Rampage! Skyscraper! Fighting With My Family…! And those are just films with The Rock in. There’s so much more to come in 2018…
If 2017 was something of a bumper year for film, then there’s plenty to suggest that 2018 will also be something rather special. So much so, in fact, that we’ve expanded our preview list to 40, and still couldn’t fit everything in.
Here, though, is a slice of what lies ahead…
Sony is finally launching its spin-off collection of Spider-Man movies in 2018, with three films currently planned at the time of writing. The first of those is Venom, that sees Tom Hardy taking the lead role (rather than Topher Grace, who played the character not entirely successfully in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3). Ruben Fleischer, still best known for Zombieland, is directing, and it’s already been confirmed that we’re getting an R-rated film. Fingers crossed this one works out…
39. Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet
The first Wreck-It Ralph was a joy, and the second has reunited the creative team behind it, this time promising that the John C Reilly-voiced Ralph will play havoc with the internet. Rich Moore, who won an Oscar for co-directing the brilliant Zootropolis, is helming this one again (along with Phil Johnston). It’ll take place six years after the original film, and it’s the first direct sequel to a Disney animated movie to hit the big screen since The Rescuers Down Under (we don’t count The Jungle Book 2. Its origins weren’t as a theatrical film).
Another Halloween movie? Yes, there have been more disappointing entries than good ones, but like some other films on this list, it’s the people behind the movie that leave us intrigued. First, let’s look at the premise: this latest reboot is a direct sequel to the 1978 original that started it all, and Jamie Lee Curtis will even be reprising her role as Laurie Strode, a character doomed to live in the shadow of Michael Myers, the seemingly omnipresent masked killer. Then we have the director and co-writer: David Gordon Green, whose dramas, which include George Washington, All The Real Girls and Joe, have been nothing short of wonderful. If nothing else, we’re excited to see what he can do to breathe new life into an ageing slasher franchise.
Somewhere on the proverbial cutting room floor is an awful lot more footage of Jason Momoa as Aquaman than we got in the Justice League movie. But where was in there showed promise. Momoa has a clear screen presence, and the intriguing appointment of James Wan to direct the movie is a promising choice.
Not much, at the time of writing, is known about the film, but it’s the sole DC Extended Universe project on the 2018 release schedule. Warner Bros will be looking for a Wonder Woman-size success.
36. A Wrinkle In Time
A passion project for Frozen writer/director Jennifer Lee, she’s adapted Madeleine L’Englethe’s novel, with Ava DuVernay directing. Disney has pumped a nine figure budget into the production too, with a high profile cast including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. It’s a much-loved book and it looks like we’re getting a lavish film version. Given how sequel and franchise-driven Disney’s theatrical slate tends to be, this is a very welcome production. Looking forward to it.
35. The Purge 4: The First Purge
For us, The Purge 2 remains the franchise highlight, but there’s there’s still plenty of scope in James DeMonaco’s horror-dystopian premise, where crime is suspended for 12 terrifying hours each year. This fourth entry will take place before the other movies, and will give an idea of how the Purge became one of America’s big cultural events, like Black Friday but with more beatings and blunt instruments. We know that DeMonaco’s written the film for one Gerard McMurray to direct and, as per the synopsis, we will “witness the rise of our country’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness. Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge.” Expect lots of gore and icy social commentary.
34. Fighting With My Family
Stephen Merchant has spent much of this year putting together his first film as solo director. Entitled Fighting With My Family, he’s co-written the screenplay, and attracted a cast that mixes quality British talent – Merchant, Nick Frost – with notable names from American productions, including Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey and Vince Vaughn. The film follows the story of a former wrestler, who goes around the country playing at small venues. All the while, his children dream of joining WWE. Could be fun, this one. And it’s the first of three Dwayne Johnson films we’re going to talk about…
33. Tomb Raider
The last two Tomb Raider films were forgettable, and yes, we know all about the curse of videogame-to-movie adaptations. But Roar Uthaug, the Norwegian director behind this latest attempt at a Lara Croft adventure, impressed us with The Wave – an intense disaster film with some surprisingly good effects for a non-Hollywood movie, and Alicia Vikander, a great actress, should make for a convincing Croft. Tomb Raider will take its cue from the more recent rebooted videogames, so expect a rough-and-tumble story of survival rather than the two-fisted gunplay of old.
