Preview: A Look at Summer 2016’s Biggest Films 0 109


With the summer film season just around the corner, we’ve got a pretty good idea of which projects will rule the box office this year. Avengers: Age Of Ultron is the biggest name about to hit the cinema, but the likes of Jurassic World, Ant-Man, and Fantastic Four will likely be major release events as well. If they resonate with audiences, others like Mad Max: Fury Road or Terminator: Genisys could come to define the blockbuster season as well, while Minions and Ted 2 will probably dominate the comedy scene.

We’ll soon know whether these films end up being as impressive as fans are hoping. But what about the next big batch of summer films? As we wait and see about the 2015 blockbusters, here’s a look ahead at some of the titles likely to take over the summer of 2016!


Finding Dory

According to Movie Insider, Finding Dory is due out in mid-June, though they acknowledge that release dates are subject to change. Regardless, it looks as if the folks at Disney/Pixar are targeting a summer 2016 release for this sequel to one of the most popular animated films of all time (Finding Nemo).

As for what the plot, it apparently concerns the character of Dory (voiced by Ellen Degeneres) going on a journey to discover her own past and find her family. Slashfilm reported late last year that the setting of the new film might actually primarily be a marine biology institute, rather than the ocean as a whole, and the article goes on to speculate that this shift in setting opens the door for a host of new characters. Ultimately, it’s a promising concept, even if capturing the magic of the original Finding Nemo will be difficult. This will be a huge film with children, and likely with a broader audience as well.


Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Director Zack Snyder’s sequel to Man Of Steel, which will kick off DC’s process of expanding Superman’s world into an Avengers-sized film franchise, is currently slated for a spring release. But as undoubtedly one of the biggest titles of 2016, it seems safe to bet that it’s ultimately pushed closer to summer.

As for advance buzz about the film, there seems to be some cynicism about it. Many found Man Of Steel to be somewhat underwhelming, and many fans of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films dislike the idea of Ben Affleck taking up the role for Snyder. And yet, it’s nearly impossible to imagine this film being anything but a monumental box office success. All you have to do is browse the Internet to get a feeling for the excitement that’s swelling for the project. Not only has casting speculation been active for months, but even in online gaming, anticipation for a new Superman project is evident. At Intercasino, one of the Internet’s oldest casino gaming platforms, a Superman: Last Son Of Krypton game is among the most-liked games available, even with other comic characters and film themes used for similar games. The game even features Superman’s battles with Lex Luthor, who will be brought into the DC Universe (and played by Jesse Eisenberg) in next year’s film.


Captain America: Civil War

As mentioned, we’re already pretty clear on what the biggest summer films of 2015 will be, and about half of them are related to Marvel. But as we’ve come to learn in recent years, Marvel puts its mark on every summer film slate, and 2016 will be no exception. In fact, 2016 is particularly interesting in that it will begin Phase III of Marvel’s “cinematic universe.”

But what exactly is Captain America: Civil War? Fans of the Marvel comics will be familiar with the civil war storyline, a more modern line of comics that pits popular Avengers against one another for the first time. In this instance, the issue will be that world governments attempt to control and regulate superhero activity, causing some Avengers to break away, effectively as a rogue faction, and others to fall in with the government. According to the early synopsis for Civil War on IMDB, Iron Man and Captain America will lead the opposing groups of heroes, presumably with Iron Man taking the more rebellious side.


X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Days Of Future Past was one of the most unique summer blockbusters in some time, in that it essentially merged a prequel and a sequel into a single film, combining past and present generations of X-Men and tying together almost 15 years’ worth of content. Moreover, it actually managed to do all this without losing itself in a convoluted plot or overreaching concept; it was one of the best films of 2014.

So what more can director Bryan Singer pull off in X-Men: Apocalypse? Well, at this point not much is known about the plot of the coming film. We know that it will follow the younger X-Men (as in the Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Co. cast that first starred in X-Men: First Class) some 20 years after they first came together. Additionally, we know from the title and from the end credits sequence of Days Of Future Past that the mutants will now be battling Apocalypse, who is described by Cinema Blend as more or less unbeatable. An article on what to expect from X-Men Apocalypse specifically says the character’s powers include “flight, invulnerability, superhuman strength, teleportation, telekinesis… basically, he’s invincible.” So, whatever the plot winds up being, this looks like the biggest battle yet for our X-Men. Also of note is that Sophie Turner, best known as Sansa Stark from Game Of Thrones, will be joining the cast as a young Jean Grey.


Alice In Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass

While a lot of people dismissed 2010’s Alice In Wonderland as more of an excuse for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp to be weird together than a faithful adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s iconic fantasy book, the film still had an undeniably interesting quality and the sequel ought to be popular with audiences that helped the first one reach a whopping $1 billion+ at the worldwide box office. Alice In Wonderland: Through The Looking Glass figures to be a somewhat loose interpretation of ‘Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There,’ which while not as well known as its predecessor, was in many ways just as fantastic.

But really, we know very little about where this sequel is headed. The Fairytale Traveler has some interesting photos and information about its filming locations, and you can always read the book in preparation for the new film. Based solely on Carroll’s work, Tweedledee and Tweedledum figure to have larger roles this time around, and we’ll also get an introduction to the famous nonsense poem “Jabberwocky,” which is one of the defining parts of Through The Looking Glass. But given that Depp probably needs to have a larger role as the Mad Hatter in the film than the character actually had in the book, there’s really no telling where this one goes.


Independence Day 2

It seems as if we can finally confirm, absolutely, that Independence Day 2 is happening. The film has been rumored off and on for a couple of years now, with one of the key issues being whether or not Will Smith would be willing to return to his role. Well, unfortunately, Smith won’t be back, and that takes a great deal of box office clout away from Independence Day 2. Forbes had an interesting take on Smith’s decision, indicating that it was a mature and correct move to turn down a sequel when Smith and other major actors have in the past used sequels as safety nets, only to produce mediocre work. But that’s something we’ll leave up to Will Smith to consider.

The sequel itself should still be pretty interesting, particularly because Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman will be back, which should help the project feel familiar. It’ll be particularly interesting to see Pullman, who was the acting President last time around, fending off aliens from a different angle. Whatever the case, it stands to reason that with or without Will Smith the droves of fans who loved Independence Day will help to make this one of 2016’s bigger summer films.


Star Trek 3

Star Trek 3 might not have the box office clout we expect to see from the Star Wars reboot later this year, but the comparison shouldn’t mask the fact that the Star Trek reboot of the last several years has gone almost shockingly well. Rotten Tomatoes‘ aggregate critic score for 2009’s Star Trek was 95% positive, and the sequel was nearly as successful at 87%.

And as with Superman’s popularity in online casino gaming, the Star Trek reboot seems to have sparked new popularity for the series in the form of games that fans can enjoy. The clearest example of this is the Star Trek Trexels game for iOS devices—an app designed as a retro, pixellated arcade that lets you build and command a ship deep into space. Games like these may not seem directly relevant to the films, but the fact that new Star Trek games are being produced for a generation that has little connection to the show indicates the success of the cinematic reboot. The popularity of the first two films virtually assures that Star Trek 3 will be a major event.


Bourne 5

The Bourne action franchise lost some of its appeal with 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, in which Jeremy Renner stepped in for Matt Damon in the main role. To be clear, Renner didn’t play the part of Jason Bourne, but rather Aaron Cross, another agent loosely connected to the Bourne saga. It wasn’t a bad film, and Renner did fine work—but by the time it came out, Matt Damon had come to define the franchise so thoroughly that The Bourne Legacy probably never had a chance to be as popular as the first three films of the franchise.

And as of earlier this year, it looks as if Matt Damon is back in the fold for film number five. Screen Rant reports that Universal has reached a deal not only to bring Matt Damon back as Jason Bourne, but also to reunite the actor with director Paul Greengrass, who was at the helm for The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Evidently there may also be a continued side-series featuring Renner’s Aaron Cross character, but the news of a traditional Bourne film starring Damon should result in one of 2016’s biggest cinematic events.

Which other big films are you looking forward to next summer? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us on Twitter @TOF_UK or on the Thoughts On Film Facebook page!

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This is a guest post by Brian Madison. Brian is a journalism student with interests in film, entertainment and sports.

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Movie Review: Home Again 0 422

This review was previously published at The National.

Despite an obviously talented leading lady in Reese Witherspoon and a family pedigree behind the camera in making this sort of rom-com flutter sweetly off the screen, Home Again struggles to finds its way out of cloying cliché and narrative contrivance.

This is the directorial debut of Hallie Myers-Shyer, daughter of genre stalwart Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, What Women Want). It focuses on the life of Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), a single mum who has just turned 40 and tries her best to raise her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) in Los Angeles with her job as an interior decorator.

