Jason's Most Anticipated Films of 2015 (April-August)
Spring is officially here, and along with better weather, it brings some warmth back into movie theatres, too. While there’s some compelling evidence suggesting the traditional lack of good movies in the early months of each year is starting to fade away, it feels as though we’re finally seeing some exciting movies slated for the immediate future – including several big tentpole films of the summer that we’ve been waiting on for years.
After all the fun we had dissecting the best and worst movies of 2014, Jason Chen and I are teaming up to provide a look ahead at what we’re most excited for in 2015. And in order to give fair shot to the festival films of the fall that we haven’t even heard of yet, we’re going to break these posts into two installments: the films of April-August (which you’ll find below), and the films of September-December (which we’ll post at a later date).
First up are Jason's picks:
Furious 7 – April 3
It’ll be interesting to see how James Wan handles the franchise Justin Lin (who is now directing Star Trek 3) almost single-handedly revived and how Paul Walker’s storyline will be wrapped up. In what should be the best action blockbuster of the summer with over-the-top stunts and forced one-liners only a baby oil-drenched Dwayne Johnson can pull off without a snicker, the Furious series has seemingly come out of nowhere and become one of the industry’s biggest tent pole films.
Child 44 – April 17
Anything with Gary Oldman or Tom Hardy tickles my fancy, but spring/early summer releases tend to be forgotten by August, especially one that seems as serious as this. I’m a little surprised this wasn’t held on to for a Christmas release where it could generate a bit more Oscar buzz, which it might with its talented cast. I am wary, however, of films that take place in foreign countries where they speak with accented English, because it just seems like a cop-out.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1
“People would look to the sky, and see hope… I’ll take that from them first!” Ah, yes, the classic villainous goal of torturing the world’s citizens before ruling the universe! And, look, the robot with advanced A.I. who has become dangerously self-aware and rebels against its maker – gee, I wonder in which other sci-fi have I seen this before? There won’t be any surprises with Joss Whedon’s new bloated film (OMG! New CGI armour! Quicksilver, again! Wait, where’s Spidey?!) other than the box office records it may break and the hundreds of millions it’ll make from merchandising, but that’s what it’s supposed to deliver. Personally, I just want to see more Elizabeth Olsen.
Maggie – May 8
Written by John Scott 3 (not even John Scott III, but somehow still more digestible than “McG”), Maggie was tied for seventh on The Black List in 2011 and was actually set to debut at TIFF in 2014, but was later pulled and will debut at Tribeca instead. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger in a more dramatic role than what audiences are used to as a dedicated father to his infected daughter (Abigail Breslin) in a post-apocalyptic world that had a strong 28 Days Later and The Road kind of vibe in the trailer. The film was made with just $8 million and will serve as the big feature film debut for Henry Hobson, whose previous credits include mostly title sequences. It could turn out to be a real sleeper hit and turn Ahhnald into a legitimate dramatic actor, just like how JCVD almost did with Jean-Claude Van Damme, or it could be another insufferable, cliché-ridden zombie flick.
Mad Max: Fury Road – May 15
The trailer itself should be nominated for an Oscar for the amount of intrigue (who’s the villain?) it carries, as George Miller returns to his beloved franchise after 30 years. It’ll certainly rival Furious 7 for number of exploding cars, and with its over-the-top violence and unique palette of desert oranges and reds, it should at least for some really good eye candy. If Child 44 performs well, it’ll be another big summer for the versatile Tom Hardy. Did I mention Charlize Theron’s in this, too?
Pitch Perfect 2 – May 15
The first instalment was an enjoyable musical comedy that was almost sunk by its unnecessary and cringe-worthy love story (sorry, Anna Kendrick, it just didn’t work this time), but at least funny women Rebel Wilson and Elizabeth Banks are also returning. One can only hope that the film, which pits the Barden Bellas a capella group in an international competition, won’t fall into the trap of having sexually ambiguous and fishnet-wearing men with strange German accents serve as the stereotypical Eurotrash rival. Oh, damn, too late. Sorry, but nothing will ever top Balls of Fury’s Karl Wolfschtagg.
