Hollywood has become a bit of a crowded place. Amidst the plethora of films that are released this year, a category shifting to the majority is that of stories adapted from previous stories. It seems like most new films anymore are book adaptations, play adaptations, sequels, prequels, or some combination of these elements. There are few truly original stories that make it through the clutter. There are, however, a few. These are the ones that we’re keeping our eye on in 2015.
Blackhat: This one caught my attention right off the bat. American and Chinese agencies collaborate in an effort to thwart a cyber-criminal behind a dangerous conspiracy. Chris Hemsworth portrays Nicholas Hathaway, who is released from prison to aid the authorities in their mission, and is likely the only one capable of outsmarting the antagonist. This thriller should have plenty of action, suspense, and exciting plot twists, and a big name like Chris Hemsworth, who has undoubtedly established himself as an acclaimed actor, makes it worth considering. That said, I’d encourage you to proceed with caution if you’re hoping to see this one in theaters, as it has achieved an R rating for “violence and some language.”
Jupiter Ascending: The producers who brought you the Matrix trilogy are hitting the sci-fi scene again. This time out, the Wachowskis are trying their hand at a space opera. In Jupiter Ascending, the origins of humanity on Earth are revealed, an interplanetary power struggle threatens to destroy mankind, and a seemingly ordinary young woman by the name of Jupiter Jones, who is just scraping by in life, is confronted with an unbelievable revelation, and finds that she might not be so ordinary after all. While I can’t help feeling a little ho-hum about Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum heading up the cast, this film could still be a fun ride containing Star Wars-esk special effects with the potential to dazzle, and throwing an actor like Sean Bean into the mix can’t hurt. I hesitate to get too excited, however, as I find myself wondering if the movie will have an atheistic slant to it. We will see.
Man Down: In a post-apocalyptic America, a former U.S. Marine by the name of Gabriel Drummer searches earnestly for his son and his wife. Shia Labeouf has had a turbulent career, but may be experiencing a turnaround. After a successful war picture alongside Brad Pitt, his role in this film could garner some attention. In my opinion, it could be really refreshing to see Labeouf portraying a desperate husband and father seeking to be reunited with his family. Knowing that Gary Oldman has claimed a supporting role only sparks my curiosity even more, and I am eager to see how well he will compliment Shia’s style. I have high hopes for this one.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank’s “Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller”: Let’s just look over the likes of The Terminal and go straight to Saving Private Ryan. It’s happening again, folks! Two of Hollywood’s most talented men are working together again for a true life story revolving around the Cold War. These two alone would make this film incredible, but just to make things better; the Coen Brothers are on board helping with the Screenplay. I leave with the words of another blogger who said, “It really is the definition of a must-see.” Expect the box-office, the critics, and the Oscars to blow up!
The Revenant: A Western Thriller dealing with vengeance and bear attacks sounds pretty awesome! First off, let me state that this film has a lot of red flags. It is in a sense the film that shouldn’t have happened. With three directors in total letting this film drop since it’s announcement in 2010, and many main actors leaving the production as well (including Samuel L. Jackson and Christian Bale). Along with these many production errors is the fact that the leading man role went to Leonardo DiCaprio. For many this will be a major bonus to the film, and I would almost agree. The problem comes when you take into account that Leo is an incredibly talented and entertaining actor who sadly, does not shy away from immorality (even Clearplay has problems cleaning up his films). With these in mind, however, it is hard not to look at this film and take a risk by saying it could be one of the best films of the year. With the conjoined effort of not just Leo, but also Tom Hardy (the absolute coolest actor of the 2010’s) joining him. It is hard not to be ecstatic about this film!
Crimson Peak: I am a wuss, pure and simple. I literally hate the notion of haunted houses and horror films. Yet, I can’t wait for Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak. I should specify, over the years I have grown to love del Toro’s “spooky” films; Pan’s Labyrinth and The Orphanage. They are both beautiful films that rely on engaging stories and stunning visuals to emphasize the scary aspect. This ghost story will be his next entry into the chilling genre, and will be in English this time around. With the likes of Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and (as I have said many times) my favorite girl in Hollywood, Jessica Chastain, this film is going to rock. So come next October, expect me to be enduring, cringing, and maybe even screaming through my first ever horror experience in theaters…pray for me!
Inside Out: The Disney/Pixar combo has a habit of making some of the most creative stories that we’ve seen to date, but this one has the potential to land a place up there with the Toy Story’s and Finding Nemo’s of the world. It relies on the premise that people’s emotions and actions are run by a team inside their head (think Osmosis Jones with emotions). The trailer has me really excited for the film, and as a grown-up who never outgrew animation, I’m hoping it will be as good as it looks.
The Phoenix Project: Not a whole lot is known about this indie project other than that it’s a science fiction film about a project designed to bring people back to life. Films like this are always interesting, because they engage questions about what truly defines or encompasses humanity, which gives Christians a perfect opportunity to talk about God and the soul, in a segment of culture that rarely sees such deep philosophical discussions. That alone makes me excited about this film, and it looks like it’s done really well, not to mention that the hipster within me longs to see good indie films, and to see them do well.
Crimson Peak: I am no fan of horror films. I am, however, a fan of Guillermo del Toro. Pan’s Labyrinth convinced me that he is one of the film world’s most overlooked talents, and I hope this film changes that. And with the great Tom Hiddleston attached, I expect this to be more of a creepy, serious film than a shallow scare-fest.
Tomorrowland: Not much is known about this movie. George Clooney’s gravelly voice asks us in the teaser, “What if there was a place, a secret place, where nothing was impossible?” I’m already sold! The mystery and wonder currently surrounding this movie is enough to get me to buy a ticket. Also, the fact that Damon Lindelof (LOST, Prometheus) came up with the story and wrote the script and Brad Bird (The Incredibles) is directing has my interest thoroughly piqued! Can’t wait for this one!
Chappie: Before South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp made the Oscar-nominated District 9, he created a short film about artificial intelligence entitled Tetra Vaal. Now, he’s expanded the short it into a coming-of-age dramedy about a robot that can think and feel who learns about the world after being kidnapped by gangsters. The synopsis sounds cheesy but the trailer suggests that this one is going to be all heart.
Self/Less: Tarsem Singh started out as a music director before making the visually beautiful yet violently weird Cell starring Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn. In this movie an ill billionaire (Ben Kingsley) transplants his consciousness into the cadaver of a young man (Ryan Reynolds) but begins to have flashbacks of previous occupant’s life. While I think the premise is utterly bogus (akin to Transcendence) the movie could prove to be good popcorn fare. Either that or it could be a huge waste. Only time will tell.