Guest blog: Adam Whitehead on films of 2014

Today we have a guest blog post from Adam Whitehead, who blogs over on The Wertzone on all things SF and fantasy. You can follow Adam on Twitter and be sure to check his blog out for more on SF and fantasy films and culture.

Films in 2014

In the cinema 2014 looks set to be another year dominated by remakes, sequels and spin-offs. Good, original science fictions films are thin on the ground but there is one out at the end of the year that looks fascinating. Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s first film set in space and his first proper SF movie since the visually stunning Inception and his adaptation of Christopher Priest’s The Prestige.

Other original SF movies include a new Tom Cruise action vehicle, Edge of Tomorrow and, more promising, Jupiter Ascending. Directed by the Wachowskis and featuring Channing Tatum (in a lot of guyliner), Mila Kunis and Sean Bean, it looks campy as hell and could be a modern Fifth Element in waiting. Who wants odds on Sean Bean surviving the film?

Superhero fans have a lot of choices on offer this year. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is rumoured to be adapting one of the comic book’s most beloved storylines (revolving around Gwen Stacey), whilst Bryan Singer’s first ­X-Men in a dozen years definitely is bringing the classic Days of Future Past arc to the big screen. James McAvoy’s Professor X and his team of mutants have to team up with their own future selves, led by Patrick Stewart as X the Elder, to defeat a race of powerful robots invented by a diabolical genius (played by Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame).

Marvel hedges its bets with a Captain America sequel in the spring before unleashing Guardians of the Galaxy in August. Featuring considerably more obscure characters (to a general audience) from the Marvel canon, Guardians is an all-out space adventure featuring a talking tree played by Vin Diesel and a sentient, gun-toting space racoon. Looks like it could be fun.

In sequel-land, Edge of Extinction is the fourth film in the Michael Bay Transformers franchise and the first to feature the Dinobots, led by fan-favourite character Grimlock. Expect this to be very, very loud and feature some quite large explosions.

In remake country, RoboCop is a film no-one asked for or particularly wanted, but the trailers look surprisingly promising. Even more impressive-looking at the moment is the new Godzilla movie. Gareth Edwards, responsible for indie classic Monsters four years ago, has crafted what is, by all accounts, a surprisingly in-depth film for a monster movie. Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston apparently rejected the role out of hand before changing his mind after reading the script. An eerie and atmospheric trailer (making great use of music from 2001: A Space Odyssey) suggest that this could be a much more interesting movie than might be first expected, and one much truer to the Japanese original.

At the other end of the budget spectrum, the creators of the Veronica Mars TV series will also be delivering on a long-delayed promise to make a feature film version. Unable to raise money from the studio, they instead launched a crowdfunding appeal on Kickstarter and raised almost $6 million. Kristen Bell and most of the original cast reappear.

In terms of literary adaptations, November gives us the third and penultimate Hunger Games movie. It adapts the first half of the final novel Mockingjay, which has been split in half due to, er, money (it’s certainly not length). Still, Jennifer Lawrence should  as excellent as always.

Peter Jackson will see us out of the year in December with There and Back Again, the third and final Hobbit movie. Reviews of the first films have been mixed and the debate about how good an idea it was to split a 300-page novel into three three-hour movies will continue to rage for years to come. However, Peter Jackson does good spectacle and with Smaug’s attack on Laketown and the Battle of Five Armies to depict, he should have plenty of opportunity to provide that.

For the kids, The Lego Movie (complete with a much more promising Batman performance than Ben Affleck’s) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 should be well worth a look.

Finally, but likely to still be fascinating, is Jadorowsky’s Dune, a film exploring Alejandor Jadorowsky’s ill-fated attempts to make a movie version of the Frank Herbert novel in the 1970s. Though it was never made, more than $2 million was spent on scripts, concept art and pre-production planning, giving director Frank Pavich a huge amount of material to use in the documentary.