After more than a decade, we’re about to get a Transformers movie that isn’t directed by Michael Bay (though he will remain installed as a producer). Instead, this will be the live-action debut of Travis Knight, previously best known for his stop-motion animated films – including 2016’s superb Kubo And The Two Strings. Although he didn’t direct them all, the features Knight oversaw at Laika are full of great characters and simple, humane stories – if you haven’t seen them already, check out Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls for evidence. We’re hoping some of that will rub off on Bumblebee, an 80s-set spin-off about a teenage girl (Hailee Steinfeld) and her best friend, who happens to be a giant alien robot that can turn into a VW Beetle. We’re willing this one to be more than a slam-bang spectacle. Don’t let us down, Travis.
31. Bohemian Rhapsody
A film that feels like it’s under a cloud at the moment, with director Bryan Singer now having been fired from the production. We’ve yet to find out who the studio will replace him with, and whether it will affect the targeted release date.
Lots of very good people are still involved in the film, though, a biopic of the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek is taking on the role of Mercury in the film, in a production that’s long been in gestation (Sacha Baron Cohen was going to star at one point). Currently, it’s still scheduled for Christmas 2018…
Videogames are a minor running theme among 2018’s big movies. As if Tomb Raider, Ready Player One and Wreck-It Ralph 2 weren’t enough, here’s a slightly more left-field option: an adaptation of Bally Midway’s 80s arcade game, Rampage. The original’s premise saw three ordinary humans transformed into three giant monsters ‘inspired’ by classic moives, so there’s a King-Kong clone, a giant lizard, and a towering werewolf. The aim of the game was, basically to knock down skyscrapers and punch tanks – the perfect fodder for an effects-filled Hollywood movie, really. Brad Peyton (San Andreas) is the director charged with giving the premise a plot, while the cast is led by the indomitable Dwayne Johnson.
Along with Den Of Geek pin-up Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson is still flying the flag for big action movies, and Skyscraper sounds like another throwback to the genre’s 80s heyday. Johnson plays Will Ford, an ex-Fed who’s framed for setting ablaze the world’s tallest building; Ford goes on the run and, hoping to clear his name, resolves to track down the true culprits. If you’re concerned this one will take itself too seriously, bear in mind that it’s written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who previously brought us the downright hilarious Dodgeball and We’re The Millers. We’re guessing Skyscraper won’t be the most subtle film we’ll see in 2018, but we’ll wager that it’s going to be a lot of fun.
28. Slender Man
Horror movies have long drawn from myths and urban legends for their story ideas – the most famous one, perhaps, is The Hook, which formed the basis of a dozen slasher movies. But where are the modern urban legends and myths? Why, on the internet, of course. Creepypastas, those short, creepy stories that make their way around the web, have been chilling readers to the bone for years – and Slender Man is arguably one of the most famous tales to emerge from that modern phenomenon. A tall, thin, wraith-like figure, the Slender Man’s appearance often prefaces a disappearance or some other dreadful event; beyond that, his motivations and origins remain obscure, even if we know who first dreamed up the myth back in 2009 – an internet dweller named Eric Knudsen. Director Sylvain White (The Losers) is behind the movie; done right, it could turn a familiar meme into a terrifying cinema experience.
27. Red Sparrow
Jennifer Lawrence reunites with the director of the last three Hunger Games movies, Francis Lawrence, for this one. It’s a spy thriller based on the book by Jason Matthews, that also features in its cast Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling and Jeremy Irons. Lawrence, J plays a Russian intelligence officer on the tail of an American mole (figuratively, not literally). But does she, too, become a double agent? Good question. But as we’ve not read the book or seen the film, we can’t tell you. Still, it looks like a good, grown-up thriller this. It’s due in March.
