Welcome back to Rhode Island Movie Corner’s two-part list of my Top 20 Most Anticipated Films of 2017. This is the second half of the list in which I’ll be listing picks #10-1. For picks #20-11, click the following link to be taken to Part 1 of this list. But for now, let’s not waste any more time and get back to it. These are my Top 10 most anticipated films of 2017.
Kicking off the Top 10 is a film that’s shaping up to be an exciting return of one of the cinema’s most iconic creatures to the big screen.
10. KONG: SKULL ISLAND (MARCH 10TH)
King Kong is easily one of the most iconic creatures in film history. The original King Kong from 1933 is regarded as one of the most classic films of all time. Since then, Kong has appeared in a few other films over the years, including a crossover with Godzilla and a 2005 remake directed by Peter Jackson. But, next year, the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ will be returning to the big-screen in Kong: Skull Island, which is set to connect with 2014’s Godzilla as part of Legendary Pictures’ new monster film series. This will eventually lead to a new Godzilla/King Kong crossover in 2020. But as for Kong: Skull Island, it seems as if that, for now at least, it’s not going to be making any major attempts at connecting with Godzilla. For one thing, it’s set in the 70’s. The first trailer for the film was quite excellent, showcasing the film’s cool art style as well as the fact that this Kong is apparently going to be frigging huge. I mean just look at the final shot in the trailer in which Kong appears in front of a pair of humans. While you can only see his face, he absolutely towers over the two. Obviously, this is to help match up Kong scale-wise with Godzilla, but still, I’m intrigued with this new version of the character, who will be portrayed by Terry Notary via motion-capture. Notary is no stranger to the process, having worked with Andy Serkis, who did the mo-cap for Kong in Peter Jackson’s remake, on the Planet of the Apes films. And speaking of the cast, this film has a MASSIVE ensemble cast; Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell and Corey Hawkins from Straight Outta Compton… the list goes on and on.
And then came the second trailer. That trailer impressed me because it finally gave us an idea of what this film was really going to be like. It again establishes the main plot of a group of explorers venturing into an uncharted island in the South Pacific before they come across Kong. But this trailer also shows that Kong (shown in his entirety for the first time in this trailer and still very huge) isn’t the only creature on this island. As the main characters learn from an island ‘resident’, played by John C. Reilly, there are also these ‘devilish’ creatures known as ‘Skullcrawlers’. We also see a few other creatures of varying shapes and sizes, which shows that this will truly be a true ‘creature feature’. Not only that, but it looks as if this Kong film is going to be much different when compared to other films in the series. Namely, I think it’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing this Kong rampaging through New York, climbing up the Empire State Building, and combatting fighter planes until his untimely demise (“Twas beauty killed the beast.”) This is called Kong: Skull Island after all so it looks as if all the action in the film is going to take place on Skull Island. In short, this is shaping up to be an exciting monster flick. I’ll admit that when it comes to King Kong, I’ve only seen the Peter Jackson remake. But I did really like that remake so I am very excited to see this new film and, subsequently, the upcoming crossover involving Kong and Godzilla. And while I’ll admit that I only ‘liked’ the Godzilla remake, I think that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) is going to deliver on this one.
There’s only one animated release in this year’s Top 10 list, and, surprisingly, it isn’t a Disney or Pixar film.
9. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (FEBRUARY 10TH)
As someone who grew up as a big fan of the LEGO brand, I was excited to see 2014’s The Lego Movie, even though it had been a few years since I had been a regular ‘player’ of LEGOs. And while the idea of a LEGO film may have seemed like nothing more than a soulless cash grab, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller gave it heart, effectively making it one of the best films of that year. And now there will be more LEGO films on the way, starting off with a spin-off that centers on the character that many felt was the biggest standout of The LEGO Movie; Will Arnett’s Batman. Arnett’s take on the Dark Knight takes center stage in The LEGO Batman Movie, directed by Chris McKay, who was the animation director for The LEGO Movie. The trailers for this film have been fantastic, previewing what looks to be another fun LEGO animated film, this time centered around Arnett’s hilarious ‘full of himself’ characterization of Batman. I’m also curious about a report claiming that the film will seemingly incorporate every major onscreen iteration of Batman to date, and by that, I mean hopefully more than just the line from the ‘Wayne Manor’ trailer when Alfred reminds Batman of his previous ‘moods’ (“I have aged phenomenally!”). Newcomers to the cast include Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, Michael Cera as Robin, and Rosario Dawson as Batgirl. And who knows? Maybe we’ll even see a cameo from someone from The LEGO Movie. One thing’s for certain, though… after a more serious take on Batman in Batman v Superman, I have the feeling that fans are eager to see a more upbeat take on the iconic superhero.
