Well it looks like I posted these articles a bit prematurely. The Mummy, no. 19, has got a teaser trailer out. Listen, I know what a lot of you're thinking. I'm thinking it as well. What's the difference between this and your distaste for Transformers? I mean, saying it's a personal opinion is a bit of a cop out, right? I mean, this probably looks like hot garbage like I look at that Transformers movie. Granted, that's true - I don't think it's cool to berate other who love something that you dislike. It's just that Transformers is selling lies for the third time with promises of doing something awesome and then the movie is just a letdown. Sure, this Mummy movie may be selling lies, but at least it's vastly different from the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies (RIP). Now, if this one does well and they do a sequel and it looks like more of the same - you know I'm going to trash it. As of now, though? Count me in - I'll see Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible this monster movie any old day.
Oh, and The Circle, no. 20, looks creepy enough. I'm told it looks like an extended version of a Black Mirror episode (whatever that is. I literally have not seen anything on TV in the past 5 or so years that are so-called must-watch. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mr. Robot, Strange Things, Orange is the New Black. I could go on, but I won't. It's precisely because people tell me I must watch these shows that I cannot. It triggers my adolescent attitude of defiance and I get even more steadfast in my refusal to see these shows /rant).
8. The Fate of the Furious
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Chris Morgan
Release: April 14
I couldn't resist putting this as no. 8 - I like a good pun, what can I say? It's pretty amazing to think that this series has gone from the prospect of straight-to-DVD to being one of the biggest film franchises in the industry. Whatever demons they have contracted, they need to stick with them because what they're brewing every other year is pure magic. And they're doing it with different directors! This time around they've recruited F. Gary Gray, the mastermind behind Friday, The Italian Job and Straight Outta Compton. So hell yes, I'm all on board. Oh and they got Kurt Russell returning as the badass CIA/Secret Agent guy AND Charlize Theron as one of the bad guys AND Helen Mirren in a mysterious role! I must say, they've outdone themselves with the cast this time around. It's just going to be people acting all badass, all the time and I'm sure they're going to dial up the cheesy dialogue up to 11. And as much as we all keep asking how are they going to top the last movie? Well, for one thing, they're filming in Cleveland, the city of Kings so that answers that question. Well, that and other exotic locations like Iceland and Cuba. So as much as that terrific parachuting cars and tower hopping scenes were in the last film, I'm sure there's going to be something equally impossible and unrealistic. And you have to admire Universal for sticking with the same writer since the third movie - much of the success has hinged on Chris Morgan knowing how to write a good cheesy, feel-good 'family' scene along with some crazy action. And this might be my marathon movie next year - I'll gladly sit through all 8 movies with a bunch of fans like me. Sure, that's going to be about 14 hours, but it's the only marathon I'm good at participating in.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook
Director: James Mangold
Writers: Michael Green, Scott Frank, James Mangold
Release: March 3
Wow. What a trailer. I don't think I would have put this movie this high if it weren't for the trailer. It hits all the right notes and I hope the film lives up to the melancholic vibe of the song. Sure, there's going to be a lot of superhero fighting and nonsense, but if the overall tone of the movie is a bitter and about a dying Wolverine fighting his last fight, I'm all in. James Mangold directed the previous solo Wolverine movie and it's one of the better superhero movies that doesn't necessarily try too hard at being a big deal. It's a small intimate story and it looks like they're continuing that theme with Logan. The story is set way in the future and there's practically no mutants left and Logan has to save a young girl, supposedly a clone of himself. The characters are based on the Old Man Logan series, but I don't think the setting is because it's a pretty bonkers story. Oh and the movie will be rated-R after the surprising success of Deadpool. Which is cool - I think there's room and a market for more serious R-rated superhero films. Hell, there should be a market for R-rated blockbuster films in general. But I digress - I don't know too much about the cast other than the leads, but Stephen Merchant is playing another Professor Xavier-like mutant that's helping them out. And I do like Merchant even if he's more a comedic actor, I think this could be a fun role for the movie. If Mangold and Jackman can produce the same kind of character development and intimate story again, this should be a pleasant action movie in early March.
