25 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018
By some divine intervention, 2017 was overall a pretty amazing experience for movie lovers. But as always when a new year starts, it's hyping time! Oops, over-hyping is bad for us and bad for the movies. We've learned that the hard way. But damn if the lineup for this year's cinematic output doesn't get your heart pumping faster! Just one more reason to survive till the end of the year. In fact, if the entertainment business stays reasonably healthy and productive, nerds like myself might just become immortal to adapt to it.
The following rank is based on my personal taste only, so feel free to disagree at any turn. I'm admittedly a sucker for fantasy and action and excitement, so don't expect the Best Picture winner for 2019 Academy Awards to be found here.
Loosely...and I mean VERY loosely based on the arcade game from the 80s, Rampage will mark the third collaboration between director Brad Peyton and Dwayne Johnson, after Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) and San Andreas (2015). Based on historic records, the movie will likely be entertaining enough, but wouldn't end up on anybody's year end top 10 lists...or even top 20.
The fact that I'm slightly more psyched about this than the Alicia Vikander-starring Tomb Raider is a testament to my overall faith in the genre of video game-based movies. If Peyton and The Rock are up to their usual standards and produce a safe but easily likable summer opener, that alone would rank it as arguably the greatest video game movie ever made, sad as it might sound.
24. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Direct sequel to the $1.672 billion-earning Jurassic World (2015), this inevitable follow-up needs to shake things up for the "primeval" franchise and it seems to be aiming at that direction. Isla Nublar, where the dinosaurs have been roaming freely since the park proved a terrible idea (shocker there), is threatened by an imminent volcanic eruption, and our "totally memorable" heroes played by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard team up once again to rescue the endangered animals. And it has something to do with weaponizing dinosaurs?
It might sound dumb, but J.A. Bayona at the director's chair is an exciting prospect after his previous movie A Monster Calls (2016) left me an emotional wreck. The addition of James Cromwell as John Hammond's possibly nefarious partner and the glorious return of Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm are the real reason this movie is on the list at all.
23. Creed II
If I had made a similar ranking at the beginning of 2015, Creed (2015) wouldn't have been on that list, but it would be featured in my top 10 year end list for being the wonderful surprise that it was. Creed II will see the return of Dolph Lundgren's Ivan Drago from Rocky IV (1985), whose son will likely be the main antagonist for Adonis.
While that might seem suspiciously pandering to nostalgia at first glance, let's not forget that Ivan Drago was the reason Adonis grew up without a father (besides the fact that he was an illegitimate child), hence the climatic fight is set to be the most personal one since Rocky fought Daddy Drago. Beyond all that, it's just nice to see Stallone in his best role one more time.
For a proven actor who has what it takes to run for some Academy nominations whenever he feels like it, Tom Hardy is remarkably dedicated to the business of sheer entertainment that is the superhero genre. At this point, with little to no official promotion, his name alone generates interest in this project that nobody seems to know what to do with. Venom is a fascinating creation that deserves a proper silver screen adaptation, and hopefully this movie will do for the character what Deadpool (2016) did for Wade Wilson after a previous studio blunder.
It'll also be interesting to see if and exactly how this movie, along with the intended adjunct universe, will play out under the overall MCU. Here's hoping Sony has a more solid plan than when they were making The Amazing Spider-Man movies.
21. Red Sparrow
This could be the Black Widow movie we've always wanted; and in the case of it being a major success, the Black Widow movie that we might never get. Jennifer Lawrence plays a Russian spy who was recruited by the "Sparrow School", where she learned to transform her body into a weapon. Jennifer has teamed up with director Francis Lawrence (not related) in three Hunger Games movies before, which may not be all that relevant when Red Sparrow seems completely different, beyond that it's a healthy relationship.
While it's as yet to be officially rated, it's almost certainly going to be hard R, in which case this mysterious spy flick could go where an MCU Black Widow standalone would never dare to trespass.
20. X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Normally a teamed X-Men feature would rank up way higher, but with the not-so-memorable X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), increasingly confusing timeline, a disinterested Jennifer Lawrence who's stellar in every project but this, and with two other installments within the same franchise to come out in the same year that happen to be much more intriguing, here we are.
That's not saying I'm not hyped up as it is. Dark Phoenix will see the current rendition of the X-Men team on a space mission for the first time, and more importantly, it will be a re-adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga, which was previously handled in the original timeline in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), with which not everyone was satisfied. With the original X-Men trilogy setting in the 2000s and this installment set in the 90s, it might shed some light as to the future of the franchise, and whether the current timeline will continue, or close off the circle right up to where it all began, especially now that these assets have the legal probability of being incorporated into the MCU.
