2015 Movie Preview

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Image © Marvel), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Image © Disney), Mad Max: Fury Road (Image © Warner Bros.), Terminator: Genisys (Image © Paramount Pictures) 

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Image © Marvel), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Image © Disney), Mad Max: Fury Road (Image © Warner Bros.), Terminator: Genisys (Image © Paramount Pictures) 

Gabriel Ricard, Film Editor: So far, 2015 has been pretty bleak at the movies. But that’s okay, man. We expect this kind of cinematic graveyard during this time of the year. We’re going to have to look just a month or two ahead of where we’re sitting now.

I remember being pretty pessimistic about 2014 after the summer season was finished. A slew of fantastic fall releases then combined with the other films I enjoyed during the year, and the result was realizing that it had actually been a really good year to be a fan of movies. Will 2015 continue the trend? I’m excited for big summer releases like Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. I’m admittedly indifferent to a Mad Max reboot. I’m cautiously optimistic about Tomorrowland, and very, very, very cautiously interested in Terminator: Genisys. I’m interested in Trainwreck.

There are a few others I’ve heard about, but at present, nothing else that I feel compelled to make a big deal about. I think there are a lot of movies that at least sound like they have potential, and there are a variety of different types of potential, when it comes to movies. So I’m at least encouraged by thoughts along those lines.

How about you guys? Anything you’re looking forward to? Absolutely dreading?

Ryan Roach, Film CriticI think Terminator: Genisys will be a Trainwreck. Hey-o!

The first Avengers movie has been my favorite in this Marvel Cinematic Universe, so of course I look forward to Joss Whedon’s follow-up. I expect it will be pretty fantastic. I am equal parts looking forward to/absolutely dreading Jurassic World, which in theory sounds amazing, but the more details I learn, the more distressed I get. Trained raptors that are helping the good guys? No. That is unacceptable.

And the thing jumping out of the water is what they feed Chris Pratt (Image © Universal Pictures). 

And the thing jumping out of the water is what they feed Chris Pratt (Image © Universal Pictures). 

The end of the year also brings the final Hunger Games movie, which will hopefully go out on a high note and purge the memory of the place-holder and blatant cash grab that was Mockingjay Part 1.

But you don’t have to wait that long for some interesting stuff!  This month has David Cronenberg’s latest, Maps to the Stars, which looks delightfully weird.

Fast forwarding a bit to May, we’ve got not only Avengers to look forward to, but Pitch Perfect 2, and the Mad-Max remake, now with 100% less anti-Semitism. And God help me, even though disaster movie trailers are always significantly better than actual disaster movies, San Andreas looks pretty great. In June, Pixar’s Inside Out opens. There last few outings have been less than stellar, so I’m glad that they waited an extra year to try and make sure this one comes out right. The trailer looked like we have another winner. In July, there’s the Terminator sequel that Gabriel mentioned, and I---yeah, I don’t think so. This looks like Colin Farrel’s version of Total Recall. Pan, the prequel to the Peter Pan story, looks pretty fun, though. But you can’t go by me. I even loved Hook. I’m really interested in the Magic Mike sequel. You know, because I’m invested in the characters. Yeah, that’s it. 

Fall movie (aka “the good ones”) details are still sketchy at this point, so will have to revisit the issue later. Except I think there’s a little indie coming out in December. Someone about a faraway galaxy set in the distant past or something. A few people might be looking forward to that one.

Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-Chief: At the beginning of last year I was looking past 2014’s slate ahead to the great blockbuster cluster of 2015. In fact, this year has been eyed warily by industry observers as a real make-or-break year for Hollywood. So many studios are making a run at multi-level franchises, and putting so much money into the production and promotion of them that there was a great fear of audience fatigue. Just how many franchises can America track at the same time?

Some doom and gloom forecasts predicted that studios would fail—this gave rise to speculation that a great failure in 2015 would force studios to abandon these bloated popcorn movies in favor of grittier, low-budget, 70’s-style dramas. That idea had me pretty excited, because it had been a long time since I had seen a truly great movie.

Then, at the end of 2014, at least a dozen really great movies came out, and it was clear that such serious fare could co-exist with the mega-franchises rather than be drowned out by them. So now that 2015 is actually here, I don’t give fuck one about whether or not any of these franchises fail. And I feel even less obligated to track their success.

What I’m looking forward to the most are movies that aren’t even on my radar right now—things I’ve never heard of, like a Whiplash or a Nightcrawler, which will engage my mind and spirit in unexpected and exhilarating ways. And I love the fact that there’s some movie that I’ve never heard of now that I’ll be ferociously championing at the beginning of 2016.

But, sure, I’m also looking forward to the continuation of stories that I’ve loved, in one way or another, nearly all my life. I’m a huge Star Wars fan (and stay tuned for big announcements about a ridiculous amount of Star Wars coverage coming later this year), so naturally, I’m happy about the idea of the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker and crew. But I’m also pretty alarmed at some of the more outlandish plot rumors circling the new movies. All I hope is that the people at the helm of the franchise now treat this world with the respect it deserves.

