The time for blockbuster movies has come again – seemingly ahead of the warm weather, this year. While fans try to ride out the final up-and-down climates of spring, movie theaters everywhere will be heating up with a slew of big films that fans have been waiting all year (if not longer) to see.
In the superhero genre the big three of summer 2014 are Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy; those looking for laughs have the sequel 22 Jump Street or new celeb-heavy comedies like Neighbors and Sex Tape, while films like Godzilla, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers 4 will try to turn nostalgia into box office gold.
So while 2015 might offer a bigger lineup of films – everything form Avengers 2 to Jurassic World – there are still plenty of films in 2014 that need to be part of your budgetary planning. Read on for a listing of release dates, explanations of each film, our take on whether or not the film is worth your time and money – plus, new images and trailers for your viewing pleasure.
Release Dates By Month
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) continues to struggle with balancing his life as a high school student and his responsibilities as Spider-Man. When Peter begins to investigate more about his father’s past, thanks to the help of his friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), he begins to realize that the new threats of Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) all have one thing in common: OsCorp.
OUR TAKE: There so many big things coming from this franchise – an epic Amazing Spider-Man 3 showdown, Venom and Sinister Six movies – that it puts massive amounts of pressure on this second film to be both an improvement on the first, and a wide spring board for this expanding franchise universe. Can ASM2 deliver on both fronts? Well, early reviews provide mixed answers to that question…
Walk of Shame
A reporter’s (Elizabeth Banks) dream of becoming a news anchor is compromised after a one-night stand leaves her stranded in downtown L.A. without a phone, car, ID or money – and only 8 hours to make it to the most important job interview of her life. James Marsden (X-Men), Gillian Jacobs (Community) and Sarah Wright (21 & Over) co-star.
OUR TAKE: Elizabeth Banks is one of the funnier comediennes headlining movies these days – and we love those “long oddessy to a single destination” comedy flicks in the vein of Quick Change. But even with a raunchy red-band trailer this film looks more forgettable than memorable – and it could easily get tangled in Spider-Man‘s box office web.
A chef named Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Robert Downey Jr. Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Amy Sedaris, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson all co-star.
OUR TAKE: It looks like Jon Favreau is back to writing and directing his own indie-style films (in the vein of Swingers) – and we are not at all mad about it. A nice lineup of friends/collaborators/co-stars adds more incentive to check out this smaller summer offering.
Upending the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and how to lose it, Fed Up unearths a dirty secret of the American food industry: far more of us get sick from what we eat than anyone has previously realized. Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig and TV journalist Katie Couric lead us through this potent exposé that uncovers why-despite media attention, the public’s fascination with appearance, and government policies to combat childhood obesity-generations of American children will now live shorter lives than their parents did.
OUR TAKE: We’ve seen it. You need to watch it. Your eating habits may never be the same.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
Dorothy (voice of Lea Michele) wakes up in post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (James Belushi), the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Glinda (Bernadette Peters) from a devious new villain, the Jester (Martin Short). Wiser the owl, Marshal Mallow, China Princess and Tugg the tugboat join Dorothy on her latest magical journey through the colorful landscape of Oz to restore order and happiness to Emerald City.
OUR TAKE: With films like Tangled and Frozen redefining classic “damsel in distress” tales for a modern feminist era, we’re just hoping Legends of Oz can keep step with the changed times, and still deliver an animated movie experience on par with Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks.
Mom’s Night Out
All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and fun – a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation, and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours … what could go wrong?
OUR TAKE: A family-friendly comedy about how hard moms work, and how dad taking care of the kids is a disaster in the making? If this was the mid-1980s, this movie would be totally rad; in a 2014 world, it just looks two-dimensional and dated. And sorry, having names like Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy) and Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) as your headliners isn’t exactly drawing us in…
Kelly (Rose Byrne) and Mac (Seth Rogen) are settling down in a quiet neighborhood with their newborn child, until frat brothers move into the house next door; Teddy (Zac Efron) is the President, and Pete (Dave Franco) is his right hand man. Night after night, Mac asks Teddy to lower the fraternity’s noise, eventually accepting an invitation to the party. When Teddy eventually goes back on his word to keep the partying down, Mac calls the police to deal with the problem. And so, the war begins.
OUR TAKE: If we had to place a bet on that big comedy hit of the summer, this would be the frontrunner.
In this modern reboot, a giant radioactive monster called Godzilla appears to wreak destruction on mankind. A soldier (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), his wife (Elizabeth Olsen), and other human characters (Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe) try to survive the mayhem of a world overrun with monsters.
OUR TAKE: This was our #1 Most Anticipated Movie of 2014 – and from the looks of the promo materials, we chose wisely. :-)
Million Dollar Arm
A sports agent (Jon Hamm) stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Asian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.
