Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally
Henry Turner (Thwaites) is obsessed with saving his father from the curse of The Flying Dutchman. Carina Smyth (Scodelario) is obsessed with uncovering the location of the Trident of Poseidon to validate her faith in the father who abandoned her as a baby, with nought but a diary to her name. As the trident can raise any curse of the sea, these two quests coincide, but not before Henry has run afoul of the British, and of the spectral pirate-hunter Salazar (Bardem), who sends him out with a message to Jack Sparrow (Depp) that he will be coming for him when his curse breaks, which, despite the fact that Salazar has been champing at the bit for this for decades, happens almost immediately.
Directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers Starring Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff
Olaf (Gad) is thrilled that Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel) have planned a grand holiday surprise party for all of Arendelle (which, based on the information here that the great Jule Bell can be heard across the kingdom, is presumably about the same size as London’s properly Cockney East End, but significantly less densely populated,) only for the populace to leave before the announcement to commence their individual household traditions.
Directed by Jake Kasdan Starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas and Bobby Cannavale
Years after a boy is sucked into a mysterious board game, two more children find the game and begin to play. In order to avoid getting trapped themselves, they must play the game to the end, and in the process learn some important lessons about themselves.
The Late Sequel
In 1996 a teenager finds, but sets aside the Jumanji board game. To lure him in, it becomes a computer game. Twenty years later, four mismatched students – nerdy gamer Spencer (Alex Wolff), jock Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), queen bee Bethany (Madison Iseman) and angry young woman Martha (Morgan Turner) – are given detention and tasked with clearing out old papers from the basement. There they find the game, and it pulls them in.
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 Chad Stahelski StarringKeanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane
After the brutal events of John Wick, our titular antihero (Reeves) slaughters a taxi garage full of mob enforcers to retrieve his car, shares a drink with the brother (Peter Stormare) of our previous antagonist and heads home to bury his past once again. Unfortunately, now that he has resurfaced he is not to be allowed to go back out.
Directed by Patrick Tatopoulos Starring Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra and Bill Nighy
In ye olde Transylwherever (I’d say at least five centuries south of Captain Kronos, but it’s hard to say for sure,) the war between the savage werewolves and the corsetry-pioneering vampires wages on, despite the captivity of William, the first werewolf. Then the birth of an apparently human child to a captive werewolf leads to the creation of a new breed of immortal; the shapeshifting werewolves known as Lycans.
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.
“We had twenty years to prepare. So did they.” or “We always knew they’d be back.” or “The last attack was just the first.”
Finally, a movie that knows how to tagline!
Directed by Roland Emmerich Starring Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, William Fichtner, Sela Ward, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Deobia Oparei, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy and Travis Tope
Twenty years after the 4th July defeat of the alien invasion, Earth is putting the finishing touches to its hybrid-tech defence grid when a new threat appears in a mothership that puts down over the Atlantic like a planetary beret and tries to drill out the planet’s molten core.
“The Story Before Snow White” (and if we’re being strictly accurate, also after it.)
Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan Starring Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron and Nick Frost
An uncredited narrator explains that before the story of Snow White that we all know (or, more accurately, the version from Snow White and the Huntsman) there was another story. Ravenna (Theron) was already murdering her way to power in other kingdoms, while her sister Freya (Blunt) was shagging Merlin (Colin Morgan not playing Merlin, but not noticeably given an actual name either) and denying her magical bitch queen heritage. Then Merlin set their daughter on fire and Freya turned into the Ice Queen, moved north and ordered all the children in the land brought to her to be trained as her Huntsmen, never knowing love and thus unable to be betrayed. Naturally, her top recruits Eric (Hemsworth) and Sara (Chastain) fall in love and try to escape after an impromptu marriage that the State of Nevada wouldn’t uphold but which just about maintains continuity with the first film is you really squint. Before they can escape they are separated by a wall of ice and Eric sees Sara killed before being coshed and thrown in a river.