Prepare yourself for more superheroes, car chases, talking animals, spin-offs, sequels (and maybe even some original films) coming to a cinema screen near you this year.
Okay, so Ridley Scott’s first Alien prequel, Prometheus, was a total mess. Can this sequel-to-the-prequel get things back on track? On a voyage to a distant planet, the crew of the Covenant discovers a mysterious world with one inhabitant: David the paranoid android (Michael Fassbender). The title implies there’ll be a tad more xenomorph action this time. Let’s hope there’s less waffle, too.
Finally, a videogame adaptation to get excited about. Based on the mega-selling Assassin’s Creed, it’s directed by Justin Kurzel, who has recruited his Macbeth cast (Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard). Fassbender is a prisoner forced to access the memories of his ancestors – one of whom was a member of a 15th-century order of assassins.
He hasn’t directed a film since The World’s End in 2013, so we’re more than ready to welcome Shaun of the Dead genius Edgar Wright back. His new film sounds like a riot: a crime comedy about a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who finds himself in trouble when a bank heist goes wrong. Scripted by Wright and co-starring Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey, this looks like a whole hot blast of Tarantino-type fun.
Beauty and the Beast
Jumping on the trendy bandwagon of live-action adaptations of cartoon classics is this romantic, dark fantasy. Based on the 1991 Disney favourite, it’s a love story that, through plenty of poignant moments and catchy musical numbers, shows us all that love is not just about appearances. Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) plays Belle, who falls in love with Prince Adam (AKA the Beast), played by Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, The Fifth Estate). Fancy a sing-along? Be our guest.
Blade Runner 2049
It was the sequel no-one thought they wanted... until Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling signed up with Sicario director Denis Villeneuve. Now it’s arguably the most anticipated film of the year, picking up the story of Ford’s android-killer-who-might-be-one-himself 30 years after the events of the original classic. If it’s half as beautiful as the Ridley Scott version – stay away from that CGI, Denis – we’ll be satisfied.
Animation studio Pixar is releasing two films in 2017: Cars 3 and this cartoon inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Guess which one we’re most excited about? Coco tells the story of a 12-year-old boy, Miguel, who “sets off a chain of events relating to a century-old mystery”. Co-directed by Toy Story 3 maestro Lee Unkrich, it sounds like a riot.
Few filmmakers tell grander stories than Christopher Nolan, and stories don’t come much grander than the British retreat from Dunkirk in the face of overwhelming German forces. This looks like a modern-day version of one of those sprawling wartime epics you used to watch on dull afternoons. The cast is typically impressive, with Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance being just the tip of a massive iceberg. Expect plenty of pluck, derring-do and explosions.
Not even the death of a leading cast member can put the brakes on this hot rod action series (we’ll all be watching Fast 50 in our retirement homes and Vin Diesel will still look exactly the same). This time the gang are headed to New York, Iceland and Havana, with Straight Outta Compton director F Gary Gray calling the shots. Start ’er up!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The original Guardians was one of the most purely enjoyable blockbusters in years. Let’s hope this sequel can keep the party going. Everyone from the first movie is back – the raccoon, the tree, the big, angry guy, the green woman and Chris Pratt – and the story is set to focus on Star Lord’s search for his mysterious dad. That said, writer-director James Gunn has promised stronger female characters this time.
The Oscars might as well get it over with and engrave Natalie Portman’s name on the Best Actress statue. Everyone’s agreed, she’s got the category all sewn up with her performance in this drama directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín. The film follows a certain Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in her first days as a widow after the assassination of her husband JFK in 1963.
John Wick: Chapter Two
No one was expecting the 2014 action flick John Wick – in which Keanu Reeves took revenge on the mobsters who killed his dog – to be any good. But it was (and what’s more, it made money). So, here’s the inevitable sequel in which our taciturn hero tools up and heads to Rome to take on mysterious assassins. Here’s hoping it’s totally rad and non-heinous.
If the early teaser footage is anything to go by, Zack Synder’s hook-up of DC Comics superheroes is looking a little less serious and gloomy than Batman vs Superman. The Justice League gang include Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, with Ezra Miller in the role of The Flash.
