The most anticipated films of 2014

As I looked over the movie releases I felt a little underwhelmed as 2014 looks to be a down year as studios prepare for a monumental 2015. After looking a little closely though I found we will have plenty to hold us over. I have provided links to available trailers for your viewing pleasure. Do you like my list, hate it or just don’t care? Let me know. What are you’re most anticipated movies of the year?

Sure bets

  •  ‘Noah’ (March 28): Russell Crowe makes one of the most recognizable figures from The Bible a bad-ass. I’m not so sure if this is a movie or sacrilege, but either way I’m dying to see Maximus Decimus Meridius face the apocalypse.
  •  ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’ (April 4): This was the first comic book I read when I got back into comic books, so my level of excitement for this is at an insane high. Once I saw the trailer. I nearly peed my pants. I mean come on, he takes down 10-plus guys in a crowded elevator. Taking place entirely in modern day will probably please more movie-goers as well.
  •  ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ (May 23): The return of Bryan Singer to X-Men to this franchise is much needed. Not to say “X-Men: First Class” was bad, it’s just it didn’t have the emotion of the first two X-movies. With pretty much the entire cast from all the movies returning as well, I can’t wait. To me my X-Men indeed.
  •  ‘Interstellar’ (Nov. 7): Almost nothing is known about Christopher Nolan’s new movie. There is a ton of big actors in this. We have Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace and John Lithgow in a movie about a group of explorers who find a wormhole and embark on a … wait for it … interstellar voyage. Nolan is known for his mind-bending themes, so there is more to it. Can’t miss.
  •  ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ (Nov. 14): The most anticipated comedy sequel of all time is finally coming after years of Jim Carrey pulling his best Brett Favre impression. The guys venture to find one of their long-lost children in hope of gaining a new kidney. Does it really matter what the plot is? Sea Bass returns, and we get to see former-girlfriend Fraida Felcher. This is going to be Oscar-worthy.

We’ll see

  •  ‘Amazing Spider-man 2’ (May 2): The inclusion of Jamie Foxx as Electro has me a little worried, but considering how well I liked the last one, I’m down for another outing. Also, Paul Giamatti as Rhino will be interesting. The news that there will be Sinister Six and Venom spin-off movies from this franchise puts it over the top. They got my money, I guess.
  •  ‘Godzilla’ (May 16): This looks to be epic. “Pacific Rim” got me primed for this, which was much needed after the last “Godzilla” tragedy. Matthew Broderick, you are banned from my movie collection. The approach they seem to be taking is along the vein of “Cloverfield” with a more street-level approach. No shaky camera, please. Fingers crossed.
  •  ‘Transformers 4: Age of Extinction’ (June 27): I will never get enough Optimus Prime. The swap of Shia Labeouf in favor of Mark Wahlberg helps, too, despite the fact that I was one of the few who liked Labeouf. My only issue is the redesign of the robots. I’ve seen Optimus, and he looks OK, but I prefer the old look. The jury’s still out on this one.
  •  ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’ (Nov. 21): This is a mixed bag for me. After the cliffhanger in “Catching Fire,” I can’t wait for more, but the idea to split the final movie into two has me torn. I was underwhelmed by the first movie, and the second got me revved up about this series again. Now, we get the rebellion which is going to be amazing. The only problem is it will most likely end on another cliffhanger. I’m excited and worried. I’m “worry-ited.”
  •  ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ (Dec. 17): The end of the Hobbit trilogy seems to be primed to thrill. After “The Desolation of Smaug” made me care again, I can only imagine “Back Again” will be amazing. The cliffhanger ending of “Smaug” has me wondering if this movie will drag on a little similar to “Return of the King” in “The  Lord of the Rings” trilogy — which I know rubbed a few people the wrong way.

