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.
Directed by JJ Abrams Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Oscar Isaacs, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and… just a fucktonne of good people
Note: This is going to be a spoilerific, wikitastic review. Continue at your own risk.
Thirty years on, a new Republic has risen, but Luke Skywalker has disappeared and the galaxy is threatened by the rise of the First Order, an implacable military-industrial superpower thriving in the absence of the Jedi. Ex-Princess Leia (Fisher) leads a Resistance movement within First Order space (yes, Leia is now a CIA-backed insurgent) while searching for her missing brother.
“Welcome to a world where death is only the beginning”
Directed by Brian Yuzna Starring Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Simon Andreu and Elsa Pataky
This film is a sequel to Re-Animator, rather than an adaptation of the original story. It ignores much of the ending of the first film, however, largely in order to bring Combs’ West back in.
During the ‘Miskatonic massacre’, one of the reanimated corpses escapes and kills a young woman as her brother, Howard Phillips (geddit?), watches. Phillips later sees Herbert West (Combs) being taken away by the police. Years later, West is continuing his work in prison, when Phillips (Barry) arrives as the new prison doctor, bringing the last of the reagent and asking to work with West.
AKA The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter
Directed by Jean-Paul Ouellette Starring Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles Klausmeyer, John Rhys-Davies, Julie Strain and David Warner
Well, we covered “The Unnamable” in the previous entry, but this one also claims to be based on “The Statement of Randolph Carter.” Written in 1919, but published in 1920, this story is a fictional rendering of a dream Lovecraft had in which he and his friend Samuel Loveman were exploring a mysterious underground crypt. There’s not an enormous amount to it — it’s all atmosphere and menace — but if you remember the previous film, you’ll remember that the filmmakers didn’t let the story’s brevity stop them.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins
Zach (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) Mitchell are sent by their parents to visit Jurassic World, the fully functioning dinosaur theme park on Isla Nublar, to distract them from their parents’ divorce. Their aunt Claire Dearing (Howard? Dallas Howard?) is the career-oriented manager of Jurassic World, juggling the titanic egos of InGen rep Hoskins (D’Onofrio), CEO Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), chief geneticist Henry Wu (BD Wong), and raptor wrangler Owen Grady (Pratt) and the expectations of sponsors and holiday makers who want bigger and badder thrills.
Directed by Michael Bay Starring Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Li Bingbing and the voices of Peter Cullen, John Goodman, John DiMaggio and Frank Welker
After the ‘Battle of Chicago’ the US Government has broken off ties with the Autobots and formed a CIA taskforce called Cemetery Wind to track down Transformers. When the leader of the taskforce, Attinger (Grammer) joins forces with Transformer bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) to go after Autobots as well as Decepticons, Optimus Prime is forced into hiding, where he is found by mechanic and inventor Cade Yeager (Wahlberg). Just as you think you’re getting a handle on the plot, up pop Joshua Joyce (Tucci), a billionaire inventor who is mining ‘Transformium’ to create his own Transformers.