16 Upcoming Movies for 2016 (Part 2)
Feature by Louis Rabinowitz.
Star Trek Beyond (22nd July)
Arriving in time for the franchise’s fiftieth anniversary, Star Trek Beyond sees the directorial reins handed over to Justin Lin of the Fast and Furious movies. The recent first trailer indicates a major change of tone for this third outing – with the grounded grittiness of Into Darkness swapped out for a lighter-hearted, jokey tone that seems to take a few cues from Guardians of the Galaxy. Beyond sees the Enterprise shot down over an alien planet by a nefarious alien force led by villain Idris Elba, with the crew having to figure out the reason for the attack as they fight to survive on the planet. It’s a little jarring to see the franchise changes tones so drastically, but Beyond still looks like an entertaining space adventure that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.
Bourne 5 (29th July)
After the muddled and convoluted spin-off The Bourne Legacy, the Bourne franchise is going back to its roots this year by reuniting the dream team of director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon that made the original trilogy such a success. Details are scarce on the return of Jason Bourne (we don’t even have a title), but it’s been filming in exotic locations all over the map such as Athens and Las Vegas – and we’ve been promised a killer car chase, continuing the franchise tradition. With the franchise seemingly back in safe hands, this is a genuine chance to revitalise one of the best spy series around.
Finding Dory (29th July)
Pixar went all original in 2015 with the phenomenally successful Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur (receiving a measured critical response and tepid box office returns), but its only film of 2016 sees the company return to sequels. It’s easy to be frustrated at Pixar’s increasing reliance on franchises, but Finding Dory could be more than just a cynical cash grab, with the return of Finding Nemo’s director/writer, Andrew Stanton to the director’s chair. Finding Dory could go either way, but a sequel to one of Pixar’s strongest movies after so long is undoubtedly a tantalising prospect.
Suicide Squad (5th August)
Remember what I said about wildcards? That word would sum up Suicide Squad pretty well. The second DC movie this year, Suicide Squad flips the usual superhero formula on its head by featuring a team of super-villains coerced into performing dangerous suicide missions by the government. Suicide Squad features a huge host of popular DC characters, most of who have never appeared in live action before, like fan favourite Harley Quinn, psychotic girlfriend of none other than the Joker, played by Jared Leto here (who went full-on Method while playing this particularly twisted new incarnation of the villain) – it’s a chance for the less featured characters of DC to have their spot in the limelight. Director David Ayer’s comments in interviews have raised concerns that Suicide Squad will be edgy and gritty to the point of absurdity, but there’s a good chance nonetheless that this could be one of the most refreshing superhero movies in years.
Doctor Strange (28th October)
Despite their unifying nature as superhero movies, Marvel movies tend to have some variations in genre, such as spy thriller and heist movie – and Doctor Strange is no different, dipping into the realms of high fantasy for the first time. Doctor Strange sees arrogant surgeon Stephen Strange (played by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch) learn the art of sorcery after an accident that mangles his hands, facing off against other rogue sorcerers as he earns the title of Sorcerer Supreme. It’s an intriguing new alley for Marvel to explore, with unusual and trippy visuals promised to feature as a huge part of this movie, and the strong concept is backed up by a promising supporting cast that includes distinguished actors like Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen to name a few, alongside the effortlessly charismatic Benedict Cumberabatch in the lead role.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (18th November)
Five years after the Harry Potter franchise came to a conclusion, Fantastic Beasts marks a return to the wizarding world for a prequel/spin-off set in the 1920s, featuring ‘magizoologist’ Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, who appears to have the eccentric professor vibe nailed down) travel to New York and accidentally let a suitcase full of magical creatures loose. With the full creative team of the latter Harry Potter movies on board and J.K Rowling making her screenwriting debut here, Fantastic Beasts looks like a fun franchise extension that dips into unexplored aspects of the vast Potter mythology, even if it’s based on extremely thin source material.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (16th December)
With the Star Wars franchise thoroughly revitalised by The Force Awakens, Rogue One kicks off the set of standalone spin-off movies that will plug the gap in between the Episodes. Set just before the events of A New Hope, the first ‘Story’ movie tells the story of the rebel theft of the Death Star plans that made the space station’s slightly convenient destruction by Luke Skywalker possible. Directed by Gareth Edwards of the Godzilla reboot, Rogue One adopts a grittier tone than is normal for the franchise, telling the story at ground level with no Force users about to easily solve any problems. It may be a little frustrating to see the vast potential of the standalone movies used on another prequel to the original trilogy, but it could be very interesting indeed to depart from the usual formula of the Episodes for a story that explores the Empire/Rebellion conflict from a more grounded perspective.
Assassin’s Creed (26th December)
Rounding off the year, we have the second major video game adaptation of 2016. Track record of video game movies aside, this adaptation of Ubisoft’s best-selling video game franchise boasts both a fun sci-fi concept (modern day guy is kidnapped by the evil Templars and forced to relive the memories of his ancestor in the 15th century, finding out about the ages-old conflict between the benevolent Assassins and the Templars in the process) and the star power of the always watchable Michael Fassbender in the leading role. There’s no guarantee at all that this will be a genuinely good movie, but the talent behind Assassin’s Creed certainly bodes well.