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Movie Maniac 2014 movie preview: Sequels, adaptations among most anticipated titles

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, at 8:23 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, at 5:14 p.m.

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Hollywood just enjoyed a fantastic year at the box office, and hopes to build on that momentum this year with lots of film adaptations of beloved books and comics, highly anticipated sequels and new takes on old characters.

Here are some of the major releases headed our way in 2014 (release dates subject to change):

Earlier in the year

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” – This reboot of the Jack Ryan character created by author Tom Clancy has Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as the titular CIA agent (after Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck played him in previous movies), but this isn’t an adaptation of a Clancy novel. It’s an original story that has Ryan inadvertently uncovering evidence of an imminent terrorist attack in Russia. Bringing a hoity-toity factor to the reboot is director Kenneth Branaugh, known for his Shakespeare outings. Me see-ith this as promising. (Release date: Jan. 17)

“I, Frankenstein” – Based on the graphic novel, this finds Frankenstein’s monster, Adam (a very buff Aaron Eckhart, because apparently a monster’s gotta stay in shape), still walking the Earth 200 years after he was created. When he finds himself in the middle of a war over the fate of humanity, he discovers he holds the key to what could destroy humankind. That’s bad, right? (Jan. 24)

“RoboCop” – Yep, another reboot of an ’80s franchise, this time with Joel Kinnaman (“Safe House,” TV’s “The Killing”) as the futuristic cop injured in the line of duty who is repaired with robot parts to make him the ultimate killing machine, er, police officer. This has been in development limbo for some time (the remake was originally announced in 2005, with Darren Aronofsky at one time attached to direct), but let’s hope its production woes won’t show. (Feb. 14)

“Endless Love” – And yet another remake of an ’80s hit — one that was designed to showcase the limited acting abilities of a then-young Brooke Shields, following a privileged girl (Gabriella Wilde, “Carrie”) and a charismatic boy (Alex Pettyfer, “Magic Mike”) whose love affair is made only more reckless by parents trying to keep them apart. Great, now that song is stuck in my head. (Feb. 14)

“Muppets Most Wanted” – It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights as the gang returns (after the successful reboot of “The Muppets” in 2011) for a new adventure, this time finding them wrapped up in a European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike. Expect lots of fun cameos by big stars (including Lady Gaga, Salma Hayek, Christoph Waltz and others). (March 21)

“Divergent” – Based on a series of young adult novels, this tale takes place in a futuristic Chicago, where people are divided into five factions based on their personalities. Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) stars as a teenager with a special “divergent” mind who must fight against an authoritarian leader (Kate Winslet) seeking to exterminate her kind. It sounds an awful lot like “The Hunger Games,” except without the Hunger Games. (March 21)

“Noah” – Adventurous director Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan,” “The Wrestler”) tackles the biblical story of Noah (Russell Crowe), who suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from a coming flood. Also starring Jennifer Connelly (the second time she’s playing Crowe’s wife after “A Beautiful Mind”), Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. (March 28)

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers aka Captain America, who struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from his history: a Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). (April 4)

“Transcendence” – Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) turns director for this sci-fi thriller about a terminally ill scientist (Johnny Depp) who downloads his body into a computer. (April 18)

Blockbuster season

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” – Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) continues to struggle with balancing his life as a high school student and his responsibilities as Spider-Man. And this time he battles new enemies: Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti). The first film in the reboot series was surprisingly refreshing, and with director Marc Webb returning, this second installment should only pick up steam. (May 2)

“Godzilla” – A romantic comedy about a lonely store clerk looking for love. Just kidding! Do I really have to tell you what this is about? Yes, it is the umpteenth reboot of the classic Asian films about a giant radioactive monster that wreaks havoc. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”) and Bryan Cranston star. (May 16)

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” – Director Bryan Singer, who directed the initial “X-Men” films, returns for this outing, where the X-Men send Wolverine into the past to prevent a catastrophic event that endangers humans and mutants alike. (May 23)

“Maleficent” – Disney brings this tale of “Sleeping Beauty” told from the view of the villainous fairy Maleficent (Angelina Jolie, who looks positively terrifying). This origin story follows a young Maleficent, a kind, pure-hearted young woman growing up in an enchanted forest kingdom who one day suffers a ruthless betrayal, which begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent wages an epic battle with an invading king’s successor and places a curse on his newborn infant daughter. (May 30)

“Edge of Tomorrow” – Director Doug Liman returns after the mess of “Jumper” for this sci-fi actioner about a soldier (Tom Cruise) fighting a war with aliens who finds himself caught in a time loop on his last day in battle. Hmmm, kind of sounds like “Saving Private Ryan” meets “Groundhog Day.” (June 6)

“22 Jump Street” – Sequel to the 2012 comedy “21 Jump Street” that was based on the ’80s TV series, this time with officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) going undercover at a local college. The first outing was surprisingly funny, and with the main creative team returning, hopefully so will the laughs. (June 13)

“Jupiter Ascending” – Directing siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix”) return with another loopy sci-fi outing (after the head-scratching “Cloud Atlas”) that takes place in a universe where humans are near the bottom of the evolutionary ladder, and a young destitute human woman is targeted for assassination by the Queen of the Universe because her existence threatens to end the Queen’s reign. Got all that? Starring are Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne (“Les Miserables”). (July 25)

“Guardians of the Galaxy” – The much anticipated (and heavily scrutinized) film adaptation of the popular Marvel comic about a jet pilot who gets stranded in space and unites a diverse team of aliens to form a squad capable of defeating cosmic threats. This could be the launch of another successful Marvel franchise or a huge misstep. It’s also surprising that Marvel left this in the hands of director James Gunn, whose biggest credit so far is directing the 2006 horror thriller “Slither.” (Aug. 1)

“Fifty Shades of Grey” – Another highly anticipated film adaptation, this one based on the steamy novel by E.L. James, about a literature student who meets a handsome yet tormented billionaire named Christian Grey. It was originally announced that Charlie Hunnam (TV’s “Sons of Anarchy”) was cast as Christian, which sent hardcore fans of the book into an outrage (a little unfairly, I think, though I haven’t read the book), demanding that the part be recast. Eventually, Hunnam did bow out, citing scheduling conflicts. Later, relatively unknown Jamie Dorman was cast, which seemed to appease fans (at least they shut up about it). (Aug. 1)

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” – The sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” finally arrives, almost 10 years after the original. This looks to be another melding of several storylines, just as the first film did, about Sin City’s lurid culture and troubled citizens. (Aug. 22)

Fall/holiday season

“Interstellar” – Director Christopher Nolan (“Inception”) brings us another adventurous sci-fi outing about a group of explorers who discover a “wormhole” in space and use it to travel through time. Starring are Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain. (Nov. 7)

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” – The final book in the trilogy gets the two-part treatment, as we catch up with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and the rest of the gang as the rebellion against the Capitol goes into full force. (Nov. 21)

“The Hobbit: There and Back Again” – Speaking of things that are getting milked for all they’re worth, the final installment in “The Hobbit” trilogy finds Bilbo (Martin Freeman), the dwarves and the humans finally facing down that pesky dragon Smaug. (Dec. 17)

“Annie” – This modernized remake of the film that was based on the Broadway musical that was based on the comic strip is being produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z, with Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) starring as the titular Annie, an orphan who is adopted by a wealthy man (Jamie Foxx). (Dec. 19)

Reach Rod Pocowatchit at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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