Freshly separated from her British music mogul husband Austen (Michael Sheen), she embarks on a drunken birthday night celebration that leads to her meeting a trio of 20-something lads – Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) – who are trying their best to break into the Hollywood movie business.

The young men improbably end up staying in Alice’s guest house while they work on finishing the script for their first film. Before long they become an integral part of her life, from Alice embarking on a romantic relationship with Harry to George helping out Isabel with her school play. To quote the title of the director’s mother’s 2009 film – it’s complicated.

Except the film mistakes the kind of enjoyably frothy complexity exemplified by the best of the genre for skin-clawing convolution that renders much of the romantic and comedically-tinged drama of Alice’s life lacking in authenticity. Not that it needs the ring of truth that comes with, say, a Ken Loach picture but you need to be able to invest and believe in these characters’ lives as presented.

The approach to gender and generational relationships is simplistic which, of course, is nothing new to a genre that, at least in its Hollywoodized state, so often throws up films meant to be taken as easy-going fluff. But it’s particularly frustrating here when it squanders the potential thrown up with the initial concept of a woman trying to find herself again once she’s out of a stale relationship by entering into one with a much younger man.

It strangely seems far more interested in the plight of the three young men working as three cogs of one creative machine – director/producer, writer and actor – to get ahead in the movie business.  But even then it smacks of implausibility, like a cheap rom-com version of the bromance found in Entourage but without any of the snarky wit or Hollywood satire. Despite decent chemistry between a likeable assembled cast, Home Again is a tough pill to swallow as it rings false through and through.

3.5 out of 10

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin 0 454

This review was previously published at The National.

The world of celebrated children’s author A. A. Milne and the creation of his beloved Winnie the Pooh stories are chronicled in this frightfully polite biopic from director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) that flirts with dipping its toes into darker waters but steadfastly clings to safe tropes and always with its top button firmly fastened.

We start off in 1941 where we find an ageing Milne (Domhnall Gleeson in questionable make-up and greyed hair) and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) living on their secluded East Sussex farm. They receive a telegram informing them that their son, C.R. Milne, is missing presumed dead after heading off to fight in World War Two.

We then jump back in time to Milne on the front lines of the First World War. He returns from the fighting a changed man; suffering from PTSD (popped balloons evoking sudden gunfire et al.), becoming increasingly sick of just making people laugh with his West End plays and the general hustle-bustle that comes with big city life.

He convinces his reluctant wife to move to the country for some peace and quiet and where his infant son, Christopher Robin (played by Will Tilston at the younger age, Alex Lawther as he gets older), can go on the childhood adventures he deserves with the support of loving nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald).

Settling into the kind of serene life he craves, he is inspired to create Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his soon-to-be-beloved friends inspired by the stuffed animals with which his young son has become so enamoured. Unfortunately for Christopher – referred to by everyone as “Billy Moon” – his father uses his real name in the stories, turning him into one of the most famous boys in the nation.

Despite the obvious attraction of it exploring the world famous Pooh stories, it’s a film much more interested in the effect it has on a fractured family clinging on to peacefulness, not least the unwanted attention thrust upon a young boy who simply isn’t equipped to handle it and how his parents carry on oblivious.

If anything it takes a curiously bleak outlook on what these stories mean to the world once they’ve been put out there, conveying a somewhat confusing message for a film that ultimately wants us to celebrate these stories as immortally cherished tales; that the Winnie the Pooh embraced immediately by the public and has now stood the test of time for almost a century is in some way missing the point of what it truly means to the author and a son who, inadvertently or not, was used as a tool of innocence to sell the idea of an idyllic childhood in Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.

It’s bolstered by almost uniformly moving performances; Gleeson plays Milne with a kind of damaged empathy that makes you feel like you get to know the author beyond the public persona. Macdonald is oftentimes heart-breaking as Christopher’s devoted caregiver and Tilston walks away with the film as the adorably sweet-natured young Christopher. It’s only with Robbie that the film makes a misstep; she’s miscast as Milne’s wife and never stepping out of the shadow of cold motherly cliché.

In spite of its darker leanings, the film remains too buttoned up to properly wrestle with those themes in any sort of lasting way, far too polite to ever dive head first into the murky waters into which the drama intermittently peers.

Wrapped in Ben Smithard’s handsomely old-fashioned cinematography and soaked in Carter Burwell’s perpetually swelling score, it’s an aesthetically and emotionally appealing but nevertheless fairly vanilla period biopic best suited to being enjoyed on a rainy Sunday afternoon with tea and biscuits.

6.5 out of 10