OK, so this post was going to be about… something… else… but having just read Empire magazine’s 100 movies you should see in 2014 I simply had to comment.
It isn’t that Empire’s preview of 2014 is bad. The reason I don’t usually do movie critique/previews on this blog, in spite of it being my favourite subject, is often because others have said it better already. No. The reason I had to comment on the 2014 preview is because I honestly can’t believe that someone (somewhere in California, I presume) gave these screenplays the greenlight.
Now, perhaps Empire are hedging their bets by not laughing out loud at some of the movie ideas so comically presented in this list. Most people know what this is like:
“Don’t write off Snakes On A Plane just because it has a ridiculous title! If Samuel L. Jackson signed up so quickly, it’s probably a work of facetious brilliance.”
Yeah! Right! I for one suspected it would be complete horse-shit from the moment it appeared in preview. But, in case you think I’m just trying to air my highly polished powers of cinematic perception, here is pretty much what I said about a long awaited prequel back in the late 90s:
“Don’t write off The Phantom Menace just because it has a ridiculous title! If Samuel L. Jackson signed up so quickly…”
…and so on. You get the picture; none of us has the power to gaze into the moving picture maelstrom and pick out the lemons. But, now that I have shaken those metaphors until they are more mixed up than a hungover, lesbian Zebra, raised by a Unicorn and a Shetland pony, I shall invite the bravest of you to comment on the following, upcoming movies; offering your predictions on whether they will sail like a majestic clipper on waves of critical acclaim and box-office glory… or bob crudely toward the side of the pool; causing everyone to scream and get out.
I will not be covering all of the movies in Empire’s list; just the ones that stick out to me, for good reasons or bad. Some of them I will bring up simply because I have a feeling they might not be great… others because I would be absolutely astonished if they turned out to be anything other than laughable nonsense. Some of you may wish to comment with remarks like “I’ll have you know that is based on a brilliant cult novel!” In which case I will defer to your judgement. I love to read, but I can’t read everything, and will usually avoid fantasy in particular. I was unaware until my wife told me very recently, for example, that The Neverending Story was a beloved German fantasy novel. And to say that her friends and family were unimpressed with Wolfgang Petersen’s 1984 adaptation would be an understatement of significant proportions. So, feel free to point out successful printed-word versions, if such there are, but try to bear in mind that is no guarantee of successful cinematic adaptation… look what David Lynch did to Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Grudge Match –
A couple of Pittsburgh boxers who never had the chance to slug it out, meet in the ring 30 years later.
Now, I write this on the UK release date of this movie, which means that many of you (particularly those in the US) will already have seen the movie by the time you read this post. Nevertheless, I predict really mediocre things for number 9 on Empire’s list. It’s not just that both De Niro & Stallone have produced some utter crap in recent years (perhaps less surprising in Sylvester’s case), or that Director, Peter Segal’s CV is a tiresome wade through all the most “meh” comedy of the last 20 years… but anyone who says “I know… let’s make Raging Bull-meets-Rocky in retirement comedy!” deserves all the poor box-office results they get.
Maybe it will be a stroke of genius… I suspect not.
The Lego Movie –
Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman have to stop an evil Will Ferrel from Supergluing the Lego universe together. Genius! AND it get’s its UK release on my birthday! This one has great destiny written all over it like the love-child of Frodo Baggins & Harry Potter; wet-nursed by Sarah Connor and then weaned on midichlorian meatballs! Anyone who doesn’t like this movie is a moron!
Under the Skin –
Alien, Scarlett Johansson, is sent by an evil alien corporation, to seduce and abduct hitch-hikers in… er… Scotland.
Now, although young Scarlett has never been at the top of my Big Screen Beauties list, it isn’t hard to imagine that seducing Scottish hitch-hikers might not be as challenging an assignment for her as the evil alien overlords have perhaps been led to believe… especially if we assume that these hitch-hikers will be men. So, there won’t be a tremendous amount of mystery about why so many men allow themselves to be seduced by Ms. S. Johansson E.T. For those who haven’t read the novel though (yes… that includes me), the real mystery behind this movie will be why she is doing this.
Other than the assumption that this will be yet another movie which does very little for Scottish tourism (let’s not forget this country gave us television, the telephone, Sean Connery, Gerard Butler, and 3 time-travelling Doctors) I’m not entirely sure which way to jump on this one. Director, Jonathan Glazer previously directed Sexy Beast, which I was quite fond of, but I’m not sure this movie will attain anything beyond cult status (although, as my wife pointed out, judging from the trailer, fans of Twin Peaks might get a kick out of it).
