Friday, June 20, 2014

Lights, camera, CGI!

cover story

Summer movies 2014

The blockbuster season is upon us, and, as always, Hollywood is ready to unleash some of the year’s biggest flicks, all for your viewing pleasure. Surprising absolutely no one, the  summer’s most anticipated big budget adventures come to us courtesy of already established franchises. Adaptations, sequels, reboots, reimaginings, and even the occasional original effort – we’ve got ‘em all. So, grab the soft drinks, prepare the popcorn, and get ready to overdose on special effects. Here are some of the most eagerly awaited films that are slated to come out in the next few months:

Distressing news, animation fans; you guys might want to sit down for this: Pixar is not going to release a movie this summer. Unimaginable, I know! The Good Dinosaur, their planned release for 2014, has been pushed to next year. So yes, the next few months will be depressingly short on animated movies and with no Pixar awesomeness coming our way, we might as well just cancel summer and be done with it. But before you officially decide to jump straight to fall, take heart, because there are still a couple of animated releases in the cards from other studios to help ease your pain:
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June): Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and Toothless return for the DreamWorks Animation series’ second outing, setting out on new adventures, discovering new lands, and finding themselves at the centre of a battle that impacts the future of both humans and dragons. The movie serves as a sequel to the 2010 film, while the third film in the trilogy is slated for release in 2016.
- Planes: Fire & Rescue (July): Also returning to cinemas is Dusty (Dane Cook), the crop-duster that became a famous air-racer, in DisneyToon Studios’ spin-off of Pixar’s Cars franchise. In this sequel to last year’s Planes, Dusty is on a mission to battle a wildfire along with a courageous attack team, as he learns what being a real hero is all about.

Can you imagine a summer without superheroes? Neither can Hollywood! If you haven’t been keeping up with the action so far, then now would be a good time to catch up with some of the superheroes that have already stormed cinemas this summer. The Avengers’ cohort Captain America has clashed with the Winter Soldier; Spider-Man has spun a web around his many nemeses; the X-Men have been shuffling between the past and the future in an effort to save all of existence; and Godzilla has returned to wreck some more havoc.
But that, of course, isn’t all the season has to offer. There’s plenty more yet to come. Coming up, we have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August), who are joined by April O’Neil (Megan Fox) as they thwart Shredder’s (William Fichtner) evil plans; Lucy (August), the Scarlett Johansson led story of a drug-mule turned superhuman warrior; and the first outing of the Guardians of the Galaxy (August), Marvel’s lesser known superhero posse who are now getting their own series.
Various other franchises are also making a return. Slated to take over the big screen is the revamped Transformers: Age of Extinction (June) with a new cast and no Shia LaBeouf (who isn’t famous anymore, obviously). Caesar and his genetically evolved friends tussle for dominance with a band of human survivors in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July). The aging action heroes’ collective led by Sylvester Stallone continues their very successful run in their third outing, The Expendables 3 (August). And it’s a belated return for the Frank Miller series as Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August) finally hits the screens.

If that’s not enough to satiate your action needs, then fear not because there’s even more on offer. Dwayne Johnson brings the Greek demigod to life in Hercules (July); and Pierce Brosnan goes back to the CIA for a personal mission in November Man (August).

In the mood for some horror thrillers? Then prepare for some scares with the various spine-chilling offerings of the season. A cop (Eric Bana) and a priest (Édgar Ramírez) combat paranormal forces in Deliver Us from Evil this July (which gets all the more creepy when you consider the fact that it is based on *allegedly* true memoirs). 2013’s The Purge gets a sequel, as a stranded couple (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) run to survive the annual lawless night in The Purge: Anarchy, also in July. A team of explorers search for treasure in the French catacombs in As Above, So Below this August. And a woman (Sarah Snook) faces off against a spirit intent on killing her when she returns to her childhood home in Jessabelle, which also comes out in August.

If the combination of the summer heat, holiday homework, and no Pixar movie gets too hard to take, then there are a number of comedies you might want to try to cheer yourself up with. Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) go undercover once again to take down a secret drug ring in 22 Jump Street (June), the follow-up to 2012’s hilarious 21 Jump Street that was based on the 1987 television series. Also a sequel to a 2012 comedy, Think Like a Man Too (June) sees all the couples return for a wedding in Las Vegas. The popular British sitcom Mrs. Brown’s Boys makes its way to the movies in Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie (June), as Agnes Brown (Brendan O’Carroll) tries to save her fruit and vegetable stall. After having an exceedingly bad day, a woman (Melissa McCarthy) goes on a road trip with her profane grandmother (Susan Sarandon) in Tammy (July). Woody Allen gives us a romantic comedy about an Englishman who is brought in to help unmask a possible swindle in Magic in the Moonlight (July). And two friends (New Girl co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr.) dress up as cops for a costume party, but eventually get tangled in real crime in Let’s Be Cops (August).

