With “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” mere hours away (56 still counts as mere, goddammit), there’s been a flurry of activity from the other genre juggernauts to get their moment in the sun before the Mighty Marvel Eclipse occurs and casts all into shadow for a few weeks at least.
Although I try not to, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the hype so just this once I’m going to share with you my gut reaction and levels of excitement for the feast of films coming our way in 2015 (and a couple in 2016).
Ant-Man (17 July 2015)
Let’s start with a film that’s fast becoming the neglected middle child of the MCU, falling unnoticed into the gap between “Age Of Ultron” and the increasingly bloated “Captain America: Civil War”. The first trailer was a little bit underwhelming, which didn’t help the atmosphere of uncertainly following the troubled production this film has had. But – and it’s a big but (which I like, I cannot lie) – this trailer makes the resulting film look like a lot of fun. Paul Rudd has the makings of a great addition to the MCU roster (go on, admit it: you’d love to see an Ant-Man, Iron Man, Star-Lord team up) and although it’s solidly connected to the existing mythos, the lack of dependency on “Ant-Man” means it could be one of the rarer things in Superhero movies today: free of baggage.
Terminator Genisys (3 July 2015)
He said he’d be back. Should we have asked him to say how many times? Interesting cast – and Jai Courtney – and a frankly bonkers premise, with a number of ‘killer’ twists already given away in the trailers. What are they saving for the film itself? The “Terminator” franchise long ago abandoned any dignity or credibility with “Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines” and then hopelessly cocked up its own mythology with the notable-only-for-Christian-Bale’s-on-set-tantrum “Terminator: Salvation” so what the Hell, why not plump for a complete reboot? Embrace the time travel weirdness and go crazy. You’ve got Doctor Who, Daenerys Targaryen, J Jonah Jameson and Arnie himself in the mix. Could be fun, could be a car crash, will probably be both.
Excitement level: 5/10
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (18 December 2015)
‘I’ve been hurt before.’
‘But it’s ‘Star Wars’, man…’
‘Is it? That’s what the last ones said.’
‘But it’ll be different this time…’
I’m in my (very early) forties. The original trilogy blew my mind and dominated my childhood in a way that’s almost impossible to explain, especially in today’s burgeoning sci-fi & fantasy land of plenty. Even I think it sounds geeky when I try to explain how much “The Phantom Menace” broke my heart and how “Attack Of The Clones” ground the pieces to dust under a jackbooted CGI heel. It doesn’t make it any less true. By the time “Revenge Of The Sith” came out, it was just another movie to me. The magic had gone, the betrayal too deep. George Lucas betrayed and murdered my “Star Wars”. It ceased to be “Star Wars” and became something else. From a certain point of view.
I want to unconditionally embrace this, welcome “Star Wars” back into my life and agree never to be apart but I won’t be fooled again. I’m going to remain cool and detached, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. The things that made JJ Abrams a terrible fit for “Star Trek” make him a good fit for “Star Wars” and I’d be lying if I said there aren’t things in this trailer which made me cautiously optimistic. If we can get back to the fundamental story of a small group of people against the backdrop of tumultuous galactic events (rather than the prequels’ story of tumultuous galactic events told against the backdrop of a few people) and Episode VII turns out to be good – great even – then you better believe I’ll be going bananas for Episode VIII.
Public excitement level: 6/10
Secret excitement level buried so deep I can’t even bring myself to admit it but OMG: Crashed Star Destroyer, Luke, Lightsabers, BB-8, “Chewie, we’re home!”: 10/10
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (25 March 2016)
*Sigh* I like the talent in front of the camera but I’m losing patience with the talent behind it and I am so over the whole GRIMDARKTM approach of the WB/DC superhero franchise. This already feels like a chore to watch, but I’ll go and see it because I still have hope. Proper hope, not the Kryptonian hope that looks suspiciously like an ‘S’. Yes, I love what Marvel are doing but I’m no zealot who can’t embrace two different faiths. I don’t want DC to crash and burn – I want them to knock this out of the park. I want Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Cyborg (um, okay?) to be awesome. I want the Justice League to come together on the big screen and kick ass on a cosmic scale. But I want them (and me) to have fun while doing it. I don’t get a ton of fun vibes from this trailer. Believe me, if Marvel head down the GRIMDARKTM route, I’ll be bitching just as loudly about that. We’re still a ways out from this movie’s release date though and I’m sure we’ll see a fuller trailer, showcasing the movies considerable cast of characters who aren’t Batman or Superman and may even – gasp – spend some time in broad daylight doing happy, fun things. Until then, though…
Excitement level: 4/10
Fantastic Four (6 August 2015)
I’ve got to hold my hands up to this one, I’ve been very down on it as titbits leaked from production, despite my loving Josh Trank’s debut feature “Chronicle”. Again, those dreadful words: ‘gritty’ and ‘grounded’ were thrown around, Kate Mara was quoted out of context about being told not to read any of the comic books and Doctor Doom was becoming Victor Domashev, a blogger whose handle is ‘Doom’. It was all sounding quite ‘Four’ (out of ten) without remembering to be Fantastic. In many ways, Marvel’s First Family earn their sobriquet. The fantastical is intrinsic to what made the property work so well and although the previous two films fumbled it quite a bit, the warm, engaging tone was still there. Cue my fanboy rage, decrying this reimagining as an abomination based on rumour and dumb cast quotes. Well, hush my mouth because there’s a lot to love about this new trailer and it seems the tiny flickering ember of optimism I’d retained thanks to Trank and Miles Teller might just be justified. I’m pretty much turned around on this now and am actually looking forward to it with an upbeat curiosity and I’ve learned to hold off with the pre-emptive clobberin’.