As for those guys hoping to see Scarlett wearing very little indeed; two words of warning:
- If the trailer is any indication of creepiness level, you’re more likely to leave the movie in tears than hot flushes.
- It is very cold in Scotland.
The Zero Theorem –
Terry Gilliam once read a Science-Fiction screenplay of mine entitled Patient Zero, and then sent me a form letter to the effect that it was rubbish, but I was only 20 years old at the time so I don’t hold a grudge. I actually really like the guy, and he was right; that screenplay sucked. But this is Terry Gilliam we’re talking about here, so I don’t think I’m crawling too far out on the more precarious parts of a poplar when I make the following prediction: This will be a mad, mad movie which will make very little sense to you, but which will nonetheless help to get you laid at the sort of parties where they say things like “Yeah… the symbolism is really rich in his films. The time-travelling dwarves so obviously represent small farmers, trying desperately to survive under the capitalist jackboots of corporate food giants!”
I’m not even going to tell you what this movie is about, because the chances are you won’t know the answer to that even after you’ve watched it. But, like many of Gilliam’s films, it will be enjoyable to watch, and tremendous fun to see people trying to explain to their friends.
Or… it could be another Baron Münchhausen.
2014 is going to be a year of biblical epics, and this one is keen to follow in the bible-to-silver-screen tradition of signing up as many big hitters as possible. The credits of this one include Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly,
Hermione Gr Emma Watson, Frank Langella, Nick Nolte, and Russell Crowe as the titular meteorology enthusiast.
Unless you slept through the first 20 years of your life or are a Scientologist, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what this film is about. We all get to laugh out loud as Steve Carell hits his thumb with a hammer a few dozen times, whilst making a Bible-boat full of dangerous animals for Morgan Fr…
Okay, well I must admit that the irony of this coming so hot on the heels of the David Silvester flood story had not escaped me. But apart from that, believe it or not, I quite like biblical epics. And if that seems like an odd thing for an outspoken Atheist to say, consider that I don’t believe in ghosts either, but I still watched Scooby Doo.
I think it will draw a fair box-office crowd, if for no other reason than (wait… those ghosts were always just men in masks! O-M-G!!)… if for no other reason than this. A biblical epic needs to be seen on a really BIG screen. There might be vicars’ wives out there who disagree with this, but God never did anything small. And you certainly can’t say he didn’t know how to tell a story. In this case: God sends the rain to teach humans a lesson, and he would have succeeded if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 –
Teenage photographer puts on loud lycra suit and dispenses silly-string at bad guys who never seem to materialise anywhere else in the world but New York.
Who honestly cares if this is a hit? You would think they had learned lessons about over-populating Spider-man movies with bad-guys, but the poster above would seem to suggest otherwise. Still… if it doesn’t work, they can just reboot the series in 2 years time.
Johnny Depp puts down the eye-liner and puts on his Ninth Gate moustache and glasses for this Wally Pfister movie, about a scientist whose brain is uploaded into the ultimate super-computer of his own design, by his grieving wife…
No matter how ridiculous the premise for a movie, suspension of disbelief is a must for the audience to thoroughly enjoy it. The problem here is that only in the non-existent world behind that screen would you ever find a scientist who is still dumb enough to think that designing a super-intelligent computer which surpasses human thought and emotion is a good idea. What Pfister should have called this movie is Virtuosity 2: Artificial Stupidity.
Still… Johnny Depp is rarely disappointing in a movie. I’ll watch it. You coming?
The F Word –
I have never managed to figure out why it is that when someone becomes tied to a role in the way Daniel Radcliffe has, their next move is almost always into the world of romantic comedy… and quite often involves a man trying to escape from The Friend Zone, exactly as this one does. I just hope his first attempts at this are better than his first outing as that wizard, whose name escapes me at the moment. We’ll see. I for one don’t like to type-cast actors that way. But let’s watch it, just in case he turns his co-star into a frog or something.
Up from the depths… 30 stories high… breathing fire… his head in the sky… Chuck Norris!
As Douglas Adams might say: “Godzilla is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big he is…” and this May, he will be stepping on really big things, and making them into lots of really, really small things, while David Strathairn & Bryan Cranston try to stop him… somehow.
And now for a shocking confession: My name is James and I watched Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla… more than once. There, I finally said it. I like Matthew Broderick, but I really hope that this movie is much, much better.
My (very safe) prediction: It will be.
Now, it appears that I have been enjoying this waaaaay too much, and have apparently droned on for much longer than I had intended. Will I go back and shorten it? Will I bollocks! Much simpler and more gratifying to simply do the second half in another post.
See you very soon.