Most Anticipated Sci-Fi Movies
2017 was among the best years for Science Fiction at the cinema. With movies such as The Last Jedi, Blade Runner 2049 and Logan. But what ‘great’ sci-fi movies can we look forward to from this point on. Below I have a compiled a list of movies that are in one stage of development or another. Some, such as Mute and Solo are practically finished while others such as Dune have only been announced. So here is the list of most anticipated sci-fi movies -- in no particular order.
When director Duncan Jones released his first theatrical film in 2009, Moon, he mentioned the movie Mute. Mute is to be his homage to Blade Runner and the Cyberpunk genre. After the release of Source Code in 2011 things remained quiet, and then he directed Warcraft. Admittedly Warcraft was a fine movie, but it was one nobody was really waiting for. And that remains my opinion to this day. Yet it did clear the way for Duncan Jones to finally start work on Mute, a film set in a futuristic Berlin. The good news is that the release date is set for February 23rd. The bad news is that it is available only on Netflix. I am not certain what that means for the director’s career prospects, but if my worst fears are coming true this a is for-TV movie. Yet, the stills and the teaser does show mesmerizing cinematography matched only by last year’s Blade Runner 2049. Mute stars Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux. Despite the format on which it set for release I try to remain optimistic.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
A lot has been said about the upcoming Han Solo biopic, or as it is known -- Solo. Sadly very little of it has been positive. Director Ron Howard replaced Phil Lord and Christopher Miller near the end of filming while actor Alden Ehrenreich cannot act the part. Yet, it is a Star Wars movie! And naturally it had to go on the list. After all, Star Trek Discovery had a messy production and yet the show has managed to find its feet. If Solo is really that bad it should be cancelled. So, Solo: A Star Wars Story is set for a May 25th release. There are plenty of boxes that I want this movie to tick, but at the same time I want to be surprised. Ron Howard, do your best!
One of the first movies on this list to be released is Annihilation. The movie flew under my proverbial radar until I saw some screen caps with Natalie Portman. The story is an adaptation on the 2014 novel by author Jeff VanderMeer. I have not read it, nor will I read the plot outline online. Annihilation might surprise me. If you want to you watch the trailer below, but you can skip it as well. Annihilation has already had test screening reactions, some were not positive. The reactions consider the movie to be ‘too complicated’ and ‘too intellectual’. Director Alex Garland was asked to make changes but has refused, and he has the right to the final cut. I hope he will stick to his guns. It has actually been a while since I have seen a Natalie Portman movie, it may in fact have been Thor The Dark World. Annihilation is set for a February 23rd release and also stars Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson and Benedict Wong.
Frank Herbert’s Magnus Opus, Dune, may well be my favorite Science Fiction novel of all time. I still regularly review the sequel books by his son Brian when they come out. Yet a movie adaptation that does the book justice has been hard to produce. The 1984 adaptation by David Lynch crashed and burned through a combination of terrible special effects and a watered down plot. Though it did have one of the best soundtracks of any movie, courtesy of Brian Eno and Toto. Yet in late 2016 rumors of a new adaptation started to emerge as the rights passed to Legendary Entertainment. Meanwhile, already lauded director Denis Villeneuve, stated he would love to do Dune someday. Well, rumor and comment collided and in April 2017 Denis Villeneuve was officially attached to direct the adaptation. Coming on the heels of Blade Runner 2049. The Arrival and Sicario he has the pedigree.
Now the question remains -- what format should an adaptation have? Dune is not a thin novel. It is considered to be the equivalent of The Lord Of the Rings -- for Science Fiction. It also comes in three parts. However, are there enough fans to make a trilogy profitable? Can Dune be adapted into 1 movie? And if so, will viewers want to see a 3+ hours adaptation. Blade runner 2049 proved they do not. And then we have not even discusses what the emphasize of the story will be. I think it will be some time before we the adaptation come to fruition. Certainly the release won’t be before late 2020.
Star Wars: Episode 9
The Last Jedi was a highly controversial movie. Certain scenes were dubious. I liked The Last Jedi, but I could not find myself in all of director Rian Johnson’s excuses. Nonetheless, The Last Jedi beta my expectations after The Force Awakens just felt too familiar. Now we have one more movie left in the trilogy, Episode 9. Continuing the saga of controversial director choices J.J. Abrams is back after replacing Colin Trevorrow. In the end I don’t really care, I just want to know how the story ends. I feel like Kylo Ren is now well and truly beyond redemption. If Kylo is the anti-Luke I expect him to be lured to the light one last time before he turns full evil and is defeated. Those are my expectations -- it is up to J.J. to beat that. In any event Star Wars Episode 9 is set for a December 2019 release
Ready Player One
Another soon to be released Sci-fi on this list is Ready Player One, directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. Ready Player One is an adaptation of Ernest Cline’s ultra-fun novel released in 2011. So far I remain skeptical about this adaptation. The trailers have shown a noticeable from the novel and some of the casting does not work for me. Despite all of the 80s fan service in the novel there were some strong themes. Essentially the virtual world of OASIS was created as an escape for its designer (Halliday) after he failed to court the woman he wanted. After his death a contest he organized will allow the winner total control over OASIS. The ensuing puzzle hunt is both fun and lethal. The winner has the power to end the illusion of virtual reality for everybody in the world -- or to exploit it. If Ready Player One is to be boiled down to its essentials there is potential for a story as good as 1984, The Matrix and Tron. I hope Steven Spielberg can meet such lofty expectations. We will find out on March 29th.
