Fifteen for 2015: The Film Preview
By Louis Rabinowitz.
2015 has dawned, and with it, a new year of blockbusters of most likely massively varying qualities. The requisite pile of sequels to massive franchises such as Avengers and James Bond are there – but there’s plenty of unpredictable prospects in there too, with Pixar serving up a duo of original properties and Star Wars finally making its comeback. So with dozens of exciting films heading to multiplexes in 2015, here’s a preview of fifteen of the biggest movies 2015 will see:
All release dates are UK
Kingsman: The Secret Service
James Bond has gotten a little darker and grittier in recent years, abandoning the slightly larger than life template of over-the-top bad guys, secret bases and nifty gadgets that it followed a few decades prior. So with the latest Bond heading to cinemas later in 2015, Kingsman promises to be a fun, snappy antidote to the dourer take on spying that Bond represents. Adapted from a Mark Millar comic, Kingsman sees Colin Firth’s secret agent recruit a local hooligan into a gentlemen’s spy service, and train him up to face a villain with dastardly and most likely fairly illogical plans. The 15 certificate may restrict the audience, but Kingsman promises to be a fun, violent and refreshing spy caper with a killer cast including Michael Caine, Samuel L Jackson and Mark Strong.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Adaptations of young adult series represent a dog-eat-dog world – some (The Hunger Games, Twilight) prosper, and most fail. Last March, despite lukewarm reviews, Divergent managed to rake in enough cash for the four-movie trilogy treatment. The sequel, Insurgent, promises to up the ante by revealing a little more of the franchise’s post-apocalyptic Chicago and sending the main characters on the run from Kate Winslet’s villain. The book might have been a little weak, but the trailer promises expansion on the slightly thin source material with a macguffin and a fun-looking action sequence featuring main character Tris fight herself. A two-part finale is already on the way, so it’s up to Insurgent to tee up the inevitably over-stretched finale in style.
Fast & Furious 7
Boasting the prestigious title of being only film this year to boast a ‘seven’ in the title this year, Fast & Furious 7 sees the crew come up against their most formidable foe yet… Jason Statham. The trailer promises some utterly bonkers stunts, drag races, gunfights and punchups between inexplicably strong action heroes – so it’s business as usual then for the increasingly lucrative franchise. Sadly, Furious 7 is tinged with a slightly melancholy feel, featuring the late Paul Walker’s final appearance. Thankfully, this looks like a terrifically fun send-off for the actor and the character.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
One of 2015’s true heavyweights, the Avengers sequel almost needs no introduction. Introducing insane robotic foe Ultron, sane robotic ally the Vision and super-powered twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Age of Ultron promises to add to the team’s roster while dipping into the backstories of veterans such as Hawkeye and Black Widow. The trailer promises a slightly darker feel as the Avengers are attacked in their own home – and excitingly, a glimpse at a battle between Iron Man (in a beefed up ‘Hulkbuster’ suit) and Hulk. While major details of the super-sequel remain under wraps, it’s as close to a guaranteed hit as they come this year.
One of many of 2015’s retro franchise updates, Jurassic World sees a return to Isla Nublar, site of Jurassic Park, with a brand new cast headed up by Star Lord himself, Chris Pratt. With dinosaurs becoming old-fashioned and boring to the public, the park staff decide, with absolutely no regard to logic whatsoever, to create their own dinosaur to entertain the public. The dinosaur in question has been kept in the shadows, but Jurassic World remains a nostalgically exciting prospect that might just jumpstart a once-dead franchise. One to watch out for, even if it goes horribly wrong.
Well, this is an interesting one. The cute yellow minions from Despicable Me proved to be rather popular – causing most of the sequel’s promotion to be focused around the chattering creatures. Now, Universal has taken the next step – the minions now have their own spin-off, aptly titled Minions. While there’s plenty of human characters for the minions to attach themselves to, a movie with completely incoherent (and often annoying) main characters has the potential to be completely and utterly awful, or a masterpiece. Or most likely, both at the same time.
Another classic franchise returns from the dead! Terminator Genisys (ignore the utterly awful title) is a reboot that’s not a reboot, starting with the familiar origin story (Kyle Reese is dropped into the past to stop an assassination attempt on John Connor’s mother, Sarah) and then dipping into an alternate timeline where a Terminator in fact raised Sarah Connor. Together, Sarah and Kyle fight even more Terminators, aided by the friendly Terminator who killed Sarah. It’s all very, very confusing.
