Marvel Goes to Space
Beginning with the 2008 release of Iron Man, Marvel has been the dominant film studio when it comes to consistently producing blockbusters. They have become to this decade what Pixar Studios was to the last decade: a consistent source of quality entertainment. Not only that, but by tying all of their films together, they have created a cinematic universe that is currently unrivaled. The studio’s newest movie will serve as a big test to see just how popular the Marvel brand has become. Whereas most of the general public had at least heard of characters like Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, if you would have asked ten people on the streets just a year ago who the Guardians of the Galaxy were, I bet at least nine of out ten would have no idea. That’s all about to change, though, as Guardians of the Galaxy is a fantastic, Star Wars-esque space adventure.
In 2011, Bradley Cooper starred in a movie called Limitless, which had a premise that revolved around a drug that would allow the user to access 100 percent of their brain capacity. Three years later, director Luc Besson introduces us to Lucy, a movie that also uses a similar drug as its main plot device. That is where the comparisons between the two movies end, however, as the trippy Lucy turns out to be a cross between a Jason Statham action movie and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
12 Years in the Making
Director Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood is a movie twelve years in the making… literally. The movie began filming in 2002 and finally wrapped in 2013. A combination of narrative and experimental filmmaking, the movie follows its central characters over that same time period as the actors continue to age realistically. It is a fascinating idea that works on the experimental level, but that just fails to pack enough drama to fill its 165-minute narrative.
Based on the novel by French writer Pierre Boulle, the original Planet of the Apes film inspired a franchise that included five movies between 1968 and 1973. After a forgettable Tim Burton remake in 2001, the franchise was rebooted in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. While it is often referred to as a reboot, that movie stayed true enough to the original franchise that it could also be considered a prequel. The franchise now continues with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which logically advances the progression from the events of the 2011 movie towards the events depicted in the 1968 original.
Enough is Enough
After going low-budget (relatively speaking) and directing one of last year’s biggest surprises, Pain & Gain, Michael Bay returns to his big-budget franchise with Transformers: Age of Extinction. The movie is technically a sequel, picking up the story four years after the events of 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but it also has elements of a reboot. Gone are Shia Labeouf’s Sam Witwicky and the rest of the human characters from the first three movies, replaced by a whole new cast led by Mark Wahlberg. With the exception of a few holdovers, most of the robot cast is new as well, including a brand new villain.
Her Side of the Story
The 1959 animated version of Sleeping Beauty is one of Disney’s most successful and memorable hits. Their new live-action version, however, opens with a narration that essentially just tells you to disregard that entire movie. It’s misleading, the narration tells us, and then we are whisked back in time and introduced into the younger version of that film’s menacing villain, who will be the protagonist in Maleficent. Now, we will get to see her side of the story; for better or worse. Perhaps Disney will do better with its upcoming live-action remake of Cinderella.
Bringing Together Young and Old
Many thought that the original X-Men series had run its course after 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Five years after that film, the series was supposedly rebooted with X-Men: First Class, which took place in the 1960s and introduced the younger versions of many of the main characters. It was an interesting new direction and an opportunity to tie the X-Men franchise in with real-life events, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Instead of creating a direct sequel to First Class, however, director Bryan Singer returned to the franchise and creates X-Men: Days of Future Past, which manages to feature the casts of both the reboot and the original films.
King of the Monsters, Indeed
As movie monsters go, there is one that stands out above the rest. After first appearing in the allegorical Japanese film Gojira in 1954, the character that became known as Godzilla has appeared in over thirty movies. Most of these movies have been Japanese products and for good reason: when Hollywood attempted to make a Godzilla movie in 1998, it was a laughable disaster. Under the theory that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, Hollywood is back with another stab at the legendary movie monster. Does this Godzilla have what it takes to succeed? The answer is a resounding yes.
Agent of Distraction
Following their success with Remember the Titans in 2000, Disney began releasing based-on-true-events inspirational sports dramas every couple of years. For the most part, these movies have been consistently entertaining and successful with Titans and Miracle being arguably the cream of the crop. As entertaining as they are, however, by following virtually the same formula with every movie, they are feeling less and less fresh with each new outing. That is very apparent in their latest film, Million Dollar Arm, a moderately entertaining effort that hits a little too many clichés on its way around the bases.
It is one of the greatest challenges an actor can undertake: carrying a movie completely by themselves. It is something Ryan Reynolds did in Buried and, for the most part, Tom Hanks and James Franco did in Castaway and 127 Hours, respectively. In Locke, that challenge falls to the talented Tom Hardy, who plays the entire movie in the front seat of a car with the film’s other actors only participating as voices on a cell phone.
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