Two slots ago, we talked about one of the cinema’s most iconic primates, King Kong. But next year will also mark the return of another, and newer, ‘top ape’.
8. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (JULY 14TH)
After a disastrous remake in 2001, the Planet of the Apes franchise rebounded a decade later with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Featuring some impressive motion-capture work as well as an excellent performance by Andy Serkis in the lead role of ape leader Caesar, it was one of the surprise hits of 2011. Three years later, the franchise took it one step further with the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. A superior sequel in almost every way, the Matt Reeves-directed flick was an emotionally charged sci-fi drama that continued to raise the bar in terms of motion-capture effects. So, with that said, I can only imagine the epic action and visuals that we’re going to get with the next installment, War for the Planet of the Apes. Matt Reeves returns to direct and Andy Serkis and most of the series’ mo-cap regulars (Terry Notary, Judy Greer, Karin Konoval, etc.) reprise their roles from the previous film. As for the ‘human’ cast, once again they’ll be bringing in new characters, highlighted this time by Woody Harrelson in what appears to be a villainous role as ‘The Colonel’. In fact, it’s looking like this is shaping up to be a dark sequel. Per the current synopsis, the apes suffer heavy losses and Caesar apparently ends up going to a dark place when he begins to avenge his fellow apes. I mean, simply put, damn! But, then again, the primary subtitle for this film is ‘War’ so I guess that was to be expected. Simply put, it looks as if we’re inching closer and closer to a new ‘adaptation’ of, just simply, Planet of the Apes and I’m 100% confident that those who loved Dawn of the Planet of the Apes can’t wait to see the next installment of this hit franchise. I know I am!
We’re finally starting to get into the Marvel Cinematic Universe now with my next pick; a film that quite frankly has a lot going for it.
7. THOR: RAGNAROK (NOVEMBER 3RD)
While Thor has been a vital member of the Avengers, his solo film franchise has unfortunately been, arguably, the least successful sub-franchise of the entire MCU. While the first Thor film did get good marks back when it was first released in 2011, which is good considering that it could’ve easily been a disaster, I rarely hear it brought up in a positive manner nowadays. And as for the sequel, 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, it’s commonly regarded as the weakest installment of the entire MCU. But when it comes to the upcoming third installment, Thor: Ragnarok, I feel that this film could very much redeem the Thor franchise. The Dark World was clearly a prime example of an MCU film that was regulated by the studio’s controversial ‘creative committee’. But now that they’re gone, I think that this new Thor has quite a lot of potential. It’s being directed by Taika Waititi, who directed episodes of the HBO show Flight of the Concords as well as this year’s critically acclaimed adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He is easily one of the most ‘out of left field’ directors that Marvel Studios has ever hired and I’m confident that he is going to bring a lot to this third Thor film. Of course, Chris Hemsworth will be returning as Thor along with Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Idris Elba as Heimdall. But this film is also setting up an impressive ensemble cast as well. Cate Blanchett will be playing the main villain, Hela, Tessa Thompson (Creed) will be playing Valkyrie, a new love interest for Thor, Jeff Goldblum will be playing a character known as ‘Grandmaster’, and Karl Urban will be playing an Asgardian warrior named Skurge. But perhaps the most exciting addition to the cast is the return of Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. The film is being described as somewhat of a ‘sci-fi road trip’ story and after all the great interactions between them in the Avengers films, I’m really excited to see Thor and Hulk work off each other in this film. In short, I’m confident that this will redeem the Thor franchise in the eyes of most MCU fans. I mean, the fact that it’s going to be set primarily within the Nine Realms instead of on Earth, a common criticism of the previous films, is a good sign.
