By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer
The 2016 movie award season is in full swing but will soon be coming to an end with the 89th Academy Awards this February. Last year impressed audiences some of the most well crafted films of the last several years with many independent, art-house, and Sundance films such as “Manchester by the Sea,” “Swiss Army Man,” and “La La Land.” Looking at the films slated for 2017, there are a lot more action blockbusters filling the market. Marvel Entertainment is releasing three films this year as opposed to the usual two and Warner Bros is trying to rival Disney with three DC films of its own. Besides its Marvel films, Disney is also continuing its line of live-action remakes as well as its annual “Star Wars” movie. With so many huge films coming out this year, here are 20 of those movies that you should catch in theaters.
February 10: “The Lego Batman Movie” & “John Wick: Chapter 2”
The weekend before Valentine’s Day has offered a plethora of fantastic movies over the years. Not only is it the first good premiere weekend of the year after the barren wasteland of film that is January, but it’s the perfect time to take a date to the movies. February 10 does bring us “50 Shades Darker,” which is sure to be a hilarious atrocity, but “The Lego Batman Movie” and “John Wick: Chapter 2” are sure to be hits. “The Lego Batman Movie” is the movie I’m looking most forward to because it’s a spinoff of one of the funniest and most heartwarming films of the last few years, “The Lego Movie.” The animated film will offer nonstop, sidesplitting humor and some deep-cut Batman references. “John Wick: Chapter 2” is also a continuation in a recent film franchise and, based on what the original film gave us, will have top notch action sequences, a great performance from Keanu Reeves, and some beautiful cinematography.
March 3: “Logan”
The next film in the “X-Men” franchise, “Logan,” will be a bittersweet swan song for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine character. “Logan” is bringing the indestructible mutant to new grounds by stripping away his healing powers and placing him in a future in which most of the other X-Men and mutants are dead. The addicting to watch trailer promotes a dark and existential tone as well as the first rated=R Wolverine action on the big screen.
March 10: “Kong: Skull Island”
We already got a new Godzilla movie, so King Kong is the next logical step. Apparently, these two movies will lead up to the crossover event, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” in 2020, so you’re not going to want to miss “Kong: Skull Island” if you’re intent on watching the two iconic monsters fight.
March 17: “Beauty and the Beast”
Disney is set on its path to remake all of their classic animated movies into live-action, including what is arguably its best work yet: “Beauty and the Beast.” It may seem unnecessary to remake such a near perfect film because, after all, isn’t the whole point of remakes to make a mediocre film great? However, the grand set designs, warm colors, and the star power of Emma Watson will make for a film at least on par with the original.
March 24: “Power Rangers”
The Power Ranger’s first theatrical outing is a lot darker and grittier than the campy show it originates from, yet it doesn’t seem to be shying away from some of the sillier ideas of the show.
March 31: “Ghost in the Shell”
“Ghost in the Shell” is a live-action adaptation of the anime and manga of the same name. Admittedly, I don’t know much else about movie, but it looks stylized and strange. “Ghost in the Shell” looks like no other movie out there, and that’s intriguing.
May 5: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
“Guardians of the Galaxy” may be Marvel’s best film to date, and the sequel looks to be even better. Thankfully, the color palette much more diverse than in any other Marvel film and director James Gunn is promoting the movie as a pure standalone flick. That means there won’t be any infinity stone nonsense or Avenger cameos to bog down the story.
May 19: “Alien: Covenant”
Director Ridley Scott is bringing audiences another film in the (mostly) masterfully crafted “Alien” franchise. “Alien: Covenant” has a lot to live up to after classic thrillers like “Alien” and “Aliens,” and while it probably won’t reach the quality of those two films, the trailer shows several promising moments.
May 26: “Baywatch”
Sometimes one needs to turn off his or her brain and sit down to watch a fun, dumb action flick to escape from the struggles of real life. “Baywatch” is that flick. The movie doesn’t offer much more than the opportunity to watch glistening life guards running along the coast on the big screen, but frankly, that’s all it needs.