26. Creed 2
A film that’s increasingly, on the surface at least, looking like a companion piece to Rocky IV as it is a straight sequel to the Academy Award-nominated Creed.
Michael B Jordan returns in the role of Adonis Creed, with Sylvester Stallone playing Rocky Balboa for the eighth time on screen. This time, Dolph Lundgren is back as Ivan Drago too, and Drago Jr is set to be a character in the movie. Stallone has written and will direct.
25. The Cloverfield Paradox
Last year, 10 Cloverfield Lane came out of nowhere as a kind of stealth sequel: a contained and quietly effective spin-off set within the same universe as the old Cloverfield kaiju flick. Producer JJ Abrams is up to the same old tricks with The Cloverfield Paradox, in which a group of astronauts (among the cast: Daniel Bruhl, Chris O’Dowd and David Oyelowo – an eclectic cast and no mistake) are left stuck on the International Space Station when good old planet Earth unexpectedly vanishes. Just what does this have to do with giant monsters tearing up North America? We were looking forward to finding out.
The movie shrugged off its cinema release date – at one time confirmed for April – and went straight to Netflix in February. We’ll be seeing a lot more of that sort of thing in the future, we reckon.
Here’s our review
24. Isle Of Dogs
Wes Anderson’s last foray into stop-motion, Fantastic Mister Fox, was an absolute joy, and his latest looks just as strange and delightful. It’s set in a future Japan where a strange epidemic has left its canine population quarantined on their own island (so no, British readers, it’s not set in the East End of London), and concerns a young boy’s attempts to get his pet dog back. The animation looks absolutely stunning, and, as with previous Anderson films, the cast is star-studded: listen out for Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, F Murray Abraham and, as ever, Bill Murray among the voices.
23. Mary Poppins Returns
It’s been a long time coming, but Disney is finally exploring more of P L Travers’ Mary Poppins books, in a sequel to one of its most beloved films. Emily Blunt is taking on the role from Julie Andrews, with Into The Woods and Chicago helmer Rob Marshall on directing duties. Dick Van Dyke and Julie Walters will both be making appearances in the movie too. It’s due in December 2018.
22. Mission: Impossible 6
Despite their vintage, the Mission: Impossible movies have remained remarkably fresh, with each entry balancing high-tech thrills and Tom Cruise’s penchant for high-wire stunts. Here, Cruise again teams with Ilsa Faust for another globe-trotting adventure, while Christopher McQuarrie – who wrote and directed the entertaining Rogue Nation – is overseeing all the mayhem. Our one lingering criticism of the Mission: Impossible franchise is that its villains tend to get drowned out by all the pace and spectacle. If this sixth entry can give Ethan Hunt a worthwhile antagonist, it could be a real winner.
21. Pacific Rim: Uprising
Guillermo del Toro’s producing rather than directing this sequel to the Mexican master’s robots-versus-monsters flick, but we’re still rather excited about it. The sequel follows a new generation of monster fighters, led by John Boyega as Jake Pentecost – the son of Idris Elba’s apocalypse-cancelling John – as a new threat against humanity emerges. The original was colourful and guileless, like a Saturday morning cartoon writ large; from what we’ve seen so far, Uprising captures the same larger-than-life spirit.
20. Mary And The Witch’s Flower
In 2015, several animators, among them producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, left Studio Ghibli to set up their own company, Studio Ponoc. Mary And The Witch’s Flower is its debut, based on The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who previously brought us the charming Arietty and When Marnie Was There during his last few years at Ghibli. His latest was well received when it opened in Japan this year, and the aniamtion looks as captivating as we’ve come to expect. Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent are among the English dub’s voice cast.
