Most anticipated films of 2017

In a dead month for movie releases, film critic Harry Westergaard looks ahead at some of his most awaited films being released later this year.

Harry Westergaard, Arts Editor, Co-Copy Editor

January is a terrible month in many respects, the biggest plague being the lack of decent movies. Catch something that’s still hanging around from last December or rent something if you can, because the theaters are ridden with the likes of Monster Trucks and Patriot’s Day. This is one of the most notoriously sparse times of the year in regards to film. So, instead of focusing what is out now, let’s take a look at some of the most-anticipated films being released later this year.

A note before I begin — you may notice a majority of the article is taken up by big-name superhero blockbusters. I have tried my best to diversify the list, but most of the more original stuff doesn’t get a lot of promotion until closer to its release date. It’s the bigger movies that we hear more about months in advance, that the studios specifically plan years before they come out. It looks to be a strong year for blockbusters. Which there is an art to doing right, contrary to popular belief.

Speaking of doing superhero movies right, the third (and likely final) film in the Wolverine series of X-Men films hits theaters March 3. Elegantly titled Logan, the film borrows some elements of the less elegantly titled ‘Old Man Logan’ graphic novel. It concerns the bond between an aging Logan and his daughter (possibly X-23?) in a post-apocalyptic world nearly void of mutants. It looks grittier and more realistic than any film in the series, and  in the superhero genre as a whole. It garners an R-rating, following the success of last year’s Deadpool. But content-wise, it looks to be very different than Deadpool. The trailers hint at a beautifully-shot, dark film that could possibly set a new standard for the genre. With the film being the last appearances by Sir Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman in the series, it really makes you wonder how (or if) they are going to keep the X-Men alive.

On the side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we are getting a whopping three films this year–more than ever before! The first is Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2., debuting May 2. I personally couldn’t be more excited for a sequel, as the first film is a runner-up for my favorite Marvel film. The perfect mix of science fiction, action, and quirky comedy and characters, Vol. 2’s trailers so far leave me with hope for a worthy sequel. With all of the actors and writer/director James Gunn from the last film returning, I’m at least expecting it to be an exhilarating ride.

Also coming in summer is Spider-man: Homecoming, the first solo film starring the webslinger in the MCU, but the third reboot in the past fifteen years. The other two series both had their ups and downs, but judging from the trailers and what we saw of Tom Holland in Civil War, it looks like it’s going to be promising. It helps that Holland is an actual kid (as opposed to a young adult in  his twenties) and seems to have the awkward rapport with his team members down. Boasting a great cast including Robert Downey Jr, Michael Keaton and Zendaya, it looks like we’re going to be getting yet another win from Marvel. Homecoming swings into theaters July 7.

Also of note, Marvel is releasing Thor: Ragnarok on Nov. 3. Not much is known about this, but judging by the title, it will probably take notes from the Ragnarok event in Norse mythology, which is essentially a great flooding, akin to events in other myths and religions. The Thor films have been patchy at best when they take place in Thor’s home realm, Asgard, rather than the real-world setting they frequently push. With this entry tackling a seminal event in Norse mythology, I’m banking on this film spending more time on the other side of Bifrost.

On the DC side of things, we are getting a feature-length film on Feb. 10 devoted to the Lego Batman character who last appeared in The Lego Movie. Will Arnett is reprising his role as the caped crusader and the film promises to be a lot of fun. DC has two films coming out in their main cinematic universe, Wonder Woman and Justice League. While they failed almost fatally with their last film, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, there could be a chance at redemption. While not perfect, their debut film, Man of Steel was more than solid superhero fare. Wonder Woman (opening June 3) has a good cast, including Chris Pine and Gal Gadot in the title role. I was intrigued by the Justice League trailer, which proved promising. Though it is coming way too early in their universe (with only three real characters established at this point) I am cautiously optimistic. Justice League opens Nov. 17.

Speaking of sequels, here’s one that came out of nowhere. T2: Trainspotting, a sequel to the 1996 original cult classic film, is set to be released on March 3. Almost all of the original cast is set to return for the film. Director Danny Boyle claims that he has had the film in the works for years, and that he’s been waiting for the actors to “visibly age.” As a fan of the original film, I’m not sure how I feel about a continuation, but with the original cast and director, we can at least hope for something more than a rehash of the original.

Last year heralded some strong science fiction and fantasy films. In April, an adaptation of Dave Eggers’s novel, The Circle, will be released. The movie has an impressive cast, which includes Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega and even comedian Patton Oswalt. The story is a cautionary fable about a society where nothing is private, due to a social media empire which has taken control of the world. I myself liked the ideas presented in the novel, but felt that it could have been more briskly paced. As a film, the screen adaptation may help fix some issues, creating an even better and more poignant product. The Circle opens April 28.

Stephen King’s long running series The Dark Tower is finally getting an adaptation this year, after being in developmental hell for decades. I have not read the books myself, so hopefully the film can serve as something that noobs such as myself can enjoy, while still being satisfying to die hard fans of the series. With Idris Elba in the lead role, I’m really interested in seeing where they will go with this one. The film lands in theatres July 28.

Writer and Director Edgar Wright, acclaimed for his Cornetto Trilogy of films as well as Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World returns with a new film, titled Baby Driver.  Few details have been released thus far — there’s not even a trailer. The cast is intriguing, heralding unknowns as well as favorites such as Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm. This somewhat mysterious project has really caught my attention and with Wright at the helm, you can be sure that original and witty comedy is in store.

While there are a fair amount of unnecessary sequels and remakes coming out this year (see Transformers: The Last Knight, and Baywatch) there is just as much to counter such films. Many that are part of long running series look to be breaking new ground, such as Logan which looks to be a great superhero film but also a compelling story about aging and family. With 2016 ending on such a strong note with a largely independant Oscar season, I can’t wait to see what other surprises are in store for 2017.