Click through the gallery for a glimpse of some films to look forward to in 2014.Link
Joel Kinnaman stars as the title character in Columbia Pictures' "RoboCop." (Kerry Hayes / MGM / Columbia Pictures)Link
Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley in "Divergent." (Summit Entertainment)Link
Chris Evans on the set of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)Link
Tilda Swinton as Eve and Tom Hiddleston as Adam in "Only Lovers Left Alive." (Gordon A. Timpen / Sony Pictures Classics)Link
Angelina Jolie in "Maleficent." (Disney)Link
Posters for "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Fox)Link
Concept art from "Guardians of the Galaxy." (Marvel)Link
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." (Murray Close / Lionsgate)Link
Martin Freeman, left, and John Callen in a scene from "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." (Mark Pokorny / Warner Bros.)Link
2013 might have been a superb year for fans of genre entertainment, but 2014 doesn’t look too shabby when it comes to interesting fare arriving at the multiplex. Filmmakers are tackling original, high concept sci-fi tales in major studio releases, and a myriad of fan-favorite characters — including Kermit the Frog and Katniss Everdeen — are returning to the screen for new adventures.
Following are the Hero Complex picks for some of the most anticipated new films of the year. Let us know which movies you’re most excited to see in the comments section below.
RoboCop: Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 satire about a police man remade as law enforcement machine gets a sleek update from Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha with actor Joel Kinnaman starring as Alex Murphy, a futuristic Detroit cop who finds himself encased in metal after being critically injured in the line of duty. Padilha made a name for himself on the festival circuit for his documentary filmmaking before writing and directing the acclaimed crime thrillers “Elite Squad” and its sequel, “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within,” and in an interview with Hero Complex last year he said he approached the project looking to underscore the story’s potent political underpinnings rather than create just another Hollywood remake laden with mindless CG spectacle. “We’re making a movie that has action scenes in it, that has a lot of visual effects, but it’s a movie that talks about current affairs — it talks about the use of drones and the consequences that this has, ethical and moral and political,” he said. “I don’t see it as so different from documentary filmmaking; it is in a technical way, but not in a philosophical way.” In theaters Feb. 12.
Divergent: Adolescent heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior struggles against the pressures of conformity in “Divergent,” the anticipated adaptation of the first book in Veronica Roth’s bestselling young-adult trilogy. Set in a future version of Chicago, the story posits a world in which people are tested when they are young, then divided into five factions based on their personalities and virtues. Tris (Shailene Woodley) is born into Abnegation (which values selflessness), but her test reveals she is divergent, or has an aptitude for multiple factions — something that is not allowed in the rigidly divided society. She hides her divergence and decides to join Dauntless, the faction based on bravery, landing among a group of tattooed warriors, including love interest “Four” (Theo James). “She starts out questioning where she fits into society, and then by the end of the movie she’s questioning society itself,” said “Divergent” director Neil Burger. In theaters March 21.
Muppets Most Wanted: Kermit the Frog and the gang are back for a new adventure that this time puts them in perilous conflict with a dastardly amphibian jewel thief named Constantine, who happens to bear a striking resemblance to everyone’s favorite small, green song-and-dance man. Tina Fey turns up as the warden of a Russian prison and Ricky Gervais stars as an “international tour manager” named Dominic Badguy (pronounced “Bad-G,” it’s French, you know). Expect plenty more celebrities in cameo appearances and possibly some breaking of the fourth wall. In theaters March 21.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is grappling with tricky politics and searching out new allies at the same time his past quite literally returns to haunt him in Captain America’s second solo big-screen outing. Based on a famous 2005 comic book story line by writer Ed Brubaker and illustrator Steve Epting and set some months after the events depicted in 2012’s blockbuster hit “The Avengers,” the film sees Steve, who has remained in the employ of S.H.I.E.L.D., occasionally teaming with Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, or Black Widow, on key missions and bonding with a military man named Sam Wilson (Mackie), who has a superhero alter ego of his own as the Falcon. “I think they’re both wounded warriors who don’t bleed on other people,” Evans said of Steve and Sam on the film’s set last year. “Sometimes when things are bad, trusting a stranger is the way to go.” In theaters April 4.
Only Lovers Left Alive: Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play immortal lovers in writer-director Jim Jarmusch’s moody vampire romance. The haunting chamber piece centers on the relationship between brooding raven-haired musician Adam (Hiddleston) and platinum blond bohemian Eve (Swinton), and like last year’s underrated “Byzantium” from director Neil Jordan, underscores that there is still rich narrative territory to be mined when it comes to the mythic (and recently overexposed) monsters. “I read Jim’s script and I was drawn to his vision of the world, these two delicate, sophisticated creatures who were quintessential outsiders, lived on the fringes of society, deeply in love with all of the complexity that love is. True love is acceptance and that’s what the film is about, two people who accept each other for their true natures regardless of their contradictions,” Hiddleston said. In theaters April 11.
