17 Upcoming Movies for 2017 (Part 2)
Feature by Louis Rabinowitz.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (7th July)
It’s the third Spider-Man reboot of our time, but there’s finally some cause for genuine optimism that things will be different this time. Tom Holland made an impressive debut in Captain America: Civil War, embodying the naïve youthfulness that The Amazing Spider-Man movies sorely lacked, and his involvement in a wider universe looks to pay dividends here as Robert Downey Jr returns in a mentor role for Peter. Thankfully, we won’t have to relive Uncle Ben’s death again -- Homecoming, from the looks of the trailer, looks set to explore the awkward high-school years of a hero struggling to balance his vigilantism with his schoolwork. And he’ll have a lot on his plate as Spider-Man with Michael Keaton’s Vulture gunning for him, as well as side-villains the Shocker and the Tinkerer. There might be a few sighs that Sony have gone back to the Spider-Man well again, but with Marvel Studios’ involvement and Holland having proven himself as a likeably awkward Peter Parker, Homecoming looks like a great opportunity to finally give Spidey his dues after a rocky decade on the big screen.
War for the Planet of the Apes (14th July)
Stealthily, and improbably, the rebooted Planet of the Apes has become one of the most daring and ambitious blockbuster franchises around. War follows up its predecessor’s cliffhanger by presenting all-out conflict between the apes, led as ever by Andy Serkis’ Caesar, and the humans, led this time around by Woody Harrelson’s shaven-headed Colonel. It looks to be a hell of a lot more explosive than the relatively restrained Dawn, but the simmering slow-burn of that movie makes this high drama an understandable, sadly inevitable pay-off to the hostilities between human and ape. The franchise has laid some terrific, emotional groundwork for a war in which both sides have legitimate reasons to fight, but share plenty of responsibility for creating a violent situation, so let’s hope War retains the complexity and sensitivity that distinguished its predecessors.
Dunkirk (21st July)
Christopher Nolan’s directorial efforts are always worth paying attention to, regardless of your opinion of the end product. He’s a rare blockbuster director who’s been allowed to carve out his own distinct directorial voice, producing spectacle after spectacle that have all seemed to escape the studio intervention that dominates big-budget movies. Sure enough, his latest movie, Dunkirk, looks set to fulfil that unique tradition. Set during the eponymous evacuation of Allied soldiers in 1941, it promises to bring Nolan’s bombastic sensibilities and gritty tone to the war movie genre – and as ever, the cast is a heady mix of Nolan stalwarts (Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy), veteran British character actors (Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance) and out-of-left-field newcomers (Fionn Whitehead, and, for a reason not yet explained, Harry Styles). The trailers for this have been genuinely fantastic, promising an enormous scale that the war movie has lacked for some time. Regardless of whether this is an acclaimed Nolan classic like Inception or a divisive puzzle box like Interstellar, it’s sure to be memorable, in a way.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (29th September)
The first Kingsman was a surprise hit back in 2015, so a further slice of R-rated spy action was quickly ordered. The Golden Circle brings back Taron Egerton and, somehow, Colin Firth despite the death of his character in the first movie, and throws them into an American adventure in which the British Kingsman agents link up with their American counterparts after the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed by Julianne Moore’s nefarious villain. An eclectic host of actors will fill out the ranks of the US-set organisation, Statesman, including Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges and Pedro Pascal. The Golden Circle’s premise is promisingly different from the first movie, so it just has to channel that intrigue into a story that’s just as involving, hilarious and shocking as the first movie was. Easy, right?
