Upping the ante on epics

A big risk from Marvel, risky pics for two big-name stars, and the return of a beloved big lizard – it’s all big in 2014!

HERE are some blockbusters likely to pull in the crowds in 2014. Surprise, surprise – there’s a heck of a lot of CGI in them. Can two Biblical epics out-muscle superheroes, mutants and living robots at the box office?

> Noah: Darren Aronofsky’s US$130m (RM428mil) Biblical epic arrives buffeted by Hurricane Sandy (which gatecrashed the production) and lashed by controversy (the director and studio have reportedly squabbled over the final cut). The omens are explosive and the anticipation is building. Russell Crowe looks on stentorian form as the pre-flood patriarch, reeling from portents of the apocalypse and determined to protect his wife (Jennifer Connelly), his adopted daughter (Emma Watson) and the animals of the world. But trouble is brewing; he’s going to need a bigger boat.

> Godzilla: British director Gareth Edwards scored a low-budget breakthrough with 2010’s Monsters. Now he’s surging up through the gears to tackle arguably the biggest beast of them all. His remastered Godzilla finds the behemoth battling manmade goliaths while Aaron Taylor-Johnson strives (one assumes in vain) to maintain order. The eclectic supporting cast finds room for Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins and Juliette Binoche.

> Exodus: Bible study, book two. Ridley Scott leads Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul and Sigourney Weaver through the wilderness with his story of Moses and the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Bale plays Moses, Edgerton is Ramses, while Almeria in Spain offers up the path to Mount Sanai. Likely epic, almost certainly bombastic. And – given it’s a Scott film – bloody as hell.

> Pompeii: Remake of the cheeky British TV sitcom that saw the Carry On lot romp – oh hold on, that’s not right, let’s try again: Huge CGI-riddled take on the destruction of the Roman city by the AD79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Kit Harington of Game Of Thrones plays Milo, a slave turned gladiator who must beat the arena and best mother nature to save his love, Cassia (Emily Browning). Plenty of bare flesh, loads of shonky special effects and a starring role for Kiefer Sutherland as an evil senator. Perhaps this is borrowing Up Pompeii!’s enjoyable trashiness after all?

> Captain America: Winter Soldier: America’s old-school superhero continues his reinvention from Second World War propaganda tool to righteous modern age ass-kicker. Likeable lunk Chris Evans is back in the red, white and blue corner as Steve Rogers/Captain America, still struggling to adapt to the modern world after his abrupt resurrection at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. Over on the dark side is the Winter Soldier, a former pal of his who has been turned into a brainwashed assassin. Superhero stories are still huge business (Iron Man 3 was 2013’s highest-grossing film). No wonder Marvel keeps on churning them out. It’ll be only a matter of seconds before another ... Oh! Look! ...

> Guardians Of The Galaxy: The 10th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Pratt leads a rag-tag band of superheroes that include a talking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a sentient tree (Vin Diesel). John C. Reilly and Glenn Close are among the top brass of Nova Corps, the intergalatic police force that guides the Guardians through their very odd adventure. Less sleek than the X-Men, more risque than the Avengers. This promises to be Marvel’s weirdest, riskiest manoeuvre yet.

> Transformers: Age Of Extinction: The Transformers franchise folds itself into a new shape with a fourth instalment featuring an honest-to-goodness star name – Mark Wahlberg – in the lead role. Age Of Extinction has Wahlberg playing an inventor and single dad powering down the Decepticons with the help of Optimus Prime and company. Nicola Peltz gets to play the woman who screams and runs away a lot, while Michael Bay returns to the director’s chair. All together now: Boom Crunch! Arrrgh!

> The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The high school hero returns to take on Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Electro (Jamie Foxx), the latest villains associated with shady tech company OsCorp. Andrew Garfield dons the costume for his second swing as Marvel’s friendly neighbourhood cash cow. Emma Stone is back as Gwen Stacy, while Dane DeHaan steps aboard the franchise merry-go-round as Harry Osborn, pal of Peter, eventual arch-enemy of the webslinger. Bleat on, those of you still miffed at this reboot, which arrives a mere 10 years after Sam Raimi’s original. Spidey’s moving too fast to hear you.

> X-Men: Days of Future Past: The clue’s in the baffling title. Fresh from their adventure with Matthew Vaughn in X-Men: First Class, the students of Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters team up (kind of) with their future selves to battle an evil force. Magneto and his mutant brotherhood are around too. It’s an excuse to watch Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender scamper around in spandex again basically. Why should cinema aim any higher than that? – Guardian News & Media

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Upping the ante on epics


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