Something called Kylo Ren, wielding something that J.J. Abrams claims is a lightsaber (Image © Disney). 

Something called Kylo Ren, wielding something that J.J. Abrams claims is a lightsaber (Image © Disney). 

And I’ve really enjoyed almost all of the Marvel movies, especially the first Avengers, so I’m happy to have Joss back doing what he does best. After the Edgar Wright debacle, though, I’m pretty skeptical about Ant-Man. Tomorrowland looks like nothing, and I am exhausted about every movie from J.J. Abrams or Damon Lindelof being shrouded in ridiculous secrecy. I don’t give a shit about Jurassic World, other than a nice fat paycheck for Andy-freaking-Dwyer. And I’m as excited about the idea of Arnold returning as Terminator as I am about the idea of Arnold returning as Governor of California, which—let’s not forget—is a real thing that happened. 

Scott Waldyn, Staff Writer:

Mad Max: Fury Road

Initially, I was on the fence with this one. Creative teams returning to a past franchise they helped construct years ago doesn’t turn out very well if history has anything to say about this (for examples, see Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Sin City, etc.).  Revisited reboots tend to feel tired, worn, and lacking any sort of the initial gusto and power that made them memorable movies in the first place. But that new trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road? I think it surprised the hell out of everybody. It barreled its way through an onslaught of superhero movies, grappled hold of our attention at comic con, and tempted us with something too cool to let pass us by.

“Look, Goddamn you! LOOK!” it screamed, its cavalcade of vehicular destruction playing out like a well-choreographed dance of explosive serenity.

I feel compelled to oblige. 

Poltergeist

When I first heard a Poltergeist remake was coming out, I shrugged. It was one of those powerful, big shrugs, a shrug that took effort to convey how little you could care with a seemingly effortless gesture. There was going to be a movie that rivaled the Spielberg-produced, Hooper-directed original? Not likely. But then the producer, Sam Raimi, fed us a few lines.

"The original film commented on how we've let television get out of control, babysitting our kids," Raimi said. "It's only gotten worse with the handheld portable devices. Screens are everywhere."

One, that’s Sam Raimi, one of the maestros of monster movies if there ever was one. Two, that line or two? He gets it. He understands the nature of fear the original was all about, this hidden undertone of a television controlled by unknown entities grabbing hold of our kids. That’s heavy, and it’s the right thinking going into a horror film. After all, the best horror films are the ones with underlying subtext. So we’ll see what this new polish can do.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Rogue Cut)

Yeah, I know, X-Men: Days of Future Past came out in 2014. BUT! What was missing was this whole subplot involving Rogue, which was apparently cut for length. Having said that, a new cut of the film will drop sometime in 2015, with ten minutes added back into the feature film. Sure, ten minutes doesn’t sound like much, but an extra nine minutes did wonders to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 years ago. It made a good movie even better with some more characterization and bridging scenes that helped make some of the cuts more fluid. With any luck, this “Rogue Cut” will take a great movie and make it excellent. BONUS, there’s another Magneto scene.

Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday 

Laugh it up, fuzzball. I think Pee-Wee Herman (his world, his playhouse, his cast of characters) is hilarious, and I welcome this newest film. It’s been far too long since he’s turned our world upside, whether it’s taking us on a zany adventure that, in its own way, mocks culture, or if its taking the premise of a kids show and turning it on its head.

Judd Apatow’s team is behind this new film, and Netflix has exclusive rights. While it will probably be a small film, something to match its seeming direct-to-video label, it certainly seems like Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is going to be a labor of love. My only hope is that it captures the magic of the original Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (because nobody wants to remember Big Top Pee-Wee).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

I’m hesitant to put this on the list because I’m not the biggest J.J. Abrams fan in the world. I think he’s overrated, and at his best, he makes remarkably average movies. Had it not been for it being one of the first dates with my future wife, I would have completely forgotten I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness.  

While Star Wars is under Abrams’ stewardship, he’s not entirely the one in charge.  That’s the big cheese, the House of Mouse, that ever-tyrannical media giant Disney. And they’re pretty damn good at what they do; they know how to keep franchises operating smoothly. This lays my fears to rest. Behind every Darth Abrams lighting up space with lens flares, there’s an Emperor Mickey keeping tabs on him, there to rein him in.  

Juese Cutler, Triple Raidio Podcast: A quick thanks up front for letting me aboard the good ship Drunk Monkeys.  I look forward to the onset of both liver cirrhosis and zombie-like rage.

I feel like these three years, including 2015, have been incredibly good for film.  There has been both a wealth of quality and quantity as well as new avenues to get them to their audience conveniently. There is the flip side of an abundance of horrible lifeless crap, but that will always be there to look past.  So let's look past!