Yet another of Marvel’s ‘biggest risks yet’, Ant-Man has been plagued by the unfortunate high-profile production issues -- most importantly the walkout of original director Edgar Wright. New, slightly blander director installed, and many fans are writing off Ant-Man – but there’s thankfully still plenty to get excited about. The mentor/mentee relationship between Hank Pym and Scott Lang looks like a fun dynamic that’s not really been explored in the Marvel cinematic universe yet, and Ant-Man’s shrinking powers provide plenty of cinematic potential for unique and exciting action sequences. If the strong separate parts are pulled together cohesively enough, Marvel’s take on the pint-sized hero should be a blast.
Pixar have had a long break – the animation studio hasn’t made a film since 2013’s Monsters University, and they haven’t made an original movie, previously the bread and butter of Pixar, since 2012. Thankfully, Pixar are back – and their first film of 2015, Inside Out, looks like a genuinely original, strong concept. Set inside the brain of a little girl, Inside Out follows the personified emotions in her head as they struggle to keep her on the right track. It’s exactly the sort of fresh and exciting concept Pixar are famed for coming up with -- and while Pixar have had a fairly mixed couple of years, Inside Out looks like it might just regain the golden standard of Pixar’s heyday.
The Fantastic Four
Eight years after the first attempt at Marvel’s foursome of superheroes petered out after two movies, Fox are back for round two, starring a younger quartet including Jamie Bell and Kate Mara. Barely any details have made their way online, but this take on the Fantastic Four promises to be inspired by the Ultimate run of comics, as well as featuring an intriguing new take on Dr Doom. Will this go the way of the Amazing Spider-Man movies, or be successful enough to lay the groundwork for a crossover with Fox’s other Marvel property, the X-Men? At the moment, almost no one knows.
Rejuvenated after the critically lauded box-office hit Skyfall, the Bond franchise is back with the twenty-fourth outing for 007. Spectre, named after the nefarious organization Bond faced in several films, sees Bond following a cryptic message from his past while Ralph Fiennes’ newly installed M battles meddling politicians in Britain (likely headed up by Sherlock’s Andrew Scott). It’s an exciting prospect that promises to dip back into the franchise’s past – but will we see famed Spectre leader Blofeld? Is Christoph Waltz’s villain the cat-stroking villain? With most of the same cast and crew as Skyfall, Spectre looks like it could ably blend the characters of retro Bond with the darker feel of the modern films.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
After three years, it’s the grand finale for the Hunger Games series. Following on directly from the conclusion of Part 1, the finale sees Katniss and the rebels take the fight to the Capitol in all-out war. Part 2 promises to be a pacier and more action-packed beast than the table-setting first part, but will Part 2 overcome the rushed feel of the book’s final act? Time will tell, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how the filmmakers conclude the young adult franchise…
The Good Dinosaur
Pixar’s second film of 2015 is another original, focusing on an alternate reality where the dinosaurs were never wiped out. Details on The Good Dinosaur are rare, but it’s once again a strong, interesting concept that has the makings of another Pixar classic. Interestingly enough, the film was dismantled and put back together again during production with the entire story changed – will the major changes including a director swap be for the better?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The big one – voted the most anticipated film of 2015, The Force Awakens marks the first Star Wars film in ten years. First of a sequel trilogy to the original films, the seventh installment sees a brand new, younger set of characters alongside the aged heroes of the original trilogy. The JJ Abrams Mystery Box is in full effect here, but we do know from the first trailer that John Boyega’s protagonist, Finn, is an escaped Stormtrooper, Daisy Ridley’s Rey is a scavenger with a nifty speeder bike, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron is a Rebel pilot and someone’s Kylo Ren sports a lightsaber with a slightly hazardous crossguard. Details of the original trilogy’s cast have been confined to concept art leaks and spoilers, however. Bound to be 2015’s highest grossing film unless something goes horribly wrong, The Force Awakens promises to kickstart a whole new era of Star Wars.
Mission: Impossible 5
To close off the year, it’s the return of the other spy franchise. The series is in good stead after the strong Ghost Protocol – and true to form for the franchise, a couple of faintly insane stunts were seen during filming, including Tom Cruise hanging from a military plane at 5000 feet (compared to scaling the Burj Khalifa, this should be sport for Cruise). That’s all for concrete details, but with the return of most of Ghost Protocol’s cast, the fifth installment looks like it will end the year with a bang.