6. Alien: Covenant
Starring: Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Michael Green, John Logan, Jack Paglen
Release: May 19
I may be in the minority, but I loved Prometheus. It was boring, but in a good way for me. I liked the tension, I liked the mystery of it all. There's a lot of unanswered questions and sure, maybe the marketing was not the greatest in that people were expecting answers. But I liked the fact that you can debate about the meaning of the movie. I've definitely had debates about the movie and whether it was good, but in those discussions we talked about what the movie means. I think Rapace's character, much like the audience, wants to know everything and Ridley Scott shatters all our dreams because we're not going to find what we want to find. So apparently this movie is about the ship Covenant on a voyage to a distant planet, comes across a planet that's a paradise. And that's when they come across the characters from Prometheus. Obviously terror ensues and it'll be interesting to see what kind of movie this will be - more horror or action? The production started a little rocky - Neill Blomkamp's Alien movie was starting up and Scott put the delay on that movie until Covenant was finished. So rest assured, we'll probably be seeing more of Ripley, just not in this movie. I think Scott has moved beyond that character and wants to explore a more philosophical and horrifying story. Katherine Waterston plays the main lead and she's having a moment - starring in this year's Fantastic Beasts and last year's Steve Jobs movie. And Danny McBride is playing the pilot of the ship, which is crazy - I don't think of him as a serious actor, but this could be a role perfect for him. And while I think Ridley Scott has made some duds lately (Exodus: Gods and Kings, anyone?), he made a comeback last year with The Martian so who knows? The Alien movies have long been one of my favorite series. When I was at home all the time sick from chemo treatments, I'd watch my brothers VHS copies every day along with Dazed & Confused and the Star Wars trilogy (yes, I was a weird kid). So I know these movies inside and out and I really am excited to see where Scott takes the series.
5. Thor: Ragnarok
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo
Director: Taika Watiti
Writer: Stephany Folsom, Craig Kyle, Eric Pearson, Christopher Yost
Release: November 3
As far as Marvel movies goes, Thor has gotten a bad rap. Both movies are usually ranked near the bottom of the list when comparing them to their counterparts. But I don't think Marvel has made a bad movie yet and I really enjoyed the first Thor movie immeasurably. So I think it's a bit unfair when talking about the Marvel movies alone - Thor and its sequel were far better than a lot of the other action and superhero movies that have come out in the past 5 years. But I think the third time's the charm for this character - I think they've found a story and a great creative team to put Thor on the level of a Captain America and Iron Man movie. Ragnarok's story is going to be a bit complicated. Not only will it involve a possible sacrifice from Thor himself, but will also see the Hulk teaming up in a sort-of buddy-cop film. Plus Odin is missing and Doctor Strange will make an appearance. Also, they'll probably be introducing the last Infinity stone as well here because the following year will be the third Avengers film. So there might be too much going on? If you need a primer and aren't worried about possibly speculative spoilers, /Film has got you covered on the background. The cast looks fantastic - Jeff Goldblum, Cate Blanchett and Karl Urban are all playing significant roles and I'm excited to see the possibility of them all being badasses. Taika Watiti is an odd choice for Marvel, but his fantastic, quixotic films - What We Do In the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople are fantastic. He's got a unique voice and I'm anxious to see what he does with a big budget flick. The writers are pretty much Marvel writers with a lot of credits for the animated wing of the studio, so they know the material. Oh and that logo? Hell yes it looks great. This will more than likely be the last solo outing for Thor and he's probably going out with a bang - November can't come soon enough.
Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Katie Dippold
Release: May 12
Not much is known about this comedy - but the story is written by Katie Dippold of Parks & Rec and The Heat fame. The script was supposedly also co-written by Schumer and her sister Kim Caramele. Despite the apparent backlash of Schumer, she still remains pretty funny to me. I think its inevitable, and we've seen this before, that something or somebody as popular and wildly regarded as great, will eventually see a backlash. The internet just breeds negativity and it happened this year to Schumer when apparently she became unfunny and a blowhard. I'm always reminded of that Offspring song, Cool to Hate. It's funny because this mentality has been going on forever. But anywho, I'm excited because Trainwreck was probably the comedy highlight of the past couple years and Goldie Hawn is returning to the big screen since 2002's Banger Sisters. And I really have enjoyed all of Jonathan Levine's films - 50/50, Warm Bodies and The Night Before. It's supposedly an action comedy about a mother and daughter 'reconnecting' on a vacation gone wrong. I'm sure all sorts of hijinks will happen and I'm down. There wasn't a whole lot of really good comedies this year, so fingers crossed for next year.
