Directed by Ryan Coogler Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis
The African nation Wakanda is a super-advanced, technological power which masquerades as a Third World nation to avoid international attention, while imbedding spies in other countries. Some establishing scenes explain that four tribes founded the nation, while a fifth – the Jabari – opted out of the rule of the Black Panther, a warrior empowered by a ‘heart-shaped herb’ which, like much in Wakanda, was itself transformed by the arrival on Earth of a meteorite of the alien metal vibranium. We also see the former king, T’Chaka (Atandwa Kani, whose father John Kani plays the older T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War) coming to America to retrieve his brother N’Jobu, who sold out the country’s secrets to fund some nebulous criminal activity.
Directed by Wes Ball Starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Walton Goggins, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson and Rosa Salazar
Following Teresa’s (Scodelario) betrayal in The Scorch Trials, Thomas (O’Brien) and Newt (Brodie-Sangster) are intent on rescuing their comrade Minho (Lee), with the help of survivalists Jorge (Esposito) and Brenda (Salazar) and revolutionary Vince (Pepper). WCKD are determined to hold onto Minho, however, as Teresa and her mentor Ava (Clarkson) believe that his blood holds the key to a cure which could save the Last City from the Flare virus.
“A universe without boundaries needs heroes without limits.”
Directed by Luc Besson Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer
A paradisiacal world of blue-skinned, pearl-fishing humanoids is destroyed by a rain of destroyed spaceships, but their princess is able to send a telepathic message which reaches Valerian (DeHaan), a happy-go-lucky agent of the United Human Federation with serious boundary issues, as seen in his relationship with his professional partner Laureline (Delevingne). He also appears to have some concentration problems, blowing an undercover op when two of the blue people show up while he is retrieving a Mul converter – an organism which replicates matter, and was native to the planet he dreamed he saw destroyed – from a black market trader.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh Starring Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin and Tom Bateman
Spoiler warning: While this is a brand new murder mystery film at the time of writing, the source which it follows is decades old and one of the most famous whodunnits of the golden age. I will therefore be discussing the solution, at least in passing.
After solving a tricky problem in Jerusalem by shamelessly abusing the Wailing Wall, world famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) and his fabulous moustaches are summoned to assist with a tricky case in London. A friend in the company, unapologetic hedonist Bouc (Bateman) gets him a berth on the overbooked Orient Express from Istanbul, alongside an eclectic bunch of travelers. On the first day of travel, he is approached by Mr Ratchett (Depp), a shady American antique dealer, who wants to hire him to watch for his enemies, but refuses. That night, the train is caught in an avalanche and derailed, and Ratchett is murdered.
Directed by Armando Iannucci Starring Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Olga Kurylenko, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Jeffrey Tambor
In 1953, an angry letter from concert pianist Maria Yudina (Kurylenko) precipitates a seizure in Soviet leader Josef Stalin (Adrian Mcloughlin). His sudden incapacity and death leaves a vacuum at the top of the party, with reformer Nikita Khrushchev (Buscemi) and secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Beale) courting favour with his deputy Georgy Malenkov (Tambor), and his most popular child, Svetlana (Riseborough).
Directed by Patty Jenkins Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya and Lucy Davis
On the isolated, paradisaical island of Themyscira, Diana, daughter of Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons (Nielsen) is the only child on an island of women. Trained in combat by her aunt Antiope (Wright), Diana (who grows up into Gadot) is fascinated by the origin story of her people and their prophesied battle to destroy Ares, last of the Olympians and bringer of all wars.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley
In Ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Seti I (Turturro) sends his son Ramses (Edgerton) and foster son Moses (Bale) to destroy a Hittite army massing near the border. In the battle, Moses saves Ramses’ life, completing the first part of a pre-battle prophecy that ‘a leader will be saved, and the saviour will one day lead’. Moses later visits the Hebrew slave works under Viceroy Ambiguously Queer Hedonist Scumbag (Mendelsohn; the character has a name, but names are actually pretty hard to come by in this film), and there learns from one of the elders (Kingsley) that he is in fact the child of a slave, floated down river during a cull of the slave population (and by ‘floated downstream’, I mean literally walked downriver into the hands of a childless princess by his sister.)
Directed by James Mangold Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen
As always, there will be spoilers in this review.
In the not-too-distant future, Logan (Jackman) is living on the (unwalled) Texas/Mexico border, working as a limo driver in order to support Charles Xavier (Stewart), who now suffers from an unspecified degenerative brain condition that causes him to suffer seizures with terrible effects on those around him. The mutant tracker Caliban (Merchant) acts as Charles’s nurse and struggles to be a conscience to Logan in a world where most mutants have been exterminated. This arrangement is upset when a nurse named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) finds Logan and asks him to transport her and a young girl, Laura (Keen) to Dakota.
Directed by Robert Schwenke Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Bill Skarsgård, Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts
Having overthrown the fiendish academic oligarchy of Jeanine in Divergent and Insurgent, Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) find the city in the grip of a mania for frontier justice led by Four’s figuratively trigger-happy mother, Evelyn (Watts) and her literally trigger-happy goon Edgar (Jonny Weston), and opposed by almost-literal Earth mother Johanna (Spencer). Instead of signing on with the new order or attempting to moderate it, they opt to break out of the walled city of Chicago to accept the invitation left for them in the Divergent Box.
Directed by Chris McKay Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
In crime-ridden Gotham City, the Joker (Galifianakis) launches a devastating attack in concert with a vast assortment of other villains, only to be soundly (and rhythmically) defeated by Batman (Arnett). When Batman declines to acknowledge his greatest foe (because he doesn’t do ‘ships,) however, Joker concocts a plan of breathtaking audacity to take his nemesis down a peg or two.