This year’s Captain America: Civil War saw the long-awaited debut of one of Marvel’s most beloved characters in the MCU. And next year, he’ll take on his latest ‘solo adventure’.
6. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (JULY 7TH)
I’ll admit that I was a little disappointed when it was announced that, due to the new deal between Marvel Studios and Sony, the Amazing Spider-Man franchise wasn’t going to continue. I mean I know that the second Amazing Spider-Man film underperformed both critically and commercially but why couldn’t they just continue the franchise and bring in Kevin Feige and his team to help improve it? Still, I won’t lie when I say that Tom Holland proved to be a fantastic new Spidey in Civil War so I am enthusiastic about the first installment of a new line of Spider-Man films, Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by general newcomer Jon Watts. While the character rights are still owned by Sony, at the same time this new film is basically an official MCU film. Holland will be returning as Peter Parker, of course, along with Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. Even Robert Downey Jr. will be appearing as Tony Stark, which is fitting considering that he was the one who recruited Spider-Man to join his team in Civil War. The film is also boasting a massive ensemble cast that also includes Zendaya, Donald Glover, and Tony Revolori (Zero ‘the Lobby Boy’ in The Grand Budapest Hotel). As for the villains, Michael Keaton makes the jump from DC to Marvel as the Vulture while a few other villains will be appearing as well. With that said, to some, it may seem like the film is once again making the same mistake that hurt both Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2; an overload of villains. But the reason why I’m not worried at this point is simple. I have faith in Marvel Studios and the fact that this will apparently be a ‘John Hughes style’ school comedy excites me as it’s sure to be another unique take on the superhero genre.
Arguably the most famous superheroine of comics finally takes center stage in her own film. Kicking off the Top 5…
5. WONDER WOMAN (JUNE 2ND)
The first big female-led superhero film of the current age of the superhero genre, Wonder Woman certainly has a lot going for it. It also now has the pressure of trying to be the DCEU’s first generally well-received film after the polarizing reaction to Man of Steel and the generally negative reactions to both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. But I think that this one has a chance, especially because this is basically the first entry in the franchise under the supervision of the DCEU’s ‘Kevin Feige’, Geoff Johns, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay. Gal Gadot will reprise her role from BvS as the Amazon warrior Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman as the film will explore her origins and events of her life before BvS. The film will be set during WWI and while it may seem like a cross between Captain America: The First Avenger and the Thor films, it does provide a unique backdrop for a superhero film. Chris Pine co-stars as Diana’s love interest, Steve Trevor, and based on the two trailers that have been released, it looks like he’ll certainly be more than just ‘the love interest’, while at the same time being sure not to overshadow Wonder Woman in her own film. The film is being directed by Patty Jenkins, who was previously set to direct Thor: The Dark World for Marvel Studios until she dropped out due to creative differences. And quite honestly, I think this film suits her better. And for the record, no, it’s not because it’s Wonder Woman but because I think she’ll get more creative control over this film instead of having to deal with a creative committee. And given the reports on the behind-the-scenes debacles that Zack Snyder and David Ayer went through with BvS and Suicide Squad, respectively, ‘creative control’ is going to be key to this film’s success.
