One quick glance at the list of film releases for 2014 and it becomes immediately apparent how extensively nerd culture has melded in with the fabric of society in the US. Where previously we would be lucky to have one sci-fi or comic book film released in a year, 2014 is promising a veritable plethora of film fodder for young and mature nerd alike.
One sure sign of this convergence is the appearance of today’s A-list actors in sci-fi films. In the past, virtual unknowns were cast in these roles as top box-office draws gravitated toward works considered more “safe” and “marketable.” Sci-fi films in general are so specific to their genre that actors feared typecasting or at the very least, irreversible damage to their career paths.
Some of the most beloved of all sci-films made careers for some and practically ended them for others. But today, we are seeing the likes of Matt Damon, George Clooney and Tom Cruise putting themselves out there – way out there – as lead characters in films set in other galaxies and other time periods.
Tom Cruise, in particular, either by proving to the world that he is a true nerd or – let’s just go with that – everyone’s favorite Scientologist has actually appeared in several films which were inspired by genres celebrated by those of us who require a little more than some sappy love story or mere explosions and carnage to keep us entertained.
So are these major players nerds at heart themselves or are they making solid financial and career decisions? If you consider Cruise’s Oblivion film cleared $150 million over production costs worldwide and the foreign take was double the domestic box office gross, this culture isn’t just an American thing; nerds have achieved global domination.
Let’s take a quick look at what delights Hollywood has in store for us this year …
January 14 – Adapted from the comic books and brought to the big screen by the folks behind the Underworld films, I, Frankenstein stars Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy. 200 years after Dr. Frankenstein first creates “Adam,” we find the monster embroiled in a battle between demons, gargoyles and the fate of mankind.
February 7 – One of the best toys ever invented is brought to life in The Lego Movie (adapted from the video game). And what’s even better, Channing Tatum plays Superman and Arrested Development’s Will Arnett will be lending his throaty rasp as the Dark Knight this time around.
February 12 - Robocop has been rebooted by Brazilian director Jose Padilha (Elite Force). Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman, Jackie Earle Haley and Samuel L. Jackson star in this version that seems to stay true to the story from the original film.
February 14 – Vampire Academy is about two bff vampire girls at a boarding school for blood sucking carnivores. It’s based on the best-selling book series of the same name.
March 21 – Thanks to Hunger Games, we are treated to a slew of dystopian sci-fis based on a teen novel. Divergent comes out March 21 and stars Shailene Woodley (The Descendents). It’s about a girl who’s kinda like Neo and is about to mess up a perfectly pleasant, upscale, future society with her innate fighting skills and ability to fall off tall buildings and not splatter. Kate Winslet plays the obligatory, cold Caucasian woman in a suit running the show (as seen in many dystopian films of late).
April 4 – Captain America: Winter Soldier stars Chris Evans and Scarlett Johannsen. In this sequel, Cap gets to take a break from battling big metal floating serpents and aliens on flying jet skis to go after Marilyn Manson…er, Winter Soldier. No word yet on whether he bags Black Widow, too.
April 18 – Transcendence starring Johnny Depp is a sci-fi thriller about a terminally ill scientist who pulls a fast one on the grim reaper by uploading his consciousness into a computer. Think Tron but way darker and set in the real world instead of the digital one. Dark Knight cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut.
April 25 – Earth to Echo is a sci-fi adventure about some kids who get mysterious phone calls on their cells from some alien being who crash landed on earth and needs help. If anyone remembers ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, it seems to be something of an updated version of that with way better effects.
May 2 – Andrew Garfield reprises his role as the Amazing Spiderman in part 2 of the rebooted series. Villains to include Paul Giamati as Rhino, Jamie Foxx as Electro, and Green Goblin played by Dane DeHaan, who you might remember as that super creepy kid from Chronicle.
May 16 – Why even bother coming up with a clever name for this film? Godzilla, ‘nuff said. Aaron Taylor-Johnson will be kicking the big lizard’s ass in yet another reboot of the Japanese classic. If the film is as good as the trailer, it should be pretty freaking awesome!
May 23 – X-men: Days of Future Past stars practically all the actors from all the X-men films except Anna Paquin as Rogue, who got left on the cutting room floor. While I’m not thrilled they decided to keep Page’s Kitty Pryde instead, I’ll still see it anyway.
May 30 – Angelina Jolie’s much anticipated Maleficent is the first of three films with a dragon to be released in 2014.
June 6 – Cruise is back blowing minds and taking names in the sci-fi The Edge of Tomorrow. Based on the Japanese literary work All You Need is Kill, one can’t help but wonder why in the world anyone ever felt the need to change the title.
June 13 – How to Train Your Dragon part 2 stars Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) and Cate Blanchett. It’s a sort of boy and his dragon / save the animals / Viking story. It’s kinda like an animated Game of Thrones for kids.
June 27 – Transformers: Age of Distinction stars Mark Wahlberg. Michael Bay still helms but it will be nice to watch the big guys without having to listen to Shia’s constant internal dialogue and girl problems this time.
July 18 – With all the sci-fi squeezed out of it from the original 70’s films, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will attempt to measure up to its prequel with an expectedly most violent and action-packed middle finger to Darwin ever brought to the big screen.
July 18 – Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis will be appearing in the Wachowski siblings’ latest sci-fi called Jupiter Ascending. Not sure what it’s about but definitely looking forward to whatever the writer/directors of the Matrix have in store for us this time.
August 1 – Guardians of the Galaxy stars proud nerd Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Chris Pratt. It seems to be more on the light-hearted side like the Avengers with a couple of the main characters in CGI.
August 22 – Directed by comic book creator Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For stars Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This prequel shows how Josh Brolin turns into Benicio del Toro. The casting of part-Chinese Jamie Chung as Japanese Miho hints that Hollywood still thinks Asians are interchangeable.
September 19 – The Maze Runner is about a bunch of kids in the future who are trying to figure out how to get out of a humongous maze. I truly hope the film is not as tedious as it sounds.
October 17 – Dracula Untold is an origin story which recounts how the first vampire came to be. It stars Charlie Cox (Stardust) and Luke Evans as Prince Vlad.
November 7 – Christopher Nolan directs the sci-fi thriller Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. It’s about a group of space explorers who pass through a worm hole and enter another dimension.
December 17 – More dragon fiction with Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek 2) playing the fire-breather Smaug who unleashes on entire towns in The Hobbit: There and Back Again.