Sleepers

  •  ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ (June 6): The days of Tom Cruise surefire hits have gone by, but his last two movies have been great. The trailer makes this look like 2013’s “Elysium” at first glance, but there is much more confusion here. The time travel aspect has piqued my interest, and you can never go wrong with Emily Blunt.
  •  ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ (July 18): “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was a surprise hit in 2011, and it did the franchise justice after the Mark Wahlberg remake. Humanity puts together an uprising against Caesar’s rising forces. The addition of rising-star Jason Clarke is nice. That guy seems to be everywhere lately. This will be pure-excitement fun.
  •  ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (Aug. 1): I get two of my favorite comic book movies in the same year. Is this heaven? No … it’s Iowa. Some will get that, and some won’t. These are a group of unknown characters to many, so you may be leery, but don’t be. This could end up being “Star Wars” for a new generation. I’m hoping they keep the comedy from the book intact for the movie and the inclusion of Chris Pratt seems to confirm that.
  •  ‘The Giver’ (Aug. 15): I badly don’t want this to be a mess. This is one of my favorite books of all time. Some of the casting choices have been interesting. Jonas is played by a relative unknown, Taylor Swift as Rosemary (yuck!) and the Giver is played by The Dude — Jeff Bridges. I’m sorry, but I can’t take Bridges seriously since “The Big Lebowski.” I want to like this, but I’m not that impressed, so far.
  •  ‘Sin City: A Dame To Kill For’ (Aug. 22.): This is a prequel to “Sin City” has been rumored for years. This was supposed to come out last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets pushed to 2015. Almost the entire cast is returning plus my boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been added.

Top movies of 2013

This year’s movies didn’t measure up to 2012, but there was still plenty to see. Superheroes still reigned supreme at the box office — and in my heart. There were a few surprises and a few duds. Let’s get to rankin’.

Henry Cavill in “Man of Steel”

1. “Man of Steel”

I kind of relegated this one to the top spot the moment I walked out of the theater. My comic book obsession started with the death of Superman, so it only seems fitting that a modern origin story is my favorite. Supes trades in some of the story from “Superman Returns” for plenty of action. City-leveling action in fact. The flashbacks were a good idea in giving the emotional weight to the controversial ending. Russell (The) Crowe was great as Superman’s father, Jor-El. You can never go wrong with a little Crowe time. Michael Shannon kills it as Zod; I don’t know if he tops Terrence Stamp’s version, but it’s close. I’ll always love any Superman movie, but with this one, I got to mean it when I say it.

2. “The Wolverine”

After “Wolverine: Origins,” we had nowhere to go but up, and “The Wolverine” went more than up. The idea of having Logan lose his powers was great, showing him vulnerable, thus making him more relatable. The setting was great, the ninjas were great and the story was top notch. My only qualm was making Silver Samurai a huge robot. Yuck.

3. “Prisoners”

This reminded me of the good old days of simple crime thrillers. Nothing fancy, just pure drama. Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in this one. He won’t win any Oscars, but he deserves it. Hugh Jackman’s descent into madness is understandable and heart-breaking, which makes this one so entertaining.

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in “Pacific Rim.”

4. “Pacific Rim”

Now, not every movie has to have some great story or great acting. Sometimes, a movie can be great because it’s pure fun. “Rim” is just that. It’s robots versus monsters. You can’t go wrong. This was a primer for “Godzilla” next year.

5. “Gravity”

The solo actor idea had me worried, as it usually doesn’t work, but Sandra Bullock shines here. The tension can be felt throughout as you wonder if she’ll be able to make it out alive. Some of the plausibility complaints should be shunned. This is a movie after all, and it did its job by creating excitement.

6. “Dallas Buyers Club”

Matthew McConaughey has been top notch the past couple of years. With “Mud,” “Magic Mike,” which I hear he was really good in, and now “Buyers Club,” he has upped his game. His performance along with Jared Leto, who also steps up his acting, are Oscar level. This being a true story had me sold from the get-go.

7. “The Conjuring”

The doll alone in the first 10 minutes was enough to scare the bejeezus out of me. Justin Wan brings his patented style here as he takes a typical ghost story and through varying camera angles and small tricks creates a level of fear that can’t be matched. If you weren’t scared during the hide n’ clap scene, you must have nerves of steel.

8. “Oz the Great and Powerful”

What a beautiful film. The black-and-white beginning made the first glimpse of Oz that much more spectacular. That’s what it must have felt like for people seeing the land of Oz in 1939. It takes a lot to wow me these days. I had my breath taken away.

9. “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

Now, that’s what I’m talking about. This had the heart that was missing from the first film. It even made up for botching the death of Rue. The cliffhanger ending, which was expected, made me start counting the days until Mockingjay-Part 1.

The Rock, Tony Shaloub and Mark Walberg in “Pain and Gain.”

10. “Pain and Gain”

Michael Bay returns to “Bad Boys” greatness with “Pain.” Bay made me remember he’s not just all about explosions, he knows funny, too. His return to form had me forgetting about “Transformers” 1 & 2. The Rock is surprisingly funny and proves that he has the chops to hang with Mark Wahlberg.