Kong: Skull Island
Tom Hiddleston versus a massive ape? Where do we sign? Pitched as a King Kong original story, this tale of mysterious islands and giant primates takes place in the 1970s, as a team of US Marines fresh from Vietnam join a band of explorers on a lost Pacific isle. The cast is terrific: Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson and John Goodman join Hiddles on his epic quest.
Yes, it’s another superhero sequel. Logan is the given name of the hairiest member of the X-Men, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). His last movie, The Wolverine, was unexpectedly sensitive and the trailer for Logan will knock your socks off. Basically, it looks like a mutant Thelma and Louise, in which Wolverine, an Alzheimer’s-addled Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and a mysterious girl drift through a post-apocalyptic desert.
Murder on the Orient Express
Oft-regarded as one of Agatha Christie’s greatest detective stories, this whodunnit finishes with the mother of all twists. An all-star new adaptation features Kenneth Branagh as moustache-twiddling Poirot, with Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Daisy Ridley playing his fellow guests on the glamorous Orient Express.
Jennifer Lawrence is playing a super-spy. Frankly, that’s all we need to know (but then, we’d watch her read the phone book). Red Sparrow reunites J-Law with Hunger Games: Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence. Jen plays a Russian agent who hooks up with a CIA operative and must consider betraying her country. If she can pull off the accent – and that’s a pretty big if – this should be all kinds of fun.
His appearance in Captain America: Civil War was a comic highlight, so we’re officially into this reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. Twenty-year-old Londoner Tom Holland is a nerdier, weedier and more loveable Spidey than we’ve seen before, and the choice of Michael Keaton to play the villain is an absolute masterstroke. We’ll be first in line for tickets to this one, that’s for sure.
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Will Luke train Rey as a Jedi? Will Chewie get over Han’s death? Will Kylo Ren succeed in his quest to have the galaxy’s most luxurious hair? All this and much more as the Star Wars saga continues. Daisy Ridley has promised that Rey’s parentage will be revealed, and the film couldn’t be in safer hands than Looper director Rian Johnson’s.
The Dark Tower
It’s one of the longest-gestating projects in Hollywood – a big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s fantasy series, set in a magical land inspired by the Old West. The books are not exactly masterpieces, but if Ron Howard’s film can tame King’s scattershot imagination a little it might just be something special. Oh, and the cast is great: Idris Elba plays the notorious Gunslinger, with Matthew McConaughey as his nemesis, The Man in Black.
The Lego Batman Movie
He was the sneering, self-involved and utterly incompetent breakout star of 2014’s The LEGO Movie. So it’s not a huge surprise that Batman has his own spin-off. The trailers are hilarious, pitching Bats (voiced by Will Arnett) against the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), while also trying to deal with a new and annoying sidekick, Robin (Michael Cera).
A much-anticipated reboot of the original smash-hit series, the 2017 version of The Mummy is yet another action-adventure horror with an excellent cast (we’re talking Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella). An ancient princess awakes in her crypt and brings unimaginable terror, nurtured over a millennia, upon the world. This is sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat-furiously-shoving-popcorn-in-your-gob kind of stuff and the first in the Universal Monster shared universe that will include Van Helsing and The Wolf Man.
We’ve been hearing lots of interesting things about “Ragnarok”. Taika Waititi, the New Zealand director and friend of the Conchords (whose last film Hunt for the Wilderpeople was an absolute joy), was the perfect choice to bring a little humour to this Marvel-verse. He’s promising a “crazy” movie with an “’80s vibe”, plus stars Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston will be returning. What’s not to love?
Director Danny Boyle has brought the entire gang back for T2: Trainspotting. That means Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle will reprise their iconic roles in a plot loosely inspired by Irvine Welsh’s sequel novel. “It’s 20 years later and they have all moved on,” producer Andrew Macdonald has said of Renton et al. “They are at different places in their lives and some of them may even have children.”
War for the Planet of the Apes
The first two films in the Planet of the Apes reboot series were way better than they had any right to be: smart and serious, with beautiful special effects. Let’s hope this third film continues that trend. Director Matt Reeves returns for what sounds like a more action-heavy installment, as Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ape kin take on a human army.
Wonder Woman made a guest appearance this year in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In 2017, she gets her own movie, 70 years after making her comic book debut and played by actress Gal Gadot. This is the first-ever superhero movie to be directed by a woman – Patty Jenkins (Monster) – and it’s the first since Elektra in 2005 to feature a female lead.