19. Isle of Dogs
In future Japan, dogs are quarantined on a trash island due to "canine flu", and a boy named Atari arrives to find his old pet. Sounds weird? Awesome! What else should a Wes Anderson stop-motion animation be? From the trailer alone, this movie looks and sounds like nothing else out there, and that alone is a major plus.
I dare you to find another movie that gathers Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum under one roof and have them voice dogs. Yes the dogs speak English, and nope the boy cannot communicate with them because he speaks Japanese. Makes sense to me! I knew there was a reason we can't talk to puppies.
18. The Nun
Taking one villain from a horror sequel to make a standalone spin-off sounds awfully like stretching your resources thin in the name of franchise building, but when said horror series is The Conjuring and the villain in question is the Nun who's etched in the nightmare section of the brains of anybody who's seen The Conjuring 2 (2016), it makes all the sense in the world.
After the surprisingly decent Annabelle: Creation (2017), the franchise, which is the third interconnected cinematic universe that WB is trying to get off the ground and ironically the most critically successful of the bunch, has gradually become an annual staple for the thrill-seeking crowds (not recommended for the faint-hearted). So, put your personal CPR specialist, therapist, lawyer and exorcist on speed dial and you just might have the most memorable movie-going experience of the year.
17. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Animated movies of the superhero genre has come a long and winding way, and despite some shining jewels (mostly from DC), they have, by majority, been on the straight-to-video side and only enjoyed by children or die-hard fans. Into the Spider-Verse aims to topple the game, with talents such as Lord & Miller, Liev Shreiber and Mahershala Ali on board.
Starring "fan favorite but never-before-seen on the big screen" Mile Morales as the new Spider-Man, the story supposedly takes place after Peter Parker had passed on the mantle because he's, well, dead. Hopefully, the switch of main character isn't the only breath of fresh air this gorgeous looking animation brings to the scene. Did I mention the trailer looks gorgeous?
16. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
Taking place six years after the original, Ralph and Vanellope get to explore some uncharted grounds after a Wi-Fi router is plugged in the arcade. Judging by the impending cameos, this might just be the Ready Player One in animation! Not that, you know, Ready Player One looks very live-action.
Apparently on their journey across the digital clouds, our favorite video game characters (not really, but let's just say they are) will encounter most, if not all, of the Disney princesses, including some recent ones such as Elsa and Anna and Moana. Some MCU and Star Wars characters might make an appearance as well. And that's not even mentioning the actual video game cameos and references that'll have any gamer screaming with glee, including one certain Italian plumber.
15. Alita: Battle Angel
You should never bet against James Cameron, especially when he's teaming up with Jon Landau, producer of both Titanic and Avatar. After years of planning to take the helm, Cameron took a back seat as producer instead to focus on his four Avatar sequels, allowing Robert Rodriguez to step in to fulfill his vision. Robert has long proved himself bats*&t-insane for a director, but not exactly bulletproof when it comes to eventual quality. Seeing this is his first movie since 2014, surely he's hungry for a return with a bang.
Alita: Battle Angel will see the titular cyborg heroine embark on an adventure of self-discovery. Judging by the trailer, Alita, by sheer appearance alone, is a different kind of protagonist, carrying the big-eyed anime style but dangerously bordering on the uncanny valley for some. Hollywood is hellbent on knocking down the milestones of successfully adapting, and hence making cash on, video games and anime. 2018 will be an interesting year to see how that plays out.
14. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Here's an unorthodox choice to immediately follow up Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp will be the third MCU movie released within the narrow frame of five months, and it's unclear how it will tie into the third Avengers ensemble, if at all. It's hard to imagine Scott Lang and Hank Pym go on their little sidequest to save Hope's mother, trapped in the Quantum Realm and played by Michelle Pfeiffer, inbetween Thanos' world-ending rampage, therefore the most sensible choice would be to place it between Civil War and Infinity War, making it a prequel like the following Captain Marvel (2019) which is set in the 90s.
If it were to be the case, however, wouldn't Ant-Man's involvement in Infinity War spoil this movie? Is he really in IW at all? He's credited, but noticeably absent in the first trailer. Not that we're guaranteed to be able to see him if he were in it. Back to the Ant-Man sequel, we'll finally see Hope van Dyne don the costume of the Wasp as Scott's partner-in-crime, and hopefully he'll Giant-up again.
13. Mission: Impossible 6
Damn that MOUSTACHE!
If this statement seems blown out of proportion, it's because the issue has dealt an equally ridiculous amount of damage to the viewing experience of Justice League (2017), and if you blissfully have no idea of what I speak, lucky you and DO NOT look it up. Trust me, you cannot unsee it. Let's just say that at this point, the moustache itself NEEDS to have an important arc to justify itself.
