Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Most Anticipated Films of 2015

2015 has finally arrived!  This has been the year that every movie fan has been looking forward to now for nearly three whole years.  Why?  Because of the seriously stacked year long line up of awesome looking movies, that's why.  It's insane to look at a list of all the good looking movies that are coming out this year, and a lot of them we don't have to wait too terribly long to see if they have the goods or not.  Unlike most years, there is at least one or two movies every month that look like they have something special about them.  While invariably a bunch of these highly anticipated movies will fail, there are so many this year that the chances are good that more films than normal will actually live up to their hype.  So the movies I am about to talk about are the movies I am personally most jazzed for in the coming year, but this by no means reflects every movie I think looks good.

This January brings Paddington to the big screen (one of my childhood favorites), while director Michael Mann returns with a new cyber thriller starring Chris Hemsworth called Blackhat.  Not to mention there are a lot of other potential surprises hidden within this super stacked year, from another Chris Hemsworth-Ron Howard collaboration with In the Heart of the Sea, to Kingsman: The Secret Service, all the way to the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass.  Plus there are a few big budget films that have me interested in seeing if they pull off their lofty concepts with Jupiter Ascending, Pan, Terminator: Genisys, Chappie, and an adaptation of Goosebumps starring Jack Black as a fictionalized version of R.L. Stine.  Plus, there's the new Robert Zemeckis film The Walk (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the man who walked on a wire between the World Trade Centers), and Victor Frankenstein, which retells the classic tale from the point of view of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe).  On top of all that there is an animated Peanuts movie coming out, as well as two live action interpretations of classic Disney movies with Cinderella (which actually looks quite stunning) and The Jungle Book (with Bill Murray as Baloo).

I say all of this to point out that I could easily have done a list of my 20 Most Anticipated Films for this year, but I showed restraint and kept it at 10.  While this is by no means a prediction of what I think the 10 best movies of 2015 will be, these are the 10 movies that I think have a lot of potential on paper.  Out of the 10 movies I listed last year, 7 of them did wind up on my year end top 10 list, and 6 from the year before.  So here we go, these are the 10 movies I think everyone should have on their radar for 2015.


10.  The Good Dinosaur
2015 has not just one, but two Pixar movies coming out.  While this one has had a great deal of behind the scenes woes and delays, this isn't the first time Pixar has dealt with such things (case and point being Toy Story 2, Ratatouille, and Brave).  If there is one thing that separates Pixar from the rest of the animation world is that they have really become an entity unto themselves.  Pixar's brain trust (the original founders) manage to keep a consistency throughout their films, and they have never done a poor movie, and on paper, The Good Dinosaur sounds like it has the makings to be another Pixar classic.  Imagine if the dinosaurs never went extinct?  That is the core idea of this movie.  The early concept art coming from the film has been nothing short of intriguing, so I am already sold on it.  Here's hoping that Pixar delivers yet again.
(In theaters Nov. 25th)

Concept Art from the Film


9.  Tomorrowland
While 2015 is the year of the sequel, it's also the first year in a long time where there are more big budget, original films coming out than in recent memory.  Tomorrowland is one such movie.  While the movie is loosely based upon the area at Disney World, no one really knows what to expect because director Brad Bird and screenwriter Damon Lindelof have really kept a tight lid on everything regarding this movie.  All we really know is that in this movie there is a mysterious place trapped somewhere in time and space known as Tomorrowland (a place Lindelof describes as a scientist's Hogwarts), with George Clooney playing a former boy genius who teams up with a bright young girl played by Britt Robertson to search for Tomorrowland.  As far as what's actually in store for us come this May, details are very scarce.  While I have heard rumors of robots, jetpacks, and other cool gizmos, this is a movie that really is shrouded in secrecy.  Disney deserves some huge credit for keeping one of their biggest financial risks this closely guarded for so long.
(In theaters May 22nd)


Spielberg & Tom Hanks

8.  Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller
Usually I am skeptical when a movie has no title with less than a year to go till its release, but when that said is movie is being directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks, I make exceptions.  This movie has all of the makings to be a Spielberg classic on paper.  The film details the true story of an American lawyer (Hanks) sent by the CIA in the Sixties to negotiate the release of an American pilot detained in the Soviet Union.  Featuring a script from the Coen Brothers, this movie has all of the right pieces in place to be a Hitchcock meets Spielberg masterpiece.  While everyone is wanting to already talk about potential Oscar prospects for this movie, we've yet to even have the Oscars for 2014's movies, so I'm not wanting to get the cart before the horse.  What I do know is that with Spielberg being my favorite director ever, and with Tom Hanks one of my favorite actors, this one is almost a sight unseen slam dunk.
(In theaters Oct. 16th)

