Pop Rocks: The Most Interesting 2014 Summer Blockbusters (No Sequels or Remakes Allowed)
Big Star: Chris Evans
Actor to Watch: Ed Harris
Synopsis in 10 Words or Less: Ayn Rand on a train.
Chance of Success: 3 in 10
The haves and the have nots have never been so clearly delineated as in Snowpiercer a film set in the dystopian future (aren't they all?) where the entire population of the planet rides on a constantly-moving train that circles the globe every year, the haves living in comfort up front while the nots starve in the back under the thumb of jackbooted thugs. I'm not sure the movie-going world is ready for Chris Evans to go from blonde-haired, blue-eyed American hero to scruffy slave uprising leader (Captain America turned into John Connor), but director Joon-ho Bong isn't exactly known for sunny, feel-good joints, so away we go. Hard to imagine this being more than a cult hit, but it has a diverse cast (Tilda Swinton and John Hurt?) and probably the most unique concept of the season.
Big Star: Scarlett Johansson
Actor to Watch: Analeigh Tipton
Synopsis in 10 Words or Less: Hot chick brain power vengeance assassin. (Side note: that's a way better title.)
Chance of Success: 6 in 10
If you plan on transporting a drug that magically turns people into genius superheroes, it might be better not to sew it into the abdomen of someone with only a thin plastic bag to protect it. Johansson proved she can play a super assassin as Black Widow, so an action hero turn shouldn't be a stretch. Director Luc Besson is known for films that are long on action and style, but short on plot or dialogue (Léon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita and the cult favorite The Fifth Element). Lucy looks like a fun thrill ride, but could it be more than a sci-fi Transporter with a hot, sweaty tank-topped Johansson in Jason Startham's role? Unlikely.
Big Star: Meryl Streep
Actor to Watch: Alexander Skarsgard
Synopsis in 10 Words or Less: Ayn Rand on Vulcan.
Chance of Success: 5 in 10
The Hunger Games films have sparked a whole mess of similarly-themed spin offs where people are enslaved by those in power -- see Divergent and Snowpiercer, mentioned above. Maybe it's the influence of Ayn Rand. Maybe it's Occupy Hollywood. Then again, it's more likely big time film companies see the opportunity to cash in on America's working class anger with the one percent. How ironic. In this take, society has been stripped of emotion to keep the peace and Streep rules with an iron fist. If you were into Rush (yes, the band, you nerd), consider this Hollywood's version of 2112 (which was just Rand's Anthem in concept album format). But with so many movies treading the same well-worn ground lately, I'd be surprised if The Giver will turn out to be much more than white noise, Streep or not, especially with a rookie writer handling the screenplay and a director who hasn't had success since Patriot Games.