Are you ready for these movies of 2016?
While 2016 could look very much like 2015, there are some significant shifts that will be happening in 2016. The Marvel Cinematic Universe may have more or less defined and dominated the superhero sphere in the past few years, but 2016 will see its most significant challenger entering the fray. The DC Universe makes its biggest splash on screen in 2016, colliding head-on with Marvel's third phase with big plans of introducing and catching up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
2016 won't be just another year for comic book fans alone. No, the year will see a surprising amount of adaptation of properties that come from another central pillar of today's modern culture; video-games. The amount of faith and funds video games have mustered over the years has been increasing, and while the results so far haven't been terribly feasible, but one of the biggest questions is will 2016 change all that? Has a formula been found to make that leap from console screen to cinema screen?
While this list could easily be filled with major properties turned into cinematic adaptations, we do not want to bore you with the obvious picks, and slot in a few from the master crafters of cinema that you should also be looking out for in 2016. Of course 2016 won't be complete without a batch of beloved and existing movie franchises having reboots, sequels or prequels, so to complete your anticipation for 2016, we give you our biggest guide to 26 movies you should be looking out for in 2016.
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu is back with another potential stunner just a year after his Best Picture "Birdman" the year before. Adapting from the biographical novel of a frontiersman by Michael Punke, "The Revenant" couldn't be any more different and challenging to make than the sharp technical prowess and theatrical performance needed to make "Birdman". Already notoriously known for its punishing production that was shot under harsh weather conditions in even harsher locations, it was a physical and performance test for its crew and stars (which is setting up to win major Oscars); Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy (who lost his chance to be one another movie in our list), and Domnhall Gleeson. Another difference from "Birdman" is that Iñárritu had strongly wanted a pixel-free experience for "The Revenant", so what you see (and the trailer doesn't sell short Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography) is what you get. So we are expecting an exceptionally raw performance and brutal cinematography being employed in "The Revenant", that will undoubtedly set the tone, if not outright win another Oscar statuette, for Iñárritu or give DiCaprio his long overdue.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Almost anything can be re-imagined with zombies, but we never imagined that someone would go so far as to appending it to a Jane Austen novel. What was once could have been a very curious project had director David O. Russell remained to make this adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's novel, we still want to see the end product by director Burr Steers of what could be an interesting mashup of period drama with classy zombie-killing action (in top hats, no less). And it would be a nice reversal to see Lily James putting on the dress again, only this time tucking knives into zombie throats and saving her Darcy, after seeing her gracefully fitting toes into glass slippers from 2015's "Cinderella".
For the cult hit that it was back in 2001, ideas for a sequel never came up until 7 years later and it would take another 7 years for Ben Stiller and "Tropic Thunder" screenwriter Justin Theroux to fully develop the script. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are back as the world's dumbest but most beautiful male models to solve another international fashion scandal with a new character by Penélope Cruz, and Will Ferrell's Mugatu is back for revenge. Of course, adding to the ridiculous humour of "Zoolander" has always been the celebrity cameos, but we can't wait to see more of Benedict Cumberbatch becoming the be all and end all of models. Since the crime now no longer involves the assassination of a certain Southeast Asian dictator, perhaps "Zoolander 2" would finally be allowed to be shown here in Malaysia?
The superhero season of 2016 starts in the Marvel universe but not from Marvel studios. Instead, it comes from Fox's holding of the X-Men franchise, with the release of "Deadpool". Although many would like to forget the underwhelming cinematic debut of the character in Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", but we have led to promise that this will be the cinematic treatment that the Merc with the Mouth truly deserves. Although "Deadpool" won't be the first R-rated superhero movie, but fans who are familiar with his foul-mouth and penchant for gruesome but funny violence will believe that "Deadpool" deserves no less.
Kung Fu Panda 3
It's been a while since we had another installment in the "Kung Fu Panda" series, and they might as well just make a third one just to complete the trilogy. Never short of being fun, punic, outrageous kung fu action, and oriental foods, "Kung Fu Panda 3" seems to have maintained much of that tradition as Po finally finds out where he truly belongs and the identity of his father (even though he needed to let that sink in for a while). So dispense the chit-chat and let justice be served (with a side dish of special sauce).
After tackling the video-game ("Wreck-It Ralph"), the renewed Disney princess ("Frozen"), and the superhero genres ("Big Hero 6"), Disney Animation is now coming up with something that harkens back to their cinematic roots; cute, cuddly animals. "Zootopia" is a reimagination of our modern times, but instead of people, it is inhabited by talking animals. We have absolute confidence that Disney would know how to make this simple premise work for more than it is worth, and at least they got the experience in the DMV pat....down....right.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
One of the biggest and most anticipated movie of the year comes down on us in the first quarter of 2016 and would undoubtedly set the tone for all other superhero movies to be released this year. An indirect sequel to "Man of Steel", Zack Synder now introduces Batman, Wonder Woman, and possibly The Flash, Aquaman and a few other members of the future Justice League. But before that, the two biggest superheroes of the DC universe must come to terms with each other on who is stronger between them. Fans will finally get to decide if casting Ben Affleck was the wrong call for Batman, or it could absolve him of all sins as Daredevil.
