Before I begin, I would like to start out by apologizing in advance for my list. Because I go into every summer ready to watch the next superhero, action or comedy flick, I thought it best to make a list that not only reflected those genres, but also provides films that many viewers might avoid seeing. Next time, I will scour Netflix for “under-the-radar” movies of all types for you all to check out. But, in the meantime, let’s start the list.
“Godzilla” (May 16th)
When I saw the first image of this movie on IGN last summer, I felt a level of nostalgic excitement that I haven’t experienced in a long time. “Godzilla” has always been an iconic pillar of my childhood and of the film industry as a whole. Yet, I think the themes of “Godzilla” have gone heavily unnoticed by today’s audience. Godzilla, as a character, represents something more than an enormous lizard destroying everything in its path: he was created in response to the terror of nuclear war after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII (fun fact: Godzilla’s original design was chosen to represent the appearance of a nuclear burn victim). More to the point, Godzilla represents what happens when mankind attempts to resist Mother Nature. Much like the inevitability of a hurricane or a tsunami, Godzilla cannot be stopped or prevented once he begins to rampage cities. He can only be endured. However, this isn’t the first reboot of “Godzilla.” In 1999, an updated version of “Godzilla” hit theatres and was immediately met with a ton of criticism. This was largely due to how the film ignored the source material and the themes that made “Godzilla” such an impactful piece of art in the wake of a World War.
Luckily, in a couple months, “Godzilla” will finally be given the reboot it rightfully deserves. This year’s take will connect to the original narrative arc, but instead of nuclear testing being the source of Godzilla’s awakening, his awakening will be part of a larger conspiracy. Essentially, the government’s “nuclear tests” were not tests at all: they were failed attempts at destroying the beast when it emerged from the depths of the ocean. This is an interesting spin on the original story that makes perfect sense for our world today. With the recent exposure of the privacy violations committed by the NSA, most Americans have become even more distrustful of our government. Now, “Godzilla” can mean something again as a 300-foot walking embodiment of a major government conspiracy that threatens to “send us all back to the Stone Age” (this line will be delivered by Bryan Cranston. Yes, the Bryan Cranston of the epic “Breaking Bad” series). Out of all the movies on my list, “Godzilla” has me the most hopeful for success.
A Million Ways to Die in the West” (May 30th)
Seth MacFarlane impressed many critics and viewers debut alike with “Ted,” and in many ways it was hard to believe that “Ted” was MacFarlane’s directorial debut. With his second film, MacFarlane looks to change things up in a big way. Set in 1882, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” will tell the tale of an Arizona sheep farmer (played by MacFarlane) who gains the help of a gunslinger’s wife in order to win the back the woman who left him. The big names in the film include Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman and Charlize Theron.
This is one movie that I do not have a lot of information about. But judging from the first trailer, I am confident that MacFarlane has produced another hit. The film takes a different approach to the image of the Old West established by the Western film genre. Instead of having honorable and heroic cowboys who inexorably go toe-to-toe with outlaws in order to maintain the social order, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” hilariously emphasizes everything wrong with the era, specifically how everything can kill you. Combine this with MacFarlane’s well-timed humor and a great supporting cast and you definitely have my money. You don’t get to see too many light-hearted Western films so I definitely had to include this movie on my watch-list.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” (August 1st)
Since “Iron Man” in 2008, the Marvel cinematic universe has expanded into an interconnected series of stories and characters, which led to “The Avengers” in 2012. This summer, Marvel looks to bring more characters into the fold with “Guardians of the Galaxy.” This film follows the story of Peter Quill (Christopher Pratt), a human space adventurer who finds himself on the run from a galactic villain named Ronan (Lee Pace) after stealing a mysterious orb that holds immense power. Due to his predicament, Quill must team up with a rag tag group of interstellar convicts — Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a gun-wielding, trash-talking raccoon; Drax the Destroyer (Jose Bautista of WWE), a revenge thirsty behemoth; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a green-skinned assassin and Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree-like humanoid reminiscent of the Ents from “The Lord of the Rings.” Together, this group of volatile misfits must work together in a last ditch effort to defend the universe from a force that threatens to destroy it.
This is not your run-of-the-mill superhero blockbuster. Yes, this film will have superhuman abilities and people in vibrant costumes, but “Guardians of the Galaxy” seems to be more than that. For one, the film takes place away from Earth. As of yet, superhero films have remained more or less earthbound. By taking the adventure to the cosmos, “Guardians of the Galaxy” looks to shake things up with a major change in setting that will be sure to captivate a wide range of viewers (especially you Sci-Fi fans out there). Although an outlandish ensemble, the Guardians will undoubtedly broaden what Marvel Studios has built thus far with “The Avengers.” Although I won’t spoil any plot points here, I assure you that each character brings plenty of heart and life to the big screen. Hell, I even guarantee that Rocket Raccoon becomes a fan-favorite that will rival any Marvel character brought to the big screen (Yes, I even mean Iron Man). Also, check out the cast! I only listed the main characters; that just scratches the surface of the well-known faces that will appear in the film. Long story short, I implore you to give “Guardians of the Galaxy” a chance this summer. It will definitely be an exciting ride.
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (August 22nd)
Building on the gritty, visually stunning neo-noir film “Sin City” of 2005 (based on a graphic novel of the same name), this year’s sequel looks primed to deliver something special. The basic narrative remains more-or-less the same: there are several storylines that will cross, there’s a femme fatale and there will be a lot of gore (warning to those who are faint of heart). Additionally, the casting for this movie is top-notch with Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jessica Alba rounding out the list.
This is a film that threatens to be the most forgotten film of my list, largely due to the fact that it will play more to a more specific crowd of viewers. For starters, it’s primarily a black-and-white film. I say “primarily” because, throughout the movie, there are points where certain colors are highlighted. For example, the dame that everyone in the film is killing for has red lipstick and bright green eyes. Although this contrast between color and black-and-white is a spectacle on-screen, this style isn’t just for show. Each color will give the audience insight on specific characters (for the dame, the colors red and green combine to accentuate how desirable she is to everyone fighting for her favor). Although this style seems cheesy, I think that it plays wonderfully with the over-the-top and visceral world of Sin City. And that leads me to my next point: the world of Sin City is plagued with a lot of sex, violence, and crime. All of the characters are more or less driven by at least one of these factors, so action movie junkies will feel right at home watching this film. Even if you don’t find yourself interested in anything that I have described, I would still give “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” the old college try; you might be surprised at what it has to offer.
That does it for my list of movies to look out for in the coming months so. If you haven’t already, check out the trailers for all of them. If you have any additions to the list or any arguments against any of the films that I chose, feel free to comment on the website. Summer 2014 will surely be a year to remember across all genres and I cannot wait for my local theater to take my money over and over again.