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Must-see movies for 2014: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and more

A scene from the trailer for Marvel's "Guardians

A scene from the trailer for Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy," coming to theaters Aug. 1. (Credit: Marvel)

Legos, wormholes, new superheroes and old musicals are on the movie schedule for 2014, which so far looks like a fairly entertaining grabbag. Sequels run the gamut from "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" to "Dumb and Dumber To," while a genre that seemed long dead -- think robes and sandals -- is suddenly very much alive. And speaking of throwbacks, 2014 may mark the first time in years that folks actually go to a theater to watch pornography. Here's a sample of what's ahead.

 

NEW SUPERHERO BLOOD

Getting a little tired of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man? "Guardians of the Galaxy," due in theaters Aug. 1, will launch a new crop of Marvel heroes and villains. They're being played by an eclectic cast, which includes Zoe Saldana as the superhuman Gamora and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector (actually, we just saw him in "Thor: The Dark World"). The movie's most intriguing idea: Bradley Cooper as the genetically engineered Rocket Racoon.

 

SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT

If two's a coincidence and three's a trend, then 2014 just might be The Year of the Musical, with at least four entries in the genre. We'll see "Muppets Most Wanted," with Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey joining Kermit and Piggy; "Jersey Boys," Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the hit play about singer Frankie Valli; "Annie," starring Quvenzhané Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") in the title role; and Stephen Sondheim's fairy-tale twist "Into the Woods," starring Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Emily Blunt. We might even see one more, "The Last Five Years," which wrapped production with Anna Kendrick this past summer.

 

"THE LEGO MOVIE" (Now playing): This animated adventure film takes place in the Lego universe, and while it's done with the usual computer animation (don't you wish it were stop-motion?), it comes with a promising voice cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks.

"NYMPHOMANIAC" (March 21 and April 18): From the uncompromising writer-director Lars von Trier ("Antichrist") comes this two-part drama filled with what is reported to be real on-screen sex. "Everything that is illegal, we'll shoot in blurred images," co-star Shia LaBeouf said over the summer. "Other than that, everything is happening."

"THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2" (May 2): Franchise star Andrew Garfield and unlikely director Marc Webb -- of the indie romance "(500) Days of Summer" -- get another shot to ditch the dour emo attitude of their first film. Three new screenwriters, all from Fox's "Fringe" series, might help.

"LUCY" (Aug. 8): If you didn't get enough of Scarlett Johansson in "Marvel's The Avengers," prepare for "Lucy," the latest from writer-director Luc Besson ("La Femme Nikita," "The Professional"). Johansson plays a drug mule who accidentally ingests what she's carrying and turns into a superpowered metahuman. Morgan Freeman and Choi Min-sik (2003's "Oldboy") also star.

"GONE GIRL" (Oct. 3): Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel, about a failed journalist whose loving wife frames him for murder, was a compelling read with a pop sensibility, like an Elvis Costello song transformed into a thriller. The movie version could also be a treat, with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in the lead roles, a script by the author herself and no less a director than David Fincher ("The Social Network").

"INTERSTELLAR" (Nov. 7): The plot of this sci-fi mind-boggler from Christopher Nolan ("Inception") is still under wraps, but we do know that it's inspired by the work of the theoretical astrophysicist Kip Thorne. If that sounds too heavy, maybe you'll be sucked into theaters by cast members Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck and David Oyelowo ("The Butler").

"DUMB AND DUMBER TO" (Nov.14): Twenty years after Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels made lowbrow history in the Farrelly brothers' "Dumb and Dumber" comes this long-awaited sequel. Will the dopey wigs still be funny? Have the Farrellys lost their comedy mojo after flops like "The Three Stooges"? If things go south, Carrey can always disavow his participation like he did after filming "Kick-Ass 2."

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