As much as it feels like a regressive outlook to be looking out already at some of the films yet to be released this year in a negative light, sometimes its hard to avoid much of the industry scuttlebutt, marketing materials and other individual elements at play that draw attention to the fact that said productions are probably going to fall below positive expectation come release. However, it's also fair to balance out good and bad in equal measure and in a modern multimedia landscape difficult to escape the cloud of pessimism surrounding some of the biggest and loudest films of the coming year.
This all being said, I hope that I am completely wrong on all fronts as no one should ever wish for a film to be bad regardless of the talents, creatives or studios involved no matter how cheap looking or mass-market they may seem.
Not much is known about the storyline as it’s production is barely underway at this point, but so much about this and its rushed production schedule screams of desperation. Why this is being produced without the influence of Marvel at this point shows that Sony Pictures has learned absolutely nothing from their shared custody battle over Spider-Man and seeks to continue in its efforts to drive every one of its owned properties into a ditch – and this isn’t even the last we’ll hear of them on this list.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Look who else isn’t learning their lessons; 20th Century Fox, who seem to want to continue dancing around and ignoring each disaster in their ongoing X-Men franchise by trying again to tackle the famous Dark Phoenix storyline from the comics, and once again failing to understand the context of why it worked wasn’t because of the giant firebird. But, that’s what they’re selling again.
Series writer Simon Kinberg makes this his directorial debut, which isn’t a great sign, and whatever nonsense logic it's going by may still be bogged down by the aesthetic trappings of the original films. Hopefully, the supposed trip into space will enter into the more interesting cosmic realms, but we’ll see.
The 15:17 to Paris
Based on the events of the 2015 Thalys train attack, in which three young army recruits (Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos) amongst others stopped a gunman on a Paris-bound train travelling from Amsterdam via Brussels, Eastwood has cast the three soldiers as themselves. But the fact that the film is being sold on this gimmick robs the film of any dramatic tension. Even if you’ve never heard the story before, you know they make it out alive because they’re here re-enacting it for us.
Clint Eastwood has been struggling to get back on the wagon of directorial influence for a while now, his last genuinely great film being nearly a decade ago, but after the stifling failure of American Sniper to get anything interesting out of a dialogue of discussion concerning its central character and their relation and sentiments toward the conflict they were based in, he’s resorted to the safest position he could find.
(minor cheat but they serve the same argument)
Video game adaptations don’t work, this has been proven time and time again, but that won’t stop massive action blockbusters being made of them no matter how loose the adaptation. Dwayne Johnson might have screen presence, but Rampage looks so different from its original storyline it’s a wonder why they’re even connected by name.
Tomb Raider certainly looks better, stunt casting academy award winner Alicia Vikander in the lead role, but they’re going off the already cinematic practices and narrative of the 2013 reboot series (which leaves me lukewarm as I have mixed feelings toward that game anyway) that will basically just remove the gameplay engagement element. Of course, it might be an interesting deconstruction piece, but Lara Croft means less to a cinema audience than she does to her original medium so much of this may just be lost.
Yet another attempt to inflate the already perfect children’s stories of Dr. Seuss to feature length while completely missing the point of the moral fables he was weaving with them. While the last adaptation in 2000 was an ugly piece of work in live action, this retread at least has the sense to keep it contained to animation, with the genuinely decent choice of vocal performance with Benedict Cumberbatch.
But take one look at the poster and it's already apparent that they’re making the same mistakes as before; focusing on a childhood backstory absent from the original source material to continue Hollywood’s obsession with overexplaining every aspect of beloved fictional characters. The fact that all of this is being produced by Illumination Entertainment just makes this so much worse. What will be the forced minion equivalent this time?
Speaking of defacing a beloved childhood classic, as if James Cordon’s artistic bankruptcy couldn’t sink any lower after The Emoji Movie, here he is fronting a defaced and horrifying live adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s most popular work. The little Edwardian figure transformed by Sony Pictures into a snarky, fast-talking pest where jokes about his absence of trousers are clearly the funniest thing ever observed. Everyone involved looks stiff and embarrassed, it’s storyline from what we can tell is as trite and predictably big-screen as they come, and all the warmth and sincerity of the material sucked out. This is the anti-Paddington.
Just in time for Easter, Lion director Garth Davis’ take on the crucifixion story as seen from the perspective of the titular character herself. Rooney Mara plays Mary, and yes, the climate is looking an awful lot whiter than usual. How this continues to happen isn’t much of a mystery, but the film looks like a made-for-TV cash-in, an incredibly problematic reading of events, and Joaquin Phoenix playing what might be the most unintentionally hilarious depiction of Jesus Christ ever put to screen.
It’s a movie based on a lazy pun and the sequel to a film people forgot about years ago. Johnny Depp’s in it. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt sound embarrassed to be involved with it. Johnny Depp’s in it. There’s an extended fart joke and a gnome wearing a mankini in the trailer.
I got nothing else.
Did I mention Johnny Depp’s in it?
Whoever said that a gender-flipped reimagining of a subpar romantic comedy from the 80s was a good idea – especially relating to this property – should be looking for a new line work come release date. The original premise was horrendously uncomfortable to begin with, seeing a cruel but beautiful heiress gets amnesia after an accident, and introduced to a new life by her carpenter by convincing her they're husband and wife.
This is wrong on so many levels, but gender-flipping the situation (which really needs to stop being a thing) for the sake of it is only going to add more baggage as opposed to the supposed 99% empowerment fantasy they’re going for. Also, it just looks so very inexpensive and ugly.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Here we go again, indeed. The original Mamma Mia! adaptation was an incredibly guilty pleasure at best and a disaster at worst. This sequel doesn’t even have the benefit of being based on a pre-existing source material. Its the most naked effort of cashing checks and easy money; shoot it for cheap, get younger, hotter versions of the original cast to retread the original film scene by scene and song by song in a remake, hiding in a prequel, hiding in a sequel.
The most bewildering thing of note so far is that Meryl Streep doesn’t even seem to be around despite her credit on the cast list. Could they only get her for a day and killed her off? It certainly seems that way. Either way, this actually looks worse and somehow less entertaining than the original, so nothing for anyone I guess.