2004 was a really good year for TV. That year alone, we saw the premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Lost, So You Think You Can Dance?, American Dad, The Biggest Loser**, The Office, Veronica Mars, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, and Project Runway. It was like a perfect storm of creative juju. Looking at the movies that are due out in 2016, we could find ourselves in a similar situation. But, of course, while there’s a lot to look forward to, there’s no guarantee that it’s all going to be good. Here are the films I’ve got my eye on.
Captain America: Civil War
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has worked out better than it’s had any right to. In the process, it’s made billions of dollars, turned Robert Downey Jr. into one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, and turned a whole bunch of people onto comic books who otherwise probably wouldn’t have had much exposure to them. Still, taken as a series of movies whose purpose it is is to tell a coherent story, there are some cracks that are beginning to show. Supposedly, Marvel has its slate planned out all the way to 2028. In 2017, they’ll switch to doing three movies a year, instead of the two they’re doing now. That’s 38 movies. That means that, the bigger the MCU becomes, the more material that has to be serviced.
There were a lot of things I liked about Avengers: Age of Ultron, but I ultimately thought the movie suffered quite a bit because there were about six different things the it was trying to do. One of those was teasing the upcoming rift between Iron Man and Captain America. With so much to set up, these movies often aren’t allowed to just be themselves, so to speak. Normally, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem in a solo film because the cast typically isn’t as big. But this movie is like Avengers 2.5. We’ve got Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Vision, Falcon, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, the Winter Soldier, Black Panther, and War Machine. And those are just the good guys. Now, I have more faith in the Russo Brothers than I do Joss Whedon to pull a movie like this off, but it’s not difficult to imagine this movie going off the rails quick. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.
I had high hopes for Anchorman 2, and that turned out to be no good at all, but I’m cautiously optimistic about the sequel to Zoolander. The movie’s turned in a really solid first trailer, and also has some really good talent behind it. Then again, so did Anchorman 2. Dammit, James. Why do you keep doing this to yourself?
Star Trek Beyond
I was always more into Star Trek than I was Star Wars, but these new movies haven’t been able to pull me in the way the old TV shows did. Actually, I didn’t even catch Star Trek Into Darkness until after it had left theaters, and honestly, there’s not a ton I remember about it. So take that level of excitement, and imagine where it goes when one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time is set to some hip, cool Beastie Boys music! Then take Captain Kirk poppin’ a sick wheelie on his space motorcycle and watch me throw up. Simon Pegg was recently asked about the new trailer, and looked like he felt about the same. He’s telling fans to stick with it, and that the final film is much better than the trailer is making it out to be. I hope he’s right, because this thing looks like a stinker.
If the next Bourne film followed Matt Damon taking care of his Christmas shopping, I’d probably still go and see it three or four times. Especially if John Powell did the score and they did all that shaky cam stuff. These are just movies I don’t get tired of. So, if 12 years later, Bourne is still going after the guys who trained him, sign me up. I’m ready for it.
The Girl on the Train
I, like half the country, read the book this film is being adapted from, and really enjoyed it. It’s one of those books that throws you for a genuine loop, and more than that, I felt like I empathized with the alcoholic protagonist whose life is slowly spinning out of control in a way that I hadn’t empathized with a character in a long time. Emily Blunt is proof that God exists and that He wants His children to be happy, and I’m really excited to see her take on the character.
Charles Roven was an executive producer on Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and is one of the members of DC’s brain trust going into its own cinematic universe. In a recent interview, Roven said that Suicide Squad wasn’t even a part of DC’s early plans. They were getting ready to start filming Batman v Superman when director David Ayer came in and pitched his take on the film. Roven said, “It had this darkness and edge, while still tonally in the zone of what we’re trying to do with these movies. And it’s impossible that you could get a big tentpole picture from pitch to start of principle photography any faster than we did.” Compare DC to Marvel all you want, but Marvel isn’t doing any movies like this. And I’m not entirely sure they could, judging by the tone they’ve chosen to take with their films and the sub-par job they’ve done with their villains. From the little we’ve seen so far, this could turn out to be really great.
Independence Day: Resurgence
When Independence Day came out in 1996, it was maybe the best movie I had ever seen (I was young). I saw it opening night in a packed theater, and I remember it being one of those movies that everyone got into. It didn’t matter if “Welcome to Earth!” was completely ridiculous. Everyone cheered and complete strangers turned to each other and high-fived. That’s really cool. So, for me, Resurgence brings back a certain sense of nostalgia. Now, it could turn out to be a complete pile of garbage. They’ve been talking about making this movie pretty much since the first one came out. Now, 20 years later, it’s possible they just missed the boat. But, you know, it’s got Jeff Goldblum, so I’m really really really hoping it’s good.
