Synopsis: The crew of the colony ship Covenant discover what they think is an uncharted paradise, but it is actually a dark, dangerous world, whose sole inhabitant is the synthetic David, survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Thoughts: Anticipation was high back in 2012 when director Ridley Scott’s mysterious Prometheus arrived veiled in secrecy. Was it a prequel to Alien or wasn’t it? Early previews gave few clues and neither Scott nor 20th Century Fox did much to fill in the blanks. Prometheus sharply divided audiences and critics, some appreciating that Scott reached further back than mere prequel territory while others loathed it with a vitriol usually reserved for a Transformers sequel. Personally, I loved it and saw it several times on the big screen; it’s cliffhanger ending only made me more curious about what would happen next. The answer comes next May with Alien: Covenant and this first look is a neat (if overly gory/spoiler-y) intro to a film that looks very different than its predecessor. Perhaps Scott (The Martian) and screenwriter John Logan (Skyfall, Spectre, Hugo) are trying to please the fans and detractors of Prometheus at the same time. Riding that fine line would be good, I just hope they don’t overcompensate and make a faded copy of the original entry. Aside from Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Noomi Rapace (Dead Man Down) returning in their roles, star Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) certainly is going full-on Ellen Ripley and I’m interested (and a little nervous) to see how actors like Danny McBride (This Is the End) and the recently added James Franco (Sausage Party) figure into the mix. It’s worth noting that Alien: Covenant was originally intended for a release in October 2017. It was then moved up to August before settling into a prime summer release date in May. That’s a very good sign of a studio confident they have something big…let’s hope so.
Synopsis: A new blade runner unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. The discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.
Release Date: October 6, 2017
Thoughts: When Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was first released in 1982 it was a little too ahead of its time. Though Alien, Scott’s previous effort, successfully transcended its era there was something too cool to the touch in this adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story. Over time Blade Runner has become a respected classic, endlessly released in new edits that attempt to make the somewhat obtuse movie a bit more focused. Instead of tinkering again with the source movie, Scott (busy with his second Alien prequel) wisely handed over the reins to skilled auteur Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival) and boy am I glad he did. As much as I love Scott’s work (I’m still ornery that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for The Martian), Villeneuve is rising in the ranks of ‘can’t miss’ directors. Set thirty years after the original film, it introduces a new blade runner (Ryan Gosling…ever heard of him?) who tracks down Harrison Ford’s character for…well, we don’t know quite what for yet. All I know is that this is what a true teaser should be like and the hype growing around this one seems to be quite real and potent. What a cast too, joining Gosling (The Big Short) and Ford (Star Wars:The Force Awakens) are Robin Wright (Wonder Woman), Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment), Lennie James (Lockout), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)
Synopsis: When her boyfriend dumps her, Emily persuades her ultra-cautious mom to accompany her on a vacation to Ecuador.
Release Date: May 12, 2017
Thoughts: 15 years. That’s how long it’s been since Goldie Hawn (Deceived) has been seen on the big screen (not counting midnight screenings of Death Becomes Her at revival houses) and for a Hawn fan like me, that’s far too long. The Goldie drought will end this Mother’s Day as the Oscar winning comedienne teams up with Amy Schumer (Trainwreck) in Snatched, a mother-daughter comedy directed by Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies). While the optimist in me is hoping for the best, Schumer’s ascent to bona-fide leading lady hasn’t been totally proven and I wasn’t a fan of screenwriter Katie Dippold’s previous buddy film The Heat. Also, remember the last time we were excited for a road-trip movie with a star that now makes infrequent appearances in movies? Yeah…we wound up with The Guilt Trip. The humor looks sophomoric and the production a bit on the cheap…but I’m interested to see what silly sparks Hawn and Schumer can make.
Synopsis: Two unlikely prospective lifeguards vie for jobs alongside the buff bodies who patrol a beach in California.
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Thoughts: Winter is definitely coming and if you need a way to stay warm until the summer months I can’t think of a better way to do it than to keep the new trailer for Baywatch on repeat. What started as a more serious show on network TV turned into an 11-season soapy sun and sand action show that featured a rotating roster of buff guys and beautiful women either before or after their Playboy debuts. Now comes a big screen take starring Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas) and Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment) and it looks like a whole lot of fun. I can already tell it’s been carefully made to gently lampoon its source material while giving its stars the maximum shirtless screentime. Fine by me and as the song goes…”I’ll be ready”. I doubt this one will need saving when it arrives in May.
Synopsis: While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her.
