Now that the new Blade Runner movie has so expertly turned the corner of the year 2017, it seems timely for me to do a new survey of the forthcoming 2018 science-fiction and fantasy films.
There are of course still a few more films to come in 2017. Before Christmas we get Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok; DC’s Justice League; Guillermo del Toro’s acclaimed ‘beauty and the beast’ movie The Shape of Water; and of course the big-big release which is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
But below I focus is on what’s coming in 2018. I should note that I’m not someone who watches trailers, due to the generally spoiler-ific nature of trailers. So these comments are not informed by any trailers there might be out there.
* Extinction: Extinction leads a whole pack of gloomy movies, with its January 2018 release. It sounds like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the grim family-breakdown bits) meets any number of imminent-apocalypse movies. I’m not expecting much from this one.
* The God Particle: The heavily delayed space-station horror movie God Particle is now set for release in early February 2018. Despite the intellectual-sounding title it appears to be just a basic ‘dangerous aliens on a space station’ story. It’s also apparently now part of the Cloverfield franchise. Perhaps that’s how the makers rescued what was, by all accounts, a turkey.
* Annihilation: A Natalie Portman vehicle due at the end of February 2018. It features a small-team scientific expedition to an “environmental disaster zone”. Could be just another “monsters and guns on the jungle” action-eer with a veneers of sci-fi. But the fact that the makers had hoped to get Tilda Swinton suggests it may have a little more intellectual substance to it. One suspects that piranha-like flesh eating nano-swarms may be involved, rather than a giant crocodile. However, with that sort of thing I’m always haunted by the huge pile of pretentious nano-crud that was Johnny Depp’s awful Transcendence (2014).
* A Wrinkle in Time: Once we get past the dead zone of the January/February releases, things become a little more upbeat with a Disney movie. This is an adaptation of a children’s Christian science-fiction novel that was well-known in the 1960s and 70s, but which somewhat faded from public awareness in the 1980s and 90s. It’s a big Disney live-action movie, so should be fairly enjoyable. Though it may work best for those aged 11-14. It’s due in early March 2018, and will possibly be the most cheerful fantasy of what appears to be a very gloomy year of movies.
* Black Panther: Yet more jungle adventure — is the Dominican Republic offering vast subsidies to movie-makers, to film in its lush jungles? I must stay I enjoyed the Black Panther’s first brief appearance on the big screen in Captain America: Civil War. But it sounds to me like this may be a re-hash of Avatar, with military outsiders invading the hidden jungle trying to steal the Panther’s vibranium metal. Yawn. Still, it’s from Marvel, so it should have some extra sci-fi zip to it, if the makers faithfully visualise Jack Kirby’s ground-breaking take on Afrofuturism. Presumably it also somewhat sets the scene for the big Avengers: Infinity War blockbuster later in the year.
* Tomb Raider: A big Warner Bros. release in mid March 2018. Judging by the grim movie poster it’s not going to be bouncy and camp Raiders of the Lost Ark-style fun, and will instead go for a gritty “I’m a survivor, taste my bloody ice-pick!” angle.
* Pacific Rim: Uprising: A sequel to the big brash but forgettable Pacific Rim. This time there’s no Guillermo del Toro in sight. Sounds like a big dumb sequel, full of monsters vs. giant machines, but hey… that can be enjoyable too.
* Rampage. Yet another ‘bio-engineered monsters in the jungle’ movie, this time based on an old 1980s videogame. And of course the monsters escape and go on the rampage. Sounds like an over-the-top formula popcorn movie, basically Jurassic Park crossed with Godzilla. Expect laughs, if not outright parody.
* Ready Player One. Steven Spielberg as director of a post-apocalyptic / cyberpunk movie, set in a future where most people prefer to ‘live’ in the virtual reality world of the OASIS. Sounds like Blade Runner meets Tron. Hopefully it will have an interesting Snow Crash-like edge in terms of the visuals, although it’s apparently based on a dire young adults novel that was anything but the great Snow Crash.
