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The Force Frustrations: Working Through The Disappointments of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Matt and Jared, both Star Wars fans very much excited for The Last Jedi, reckon with their overall mixed response to the film.

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I’m going to keep this brief, because so much of what will eventually come from our coverage on The Last Jedi won’t be. But to just quickly give an introduction to what you will (at the very least) start reading — last night I got the chance to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It was one of my most anticipated entertainment milestones of 2017, and I went into the movie with extreme excitement for what I was going to watch. I was a big fan of The Force Awakens, and couldn’t wait to see what would become of the characters I so quickly fell in love with, and the story that, while far from perfect, had me very much interested in the future of this saga.

Some two-and-a-half-hours later, I walked out of the theater just feeling sad — I was not a fan of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And, if we’re being completely honest here, that kind of broke my heart. Hoping to work out why my reaction to the film was so negative, I turned to the internet, and fellow Freshly Popped Culture contributor Jared Russo. Jared and I are both big Star Wars fans and, as I quickly realized through our conversation, he too had his fair share of problems with the movie. So we did the only thing we could do: we talked it the fuck out.

Below is a chat between Jared and I, built off of a Twitter DM feed we bounced around in for about a dozen hours. The opinions we shared were still very much raw and fresh (we both had only seen the film mere hours before), and more refined thoughts will hopefully hit the website in the coming days. But, for now, here’s our initial reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Beware, this is a COMPLETELY SPOILER FILLED conversation, so really don’t read it until after you see the film. Also, all tweets and links embedded in the article were also inserted into the chat itself, just for clarity’s sake. In any case, enjoy. Or, at the very least, bask in our bafflement that was so much of The Last Jedi.


Matthew: 🙁

Jared: I’m more positive, but I’m also conflicted. Like Kylo Ren.

Matthew: Was Kylo Ren conflicted? I couldn’t tell the 50 times it was told to me. I still enjoyed a good amount of the movie, but the things I didn’t enjoy I REALLY didn’t enjoy. But we’ve gone over my weird distaste for Rian Johnson, so maybe this was inevitable. I really hoped this would be the one to turn it around though…

Jared: I think this is the worst thing he’s done, but you’re nuts for not liking his other work.

Matthew: I liked (though didn’t love) Brick! And “Ozymandias” is perfection, I’ll give him that. But The Brothers Bloom and Looper left me super cold, with Looper especially reminding me so much of this one (in that it had so much potential, but squanders it the more it goes along.) Ultimately, did you like this one than The Force Awakens? Or are you still trying to think through it? Both film’s had lots of issues, but I don’t think there was anything nearly as disappointing in The Force Awaken than in The Last Jedi.

Jared: I have to see The Last Jedi again to tell you, it’s tone and structure is so weird that it left me more conflicted than anything.

Matthew: Being someone who just ranted with friends for four hours about all the disappointing things that happened in it, my choice is pretty clear. But there is a lot to parse through, that’s true.

Jared: Wait, you have friends? ZING.

Matthew: Ouch, you got me there.

Jared: I will say this: I am still confounded by it and, definitely need to see it again, I can’t get the movie out of my head, which are words I never thought I would say about a Star Wars movie, to be fair.

Matthew: I’ll agree with that. I’ve been thinking and writing and talking about it for hours.

Jared: The movie ends up just feeling like a big fever dream, really.

Matthew: It’s just so…much. And the fact that both film’s take place in, like, two weeks MAX is nuts. It’s weird they don’t give any time for the action of this movie to breath. It leaves you overwhelmed, in ways both good and bad.

Jared: Maybe on the second viewing I’ll have a better grip on it and get over some stuff I was wondering about. Like how did everyone find out her parents were nobodies? How would Kylo Ren possibly know that information.

Matthew: …The Force?

Jared: This movie kind of broke every rule of the Force, and just made up all sorts of things about it which often just made my theater laugh.

Matthew: Although that was one decision I loved! If you read through my previous article, you would know I was rooting for that. Makes her character arc better, even if other things in this film made it worse in certain ways or, at the very least, didn’t give it the time of day it deserved. And speaking of things that made people laugh…OMG, THE FLOATING LEIA SCENE.

Jared: Yeah, that and everyone kept yelling “KISS!” at the Kylo and Rey scenes.

Matthew: Boy, the sexualization that people feel for those two is..something. The internet especially is adding a weird romantic current to this movie that I for one just want to roll my eyes at. Anywho, my theater mostly just clapped. AT EVERYTHING.

Jared: Mine too.

