As another summer movie season draws to a close, it’s time to look ahead to the imminent arrival of autumn and winter, specifically at the cinematic offerings they have in store. Listed below in order of release date are eight of the biggest movies hitting cinemas in the next four months and why you should care about them.
The Predator – 13th September
Following his small supporting role in the first movie, Shane Black returns to the world of Predator with a soft reboot hoping to revitalise this dormant brand. This time he’s behind the camera handling directorial duties, a promising sign given his previous feature was 2016’s criminally underrated The Nice Guys.
The Predator moves the action away from the lush jungles of the first and third installments, in favour of the streets of American suburbia where a young boy (played by Room‘s Jacob Tremblay) inadvertently sets off a beacon calling the iconic monster back to Earth. In the wake of that fateful act, a ragtag group of ex-soldiers team-up to put an end to the creature’s hunt before it claims the lives of their entire community.
Boyd Holbrook takes the lead after making quite an impression in 2017’s Logan, with the supporting cast featuring a number of other strong names; Trevante Rhodes burst onto the scene with his lauded performance in Moonlight, while Sterling K. Brown and Yvonne Strahovski are both coming from acclaimed television roles on American Crime Story and The Handmaid’s Tale respectively. Former Punisher Thomas Jane also appears, alongside Olivia Munn and comedy star Keegan Michael-Key.
Having made modifications to their DNA, Black’s version of the Predator is even more deadly than before and the reboot has been slapped with an R-rating as a result. Expect witty dialogue, bloody action and strong performances in what could be the best Predator movie since, well, the first one.
Venom – 5th October
It would be quite understandable to await Sony’s Venom movie with a certain level of trepidation. The studio previously tried to adapt the character into live-action in Spider-Man 3, a decision which director Sam Raimi disagreed with and which is widely regarded to have derailed that film.
That being said, their new bedfellow Marvel Studios has hopefully helped Sony see the error of the ways, meaning a more responsible approach to this second attempt. Certainly, the casting of Tom Hardy alone is a good sign as one of the most respected actors working in Hollywood today. The acting pedigree doesn’t stop there as Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams also stars, alongside Riz Ahmed who is hot off his acclaimed role in HBO miniseries, The Night Of.
Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a journalist who bonds with an alien symbiote while investigating the activities of a mysterious survivalist group known as The Life Foundation. It’s currently unclear how closely the movie will connect to the juggernaut Marvel Cinematic Universe, presumably that will depend on how it is received by critics and fans.
Perhaps the greatest reason to be concerned for Venom is its director, Ruben Fleischer, whose career is still running on the fumes of his debut feature. Indeed, in the nine years since Zombieland was unleashed on audiences, Fleischer has released clunker after clunker which doesn’t instill a huge amount of confidence. The writing team assembled for this solo outing is similarly underwhelming, with “hits” like Kangaroo Jack, The Dark Tower and Fifty Shades of Grey to their name.
Okay, so maybe don’t get your hopes too high for this one. But still though, it’s probably worth a punt, right?
Halloween – 19th October
The long-running horror franchise returns with original star Jamie Lee Curtis in tow. This latest entry scraps the continuity laid out by the previous seven sequels, opting for a universe where serial killer Michael Myers never returned after disappearing at the end of the first movie. Until now, that is.
The focus returns to franchise heroine Laurie Strode, whose life is in tatters due to her unflinching belief that Myers will one day come back to finish what he started on that fateful night in 1978. Curtis has talked extensively about the character in recent press junkets and her obvious enthusiasm is infectious.
In a surprising development, comedy actor Danny McBride is one of the writers credited for this screenplay, and his frequent collaborator David Gordon Green is in the director’s chair. Green has a rather spotty history having churned out his fair share of bad comedies, although did find some critical success with his most recent effort, 2017’s Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
Perhaps most excitingly of all, original director and composer John Carpenter is returning to create the score for this reboot. His theme song for the first movie is among the most iconic in film history and his presence here implies a certain level of approval for this reimagining. Indeed, even if 2018’s Halloween can’t restore this series to its former glory, it’s shaping up to be a less offensive reboot than most.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web – 9th November
The Girl in the Spider’s Web is the second attempt by Hollywood to bring the character of Lisbeth Salander to the big screen, following 2011’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Intended to be the first of a trilogy, the film underperformed at the box office and so seven years later a new cast and crew are about to try their luck.
Director Fede Alvarez is a superb choice to helm this project, having shown he can deliver dark and thrilling storytelling with 2016’s Don’t Breathe. Replacing Mara in the lead role is The Crown‘s Claire Foy, certainly a talented actor but one who is yet to prove herself as a box office commodity after Unsane flopped earlier this year.
Interestingly, this is an adaptation of the fourth book in the Millenium series of novels, which was the first not to be written by series creator Stieg Larsson. Jumping ahead like this is a logical decision given that Larsson’s original trilogy was adapted in full in his native Sweden with Noomi Rapace in the eponymous role, meaning an American retread would have been fairly redundant.
Ralph Breaks the Internet – 30th November
The long-awaited sequel to 2012’s charming Wreck-It Ralph finally hits cinemas this November, giving Disney the perfect opportunity to flex the muscles of their enormous empire. With a premise that sees reformed villain Ralph (John C. Reilly) and best pal Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) traversing the weird and wonderful(?) world of the internet, the Mouse House are seemingly rolling out every single valuable asset in their considerable arsenal.