19. X-Men: The New Mutants
Deadpool and Logan proved to 20th Century Fox that there’s gold in pushing towards the more adult corners of the Marvel universe, and the studio looks as though it’s forging into horror territory with The New Mutants. Directed by Josh Boone and starring Anya Taylor-Joy (who was great in the similarly sinister Split and The Witch), it’s about five youths just coming into their mutant powers – and the nightmarish forces they have to confront in the process.
Comic book fans may be divided over the Blumhouse-esque treatment of the property, but we’re quite intrigued by what appear to be the use of practical effects to generate shocks, at least in the footage we’ve seen so far. Deadpool and Logan were among the best X-Men movies yet; here’s hoping The New Mutants follows a similar run of form.
Unfortunately, we’ve recently heard that this has been pushed back to February 2019, so we’re in for a much longer wait to see if this is any good.
18. Solo: A Star Wars Story
The behind-the-scenes dramas on this second Star Wars spin-off are well documented, with seasoned hand Ron Howard stepping in to take over from the ousted Phil Lord and Chris Miller. How that turbulent history will affect this latest tale remains to be seen, but let’s face it, the hefty reshoots didn’t show too badly in 2016’s surprisingly effective Rogue One. This movie is, of course, Han Solo: The Younger Years, with Alden Ehrenreich stepping into Harrison Ford’s space shoes as the Star Wars universe’s most famous smuggler. Chewbacca and a young Lando Calrissian (played by the great Donald Glover) are along for the ride, while Woody Harrelson will no doubt provide some dramatic heft. His character, Beckett, is described as Han’s mentor; we’re willing to bet that he turns out to be a bit of a scary sort before the story’s out.
17. Boy Erased
Here’s one that may be creeping under many people’s radars. It’s the second film as director from Joel Edgerton. His first, The Gift, was one of the best mainstream thrillers in recent year. His new movie, Boy Erased, is adapted from the book by Garrard Conley (Edgerton has penned the screenplay), and tells the chilling story of a Baptist preacher’s son, forced to take part in a church-backed ‘gay conversion programme’.
Joining Edgerton in the cast are Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Xavier Dolan. Given the taut approach Edgerton brought to The Gift, this is firmly one to look out for.
16. Ready Player One
Nostalgia-filled sci-fi romp Ready Player One was a hugely popular debut for author Ernest Cline – so much so that the movie adaptation has no less a talent than Steven Spielberg at the helm. In essence, the story’s a treasure hunt, set in a virtual world that provides an escape from the grim reality of Earth in 2045. Even if you weren’t all that enamoured with Cline’s deep dive into 1980s nerd culture, the pedigree behind the movie is certainly eye-catching: Alan Silvestri’s providing the soundtrack, Janusz Kaminiski’s handling the photographic side of things, while the cast includes Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn and geek favourite Simon Pegg.
15. Alita: Battle Angel
Once upon a time, this adaptation of the popular manga and anime was James Cameron’s pet project, but with the Avatar franchise beckoning, the director turned it over to Robert Rodriguez. Maze Runner actress Roza Salazar will star as Alita, the cyborg heroine of the title, who navigates her way through a cyberpunk future of violent sports and fatherly scientists. The budget is a startling $200 million – a whopping sum for relatively unknown property lacking big stars to splash on the poster – so this one will need some strong word-of-mouth to compete in a busy summer. Still, Rodriguez has the technical skill and stylistic sense to pull off a movie like this, and he has a strong creative ally in Cameron.
14. Chris Morris movie
It turns out that Chris Morris, he of Brassed Eye, has already shot his second feature film. His first, the biting black comedy Four Lions, was released back in 2010. His second was shot in the US and the Caribbean over the summer of 2017, and features Anna Kendrick amongst its ensemble.
We don’t have a title for the film at the moment, nor a release date. Just the promise that it arrives in 2018, and that one of the best comedy talents the UK has produced in recent times is back making material.
13. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
A crucial film in the plans for Jurassic Park/World domination. The most successful Jurassic Park films, the first and fourth, have relied on the idea of a theme park going out of control. Films two and three danced on the sidelines of that, and didn’t fare as well.
With Jurassic World reportedly kickstarting a trilogy at least, though, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom needs to take the series into genuinely new territory. The smart hire here looks like director J A Bayona, last responsible for the stunning A Monster Calls. He’s directing a script from Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, with Chris Pine and Bryce Dallas Howard leading the cast. Jeff Goldblum is back as Ian Malcolm in this one, too. The film arrives in June. Don’t bet against it being one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. Again.
12. The Predator
It’s high time we had a really good Predator movie, and we’re banking on Shane Black – who directs and co-writes with his old friend Fred Dekker – to deliver the goods. Boyd Holbrook and Olivia Munn lead a cast of misfit soldiers and mercenaries who hunt a group of bloodthirsty alien hunters across an American suburb. At the time of writing, specifics are being kept under wraps – we don’t yet know whether it’ll be set at Christmas, like Black’s other films – but the pedigree alone is keeping our excitement level buoyed up.
11. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
You probably know all about the long, troubled history of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – director Terry Gilliam’s passion project that almost came to life with Johnny Depp in the lead 17 years ago, before spectacularly falling apart mid-production. Unperturbed, Gilliam’s battled to get the film back on the rails ever since – and now, finally, the film’s in the can and the fantasy-adventure, now starring Adam Driver, is on the cusp of release. A sequel, of sorts, to Cervantes’ classic novel, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote sounds like pure, unfettered Gilliam: strange characters, warped humour, and delirious flights of fancy.
10. Deadpool 2
In a year drenched with comic book movies, this is the highlight on paper of the three that are X-Men-tinged. Ryan Reynolds reprises the role of foul-mouthed merc Deadpool, this time with whatever shackles that were on firmly taken off. There was some early fallout on this one, with director Tim Miller leaving the project due to ‘creative differences’ with Ryan Reynolds. John Wick co-director David Leitch has stepped in instead.
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick pen the script again, and the cast features Morena Baccarin, T J Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Josh Brolin and Jack Kesy. Expect megamoney to be made.
9. Dragged Across Concrete
Two films into his career, and S Craig Zahler is firmly on our must-watch directors list. Both Bone Tomahawk and this year’s Brawl In Cell Block 99 have been astounding pieces of work, on which Zahler has penned the script, and kept the budget at a level where he has control.
Film three? Already in the can. It’s Dragged Across Concrete, reuniting him with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Carpenter, and adding Mel Gibson to the mix. It’s a film about police brutality, and the antics of an old time police officer presumably getting too old for this shit (Gibson), and his younger partner (Vaughn).
In Zahler’s hands, expect something uncompromising, brutal, and quite possibly brilliant…
8. Avengers: Infinity War
It seems the end is nigh for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its current guide, with Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige confirming that the Avengers film after this one will wrap up the main storylines. Infinity War, from Captain America: Civil War helmers the Russo brothers, promises to build up to something really rather special.
As you probably know, the gang’s pretty much all here for this one, that’ll deal with the escalating stakes of the MCU. Hopefully, it’ll be more The Avengers than Avengers: Age Of Ultron, too. Hugely looking forward to this one…
7. The Meg
If ever you wondered if we have moments where we behave as grown-ups, just see how we resisted the urge to put The Meg at the top of this list. Regular readers will need no telling just how intense that urge was.
The Meg, chums, is the film where Jason Statham – and this is not a drill – does battle with a 75 foot sea creature, and has to, as per the synopsis for the movie, save the ocean.
It’s the first adaptation of the book series from Steve Alten, with – it gets better – While You Were Sleeping and Cool Runnings director Jon Turteltaub behind the camera. Jessica McNamee, Li Bingbing, Ruby Rose and Rainn Wilson co-star with The Statham.
Battle commences in August. Our ticket for this was sold when we first heard the first syllable about it.
