Although 2014 seemed to get off to a slow start at the box office, there were plenty of fun movies at the theater this summer, kicking off the season early with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in April and wrapping up with the surprise hit "Guardians of the Galaxy" in August.
Several more big movies are slated for release this fall and winter, though I don't think they'll challenge "Captain America: The Winter Solider" and "Guardians of the Galaxy," which are currently occupying the top two slots on my list of favorite movies of the year. Here are some of the films I'm most looking forward to later this year. What movies are you most excited about, or most looking forward to watching?
"The Maze Runner" (Sept. 19)
Based on a popular novel, "The Maze Runner" continues the trend of dystopian young adult book-to-movie adaptations. It's about a group of teenagers trapped inside a giant, seemingly impossible maze filled with deadly creatures. While the trailer for the film looks interesting, it faces the same risk as several other recent films with similar themes: coming across as too much like "The Hunger Games." It will be interesting to see if the premise for this one is different enough for it to succeed at the box office.
"Interstellar" (Nov. 7)
Like many of director Christopher Nolan's projects, "Interstellar" remains shrouded in mystery. We know it takes place in space and is about a team of astronauts who are searching for a way to save humanity as the Earth fails to support life. Beyond that, Nolan plans to keep us guessing. Nolan is one of my favorite directors, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he has planned for this one. The movie also has a strong ensemble cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and Jessica Chastain.
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" (Nov. 21)
Although "The Hunger Games" is one of my favorite book series, I will admit the final book in the trilogy — "Mockingjay" — is my least favorite. I'm also not sure how I feel about splitting the book into two films. Still, I'm hoping the movie will address some of the issues fans commonly seem to have with the book, and Jennifer Lawrence will likely turn in another strong performance as Katniss, the former Hunger Games victor who is forced into the role of rebel leader.
"Exodus: Gods and Kings" (Dec. 12)
It's been more than 50 years since Cecil B. DeMille brought the Biblical epic "The Ten Commandments" to the big screen, and in December Ridley Scott will present his own version of the Old Testament story of Moses. Ridley Scott is no stranger to period epics — "Gladiator," "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Robin Hood" — and I'm looking forward to seeing his take on this story. The costumes, set details and battle sequences look impressive so far.
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (Dec. 17)
Although fans will probably always debate over whether Peter Jackson should have split "The Hobbit" into three movies, the story comes to a close this year with the final chapter, "The Battle of the Five Armies." Jackson has saved the biggest set pieces for last, with the film likely to be book-ended by Smaug's attack on the village of Lake-town and an epic battle at the foot of the Lonely Mountain. "The Hobbit" films so far have been lighter than "The Lord of the Rings" in tone, but "The Battle of the Five Armies" will probably be the darkest of "The Hobbit" films, and the grandest in scope.
"Into the Woods" (Dec. 25)
The 2012 film adaptation of "Les Misérables" proved to be a hit with audiences, and this year Disney is bringing another famous musical to the big screen: "Into the Woods." The musical is a darker take on the adventures of favorite fairy tale characters such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. The production has caught some flak based on rumors that Disney has watered down some of the edgier elements of the plot, but film makers have promised it will be a faithful adaptation. The cast includes Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt.