2017 Blockbuster Movies to See
I’ve yet to see all of the critically acclaimed films of 2016 but I’ve seen most of what the year had to offer in the form of blockbusters. The big budget releases from last year were disappointing to say the least. I wrote an article towards the end of the summer titled ‘Why Does This Summer Movie Season Suck?’ and at the time I had hope for a few movies that had yet to come out, ‘Jason Bourne’, ‘Suicide Squad’, ‘Sausage Party’, and ‘Pete’s Dragon’. While I liked ‘Pete’s Dragon’ a good amount, it barely made a dent at the box office. The other three were severe disappointments despite ‘Sausage Party’ getting some critic love. ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ lived up to the hype but outside of that, some animated films, and the two Marvel movies that came out you had to take a look at the indie circuit to get your good movie fix. 2017 is sure to have its share of disappointments as well but on paper it looks to be a healthy year for blockbuster cinema. I took a look at the schedule and took note of the films that look like they deserve the escalating price of a movie ticket.
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Logan (March 3rd) – In what is expected to be Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise Fox is going the unconventional route. One of my favorite trailers from last year revealed that the plot of the third solo Wolverine movie borrows heavily from the ‘Old Man Logan’ storyline in the comics. It looks like it will be a road trip movie centered on an aging Logan whose healing abilities are slowing down, a Professor Charles Xavier who looks to be in bad shape, and a young girl mutant who they seem to be protecting. The tone of the film is dark which makes sense given its R rating. That should allow director James Mangold to pull no punches and give us a mainstream superhero movie that actually has teeth. It was a good story line in the comics and they’ve added an element that could help ease the loss of Wolverine in these movies if it is indeed the last time we see this iteration of the character.
Kong: Skull Island (March 10th) – When this movie was first announced I wrote it off as another attempt to reboot the character of King Kong. The last one directed by Peter Jackson was a great entry and that wasn’t too long ago. But then the first trailer hit and they got my attention. Kong is giant in this movie. I mean huge. I understand its all in order to set up a Godzilla vs. King Kong movie a few years down the line but its an impressive sight to behold. Indie director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, whose indie debut ‘The Kings of Summer’ was an enjoyable film, brings a great cast along with him. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly lead the way. The movie is set in 1971 and has the look and feel of a Vietnam war movie. The second trailer came out recently and revealed some more details of the plot and it has me even more interested. They’re making the most of their budget from what I can tell.
Beauty and the Beast (March 17th) – March appears to be a good month at theaters as Disney looks to continue the roll they’ve been on. Not just in general but with the live action remakes of their animated classics. What at first sounded like an easy cash grab turned out to produce some quality entertainment. I’ve enjoyed ‘Maleficent’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Jungle Book’, and ‘Pete’s Dragon’ so far and will keep an open mind for any upcoming entries. These movies are great for parents with young kids, especially young daughters and I look forward to taking my daughter to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ when it comes out. One of the best Disney animated movies from their resurgence in the 1990’s that was also the first animated movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars should play out well in live action. It looks to be following the original almost beat for beat which has me excited for the final action set piece. Dan Stevens is an actor I like a lot and he should be great as the beast. Emma Watson plays Belle and the voice cast for the occupants of the mansion is great and too long to list.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5th) – My favorite Marvel movie to date and one of my favorite movies of 2014 finally gets its sequel this year. The whole team is back together including director James Gunn. Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) return to go on more space journeys I presume. The humor has remained intact based on the trailer as they go searching for Peter Quill’s real father. Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone have been added to the cast. Groot is now a baby but I really like the niche the team has carved out in the MCU, at least until they inevitably join the fray once Thanos comes to Earth. Marvel must have faith in them as this movie kicks off summer in the slot that has been reserved for their biggest releases to date.
Alien: Covenant (May 19th) – Ridley Scott is back with another entry in the Alien franchise after the disappointing but underrated ‘Prometheus’ from 2012. That movie was a prequel that only vaguely had ties to the original franchise for most of the movie. They must feel like that was the reason it wasn’t a big success at the box office because this time around they’ve corrected that by putting Alien prominently in the title. This looks like its going to be in between the time of ‘Prometheus’ and the original ‘Alien’ with Michael Fassbender as the only returning cast member as far as I can tell. The trailer makes it seem like Scott is taking the franchise back to its horror roots but at the same time the cast includes Danny McBride and James Franco so who knows. The potential is high with this one but at the same time should at least be as good as ‘Prometheus’, which would be good if you’re me but maybe not as much for others.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7th) – Spider-Man made his triumphant debut/return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in last year’s ‘Captain America: Civil War’ with what I thought was the best interpretation of the character yet. It wasn’t much more than a cameo but what little was there was very encouraging. The suit looked great, he was a young high schooler, the witty banter felt ripped right from the comics. And the fact that the third version of the character in 15 years has a heavy hand creatively from Marvel bodes well. It also allows Peter Parker to run interact with Tony Stark and Spider-Man to work with Iron Man based on the first trailer. It also looks like they’re staying consistent with the wise cracking and adding the classic webbing in the armpits of the suit with a more practical angle. The main antagonist in the film is supposed to be high school life for Peter with a great cast of teachers and fellow students but Michael Keaton looks perfect for Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture. The suit for the Vulture looks a little too Green Goblin for my taste but maybe in action it will play better. Director Jon Watts worked well with young actors in ‘Cop Car’ so I’m confident he can handle the job here.
