Can this year’s crop of films hold its own against last year’s blockbusters?
2013 was a good year for the movie business … and judging by the cinematic gold that was being liberally dished out, many movie directors seem to have not only been sharing the same magic chalice but the same plate and – hell – even the same serving spoons. But 2013 is old news and the question now being asked is what can 2014 bring to the table? Its predecessor left behind a legacy of jaw dropping, nail biting, edge of the seat surfing, laugh out loud brilliance to be contended with. Does this year have what it takes to blow last year’s big movies out of the water? Janet Leigh compares some of last year’s biggest movie hits with their most anticipated counterparts for a brand New Film Year.
Anyone who saw Django Unchained at the start of 2013 will agree that it was spectacular. Quentin Tarantino really upped his game with this one. There seemed to be an ‘only the best will do’ type attitude starting with the crop of well seasoned, pedigree actors – Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L Jackson – whose exceptional performances came together to produce a rich, multi-layered storytelling experience. Besting this Oscar-award winning Western drama is a challenge to say the least but Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street could be the movie to do it. Much like with Django, Scorsese’s film mashes together complex themes – sex, drugs, corruption, depravity – and from it craft something beautiful. Once again Leonardo DiCaprio takes a starring role and he will no doubt be pivotal in the movie’s success. The Wolf Of Wall Street doesn’t hit UK screens until the 17th of this month but when it does, expect to be blown away.
Bringing in a whopping £734 million, director Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 was the highest-grossing film of 2013 worldwide. Hardly surprising when you think about it. Perfectly paced, brilliant and witty, the action practically seeped out of the big screen. Not to forget Robert Downing Jr. who delivered – as expected – a stellar performance as the billionaire Avenger Tony Stark. But wait; there’s more. This spring Marvel throws out another gem with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Fans will no doubt be palpitating with excitement as the highly anticipated film makes its way to the big screens. After a two-year hiatus the first Avenger, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) storms back on the scene ready to face-off against the Soviet agent known as The Winter Soldier. If the first installment is anything to go by, the sequel is likely to be a hit. Whether or not it has what it takes to knock Iron Man 3 off its perch however, is an entirely different story.
When the Harry Potter movies ended, many wondered how movie makers’ would fill the void born in the absence of the famous wizarding trio and the wondrous world of Hogwarts. Enter Twilight. The bond between the audience and the saga was just as strong (perhaps even stronger) than that of Bella and Edward. Then, when the lovers concluded their ‘will they won’t they (they obviously will)’ dance, got married and the Cullen bride popped out a hybrid sprog by the name of Renesmee that was that. But then, just in time to avert another empty void, The Hunger Games was released turning Jennifer Lawrence into this badass bow and arrow wielding starlet.
The first installment was an instant success, followed by last year’s sequel Catching Fire, which ranked top three in the highest earnings chart preceded only by Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2. Mockingjay (the third installment of the trilogy) is sure to ignite excitement up and down the packed movie … but what about Divergent? Don’t know it? Well you should. Based on the best selling novel by Veronica Roth, Divergent’s main star Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior (Shailene Woodley) could give Katniss Everdeen a run for her money. Set in the future, Tris lives in a world governed by a corrupt system (sound familiar?) and she must fight like hell to protect herself when her life becomes endangered. And what would a worthy teen flick be without a touch of tender romance? Luckily Theo James is just the man to provide that all-important romantic spark as Tris’ steamy love interest. Divergent could well be the film that snuffs out Katniss’ fiery trail.
It may have been a latecomer but Frozen just about stole the show for 2013 children’s movies. Certainly not an easy feat considering it had the likes of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Wreck-It-Ralph and Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters to contend with. Nevertheless it managed – becoming Disney’s most successful UK animation. This year’s children’s movies appear to be packing a decent sized punch as well with the release of the sequels How to Train Dragon 2 and Rio 2. However, the one that has had everyone buzzing with excitement for quite sometime is Maleficent (Main Picture). Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of the ghoulish fairy is just delicious. A few icy lines delivered in the trailer is all Jolie needed to create a chilling ambience more powerful than any snowstorm Frozen’s ice queen could muster. Watch your back Elsa, there’s a new sorceress walking Disney’s land.
It’s the battle of the comedy sequels: 2013’s very successful Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues versus 2014’s 22 Jump Street. Filmgoers and critics alike were surprisingly pleased after watching 21 Jump Street back in 2012 referring to the high school comedy as “uproariously funny” (Telegraph’s Robbie Collin). Now the hapless duo are back for more. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were brilliant the first time round and the trailer hints at a hilariously entertaining part two but there is something a little ‘deja vous-ish’ about 22 Jump Street. Tatum and Hill’s characters must once again flush out drug dealers. However, this time they return to college instead of high school to do so. Much like the last film, they must find a way to blend in with the students in order for their undercover operation to be a success. Will 22 Jump Street summon more than a few share of laughs? The likelihood is yes, although there is now the danger that it could lack originality. The same cannot be said for Anchorman 2, which was critically considered an improvement on the first. Fresh and crudely witty Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy and his team of buffoons may be a tough one to beat. Let the battle of underachieving morons commence.
If you didn’t see Gravity last year kick yourself…hard. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s characters took moviegoers on a nail-biting journey in which medical engineer Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) are stranded out in space, cut off from everything and everyone … except each other. Director Afonso Cuarón took the cinematic experience to an astronomical level, immersing the viewers in spectacular scenes as he dragged them through the rollercoaster of emotions felt by Stone and Kowalski. Similarly, director Chris Nolan deals with the idea of space travel in his latest film Interstellar, where a team of explorers and scientists embark on a voyage through a newly discovered wormhole in the hopes of transcending the limitations on human space travel. Intriguing. The film stars the talented Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey. Could it be 2014’s Gravity … unlikely but there’s no reason it won’t be an enjoyable watch.