Beyond that, there's very little solid info on this movie, except Tom Cruise injured himself doing stunt at one point (bound to happen at some point) and Hawkeye isn't in this one. So the prospect is...good? Well, Christopher McQuarrie and Rebecca Ferguson both return from Rogue Nation, so for the first time in the series, there seems to be some level of continuity. There's also guaranteed to be one big elaborate nutcase of a stunt scene that rivals, if not surpasses, the climbing of the Dubai tower or clinging onto the exterior of an airborne plane from former times.
12. The Predator
Shane Black is directing a Predator movie. Well, what else do you need to know? As it so happens, there really ain't much else that we do know at this point. It's set somewhere between the two original Predator movies and will feature another military team battling the extraterrestrial hunter. Black himself played a small part in Predator (1987), and that "meta" involvement even that sounds very much "Shane Black".
Maybe they'll finally find a suitable cameo for dear Arnie while they're at it. We miss him.
Out of sheer poetic symbolism of DCEU being "in deep water", their only output in 2018 will be Aquaman, focusing on Arthur Curry's solo adventures after Justice League, in which he was one of the highlights but a tad bit underused. The most exciting news about Aquaman is the amount of recognizable talent involved. Jason Momoa is joined by Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren and Nicole Kidman, in a story about struggling between his lineage and the greater good, penned and directed by James Wan.
In spite of the underwhelming team-up, there are plenty of reasons to be at least cautiously optimistic: Man of Steel and Wonder Woman are mostly regarded as the top 2 DCEU outings, suggesting that when it comes to solo movies, the issue of studio meddling may be relatively contained. James Wan has always enjoyed a great relationship with WB, under which his helmed Conjuring universe is blooming. Hopefully, relocating him to the DCEU isn't simply "oh let's get our best guys in the most profitable project regardless if they want to or is suitable".
Current circulating reports indicate that the 2018 reboot will ignore every sequel available and directly follow the immortal classic 40 years ago, setting up something akin to an alternate universe that de-canons from Halloween II (1981) to Halloween II (2009). Confusing, I know. It's only a series that already includes sequels, unrelated standalone, sequel that de-canon other sequels, reboot and sequel to reboot. What seems to be the problem?
The idea of a horror franchise rebooting for the second time is by no means a prosperous one, but everyone involved seems determined to do it right for the 40th anniversary. Jamie Lee Curtis is back as iconic last girl Laurie Strode, John Carpenter co-writes the story and possibly will write new score, and Nick Castle returns as The Shape for the first time since the original. By scraping the sequels, we're seemingly back to square one with mythology, in other words, we don't know jack squat. Laurie and Michael may no longer be siblings and Michael isn't part of some child-kidnapping cult. Michael may finally be scary again.
9. God Particle/Cloverfield III
As expected, the third entry in the sci-fi/horror pseudo-franchise is shrouded in mystery, despite being merely three months away, to the point that we're not even certain of the title. The movie will be set on a space station and involve a scientific experiment that accidentally made Earth vanish. Oops!
It'll likely have minimal, it any at all, relation with the previous installments, but one can speculate that a space-based story maybe involving cross-dimensional travel just might explain where previously portrayed monsters come from. If it turns out to be a standalone, at least past records suggest it'll be a damn good one.
8. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gridelwald
Pretty much the entire previous cast is back for the second spin-off in the Harry Potter franchise that increasingly resembles a proper prequel. The tricky part undoubtedly is melding the personal journey of Newt Scamander and his fantastic magical creatures with the overall wizardry warfare with Dumbledore and Grindelwald, which is something to be improved upon from the first movie.
With Jude Law cast as a younger Dumbledore pitched against Johnny Depp's pure-blood fanatic villain, the second feature in this planned five-part series might serve as the beginning of war led by the two former friends/possible lovers. How Queenie, Jacob and Credence factor into the story remains to be seen.
7. Black Panther
We got a taste of Chadwick Boseman's feline king/warrior/badass in Captain America: Civil War (2016), which really is all the promotion we needed for a standalone Panther movie, that is, until the real trailers dropped. The setting of Wakanda carries a wholly unique aesthetic vibe, as does the soundtrack for our auditory sense (Kendrick Lamar's got that covered).Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, respectively the director and the lead from Creed (2015), joins this project with the latter portraying the villain Killmonger. Previously introduced roles by Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis likely will play a bigger part here.
It still amazes me that MCU movies are able to share an interconnected theme while remaining tonally different and fresh; that and in a franchise filled to the brim with mo-cap characters, Andy Serkis gets to play without dots all over his face.
6. Deadpool 2
From one tried and true perfect casting to another, Ryan Reynolds is born to play the Merc with a Mouth, if anyone can be born to play anything. With Josh Brolin on board to play fan-fav newcomer Cable, Wade Wilson is joined by pretty much everybody from the first movie, even Dopinder the taxi driver. How? How is he not delicensed after caught in a crash with a man kidnapped inside his trunk? Or in jail, for that matter?