War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14th) – Usually reboots don’t work out so well, just ask Sony who started spamming Spider-Man reboots almost immediately, but so far the newest Planet of the Apes series has been a very pleasant surprise. Coming off of Tim Burton’s terrible 2001 reboot the bar was set pretty low but 2011’s ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ stepped right over it and then some. The origin story of Caesar was much more compelling than I expected and the follow up ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ was even better. It left off with Caesar and his brethren taking control of San Francisco and bracing for a much bigger battle which is where this film looks to be starting off. Woody Harrelson is the antagonist for Caesar this time out. Who do we root for? Our fellow human race or the ape who we’ve been following and invested in for two movies? Matt Reeves returns from ‘Dawn’ to help us answer that question. Hopefully he brings his good looking cinematography and thrilling set pieces with him.
Dunkirk (July 21st) – Christopher Nolan’s last film ‘Interstellar’ wasn’t as widely loved as many I’m sure were expecting with only a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes but I still greatly enjoyed it as I have with all of his movies to date. But still hes one of the rare directors these days whose movies are always a big deal even with mainstream audiences. You could almost consider him this generation’s Steven Spielberg. This time around hes tackling a World War II story about the miraculous evacuation of allied soldiers who were surrounded by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk. Hence the title. The trailer was encouraging with predictably great visuals and a great cast that includes Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Kenneth Branagh. Nolan loves to use IMAX in his movies and this is no exception. In fact over 100 minutes of the movies run time will be on full display in the biggest aspect ratio there is. Its also nice to have a blockbuster to look forward to that isn’t a superhero movie or a reboot.
Blade Runner 2049 (October 6th) – Alot of people love the original ‘Blade Runner’ but I only caught up with it a few years ago and wasn’t a big fan of it. There are certainly aspects of it that I respect and I can see how it was ahead of its time but to me it was a little dull. But the fact that the long awaited sequel is being directed by one of my favorite directors working today, Denis Villanueve, has me looking forward to it. Villanueve hasn’t steered me wrong yet. I haven’t seen his latest, ‘Arrival’, but everything else I’ve seen I’ve been a big fan of. ‘Sicario’, ‘Enemy’, ‘Prisoners’, ‘Incendies’. All movies I would recommend. The great cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has worked with Villanueve multiple times in the past, is back again so the film is guaranteed to look good. And the trailer confirmed that. Ryan Gosling stars as well as Harrison Ford returning. Gosling is coming of a great year in 2016 with ‘The Nice Guys’ and ‘La La Land’ and will look to make 2017 a repeat with this and a few others including Terrence Malick’s latest, ‘Song to Song’.
Thor: Ragnorak (November 3rd) – I’m not the biggest fan of the Thor movies that have been released so far. In fact ‘Thor’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World’ are 12th and 13th out of the 14 MCU movies respectively in my Marvel movie rankings. But what has me looking forward to the third movie in the Thor trilogy despite that is the fact that they’ve brought in director Taika Waititi. Hes such an odd choice that it has me intrigued. I’ve only seen his last two movies ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ and ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ but they’re quirky indie New Zealand comedies and they’re very good. I can’t wait to see how that translates to a superhero blockbuster. Also the fact that this movie also features Mark Rufffalo as The Hulk and appears to be a buddy comedy in some ways with him and Thor sounds great. The Hulk was great in the two Avengers movies and I can see the dynamic between him and the Asgardian god giving audiences some laughs. I’ve also heard the movie takes some beats from a Hulk comic book story line called ‘Planet Hulk’ where he is a barbarian warrior on a planet where he has to fight other warriors gladiator style. I never read it but I heard its good and it sounds really cool. Theres also Loki and other regular Thor players but they don’t interest me as much. Maybe they can win me over.
Star Wars: Episode VIII (December 15th) – Less than a year away from release and it still doesn’t have an official title. No teaser trailer either. But still it is my most anticipated movie of the year. ‘The Force Awakens’ was a spectacular re-entry into the Star Wars franchise after Disney bought Lucas Film. It also made over $2 billion dollars at the box office. Bringing back Luke, Han, and Leia as well as introducing some great new characters in Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron worked like a charm. After a pit stop with the standalone ‘Rogue One’ last year its back to following the main story line and seeing how Rey can learn from Luke to take on Kylo Ren and the Empire. JJ Abrams is out and Rian Johnson is in as director. Hes one of my favorite up and coming filmmakers and I was excited when he got the job. His first three movies ‘Brick’, ‘The Brothers Bloom’, and ‘Looper’ all hit the mark and everything you hear about him is he knocked his biggest assignment out of the park. Disney must be happy because they let him not only direct Episode VIII but write it as well and hes also writing Episode IX. I don’t know what to expect from this movie plot wise but ‘The Force Awakens’ followed in the steps of ‘A New Hope’ so closely that it has a lot to live up to if its being compared to ‘Empire Strikes Back’ which it surely will be. I’m in the tank for this movie no matter what after the last one so I can only hope it lives up to the lofty expectations even just a little bit.
An auxiliary member of the MMAJA, Bob used to run the baseball blog 'The Oriole Report' before transitioning to podcasting about movies, TV, Video Games, and MMA. 'The Redbox Report' movie podcast was started in 2013 followed by 'The Redbelt Report' MMA podcast in 2016. In 2018 they were merged into 'Phelan to Communicate', a podcast that can be found on iTunes and a blog that can be found at http://PhelanToCommunicate.wordpress.com. Bob has also written for Konsume.com and BaltimoreSportsReport.com and delivers mail for a living in Baltimore County. Follow him on Twitter @PhelanToTweet.