There is almost nothing known about The Predator, the spiritual successor to the 1987 ‘get-to-tha-choppa’ classic Predator. The movie is being directed by Shane Black, a sometimes actor who starred as Hawkins in the original movie. Shane Black is however more famous for being a good writer with movies such as Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3 to his name. The Predator was initially set for a February or March release but has now been pushed back to August. So far only a few still pictures have been released and there is not much to infer from them other than the return of the Predator. The movie stars Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn and Trevante Rhodes.
An adaptation of William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer has been in development since I can remember. I think in the early days of the internet, 1995 or thereabouts, when I was 10 I already read articles on who should direct. For a long time Cube director Vincenzo Natali was attached, but he has since parted with project. Neuromancer is not an easy novel to adapt. What is essentially a story about a heist has a vivid background story with complicated characters. Boiling it down to a movie script risks ruining much.
In many ways fans of the novel have already got an adaptation. The book, released in 1984, was hugely inspirational for the Wachowski’s and their movie The Matrix. Especially Carrie-Anne Moss’s character Trinity resembles the character Molly a lot. Neuromancer is a typical novel some fan’s don’t want too see adapted. I had similar feelings about Blade Runner 2049, but that movie turned out brilliantly.
However, I think we must keep in mind why an adaptation has so far never materialized. Neither Blade Runner movie did well at the box office and Neuromancer does contain a lot of references to violence, nudity and abstract ideas. That said, there is finally a director attached and it is none other than Deadpool’s Tim Miller. So now fans can yet again openly speculate who should portray cyberpunk hacker Case and street samurai Molly Millions.
The 2009 movie Avatar by James Cameron became the highest grossing movie of all time, beating Titanic. After that I was expecting an Avatar sequel every 3 years or so, as the director promised. Instead there were just annual updates that production was about to start. In 2016 the news came we would not be getting just 1 sequel, but maybe as many as 4. The first movies, Avatar 2 and 3 have since started production back to back in New Zealand. Avatar 2 has a release date set for December 18th 2020. Now I am not certain why the more than 10 years of delay. The first movie was set for 1999 but production was delayed because the technology of the time was not yet ready. A decision that bore fruit because of the wonderful special effects and attention to detail.
The official reason for the delay was to develop performance capture underwater. In any event, if the original is anything to go by Avatar 2 and its many successors should captivate audiences just like the original. I always though the original movie had a taste of hard Sci-Fi about akin to authors such as Dan Simmons and Peter F. Hamilton. Avatar 2 stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver and Oona Chaplin. It appears the struggle between the Na’vi and the RDA is not yet over.
Tron 3 is dead, long live Tron 3. Since the 2010 Tron Legacy movie, a reboot of the original, there has been speculation about a third iteration. I liked Tron Legacy, it has gotten better with time, but it could be accused of not being bold enough. Sadly, the box office returns were mediocre which brought a sequel into jeopardy. Tron Legacy ended with Garret Hedlund’s character Sam Flynn and Olivia Wilde’s character Quorra leaving the computer world for the real world. Ever since fans have wanted to know how, as a digital being, Quorra could live in the real world. The premise for a third movie is thus set. Sadly, in 2015 the movie got killed off and director of Tron Legacy, Joseph Kosinksi, moved on. Last year the director yet again started rumors that the movie was back on. This time Jared Leto is set to be attached to play a character called Ares. If Tron 3 turns out to be a mix of Splash and Blade Runner I will definitely buy a ticket.
What is not on this list!
You know how it is with these kind of lists. The movie you are looking forward to is not on it. I deliberately attempted to whittle down this list to just Science Fiction movies. I omitted superhero movies. Some of them are very good (Civil War and Logan), but I made a choice. Too often with movies such as Iron Man or the X-Men any sci-fi themes relegated to the background. I choose movies that placed Science Fiction front and center. That was also the reason I choose to omit Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. While I appreciate the 2015 reboot I felt the original concept by Michael Crichton relegated too much to the background. A development in favour of supped-up dinosaurs, kids screaming and Bryce Dallas Howard running in a skirt and high heels. This was my list of Most Anticipated Sci-Fi Movies.
Write in the comments section below if you agree with my list, and if you think I rightfully omitted superhero movies.