For those who aren’t big fans of Disney’s current trend when it comes to their live-action films, hear me out on this one…
4. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (MARCH 17TH)
Disney’s current trend of live-action reimaginings continues with a new live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, inspired by Disney’s beloved 1991, Best Picture-nominated, animated feature. Obviously, the legacy of the original puts a lot of pressure on this new version, not to mention the backlash from those who aren’t fans of Disney’s current ‘live-action remake’ practice. As for me, as I’ve gone over before in the past, I’m fine with Disney doing live-action versions of their animated classics. It’s not like they’re intended to replace the originals, which seems to me to be the main problem that some Disney fans have with these remakes. This isn’t a case like the original Star Wars trilogy where George Lucas has been withholding the original versions of the films from us in favor of the altered ‘special editions’. The original animated films are still going to be there. Heck, they just released a new Blu-Ray edition of the original film, for crying out loud! And even if some of the remakes do poorly with critics, they don’t hurt the original in any way. If anything, it just makes the originals stronger. At the very least, the films have been solid hits with audiences but recently they’ve been doing well with critics as well. Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella ended up being the first of these ‘live-action remakes’ to be generally well-received by critics, and it even managed to improve upon some aspects of the equally terrific original. It was then followed a year later by Jon Favreau’s adaptation of The Jungle Book, which is easily one of the most well-received films of the year so far (and rightfully so, if I may add). And we even got a third well-received Disney remake just a few months later in the form of Pete’s Dragon, a remake of a rather obscure live-action Disney film from 1977.
Anyway, apologies for getting off track there for a second. Let’s talk about the new take on Beauty and the Beast. The film is being directed by Bill Condon, who is no stranger to musicals having written the screenplay for 2002’s Best Picture winner Chicago and directing 2006’s Dreamgirls. And yes, the new film will retain the original film’s music courtesy of Alan Menken; ‘Be Our Guest’, ‘Gaston’, and of course the titular track, just to name a few. As for the cast, this film has assembled quite an excellent ensemble. Emma Watson will take on the lead role of Belle, which I think many of us will agree is a perfect choice, while Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens stars as the Beast. Luke Evans will star as Gaston while Josh Gad takes on another big ‘Disney sidekick’ role as LeFou. As for the Beast’s enchanted staff, Ewan McGregor will be Lumiere, Ian freaking McKellen will be playing Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson will be playing Mrs. Potts. Add in other big names like Kevin Kline (Maurice) and Stanley Tucci (an original character named Cadenza, a harpsichord) and you have a premier ensemble. The first main trailer for the film showed off its impressive and beautiful visual style, and like the previous great Disney remakes, it’s looking like this new film will both respect the original and be its own thing at the same time. As a big fan of the original Beauty and the Beast (my third favorite Disney animated film of all-time, if you remember my recent ‘rankings list’), I’m really looking forward to this one. And after the trio of excellence that was Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Pete’s Dragon, I’m confident that this will continue the studio’s live-action remake hot streak.
Christopher Nolan’s newest film… need I say more?
3. DUNKIRK (JULY 21ST)
For his newest film, Christopher Nolan will be taking on a true story with Dunkirk. It will tell the tale of the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’, a moment from World War II in which many Allied soldiers were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk, France right in the middle of the Battle of France. This moment in time was even featured in another big film, 2007’s Atonement (Remember that big single-take sequence on the beach? That was Dunkirk.). But, suffice it to say, it’ll be very exciting to see Nolan’s take on the event and the first teaser very much set the stage for what looks to be an intense war film, highlighted by the closing shot in which a bunch of Allied soldiers notice and prepare to brace for an incoming fighter plane attack. Casting-wise, the film features what will surely be the usual excellent Nolan ensemble cast; Tom Hardy, in his third Nolan film after Inception and Dark Knight Rises, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance… Harry Styles? Yeah, apparently Nolan decided to cast one of the members of One Direction in the film. Eh, I don’t mind, I trust Nolan’s judgment. Also, like his previous film, Interstellar, it looks like this will be another film that is going to be a ‘must-see’ in IMAX as it was shot on 65 mm and will be projected on film in the theaters that are still capable of doing so. You do have to give filmmakers like Nolan credit for keeping the art of using film stock alive, especially in an age where most filmmakers nowadays shoot on digital. But aside from that, I’m just excited to see the newest film from one of my favorite directors.
