Hollywood 2018 – Part 1 (January-June)

A list of 20 movies to look forward to during the first six months of 2018.

2018! A new year brings with it the excitement of watching a whole lot of new movies. Considering January as the only slow month in Hollywood’s calendar year, there are enough big movies released throughout the rest of the year to provide enthusiastic viewers with something to look forward to almost every week. Here is a list of 20 movies to look forward to during the first six months of 2018. There will be a second list mid-year for movies to look forward to from July to December.

Meanwhile, it should be safe to say that H1 revolves around ONE movie. A movie that brings together a Marvelous build-up like never before in the history of cinema. The excitement is real!

Note: Release dates mentioned are for the USA, for the sake of some order. They are also, due to the effect of Infiniti Stones, subject to change.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure
26 January
Maze Runner Death Cure
Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Aidan Gillen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Patricia Clarkson

Premise: In the final chapter of the Maze Runner series, young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.

Thoughts: The conclusion of this trilogy was delayed by over a year due to a serious injury sustained by leading man Dylan O’Brien on set. The movie is now ready for release. Even if the sequel wasn’t as good as the under-appreciated first movie, there is enough story and character-setup to make this one YA series worth talking about — if this movie closes out strong.

God Particle or an Untitled Cloverfield Space Movie
02 February

Directed by: Julius Onah
Starring: Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Premise: After a scientific experiment aboard the space station involving a particle accelerator has unexpected results, the astronauts find themselves isolated. Following their horrible discovery, the space station crew must fight for survival.

Thoughts: This movie has occasionally been called God Particle, but there is no fixed title yet. What we do know is that it is a part of the Cloverfield SciFi Horror anthology: movies that are loosely connected, but mainly provide a platform for J J Abrams to put out original creative movies directed by relative newcomers. (The first movie was by then-novice Matt Reeves, who has since made one good movie after another, including one of the best movies of 2017). The movies in this series don’t go for spectacle, instead preferring to focus on a select few individuals who do not affect, but are affected by large-scale supernatural events. The “Cloverfield Universe” is turning out to be a fascinating one, almost like a new-age cinematic Twilight Zone.

The 15:17 to Paris
09 February

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Jenna Fischer, Judy Greer

Premise: American soldiers discover a terrorist plot on a Paris-bound train.

Thoughts: At 87-years of age, Eastwood is not just a surprisingly prolific director, he has regularly given us quality movies; his last release was the excellent Sully in 2016. This latest re-enacts a train-bombing plot in Paris, and stars the three real-life soldiers who had discovered the plot, role-playing their real-life events as themselves. By now, there should be little doubt about the quality of his work as a director, but considering the subject matter it will be interesting to see if Eastwood’s outspoken Republican persona affects the movie in any way. (He did keep politics out of the excellent American Sniper).

Black Panther
16 February
Black Panther
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman

Premise: T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

Thoughts: After picking Taika Waititi for Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel continues this trend of signing highly-talented directors with unique styles. Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) is a fantastic choice to direct Marvel’s first Black superhero movie that prides on a predominantly black cast. Coogler brings in his regular actor Michael B. Jordan into the mix to play off against the magnificent gravitas that Chadwick Boseman showed as the Black Panther in his debut in Captain America: Civil War. This is also the last Marvel movie before the world-changing Avengers: Infinity War. Enjoy it, before… [ominous voice] …everything familiar is changed forever.

23 February
Directed by: Alex Garland
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac

Premise: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.

Thoughts: Even though this is only the second movie directed by Alex Garland, his track record as a writer coupled with his fascinating directorial debut make for much anticipation. Movies Garland has written: 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd, Ex Machina. Add to it a cast led by Natalie Portman, who has only gotten better since her Oscar for Black Swan (have you watched her in Jackie?) and Oscar Isaac. Finally, this is another dark sci-fi which is a fantastic genre onto itself. The marketing on this movie will be minimal, therefore make a mental note of the title and remember to watch it when it releases.

Game Night
23 February
Game Night
Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Jesse Plemons, Kyle Chandler

Premise: A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery.

