This year turned out to be quite the year for original movies, a trend that I hope will continue into 2015. While I'm sure there are a ton of as-yet-unheard of original and indie entries to be excited about, I wanted to focus on some mainstream releases that have already piqued my interest. Oddly enough, all but one are franchise entries.
Jurassic World - dir. Colin Trevorrow
You're talking to an unabashed fan of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, so when it comes to dinosaurs, I'm pretty easy to please. And after the mess that was Jurassic Park 3, the only way to go is up. Add to that the recent Pratt-splosion, and a trailer that features both a dinosaur eating a shark and velociraptors running alongside motorcycles, and we get an adventure movie I hope will capture the sense of wonder from the original film.
Ant-Man - dir. Peyton Reed
Who cares if Edgar Wright is gone? Sure, in a perfect world he would have gotten to complete his vision of one of Marvel's stranger heroes, but it's not a perfect world, and Peyton Reed is no slouch. In fact, had he been the original choice to direct, I'd be very happy with the choice. Regardless, Edgar Wright is now free to pursue an original project (which I totally prefer) while the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one step closer to seeing Paul Rudd and Robert Downey Jr. riff together.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron - dir. Joss Whedon
Do I need to say anything? After Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel has started to go a bit dark, and while the trailer promises a decidedly bleaker film than the original, it still appears to be populated with enough fun and humor to provide for a whopping good time. It's a new Avengers movie! If you're not pumped for this, you might be a jerk or something.
The Martian - dir. Ridley Scott
I just cracked this audiobook and already it's one of the more interesting sci-fi stories of recent memory. It's the simple story of an astronaut trying to survive after being stranded on Mars. Adapted for the screen by Drew Goddard and directed by Ridley Scott, The Martian looks like it could be a return to the claustrophobic horror of Scott's Alien.
Spectre - dir. Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes already delivered an incredible Bond entry with Skyfall, and I'm excited to see what he brings to the table with Spectre. Daniel Craig is the best Bond we've ever had, and his tenure as the super-spy has offered a fantastic opportunity for character actors to play some very memorable and fun villains. This time around it's Christoph Waltz, who was BORN to play a Bond villain. Also notable is Ralph Fiennes in his first full-fledged outing as the new M. The bad taste left in my mouth from Quantum of Solace is almost washed out, and I expect Spectre to finish the job!
Terminator Genisys - dir. Alan Taylor
Old Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Young Arnold Schwarzenegger is all I need to know to buy a ticket. The trailer also clearly depicts Schwarzenegger leaping into the blades of a helicopter in order to stop them with his robot body. Gah!!!! Time travel!! Sideways retconning!! Danaerys Targaryen!!!!!! The Terminator series, since day one, has always been about giving A-list money to hokey B-level scripts, and Genisys looks to be more of the same. Keep 'em coming and I'll keep on watching!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - dir. J.J. Abrams
Having recently been treated to a viewing of the hard-to-find theatrical cut of The Empire Strikes Back, my palette for Star Wars is in a great place. I know exactly what I want out of a new Star Wars movie, and I think J.J. Abrams and his team know exactly what I want as well. It's very clear that Abrams is aware of the enormity of his task, and how huge of a problem it would be if he delivers another The Phantom Menace while trying to kick-start a new generation of a classic-but-dormant franchise. Failure is not an option, and I trust that The Force Awakens will succeed. At the end of the day, even bad Star Wars is better than no Star Wars.
The Hateful Eight - dir. Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino has been talking up his desire to do a western for years, and it's finally here. If his "southern" film, Django Unchained is any indication, it's going to be a masterpiece.
Mad Max: Fury Road - dir. George Miller
George Miller is a damned genius, and the Mad Max Trilogy is undeniably classic (Yes, I'm happily including Beyond Thunderdome in my assessment). I'd even so so far to say that Mad Max is a perfect movie. So to see that George Miller is playing around in an even bigger sandbox, with a bigger budget, and with one of the most talented stars working today, fills me with unbridled joy. Oh, and the trailer is ABSOLUTELY INSANE.
Furious 7 - dir. James Wan
Ask me a decade ago if I was pumped for the newest Fast entry and I'd have laughed in your face, but ever since Fast Five, the series has become a beacon of brilliant absurdism (As indicated by the series' inclination to never use the same title twice). Whether this is intentional or not is hard to tell; The Rock seems to get it, whereas Tyrese does not. Either way, the series has become a champion of fantastic stunt work, practical car chases, and gleefully high concept action set pieces bolstered by the best in hammy, faux-bad ass dialogue. I can't wait to see how the sprawling cast of characters find ways to justify using cars to accomplish any and every task; how a completely CGI Paul Walker face will look attached to his brother/body double; how Walker's brother will inherit the franchise from Walker in a scene that will presumably involve Paul-faced-body-double-brother tossing keys to Regular-faced-new-character-brother. Most of all, I'm eager to see The Rock and Jason Statham fistfight under the direction of James Wan, and doing so in the name of family. And cars.
This list barely scratches the surface. 2015 is going to be AWESOME!!