While I don’t think the X-Men films are anything to get out of bed for, Deadpool is exciting because it’s a genuinely new approach to a superhero movie. Deadpool has always been one of Marvel’s more R-rated characters, and Fox is responding to that by giving him an R-rated movie. I like this for a few reasons. One, it stays faithful to the source material. And two, it brings with it the possibility that Deadpool will stay walled off in his own little corner of this world. Because the tone is so different from the X-Men films, there’s really no reason to connect him with them. The filmmakers can bring in new characters we know, do their own takes on them, make three (because everything is done in trilogies these days) really solid films, and be done with it. Now, with this being a potential franchise that could be big moneymaker, there are still a million ways for Fox to screw it up, so we’ll have to wait and see.
The Coen Brothers make two kinds of comedies. There are comedies like The Big Lebowski, which are just amazing and stay with you forever. And then there are comedies like Burn After Reading, where you’re kind of left wondering what the point of the whole thing was. Now, I don’t know if they’ll ever do another comedy as good as The Big Lebowski. But they could definitely do one as good as O’ Brother, Where Art Thou? And this one even has George Clooney, so they’re halfway there already.
Star Wars: Rogue One
Disney paid just a tick over four billion dollars to acquire Lucasfilms. And with that purchase, it’s decreed that the days of wishing for new Star Wars movies are over. From now on, you’re going to have Star Wars coming out of your effing ears, so buckle in. And while there’s a lot to be said for leaving people wanting more, there’s also something to be said for just putting out quality films that people want to see. Rogue One will tell the story of how the plans for the original Death Star were stolen and turned over to the Rebellion. We don’t have much more to go on aside from that and a lot of good casting choices. It’ll be interesting to see how the movies do when they turn away from the Skywalker family, although I’d say we’re certain to see Darth Vader pop up in this one.
This new Ghostbusters movie has made me ask some serious questions about myself. When I first heard they were doing an all-female version of the movie, it just felt like a pointless thing to do. I loved Bridesmaids, but for some reason, this wasn’t sitting well with me. Then the internet said that if you weren’t okay with it, you were a sexist. So, I began to wonder whether or not I was sexist. Maybe there is no “point” to having an all-female cast, just like having an all-male cast served no specific purpose in the original films. Maybe this is a just a thing Paul Feig is doing. I don’t know. Feig has proven himself to be a good director, and I like all the talent involved (it took me a while, but I finally came around to Leslie Jones), but there’s still something about this movie that seems a little stunt-y to me. We’ll have to wait until this summer to see how it all shakes out. As for whether or not I’m a sexist, I guess the jury is still out.
One of the exciting things about Marvel’s success is that it’s gotten characters to the big screen who never would have gotten there otherwise. One of the exciting things about Doctor Strange in particular is that it opens up a side of the Marvel Universe the films haven’t really explored yet. The Avengers are the superheroes. The Guardians of the Galaxy are the aliens. Doctor Strange and those like him are the magicians. Normally, I’d be worried that there was no way to make this fit into what Marvel has already established. I mean, Doctor Strange looks like a more attractive Liberace who does magic (while Liberace was only magic on the piano, amirite?). However, Marvel did a great job fitting Thor into this world, and I’d say he posed an even bigger problem than Doctor Strange does. Another reason I’m excited for this film is because it continues the fine tradition of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman starring in everything together.
Like I said earlier, the X-Men films don’t really make my socks roll up and down, especially when you see movies like Iron Man and The Winter Soldier, and realize that the X-Men would be a whole lot more interesting if they were rolled up into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Aside from that, the trailer for Apocalypse looks… okay. I grew up with the classic ’92 X-Men, and back then, Apocalypse was the bad guy to beat all bad guys. I’m hoping the film will do him justice, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up. Also, I get the feeling that Jennifer Lawrence is happy to finally be done with this franchise so she can finally go work with David O. Russell full time.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Hands down, this is my most anticipated film of 2016. I’m counting down the days until it’s released, and I think that, after it comes out, we should get an apartment together. My wife will be the first person to tell you she wishes that me and the last remaining copy of it die in a tire fire. She just doesn’t get it.
One of the things that excites me most about this movie is that it’ll be the first time we see Batman existing in a world with other superheroes. Up until this point, he’s just been a rich guy going up against really hardcore criminals. Living in the same world as Superman and Wonder Woman is going to change things up quite a bit, and I’m really excited to see it all play out. I’m a big fan of Zack Snyder and think that a lot of the hate thrown his way is misplaced. So far, I’ve loved everything he’s shown us, which will only make it hurt that much more when the movie comes out and it sucks. Fingers crossed!
**The show’s been on the air for 16 seasons. Somebody’s watching it.