As long as they don't seal Deadpool's mouth shut and give him lazer eyes again, I think we're good here. It'll have an uphill battle topping its predecessor, given how hyped and eventually awesome it was, but it's guaranteed good time. That Bob Ross parody trailer, tho. Wade really has a thing with Bobs.
5. Incredibles 2
Finally! FINALLY! After three Cars, Monster U and Finding Dory (which is amazing), this is the Pixar sequel that we need, deserve and desire! You have to give it to Pixar for recognizing the superhero craze early on but not cashing in on it with a popularly demanded sequel at the first chance. Summer cannot arrive fast enough!
In a year with 8 Marvel features and Aquaman, who's got their money on Incredibles 2 ending up as the best superhero movie by the end? It's also the first animation credit under the directorship of Brad Bird since Ratatouille (2007). Marketing, or what little there is, seems to be focusing on Jack-Jack, whose powers are volatile and unpredictable...and absolutely adorable. Just...take my money already!
4. Ready Player One
Just an initial headcount: the Delorean, Akira bike, Mad Max car, Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, Chucky, Deathstroke, Harley Quinn, Battletoad, Gundam, King Kong, Lara Croft and characters from Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Overwatch...hear that? That's the unique sound made by the collective minds of the entire nerd culture being blown to smithereens. If for no other reason, the cameos alone would lend worth to a blu-ray purchase. God, I resent and admire that!
Now that Steven Spielberg has us totally convinced that RP1 boasts one of the most visually amazing cinematic worlds ever, therein lies the bigger question: is there a story worthy of such a setting? Is the main character, played by Wade Owen Watts, charismatic enough to not be completely overshadowed? Well, it's Spielberg, and he's the least likely candidate of being found guilty of detachment from humanism. This is going to be so much fun.
3. The New Mutants
One might be surprised how high this entry is placed on this list, so allow me to make a small confession. I personally am a big fan of: a) superhero movies; b) horror movies, especially on the supernatural and/or psychological side; and c) weird movies that challenge the norm and henceforth challenge the audience at the risk of alienating their fanbase. Combine all three? The New Mutants! That is, if the amazing trailer is to be believed.
This is why I have been secretly hoping against the Disney-Fox acquisition, in spite of all the wonderful possibilities it presents. This is why I would love the see the current X-Men franchise thrive on, in spite of numerous past failure and an unsalvageable mess of a timeline. Fox may not make the best superhero movies....actually, they do (*whispers* Logan)...but in terms of diversity and allowing directors to realize their visions, by far they have the most balls!
2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Oh boy, there are so many ways this movie could crash and burn. Alden Eirenreich could turn out to be a terrible young Han Solo (which would confirm certain unfounded reports a while back), Ron Howard's reshoots to his reshoots in place of the Lord & Miller original version could be utterly jarring to one another, and the fact that there's still not even an official poster let alone trailer four months away from the release date.
But what can I say? Star Wars is automatically a cause for hype. Aaron Davis is an inspirational choice for a young Lando, and Woody Harrelson, Emelia Clarke, Paul Bettany are solid additions. Just on a hunch, the movie might delve into the Kessel run, Han winning the Falcon from Lando and the origin story of those dices seen in The Last Jedi. Still holding out hope that they'd shoot a funeral scene for Han in the present timeline, and get Billy Dee Williams to do the eulogy, where he tells the story of how they met which leads to the rest of it.
1. Avengers: Infinity War
Was there ever any doubt?
For the first time since 2015, Star Wars isn't my top 1 anticipated movie of the year. Instead, taking the top spot is the third assemble of a bunch of characters that I, as someone inexperienced with comic books, had barely heard of before 2008, and in no way played any part of my childhood or upbringing. For fans of superhero, fantasy or entertainment in general, truly we live in an age of wonder.
Infinity War is the ensemble movie like never before. A crossover cinematic universe assembling dozes of its established characters into one ultimate story arc after a whole decade of building up across 18 previous movies, is completely unheard of. Nobody could have predicted this when Samuel L. Jackson appeared at the end credits scene of Iron Man (2008) and namedropped the Avengers Initiative. Hell, I didn't even believe The Avengers (2012) could really happen until the day I physically went to a theatre and watched it.
The movie will be the first chapter of a 2-part story that concludes with the as yet untitled Avengers 4, set to release in 2019, which will likely continue the heroes' battle against Thanos, the Mad Titan played by Josh Brolin who comes to Earth seeking to complete his gem collection. A combined force of magic, science, aliens, gods, monsters, talking raccoons, talking trees...what more could anyone ask for?