2 weeks ago
Looking ahead to the big-buzz movies of 2019 feels a little less like anticipation, and a bit more like dread.
You like comic-book flicks? You’d better. There’s not only Avengers: Endgame but Captain Marvel and Shazam! There’s Hellboy, Joker and Spider-Man: Far From Home. There’s The New Mutants and Dark Phoenix, two more entries in the already enormous X-Men universe which, if it expands any further is going to explode.
And I’m sure I’m forgetting some, or trying to.
Meanwhile, Disney, in its quest to squeeze every last dollar out of every intellectual property it owns – and I use the word “intellectual” here in the most strictly legal sense – is pushing out a CGI “re-imagining” of The Lion King and live-action versions of Aladdin and Dumbo. Because, yeah, the big problem with the first Dumbo was it wasn’t realistic.
And then there are the movies that sound so wrong-headed, they feel like somebody lost a bet. Probably us.
I mean, I loved the Toy Story series – but it’s precisely because Toy Story 3 was so perfect that I don’t want to see a Toy Story 4. And really, did anybody need yet another Terminator adventure? Or another The Grudge, a reboot of a remake of a great Korean film? Or another Charlie’s Angels, a reboot of a reboot of a bad TV show?
It’s finally happened. Hollywood has become ouroboros, the snake that eats itself.
But there are still some sunnier signs on the horizon, some titles that make me think it’s not going to be an entire 12 months of shameless cash-ins. A few sequels I’m actually looking forward to. A couple of ideas that might actually turn into something.
Here’s a look at 15 of the more promising movies that lie ahead.
It was kind of fun hating on M. Night Shyamalan for a while, but the tricky director really surprised us with “Split,” a stealth sequel to “Unbreakable.” This installment pushes the superhero saga further with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson reprising their roles. Expect an unexpected ending. Opens Jan. 18
What’s it about? Can’t tell you, because they’re not saying, yet. But it’s a horror film from Jordan Peele, it stars Lupita Nyong’o, and has something to do with a beach-house vacation taking a bad turn when “some visitors arrive uninvited.” I’ve got a bad feeling about this one, and that’s good. Opens March 15.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
After a frazzled mom disappears, her teenage daughter tries to figure out where she went and why. It’s a slight hook for a story, but it was already a best-seller – and with Richard Linklater directing and Cate Blanchett starring, suddenly this sounds less like a maybe and more like a must. Opens March 22
This may be one of those World War II pictures like Valkyrie or Anthropoid that really needed a better title. Because this isn’t about dog-racing – based on a C.S. Forester book, it’s a naval adventure, with Tom Hanks as the troubled skipper of a U.S. destroyer fleeing German U-boats. Opens March 22.
With Bohemian Rhapsody still in theaters, and The Cher Show on Broadway, campy ’70s stars are definitely having a moment — and few had more outrageous moments than Elton John. But can Taron (“Kingsman”) Egerton fire up this biopic? Or will he be just a candle in the wind? Opens May 17
Every year it seems we get one very smart, original sci-fi drama. Could this be 2019’s? That it’s got a Latin title like the great Ex Machina may mean nothing. That it stars Brad Pitt, Donald Sutherland and Tommy Lee Jones – and is directed by James Gray of The Immigrant — means a lot. Opens May 24.
Wait, I’m recommending a reboot? Yeah, but here’s why – it’s got the originator, Richard Roundtree, his successor, the great Samuel L Jackson., and then livens things up with Jessie T. Usher at the latest addition to the family business. And once that Isaac Hayes music starts, I am all in. Opens June 14.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
I’m really sick of serial-killer movies, and not a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino’s B-movie history lessons, so his take on the Manson murders feels like an easy pass. Except it’s still Tarantino — and stars a particularly groovy Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio — so I’m crossing my fingers. Opens Aug. 9
Not every beloved British series turns into a great movie, and if you doubt that, let me tell you about the awfulness that was Absolutely Fabulous. But this one might get it right – and although there’s no word on the plot, or how it fits into the story’s time frame, the Dowager Countess will be back. Opens Sept. 20.
The love-it-or-loathe-it Donna Tartt novel gets this A-list adaptation, starring Nicole Kidman, who’s been on a roll lately, and directed by John Crowley, who did the masterful Brooklyn. But how will they handle a story some reviewers praised as “bewitching” and others called kid-lit trash? Opens Oct. 11.
You Are My Friend
Well, this is a match made in sentimental heaven – American’s beloved movie star, Tom Hanks, playing America’s beloved kid-show host, Mr. Rogers, as he sits for an interview. But will it be an overdose of nice? Unless Captain Kangaroo turns up as a mad killer, I don’t see a lot of drama here. Opens Oct. 18.
Star Wars Episode IX
So, how will they handle Carrie Fisher’s death? Why is Mark Hamill in the credits? And how cool will it be to see Billy Dee Williams again as Lando? All I know is, this film’s going to thrill millions. Except that one disappointed fan, somewhere, who’ll be tweeting, “You ruined my childhood!” Opens Dec 20.
Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, James Corden – is there anyone who isn’t in Cats? And years from now, will those left-out stars regret it – or purr in self-satisfied relief? Like The Goldfinch, another popular sensation that may face challenges moving to the movies. Opens Dec. 20.
And why exactly do we need this, when we just had two versions last year? Well, because nobody saw them. And with Greta Gerwig directing, and a dream cast of Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Laura Dern, this version suddenly sounds like a really necessary dose of girl-power. Opens Dec. 25
Its budget ballooned to a reported $175 million. It doesn’t have a firm release date. It will probably mostly stream on Netflix. And how realistic the CGI-“youthening” of its cast will be is anybody’s guess. But it’s still Martin Scorsese, directing a mob story, starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci. And you gotta problem with that? Abso-freaking-lutely not. Release date not set.