Late August to early September can be a pretty “blah” time at the box office — in fact, this past weekend, the box office hit its lowest point in 16 years. However, help is on the way! There are plenty of great movies scheduled for fall and winter this year — perhaps an even stronger group of films than the summer blockbuster season. It’s tough to narrow it down, but here are the ones I’m most looking forward to:
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The first “Kingsman” was a love it or hate it movie — it’s a quirky, violent, very British spy action/comedy that features a wacky villain played by Samuel L. Jackson and one of the most off-the-wall fight scenes I’ve ever seen on film. After I finished the movie, my first thought was, “I’m not entirely sure what I just watched, but I loved it and I need to see it again.” While sequels tend to have trouble recapturing the same magic, this one at least looks like it’s doing things right, bringing in the U.S. counterpart to the Kingsmen, called the Statesmen. I’m looking forward to seeing Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges join the crew as American agents.
Blade Runner 2049
Revivals/reboots of classic films can vary a lot at the box office. They range from excellent — “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the new “Planet of the Apes” trilogy — to bad/forgettable — remember the 2012 “Total Recall” remake? Yeah, me neither. We’ll have to wait to see which category the new Blade Runner film will fit into, but it does have a talented director (Denis Villeneuve also directed the much buzzed-about “Arrival”) and a good cast, with Ryan Gosling joining Harrison Ford, who is reprising his role as Rick Deckard.
I’m not entirely sure what to expect from “Thor: Ragnarok,” but that’s actually a good thing. The colorful trailers have been packed with humor and intergalactic action, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Cate Blanchett as the villain (hopefully she’ll rank as one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s stronger adversaries). The Thor films provide a unique opportunity within the MCU to mash up a variety of styles: the mix of sci-fi and Norse mythology elements create a unique blend of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Game of Thrones,” with even a little “Gladiator” thrown in this time. Hopefully the movie will be just as fun as it looks!
Murder on the Orient Express
This period murder mystery based on the book by Agatha Christie is arguably the most star-studded flick this fall (the cast is almost too large to list, but know you’ll be seeing lots of famous faces). Kenneth Branagh directs and stars as detective Hercule Poirot, who must solve a whodunit on a snowbound train. I’ll be interested to see how much traction this film gets, but the large cast should generate buzz.
Ah, “Justice League.” I worry about you after seeing “Batman v. Superman” and “Suicide Squad,” but I won’t count you out of the fight just yet. This summer’s “Wonder Woman” was a triumph for the struggling DC Cinematic Universe, and it’s my favorite movie of the year so far. Hopefully “Justice League” will feature some of the same elements that made that film a success. Geek icon Joss Whedon’s involvement in the project also may help smooth over some of the film’s rougher edges and make the final movie more relatable.
The Disaster Artist
“The Room” is perhaps the greatest worst movie ever made. Written, directed by, and starring one man — Tommy Wiseau — this film is a masterpiece of bad filmmaking, with performances, dialogue, and a script so awful you can’t help but watch, horrified yet transfixed. “The Disaster Artist” tells the story of how that film was made, based on the memoir by Wiseau’s friend/co-star Greg Sestero. “The Disaster Artist” is one of the funniest, most fascinating books I’ve ever read, and I hope the film version does it justice.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Although some fans felt “Episode VII: The Force Awakens” played it too safe and echoed “A New Hope” more than it should, I thought the film did exactly what it needed to: put the Star Wars franchise back on firm footing and celebrate the original trilogy while also subtly moving in a new direction. And now that the franchise is in better shape, I’m hoping “The Last Jedi” can take a few more risks. Rumors abound, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Mark Hamill return to the role of Luke Skywalker. When he calls for the Jedi to end, what does he mean? Will he lead Rey on a different path, learning to use the Force but breaking free of the Jedi and Sith codes? Will Kylo Ren turn back to the light? And just who is Supreme Leader Snoke? The film will (hopefully!) answer at least some of these questions.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
As mentioned earlier, rebooting/revisiting a well-loved film is always a gamble. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” could either turn out to be a cash-grab gimmick — swapping the original film’s board game premise for a video game — or it could turn out to be a clever twist that brings in a new generation of fans. In the trailer it was funny to see Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan playing the avatars of four teenagers. Will that premise hold up over a whole film? I guess we’ll find out!
So, what fall or winter movies are you most looking forward to? What will be the biggest hit, or the biggest flop?