Two of the most anticipated dramas of the summer – romantic drama The Fault in Our Stars (adaptation of John Green’s 2012 novel with Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in the lead roles) and fantasy adventure drama Maleficent (the Angelina Jolie starring retelling of Sleeping Beauty from its villain’s perspective) – have just been released, and there’s a few more waiting to join them in cinemas soon.
A man tracks the people who stole his last possession in June’s crime drama The Rover, a futuristic western that stars Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. A struggling actor (Zach Braff, who also directed and co-wrote the project) struggles to find purpose in his life, but things change when he ends up home schooling his two children (Joey King and Pierce Gagnon) in July’s Wish I Was Here. Dramatisation of Gayle Forman’s novel, August’s If I Stay follows the story of a young girl Mia (Chloë Moretz) whose life hangs in the balance as she flashes back to her past and decides what will become of her future. Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel is brought to cinematic life in August’s sci-fi drama The Giver – set in a seemingly perfect world, the film tells the story of a young boy (Brenton Thwaites) who discovers the secrets of the real world; also stars Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. A med school dropout (Daniel Radcliffe) falls for a lively animator (Zoe Kazan) in August’s What If. And an Indian family moves to a small town in France and open a place across the street from a French restaurant, owned by an icy proprietress (Helen Mirren), in August’s The Hundred Foot Journey.

Music and dance
If music is food for the soul then our souls are in for a treat as a number of musical offerings make their way to the cinema this year. Clint Eastwood brings the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys (June) – which relays the story of ‘60s musical group The Four Seasons – to the big screen. There’s yet another instalment of Step Up, as the series makes its fifth trip to the cinema for an all-star dance battle in Step Up: All In (July). Biographical drama Get On Up (August) chronicles the life of singer James Brown (portrayed by Chadwick Boseman). And musical comedy Begin Again (July) sees a record label executive (Mark Ruffalo) form a bond with a young singer (Keira Knightley) who has been betrayed by her ex (Adam Levine) after he found fame.
There’s something in store for everyone, so take your pick and let these adventures take you on some exciting journeys in the next few months. Have an awesome summer!


Retrospect: What Hollywood did last summer

The summer movie season is big business for the film industry, with some of the most lucrative releases of the year slated for release during this time period. 2013 too had its fair share of blockbuster hits. Here are five of the most successful movies of last summer:

- Iron Man 3 (worldwide gross $1,215 million): Robert Downey Jr.’s third outing as the titular superhero in the Iron Man series which came out in May last year was the most successful live action movie of 2013, second only to winter’s animated release Frozen in the overall highest grossing list. Both critics and audiences approved of the adventure that saw Tony Stark face off against the terrorist Mandarin, amassing over a billion dollars along the way.

- Despicable Me 2 ($970 million): Illumination Entertainment’s sequel to 2010’s Despicable Me was a massive hit last year, and it made many people very happy (probably none more so than Pharrell Williams). Minions all over the world rejoiced in July, as a domesticated Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) reluctantly joined the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a new super criminal.

- Fast & Furious 6 ($788 million): Few franchises have seen the kind of success and longevity as Fast and the Furious. The crew were given a chance to clear their record in exchange for taking down a mercenary organisation in the sixth instalment of the series which was released to mostly positive reviews last May, only months prior to its star Paul Walker’s untimely demise in a car crash.

- Monsters University ($743 million): The quality of Pixar’s releases may have gone down a notch, but their box office performance still remains strong. Last year, the studio made its first prequel, giving us the back story of Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman), the characters from 2001’s Monsters, Inc., in last June’s Monsters University which got a generally positive reception.

- Man of Steel ($668 million): Never going out of style seems to be one of Superman’s superpowers, and the superhero’s return (with Henry Cavill in the lead role) to confront his extraterrestrial origin in June 2013 with a reboot of the franchise was a financial success, despite the fact that the critics didn’t really like it.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 20th June, 2014 *

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