Excitement level: 6/10
Mad Max: Fury Road (14 May 2015)
‘Splosions! Massive, eye-candy, global warming inducing ‘splosions. Slapdash goth make-up, post-apocalyptic mayhem. I’ve already got my ticket for the London BFI IMAX booked so, yeah, pretty stoked about this one. Did I mention the ‘splosions?
Tomorrowland (22 May 2015)
Brad Bird! *cheers* Hugh Laurie! *cheering and clapping* George Clooney! *Whooping* *Damon Lindelof! *Awkward silence, smattering of applause and a nervous cough*. Actually, “Tomorrowland” had my interest at Brad Bird. I’m fascinated to see what he’s come up with and despite Lindelof’s patchy track record of almost-brilliance, I still have high hopes for this one. I’m always surprised there aren’t more theme park movies, as it’s such a rich environment for stories to unfold in. Add a dash of temporal (and dimensional?) mechanics to an already magical setting and the stage is set for something hopefully wonderful. The masterful air of mystery (rather than an aggressive shroud of secrecy) simply adds to the appeal. Hopefully flying under the radar won’t hurt its abaility to find an audience amongst the shoutier summer offerings.
Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One (16 December 2016)
Typical, you wait decades for more “Star Wars” movies then two terrible ones and a barely adequate one come along. Then you wait a few years more and suddenly it’s raining “Star Wars” movies the way Jabba The Hutt used to make it rain credits down upon Oola for private dances. I admit I was initially sceptical that spin-off “Star Wars” movies were a good idea, but damn: “Star Wars: Rogue One” sounds like a really interesting idea, and that slow reveal shot of the Death Star in low orbit dominating the sky in the most teasery of teaser trailers was enough to sell me on the dream. As long as these side-trips in the Star Wars universe stay clear of prequelling existing characters (Fett, Obi-Wan etc.) and give us new heroes and villains, they could end up being something really special.
Excitement Level: 6/10
Jurassic World (11 June 2015)
When I wasn’t obsessing about “Star Wars”, my younger self was dinosaur crazy. By the time the original “Jurassic Park” stomped into cinemas in 1993, I’d already read the book three times – bought in hardback way before news it was going to be a movie broke – and I was bursting at the seams to see it. It did not disappoint. I saw it five times in the cinema during its original run, once a year later during a rerelease and then I saw it again when it was released in IMAX 3D. I love that film. The effects are still spectacular and the mix of practical and CGI is still one of the best ever. The sequels both have their moments (“The Lost World: Jurassic Park” is interesting because you can almost spot the point at which Spielberg lost interest) with the oft-maligned “Jurassic Park III”’s best bits being lifted from Michael Crichton’s original novel but they overlooked one key factor: it wasn’t just dinosaurs that made the original such a thrill ride, it was the combination of dinosaurs and theme park gone awry. The sequels may have ditched the theme park angle but it’s back in a big way. I’ve got zero issues with a Raptor-whisperer learning to wrangle vicious predators or the idea that a corporation would genetically engineer new hybrid dinosaurs to create trademarked and patented products. So yeah, I am pumped for the return of the terrible thunder lizard and all his chums. Wait, what’s that? A mosasaurus being fed a great white shark? Shut up and take my money!
Did I miss anything? Let me know, and tell me what upcoming movies you’re excited to see in the comments below!