Thoughts: Not many people would have expected this movie on the list. Yes, it does look like another one of those recently-popular oxymoronic R-rated family comedies, but the trailer sells it well! Thanks mainly to Rachel McAdams. It may end up a dud, but the comedic situations highlighted in the trailer are genuinely funny — it is good to LOL occasionally.

Red Sparrow
02 March
Red Sparrow
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mary-Louise Parker, Ciarán Hinds, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Rampling

Premise: Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.

Thoughts: Director Francis Lawrence showed great promise upon his debut with Constantine, but that promise remains unfulfilled. Each subsequent movie of his since fell short by just that much, such that you still expect him to make another good film some day. This movie at least has Jennifer Lawrence (no relation) going for it, and she has been consistently phenomenal in almost every movie she’s done. Here, she is joined by Joel Edgerton, another actor who has constantly amazed.

Tomb Raider
16 March
Tomb Raider
Directed by: Roar Uthaug
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Dominic West

Premise: Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

Thoughts: Another attempt at a video-game adaptation for the big-screen, this time for one that has had a rare success earlier (Angelina Jolie was Lara Croft then). The trailer provides too much but does little in terms of story and setup, but the little we see of the action looks fun, especially the obstacle course corridor. Alicia Vikander is a reliable actress too. Roar Uthaug, the Norwegian director, previously made the disaster movie The Wave which was well received. All in all, just about enough to be cautiously excited about.

Isle of Dogs
23 March
Isle Of Dogs
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston

Premise: Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog.

Thoughts: Wes Anderson movies, visually, are like a new age renaissance. There is that “Wes Anderson” look that is just so precise and identifiable, yet so refreshing to watch in each movie of his. With Isle of Dogs, Anderson goes stop-motion like he did with Fantastic Mr. Fox. His wonderful storytelling aside, the film also features a stellar voice-cast. An exciting addition to a magnificent filmography.

Pacific Rim Uprising
23 March
Pacific Rim Uprising
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Adria Arjona

Premise: Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.

Thoughts: Giant robots (or mechs, to be precise) vs giant monsters. Yes, we’ll have some please, especially when it isn’t a Transformers sequel. Note: neither Guillermo del Toro nor Idris Elba return, but the Pacific Rim world is ripe for exploration, and we get John Boyega. Round Two… FIGHT!

Ready Player One
30 March
Ready Player One
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg

Premise: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg.

Thoughts: This movie is going to feature a virtual world populated by the best of our childhood icons: Back to the Future’s DeLorean, Freddy Krueger, the Iron Giant, Akira’s bike, etc. And what better director than Mr. Steven Spielberg to pull off a Who Frame Roger Rabbit? with a host of 80s & 90s pop-culture icons in a sci-fi setting? Spielberg doing sci-fi is an event on its own (Minority Report, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence). Plus, we have also seen that when master directors explore the world of 3D cinema, we get something genuinely special. Movies like Life of Pi by Ang Lee and Hugo by Martin Scorsese. If you are an 80s kid, this movie should be near the top of your must-watch from this list.

The New Mutants
13 April
The New Mutants
Directed by: Josh Boone
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Maisie Williams, Alice Braga

Premise: Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.

Thoughts: With the critical and commercial success of Deadpool and Logan, 20th Century Fox continues finding new ways to explore superhero cinema aside from the straight-up action-thrillers. The New Mutants is a horror in the vein of The Shining, but with teenagers. Considering the quality of both those earlier movies, there’s good reason to have look forward to this one.

20 April
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Dwayne Johnson, Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello

Premise: Based on the classic 1980s video game featuring apes and monsters destroying cities.

Thoughts: There was a time when a movie with a giant gorilla and The Rock would generate excitement. That time is now too. Yes, it is by the director of the abysmal San Andreas. Yes, it is a movie mostly created in a computer lab. But hey, the popcorn needs munching, and the soda needs slurping.

