The 2014 Film Release Calendar: May

Every January, I preview all the films that are scheduled to come out for that year. Not all of them do, of course, and it gets a bit crazy every year in terms of changes, but basically the point of it all is to know what’s coming out, know what to get excited for, know what to start bracing myself for, and, selfishly, guess what I’m going to think about all the movies to see how accurate I was at the end of the year. And also see which movies surprised me, for better and for worse.

It’s gotten to be a whole great thing. Since at first it was just what Wikipedia’s year in film article said, plus a few others that weren’t scheduled that I just knew about. And then the year after that it was a few more films. And last year it was like, 200 or something. And now, it’s probably like 200 or something, plus all the ones from last year that I’m continuing to track. Eventually it’ll be to the point where really the only ones I haven’t heard about or previewed at some point are either foreign films, documentaries, and like 5% of those movies that just come out of nowhere.

What I’m doing is going over everything as it’s currently scheduled. I’m doing the first six months now, then taking a ten day break in between to go over some other stuff (Oscar nominations are going to be announced, the Golden Globes will happen — big stuff), plus allow for the later months of the year to maybe become more solidified, and maybe let a few changes happen, since I’ve discovered that a lot of things do get moved this time of year, often right as I’m putting the articles together. So it works twofold. I get to talk about other stuff and let the dust settle as much as possible so as not to make everything that much crazier come December.

Here’s May:

May

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Okay, so the first movie was a lot of fun, but didn’t hold up at all upon second viewing. I still think I stand by my earlier views though, that the original Spider-Man is a better standalone movie, but The Amazing Spider-Man is a better start to a franchise.

That said — I’m not really excited for this at all.

We know Jamie Foxx is going to be Electro, we know Paul Giamatti is going to be the Rhino (and some sort of Transformer, from the looks of it). Dane DeHaan is Harry Osborn, and most likely the Green Goblin. Chris Cooper is Norman Osborn, and probably not the Green Goblin. (Though I’m really hoping he’s around to take up the mantle later on. That would be pretty awesome.

Felicity Jones is also in this, and is apparently playing Black Cat, which, to tally that up, gives us four villains. Remember when people thought Spider-Man 3 was a giant villain clusterfuck? How is this going to help? I mean, I’m sure it’s all about Electro, and Rhino is just the physical subvillain, and Green Goblin shows up barely and will come back later on, but still — aren’t we doing a bit too much here?

Shailene Woodley was also originally cast as Mary Jane, but they decided to cut her out of the movie, which is probably telling.

The trailer for this movie wasn’t particularly great, and quite frankly — I’m not expecting much. And it’s not like you’re gonna get J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson again (though, can we please?), so my hopes for this aren’t that high at all.

3 stars. I’m sure it’ll be watchable, but I can’t see myself giving that much of a shit about it. Especially since they’re supposed to be trying that Marvel bullshit, and setting up for other movies and a bigger universe. FUCKING STOP ALREADY.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return

Dorothy Gale (Lea Michele) returns to Kansas to find it devastated. Dorothy then finds a new way to get back to the Land of Oz only to discover that her old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer), Cowardly Lion (Jim Belushi) and the entire Land of Oz are all in grave danger. On Dorothy’s new journey through Oz, she meets new friends like a marshmallow man named Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), a china doll princess (Megan Hilty), an ancient tree-turned-tugboat named Tugg (Patrick Stewart), and a large owl named Wiser (Oliver Platt). With the help of her new friends, they band together against a wicked Jester (Martin Short) who wants to control Oz by turning important people into marionettes.

I’ve been tracking this since like 2011, so I’m not surprised. It is funny to me, though, how this did the china doll thing first, and then Raimi came and took that plot point over for his movie.

Also, Bernadette Peters is in this. As Glinda. If you don’t know who she is — look her up. And then go see Pennies from Heaven.

2.5 stars. Now that I have a synopsis, does anyone think this is going to be good? It has a fucking tugboat and a marshmallow in it.

The only hope I have for it is that it’s a musical. And if they can put the songs at the forefront (and the songs don’t suck), I can see a glimmer of hope for this.

Otherwise — nope.