Tomorrowland – May 22
Brad Bird is one of the most imaginative directors out there, someone who can easily push the boundaries of live-action films with fresh ideas, no doubt a skill he carried over from his animation days. The last time a film was based on Walt Disney theme park ride, it ended up doing pretty well, and all of Bird’s releases have been critical or commercial hits.
Aloha – May 29
Cameron Crowe’s dialogue-heavy films always seem to strike a chord, but he also hasn’t had a hit since 2001’s underrated Vanilla Sky (*ducks for cover*). He certainly has a way with dramatic love stories, but you hope this is more Jerry Maguire than Elizabethtown. It has a strong chance of being a success, though, with a strong cast in comfortable roles, including Bradley Cooper as the handsome yet troubled protagonist, John Krasinski as the home wrecker (just ask Pam Beesly’s former fiancé), Rachel McAdams as the ultimate party pooper (just like in Midnight in Paris), Emma Stone as the weirdly charming love interest (Easy A) and Alec Baldwin as a giant ball of angry, testosterone-filled yelling (30 Rock).
ENTOURAGE – JUNE 5
The worst part of HBO’s hit series was always the two leads, Adrian Grenier and Kevin Connolly, but you hope this silver screen debut will have enough celebrity cameos and f-bombing Ari Gold tirades to keep you smiling. The film will follow fictional movie star Vincent Chase (Grenier) and his attempts to direct his first big budget production, but you wonder if this should’ve been a mini-series arc rather than a feature film.
Jurassic World – June 12
Two things I can’t wait about this film: Chris Pratt’s raptor patrol and Bryce Dallas Howard. There are few surprises left to uncover in what seems to be a re-tread – scientists playing god and realizing their mistakes far too late as dinosaurs run rampant on Isla Nublar. It won’t be good on a dramatic level as Jurassic Park, but it could be explosive and exciting as a standalone. If Pratt can carry this movie, he’ll have solidified his status as A-list.
Inside Out – June 15
You hope this is good because two of Pixar’s three previous efforts – Monsters University and Cars 2, both sequels – weren’t exactly up to their usual standard. The company was originally built on four really original ideas, which later turned into big hits with A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and WALL-E, and you want to believe the studio hasn’t hit a creative wall.
Terminator Genisys – July 1
The trailer didn’t make much sense and neither does the title, but hopefully director Alan Taylor has a few tricks up his sleeve. After all, he did make a rather mundane plot in Thor: The Dark World somewhat entertaining with its action, visuals and power struggle between two brothers, something Taylor must’ve perfected while directing Game of Thrones. Jason Clarke becomes the fifth John Connor in the series, and like Tom Hardy is in line to have a pretty big summer, while Emilia Clarke is looking to make a big splash with her big screen debut. As a fan of the first two films, this crucial fifth instalment may be the tipping point that either re-invents and re-invigorates the franchise or shuts it down for another 20 years.
Ant-Man – July 17
If you dislike Paul Rudd your heart is probably full of tar. With Rudd in the driver’s seat you know Ant-Man won’t take itself too seriously, which may be what’s going wrong with the Thor, Captain America and Spider-Man films, so that’s a good thing. The film will follow Scott Lang (Rudd), who goes from petty criminal to reluctant hero, and like I said, if you can’t root for Rudd, you’re dead inside. Also features Evangeline Lilly… swoon.
Trainwreck – July 17
The early buzz from SXSW is that Amy Schumer’s comedy will be a big hit. That’s not exactly a surprise because Schumer is one of the funniest ladies out there, and with veteran comedy director Judd Apatow at the helm and the likeable Bill Hader in a supporting role, there doesn’t seem to be much that can go wrong. Details are still under wraps but the film is set to feature Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei as well.
Pan – July 24
In an age where everything is a re-make, sequel or straight rip-off, it’s kind of curious that of all the film adaptations of Peter Pan and Neverland, none of them have been big flops. Hook was an enjoyable feature, as was Peter Pan (2003), and Finding Neverland was a nice period drama, but Pan has a chance to stand out from the rest with director Joe Wright, who has already shown he can handle some pretty dramatic stuff with Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.