* The New Mutants. At first glance I thought this was proper X-Men movie, but from the description it seems to be a grim psychological teens-in-a-maze horror videogame dressed up in X-Men clothing. Nope, that just sounds awful to me — even when I learn that the great Maisie Williams is starring.
* Avengers: Infinity War: Which releases in early May and opens the summer season. One of the year’s big “must see” movies, of course.
* “Untitled Han Solo film”, in May 2018. A Lucasfilm space-western telling the backstory of Han Solo, and directed by Ron Howard. Yup, I’ll definitely see that.
* The Incredibles 2: Pixar’s big summer movie from… the great Brad Bird. Interesting. Yup, that sounds like another must-see movie.
* Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Yet more jungles and escaped monsters, and yet more forgettable popcorn and people-munching action.
* Ant-Man and the Wasp: Presumably this will be Marvel’s lighter offshoot movie, serving as a palette-cleanser after the heavier Avengers: Infinity War. The first Ant Man movie was enjoyable, and presumably this will be more of the same.
* Hotel Transylvania 3: Hotel Transylvania 2 was a thoroughly enjoyable entertainment, even with its (thankfully quite short) musical interludes. So I have hopes for more fun from this.
* Alita: Battle Angel: Hollywood takes another crack at doing Japanese manga/anime as a big summer blockbuster movie. Maybe this time it’ll finally work, with James Cameron at the helm. In the far future a girl cyborg is rescued from a scrapheap. It should be Valerian-style treat visually, if nothing else.
* Hellboy: Apparently Hellboy reboots into an R-rated Deadpool style, but… he travels to an ancient England, must defeat Merlin the wizard etc. Hmmm… Well, I guess an early medieval fantasy setting would allow for lots of gratuitous violence and gore. I’ve only ever seen the Hellboy movies, and I disliked the Deadpool movie, so while the setting excites me the style may not.
* Bumblebee: Apparently a Transformers spin-off movie telling the 1980s backstory of Bumblebee. I suspect a viewer will have to be younger than 11 to enjoy this one.
* The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: Terry Gilliam’s new project, in which a time-travelling ad-man meets the famous tragic hero Don Quixote. Any whacky and surreal Gilliam movie is always welcome.
* Mission: Impossible 6: Always a treat, with cool future-gadgets and snappy patter.
* First Man: a bio-pic on the life and work of the Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong. Hopefully a respectful one.
* The Predator: apparently an attempt to revive the Predator brand, as a sequel to the 1987 movie. Judging by the timing of the release it’ll just be a big dumb summer action movie.
* The Titan: Seems to be a low-budget action/horror movie in which an Air Force pilot is genetically re-engineered to survive on Saturn’s moon Titan. Might be interesting, though it seems he just turns into the usual movie-monster.
* Venom: In early October we get the big screen version of Marvel’s Venom character, introduced in the late 1980s as a new arch-enemy of Spider-Man. He’s from a time when I had stopped reading Marvel comics, so there’s no “oh wow, Venom!” reaction from me. But he sounds like an interesting character. I’m hoping this won’t be skewed into Deadpool territory, but I guess it will be.
* X-Men: Dark Phoenix: the big and long-awaited X-Men movie lands in early November. It is, of course, the movie version of the famous Dark Phoenix story. Just as long as they do it right…
* Batman: Gotham by Gaslight: an animated Batman feature, in which the Batman inhabits an alternate-world steampunk Victorian Gotham, is on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Based on the graphic novel, though that’s not always a recommendation. For instance, I was disappointed by the recent feature-animation of Justice League: The New Frontier, which was risibly simplistic compared to the graphic novel.
* Fantastic Beasts and Where Not to Find Them: A Fantastic Beasts sequel. The first one was entertaining, in a Doctor Who-ish sort of way, and looked great. Yes, more of the same would be welcome.
* Mortal Engines. An adaptation of the novel set in a steampunk-ish version of London, on an alternate-history desolated earth. Set for a 14th December release, so it must be really good if it’s going to do well in the Christmas slot.
That’s it. It’s interesting to see how steampunk comes through strongly at the end of the year, albeit with a gloomy edge to it. Can 2019 be a bit more cheerful and optimistic please, Hollywood?