I'm not above admitting that I'm looking forward to my share of big blockbusters. The first Avengers was a great, intelligent, funny and adrenaline-pumping ride--the best Marvel film until Guardians of the Galaxy.  Whedon has a gift for writing for a large ensemble, and this ensemble is getting nothing but larger.  Spectre is the new Bond film hot on the heels of the gorgeous (and bank breaking) Skyfall.  They've kept the same director and have Christoph Waltz as well as Hollywood's new favorite big bad Dave Bautista to look forward to.  And I'm not even much of a J.J. Abrams fan, but I'm beyond intrigued to see something that rhymes with "car doors." Seeing Moses from Attack the Block (John Boyega) featured prominently in the trailer as well as all the talk about practical effects work has me cautiously optimistic.

But of the big releases, I'm most pumped for Mad Max.  George Miller has been trying to get this movie made for a time and obsession I've heard comparable to Terry Gilliam's Quixote.  The man has done not one but two Happy Feet movies (which is all of them) the last almost decade and if those Fury Road trailers are any indication, he is ready to cut loose.  Loudly and violently.  Miller is putting an emphasis on in-camera stunt work and it looks wonderfully insane. 

Tom Hardy, sans Bane mask, in Mad Max: Fury Road (Image © Warner Bros.). 

Tom Hardy, sans Bane mask, in Mad Max: Fury Road (Image © Warner Bros.). 

The smallest movie I'm eager for is called Green Room. The best movie you didn't watch last year might have been Blue Ruin, which I was lucky to catch at Fantastic Fest in '13. Blue Ruin is a clever little revenge thriller with a breakout performance from a gent named Macon Blair.  Green Room stars Blair along with Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, and Maeby from Arrested Development (Alia Shawkat).  The plot synopsis reads "A young punk band find themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence." Punk + Picard.  Sold. 

I'm going to try and rifle through the rest here so wish me luck. Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak is promised to be his first American film layered with his Spanish kinks, in line with his darker fare such as Pan's Labyrinth and Devil's Backbone.  Spielberg has an unnamed Cold War thriller written by the Coen brothers starring Tom Hanks.  Tarantino's The Hateful Eight comes with much buzz after a star-studded L.A. table reading following a leak of the script.  What might have been a small release before the Oscars, Inarritu's next movie is a Western book adaptation called The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.  Also there's a Krampus movie from Michael Dougherty who directed an excellent horror movie called Trick 'R Treat. That could go either way, and Krampus has gotten a little played out, but I'll check it on pedigree. 

Lastly, maybe this is just for me, but there's an elderly Sherlock Holmes movie on the way starring Ian McKellen... but more importantly with a cameo from Nicholas Rowe, who is from a personal favorite, Young Sherlock Holmes.  He will be playing Sherlock Holmes in a film about Sherlock Holmes in this movie, Mr. Holmes. Everybody following? Well, I tried.

So, I like the 2015 forecast. 

Taras Butrej, Film Critic: I started reviewing films in an effort to broaden my horizons, write on a more frequent basis and to put my excellent sarcasm skills at work.  I went to movies that I deemed 'mainstream' because I expected that nine times out of ten I would have fun tearing them apart in my little blog. 

Well guess what?  Either I really have broadened my horizons or I've got one hell of a case of Hollywood Stockholm Syndrome because I'm excited as hell 2015.  To save on word count I'll just mention the movies that none of my compatriots felt compelled to mention but don't for a minute expect me to miss out on Mad Max, The Avengers, et al. 

In just a few days there's Chappie, the next film by Neill Blomkamp and the first major film debut of those rascal members of Die Antwoord.  Hopefully it'll be a return to District 9 form for the director because I'll be in the theater, front-and-center.

For action films we've got Run All Night, which looks solid and may be Liam Neeson's apology to the world for Taken 3.  There's Furious 7 which will be amazingly stupid but will probably also be amazingly fun.  The Fantastic Four trailer caught my eye for how a movie can go too gritty with its reboot but I'm still curious to see if they can eke out an actual good storyline.  Plus, Guy Ritchie is back with The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Then there are the comedies like Get Hard which I hope to like because I legitimately like Will Ferrell but only when he's doing something rated-R.  I actually really enjoyed the first Pitch Perfect so I hope to like the sequel and Ted 2 will probably end up being another guilty pleasure.

On top of all that we've got the possibility of seeing Daniel Radcliffe as a hunchback in Victor Frankenstein, another Transporter film in Transporter Legacy and a horror movie with a 'new' (by that I mean not-yet-overused) premise in Unfriended where the entire thing supposedly takes place in an online chat room.  And with the exception of Frankenstein those are just the movies coming out before September.

So yeah, I've got my popcorn ready because at least two of those movies should easily make my top ten of the year for entertainment value alone.  The ones I don't like I'll still have fun panning, and the ones that entertain me will get solid kudos and a recommendation to all my movie-going brethren.