The Jungle Book
If Disney's attempts of making original origin stories of their most beloved characters and villains has not bring in the attention that they have been hoping for, their live-action adaptation of their most beloved classic animations seem to be doing the work, judging from box office chord that "Cinderella" had struck in 2015. That may be a tough bar to reach for Jon Favreau's live adaptation of "The Jungle Book", but it has the added benefit of relying on more CG-animals, voiced by an all-star cast of Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Christopher Walken, as though they were present on screen.
Captain America: Civil War
If DC fans were treated with one of the biggest showdowns from the DC universe this year, then Marvel fans would be given the same with one of the biggest showdown from the Marvel universe. Based but not a complete adaptation of the famed "Civil War" series in the comics, the original members of the Avengers find themselves torn on opposing sides of the Superhero Registration Act; with one fighting for liberty and the other for security; and none of them deserving to have both. "Captain America: Civil War" will once again reunite the Russo Brothers with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also be the cinematic debut of some of the favourite Marvel characters, including the official first appearance of one neighbourhood friendly web slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Angry Birds: The Movie
Yes, we groaned when we first heard that the silly (but wholesomely addictive) mobile game has made its way from our little screens to the big screen, as if they haven't already taken up enough of our screen-time. But after watching the trailer, we think that co-directors Fergal Reily and Clay Kaytis and screenwriter Jon Vitti are on the something here, something along the lines that could make an unexpected turn like "The LEGO Movie" did. Rovio and Sony have obviously put a bit more thought into just colorful birds slamming themselves onto porkine structures, and we think they have made a good choice of using actors like Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, and Peter Dinklage to help with the characterisation through their voice acting.
While Marvel and DC are having one of the biggest installments in their franchise, the "X-Men" franchise is also reaching its climatic end. The final installment of the rebooted timeline trilogy, this time the mutants of Xavier and Magneto are united to fight against one of the most invincible mutants of their own. After a terrible backlash from leaked on-set photos, the Internet now sincerely needs to apologize to Bryan Singer and just shut up and go see "X-Men: Apocalypse".
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
The CG return of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" may not be the second coming that older fans of the franchise had hoped for, but it definitely knew where the teenage ninja spirit lay (the elevator scene was all it needed). Seeing the first trailer for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" seems to indicate that director Dave Green seems to have that pat down and turned up (with more teenage douchery and angst) and making it more highly anticipated with the introduction of some of the more iconic characters from the franchise.
For the epic world that is Warcraft and the visual craft of Blizzard Entertainment that has awed its fans over decades, fans of the computer game series could not ask for more than the epic war between humans and orcs to be brought from their monitor screen to the cinema screen. And where better to start a cinematic franchise of Warcraft right from where it began. "Warcraft" is akin to the "Lord of the Rings" for the children who grew up with computer games in the 90s, and Legendary Pictures have seem able to meet up with fans' expectations. There is a certain amount of confidence to be had seeing Duncan Jones at the helm, but this has the danger of being his most expensive failure as well.
After years of pleading, Ellen DeGeneres finally gets her wish to reprise her role as the amnesiac blue tang with a sequel to one of the most cherished Pixar animation that is centered around her. "Finding Dory" will be the first in a line of sequels to Pixar's original classics aside from "Cars", and having Andrew Stanton back to direct his own sequel a decade later is a small comfort that Pixar has not traded storytelling for cash grabs.
Independence Day: Resurgence
It might be impressive how Roland Emmerich is able to top the scale of destruction seen in "Independence Day", but with the advances made in digital cinematic destruction over the past 20 years since it came out, one could say that a disaster favourite like "Independence Day" was suited for an upgrade. Although without its major star Will Smith, but with fan favourite Jeff Goldblum, "Independence Day: Resurgence" has managed to blow everything up; in scale and nonsense dogfights.
Few can excite more than a Steven Spielberg project, but when news that he was adapting the Roald Dahl children's book, we were even more excited when the teaser trailer had finally hit. We see little reason that we won't be seeing our imagined visions of Giant Country, the evil giants, and dream-catching by Spielberg's trusted troupe from music, cinematography and editing, and perhaps give us the same warm feelings like watching "E.T.".
