1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Directed by James Gunn)
No surprise here. Gunn took an unlikely B-grade space opera comic book story and transformed Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot into a family of heroes fighting for the galaxy. In doing so, Gunn infused comedy and drama brilliantly to convey all the wonder of a ‘real’ comic book experience.
2. Predestination (Directed by the Spierig Brothers)
Sleeper of the year! Low budget scifi at its best. Sterling performances from Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook coupled with a very tightly woven tale makes for an enthralling film. Very faithful to its source material (Heinlein’s -All You Zombies-), Predestination is way up there with all the best ‘mindfuck’ flicks like 12 Monkeys & Inception. Keep a close watch on Michael and Peter Spierig.
3. Nightcrawler (Directed by Dan Gilroy)
An intense study of sociopathic attitudes (as embodied in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom), debutant director Gilroy presents a scathing commentary on the modern law of the urban jungle. In the mind of Bloom, survival of the fittest takes on ominous tones and Gyllenhaal’s masterful performance is both chilling and impressive. Gilroy is another directorial talent to look out for.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Directed by Matt Reeves. Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldham & Keri Russell.
The original Planet of the Apes film might well have been the first scifi movie I had ever seen back when I was abut seven. I quickly became a fan and watched every single sequel and even the TV series obsessively. PotA was a cautionary tale about man’s self-destruction and the rise of the intelligent apes to replace man as the dominant species on Earth. The franchise lost steam around 1975 but was revived in a risible remake helmed by Tim Burton.
Back in 2011, the franchise was rebooted with director Rupert Wyatt taking a different narrative starting point, in effect re-writing the origin story of the entire premise. Personally, I thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was competent but nothing spectacular, although the motion capture work (especially by Serkis – as ape leader Caesar) was ground-breaking, to say the least.
What are the ‘genre’ flicks we are looking out for in the coming new year? Top of the list just has to be Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (May). Somehow managing to be a sequel to both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class, DOFP is an ambitious endeavor, not only does it pool together two generations of X-Men characters but it is adapting one of the most significant X-Men comic stories of all time. When you also consider the stellar cast viz. Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence et al, there’s little doubt that DOFP is one of the most anticipated blockbusters in 2014.