The Movies/TV 8 Ball: 8 Most Anticipated 2017 Films
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right in to it!
The year is almost past us…thank the gods. 2016 was a hell of a year on all fronts, and we’ll be delving into that more deeply in the next few weeks as I look at the best and worst in film. But this week it’s all about looking ahead. 2017 has a lot of great potential films on the horizon, and so we’re going to count down those movies that yours truly is most looking forward to once the current year is behind us.
Caveat: If a film is currently scheduled for a 2017 release, it was eligible. While I do generally try to mix up my “Most Anticipated of Next Year” lists to include different genres, comic book-related entries particularly dominate this coming year. That’s just how 2017 seems to be shaking out.
• Pitch Perfect 3 (December 22nd)
• Thor: Ragnarok (November 3rd)
• The Dark Tower (July 28th)
• Blade Runner 2049 (October 6th)
• Alien: Covenant (May 19th)
First on our list is the (reportedly) final appearance of a superhero movie icon in his famous role. Hugh Jackman has been saying for a while that he would be hanging up Wolverine’s claws in his next movie, but with just over three months left to go it’s finally starting to feel real. If he does indeed stop playing the mutant berserker after Logan, then at least he’s going out on what looks to be a potentially great film. Logan has been the Wolverine movie Jackman’s been wanting to make for a long time, an R-rated tale of Logan as a man on his sharpest edge to date. Jackman and director James Mangold did a lot to salvage the character’s reputation with The Wolverine, leaving the unfortunate experience of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the dust and embarking on a new direction. Logan will see Jackman and Patrick Stewart reunite for a tale based on Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan” arc with an aging Logan — whose healing factor is starting to go — brought in to protect a young girl. That young girl, as played by relative newcomer Dafne Keen, is the fan-favorite character of Laura Kinney or as X-Men fans know her better, X-23. The first trailer promised a very different kind of film than we’re used to from this franchise and with the chance to really cut loose, this has every opportunity to be one of the best X-Men-related films to date.
The DC Extended Universe has taken quite the pounding this year in entertainment thinkpieces across the internet and beyond. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was resoundingly slammed for its too-serious launch of the DCEU, especially combined with some incoherent plot defects and silly moments. Meanwhile, Suicide Squad was battered by critics for being a chaotic mess on a narrative level. And yet, both films were quite successful in their own right and the latter showed DC and Warner Bros. were learning some lessons in terms of investing the films with more of a sense of humor. While Zack Snyder is still earning serious skepticism from fans for his work on Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice, Justice League has every opportunity to be a comeback for him. Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are steering the franchise in a new direction and this one has the opportunity to give us some team-up fun, while laying out the future of DC’s cinematic universe. Am I employing a certain amount of wary skepticism here? Sure. But with the largely-unnecessary forced conflict of BvS behind us and some big changes having been made behind the scenes, it’s tough to deny that I also have a lot of hope that this is going to give us the superhero film from DC we’ve been waiting for.
It was only a couple of years ago that Spider-Man was in a crisis. Whatever you may think of Andrew Garfield’s run as Peter Parker, it’s difficult to argue against the fact that the Amazing Spider-Man films didn’t perform quite how the studio wanted them to. When the now-infamous Sony hack happened, it became clear that the studio had no idea what to do with the franchise, and some of the ideas (an Aunt May spy-thriller prequel??) were simply laughable. Then Marvel Studios came to the rescue and all of a sudden, things are back on track. Tom Holland made quite the impression in his Captain America: Civil War debut and quickly became one of the most positively-talked about parts of that wildly-successful film. With Marvel on board, Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming feels less like another reboot and more like a natural continuation of the character now that he’s in the MCU. The first trailer for the Jon Watts-directed movie includes many of the standard superhero action elements but also doesn’t shy away from Peter’s high school experience, an essential part that the Garfield films left behind. With Michael Keaton set to play the Vulture and Robert Downey Jr. providing the MCU connections, it seems as if Spidey could reach his true potential on the big screen.
