Will 2014 be a good year for big-screen science fiction?
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
While I enjoyed 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I’m more excited to watch a new film from Matt Reeves than I am by the prospect of an Apes sequel itself. Reeves has grown as a director since his debut film The Pallbearer in 1996. Cloverfield proved that the director could re-define a genre — in that case the science fiction found-footage sub-genre — while Let Me In was a terribly underrated American remake of a great foreign film.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has the potential to be better than its predecessor, and it would be thanks to Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis, who will star in the sequel film as Caesar. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a surprise hit, so it might be harder for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to succeed with such high expectations. However, with Reeves behind the camera, the sequel has the best thing going for it: a high-quality director at the helm.
Expanding the narrative from the first film from one storyline into two is pretty ambitious, and a new cast of actors — including Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Gary Oldman — should make things interesting. Think about it: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a sequel film that stars almost no one from the first film. General audiences aren’t going to their local movie theaters to watch movie stars in action; they’re coming to watch CGI apes. Now that’s exciting! – Rudie
Jupiter Ascending (July 18)
The moment we heard that Channing Tatum plays some sort of albino wolf man, Jupiter Ascending had our complete attention. Lana and Andy Wachowski don’t make small movies, which has been a bit of a problem for the duo lately. They haven’t had a financially viable film since the The Matrix Revolutions all the way back in 2003. I love Cloud Atlas, but goddamn did that movie tank. Let’s hope people go see this one, because they need a hit like a crackhead.
In typical Wachowski fashion, Jupiter Ascending looks big, bold, and full strange ideas and dense themes. On the ambition front, you have to admit, the sibling filmmakers don’t tread lightly. They definitely go big and want to give you something to think about. That’s great, there’s not nearly enough of that in science fiction right now, or in movies in general, but it’s also problematic. When you aim that high, anything less than a masterpiece feels like a failure.
In Jupiter Ascending you have Mila Kunis playing a Russian peasant who just so happens to share identical DNA with queen of the universe. You probably guessed that this is a valuable commodity, and as such, her life is in grave danger. In addition to being a pigment-less man-wolf hybrid, Tatum is tasked with protecting her, and becomes the film’s love interest. I’m sure you saw that coming. Even with pointy prosthetic ears and some baking flour dusted on his face, Tatum is still a hunk. – Brent
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