First Still from Behind the Scenes


7.  The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
To be as excited as I am about a movie based on a TV show that I've never seen almost seems insane when I think about it, but everything I have heard and seen about this movie just has me excited.  Adapted from the Sixties TV show of the same name, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. tells the story of an American spy and a Russian spy teaming up to stop an evil criminal organization.  This one gets extra brownie points from me by setting the film in the Sixties, rather than trying to refit everything for modern day.  I love that the movie is going more for that old James Bond type feel and director Guy Ritchie is the right guy to do that.  He has long been a fan favorite to do a Bond film, and this might be the closest he will ever get to do that.  His adaptation of Sherlock Holmes proved he can handle action and make it cool, so here's hoping he can do the same here.  Plus, this is our first chance to see what Man of Steel star Henry Cavill can do since that movie, as well as if co-star Armie Hammer can make a blockbuster come back after The Lone Ranger.  We'll see, but I'm optimistic.
(In theaters Aug. 14th)

First Still from the Film


6.  Jurassic World
Jurassic Park is one of the most beloved blockbusters of all-time, and neither of its two sequels really captured the magic it factor that made the original the highest grossing film ever upon its release.  It was that proper balance between heart, wonder, and terror that still makes the original so much fun to experience.  Jurassic World I feel is trying to come from the exact same place.  The story takes place about twenty years after the first film, with the original Jurassic Park having been opened for real and rechristened Jurassic World.  Now everyone can go to see dinosaurs like they can go to Sea World, but things go horribly wrong when a hybrid dinosaur created by Jurassic World scientists gets loose and wreaks havoc.  This little wrinkle in the story (that I am sure would please Michael Crichton) makes Jurassic World different than any of the other three films in the franchise, but that's not the primary reason I am excited for this one.  The main reason I am pumped for this movie is the cast.  Chris Pratt is coming fresh off of two of the biggest movies of 2014 and his natural charisma and his ability to play the hero could make him the new Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm all wrapped in one package.  Then there's young Ty Simpkins, who stole every single scene in Iron Man 3 he was in from Robert Downey, Jr., as the little kid that Tony Stark befriends to help him rebuild his suit.  These two cast members are just the tip of the iceberg for a really talented cast that may surprise everyone by how likable they can all be.
(In theaters June 12th)


5.  Ant-Man
Similar to what I said about Pixar earlier, Marvel has really become an entity unto itself.  There is such a strong brain trust of creative people at the center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that even the worst Marvel films are always fun and feel like Marvel.  While the behind the scenes drama on this one really ticked off a lot of fans, with original director Edgar Wright leaving just a mere month or two before shooting, there is no cause for alarm here.  In truth, Wright left because of Marvel trying to make his vision for Ant-Man fit better with their established universe.  Neither Marvel nor Wright are bad guys in this situation, it's just a matter of creative differences.  I see no reason to be worried for Ant-Man.  The cast is sensational (I mean Michael Douglas as Hank Pym) and the movie has a unique take on the origins of the character.  The film takes place in modern day, where the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, has not been Ant-Man now for many decades and must help con man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) use his Ant-Man suit to shrink in size and grow in strength to perform a heist and save the world.  Now who doesn't want to see that movie?
(In theaters July 17th)


4.  Spectre
My excitement for James Bond's 24th adventure pretty much explains itself.  Not only is Daniel Craig back once more as 007, but pretty much the whole cast and crew of Skyfall are back for another go around.  Skyfall was a welcome return to a lot of the Bond roots, while also being the most original Bond film probably in the whole history of the series.  To put it simply, I expect great things from Spectre.  Not only is Christoph Waltz portraying the villain, but this movie is confirmed to be the return of the criminal agency Spectre, you know the one that Bond faced for pretty much every movie till about the mid-70s.  While we don't know if Waltz is really playing Blofeld, the leader of Spectre and the murderer of 007's wife, my shrinking suspicion is that if he isn't Blofeld, the character will still be teased.  Perhaps all we'll see is a man's lap with a white cat in it.  Hey, I don't know much about this movie other than who's in it and the title, but you don't drop the Spectre bomb on fandom and deny us some Blofeld-Bond action.
(In theaters Nov. 6th)

Daniel Craig (Center) with Spectre cast members (L-R):  Naomie Harris,
Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, and an eyes closed Christoph Waltz