Matthew: But then they clapped at Luke revealing himself as a Force Projection (a little bit silly development, I might add), and immediately let out frustrated groans when he died 30 seconds later. I laughed so hard.

And speaking of kissing from earlier, that last Rose/Finn scene sucked, right? So much unearned with that character/relationship.

Jared: Everything that Rose said before she died was hokey, and simply did not work.

http://freshlypoppedculture.com/e1yx

The more I read about this movie, the more I dislike it, and I hate both myself and the internet for making me feel that way.

https://t.co/2CtsarqWzE

Matthew: That was me just thinking about it, really. And I am STUNNED at people calling it the best one, or whatever. For whatever it does right, it’s such a flawed movie, even just fundamentally. Ton of things that just don’t add up, or for whatever reason just doesn’t work.

Jared: Regardless, nothing touches those first two and nothing ever will. Return of the Jedi is the third best — don’t @ me.

Matthew: Revenge of the Sith is the third best. And DO @ me, cause I’ll defend that film and it’s stuffy ass self any day.

Jared: You’re insane.

Matthew: Also, working on a list about film’s problems. this what I got so far:

  • The Finn Rose Romance Is Awful
  • What was even the point of their story
  • Everyone fails, which gets kind of annoying
  • Snoke Meant Nothing, So Cool I Guess
  • Poe’s plot fizzles
  • Leia force flight, yuck
  • Luke’s death is unnecessary
  • Phasma death is a goddamn waste
  • Benicio del Toro is useless
  • That casino scene entirely is useless
  • Yoda scene is weird
  • It rushed as fuck, with the entire film being like two days max
  • The backstory still makes no sense, and no effort is made to illuminate ANYTHING at all about The Force Order, Knights of Ren, etc.
  • Snoke powers are hella inconsistent

Anything else you think I missed?

Jared: I don’t know, I don’t think Luke’s death wasn’t unnecessary, and BB-8 got shit done.

Matthew: BB8 was, no joke, the highlight of the film for me. He was great the whole way through.

Jared: Yeah, so he wasn’t a failure at least.

Matthew: Obvious hyperbole on notes I’ve merely jotted down. And, if you want to be technical, he was on the Finn/Rose mission, which failed horribly. But he definitely was the only one trying his best there!

Jared: He is really on pace to out-do R2 at this point, which is nuts to me. Also, more Poe, please. Everyone, just make him the leader of the rebels.

Matthew: To be fair, R2 has been given shit to do in these last two movies. His scene with Luke in this one was a high point, though. That “Binary Sunset/The Hologram” just works, man.

Jared: What was Luke’s third lesson? We only get to see two of them. Why was that a thing that dropped off? His second lesson was basically one big long rant anyways.

Matthew: I really wish they did more with Luke and Rey. It also sucks that Luke dies without ever reconciling with her. Their last scene they share is their big fight.

Jared: They could have done more with Rey in general, like I thought she would be trained to lift his x-wing out of the water ala Empire Strikes Back, but she just goes and lifts the rocks with no problem at all. There was no struggle in her training with the force. And Kylo Ren killed both Han fucking Solo and his master, like I have a lot of problems with him as a character…but Jesus, Adam Driver is the best actor in all these movies so far.

Matthew: They are all really good actors, and deserved more here IMHO. Mark Hamill especially really brought it big time.

Jared: A lot of the humor was very modern internet jokey stuff that like doesn’t fit with the other movies too, which bothered me.

Matthew: I was okay with the humor. I thought the first scene with Poe and Hux was really funny, and fit Poe’s character to that point.

Jared: And as much as Rian Johnson pushed his direction forward for the franchise, it’s lack of traditional feeling makes the whole thing so off for me, like I’m still wrapping my head around his blending of styles. I really need a second viewing.

Matthew: Yeah, I’ll be seeing it again, even if I disliked it the first time. But my problem is not only that it is a weird Star Wars movie, but it also is just a really shitty sequel to The Force Awakens. To people who didn’t like that movie, I’m sure that’s a pro. But everything Johnson did seemed to be spitting in the Face of what Abrams was setting up. Part of me wonders if Abrams agreed to come back NOT because Johnson made him excited about the trilogy, but because he was hoping to right the ship again on the story he set up. Then again, I feel like Abrams maybe didn’t have plans for the overarching story to begin with, which might speak more to the failures of the trilogy itself rather than just The Last Jedi.

Jared: I read in interviews J.J was so jealous of his script and was like “Damn, I gotta get back in there.” But listening to the score alone, this movie is aces compared to Force Awakens. John Williams, please be immortal for all of us.

This is the best summation of things so far, I think.