It’s difficult to shake the nauseating thought that Ralph Breaks the Internet could be less a celebration of videogame culture and more a Disney propaganda film, exacerbated by a plot that sounds eerily similar to the infamous Emoji Movie of 2017. However, hope is not yet lost. The first trailer proved that Disney is more than willing to poke fun at its regrettable past, and the creative team behind this movie is strong enough to do so effectively.
Rich Moore is back to direct this second installment, sharing duties with the first film’s co-writer Phil Johnston. The pair most recently collaborated on 2016’s fantastic Zootopia, which is a promising sign that they know what they’re doing. Ralph Breaks the Internet also has a stellar voice cast which includes the returning talents of Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch and Alan Tudyk, as well as exciting new recruits Taraji P. Henson, Gal Gadot and Bill Hader. Let’s just ignore the fact that James Corden is also on board.
Aquaman – 14th December
The DC Extended Universe (officially titled the Worlds of DC) simply refuses to die. 2017 was a mixed bag for the cinematic endeavour, producing its first bona fide hit in the form of Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman before following it up with the widely despised Justice League, where Jason Momoa’s Aquaman made his first significant appearance.
Tackling the solo adventure of DC’s premier Atlantean is James Wan, a director who made his name on the horror circuit with Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring, before transitioning to blockbuster fare with 2015’s Furious 7. With that solid résumé behind him, many fans are optimistic this could be another win for DC and the trailers released so far seem to support that notion.
It remains to be seen just how much acting range Momoa realistically has, but this could be the film which takes his career to the next level. Amber Heard returns as Mera, love interest and prospective queen of Atlantis, who made her first appearance in Justice League. She is joined by a cast that includes veteran actors Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Dolph Lundgren as well as Wan’s frequent collaborator Patrick Wilson.
Aquaman is all but guaranteed to provide the CGI-fuelled action of a typical DC movie, but could also venture into social commentary with humanity’s pollution of the seas said to be a major motivation for the film’s villain, Ocean Master. Certainly, that’s a global issue that deserves greater awareness and few mediums have an audience as large as blockbuster cinema.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – 14th December
Roughly two months after Venom hits screens, Sony strikes again with another Spider-Man feature that has the potential to be a much bigger deal. Into The Spider-Verse is an animated film set in an alternate reality where teenager Miles Morales holds the mantle of Spider-Man.
Morales made his debut in 2011 as part of Marvel’s ultimate line of comics, stepping up to be a hero in the wake of Peter Parker’s untimely death. He quickly made headlines for being the first mixed race character to take on the role, as the son of an African-American father and a Hispanic mother.
Seven years on, both Morales and his stories have been widely acclaimed with many fans clamoring for an appearance in Marvel’s MCU (which was hinted towards in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming). While it looks as if a full-fledged live-action Miles Morales is still some way off, this animated outing looks like quite the peace offering.
Sony has enlisted Shameik Moore to voice the lead role, an actor who was praised for his work in Netflix’s mega-budget music drama, The Get Down. Meanwhile, Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali has been cast as Aaron Davis a.k.a The Prowler, Morales’ uncle who plays a big part in the character’s origin story.
Taking inspiration from the artwork of Morales’ co-creator Sara Pichelli, Into The Spider-Verse has a striking and quite beautiful visual style that is unlike anything else in cinemas this year. The plot sounds similarly ambitious, throwing Morales into an adventure spanning multiple universes, bringing alternate versions of Spider-Man such as Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage!!!) to mainstream audiences for the first time.
Alita: Battle Angel – 26th December
With a budget pegged to be in the region of $175-200 million, Alita: Battle Angel is perhaps the biggest gamble of the entire year. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film is an adaptation of the manga series by writer Yukito Kishiro about an amnesiac cyborg who is discovered in a dump by a so-called cyber-doctor. Once repaired, Alita adjusts to life in a dangerous new city but her mysterious past is soon to catch up with her.
Following the casting of American actress Rosa Salazar in the lead, Alita: Battle Angel has been hit with accusations of whitewashing in much the same way as 2017’s Ghost in the Shell. The filmmakers behind Alita insist that this isn’t the case, with producer Jon Landau saying in an interview with Vulture:
“The author, Yukito Kishiro, did something very different: He wrote manga that is not set in an Asian world. He wrote it set in a place called Iron City, which is a melting pot. He actually set it in Kansas.”
The melting pot environment Landau speaks of does appear to be a major part of the film’s identity, with the action taking place in 26th century Latin America where Chinese, English, Spanish and Portuguese are just four of the languages regularly heard. However, his argument can’t explain why the live-action Alita has been given oversized eyes, a decision which seems to capitalise on the Japanese roots of the source material, thus causing yet more anger at the lack of Asian talent in any of the leading roles.
The debate rages on and will likely only become more lively as the film’s December release date draws closer, but there’s enough talent here to suggest Battle Angel can be both entertaining and respectful. Self-proclaimed king of the world James Cameron co-wrote the screenplay, a noteworthy talent given his history of writing nuanced action heroines such as Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor.
Robert Rodriguez is admittedly a hit-or-miss director, but has produced some quality work in his extensive career. For Battle Angel, he has assembled a formidable supporting cast of acclaimed talent including Academy Award winners Jennifer Connelly, Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali, as well as genre favourites Jackie Earle Haley and Michelle Rodriguez.