Annie

Director Will Gluck Starring Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Cameron Diaz Release Date December 19th, 2014

The Will Smith and Jay-Z helmed film is the third cinema adaptation of the Harold Grey comic strip Little Orphan Annie, now with a modern makeover and a slightly different take on the tale.

Cameron Diaz sets the stage by barking orders at the orphans in her care, and the old standard “It’s A Hard Knock Life” gets a chorus as the children sing and dance their blues away. The vibrancy of New York City and the bright colours represent the optimism of the titular Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis), who personifies optimism with her statement that running gets her places quicker. This befuddles Jamie Foxx, and Bobby Cannavale can only see votes in her, but it rings true with Rose Byrne, as she encourages the association knowing it’ll take on a deeper meaning sooner or later. There’s an ever-present sunshine over the city and by the end the joy of music takes over as there’s singing and dancing in the streets from everyone.

This is your standard children’s musical trailer, pretty much telling us the plot without giving away all the details and showcasing the music. I don’t know about yours truly, but definitely one to take the kids to see. 6 of 10

CHAPPiE

Director Neill Blomkamp Starring Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Anri du Toit, Watkin Tudor Jones Release Date March 6th, 2015

Neill Blomkamp, director of two of my favourites in District 9 and Elysium, returns with his third directorial effort in CHAPPiE for what looks like a heartfelt action-adventure story of self-discovery and identity… featuring a really cool robot.

Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley (whom I also adore) voices the artificial intelligence, crawling out of the slums like a curious infant in awe of the world around. He slowly learns and grows much like a human being, developing self-awareness and discovering his beyond-human capabilities, led by a supporting cast of Dev Patel, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Anri du Toit, and Watkin Tudor Jones. Over a hopeful score we see them encouraging, teaching, and protecting him from those who fear and react violently to the unknown, such as street hoodlums or the heavy-handed and oppressive villain in Hugh Jackman, who can’t see the compassion in the A.I patting a dog. But still CHAPPIE perseveres and maintains dignified belief in himself, stating his own name to end the trailer.

I do worry that a third film about social inequality and featuring a non-human or robotic element is becoming repetitive from Blomkamp, but it doesn’t necessarily mean this will be a bad movie. This one has his signature look and feel all over it, and makes this look like an emotional story worth seeing. 7 of 10

The Divergent Series: Insurgent

Director Robert Schwentke Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Daniel Dae Kim, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet  Release Date March 20th, 2015

Director Robert Schwentke continues the trend of so-badly-wanted young adult novel film adaptation’s with the coming release of the second book in Veronica Roth’s series: Insurgent.

After the tragic events of the first film Shailene Woodley stares around at her world in ruin, but the accompanying sombre piano piece quickly dies as she sees her mother in peril, and determination takes over. There’s the now dime-a-dozen electronic bass drop, a suspended moment of silence and then fire and destruction as you see how far she’s willing to go; jumping off buildings, gripping ledges and holding on for dear life. Her mother, trapped behind fire, cries for help while the world around her crumbles. Has she reached her in time, or is it just a simulation?

There’s going to be a lot of internal struggle, and this trailer demonstrates that by showcasing her motivation. It’s a good teaser, making Shailene look rock solid in the lead role and preps you for a roller-coaster ride of action. 8 of 10

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

Director Peter Jackson Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evengeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberpatch, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Cate Blanchet, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom Release Date December 11th, 12th, 17th, 2014

Can anyone believe this is the final film in the Middle-Earth saga? After this it’s all over from Peter Jackson, whom I’d like to thank for many, many, many hours of one of my favourite film series ever.

There’s dissension in the ranks. Everything the company of dwarves have fought long and hard for is literally crumbling around them, and it’s all because of their leader. Others have suffered for his cause and now they want recompense but Richard Armitage is unwilling to listen to reason, and instead wants to consolidate his power further, at the expense of all allies. Elsewhere another threat lingers, he’s coming to take everything for himself and with everyone bickering over who owns what now is the perfect time to strike. Only the wisest of the wise can see what’s really going on, and Ian McKellen tries in vain to get it across, but it looks like there’s going to be war nevertheless.

Martin Freeman can only watch on as it all unfolds as Ian asks the question we’re asking ourselves; how will this end? We get one last glance at Bilbo and the one ring. He’s unaware of what it is, in fact nobody at this point does, but we know full well what’s yet to come.

You can’t go wrong with Middle-Earth in all it’s hundreds of hours of glory. This sets the stage well for the final film in the prequel trilogy, giving us brief, teasing looks at conflict between characters, battles, and and entire city on fire over a really epic piece of orchestral music. I’ve already bought tickets in anticipation. 8 of 10

Minions

Director Pierre Coffin Starring Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan Release Date June 26th, 2015

Under the direction of Pierre Coffin the Despicable Me franchise looks to be taking off in a big way with a spin-off surrounding those little, yellow, gibberish-spewing followers of his.

The plot is simple enough for us, but unfortunately not for these little guys: find an evil master to serve. They’ve been searching for a long time, along the way rolling a T-Rex to his fiery doom, flattening Pharaohs with upside-down pyramids, running into battle in the American Revolution, and turning Dracula to dust on his birthday. Aimless and depressed, three particular minions head out towards the sunset, across land and sea, in search of a new master, arriving in 1968’s New York City.

It’s another straight-forward trailer, but the documentary-style narration, complete with generic names, and escapades highlight their utterly stupid devotion, making this look like it could be a really funny movie. With some complimentary songs from Queen & Jimi Hendrix the adventures of the distinct and quirky Stuart, Kevin, and Bob looks like a rip-roaring adventure. 8 of 10

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