Is the superhero flick entering its postmodern phase? Can Star Wars get superfans back onside? Is Will Smith still a bona fide A-list Hollywood titan? And will there really be an appetite for three Disney live action remakes in a single year? These are some of the posers that 2019 stands ready to answer, so let’s dig right in to Week in geek’s annual all-action preview of the big-screen hotties and notties for the 12 months ahead.
Sizzling superhero epics and spiky spin-offs
For all those complaining that they cannot peep their head inside a multiplex without being accosted by muscle-bound hunks with magical abilities, things are unlikely to get much better in 2019. The Marvel big guns will roll out in April’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’, March’s ‘Captain Marvel’ and July’s ‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’. The first will reveal how the world puts itself back together after Thanos’s climactic finger snap in last year’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, and the latter two take place before and after the big purple meanie destroyed half the galaxy’s intelligent life forms. Meanwhile, the main movie from Warner Bros-owned DC this year will be the ostensibly kid-friendly ‘Shazam!’, about a skinny teenager who is given the power to identify obscure pop music tracks transform into a hulking costumed crime fighter simply by uttering the name of the hokey golden age hero.
October’s ‘Joker’, which will exist outside the main DC Extended Universe. With more than a nod to Martin Scorsese’s classic mean-minded 1982 satire ‘The King of Comedy’ (as well as Alan Moore’s graphic novel ‘The Killing Joke’), Todd Phillips’s origin story stars Joaquin Phoenix as the crown prince of Gotham, recasting the DC staple as a failed standup comedian who embarks on a life of crime.
Over at Twentieth Century Fox, still clinging on to its X-Men-tinted corner of the Marvel universe, the year’s main focus will no doubt be June’s ‘Dark Phoenix’. And yet August’s ‘The New Mutants’, from T’he Fault in Our Stars’ director Josh Boone, looks a whole lot more interesting. Centring on four young people with nascent powers who have been trapped in a mysterious facility by unknown forces, it stars bright young things Anya Taylor-Joy (‘The Witch’) and Maisie Williams (‘Game of Thrones’), and might mark a welcome shift for the superhero genre into full-on horror territory.
Tipped to step even further over the line into gnarly eccentricity are M Night Shyamalan’s ‘Glass’, the third instalment of a trilogy that began with 2000’s ‘Unbreakable’ and continued with 2016’s ‘Split’, and ‘Brightburn’, which looks like a twisted blend of ‘Superman’ and ‘The Omen’.
Live action reimaginings
It looks like 2019 will most definitely be the year of Disney deja vu. Not content with rinsing the opening to the original ‘Lion King’ for the live action remake’s trailer, the mouse house is also bringing back ‘Dumbo’ (March) and ‘Aladdin’ (May), using the wonder of new technology. Perhaps Will Smith, who plays the genie, will grant Guy Ritchie’s wish for a hit after the disappointing double whammy of 2015’s ‘The Man From UNCLE’ and 2017’s ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’.
The enduring high quality of CGI-led animated fantasy continues to astound, more than two decades after Pixar gave us ‘Toy Story’. Many fans felt that 2010s ‘Toy Story 3’ brought the much-loved story to a suitable finish as Andy headed off to college and the toys escaped the fiery furnace for a new life with cheery toddler Bonnie. But here they are once again in the Josh Cooley-directed fourth instalment (June), featuring the uncomfortable-in-his-own-plastic-skin Forky (Tony Hale) as a new addition to the gang.
Before that, in February, ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ will return us to the world of super-sarcastic playthings as Chris Pratt ‘s Emmet Brickowski is forced once again from his comfortably awesome existence to rescue Elizabeth Banks’s Wyldstyle from the clutches of a nutty intergalactic invader named General Sweet Mayhem. Finally, ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ will bring the adventures of Jay Baruchel’s high-flying Hiccup to a rip-roaring close.
Robert Rodriguez’s cyberpunk ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ (February) is the movie James Cameron was so desperate to make. Rosa Salazar’s big-eyed Alita just looks downright weird in the trailers, and it remains to be seen whether an effect that works perfectly well in anime settles down over the course of the movie or just gives everyone watching a headache.
Another Cameron cast-off of sorts is the so-far-untitled ‘Terminator’ reboot that’s due to arrive naked and glistening around November time. ‘Deadpool’s’ Tim Miller directs, with Linda Hamilton returning as Sarah Connor for the first time in close to three decades.
Do audiences really want to see a Men in Black movie without Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones? We’ll find out in June when ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ pals Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson pull on the sharp suits and make with the forget-everything gizmos in the latest instalment of the zany alien saga. Meanwhile, Smith has jumped ship to October’s Gemini Man, which has the inimitable Ang Lee in charge — though don’t forget that the Taiwanese ... ahem ... director of ‘The Hulk’ boasts somewhat average form when it comes to genre fare.
Finally, December sees the final instalment in the new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy hit cinemas. Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker returns (again) after copping it last time (presumably as some kind of Force ghost), while we’ll get to see if Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren can recover from his ignominious failure to spot Skywalker’s cheap conjuring trick at the Battle of Crait. Does anyone care who Rey’s parents are any more?