Belle

Belle is based on the life of a historical character, Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed–race daughter of a British Naval officer and an African woman. Dido is taken to England by her father, Captain Sir John Lindsay, to be raised by his uncle, the Lord Mansfield, as an aristocratic Lady, as befits her blood line. On the grand estate of Kenwood House, Dido is raised in privilege alongside her cousin Elizabeth Murray and together they navigate the complex social hierarchies of the time. Dido meets John Davinier, a young lawyer and apprentice of Lord Mansfield, and a rift grows between her and her protective guardian, who sees John as being beneath Dido. Yet John and Dido’s meeting is the beginning of a love story that catapults Dido onto a path of self-discovery, and forces Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice, to confront his own views on race, society and the antiquated laws of the time.

It sounds interesting. I’m guessing based on the date, it’s not good enough to be considered seriously for awards or “best of the year,” but I’m just hoping for a good movie. I’m actually interested in everything this is about. I’ve never really seen anything like this before, and that intrigues me.

3 stars. I’m actually more excited to see this than I am to see Spider-Man.

Chef

A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

I can’t tell if this is gonna be good or not.

Jon Favreau is writing, directing and starring. Downey has some sort of cameo, as does Scarlett Johansson, and Sofia Vergara is playing his wife. Dustin Hoffman and John Leguizamo are in this as well. And Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Garry Shandling — holy shit. He got everyone.

Well, I’m excited for it based on the cast. The synopsis doesn’t sound too promising, but Favreau is also the dude who wrote Swingers, so at least there’s that. But he’s also the dude who co-wrote Couples Retreat, and directed Cowboys & Aliens.

Let’s call it 3 stars, and let the movie decide if it’s going higher or lower. I imagine there’s a 2.5-3.5 swing here. 2 or 4 would surprise me. I’ll stick with 3. I don’t really know enough to say anything else at this point.

Neighbors

A couple with a newborn baby face unexpected difficulties after they are forced to live next to a fraternity house.

Nicholas Stoller is directing. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. Then Efron, Dave Franco, McLovin’ is in this — the red band teaser was funny enough.

The date for this is surprising. That means they have confidence in it. Which means I’m gonna actually hope this is good rather than being wary.

I’m still gonna say 3 stars, because I’ve learned that it’s best to aim low with comedies and hope they’re good. My track record with comedies nowadays is spotty at best. And based on This Is the End last year, I’m cool with being way off it if means the film goes a lot higher than I guessed. So I’m gonna say 3 stars. The worst I can be about this is right.

Godzilla

The teaser for this was badass. I saw it at least twice in theaters. It was fucking spectacular. That’s what a teaser trailer should be.

I’m really gonna go all in on this one. Gareth Edwards did an amazing job with Monsters, making a completely compelling and original movie with no money, and it looks like he knows how to make a Godzilla movie correctly (looking at you, Roland Emmerich).

Plus, the cast is incredible. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn — he got people to be in this.

I’m going 3.5 stars, but I really want to say 4. But I’ll stick with 3.5. I need the film to show me that extra layer of awesome before I go all all in with it.

Million Dollar Arm

A sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Asian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.

What surprises me about this is that Tom McCarthy wrote it. (He did The Station Agent, The Visitor and Win Win.) (Apparently he also came up with the story for Up. Did not know that.) This seems too mainstream for him.

Craig Gillespie is directing. He directed (but didn’t write) Lars and the Real Girl, and also the Fright Night remake.

Very weird mix of people on this one.

I saw a trailer before Wolf of Wall Street. It looked okay. Pretty standard sports movie. Plus it’s Disney, so I already know the formula.

We’ll call it 3 stars. I can’t really see this going anywhere else but 3. 3.5 if it gets me emotional or has enough human moments in it to spite the formulaic nature of the plot, and 2.5 if it’s too generic and formulaic. I imagine it’ll still be 3 regardless though.

Blended

Do I even need to go over this one?

This is #1 with a bullet Unforgivable. I already know.

Usually I wait to make such proclamations, but if there’s anything close to a sure thing, it’s Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore together.

Every single year since I started my Unforgivables list, the #1 movie on every list has featured Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, or Drew Barrymore. Every single one. One of them had two of them in it. If this movie isn’t Unforgivable, then I’m pretty sure the end is nigh.