3.  Inside Out
The other new movie from Pixar this year, Inside Out, could very easily be one of the most unique films I have ever seen.  The concept is simple, imagine the emotions inside your brain's control center  (represented as cartoons looking like people) dictating your reactions to everything that goes on around you.  Add on top of that the fact that the movie takes place primarily inside a preteen girl who has just moved to a new city, and you have a situation ripe for comedy.  It's a tricky concept to relay to the audience, but one that the first few trailers have illustrated brilliantly to hilarious results.  Pixar has always been known for its crazy, original ideas that manage to somehow work, and with director Pete Docter at the helm, I have no worries whatsoever about Inside Out.  Docter, who directed both Monsters Inc. and Up, is one of the initial five of the Pixar brain trust and he has consistently remained the most original of them all in my opinion.  This one cannot come soon enough.
(In theaters June 19th)


2.  Avengers: Age of Ultron
In any other year this would probably be my most anticipated film, but in 2015 this is just number 2.  I absolutely love The Avengers.  I believe it to probably be the pinnacle of the whole superhero movie genre, so the sequel to what I deem to be quite possibly the best superhero movie ever is definitely one movie I am going to see as soon as possible.  The greatest thing about Age of Ultron is that we are now just under 5 months till release and Marvel has still kept a lot of this one underwraps from the general public.  Sure, while the first trailer teased the new bad guy Ultron (a highly intelligent robot bent on killing humanity), as well as eventual new Avengers Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, there is still a whole lot that Marvel is keeping from us, namely the Vision.  Yes, there is yet another Avenger we are going to meet in Age of Ultron.  In the comic books, the Vision was a robot built by Ultron to do his bidding, eventually though the Vision began to think for himself and chose to side with the Avengers.  This is a major character that has been confirmed and talked about, but we have yet to see even a single image officially released of the Vision in this film.  Safe to say, since Marvel has remained so tightlipped about this one this close to release, might there be a few surprises waiting for us come May?
(In theaters May 1st)


1.   Star Wars - Episode VII: The Force Awakens
This is the movie that most geeks never thought would happen and it's not only happening, but it's now less than a year away.  Star Wars - Episode VII will be in theaters come this December!  The Force is with us!  I am a Star Wars fanboy, I admit it.  My walls are covered in Star Wars posters, my favorite TV show of all-time is The Clone Wars, and my all-time favorite movie is The Empire Strikes Back.  If this isn't the movie I am most eager to see in 2015, you should probably have my head examined.

I think the thing that has so many people excited is that this is the return of Luke, Han, and Leia, to the franchise.  While little is known about this movie, we do know it is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi and features the original cast alongside a slew of newcomers who will be taking center stage this go around with the old characters playing the supporting parts.  In truth that's all we know.  Sure, we know it's being directed by J.J. Abrams and being shot on film, but those aren't the things people really want to know.  Is unknown actress Daisy Ridley really playing Han and Leia's daughter?  Is Kylo Ren (the dude with the cool broadsword lightsaber from the trailer) Adam Driver?  And if so, is he the new Darth Vader type dude?   Is Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) really the dumbest Star Wars name ever created?  Maybe.  These are just a few questions fans are chomping at the bit to know the answers to, let alone what's happened since Return of the Jedi.  Is the Empire still in control of the galaxy?  Is there a New Republic?  A new Jedi Order?  What's been going on?  Did Han marry Leia?  Did Luke ever get counseling for kissing his sister?  I kid, mostly.  The point is, we are less than a year away and we know nothing, which is how Disney and Lucasfilm want it.

Personally, I think that a lot of the rumors that have come out recently are starting to clarify a little bit of what the movie will be about, so with that in mind I will theorize what I think the plot is.  The word is that the movie starts with Luke's lightsaber floating in space (you know, the one that he lost in The Empire Strikes Back).  Eventually the lightsaber crashlands on a desert planet where it is found by a stormtrooper named Finn, who is deserting the Empire.  On this planet he meets Rey, the daughter of Han and Leia (once again, this is all theory), and she hooks him up with her Dad as they go searching throughout the cosmos for Luke, who has been missing for a few years.  We'll see in December if I'm right.  Until then I plan on enjoying the ride.  While a part of me is slightly worried because this is the first Star Wars that George Lucas hasn't played a role in its development, I have to believe that his successors know the Star Wars universe well enough to make a good movie.  If Disney and Lucasfilm nail it, this will be the movie of the year, I can guarantee it.
(In theaters Dec. 18th)

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