Matthew: On a completely nitpicky level, where the fuck did The First Order get the AT-AT’s they were using on the salt planet? Their fleet was decimated, and their main ship destroyed. Where did all the additional firepower come from? The vagueness surrounding everything to do with The First Order and the Knights of Ren was tough in TFA, but this was Johnson’s chance to provide some actual context for the group. instead, just left me even more confused about how powerful they are. The vagueness surrounding everything to do with The First Order and the Knights of Ren was tough in The Force Awakens, but this was Johnson’s chance to provide some actual context for the group. Instead, just left me even more confused about how powerful they are. It’s two movies in, and I still don’t know WTF even are The Knights of Ren. Are there others out there? Is it just Kylo now? What about the other lightsaber dude’s we saw with Kylo during the flashback in TFA? UGH, TOO MANY QUESTIONS FOR A TRILOGY WRAPPING UP IN ONE MORE INSTALLMENT.

Jared: I think I might be over Star Wars for a while. This should have been a home run for us, and it wasn’t and now I’m disappointed and underwhelmed by this entire thing. Things like Luke’s whole shoulder brush thing? It was just too much for me, man. You know what?

You should re-type this whole thing up and post it on the website.

Matthew: I’m using a lot of this to work out my thoughts for a bigger article. It’s been helpful — if there’s anything you can say about The Last Jedi, it’s that it lefts a lot to be talked about.

Jared: Just post this entire conversation cleaned up. #content.

Matthew: I might, I’ll go and think about it. Maybe post it as two Star Wars fans making the horrible realization they were disappointed by a movie they really expected to love?

Jared: Do it.

Matthew: And I will.

Porgs are still great. I will not disperage the porgs.

And I did. Stay tuned for more of our thoughts on The Last Jedi in the days ahead. Like I said, there is a lot to break down here, and this was very much just the start of it.


Also published on Medium.

Matthew Legarreta is the Editor and Owner of Freshly Popped Culture. A big ol' ball of movie, TV, and video game loving flesh, Matthew has been writing about pop culture for nearly a decade. Matthew also loves writing about himself in the third person, because it makes him feel important (or something.)

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Why The Hell Did Fox Just Push Back The New Mutants To 2019?

And why the are they still trying to make that Gambit movie happen? These questions, and more, below.

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Fox is in an incredibly weird position when it comes to the future of their Marvel mutant properties. By far one of the studios most profitable properties, they recently doubled down on the franchise, putting what seems to be dozens of X-Men adjacent films into development. But then a wrench was thrown into all these spin-off plans, a wrench in the form of a corporate takeoff and a massive, groundbreaking acquisition. 

Yes, Disney now is in the process of purchasing Fox, which will certainly have repercussions on how the two studios proceed with the future of their Marvel properties. But, for now? Fox has no idea what to expect, so is just proceeding with business as usual when it comes to all the X-Men plates they have twirling in the air. And business today, I guess, is pushing back a film, moving up another, and continuing to live in denial about the increasingly slim possibilities of a third one while they are at it.

All this happened just a few hours ago, as The Hollywood Reporter filled us all in on the shifting schedule of Fox’s X-Men branded films. The most surprising of the bunch by far is Fox’s decision to completely push back The New Mutants, not just by a few weeks, but by AN ENTIRE YEAR. The horror-tinged mutant film was on track for release on April 13, with marketing already commencing and everything, but will now hit theaters on February 22, 2019. Yes, a grand 13 months away…or a substantial 17 months after the film first concluded filming. 

That type of delay is rare to happen on a big Hollywood blockbuster, especially one so close to release. So the question must be asked: why did Fox delay the film? Well, like all things to do with Hollywood blockbusters, the answer is pretty muddled. THR’s sources tell them that Fox was afraid of having too many X-Men films in release at the same time, what with Deadpool hitting theaters in June (at least at the time — more on that in a second.) But that excuse doesn’t at all add up, as it was Fox’s decision from the start to release the film’s so relatively close together. Why wasn’t it a problem back when Fox chose the release?

(Might want to change the date at the end of this trailer now, Fox.)

Furthermore, why couldn’t Fox have just delayed the film a little bit to, say, August? Or maybe push back X-Men: Dark Phoenix instead, giving it the February 22 release and putting New Mutants in its November 2 slot? Marketing hasn’t really kicked off for the former film, and a delay of three months for it is far less drastic than the 10 month one for New Mutants. Or, if Deadpool 2 is the problem, why not push that one to July, giving a healthy gap of three months to all the Mutant properties? No, no, that reason does not hold up in my mind. Far more likely is the fact that New Mutants was having trouble in the editing room, and isn’t up to snuff to what Fox is wanting. Will the Josh Boone helmed horror film manage to come out of this delay a good film? History is not kind to films that get delayed in such a substantial way, but anything is possible I assume.

