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New year, new film slate makes Gazette movie critic hopeful

Ahh, the end of December. All of that ‘end of year’ reflection coupled with all of the ‘start of a new year’ preparation. All of the endings and beginnings, the comings and goings. It reminds me of how movies always start with trailers for other shows. Far too many trailers, actually, and they only serve to make you too exasperated for the time wasted and too excited for something other than what you’re about to watch. When they sell tickets, how come theatres don’t offer you the time of when the trailers start and when the movie itself actually starts?

Regardless, it offers me a meta way to intro a preview of what lies ahead for moviegoers in the year 2018. What’s past is prologue, as they say, and old habits die hard. What those two things mean is that if you’re familiar with recent cinematic offerings then you’ll be smart to expect the status quo to stand strong.

There is no shortage of comic book superhero movies, blockbuster science fiction special effects spectacles, or plain old sequels for the Hollywood machine to continue to crank out like so many cookies straight out of the cutter. Since there’s no point in giving them any more attention than they are sure to get, let’s play them out of the game first.

One of the big ones will be May’s Avengers: Infinity War (likely still part 1 of 2 or even 3). There’s also April’s New Mutants (likely the same as the Old Mutants, meaning another X-Men movie in November), Black Panther in February, along with Spider-Man (Dec. 14), Ant-Man (this time with the Wasp on July 6), Aquaman (Dec. 21), Venom (Oct. 5), and an as-yet untitled DC comics film (July 27). Deadpool 2 (June 1) counts as a superhero movie too, and one of the few that I’m keen on. His creative R-rated pauper’s debut was refreshing enough to make me want more, even if the original doesn’t bear well on repeat viewings.

This is the year where we will see another Jurassic World (June 22), Fantastic Beasts (Nov. 16), the final Maze Runner instalment (Jan. 26), Bumblebee (spun off of Transformers coming in December), the spinoff Han Solo movie (in May), and Tom Cruise defying all the deaths once again in a new Mission: Impossible sequel (July 27). We’ll have another Grinch (Nov. 9), another Halloween (Oct. 19), another Jungle Book adaptation called Mowgli (Oct. 19), another Robin Hood (Sept. 21), another Deathwish (March 2), another Tomb Raider (March 16), another Pacific Rim (March 23), another Cloverfield (Feb. 2), and another Fifty Shades (Feb. 9), the final 50. Who would have thought that sadomasochism could become such boring fodder for an erotic movie series? I’ve successfully prepared two tax returns during the first two Fifty’s, and so I already have a date with my accountant when the last yawner rolls around. Talk about your bondage (ba-dum-TSS! says the drum).

There’s also a new Predator movie, and this time it comes straight out of the brain of Shane Black, one of this critic’s faves. My guess is that The Predator (Aug. 3) will take place at Christmas and will have both sparkling champagne as well as sparkling repartee between ill-suited characters who must work together. Oh, and a camouflaged alien with advanced lethal weaponry. Of all the movies of these ilks, I’m really only looking forward to seeing this one and Deadpool 2.

Also on the blockbuster front, I’m curious about Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One (March 30) and Mortal Engines (Dec. 14). Think high concept and high budget, but the feedback on the originality scale has yet to come in.

The good news is that we are almost in January. This is awards season, so a lot of the really, really, ridiculously good movies have just come out, or are just about to. With every passing year, I pledge myself anew to watch more small movies, more character dramas, more arthouse wonders and more foreign films, with much fewer titles featuring Matt ‘Flat’ Damon and/or Ben ‘The Affliction’ Affleck. With that in mind …

In the first quarter of 2018, I’m looking forward to Proud Mary and Freak Show (both Jan. 12), Early Man and Loveless (both Feb. 9), Ruben Östlund’s The Square (Feb. 9-15 at Metro Cinema), and Sally Potter’s The Party (Feb. 16). Loveless is about and was directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev who brought the astounding Leviathan to theatres only a few years ago. If you still haven’t seen it and are curious about the power of cinema to affect a person on an emotional level, Leviathan is your next film. I suspect that Loveless should be your next next film too. Early Man is a Nick Park project, and all claymation fans know what that means: another reason for the proof that claymation rules over CG. I could also be persuaded to find interest in Aaron Woodley’s Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad (Feb. 26), a Canadian animated effort. Despite its computerized production, it still has a heckuva voice cast. There’s also Isle of Dogs (March 23), proving once again how much of a sucker I am for anything Wes Anderson can produce.

Moving on, my interest is piqued for A Quiet Place (Apr. 6). It looks like another conceptual horror except with fewer loud noises. Count me in. Likewise, I’ll likely be there for Jason Reitman’s new contribution to quirky cinema with Tully (Apr. 20), with fave collaborators Charlize Theron and writer Diablo Cody. I’ve always appreciated the young filmmaker’s sensibility of creating unresolved and oddly dissatisfying yet somehow still enjoyable works. That’s a tall order, my friends.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a certain childish glee when I think of The Meg (Aug. 10), a movie about a giant shark. Who cares what the plot is? Meg, you had me at ‘giant shark’. Nearer the end of the year, I’ll find myself thinking about Mary Queen of Scots (Nov. 2) by stage director-cum-film director Josie Rourke. It’s an incredible true story of the woman who reigned over Scotland from birth to age 25 back in the mid-1500s. Scotland is still around so she must have done something right even if her personal life was so troubled.

And then, at the end of the year, another batch of Oscar-worthy movies will be released including Steve McQueen’s Widows (Nov. 16), Robert Zemeckis’s The Women of Marwen (Nov. 21), and Bohemian Rhapsody (Dec. 25), Dexter Fletcher’s biopic of Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek) in the period from the start of Queen and leading up to the landmark concert Live Aid in 1985. Even the early photos of Malek in costume and pose give me the goosebumps and make me want to rotate the volume all the way up.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.