Blade Runner 2049 (6th October)
Definitely one of 2017’s more belated sequels, Blade Runner 2049 comes 35 years after the original movie, both in and out of universe. From the looks of the synopsis, this looks to draw from The Force Awakens’ school of franchise revivals, as a new blade runner played by Ryan Gosling is forced to seek out Harrison Ford’s Deckard to fight a looming new threat. Delayed sequels are a hit (Jurassic World) and miss (Independence Day: Resurgence) proposition, but 2049 packs a lot of prestige in both its crew, as Denis Vilinueve comes fresh off the terrific Arrival to direct with renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall) in tow, and in its cast, which includes House of Cards’ Robin Wright, Black Mirror’s Mackenzie Davis and The Walking Dead’s Lennie James (also, Jared Leto, but we’re looking for positives here). The Force Awakens showed it’s possible to revitalise a dormant franchise with new and interesting characters, and Vilinueve’s hiring is a promising commitment to originality, so this might just be a more intriguing proposition than first appears.
Thor: Ragnarok (27th October)
The Thor movies have never quite hit the zeitgeist in the same way as Iron Man or Captain America, so Ragnarok’s main mission is to prove that the Lightning God is just as engaging a lead as its fellow Avengers. To do so, it’s gone for a refreshed approach, hiring idiosyncratic director Taika Waititi, and aiming for a much more cosmic feel with far less time spent on Earth. Surprisingly, the movie looks set to draw inspiration from the Planet Hulk storyline, with Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner coming into the story as a gladiator fighting on an alien planet when Thor meets him. From there, it’ll apparently be a ‘cosmic road-trip’ with Thor and Banner, which somehow involves a search for the missing Odin, the involvement of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, last seen impersonating his adopted dad on the throne of Asgard, and a brief cameo appearance from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange who we saw interacting with Thor in the post-credits scene of his own movie. Waititi’s quirky sensibilities promise a major change of pace from the flavourless and generic Dark World, so this is certain to be an intriguing experiment in comic-book filmmaking if nothing else, though it’ll have to blend this new quirkiness with the serious pseudo-Shakesperian action of previous films in order to fit neatly into the MCU canon, which could prove to be a difficult task.
Justice League (17th November)
After the divisive controversies of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, visionary/hack (delete as applicable) Zack Snyder returns for a third round, this time uniting Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg on the big screen. It’s undoubtedly a tantalising prospect, and the trailers do seem to hint towards a significant lightening of tone after the ponderous grittiness of Snyder’s previous movies. The plot for this one is much simpler than before – the Justice League hunt down mysterious MacGuffins the Mother Boxes before their foes do, although the choice of villain as obscure lieutenant/60s rock throwback Steppenwolf is a puzzling one given that mega-villain Darkseid has already been incessantly teased by the movies. Justice League comes with a hell of a lot to prove – that this DC universe is a workable counterpart to Marvel’s, that Snyder is a filmmaker who genuinely understands superheroes, and that DC movies can be fun as well as weighty. This is really the DC Extended Universe’s make or break moment, so it’ll have to get Justice League exactly right to stand a chance of accomplishing all those expansive plans laid out by Warner Bros for DC movies.
Star Wars: Episode VIII (15th December)
And finally, we have arguably 2017’s most anticipated movie. Disney’s new Star Wars movies have been a thoroughly successful endeavour thus far, with The Force Awakens successfully reintroducing the main saga while Rogue One proved there was ample story potential outside the Skywalker story, so now it’s back to Episode VIII to prove that those opening efforts were the rule, and not the exception. The untitled sequel is set to be a direct continuation of The Force Awakens, with all of the surviving main cast returning (including, sadly, the late, great Carrie Fisher for her last ever filmed role as Leia), so we’ll see budding Force-user Rey training up with Luke Skywalker while the Resistance continues to scrap away at the First Order’s power. Rian Johnson is in the director’s chair this time, and his superlative work on indie sci-fi gem Looper and some of Breaking Bad’s most significant episodes shows this could be Disney’s shrewdest hire yet after the relative safeness of proven blockbuster directors JJ Abrams and Gareth Edwards. After The Force Awakens relaunched the franchise with a nostalgic feel that closely evoked previous movies, Episode VIII will have to truly push the boat out to tell its own original story that expands the Star Wars universe while maintaining all the elements that worked last time.