After a long and troubled history of making a third "Ghostbuster" movie and all hope of that ever happening died along with the death of Harold Remis, the franchise was seriously in danger of being forgotten. Until we heard that it was going to be rebooted with an all-female cast, we thought what had motivated this new direction until we saw the name Paul Feig. Honestly, we are more curious to see where the franchise could go in this new direction than the response fans of the franchise would lead us to believe, and this would be where we would get to see if Feig knows how to put the reversal spin on an existing franchise than a genre, which could result in more comedic gold. Besides, who could complain when you have funny women Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy packing plasma blasters, while Chris Hemsworth is taking calls as the receptionist?
Star Trek Beyond
Every installment in the rebooted Star Trek franchise since J.J. Abrams has increasingly put more emphasis on the action rather than the exploration, so why not go all the way? Coming off his time from the "Fast and Furious" franchise that he helped to reinvigorate, we can see the seething rage from franchise purists towards what director Justin Lin has done so in the trailer, but we see Lin taking another risk just as he did with the "Fast and Furious", but would he be twice lucky?
The Bourne Betrayal
Mostly still a question mark with little details being talked about it so far (or if it will make it for its expected 2016 release date), but after the bad taste left from "Bourne Legacy" (sorry Jeremy Renner), we take anything we can get out of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass to go for another round of shaky cam fist fights. The first trilogy ended on such a good note that it would be such a waste to see this series fall on the wayside, after what it had done to reinvent the spy genre that is even followed by James Bond himself.
Warner Bros. isn't out to set up a league of DC's superheroes this year, but to show the flip side with a team of supervillains as well. While "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" has us excited for the name of the characters involved, "Suicide Squad" has us giddy from the cast involved, with Margot Robbie as Harlequinn, Will Smith as Deadshot, Joel Kinnaman (replacing Tom Hardy who missed this for "The Revenant") as Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, Cara Delevigne as Enchantress, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller and the most anticipated performance of Jared Leto as next cinematic Joker since Heath Ledger.
Kubo and the Two Strings
While 2015 was a heavy year for animation, but the stop motion world had little competition with "Shaun the Sheep Movie" and the unexpected humanising work of Charlie Kauffman's "Anomalisa". For their 10th year in the stop motion business, Laika makes up for their absence with "Kubo and the Two Strings" and our anticipation level for their latest has never been higher than we ever had for a Laika production. You need to watch that trailer now if you hadn't, and we don't know how they are so close to blurring the lines between CG and stop-motion animated waves.
One other character that wasn't done justice in the cinematic "X-Men" was Gambit. Also another project that we haven't heard much of other than Rupert Sander's departure (which took a few notches off our anticipation), but we still have our fingers crossed that "Gambit" is still on the cards of 2016, so that we would get to hear Channing Tatum in his native Bayou accent, because we know he already has no problem charming the chéris as the card-dealing mutant, and perhaps do as much justice to the one of the more fascinating characters in the X-Men universe that hasn't been allowed to shine.
The third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes into full swing with the first new superhero to be introduced in the new phase. We have seen how Marvel dabbles into the cosmic forces from "Thor", but now we will get to see how Marvel wants director Scott Derrickson to make magic come alive in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As if Benedict Cumberbatch isn't already enough to make this all the more anticipated as the Sorcerer Supreme, but surround him with a supporting cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton, and you have magic waiting to happen.
Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
It's been four years since the end of the Harry Potter series but those years haven't gone by easy for those who know that the wizarding world has more to offer. The really clever thing that we love about J.K. Rowling deciding to expand on a fictional book title that was merely mentioned in the books, is that it opens up a whole new door to explore more of the Harry Potter franchise with unimaginable possibilities, and who better to take us out of our muggle life than an accomplished actor like Eddie Redmayne?
Star Wars: Rogue One
Disney isn't just interested in relaunching a new Star Wars trilogy (and beyond), but to fully expand on creating a new Expanded Universe with countless stories being told that are not related with the main storyline started from "The Force Awakens". Shortly after the announcement of "The Force Awakens", Disney also announced "Star Wars: Rogue One" to be directed by Gareth Edwards that will be part of a Star Wars Anthology. This is an interesting direction that Disney is taking and whether these anthology films would be a second-rate distraction in between each episode of Star Wars would be the biggest question that it has to answer.
And finally the year wraps with another adaptation to another major franchise, but this time from the video game world. "Assassin's Creed" looks to be a serious effort in filmmaking with director Justin Kruzel reuniting with his leads from "Macbeth"; Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, bringing in some heavy firepower for a video game adaptation. However, this will be the first test for the new film making division of game developer empire Ubisoft in their foray to film. We hope that "Assassin's Creed" will set a good precedence to become the cinematic franchise that it is in the video-game world, leveraging its wide selection of IPs with good storytellers, because we do want to see cinematic adaptations of more properties that Ubisoft has in its stable (perhaps a "Prince of Persia" reboot?).
Cinema Online, 01 January 2016