Directed by Damien Chazelle Starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt
In LA, a series of chance encounters bring struggling actress Mia (Stone) and struggling Jazz pianist Seb (Gosling) into a relationship of towering love and passion. He introduces her to jazz and drives her to follow her dreams. She tries to convince him that his dream is in reach, if he can only let of of its trappings, and inadvertently drives him to compromise his artistic integrity by joining a band led by the non-specifically shady Keith (Legend).
Directed by Gareth Edwards Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker
As is traditional on the BMM, this review will contain spoilers.
Calculating Imperial scumbag and master of cloak fu Orson Krennic (Mendelsohn) forcibly conscripts engineer Galen Erso (Mikkelsen) to a stalled project, killing his wife while their daughter Jyn flees into the care of Saw Gerrera (Whitaker). Years later, Jyn (Jones) is in Imperial chokey until ruthless Rebel Intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Luna) and his sassy droid K-2SO (Tudyk) rescue her. Gerrera’s extremism has broken his ties to the Rebel Alliance, but he has custody of defecting Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Ahmed), who may have a vital message from Galen.
“Open your mind. Change your reality” or “Question reality. Change your destiny” or “The impossibilities are endless.”
Directed by Scott Derrickson Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelson
Dr Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is a brilliant, but arrogant, neurosurgeon, pioneering new techniques while telling War Machine to take his entirely pedestrian spino-cranial injuries elsewhere. Then he gets into a car crash because he’s using his phone while driving at high speed in the rain – we get it already, he’s reckless – and loses most of the use of his hands.
Directed by Matteo Garrone Starring Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones and John C. Reilly
Once upon a time, there was a Queen (Hayek) who could not bear a child. At the advice of a necromancer, the Queen’s husband (Reilly) slays a sea monster. The King is also killed, but the Queen eats the heart of the monster and is instantly pregnant. She and the virgin kitchen maid who cooks the heart give birth to identical boys even before the King’s funeral, attended by two other monarchs: a King (Cassel) whose appetites know no restraint, and another King (Jones) with a beloved daughter.
Directed by Bryan Singer Starring Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Jame McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Nicholas Hoult and Peter Dinklage
Almost a decade before the Marvel Cinematic Universe struck gold, the company’s go-to allegory for prejudice hit the big screen with X-Men (2000). The property had gained considerable traction thanks to an acclaimed 1990s animated series, and in the hands of The Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer, mutants took the world by storm (almost literally, as the release coincided with co-star Halle Berry’s Oscar, resulting in a much larger, if somewhat inconsistent, role in the sequel.) A direct sequel – X2 (2003) – was widely held to be even better, but 2006’s disappointing X-Men: The Last Stand squandered the goodwill – save perhaps for the little bit that was then pissed away by X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – and threatened to kill the series dead.
The Reboot/Late Sequel
The actual reboot of the series came with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, a 1960s set Cold War adventure, with McAvoy and Fassbender as the younger versions of feuding leaders Charles Xavier and Magneto, previously portrayed in their more patrician years by Stewart and McKellan. First Class did a lot to win back fans with its portrayal of the early years of the X-Men and the break between the two men, and hopefully I’ll get to reviewing that, but then Days of Future Past appeared in 2014 as a late sequel to the original trilogy, as well as a reasonably timed sequel to First Class and so converted the straight reboot into a Star Trek-syle in-universe soft reset of the series as a whole through time travel shenanigans.
Directed by Justin Lin Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba
Technically, Star Trek Beyond is not itself a reboot and follows only three years behind the last entry in the ongoing series, but until I get around to reviewing 2009’s Star Trek, this will be the placeholder for the ‘alternate timeline’ series. The new Trek continuity pretty much typifies the in-universe, soft reset school of franchise reboot also used by the X-Men series. Faced with the leviathan that is Trek fandom and its understanding of the original series timeline, JJ Abrams sent a Romulan dreadnought back in time to knock down that sandcastle so he could start over. The result was well-received; 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness less so, with its white Khan and murky, grey Federation. Star Trek Beyond is, however, the film that takes the Enterprise back to its original five year mission, so in that way it is its own sort of reset.
For the handful of readers recovering this from the unearthed servers of the Wayback Machine in 2263, Star Trek began life as a three season TV series about the crew of a starship, exploring the unknown frontiers of the galaxy on behalf of the United Federation of Planets. After its cancellation there was an animated series, then four movies, and then a second series set about a century after the first, with two more movies produced concurrently with that series. Then a third series spun off from the second, and after The Next Generation ended that crew headlined four more movies while two more series – the last set a century before the original were made. Small wonder that Abrams, charged with reviving the now flagging franchise by replacing the beloved but rapidly dwindling original series cast, chose to nuke the timeline.
The Enterprise and her crew are three years into their five year mission, and beginning to get a little stir crazy as they approach the advanced outpost Yorktown, a space station with an artificial sky and a stardock inside its graceful, curving boulevards and canals. Here, as Captain Kirk (Pine) and his first officer Spock (Quinto) consider their futures, one faced with the anniversary of his birth and the death of his father, the other with the news of the death of his Prime Universe counterpart, they are mustered for a mission to rescue a science team stranded on a planet within an unstable nebula.
Directed by Bryan Singer Starring James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Issac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Kody Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp and Ben Hardy
In ancient Egypt, the first mutant, En Sabah Nur is betrayed by his people as his consciousness is being transferred to the body of a mutant with healing powers (Isaac). Millennia later, his cult dig up the pyramid and trigger his revival, leading CIA agent Moira McTaggart (Byrne) to accept the suddenly offered aid of mutant expert Charles Xavier (McAvoy).
Directed by Greg Mottola Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kirsten Wiig and Jason Bateman
Best friends writer Clive Gollings (Frost) and illustrator Graeme Willy (Pegg) travel to San Diego Comic-Con and from there embark on a UFO road trip. The holiday takes an odd turn, however, when they encounter the fugitive alien Paul (Rogen, voice and mo-cap).
Directed by Jon Favreau Starring Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johanssen, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Lupita Nyong’o and Neel Sethi
A young boy (Sethi) is found by animals, named Mowgli and raised by the mother wolf Raksha (Nyong’o) in the jungles of India. When the water truce brings him into contact with Shere Khan (Elba), the tiger swears to kill him, and Mowgli agrees to leave the pack in the company of his mentor Bagheera (Kingsley) in order to protect them.
So, major Disney releases now come without taglines. Clearly, advertising is changing.
Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams Starring Ryan Potter, Scot Adsit, TJ Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr, Genesis Rodriguez and James Cromwell
In the megalopolis of San Fransokyo, robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada (Potter) is shocked out of his lackadaisical attitude when his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) introduces him to the cutting edge research at his ‘nerd school’. Hiro designs a winning entry for the university’s open audition-cum-science fair application process, but then the auditorium catches fire and Tadashi is killed trying to save his mentor, Professor Callaghan (Cromwell). Falling into a funk, Hiro is roused only by the intercession of his brother’s last project, a medical aide robot called Baymax (Adsit).