Welcome back. Unless you are discovering my blog for the first time, in which case go back and read this first. In the highly unlikely event that you are obstinate enough to refuse to go back, but still interested enough to go forward… you will require the following information: Empire magazine’s recent list of 100 Movies You Should See In 2014 inspired me to write my own previews of the ones which stood out for me, for good reasons or bad. I am trying to give a clear decision on whether or not I think these movies will sink or swim, and I encourage you to do the same in the comments section of this blog, which you can reach by clicking the little speech bubble thing (hopefully it will have a number in it by the time you read this).
For those who were here last time: this is where the fun begins. Because if you thought part 1 of this list had some weird ideas in it… you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Edge of Tomorrow –
Watching the trailer for this movie sparked off a discussion between my wife and I, where I found myself defending Tom Cruise, so I think we can all agree the world has fallen right off its little wheels and into the bath (don’t ask me. I just write ’em as they spill out of my brain), but hear me out. Tom Cruise started out playing pretty action heroes, and he got along quite well at it until his marriage fell apart, Nicole Kidman (hardly Olivier herself if I may say so) slammed him in the press, and he seriously over-played his “affection” for Katy Holmes, using Oprah’s sofa (how scared am I right now that the WordPress spellchecker doesn’t recognise the word blog but it has no problem with Oprah?). One viral video about Scientology later… and his career looked very, very dead. But, he went into hiding for a while, did a few slightly self-deprecating roles, in a fairly unconvincing attempt to show us that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and now he’s back to playing the action hero. Look… he’s not my favourite person, and if he ever finds a woman willing to marry him again, I don’t think we’d be too paranoid to insist on checking her brain for circuit boards, but otherwise, he’s paid his dues… let’s just watch the movie.
Which reminds me: This one involves a time-loop, try-until-you-get-it-right, alien war… type thingy. The trailer sells it quite well for me, even if it is just Groundhog Day in an alien-repellent, mechanised prom dress.
Did you ever wonder at the harrowing story behind the evil queen in Sleeping Beauty? Did you ever stop to think how she was feeling… or what drives a queen to evil, infant-cursing madness? Well, the writers of Maleficent did, so that you don’t have to. And, on May 30th, you can watch this Sleeping Beauty prequel and presumably have your eyes opened to what those smug fucking Disney Princesses aren’t telling you. The times they are a changin’… it’s not good enough any longer that the pretty people get their happy ending, and the uglier ones slink back to the forest with their forked tails between their legs, or get their heads blown open with oxygen tanks because they took a few little bites out of some humans… and Robert Shaw. Admittedly, Angelina Jolie in the role of Maleficent does make it kind of hard to argue the whole Uglyness Rising angle, but if you’re the sort of person who always felt bad for the poor henchmen in Bond movies; trying desperately to make us understand how hard it is to get a regular job when your dentist moonlights as a welder… then this is for you. I am one of those people, and I have to say that this movie looks pretty damned good, so I’m going to risk looking stupid and say: Maleficent will be a hit.
If nothing else, it’s nice to start seeing movies that tell the villain’s side of the story. I mean, where’s the harm in learning about Dracula’s traumatic past, or why Darth Vader became twisted and evil?
A Million Ways to Die in the West –
I seem to be one of the only people who thought that Seth MacFarlane’s Ted was a steaming pile of crap. Mildly amusing for a second, if it seems to resemble Justin Bieber… but I don’t want to crouch down close enough to smell it, and then watch it for 2 hours!
With that in mind, you may not care what I think about A Million Ways to Die in the West, but surprisingly, I think it may just be watchable. For one thing, it takes place in “the west”, where Sheep farmer, MacFarlane loses his girlfriend after he backs out of a gunfight. For another, Charlize Theron is the wife of a gun-slinger, who then teaches him to fight back.
Also, Liam Neeson’s character has special skills which involve shooting things… imagine that.
Personally, I find MacFarlane’s brand of comedy hit & miss to say the least. His occasional genius shows through in superbly executed pieces of observational humour… which unfortunately sit atop a mountain of dick jokes and fart gags. He’s messing in my territory here, since westerns are my favourite genre of movie after science fiction(yes; I loved Firefly), so I think I’m being more than generous when I say: this might be surprisingly good.
There’s certainly no room for middle ground here. It will either be an instant comedy classic, or The Lemon That Killed Manhattan. (if you’ll excuse me I’m off to write that screenplay)
Transformers: Age of Extinction –
July 10th (UK)
Michael Bay: Please stop making these movies.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes –
After 10 years, Caesar and his hairy buddies from Rise of are still smashing things and being violent to humans, to teach them a lesson for smashing things and being violent to everything else.
I avoided watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes for a few months, because I heard those immortal words “Don’t bother… my dad saw it and said it was shit!”. I heard these words again the other day, and admittedly the latter case was a little more complicated than “…said it was shit”, but I tried to imagine if I stopped watching or doing things that my parents or friends thought were rubbish, boring or stupid. In my case, this would probably mean having never done very much at all…
I am writing a movie preview list, but I openly encourage you to go and see these films for yourselves, and make up your own mind. I will be doing.