OUR TAKE: A sports drama biopic with a feel good angle, featuring an all-American leading man. Do summer and baseball go together? Oh really? Then yeah, there will definitely be an audience for this.
After a bad blind date, a man (Adam Sandler) and woman (Drew Barrymore) find themselves stuck together at a resort for families, where their attraction grows as their respective kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship.
OUR TAKE: Is anyone still hoping for that Wedding Singer lightning to strike again? Anyone? ANY ONE???
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle that must change the past – to save our future.
OUR TAKE: This is the biggest gamble that the X-Men movie franchise has ever taken, with an inflated budget and a cast jam-packed with two series’ worth of X-Men characters and actors. Monumental things are expected from this quasi-rebooting, universe-expanding installment; whether it will deliver all that it needs to, remains to be seen.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
As a cowardly farmer (Seth MacFarlane) begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town (Charlize Theron), he must put his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger (Liam Neeson), announces his arrival.
OUR TAKE: The merits of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s comedy have been heavily debated in the last few years, but there’s no denying that his first feature-film effort, Ted, was a success (half a billion worldwide on a $50 million budget). Westerns aren’t what they used to be, but MacFarlane’s brand is strong right now – as is his cast, which also includes the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman and others.
A vindictive fairy (Angelina Jolie) is driven to curse an infant princess (Elle Fanning) only to realize the child may be the only one who can restore peace.
OUR TAKE: Fairytale re-imaginings like Alice In Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman and Jack the Giant Killer haven’t exactly been new classics – but a few of them (i.e., the ones under the Disney banner) have made money. With one of the biggest stars in the world headlining, a Disney marketing push and little competition in the genre, we expect Maleficent to do alright for herself. Will it be a good watch? Recent history says that the animated Sleeping Beauty won’t be upstaged by this new version.
Edge of Tomorrow
A soldier fighting in a war with aliens (Tom Cruise) finds himself caught in a time loop of his last day in the battle. Though he becomes better skilled along the way, he must ally with a war hero (Emily Blunt) to finally carry out a plan to save the world form invasion.
OUR TAKE: After being impressed with his last string of films (Mission: Impossible 4, Jack Reacher, Oblivion) we’re well past the personal controversy and have love for a good Tom Cruise movie – especially in the sci-fi genre. The premise of this film (Oblivion: Groundhog Day) is interesting, and the visuals by Bourne Identity director Doug Liman are pretty impressive as well. Not to mention: we like these exoskeleton suits much better than that stuff from Elysium. Count us in for this one.
The Fault in Our Stars
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. Based on the John Green novel.
OUR TAKE: Divergent wasn’t all that great, but Woodley’s indie drama films (The Descendants, Spectacular Now) have been good showcases of her talent. This looks like more of that – plus some more sophisticated summer counter-programming for the New York Times crowd.
22 Jump Street
Officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go deep undercover at a local college to crack a crime ring within a fraternity. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership.
OUR TAKE: On paper, this seems like the exact same film as the first installment, just relocated to college. However, before we go making too many Hangover 2 comparisons, let’s look back and remember that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller resurrected this franchise against all odds, and also made 2014’s biggest hit out of nothing but LEGOs. It would not be smart to bet against them now. Same goes for Tatum and Hill.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
It’s been five years since Hiccup and Toothless successfully united dragons and vikings on the island of Berk. While Astrid, Snotlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races, the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.
OUR TAKE: This is THE animated film to see this summer, and the 3D aerial visuals look spectacular.
The story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons.
OUR TAKE: Are you a Jersey Boys fan? Then this movie – directed by Clint Eastwood no less – should be everything you love about the Broadway show. Those hoping to possibly discover something in Jersey Boys by way of this film? Well, the same trick didn’t work for Rock of Ages, but this IS Clint Eastwood and a solid cast we’re talking about. Could be a hit.
Think Like A Man Too
All the couples are back for a wedding in Las Vegas, but plans for a romantic weekend go awry when their various misadventures get them into some compromising situations that threaten to derail the big event.
OUR TAKE: The first film overcame serious odds to turn a Steve Harvey self-help book into a fresh romantic comedy with a talented up-and-coming cast. With some of the faces now more familiar (Kevin Hart) and a premise that seemingly leaves the roots of Harvey’s book in the rear-view, we’re hoping that this doesn’t turn out to be the Ocean’s 12 of rom-com sequels.
In the future, a failed global-warming experiment kills off all life on the planet except for a lucky few that boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system quickly evolves, and tensions amongst the survivors gradually mount.