I talked about John Wick: Chapter Two just a couple of weeks ago in my top eight most anticipated winter films, and to no one’s shock I’m still incredibly excited for it. John Wick was the biggest cinematic surprise of the last several years, marking Keanu Reeves’ comeback in a fun, exciting and take-no-prisoners action film that captured moviegoers’ attention with almost no promotion until the last couple weeks before its release. With directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch back and Reeves in for more, there’s nothing yet that suggests this will be anything less than an equally-enjoyable follow-up. The new film sees John travelling to Rome where he has to deal with an international assassins’ guild, not to mention hired killers played by Common, Ruby Rose, Riccardo Scamarcio and more. The trailers have delivered big-time to date and while this does have some chance of being a letdown considering how well-liked the first is, I’m very optimistic that we’re in store for another hour and a half-plus of great action, witty one-liners and memorable characters. That’s all I ask for.
Whoever would have thought ten years ago that the Fast & Furious franchise would become of the biggest and most entertaining action franchises of the twenty-first century? I never would have imagined that this series, which was on its very last legs after Tokyo Drift bombed in every way, has turned itself around since that 2006 debacle. And yet here we are in 2016, where the eighth movie is set to release in April and could easily become its biggest yet. Credit Universal for finding ways to revitalize the series by turning its attention from race cars to ridiculous action sequences and the growth of its ever-expanding cast to include action stars like The Rock and Jason Statham along with critically-loved stars like Kurt Russell. With Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor written out due to the actor’s tragic passing, The Fate of the Furious looks to move forward with F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) at the helm and the addition of Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and more to the cast. The first trailer was perhaps the series’ most insane yet, which is exactly what it needed to be. Dominic Toretto’s (apparent) betrayal, hackers and world terror plots, cars racing away from a chasing submarine — this is exactly the kind of stuff that Furious fans have grown to love. It’s crazy in all the right ways, and I’m 100% in.
For the near future, it’s hard not to imagine that Star Wars films are going to be a regular feature on “Most Anticipated” lists. Star Wars: The Force Awakens successfully relaunched George Lucas’ iconic science fiction universe to heights previously unseen last December, scoring at the box office like few films ever had and reinvigorating the tales of Jedi, rebellions and droids on the big screen. Lucasfilm scored another major hit this year with Rogue One, which proved that there is life for the series outside of the “Saga” films but obviously, that doesn’t mean that the main storyline of the franchise is taking a break. The as-yet-untitled “Episode VIII” is being directed by cinephile favorite Rian Johnson is likely to top its immediate predecessor. The Force Awakens had a difficult task to manage in introducing a new generation and providing ties to the old one. Now that that’s done, the new film will be able to forge its own path forward. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac are likely to have new opportunities to shine in their roles and Johnson, who has excelled with complex storytelling (see: Looper, Brick), has plenty to bring here. It’s tough to imagine that most people won’t have this somewhere high on their most anticipated films list for the coming year.
Something that DCEU did get right this year was its handle on a couple of its new characters. Perhaps the clearest example of that is Wonder Woman, who stole the show in Batman V Superman and was one of the most universally-praised aspects of the film. Gal Gadot didn’t have a lot of screen time but she made the most of it and as a lifelong fan of the character, I was ecstatic. Wonder Woman will be the next film we see from the franchise and standard DC concerns aside, this does have a great recipe for success. Patty Jenkins is a fantastic director who has a real passion for the character and Gadot looks ready to shoulder a film on her own, while the supporting cast includes some wonderful names like Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Chris Pine and Danny Huston. The trailer had the right mix of humor, action and gravitas which suggests to me that this will build on the DCEU’s strengths without lingering on the weaknesses, providing some great momentum leading into Justice League.
While my fandom is with Wonder Woman, there was no way I could avoid putting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the top of this list. The first Guardians was one of the most purely fun and entertaining comic book adaptations to date, with James Gunn giving a wonderful voice to these quirky characters from the Marvel universe and the talented cast bringing them to life. There honestly aren’t enough good things I could say about that film and the sequel, which reunites Gunn with his cast, will be taking just as many risks (Ego the Living Planet is in it!) with just as much humor. The first trailer was one of the best of this year and hit every note it needed. Of course, there is always the possibility that somehow this film goes in the wrong direction quality-wise (hello, Iron Man 2) or that it even just doesn’t quite pop like the last one. But there is nothing to even remotely suggest that and thus it has to be my most anticipated film of the next twelve months.
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.