As the calm before the Academy Awards sets in (join our free Oscar contest), now seems like the perfect time to look ahead to what the 2017 cinematic year has to offer. Reel True owner, Greg Rouleau and I categorize the most intriguing titles set for theaters in the upcoming months.
Coming Soon (Now through April)
John Wick 2 - February 10th
Keanu Reeves struck gold as the title character in Chad Stahelski's critically adored 2014 action-thriller, John Wick. The saga continues thanks to the overwhelming success of the original as John Wick 2 finds a theatrical release this weekend and early word is the film delivers another strong showing (according to critics and audiences alike),
Logan - March 3rd
Hugh Jackman returns as The Wolverine one final time in James Mangold's Logan early next month. The superhero has enjoyed a slew of franchise installments, Jackman has confirmed that this will be his last go-around as the iconic comic book figure. And seriously, could we ever envision anyone else in the role? So it may be worth enjoying one last ride this March.
Kong: Skull Island - March 10th
Following the massive success of Godzilla's return to Hollywood, it only seems fitting for the industry to milk it for all its worth with a King Kong spin-off. And we all see where this is headed, right? An epic blockbuster show-down between the two creatures in a re-boot that has studio-execs drooling already. The cast of Kong: Skull Island is impressive, with recent Academy Award Winner Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and John C. Reilly all attached, which certainly has me in full sheep mode ready to buy a ticket next month.
Beauty and the Beast - March 17th
I must admit, the live action remake of Disney's Beauty and the Beast gives me a reaffirming bit of nostalgia. As a fan of the animated version and someone who enjoys the story enough to pay and see it on Broadway years ago, my reserved skepticism of Emma Watson portraying the lead role of Belle isn't enough to keep me from the theaters. Beauty and the Beast also arrives this March.
Life (2017) - March 24th
2017 offers a few intriguing sci-fi titles early in the year. One such film is Daniel Espinosa's outer-space thriller, Life. Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson star in the story of an international space crew who intercept a search vessel from Mars and discover an ever-growing alien life-form that wreaks havoc on the crew. The footage looks impressive and the cast has enough fire-power to catch my interest. Life arrives in about a month and a half in late March (trailer here).
Fate of the Furious - April 14th
While I'm admittedly the furthest thing from a fan of The Fast and the Furious franchise, I'm forced to recognize that a large percent of the population can't wait for this upcoming 8th installment. F. Gary Gray helms the latest feature which reprises the role of figurehead Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), and also includes appearances by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell and Michelle Rodriguez. I hope you're ready for some high-octane thrills this April.
The Circle - April 28th (limited release)
I couldn't avoid a plug for one of my favorite evolving filmmakers, James Ponsoldt. He's already mastered the indie drama, and now the director tackles the sci-fi genre with a phenomenal cast and a gripping story from Dave Eggers. Emma Watson stars as a new employee to a powerful tech company that plans to revolutionize the world with a groundbreaking idea that's also quite nefarious. Tom Hanks, John Boyega and Patton Oswalt co-star in what could be a very strong early year release that comes to select theaters in late April.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - May 5th
Marvel's most lovable cast of misfit superheroes return for another hilarious and action-filled adventure with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As the unofficial kick-off to 2017's blockbuster season, James Gunn's latest sets Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) on a mission to discover the true identity of his father all while him and the rest of the crew just ... well, you know ,.. save the galaxy from annihilation.
Spider-Man: Homecoming - July 7th
This summer, Tom Holland will be the third actor to star in a feature film about the popular web-slinger in the last 10 years. The difference with Spider-Man: Homecoming is that this venture, under the direction of Jon Watts, will now be a joint Marvel/Sony production. The latest installment will also tie into the larger MCU with Tony Stark playing a role in the movie which picks up after the events of Captain America: Civil War. The trailer also gave us a glimpse of Michael Keaton’s take on the villainous Vulture -- who can now say he’s starred in two major superhero franchises.
War for the Planet of the Apes - July 14th
Word has just dropped that director Matt Reeves will be taking over for Ben Affleck as the visionary behind DC Comics' stand alone film, Batman. But before he does, Reeves is back this summer with another installment of the continuously impressive Planet of the Apes film universe. Embroiled in yet another battle between man and apes, Woody Harrelson and his band of human followers try once again to take down Caesar and the rest of the genetically modified primates.
Dunkirk - July 21st
With the summer movie season dominated by superheroes, comedies and animated offerings, Christopher Nolan’s latest will allow us the opportunity for a respite from the typical blockbuster fare. Dunkirk tells the story of Allied troops who were surrounded by German forces and evacuated through heroic efforts in what proved to be a pivotal moment of World War II. As usual, Nolan will be utilizing IMAX technology to promise the most immersive experience possible. Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh star, as well as recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance and One Direction’s Harry Styles -- who, if anything, could guarantee some large box office returns.
Blade Runner 2049 - October 6th
Recently there’s been a surge of sequels whose original dates back -- in some cases -- decades. Unfortunately, many have failed to recapture the magic of their respective original, but this fall, one movie has a lot going for it that could prove to be worth the wait. Blade Runner 2049 will see Harrison Ford step back into yet another iconic role of his -- Rick Deckard. Set 30 years after the original, Ford stars alongside Jared Leto and Ryan Gosling who plays a LAPD officer on the hunt for Deckard. In the director’s chair will be Denis Villeneuve -- proven to be a master of tone and atmosphere with his recent efforts Arrival and Sicario -- making him the perfect fit for this project. And if Villeneuve needed any more assistance recreating the iconic visual style of Ridley Scott’s original, he’s enlisted the help of one of the best cinematographers working today, Roger Deakins.
Justice League - November 17th
Despite some harsh critical response and tepid fan reaction, the DC cinematic universe keeps chugging along and this year will finally see the major team-up movie The Justice Leaguebrought to the big screen. Zack Snyder is once again tasked with shepherding the beloved comic book heroes to the screen. Although the build up to this movie has been less than stellar -- especially when compared to how well Marvel executed their strategy leading up to the first Avengersfilm -- interest should still be sky high. The big question is whether or not Snyder and company can finally deliver a movie that satiates both fans and critics.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - December 15th
It was recently revealed that the subtitle for Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga would be The Last Jedi which caused fans to speculate -- is this the end of the Jedi? Others were quick to point out Jedi is both singular and plural -- so who knows!?! Further details of the next installment have been kept under wraps, but if one can venture a guess as to what’s in store for this one after the events of the Force Awakens, we know Rey has found the reclusive Luke Skywalker who may or may not be a guide for the heroine in the journey, and The First Order will look to gain an upper-hand in the battle with the Resistance. Sound familiar? Despite glowing reviews, the main criticism of The Force Awakens was its similar trajectory to Episode 4, A New Hope, so you have to believe director Rian Johnson and his creative team are aware of not following the same path as the original trilogy. Benicio Del Toro joins the cast and we’ll sadly get to see the conclusion of Princess Leia’s story in The Last Jedi, too.
*** Check back this week as we'll break down the most notable films from the Comedy, Horror and Thriller genres, as well as 2017's potential awards season contenders ***