Transcendence: Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his feature debut as a helmer with this story of a scientist whose consciousness becomes uploaded into an artificial intelligence that rapidly evolves into a threat to the human race. Johnny Depp leads an impressive ensemble cast that includes Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany and Cillian Murphy in what looks to be a smart, sci-fi thriller/cautionary tale exploring the possible danger inherent in our increasing reliance on technology. In theaters April 18.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Electro, the Rhino and the Green Goblin are after Peter Parker in director Marc Webb’s follow-up to 2012’s hit, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which introduced Andrew Garfield as the emo heartthrob incarnation of Marvel Comics’ famous web-slinger. Garfield is back reprising his role, as is Emma Stone as gal pal Gwen Stacy. (Sony has a great deal of faith in Garfield’s hero — the studio already has announced that the third and fourth installments in the saga are set for release on June 10, 2016, and May 4, 2018. Additionally, the company announced plans for new movies about Spider-Man’s nemesis Venom and the collective of bad guys known as the Sinister Six. In theaters May 2.
X-Men: Days of Future Past: Adapted from one of the most beloved X-Men comic book story lines conceived by Chris Claremont, Bryan Singer’s new sequel sees Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine called upon to travel back in time so that his younger self can help save the present-day mutants from a grave fate. The film picks up after Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 prequel “X-Men: First Class,” which chronicled the superheroes’ origins as young people in the 1960s discovering and learning to manipulate their powers, and it features cast members from both the prequel and the original “X-Men” trilogy, which launched in 2000 with Singer’s “X-Men.” In theaters May 23.
Maleficent: The sorceress with the fiery spirit gets to star in her own telling of the events of Disney’s animated classic “Sleeping Beauty,” with Angelina Jolie wearing Maleficent’s signature horns in the title role. The live-action film, directed by Robert Stromberg, who won an art direction Oscar for Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” purports to focus on the events that led the character to the path of evil, and though she’ll likely be depicted in a more sympathetic light than in the 1959 feature, there surely stands a good chance that the dragon transformation sequence will be re-created in some fashion. “Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite,” Jolie said at an appearance at the studio’s D23 convention in Anaheim last year. “I was terrified of her, but I was also drawn to her. I wanted to know more about her. She had this elegance and grace, yet she was wonderfully, deliciously cruel.” In theaters May 30.
Edge of Tomorrow: Just one year after starring in Joseph Kosinski’s puzzle box “Oblivion,” Tom Cruise returns to high-concept science fiction with a starring role in Doug Liman’s new film, based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s award-winning novel “All You Need Is Kill.” Playing an officer dropped onto a futuristic battlefield only to die and find himself reborn again and again at a moment before the siege, Cruise top-lines a cast that includes Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Lara Pulver and Jeremy Piven, among others. In theaters June 6.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The apes and the humans appear to be on the cusp of a war that doesn’t promise to end well for mankind in Fox’s sequel to Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 hit, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” The story picks up years after the events of that film and finds a world decimated by disease and conflict — the ranks of the simian followers of Andy Serkis’ genetically evolved ape Caesar, played by performance-capture master Andy Serkis, seem strong. Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman and Keri Russell star; Matt Reeves (“Let Me In,” “Cloverfield”) directs. In theaters July 11.
Jupiter Ascending: Andy and Lana Wachowski’s newest sci-fi venture promises some of the same mix of futuristic spectacle and existential exploration that catapulted the duo to international acclaim with “The Matrix” nearly 15 years ago. The film stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones, a young woman born on Earth whose “genetic signature” marks her as a target for the Queen of the Universe. Channing Tatum plays Caine, a blond, eye-liner sporting “perfect hunting machine,” who becomes Jupiter’s protector. Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne also have featured roles. The film is the first from the Wachowskis after their audacious literary adaptation with Tom Tykwer, “Cloud Atlas,” which was based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell and starred Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent playing multiple interconnected roles across the centuries. In theaters July 25.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Director James Gunn helms the second of Marvel’s 2014 big-screen adventures, this time adapting the story of antihero Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and his squad of aliens tasked with teaming up to battle intergalactic threats. Included in the group is the furry, fan-favorite character Rocket Raccoon, to be voiced by Bradley Cooper, along with Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer and the sentient tree Groot, a CG character that Marvel has confirmed will be voiced by Vin Diesel. The cast also includes Glenn Close, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro and John C. Reilly. In theaters Aug. 1.
Interstellar: The first film from Christopher Nolan since he completed his acclaimed Gotham City trilogy with 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Interstellar” arrives as an event, though many details surrounding the movie are being closely guarded. A lyrical trailer for the film arrived near the end of 2013, with the clip showing landmark images related to space exploration as the film’s star, Matthew McConaughey, in voice-over, ponders the human thirst for innovation that made such technological advances possible, and wonders openly whether mankind has abandoned its enthusiasm for dreaming. The film also stars Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck, and previous Nolan collaborators Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine. In theaters Nov. 7.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1: The first part of the last leg of Katniss Everdeen’s cinematic journeys arrives in November. Based on the final book in author Suzanne Collins’ bestselling dystopian trilogy, the film sees the scope of the narrative expand as Jennifer Lawrence’s resourceful heroine finds herself in the underground world of District 13 as the world of Panem becomes consumed by open revolt against the cruel Capitol and the sinister, calculating President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Francis Lawrence, who directed 2013’s $393-million hit “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” returns behind the cameras. In theaters Nov. 21.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again: Bilbo Baggins’ epic adventure comes to a close as the year draws to its end, but the story won’t wind down quietly — filmmaker Peter Jackson will bring the epic Battle of the Five Armies to the screen before he concludes his latest Middle-earth saga. In theaters Dec. 17.
— Gina McIntyre and Noelene Clark | @LATHeroComplex
RECENT AND RELATED