 

Honorable mentions: “American Hustle,” “Iron Man 3,” “Despicable Me 2” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Duds: “Out of the Furnace,” “Grown Ups 2,” “After Earth” and “A Good Day to Die Hard.”

Civil War coming to the Marvel film world?

With the announcement of Netflix producing four new original shows involving Marvel superheroes I couldn’t help but jump for joy.

After I came down from my nerd high. I figured I would comment a little bit, maybe theorize a little bit, and tell you why this news is very important for the Marvel film brand and its future.

If you haven’t heard the news, the four shows involve Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. There will be a minimum of 13 episodes of each show that will culminate in a miniseries called ‘The Defenders.’

So why is this important?

For one it is a stepping stone for two things. If successful, Netflix could order more shows for other characters and it provides a comparable product to what DC Comics is doing on their side of Hollywood.

DC’s ‘Arrow,’ based on one of their more fringe characters Green Arrow, is in its second season. They have been using the show to introduce some of the company’s other characters, with rumors of the Flash showing up this season.

It would appear DC is priming audiences for their much rumored Justice League of America movie.

Marvel must have seen this and decided the small screen would be the best way to introduce audiences to characters that might not warrant the big screen.

Which brings me to the big reason this announcement matters. Civil War. You mean the war between the north and south? No, I’m referring to one of the biggest crossovers in comics.

The event involved heroes being required to register their identities with the government. It pitted Captain America, and his rebels, against Iron Man, and his pro-registration side.

Now the four characters getting their own Netflix series were heavily involved in the Civil War storyline. This seems like a stepping stone to bring the Marvel event to the big screen.

This is all a theory and such an idea couldn’t happen until after ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ which is slated for 2015, the same year these shows are supposed to air on Netflix.

Here’s hopin’.

 

NERD WORD: You have learned well, my young padawan

The first movie I could remember seeing was “The Wizard of Oz.” I was blown away.

Me and my son, Austin, before going to the “Jurassic Park 3D.”

Well, as blown away as a 6-year-old could be. It was then my movie obsession began.

I spent the next 24 years taking in any kind of movie I could. The cycle began anew with my son, Austin. He already has an expansive-cartoon-laden movie collection. I have slowly expanded his film palate.

Raising a 5-year-old son in this today’s movie age poses its challenges. Most of the wow factor doesn’t exist in the industry anymore as everything has already been done.

So, what to do?

Ironically enough, I received wisdom from a 2-foot-tall recluse who carries a big stick — in a green lightsaber.

I recently bought a new TV and surround sound system. The main reason for these purchases was the release of the “Star Wars” box-set on Blu-ray. Austin had seen my T-shirts, toys, posters, etc., but had never seen the films. So, when he asked to watch the “Yoda movie” I gladly obliged.

After watching “The Empire Strikes Back” for the first time — his favorite of the six movies — he quickly wanted to see the other two of the original trilogy. Once we were done with the nearly six-and-a-half hour marathon of nerdy goodness, my wife came downstairs asking what we’ve been doing.

Without a hitch, Austin says, “Watching ‘Star Wars,’ mom. I love ‘Star Wars.’” — Easily, the proudest day of my life, and I figured out my conundrum.

You apparently can’t beat the classics.

In that moment, I realized Austin is a clean slate.

It’s all new to him. Those movies that everyone has seen remade, rehashed and repurposed can still give him that same sense of wonder I had when I was a kid.

After “Star Wars,” I decided to show him more films I deem “old school.” We’ve watched movies ranging from “The Mighty Ducks” to “E.T.,” and the part I find too cute for words is the names he has for some movies.

One of the best was the “pirate movie.”

I made the mistake of playing “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl,” when the pirate movie he was talking about was “The Goonies.”

Or, the “candy movie” for “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” of which we watched the original and the remake. (I’m proud to say he didn’t like the remake at all.)

Thankfully, he didn’t like the “Star Wars” prequels as much as the originals either.

Nerd cred still intact.

Albrecht can be reached at (701) 780-1269 or emailed at talbrecht@gfherald.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Tim03.

Ranking the top horror franchises

Why do we eat up horror movies? They are the Jan Brady of Hollywood. They can never live up to the Marsha level hype of a “Schindler’s List” and they aren’t as cute as the Cindys, i.e “Finding Nemo.”

Answer. We love to be scared. Also, they’re cheap to make.

The horror genre has seen many B, C and D-list movies. It can even be argued that all films of the genre fit the latter category. Becoming a franchise is a whole different beast to tame. So, what does it take to get that staying power? Simple. You need a memorable villain, a few laughs and plenty of gore. Here are the top horror movie franchises to date.