OUR TAKE: Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong made a name for himself with cult-classics like The Host and Mother. His American debut sounds like an interesting social allegory thriller, with a cast that includes Chris Evans (Captain America 2), Jamie Bell (Fantastic Four), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Tilda Swinton, Jon Hurt, Octavia Spencer and Ed Harris. That’s enough to make US check out it out – especially if it serves as a more cerebral alternative to our next entry…
Transformers: Age of Extinction
A mechanic (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter (Nicola Peltz) make a discovery that brings down Autobots and Decepticons – and a paranoid government official (Kelsey Grammer) – on them. A semi-reboot of the series featuring a new human cast and both new and returning Transformers characters. Peter Cullen will once gain voice Optimus Prime.
OUR TAKE: Michael Bay has promised that this first chapter in a new trilogy will be darker, more adult and more action-packed – with newer, cooler Transformers characters, to boot. Well, we will definitely be getting new characters on both the robot and human sides, but as far as the new tone and approach to the material? Well, Bay promised the same things about Transformers 2 & 3, and we have yet to really see that promise fulfilled. Do you believe it this time?
After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother. Toni Collette, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney, Sandra Oh, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Kathy Bates and Dan Aykroyd all make appearances.
OUR TAKE: Melissa McCarthy is a comedy “it-girl” right now, and even when the overall film isn’t that great, she’s pretty good. With this film, McCarthy and her actor husband Ben Falcone (the Air Marshal from Bridesmaids) are taking the writing/directing reigns to create their own comedic vehicle; ergo, the end result is all on them. We’re rooting for them, how about you?
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Eight years after Caesar claimed his freedom, a new group of human survivors threaten the growing population of genetically evolved apes. Peace is the intention; war is inevitable. Who will emerge as the dominant species? Andy Serkis returns as the ape Caesar, joined by Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Judy Greer, Keri Russell and Kirk Acevedo. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves takes over the helm.
OUR TAKE: Rise of the Planet of the Apes did the impossible and rebooted the franchise with an interesting and touching sci-fi story. This sequel looks like more of a dark, brooding and atmospheric sci-fi parable – but different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Certainly not with the cast and director involved.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along: Her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
OUR TAKE: This latest film from the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) looks like it is taking many eclectic genre tropes and throwing them all at the wall. Here’s hoping that some of them stick well enough to create a cohesive and immersive story – but we’re not convinced yet.
The Purge: Anarchy
A young couple works to survive on the streets after their car breaks down right as the annual purge commences; meanwhile, a heavily-armed man plans to use the purge night to get revenge. Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoë Soul and Michael K. Williams star.
OUR TAKE: The first film was barely passable (if even). Needless to say, we have little confidence that “taking it to the streets” is going to result in a better sequel.
Planes: Fire & Rescue
When world-famous air racer Dusty (Dane Cook) learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his team, a bunch of all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire, and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.
OUR TAKE: Hey, it’s for the kids and they’ll love it, but compared to some of the “for all ages” animated features we get these days… this doesn’t quite measure up. We’re saving our money for HTTYD2.
Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson), the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
OUR TAKE: Hercules has already struck out at the box office once this year (see: Legend of Hercules – or rather, never see it). This version has an appropriate leading man in Johnson, but the trailer looked just as lackluster as its copy-cat predecessor. Speak the name “Brett Ratner” and watch the fanboy rancor start to simmer. That does not bode well for our hero.
When Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) first got together, their romantic connection was intense – but ten years and two kids later, the flame of their love needs a spark. To kick things up a notch, they decide – why not? – to make a video of themselves trying out every position in The Joy of Sex in one marathon three-hour session. It seems like a great idea – until they discover that their most private video is no longer private. With their reputations on the line, they know they’re just one click away from being laid bare to the world… but as their race to reclaim their video leads to a night they’ll never forget, they’ll find that their video will expose even more than they bargained for.
OUR TAKE: Diaz and Segel were a fun (if not odd) pairing in Bad Teacher, and that chemistry looks intact for this otherwise bland-looking comedy.
Step Up: All In
All-stars from the previous Step Up installments come together in glittering Las Vegas, battling for a victory that could define their dreams and their careers.
OUR TAKE: So this is like The Avengers of Step Up movies? Well if you are one of the people that followed this franchise past the first installment (if that long), we’re sure you’re excited… right?
Guardians of the Galaxy
Peter Quill, a man of the ’80s, finds himself caught in the middle of a conflict spanning the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe attempting to earn his title of Star-Lord with a team of ex-cons that includes a genetically engineered raccoon (Rocket Raccoon), a sentient alien tree of royal descent (Groot), a human who died and came back a killing machine (Drax the Destroyer), and a powerful assassin who vows revenge against her master (Gamora). Together, for their own personal reasons, they bring the fight to Ronan the Accuser, Nebula and her pirates, and their grandmaster, Thanos.
OUR TAKE: At this point, is there anybody reading this site who ISN’T at least curious about how Marvel’s “Cosmic Avengers” sci-fi/adventure is going to fare at the box office?