Avengers: Infinity War
04 May
Avengers Infinity War
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Every MCU hero, Josh Brolin

Premise: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Thoughts: How to do I anticipate thee? Let me count the ways: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the Guardians, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Black Widow, Hawkeke, Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine, Winter Soldier, Loki, and finally… Thanos. One more: Chris Evans sports a beard.

Solo: A Star Wars Story
25 May
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Alden Ehrenreich, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson

Premise: Han Solo and Chewbacca’s adventures before joining the Rebellion, including their early encounters with Lando Calrissian.

Thoughts: A movie that has been plagued by production problems (directors fired and replaced midway) and a franchise that has recently received a lot of fan backlash (Rogue One and The Last Jedi) can’t dampen the excitement that a new Star Wars movie generates. Ron Howard is a classical old-school director, and maybe that is exactly what is needed now. Can *you* resist a movie set in a time when the Millennium Falcon was shiny and new? Will we get to see it make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs?

Deadpool 2: The Second Coming
01 June

Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand

Premise: After surviving a near fatal knee boarding accident , a disfigured guidance counselor (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Poughkeepsie’s most celebrated French Bulldog breeder while also learning to cope with an open relationship. Searching to regain his passion for life, as well as a new stuffed unicorn, Wade must battle ninjas, tight assed metal men, and babysit a group stereotypical side characters as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and creative outlets for his very open-minded sex life. He manages to find a new lust for being a do-gooder, a sparkly Hello Kitty backpack, all while earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best 4th Wall Breaking Superhero.

Thoughts: That 👆 absurd premise reinforces the kind of ridiculousness that the creators are adhering to in everything to do with Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds is really enjoying himself as foul-mouthed anti-hero, and this time he has Josh Brolin to give him company as Cable – a fan-favourite from the comic books. This will also be last R-rated Marvel movie from 20th Century Fox before the Disney takeover comes into effect. Hence, take your time to appreciate the F-bombs!

Ocean’s 8
08 June
Oceans 8
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling

Premise: Debbie Ocean gathers a crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Thoughts: Even after the undeserved backlash that the female Ghostbusters received, it is encouraging to see this female version of Ocean’s 11 ready for release. This star-studded cast can overcome the prejudice of any the chauvinistic fans, as long as we get a good movie. Considering it is successful, and the inevitable sequel is an obviously titled Ocean’s 9 (with the trilogy closing out at Ocean’s 10 to complete the series numerically), who would be your choice to join the cast? My wish: Kate Winslet.

Incredibles 2
15 June
Incredibles 2
Directed by: Brad Bird
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Catherine Keener

Premise: Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.

Thoughts: Ever since the closing credits of The Incredibles back in 2004 (the Underminer!), everyone has been rooting for a sequel. Thanks to the critical and commercial failure of Tomorrowland, Brad Bird finally relented. The teaser was a great way to reintroduce two of the family, especially with little Jack-Jack expected to play an important part in the sequel. We all have our favourites from the original, but I’m most eager for another kick-ass action sequence with Dash.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
22 June
Jurassic World Fallen World
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum

Premise: When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.

Thoughts: More dinosaurs, more running. What more is there. Let’s just all confess: we simply love dinosaurs.

Sicario 2: Soldado
29 June
Directed by: Stefano Sollima
Starring: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Keener

Premise: A follow-up to the 2015 film, ‘Sicario’, which centers around the escalating war against drugs along the border of the United States and Mexico.

Thoughts: Soldado will feature a lot more of Benicio Del Toro than the original did, since he is the focus character now. The highlight though is that Taylor Sheridan is writing the sequel too, and that man has been on a roll (Sicario, Hell or High Water, Wind River). As with Annihilation, this movie may also slip by without loud marketing. Remember to watch it when it releases. Btw, did you notice? This is the third Josh Brolin movie on this list!

Other movies to look for during the first half of 2018 also brings us: Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go Bernadette, Mary Magdalene with Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus (if it gets a release here), Wildlife starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and many others that are yet undated. Keep an eye out for Filmphoria’s weekly post “Out This Week” every Thursday!

Wish you an entire year of a great time at the movies!

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.