But New Mutants failing is Deadpool 2‘s gain, as the still untitled sequel has been pushed up from its original June 1 release date to a prime May 18, 2018 slot. That’s great…on the surface. But beneath the assumed confidence such a move would dictate, I’m kind of baffled why Fox would do this. It’s been widely assumed that Disney was going to own May 2018, what with the release of Avengers: Infinity War at the start of it and Solo: A Star Wars Story at the end of it. Why would Fox chose to throw Deadpool 2 right smack dab in the middle of the Disney madness?

The way I see it, releasing Deadpool 2 at the start of June pretty much gave the Merc with A Mouth the whole month to himself — the only other real blockbuster competition was in the form of Incredibles 2, which wouldn’t even be opening until a couple weeks after anyways. All I see happening from placing Deadpool 2 in May is the film running into Avengers: Infinity Wars legs, and having its very own cut off by Solo: A Star Wars Story. Did Fox learn nothing from War for the Planet of the Apes, which faltered at the box office by being smack dab right in the middle of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Dunkirk? And did they learn nothing from the FIRST Deadpool, which managed to be their highest grossing movie by, in large part, having little competition in its February release? C’mon movie studios, stop overcrowding all the blockbusters!

Moving on to the final bit of X-Men franchise news is our old friend Gambit, which at this point has been in development for about 77 years. The Channing Tatum led (maybe?) spin-off was supposed to be directed by Pirates of the Caribbean helmer Gore Verbinski…until he abruptly quit the project earlier today, making him the 124th director to do so (my numbers might be a little off, but you get the point.) Due to once again having no one direct the film, and New Mutants now occupying the previous February 2019 release date, Fox has moved the film to June 7, 2019.

Of course, the movie isn’t going to actually come out then — in fact, I am starting to question that this movie will ever see the light of day. Despite what seems to be the initiative of one executive (or maybe Tatum himself), no one is demanding a Gambit movie. And even more troubling for the film’s production, no one is willing to make one either. When the Disney/Fox deal is finalized, I expect Gambit to be one of the first movie casualties. But, until then…sure, Fox. Believe what you want to believe. When Marvel Studios reabsorbs the X-Men, will any of this even matter anyways?


Also published on Medium.

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Kevin Feige Shrugs, Figures Now Is The Time To Make That Black Widow Movie Everyone’s Been Clamoring For

It only took two phases of near constant requests, but Big Brother Marvel is finally listening.

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There have been 17 Marvel Cinematic Universes films thus far released, and literally dozens of others making their way through various stages of development. And, as the years go by, the choices of characters that Marvel chooses to make movies about are only going to get more and more obscure — after all, with all the bigger heroes taken, there’s a lot more room in the development world for the likes of Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy. And yet, even with the slate expanding to lesser and lesser-known characters, Marvel continued to ignore what seems to be a sure-fire, established property: that of Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow.

She’s been featured all over the MCU thus far, and is almost certainly one of the most beloved members of the main Avengers team. Furthermore, she’s played by Scarlett Johansson, undoubtedly one of the most bankable actors in the world. And with Marvel very much trying to expand what an MCU movie can be, and delving into a bunch of different genres as a result (Ant-Man is a heist movie, Guardians is a space opera, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a high school coming-of-age movie, etc.), it would make sense to add Black Widow on to the pile — the espionage/noir movie you can build around the character practically writes itself!

And, yet, Marvel has been oddly reluctant to actually give Natasha Romanoff her fair due. They’ve talked about it for years (since she came out as one of the breakout heroes in The Avengers, really), but a movie was never actually produced. It’s been nearly seven years after the character was first introduced in Iron Man 2, and its just been endless talk after endless talk. But coming off 2017, whose 3 highest grossing films all starred a female, it seems Marvel might be thinking twice about having such a male-heavy slate…and is once again looking at giving the Black Widow character her chance at a standalone.

That’s at least my takeaway from today’s big news, as the much-discussed project finally moves forward into development. As first broken by Variety, Marvel has hired up-and-coming writer Jac Schaeffer to pen the script for the potential project. Schaeffer is a bit of an unknown quality at this point, with her only produced projects on IMDB being the indie sci-fi comedy TiMER (which she also directed), and, umm, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. But I’ll try not to hold that last thing against her.