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Thoughts: Though 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey was a sizable (if controversial) hit for Universal, even its most ardent supporters agreed there was something amiss in the big screen adaptation of the first book in author E.L. James’s trilogy. Perhaps it was the well-documented disagreements between James and director Sam Taylor-Johnson that left the the movie having no real voice. Or maybe it was the rumored mutual hatred stars Jamie Dornan (The 9th Life of Louis Drax) and Dakota Johnson (Need for Speed) had for eachother, leading to questionable chemistry and giving Dornan pause to reconsider coming back for the final two entries. The paycheck (or perhaps lawyers) prevailed and Dornan returns along with Johnson for Fifty Shades Darker which looks just as inscrutable and sudsy as its predecessor. Adding Kim Basinger (Final Analysis), Hugh Dancy, Tyler Hoechlin (Everybody Wants Some!), and Bella Heathcote (The Neon Demon) and bringing in James Foley to relieve Taylor-Johnson of her directing duties, it will be interesting to see if this sequel can win back its target audience. With the final movie almost completed, there’s no stopping this machine even if we wanted to.
Synopsis: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Thoughts: If you didn’t know any better, the first few moments of this first look at Universal’s 2017 reboot of The Mummy may feel like you’ve fallen into another Mission: Impossible entry. There’s Tom Cruise looking quite Cruise-ish in a cargo plane carrying the remains of an ancient princess. Before they can even get through customs (or land the aircraft) trouble brews with Cruise (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) winding up in a body bag. What’s so nice about this thrilling teaser is that is leaves you with more questions than answers. Where the 1932 original was a classic horror, its 1999 reboot owed more to Indiana Jones than to its source material. This new take on The Mummy, however, looks to blend the best of previous incarnations. With Russell Crowe (The Water Diviner) and Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle) along for the adventure under the direction of Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us), look for this one to be unwrapped in a prime summer slot.
Synopsis: In the 17th century two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and to spread the gospel of Christianity.
Release Date: December 23, 2016
Thoughts: Much like Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013, Silence is a late breaking entry into the serious awards season discussion. Buzzed about for months (years if you count its overall development time) but as yet unseen, you never can really tell where a Scorsese flick will land in the eyes of critics but Silence looks compelling from the outset. Tackling the not super blockbuster themes of Christian oppression in a foreign land, it certainly has the visual hallmarks of a Scorsese film…including a lengthy run time. Stars Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Adam Driver (Midnight Special) are stars continuing to rise and if you believe early odds, Liam Neeson (Non-Stop) could net a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work. We’ve got a few more weeks until Silence roars into view but count on this one to factor heavily in Oscar talk as the year concludes.
Synopsis: A diverse team of explorers is brought together to venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific—as beautiful as it is treacherous—unaware that they’re crossing into the domain of the mythic Kong.
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Thoughts: Since 1933, we’ve been kinda ape over King Kong. Though his franchise isn’t a huge one, each time he’s appeared on screen it’s been a cultural touchstone of the moviemaking era. The original film became instantly iconic while the overstuffed 1976 remake boasted impressive effects and a newcomer by the name of Jessica Lange. Peter Jackson’s thrill heavy 2005 reboot didn’t kick things off like it should have but it kept the larger than life monkey in relevant terms. With the success of 2014’s Godzilla and expertly timed with Universal Studios in Orlando’s new King Kong ride, Kong: Skull Island feels like it’s arriving at the right time. Starring Brie Larson (The Gambler), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight), Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World), John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane), and John C. Reilly (Guardians of the Galaxy), the new’70s set Kong is clearly going for that old school home territory feeling without the bright lights of the big city to muck it all up. This first full trailer is a tad jokey for my tastes but the kid in me is counting down the days until Kong is again unleashed.
Synopsis: An adaptation of the classic fairy-tale about a monstrous prince and a young woman who fall in love.
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Thoughts: No, YOU teared up when you were watching this look at Beauty and the Beast…ok…I did too. One of Disney’s most beloved animated fairy tales comes to live action life from director Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2) in 2017 and it looks like, well, a beauty. We all know the story so even seeing some spoilerific scenes doesn’t deter me from counting down the days until this one gets released. Boasting an impressive cast with Emma Watson (The Bling Ring), Kevin Kline (The Big Chill), Emma Thompson (Beautiful Creatures), Sir Ian McKellen (X: Men – Days of Future Past), Josh Gad (Frozen), Luke Evans (The Raven), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), and Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) all signing and dancing up a storm, anticipation is high for Beauty and the Beast to be another jewel in Disney’s recent slate of live action remakes of their cartoon classics.
View the teaser trailer here: Beauty and the Beast – Teaser Trailer
Synopsis: A lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged man reunites with his estranged wife and meets his teenage daughter for the first time.
Release Date: March 24, 2017
Thoughts: Though MN has been the setting for several notable Hollywood releases, it’s been a while since we’ve had a locally shot project to look forward to…especially one with such a strong cast. Adapted from the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes and directed by Craig Johnson (The Skeleton Twins), Woody Harrelson (Now You See Me 2) stars as the titular character who reunites with his ex-wife (Laura Dern, Smooth Talk) to visit the daughter she put up for adoption years earlier. Harrelson and Dern on their own would pique my interest but the two stars together in a movie shot in my hometown featuring a host of familiar local faces? Sign me up to get to know Wilson better.