The “Final Destination” franchise is one of the few to have consistent quality. It never blew me away but it always left me coming back for more.

10. “Final Destination” 

• Films: Five.

I’m amazed at the new ways this series finds to kill off its characters. The idea that death will find you no matter what has a sense of gravity to it. It’s almost sad to say Devon Sawa hooked me those years ago and this is a series that I’m amazed has The “Final Destination” franchise is one of the few to have consistent quality. It never blew me away but it always left me coming back for more.lasted as long as it has.

9. “Evil Dead”

• Films: Four.

Sadly, I only entered the world of “Evil Dead” in the past year. Fan boys, you can stone me later. This is camp at its best. Something interesting happens in this series. The sequel shifted to a horror/comedy with plenty of slapstick moments. Director Sam Raimi turned the comedy up to 11 with “Army of Darkness,” which made this series all the better.

Friday the 13th has spawned 11 sequels. Despite the repetitiveness the first four broke the mold of common horror franchises and got progessively better.

8. “Friday the 13th”

• Films: 12

Jason Voorhees is probably one of the most recognizable villains on this list. “Friday” has the distinction of having the most sequels of any horror franchise. Despite many of the sequels being repetitive, the franchise has the distinction of getting better until part four. A tough feat in the genre.

7. “Child’s Play”

• Films: Six.

As a kid what were your favorite things in the whole world? Your toys. So, a toy that is a serial killer is a child’s worst fear. Don’t tell me whenever you see a doll now that Chucky doesn’t creep into the back of your mind. P.S. Stop watching this series after No. 3.

6. “Paranormal Activity”

• Films: Four.

Handheld-camera movies had been done before, but this franchise took it to a whole new level: Putting the villain in your own house. This is the first horror movie that I had seen since I was little that had me turning the lights on in my house as I went room to room. If you ask my wife, I woke her up 20 times the night after seeing this movie. I beg to differ.

5. “Night of The Living Dead”

• Films: Six.

Zombies! The franchise that introduced the world to the traditional zombies we love today is more than deserving of this spot. The films may not seem so scary now, but during their time they were the most terrifying films people had ever seen. Just think without “Night of the Living Dead” we wouldn’t have “The Walking Dead.” Respect your elders.

4. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”

The quality of the first film drives “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise up the list, despite the lower quality of its sequels.

• Films: Three.

The first film in this series is probably the best

horror movie ever. It’s sheer terror at its finest. Chainsaw-wielding Leatherface alone is scary enough, but the idea of an entire family of crazed killers is terrifying. Most of the sequels/remakes/prequels have been downright laughable, but the strength of the first film pushes this toward the top.

3. “Scream”

• Films: Four.

Two Wes Craven franchises in my top three? Of course. This was the return of the classic slasher flick. It turned the entire genre on its head working almost like a commentary on the very genre it was a part of. Oddly enough, the franchise fell to the same fate as those it mocked.

2. “Halloween”

• Films: Nine.

The introduction of scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, will always have a special place in my heart. The idea of basing this series around the scariest holiday of the year was genius. It adds to the fear. The mythology, added later in the series, that gave Michael Myers a back story was nice. A horror movie with an intricate story? Who knew?

Freddy Krueger puts the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise on the top of the list. His witty one-liners make you crave more and more.

1. “Nightmare on Elm Street”

• Films: Nine.

It takes a lot to top the list, but it was close. Freddy puts “Nightmare” over the top. He’s easily the best horror villain. The idea of attacking you in your dreams is so terrifying. I know I’ve lost many hours of sleep after watching any of the series’ nine films, well … maybe not the remake.

Honorable mentions:

• “Alien”

This is a borderline action movie, so it almost shouldn’t be mentioned. It does have its tense-filled, scary moments though. Sigourney Weaver’s bad-assery is nothing to scoff.

• “Psycho”

Norman Bates/mother made us a little freaked out to take a shower. That would explain that smelly kid in third grade. The sequels in the series prevent this one from making the list.

• “Hellraiser”

A very scary villain who tortures your soul would seem like a win, but a dreadful sequel followed by progressively worse sequels destroy the luster on this franchise.

• “The Ring”

A tape that your aren’t supposed to watch or you would be killed. Really? Don’t watch it. I know horror movies usually don’t make much sense, but come on. The moment when Samara comes out of the TV still shakes me to my core though. Oh sorry. SPOILER ALERT!!!