17 Upcoming Movies for 2017 (Part 1)
Feature by Louis Rabinowitz.
The Lego Batman Movie (10th February)
2017, just like the years before it, will be full of superhero movies of all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for an appetiser to kick off the year in spandex, or seeking an antidote from the expensive pyrotechnics of mega-budget hero movies, then The Lego Batman Movie looks just the ticket. Everyone loved Will Arnett’s Batman in the surprisingly great LEGO Movie, so this is a movie that puts the moody LEGO vigilante front and center, exploring just why Bruce Wayne works in black, and sometimes very, very dark grey. There’s a whole host of DC heroes from Bat-family staples like Robin and Batgirl to Justice League members like Flash and Martian Manhunter to back Batman up, so it’s unlikely he’ll get lonely. The trailers for this have been a hoot, and with Ben Affleck’s tortured Bruce Wayne heading back into cinemas later in the year, this is the perfect reminder of just how silly the idea of Batman really is.
Logan (3rd March)
After 17 years hacking and slashing in every single X-Men film, Hugh Jackman will finally hang up the claws here, with Logan marking his final appearance as Wolverine. The two Wolverine movies thus far have… varied in quality, but, to its credit, Logan looks like something completely different, even with The Wolverine’s James Mangold back in the saddle as director. The trailer shows off a post-apocalyptic Western vibe as Logan heads off for one last ride with an ailing Professor X and a child who might just possess similar abilities to Wolverine in tow, and it’s hard not to be encouraged by the intensely gritty feel that seems to finally presage a genuinely adult take on Wolverine. Fittingly for Jackman’s last appearance, it’ll receive an R rating, so expect plenty of blood to be spilled, some of it very likely to come from our heroes. Bring tissues, and cross your fingers that Jackman’s Wolverine will finally get the solo outing he deserves for his swansong.
Kong: Skull Island (10th March)
2014’s Godzilla set the template for Legendary Pictures’ new take on their iconic mega-monsters, and Kong: Skull Island fills in the other half of the picture for their expanded universe. This looks set to head to Kong’s domain for the entire run-time as a group of explorers in the Vietnam War era grapple with humanity’s first contact with a giant, aggressive gorilla, so expect plenty of lush, tropical-set action as blockbuster rookie Jordan Vogt-Roberts gets behind the camera. Skull Island has plenty to prove, least of all why we need another King Kong movie, but it’s hard to count out a flick with a cast this good: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins and John C Reilly make up a rogues’ gallery of A-listers and renowned character actors who’ll be squaring off against Kong, and whatever else the island has to serve up.
The Fate of the Furious (14th April)
Yes, there are now eight of these. Furious 7 took the franchise to new, exceedingly dumb heights while poignantly saying goodbye to Paul Walker, and The Fate of the Furious (fate rhymes with eight, get it?) aims to build on that with action that’s more ludicrous and drama that’s more overwrought than ever. For ludicrous action, you have the trailer’s headline stunt of a giant military submarine chasing down our heroes in supercars on ice (yes, this was once a franchise about urban street racing). And for overwrought drama, you have Vin Diesel inexplicably betraying his family and throwing his lot in with Charlize Theron’s smirking villain, which will, in all likelihood, result in Vin Diesel learning the value of family again. Almost everyone from Furious 7 is on deck again, including, thankfully, Jason Statham’s omniscient villain turned reluctant ally. For better or for worse, this franchise is getting dumber and louder every time, while seemingly taking itself more seriously as genuine drama. If you can accept that, then buckle up.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (28th April)
Perhaps 2017’s most welcome sequel. Guardians of the Galaxy was an undoubted smash hit that surpassed everyone’s expectations nearly three years ago, creating a team of weird, funny and ultimately sympathetic A-holes whose adventures just about everybody became interested in. We haven’t seen a whole lot of plot specifics for Vol. 2, with the trailers just focusing on character interactions between the Guardians, including new member, emotion-reading Mantis, but it’s been confirmed that Kurt Russell has signed up as, of all characters, Ego the Living Planet, with Elizabeth Debicki on villain duties as Ayesha, leader of the gold-skinned Sovereign people. As long as Vol. 2 doesn’t rest on its laurels and keeps up the inventiveness that distinguished the first movie, this should be another winner for Marvel.
Alien: Covenant (19th May)
The sequel to 2012’s Prometheus has been a long time coming, during which it’s changed names and evidently story directions, but it finally arrives in 2017 in the form of Alien: Covenant. Befitting of the Alien moniker, this looks to go deeper into the famous iconography of the series as events come closer to the start of the first movie, further exploring the mythology Prometheus set up while serving up more familiar foes for Alien fans. A few stragglers from Prometheus in Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Guy Pearce return, but most of the cast is made up of the crew of a new ship, the Covenant, which’ll get tangled with Fassbender’s android character on a new planet. Those new additions include Fantastic Beasts’ Katherine Waterston and James Franco. Don’t get too attached to them, as they will almost certainly die. Prometheus was a strange and frequently clumsy prequel, but Covenant’s rejigged approach and the addition of the Alien name provide something to look forward to for all of its predecessor’s flaws.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (26th May)
Yes, there have been five of these. Jack Sparrow returns after a seven-year absence for yet another piratical adventure, involving yet another mystical MacGuffin (‘the Trident of Poseidon’ this time, if you’re interested). Skyfall’s Javier Bardem boards as the villain, while Orlando Bloom returns to the franchise as Will Turner, if you were at all clamouring for that. Somehow, Paul McCartney is also in this. Truth be told, the Pirates franchise ran out of steam somewhere during film two, but maybe it’ll be fifth time lucky. I doubt it, but there’s always hope.
Wonder Woman (2nd June)
The DC Extended Universe has been a troubled endeavour so far, hampered by an excessively gritty tone and studio meddling that’s squashed the theatrical versions into incoherent messes. Wonder Woman, however, provides some cause for optimism. Gal Gadot shone for the short time she had in Batman v Superman, and her solo film has the intriguing hook of exploring just why she ended so apathetic and distanced from humanity in BVS. The trailers have been really encouraging so far, showing off a refreshingly different period vibe with the muddy vistas of the Western Front in World War 1 as well as some vibrant, colourful visuals on Diana’s home island of Themiscyra. There’ll always be some cause for concern with a DC movie, but if any movie will break the rut, Wonder Woman looks like a very good bet.
Transformers: The Last Knight (23rd June)
Yep, Transformers is back, and with the promise of more sequels and spin-offs, the franchise is seemingly here to stay as a regular blockbuster fixture. Credit to The Last Knight: it’s certainly swinging for the fences in a story that somehow involves King Arthur fighting winged Transformers, Nazis/Winston Churchill, the continuing adventures of Mark Wahlberg’s character and Optimus Prime becoming a full-on villain who’s gunning for his friends. Also, Anthony Hopkins, presumably looking to buy a new boat, joins the franchise here. It’s unlikely that any of this will actually come together into a satisfying whole, but it’s good to see Transformers isn’t afraid to go wacky and weird as the franchise heads into old age.