Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2014

While the calendar says different, movie-goers know the first weekend of May is when summer begins. Over four months, Hollywood will unleash a roster of blockbusters, and consumers will flock to theaters in hopes that the filmmakers will come through on their implicit promise to entertain. The Sentries and friends are looking forward to the following:

Godzilla in theaters May 16

Godzilla should trounce America (properly) via Legendary’s respectful do over, set to thrash buildings as often as it does memories of the 1998 Dean Devlin “oops.” Building upon familiar (and inherent) nuclear themes, Gareth Edwards has been touting source authenticity, which means neither drop-kick tail-skidding or Jet Jaguar brawling. Rather, the good stuff which evokes not only first-person horror through Bryan Cranston but monster melees in packed locales as government-spawned critters (called MUTOs) skittishly fly about.

Trailers spew a reality – odd considering the purposeful unreality generated by precision miniatures and molded suits of old – with a Godzilla outrageously enormous and propped up by mammoth elephantine legs. Contrary to common beliefs, Godzilla films often swelled with swift (if predictable) characterization, presenting vantage point action from a distance. Here, that safety seems broken as Aaron Taylor-Johnson collides directly with the beast, thanks to a spritzing of personalized character vengeance. This stands as the fourth film to re-do the Godzilla template sans a versus moniker, and this may be the one Americans can call theirs. If not, it’s fair to riot. Slightly at least. – Matt Paprocki of

X-Men: Days of Future Past in theaters May 23

I’m under no misguided notion that this has any chance of being the best movie of the summer, but it’s the most important to me. I’ve been closely following Marvel’s merry band of mutants in print for over 20 years and am more in tune with that particular corner of the Marvel universe than any other comic book series ever, so yeah, I’m invested in these characters in any timeline.

I love the idea of both film casts coming together in this project, even if the source comic book story isn’t as classic as it’s made out to be. Seriously, the original story was only two single issues, a mere trifle that would have been largely forgotten if not for the time-travel concept and cool title. I can’t wait to see what Bryan Singer has done with the project. Make mine Marvel. – Steve Geise

22 Jump Street in theaters June 13

In a summer full of uninteresting sequels to comic book films, and a big question mark in Guardians of the Galaxy, which I am cautiously optimistic about, the film I am looking forward to the most is the sequel to the surprisingly enjoyable 21 Jump Street. Maybe this will be a The Hangover Part II situation, where a sequel is basically just a tweaked version of the original, but at least the original was fun, so that wouldn’t be so bad. – Chris Morgan

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in theaters July 11

Rise of the Planet of the Apes managed to breathe life back into a franchise that Mark Wahlberg almost killed. With subtle references to the original films and a well-crafted story the resets the original Planet of the Apes plotline; Rise has set the stage and left the audience anxiously awaiting the sequel.

In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes we find Caesar and his clan of genetically enhanced apes eight years later still trying to get along with humans led by Gary Oldman and Keri Russell. Yes, the computer-generated apes are sure to be distracting, but, if director Matt Reeves can deliver the same intensity and heart found in the last installment while still providing the fans of the original enough winks, this could be some successful monkey business. Sorry. This could be the one movie this summer that fans go ape over. SORRY! – Ron Ruhman

The Giver in theaters Aug 15

As the next few months offer new highs in cinematography skills, or the promised co-mingling of multiple high-profile stars (plot be damned), it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. I must admit I’m really looking forward to X-Men, Days of Future Past. But what I’m most anxious for is the adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Adaptations don’t have a high success rate, but I can’t wait to see how Lowry’s skill at showing, not telling, plays out on the big screen in this unique look at world where everything is decided for you. – Mary K. Williams

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For in theaters Aug 22

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller re-team for a sequel to their 2005 adaptation of Miller’s gritty noir comics. I was a fan of the books before the first movie came out and am very curious about this next installment because it combines “A Dame to Kill” and “Just Another Saturday Night” with two original stories, “The Fat Loss,” which follows events from “That Yellow Bastard,” and “The Long Bad Night,” which introduces a new character to the city. Since they waited a while for this follow-up, my hopes are that it’ll be just as good as the original. – Gordon S. Miller

A Million Ways to Die in the West in theaters May 30

Summer. 2014. It’s finally here. I’ve waited 47 years for this, and what should turn up on the menu? Why it’s warmed-over Spider-Man, Godzilla, and X-Men stories. There’s even another Jump Street on the way. The uber-cleverly titled 22 Jump Street. (give that executive a raise). And dare I mention the Planet of the Apes re-thingy and the Ninja Turtles whatever…

There actually was a time not so long ago, in a place called the ’70s, when movie houses were places to see something fresh and daring. Storytellers like Robert Altman and Francis Ford Coppola and Alejandro Jodorowsky were letting it all hang out on the studios’ dime. It worked for a while but it was not to last. Maybe one too many studios lost one too many cargo-containers full of cash and that had to go away. Hey, Holy Mountain, you were fun while you lasted.

The cinema had a lot of trouble through the years dealing with its little brother, television, during the ’50s and they tried Cinemascope, they tried 3D. Now it’s IMAX and IMAX 3D. These are great and welcome innovations to be sure and I love seeing films in these formats, but TV ultimately won out and it did it in one important area: content. The theatrical slate has been over Serialized and I’m now the old guy who is growing tired of it. I lost track of which Superman, which Spider-Man, which Robocop film I’m watching. Is it a reboot? Is it a continuation? Sequel? Prequel? Requel? I’m beginning not to care.

I lied. I stopped caring. There is however one particular film I am looking forward to this summer and, at the risk of trodding on my own point, it is a Western. The star is a fellow who’s never really headed the cast of a big film before: comic/writer/producer/phenom Seth MacFarlane. A Million Ways to Die in the West might have some shades of Blazing Saddles but, hell, it’s time for a Blazing Saddles rip-off. It is a bit of a risk and I find that refreshing.

MacFarlane stars as a sheep herder whose girlfriend dumps him after he backs down from a duel, but he meets another gorgeous lady who no doubt will inspire him to greater things. The Old West seemed from all accounts a pretty dangerous time and there is probably no better person to mine such a vein of comedy as the creator of Family Guy. The trailer simply made me laugh, and maybe I’m looking for a little simplicity this summer. MacFarlane co-wrote the film for himself and he’s directing so the part seems well suited to him. If the parachute doesn’t open on this one, there won’t be much blame to go around, and that adds a little drama to this summer’s roster. – D.W. Smith of The Pretentious Movie Snobs and author of Whiskey Tango: A Whole Nuther Kind of Spy Novel.

Was the film you are most looking forward to mentioned or are you looking forward to something else? Let us know in the comments.

Cinema Sentries

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