Robbie looks ahead to another summer packed with the usual mix of sequel, prequels and remake sequels
The cinematic year can almost be neatly divided in two: one part of the year is populated by serious, though-provoking, issue-driven films, and the other is succession of broadly commercial, shamelessly bombastic, highly entertaining blockbusters. Now spring has sprung we are crossing that sacred barrier into the blockbuster season. Having sat though the harrowing 12 Years a Slave, you can reward yourself with a little harmless fun in the months ahead.
There was a time when a comic book movies were rarity not a constant. But now that Marvel Studios have established their ‘Cinematic Universe’, nerds everywhere are assured of at least two new instalments from the interconnected world, and the casual viewer is introduced to another superhero they’ve likely never heard of, but are inexplicably excited to visit on the big screen anyway. Captain America: The Winter Solider (26th March) was first out of the gate, and has turned out to be a surprisingly smart addition to the Marvel canon. Guardians of the Galaxy (1st August) is their other 2014 release, and if the trailer is anything to go by, should be a vital mix of comedy and space opera.
Elsewhere, two of the more established comic book franchises are proving just how long you can milk a dead-horse (if you’ll excuse the idiomatic infusion). X Men: Days of Future Past (22nd May) looks suitably ambitious in its attempt to draw together the cast of X Men: First Class with the original X-Men into one coherent story line- with Wolverine naturally leading the charge.
The Amazing Spiderman 2 (18th April) is the sequel, as you might have guessed, to The Amazing Spiderman, a film so underwhelming they’ve packed the sequel with enough villains to render any sort of plot superfluous.
Comic books aside, there’s a healthy dose of remakes, reboots and sequels to prequels of reboots to suit your every whim. Godzilla (16th May) actually looks like a genuinely smart, gritty reinvention of the classic Japanese monster. And it’s got Bryan Cranston in it.
Dawn of the Plant of the Apes (17th July) is the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, another smart reinvention of a classic sci-fi story, and looks to explore the humans’ continued resistance against primate tyranny. And it’s got Gary Oldman in it.
And then there’s Transformers: Age of Extinction (10th July), the reboot/sequel I’d like to say nobody ever asked for, but the last film made over a billion dollars at the box office, so that’s patently not true. Fans and haters alike will likely flock to see what Michael Bay- public speaker extraordinaire- can blow up next.
Comedy offerings are similarly sequel-centric. 22 Jump Street (6th June) and The Inbetweeners Movie 2 (6th August) both look to capitalise on the popularity of their original films, with the requisite amount of cock jokes.
Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West (30th May) fills the long-empty space for a Western-comedy, with an all-star cast game for McFarlane’s unique sense of humour.
Animation offerings haven’t escaped the sequel scourge either, with How to Train Your Dragon 2 (4th July) filling the notable gap left by the absence of a Pixar release this summer.
Mr Blockbuster himself, Tom Cruise, has a new film, Edge of Tomorrow (30th May) a high-concept time travel/sci-fi actioner which will once again test if the actor can still draw a crowd for a non-franchise movie.
The monumental failure of the Diana biopic last year may have given distributors cause for concern for film about another famous blonde, who became royalty, was hounded by the press before dying in a tragic car accident. But Grace of Monaco (6th June) is finally arriving this summer and may prove to be a welcome antidote to the summer’s barrage of superhero sequels and monster reboots.