June 2: “Wonder Woman”
It’s generally agreed upon that the recent DC Extended Universe movies have been quite terrible. However, “Wonder Woman” might finally be the one to put DC on track. I know the same was said about “Batman v Superman” and then “Suicide Squad” before their releases, but the third time’s the charm, right? Right?
July 7: “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
Tom Holland returns as Spider-Man in his first feature film set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So far, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” looks like it perfectly captures the Spider-Man and Peter Parker characters in both the crime-fighting scenes and high school environment. The one disappointment I have with the footage is that it’s still the dull, gray color palette of every other Marvel film. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” gave me hope that every Marvel film would actually look nice from now on, but apparently not.
July 14: “War for the Planet of the Apes”
This year’s “Planet of the Apes” movie looks to have some top-notch action sequences and dramatic moments based on the trailer alone. The previous Andy Serkis “Ape” movies have been great, and the third in the series is going to continue that track record.
July 21: “Dunkirk”
“Dunkirk” is Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film depicting the events of the Dunkirk evacuation in World War II. The battle involved the Allied forces and Nazi Germany. Not only is Nolan directing, but the talented Hans Zimmer is composing the soundtrack for the film. Out of all the movies on this list, “Dunkirk” will be the darkest, grittiest, and most serious film.
October 6: “Blade Runner 2049”
The acclaimed sci-fi film that inspired almost as many sci-fi movies as “Star Wars” is finally getting the sequel it deserves. The tone of the trailer is mysterious and intriguing, with Ryan Gosling taking the lead role. Harrison Ford is reprising his role ad Rick Deckard, which begs the question: Is Ford just resurrecting all of his iconic roles of the past just to kill them off?
November 3: “Thor: Ragnarok”
The Thor movies are the worst of the Marvel movies, but, even though we haven’t gotten any footage from “Thor: Ragnarok” yet, it might be one of the better films in Marvel’s growing catalog. Taika Waititi, a talented comedy writer and director is helming the third Thor film, which also stars Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk. With Waititi directing, “Thor: Ragnarok” might be the closest we’ll get to an Edgar Wright directed Marvel film, as long as the studio kept their hands off the project as much as possible.
November 17: “Justice League”
“Justice League” doesn’t look nearly as good as “Wonder Woman” or any other superhero movie coming out this year, but based on the premise and the franchise, audiences are almost required to watch it. “Justice League” is the first theatrical gathering of the legendary superhero team, and is also a part of a bigger universe of movies. If you miss this one, you’re probably going to miss the several other DC movies over the next few years. Whether it’s good or not, one thing that’s set in stone is that Ben Affleck’s Batman will be amazing.
November 22: “Coco”
“Coco” is Pixar’s first musical film as well as the second Pixar movie to be released this year. Not much is known about it yet besides that the story will revolve around the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and an aspiring young musician. This is currently Pixar’s only non-sequel film slated to be released in the next three years, meaning that it will probably be the best.
December 15: “The Last Jedi”
Audiences know close to nothing about the upcoming “Episode VIII.” There’s currently no footage, no promotional images, and Disney only recently announced the title, yet it’s probably the most talked about movie this year. It is “Star Wars,” after all. “The Last Jedi” will bring audiences the continuation of Rey and Finn’s story from 2015’s “The Force Awakens” as well as the long awaited arrival of Mark Hamill’s iconic Luke Skywalker. It will also feature what may be the last performance given by the late Carrie Fisher.
December 22: “Jumanji”
Nobody asked for a “Jumanji” sequel, and this upcoming movie probably won’t even be good based on the teen-centric premise. So, why even put it on this list? For starters, it was filmed in the jungles of Oʻahu and has an all-star cast consisting of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black. Much like “Baywatch,” this movie will be dumb fun. Need proof? Here’s a video The Rock posted to tease a scene with him steering a motorcycle with one hand and firing off a flamethrower with the other.