Boy, let me tell you, picking a #1 out of these next two was quite a hard process. But, somehow, I managed to make it happen. And yes, these next two picks will probably be so obvious to anyone who’s been following this blog for some time now. At #2, we have the highly-anticipated follow-up to the biggest film of 2015…
2. STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII (DECEMBER 15TH)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a genuine success. Obviously, it was the most anticipated film of 2015 for many people but it did run the risk of being a potential disappointment, as was the case with the prequel trilogy when it was first released. Thankfully, though, that did not happen. I mean, sure, you still have people pulling the argument that the film was a ‘remake’ of A New Hope (Which I still argue it isn’t. Can we please let that go?) but for the most part it proved to be a big hit both critically and commercially. So, who wouldn’t be excited for the next installment of this new trilogy? This time, however, we’ll be getting a change in director. It’s sad that we won’t see J.J. Abrams return but, at the same time, I don’t blame him for not wanting to spend the next half-decade or so working solely on these films. Instead, Rian Johnson will be taking over as director for Episode VIII. Johnson’s definitely proven himself to be a premier director in recent years, having helmed 2012’s sci-fi/time travel hit Looper as well as some of the most well-received episodes of Breaking Bad, including the critically acclaimed third-to-last episode, ‘Ozymandias’. With those credentials, one can only imagine what he’s going to bring to the world of Star Wars. And I must say that I like the idea of having different directors for each of the primary installments of the saga; it helps keep things fresh. And Johnson certainly has great material to work with, especially considering how Force Awakens ended. Will we see Rey begin to train with Luke? How will the First Order and, more specifically, Kylo Ren respond after the destruction of Starkiller Base? For now, we don’t know what’s going to happen... and that’s what’s so great about the anticipation for the continuing story of the Star Wars saga.
And finally, my most anticipated film of 2017 is… the return of those ‘bunch of a-holes’…
1. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (MAY 5TH)
Back in 2013 when I did my ‘Most Anticipated Films of 2014’ list, I had listed Guardians of the Galaxy at the #10 spot. Obviously, at that point, we still did not have any real idea of just what to expect from this film. I mean this was a pretty big risk for Marvel Studios at the time in regards to going with a generally unknown team of superheroes and doing a whole film based on them. But, of course, we all know how great it turned out to be in the end. And even after two whole years since its initial release, Guardians of the Galaxy still stands as my favorite MCU film to date thanks to its strong characters, great humor, excellent visuals, and terrific emotional depth. And that is why the upcoming sequel ultimately beats out Star Wars: Episode VIII as my most anticipated film of 2017, though, let me be clear, this was only by a small margin. Writer/director James Gunn returns to direct the continuing adventures of everyone’s favorite intergalactic ‘bunch of a-holes’. In this new installment, Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord tries to learn more about the identity of his father. And who is his father, you ask? Why that would be the one and only Kurt Russell in the role of Ego, who in the comics is an actual living planet… yeah, I know that sounds rather weird but need I remind you that this is a franchise with a talking raccoon and a tree creature.
The main cast members of the original film all return to their respective roles; Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as Groot (who will be in a ‘younger’ form in this film after sacrificing himself at the end of the first film), and Bradley Cooper as Rocket. The Guardians will also be getting a few new recruits as well, two of whom are returning characters, Michael Rooker as Yondu and Karen Gillan as Nebula, as well as newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what they bring to the team dynamic, especially considering that Yondu and Nebula played generally antagonistic roles to the team in the first film. And of course, I know we’re all excited to learn what songs will be included on the soundtrack, Awesome Mix Vol. 2. So far, we haven’t gotten any concrete reveals in regards to featured songs but based on what was shown at Comic-Con earlier this year, it seems like ‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac and ‘Come A Little Bit Closer’ by Jay and the Americans will probably be featured in the soundtrack. But at the end of the day, I’m just super pumped to see the further adventures of the Guardians. You could only imagine how excited I was when the first trailer was released online this past month. Getting to hear ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ once more, seeing that funny interaction between Star-Lord and Drax at the end, it was just perfect and I look forward to getting ‘hooked on a feeling’ once more with these ragtag team of misfits. One last question, though…
And those are my Top 20 most anticipated films of 2017. Thanks for following along and be sure to sound off in the comments below with your most anticipated films of 2017, especially if they’re films that I didn’t mention here. Because there’s a lot more coming out next year that I haven’t even gone over yet.