6. The Irishman
It’s unclear whether this one will get a theatrical release at all, but it’s hard to be a movie fan and not be excited about the reunion of talent the long-mooted The Irishman represents. Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese for a start, back working together on a film for the first time since Casino. Then, Joe Pesci has been coaxed out of semi-retirement. Al Pacino is on board. Harvey Keitel is in there. Anna Paquin. Jack Huston, Bobby Cannavale. It’s a hell of a list. The film is a mob drama, as De Niro’s Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran tells the story of how he got involved in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa.
It’s 50/50 whether we’ll see this in cinemas next year. Netflix is set to premiere it on their service in 2019, but we’d wager it’ll get an Oscar-qualifying big screen outing at the end of 2018. Hope so.
5. Black Panther
In a year bursting with comic book movies, it’s what director Ryan Coogler could do with Black Panther than had us as excited as any. Coogler’s astonishing work with Rocky spin-off Creed landed him the job of this one, and Chadwick Boseman also impressively debuted the character of T’Challa/Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. Freed from the need to do a film’s worth of establishing work, this set the scene for what could well have been the comic book movie to beat.
Amongst the supporting cast were Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. It’s the first of three Marvel cinematic universe movies in 2018, and th one we were most looking forward to.
Here’s our review
4. The Incredibles 2
Whilst Fox dallies over what to do with its film rights to Fantastic Four, writer/director Brad Bird has headed back to animation (following Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland) for a follow-up to the best Fantastic Four movie to date. The Incredibles, then, is one of Pixar’s best, and the sequel will build on the idea of a film of superpowered humans.
Set to pick up straight after the first movie, this time there’s a new villain to battle, but also, growing problems at home. If the new film balances that with the skill, humanity and sheer comedy of the first, then we’re in for something very, very special indeed. Again.
3. Early Man
It’s telling that in a year when The Incredibles 2 is listed, there’d still be one animated movie we’d place higher in our anticipated movies list. But then director Nick Park hadn’t made a movie since 2005’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, and hadn’t directed since 2008’s Wallace & Gromit short, A Matter Of Loaf And Death.
That he’d back directing, and introducing a whole new bunch of characters too, was a very big deal for us. The film in question was Early Man, a new stop motion animated venture that used the considerable skillset of Aardman to take us back to caveman and cavewoman times. This time, there was an adventure that involved football, fighting and lots and lots of comedy. All from a director whose mantelpiece heaves under the weight of Oscar gold. Don’t bet against him having to nip to Ikea for a new shelf…
Here’s our review.
2. The Happytime Murders
This looks amazing. Brian Henson hasn’t directed a feature film since Muppet Treasure Island, and has instead spent his time on his more grown-up puppet show, Puppet Up!
For his return to cinema directing? It’s The Happytime Murders, a fabulous looking project set in a world where puppets live alongside humans. Promising to be a dark tale, the world ignites when a puppet private eye goes on the hunt for a serial killer. One who is, one by one, taking out members of a hit 80s television show, The Happytime Gang.
Amongst the human cast are Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and Elizabeth Banks. Bill Barretta, a long-time Henson collaborator, is amongst the puppet team.
Currently set for release in August 2018, this looks really very, very special indeed…
We have to confess that we haven’t yet read the Jeff VanderMeer novel on which this movie’s based, but there’s a very good reason for sticking Annihilation on this list: Alex Garland.
Already a novelist and screenwriter of considerable acclaim, following such offerings as The Beach and the hugely influential 28 Days Later, Garland broke into directing with his stunning debut, Ex Machina. Annihilation‘s another genre film, a sci-fi thriller starring Natalie Portman as a biologist on the hunt for her husband in an area beset by environmental disaster. Oscar Isaac’s the missing husband, while Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a psychologist.
It promises to be astounding this, and in a year with some real treats ahead, this is the one that just about squeezes to the top of the list. Unfortunately, we may not get to see it on the big screen, as it looks like it’s going straight to Netflix here in the UK.