We’ve all said things like “That’s 2 hours of my life I will never get back.” after watching a movie we didn’t much like, but what were you honestly going to do with those 2 hours? Cure cancer? Save polar bears from extinction? Needless to say I eventually watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes… and okay, it wasn’t great (for one thing James Franco didn’t lose any limbs), but it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. If you want to see a really bad movie you don’t have to look much further than the original Planet of the Apes sequels. These are better, even if they don’t have Roddy McDowall in them.
I’m pretty sure this movie is not going to break any box-office records, but it won’t be the worst 2 hours you’ve spent.
Jupiter Ascending –
Now here’s where things get really weird. And for this movie I’m going to start by directly quoting Empire’s own plot summary, because… well… see for yourself.
“An unlucky Russian janitor called Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) meets pointy-eared interplanetary warrior Caine (Channing Tatum) who has been sent by the Queen of the Universe to kill her. It turns out that Jones has an extraordinary destiny because of the way the stars aligned when she was born, and now her DNA could mark her as the universe’s next leader.”
I think you can see from that description, that on the face of it, this sounds like the lamest, laziest, most idiotic plot for a Sci-Fi movie you ever heard. This sort of thing is the reason that Science Fiction isn’t taken more seriously. This is precisely the sort of thing my mother means when she says Science Fiction is lazy writing. This sort of thing makes my favourite movie genre very difficult to defend.
Empire start their preview by saying “This all seems bonkers, but…”. But what? It’s “original and ambitious”? So is trying to raise £300 million to make a movie with an all-child cast, about a man who grows a mobile phone where his head should be, and takes over Sainsbury’s in a desperate bid to control the life of Jamie Oliver… but you wouldn’t want to go and watch it (seriously, if someone makes this now, please don’t watch it). Ambition and originality are no guarantee of success. If they were, we’d all be driving Sinclair C5s by now. No, some ideas are just shit, no matter how original or ambitious they are. On top of all that, this is a movie from the Wachowskis, who, lest we forget, also gave us the second 2 Matrix movies, and Cloud Atlas. I don’t care that they gave us The Matrix and V for Vendetta. By my reckoning, that still puts them at least one movie in the red. Why do we trust these people? George Lucas gave us THX 1138, American Graffiti, 3 great Star Wars movies & Indiana Jones… but he makes 3 terrible movies and everyone wants his head on a spike! I am going to watch this movie simply because Sean Bean comes from my home city, and I need to see what he does with a “Han Solo-type” character. But that’s just the morbid curiosity of a fellow Dee-Dah… it is NOT a reason for anyone of sound mind to go and see this movie.
Ask yourself: Would I put my money on a movie made by George Lucas these days?
Then don’t watch this!
Fifty Shades of Grey –
I don’t think you really need me to tell you if this will be any good, do you?
Fifty Shades of Grey, is a movie, based on a book which started life as Twilight Fan-fiction…
I’ll say that again: Twilight Fan-fiction!!
Do what you like. Personally, I’m tempted to start carrying a parachute and an inflatable life-raft onto planes, in case this is the in-flight movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy –
Marvel comic adaptation in which Vin Diesel will play a tree.
Erm… I am not as familiar with Marvel comics as some other members of the Sleepless Knight team, but from what little reading I could bear to do on the subject, the back-story for these guys is more complicated than translating the plot of Fight Club for an ancient and peaceful race of fist-less sea-creatures, with no concept of Brad Pitt… Seriously; read this. If you couldn’t get through that either, some of the highlights are: Universal teleportation… A space-station with a telepathic, Soviet space-dog as its chief of security… A fire-resistant tree-being with a more limited vocabulary than most washing-machines… and characters with names like Starlord, and Rocket Raccoon; who is… a raccoon.
I’m not really capable of thinking too much about this. I think it will be rubbish, but a film with a premise this weird has to have cult appeal at least.
The Expendables 3 –
How this franchise has been allowed to get this far is an absolute mystery to me, but there are apparently people who will watch a reality TV show where Tattoo artists from across the USA compete in “extreme” tattooing challenges… so I guess there’s an audience for everything.
If you like explosions… save your money and buy some fireworks.
The Equalizer –
The only reason I used to watch former CIA operative-cum-vigilante, Robert McCall, in the 1980s TV show, was because, in case you hadn’t worked it out by this point, Sleepless Knight is not simply a random nickname, assigned to me by Seventh Sanctum. I never slept well, even as a child, and watching Edward Woodward gun down pimps at 4am was marginally more interesting than watching static go beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep… for several hours; which is all the other UK channels did at that time in the late-80s. As for the movie version? Well, McCall will be played this time by Denzel Washington, who, even in his worst roles, is at least watchable.
I imagine this movie will occupy the same space in your collection as John Q and Man on Fire. If you don’t understand those references, you’re probably not going to like this film.
Now… I did warn you that the second half of Empire’s list was a lot crazier than the first. So, as much as I hate doing this to you again: I’ll see you in part 3.