Get On Up
A chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.
OUR TAKE: Chadwick Boseman (42) already impressed by playing an African-American icon (Jackie Robinson), so this latest biopic could be another smart role for him to showcase his talent (take note Marvel, if you’re still looking for someone to play Black Panther!). The other talent involved – Craig Robinson, Lennie James, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, True Blood‘s Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd – speaks to the quality of the film, and director Tate Taylor (The Help) also has our confidence.
Into the Storm
A group of high school students document the events and aftermath of a devastating tornado.
OUR TAKE: Actors like Richard Armitage (The Hobbit) and Sarah Wayne Callies (Walking Dead) aren’t exactly box office bait; however, the nostalgia and goodwill towards a film like Twister could provide incentive for people to check out this disaster film.
A woman (Scarlett Johansson), accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.
OUR TAKE: We don’t think you need the Marvel banner on a film to get people to pay to see Scarlett Johansson kicking butt like a superhero. The names “Luc Besson” and “Scarlett Johansson” are enough of a sell on their own – and thankfully so. Because on paper, this sounds like Limitless meets Hanna.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
OUR TAKE: Hearing Michael Bay’s name attached to another one of our beloved childhood cartoons/toys makes us nervous. Then again, the look of the film and characters has not been the complete disaster we thought it could be (at least not in our opinion). Maybe TMNT will be a pleasant dark horse surprise in this crowded summer? Here’s hoping…
Let’s Be Cops
Two struggling pals (Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr.) dress as police officers for a costume party and become neighborhood sensations. But when these newly-minted “heroes” get tangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives, they must put their fake badges on the line.
OUR TAKE: Even if you don’t like New Girl, Johnson and Wayans Jr. have shown solid charisma and comedic (sometimes dramatic) chops in films like Safety Not Guaranteed or shows like Happy Endings. Based on that, we’re willing to give this film from Girl Next Door director Luke Greenfield a shot. Small comedies can still go a long way.
As Above, So Below
Miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, the eternal home to countless souls. When a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead. A journey into madness and terror, As Above, So Below reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all.
OUR TAKE: The latest found-footage horror flick, from the guy who made Quarantine and The Poughkeepsie Tapes. Temper expectations.
The Expendables 3
Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables — but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.
OUR TAKE: Lengthy synopsis, but it basically breaks down like this: On the one hand, it’s another Expendables movie (pass); on the other hand, the lineup of action stars – Stallone, Statham, Schwarzenegger, Li, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford, to name a few – almost demands that any self-respecting action fan show up and get piece of this event. This installment will be directed by relative newcomer Patrick Hughes, who will then direct the American remake of The Raid: Redemption. That’s a LOT to prove in a short time. Good luck.
This film, based on Lois Lowry’s book, tells the story of a perfect world. Everyone here is happy. When Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is 12 years old, he’s chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. He enters into training with an old man called The Giver (Jeff Bridges). From the Giver, Jonas learns about pain, sadness, war, and all the unhappy truths of the “real” world. He quickly realizes that his community is fake. Confronted with this reality, Jonas faces difficult choices about his own life and his future.
OUR TAKE: It’s a weird cast – Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift – based on a bestselling sci-fi social allegory novel. In the wake of Divergent, we’re not sure they we (or other people) are ready for another one of these so soon.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Fans will once again delve into creator Frank Miller’s ‘Sin City’ universe for tales of love, betrayal and murder that occur before and during (and perhaps even after) the events of the first film. Returning characters include Dwight (Josh Brolin replacing Clive Owen), Gail (Rosario Dawson), Miho (Jamie Chung), Nancy (Jessica Alba), John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Manute (Dennis Haysbert, replacing the late Michael Clarke Duncan) – along with new additions like Eva Green and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
OUR TAKE: It’s more of what we got with the cult-hit first installment – but alas, the times (and the comic book movie genre) have changed. We’re a bit worried that Sin City is no longer a place worth visiting.
When the Game Stands Tall
Inspired by a true story, When the Game Stands Tall tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.
OUR TAKE: With football season getting underway, it’s a smart time to release a feel-good all-American sports drama flick based on the game.
Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return — and has no intention of letting her escape.
OUR TAKE: It’s become tradition to end summer with a questionable horror flick, and Paranormal Skeleton Key Grudge Ring Activity looks like a nice addition to that not-so-proud tradition.
FOR MORE INFO…
That’s it! And now that we know what summer 2014 has to offer – is it too early to start looking ahead to summer 2015 yet? (Just kidding… are we?)
For more info on the MAJOR summer movies, click any of the tag buttons below. For info on tickets, showtimes – or the lineup of summer indie flicks – head on over to Fandango.