay is being written by the author of the novel, which I personally feel is not such a great choice, as it sometimes allows the writer to try and cram in as much of his beloved book as he possibly can — not always the best idea for a movie script.

Interstellar (November 7th)

Why should you be excited?

You might not be aware of this film yet, but when the commercials start coming, everyone will know that this movie comes from Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. The latter is one of the biggest and most original science fiction films of at least the last decade, so it’s easy to get excited about this. Throw in the fact that the cast is lead by Matthew McConaughey, who is on quite the hot streak, and this could potentially be this year’s Gravity.

Why should you be worried?

Each film that Nolan makes seems to be bigger and bolder than the last. While at first this seems like a good thing, do you really want a movie bigger and bolder than Inception? Nolan is maybe the only director I would say has the potential to suffer from being allowed to create everything his imagination can conceive of. Let’s hope this isn’t another case of ‘confusing = interesting.’

Of course, it’s very unlikely many of these movies will actually be the best movies to come out in 2014. If most years are any indication, a majority of the great movies won’t come out until the end of the year, and so we likely know little to nothing about them at this point. But that surprise is always a big part of the fun.

What movies are you most excited about? Mad that I left Step Up: All In off my list? Let me know!

– Sam

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