Also, we’re gonna go over this one anyway, just for sheer entertainment value:

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.

Eleventy Billion stars.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

I’m excited for this.

I have my concerns, of course, but this is really the only superhero franchise I have to look forward to anymore.

I grew up with the animated X-Men series (and that awesome theme song), so I remember the Days of Future Past storyline very well. Bishop goes back in time to alter the future so things don’t end up as they are. It involves a political assassination, which ends up leading to a war on mutants, and a dystopian future. Kitty Pryde is the one who goes back in the comics, I think. This time, they’re using Wolverine, because he’s the focus of the franchise, and he’s a natural link between these two universes, both diegetically and not. He’s ageless, so he can do this kind of thing and it won’t be weird. And also, he was in both the Singer movies and the new one, so that makes it work too.

The concept is pretty brilliant, bringing both versions of the story back into one, which they sort of hinted at last time, with Wolverine, and the Rebecca Romijn cameo. Wolverine goes back in time, from Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen and Halle Berry, to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender and all those people. It’s allowing us to go back to these characters we love, and also continue the story of the first film without really having the drawbacks of that universe that the first film had (namely — shitty mutants).

It looks like it’s mainly gonna be about the continuing rift between Xavier and Magneto, and Wolverine having to bring them together to save the future. Magneto is getting violent against anti-mutant types, and Xavier is depressed and hopeless after being paralyzed. It sounds great. I’m really excited for this.

It also seems they’re sticking with Ratner continuity and keeping Jean and Cyclops dead. From the sound of the trailer, they must bring Xavier back in some way. I don’t know. I don’t really care either way. I’m still gonna be excited to see it, whichever way they go.

3.5 stars. Let’s not presume too much, but I’d very much like this to be 4 stars. If this is 3 stars, I will consider it one of the biggest disappointments of the year. But Bryan Singer knows how to do X-Men. It’s his third movie, and his first two were great. So let’s assume this will be great too.

I need this to be great.

Maleficent

The “Sleeping Beauty” tale is told from the perspective of the villainous Maleficent and looks at the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora.

I like that they’re telling this from the point of view of the villain. But on the other hand — how much sympathy could they build for her?

It seems like it’s gonna be man-related, because that’s the only thing that can “harden” a woman’s heart in the movies. Probably the king or something. Left her for the queen. I’ll give them props if they find a way to not make that part generic.

But I like the Sleeping Beauty story, and they’re clearly keeping with all the famous Disney imagery. And since I consider Sleeping Beauty to be the best-looking Disney film ever made, that’s not a bad thing at all.

Honestly, I want this to be 3.5 stars. I’ll take full responsibility if this ends up being 3 or 2.5. But honestly — we’re dealing with a better story here than Snow White and the Huntsman. That was a bad basis for a story, and there was just too much shittiness there. Here, I don’t see that much room for stupidity and pointless action. The fairies are one thing, and I can go along with that. That doesn’t seem like it’s enough to drop it to 2.5 for me. And then, what — Prince Phillip is an army captain? I’m pretty sure he’s got his action scene at the end when she turns into the dragon.

Though, I will say — the money shot in the trailer of her raising the thorns — awesome.

I’m sticking 3.5 here. I want this to be good. I’ll accept 3, but I want 3.5.

(This is one of those where I know I should know better, but am still doing it. I do this every year.)

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Seth MacFarlane’s next movie. He’s starring in this one.

I guess… officially. Technically he starred in the other one, too.

A cowardly farmer seeks the help of a gunslinger’s wife to help him win back the woman who left him.

So, from the looks of it, Amanda Seyfried is the girlfriend, and Charlize Theron is the gunfighter’s wife. Liam Neeson is the gunfighter (I can only imagine the comedic possibilities he brings to the table, and I cannot fucking wait), and Neil Patrick Harris seems to be the guy Seyfried leaves MacFarlane for. And then Giovanni Ribisi is MacFarlane’s friend, who is either dating or married to Sarah Silverman, who is a prostitute who has slept with every guy in the town except for Ribisi. It sounds fun as hell. I’m crazy excited for this.

4 stars.

I should go 3.5, but this is a western. And I fucking love westerns. Favorite genre.

So I’m sticking with 4. I want this to be great.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is June.

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