Pixels – July 24
Adam Sandler is able to keep making horrendous films because he and his rat pack make a lot of money and the studios also make a lot of money, but Pixels could be the family-friendly adventure that is more Bedtime Stories than Grown Ups 2. The film follows Sandler as a former arcade game hero who has to save the world when aliens in the form of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong come to destroy Earth. Chris Columbus is a veteran of these light-hearted family flicks, and with a cast that includes Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan and Brian Cox, there’s some potential. Now, about that Kevin James dude…
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – July 31
Brad Bird left to do Tomorrowland, which already makes Rogue Nation less exciting, but if anyone can still shock and awe with dangerous stunts it’s still Tom Cruise. He gets strapped to a flying plane, for crying out loud. The plot seems similar to the excellent Ghost Protocol (some external force threatens the spy agency IMF and its members), but presumably with more added scenes for Ving Rhames, Jeremy Renner and certainly Simon Pegg, for some comic relief. Did I mention Cruise gets strapped to a flying plane?
Southpaw – July 31
As much as I like Jake Gyllenhaal’s films, there’s one golden rule when it comes to boxing movies: never, ever release them in the summer. The good ones were all late-year releases: Rocky (November ‘76), Raging Bull (November ‘80), The Hurricane (September ’99), Million Dollar Baby (December ’04) and The Fighter (December ’10). Meanwhile, one of the biggest boxing film flops was Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man, which had a June release. There’s something too gritty and heavy about boxing films that prevent them from being hits in the flighty, cheery months of the summer. I’m glad that Antoine Fuqua has finally moved away from the cops and gangsters genre, but the tone from the trailer just feels wrong and it feels like no performance by Gyllenhaal can be good enough to make this a hit – a shame, really.
Fantastic Four – August 4
No, the original wasn’t that bad, and neither was Rise of the Silver Surfer, but the casting never felt right (no thanks to Jessica Alba), the franchise could never land a big name director and it kept running against tough competition. This new version is directed by Josh Trank, who did a wonderful job with Chronicle and everything in the trailers looks very good. The studio bigwigs must also think so, to hand him a standalone Star Wars film. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan are two of the brightest young stars, which gives it some traction already.
Straight Outta Compton – August 14
F. Gary Gray has had some hits and misses and I’m desperately hoping this is a hit because a film portraying the pioneers of West Coast hip hop has to be a hit. In what should be a hood drama, the film will follow the rise and eventual breakup of N.W.A, the favourite hip hop group of yours truly. It’ll be interesting to see how Gray constructs and weaves his narrative, and how much of the film will be about the band’s original five members rather than the broad glamorization of hip hop and/or gang culture in contrast to the political and racial turmoil the U.S. suffered through in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Hitman: Agent 47 – August 28
I have zero interest in seeing this film though I do want to point out how much this is going to suck. Despite having the same name, the film bears very little resemblance to the video game it’s based on, save for the titular bald character. The video game was successful and different because it relied on strategy, logic and subtle gameplay, rather than the extraneous and contrived CGI explosions the trailer is replete with. Despite Zachary Quinto’s claims, the film doesn’t seem to have captured the spirit of the game; it should be more Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy than James Bond, more Road to Perdition than Dick Tracy. It’s worth nothing that the screenwriter from the first film that bombed critically, Skip Woods, returned to pen this film as well. It’s frustrating because Hitman has such a different tone than other games that feature assassins, yet with each adaptation it’s stripped down and essentially becomes a Die Hard rip-off.
What do you think of Jason's picks? Are there any movies you're counting down the days to see in 2015? Join the discussion in the comments section, and if you liked this post, share it with your friends and followers!
About the Author
Jason Chen is a writer who likes sandwiches (hold the mayo), sports, Ninja Turtles, TV and film, although not in that particular order. His work has been featured in blogs and magazines, but prefers some of it to remain buried in the Internet wilderness. Give him a follow on Twitter! More of his articles on movies can be found here.