6. The Mummy, June 9th
There’s honestly some reasons to like the look of this reboot. Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe are an interesting duo of actors to put together. Sofia Boutella seems perfect for the role as Ahmanet. Most of all, this isn’t your childhood’s Mummy.
The tone has changed, Brendan Fraser isn’t anywhere near this, and it’s part of a new cinematic universe.
We’ll throw out the idea that these Universal “monster” movies are nothing more than a cash-grab ready to go south, and give them a fair shake. The first trailer did initially have sound problems though, and didn’t have much to give us aside from a long helicopter crash. We saw enough of those in Suicide Squad that they aren’t very exciting anymore. Speaking of which, Boutella’s villain has been reminding many of Enchantress, not that that’s an omen.
Those few scenes can’t dismiss a movie. But bringing back a much-maligned franchise and asking an untested director to make it a key piece in a monstrous cinematic universe is a tough task.
Alex Kurtzman has written some fine films, but he’s not established as the head honcho. And he was not involved with the script. Those duties were performed by Christopher McQuarrie and Jon Spaihts. The former of the two may be the best thing this film has going for it.
But the writing talent may be squandered by a movie heavily-leaning on effects. There’s a reason they signed one of Michael Bay’s past contributor’s Ben Seresin to head-up the camera work.
They had two-and-a-half minutes to sell this movie and couldn’t come up with much more than a lot of CGI and disaster. They know high-intensity and Tom Cruise is the mix they’re going for, but for now, this seems like a poor man’s Mission: Impossible with ancient Egypt thrown in.
7. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, July 21st
Making this film is bold, especially with the amount of money they’re spending on it. Beyond the possibility of being a box office flop, it has the feel of a movie that will polarize audiences.
Between the creation of such a city as Alpha and the fact The Fifth Element’s director is on board, there’s some hope to be had. But Luc Besson hasn’t been that Luc Besson for quite some time. The Fifth Element came out 20 years ago. Since then, he hasn’t had one quality film, even though Lucy pulled in serious coin.
He certainly had quite the vision for this one, but even Jupiter Ascending had strong essentials to its world-building. Creating the characters to match it may be tough, and with the actors he’s doing it with, it may be even harder.
Not to say that Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne are horrible actors, but neither seems ready to front the most expensive French film in history. The talent of Ethan Hawke and John Goodman around them will class things up. But Delevingne has whether put together average-at-best performances (Paper Towns, The Face of an Angel) or hasn’t had acceptable scripts (Suicide Squad, Pan) to work with.
The visuals and novelty of the world may keep many interested, and hopefully everything else will. But between the bad recent stretch for the director, his lack of well-written scripts over the past several years, and the unproven Delevingne, this movie could easily take a dive. Fingers crossed that it won’t.
8. The Dark Tower, July 28th
If there’s one thing The Dark Tower has plenty of, it’s source material. These Stephen King’s books are long, precisely descriptive, and offer strong character arcs over the long-haul of the series.
But the long-haul isn’t what director Nikolaj Arcel and Sony/Columbia have in mind. Instead, their storyline brings in much of the first book, sprinkles in elements from its sequels, works as a quasi-sequel to all the books, and is said to be somewhat of a new take on the franchise altogether. Which makes next-to-no sense.
Sure, we’ve seen TV shows like Game of Thrones mix the timelines from their books to condense the narrative. But in a movie, it’s much tougher to do. That’s why these books are better suited for the small screen, which the franchise will eventually expand to.
But for now, it’s taking a massive chance on being a scrambled narrative that even the talents of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey may not be able to pull from the depths. Its only hope is that it takes a lot of liberty from the source material so it all makes sense. But in that case, it could take too much of the storyline and worldbuilding that made it so great in the first place.
J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard both had their turns to try and direct this film, and it never got off the ground. Now it seems after waiting for so long, that this film is being rushed through production, with its trailer even leaking before its effects were finished.
It probably won’t be a huge dud simply from the talent on-screen and the world King created. But there’s a lot of changes to the narrative’s perspective and the characters themselves that have Dark Tower readers already mad. And it has too many hands in the kitchen (four writers credited) and the high chances of a mixed-up story arc.
9. Justice League, November 17th
There’s no reason to believe as of now that Justice League will find its vision by the time the movie hits theaters in November.
Wonder Woman looks very promising, but so did Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman. From the first trailer, it looked as if Justice League was trying to change too much way too quickly. But elements like a lighter tone aren’t going to make this movie better. Making more sense of a plot and creating multi-dimensional characters will. And the likelihood of Zack Snyder crafting those is very questionable.
There’s still a lot of potential for this film, and the studio executives need to keep their hands off it as much as possible. But they probably won’t. And that’s another reason why this movie will more than likely falter. It is being drug in too many directions. It doesn’t have to be Marvel or brooding beyond belief. It can be something in the middle. But finding that identity will be the hardest thing for them.
And they may worry about it too much to bother creating an impactful and entertaining story. The acting could keep audiences emotionally connected, with DC’s casting choices (besides Henry Cavill) being one its bright spots. But if Snyder dumps us another depthless and incoherent story, it won’t matter.
There’s reason to believe DC and Warner Bros. could turn it around. But when they haven’t done anything above decent their last three times together, there’s more than enough reason to doubt.
10. Jumanji, December 22nd
The original was enjoyable as a kid and still holds some entertainment factor (like laughing at the CGI) today thanks to Robin Williams. But offering up a sequel is a poor choice to begin with. But leave it to Sony to try and dig up a decent movie from the 90’s to make a few bucks from.
Jake Kasdan does mostly comedy work, so this film will likely be more on the humorous side. Williams was always a great talent in mixing drama and comedy. Jack Black and Kevin Hart, despite both being charismatic, are not those types of actors.
Given the cast and director, that will shift the movie into a more comedic slant. Not that the film will necessarily be bad simply because of tone and genre, but much of the movie will change because of it.
Despite the alterations, it’s hard not to believe that Sony is once again trying to bank off nostalgia, and it didn’t work last time with Ghostbusters. This film could easily go further south for critics and at the box office if not given the true attention it needs.
On the flipside, Sony doesn’t have one singular voice behind the script, but rather four writers tinkering with it. Having a committee of hands on a project isn’t always a bad thing, but it is more times than not. Especially if it’s at a studio who hasn’t had a huge critical and box office combo since Skyfall in 2012, and got its best return from a horror movie (Don’t Breathe) in 2016.
Given their recent track-record on big budget ($100M-plus) movies, Passengers, Ghostbusters, The Magnificent Seven, Spectre, Pixels, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s a lot left to be desired.