7. Baby Driver
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Bernthal
Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright
Release: August 11
Edgar Wright might possibly be the best modern director working today. He's such a meticulous and detailed visual director - just look at these video essays devoted to his films. And his new film will probably continue this comedy train. The story involves a talented getaway driver and a bank robbery gone wrong. And although that may sound like a boring movie, but put it in the hands of Edgar Wright and it should be anything but dull. I don't think Wright has made a bad movie yet. And the cast has some big names along with the young talent of Lily James and Ansel Elgort. Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx are all on board. After the controversy surrounding Ant-Man and his departure from that movie, Wright's been carefully crafting this original story and I'm glad he's back to writing and directing something original. As much as I would've loved to see a big-budget blockbuster film from him, I think he's better off doing original work or adapting something as quirky as the Scott Pilgrim comic book.
6. God Particle
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Chris O'Dowd, David Oyelowo
Director: Julius Onah
Writer: Oren Uziel, Doug Jung
Release: February 24
10 Cloverfield Lane came out of nowhere this year and it still stands as one of my favorites. It's a tense thriller wrapped in a science fiction film laced with horror tendencies. If you haven't seen it yet, I'd advise taking the next 100 minutes of your life to stop whatever the hell you're doing and watch it - it's that fantastic. That being said, this is the next in line in the Cloverfield anthology of films. J.J. Abrams had this idea to connect films together not necessarily by plot or characters, but by themes. If you can slap the Cloverfield label on a movie, you know what kind of movie your in for, even if the plot and genre is completely different from the one before it. And so while Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane have very tenuous connections, they both have a certain vibe and tone to them. There's mystery and intrigue throughout each film. And God Particle is going to fit that mold. A story about a group of astronauts aboard a space station find themselves alone after an experiment causes the Earth to disappear. The cast is solid - Daniel Brühl was perfect as the villain in Captain America: Civil War and I love the affable Chris O'Dowd. Plus you have David Oyelowo from Selma and Elizabeth Debicki from Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well and I think the whole cast is supremely talented. The writers for this movie don't seem like they fit - Uziel wrote 22 Jump Street and Doug Jung wrote the Star Trek: Beyond script. This pairing might actually help bring about a more creative script - balancing the super serious with comedy. I don't know what the result will be, but the pairing is interesting. And Julius Onah only has one feature film to date and it's something I've never heard of. But 10 Cloverfield Lane had a newbie director too and it turned out great. So I'm not worried - I think J.J. Abrams, despite all the negative vibes and pot shots the internet will lodge at him, he's been behind a slew of revivals and amazing science fiction tales. I think he's landed on something with the Cloverfield movies and God Particle might just cement this series as something to look forward to every year or two.
5. Table 19
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, Wyatt Russell
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Writers: Mark Duplas, Jay Duplass
Release: March 3
I think it's fair to say I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. And dramadies. And it looks like Table 19 is a little bit of both. Who can't resist the charm of Anna Kendrick? I think she's one of those actors that can straddle the line between being your average twenty- or thirty-something and also be a Hollywood A-lister. She's like the Tom Hanks when Tom Hanks was not Tom Hanks. Ya feel me? I love the idea of getting caught up in a movie like this where even though it's basically never going to happen that table 19 ends up being besties by the end of the night in real life, but in the movies it's completely different. I think that's what they call 'movie magic'. Plus I love the Duplass brothers. Their brand of awkward and eccentric comedy usually wins me over and one of these days I'm going to have to marathon all of their movies. And Jeffrey Blitz is known for comedy - he's directed a lot of The Office and one of my favorite quirky indie films - Rocket Science, also starring Anna Kendrick. Plus the movie has the amazing June Squibb, who was best known for flashing dead people in the movie Nebraska a couple years back. So yes, I want all the feels of this movie. I want it to be funny and fulfilling and make me sob a little bit because I can relate to at least two of those people sitting at the table.