Johansson is of course attached to reprise her role which, by the way, she has done in SIX MCU films as a supporting character so far. If you ask me, she more than deserves her due to lead a standalone. In fact, she deserved it like five Marvel films ago. Honestly, it would have been great to have Black Widow lead the current charge of female-led action films, rather than simply being an effect of it. But I guess this is one of those situations where I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. This movie is probably happening, and that should be celebrated. Even more so if Marvel manages to attach a strong director to it. May I be the first (of probably many) to suggest one Michelle MacLaren? If DC won’t have her, you can!


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18 Films Worth Looking Forward To In 2018

Can 2018 measure up to the cinematic greatness of 2017? These 18 films certainly show it’s a possibility.

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I’ve been writing most anticipated lists for quite a while now on the internet, and usually when I do so, I choose to structure the piece by selecting an equal number of films to the year that I am writing about. So if the year was 2013, I would choose 13 films for the list14 for 2014, 15 for 2015, etc. Well, now we are in the year of Our Lord 2018, and quickly this is becoming an overwhelming enterprising. The number keeps going up, and I know that eventually there has to be a breaking point. If I keep this going all the way until 2027, for instance, am I going to really choose 27 anticipated movies to put on the list? Someday, I’m really going to have put a stop to this expansion.

…But today is not that day! A new year means a new set of films to look forward to, which means yet another list arbitrarily ranking my anticipation for them! At first, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to find 18 films to fill out the entire thing, but as always, the number of releases in the forthcoming year that have a lot of potential vastly outway the ones I can actually include on the list. My working list had like, thirty at the end of the day. Maybe I’m capable of doing the “27 Films To Look Forward To In 2027” list after all!

In any case, here’s the 18 films worth looking forward to in 2018. As always, there’s one major stipulation: all the films on this list had to have an official, confirmed release date — which means a lot of smaller indies that we suspect will be released in 2017, but have no actual plan in place for their distribution, have to get the shaft. Sorry smaller films — I have to find a way to cull the list somehow. But even if pretty much all of these are studio joints, there’s still plenty of variety amongst the selections. Take my #18, for instance…


18. Sicario 2: Soldado

Release: June 29, 2018

When Sicario 2 was first announced, I was filled with nothing but apprehension and confusion surrounding its mere existence. Why the hell does the world need a follow-up to a gritty, depressing thriller about the pressures of life of law enforcement on the border? Especially one without so many elements that made the first film great–namely, director Denis Villeneuve, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and main star Emily Blunt. It seemed like Sicario 2 was destined for the “forgettable sequel” bin right from the get-go. And, for what it’s worth, Siciario 2 could very well wind up in that bin anyways. That being said, the first trailer for the film was actually pretty great, and the involvement of writer Taylor Sheridan (whose three-for-three after Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River) has me hoping that there’s actual artistic merit to this follow-up. The plot synopsis raises my eyebrows a bit on that regard (MEXICANS BE SMUGGLIN’ TERRORISTS ACROSS THE BORDER), but I can only hope that the actual film will be just as fascinating–and enthralling–as its predecessor.


17. Paddington 2

Release: January 12

FUCK YEAH Y’ALL, PADDINGTON 2! IT’S THE RETURN OF THE FUCKING MARMALADE EATING, HAT BRANDISHING, JACKET WEARING BEAR MOTHERFUCKER! HELL FUCKING YEAH.

MOTHER. FUCKING. PADDINGTON. TWO.


16. The Happytime Murders

Release: August 17

I have been looking forward to The Happytime Murders for what feels like over a decade…because, apparently, it has been over a decade. This is one of those projects that has an incredibly promising concept (R-rated puppet noir in the vein of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), but just can’t seem to pick up enough steam to actually be put into production. But finally, after ten years of struggles from director Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson himself,) The Happytime Murders is a 100% real project that will likely be hitting theater screens in the next few months. I guess that’s the power of getting a big-time star involved…who, in this case, happens to be Melissa McCarthy. She wouldn’t be my first choice for the lead of a puppet comedy noir, but she can be extremely funny when given great material to work off of, so I can only hope The Happytime Murders will lean more towards Spy than it does Identity Thief. With a concept this high, the potential for failure is huge…but even just on the promise of seeing this thing actually hitting theaters, I’m very much looking forward to the film’s late Summer release.


15. Mission: Impossible 6

Release: July 27

Despite everything that would seem to be set against it, the Mission: Impossible series has been going on for nearly twenty years, and through six separate entries. And here’s the craziest thing of all: the past couple installments haven’t been worse than the first few. Heck, the series just keeps getting better and better every time, if you ask me. At this point, I’m certain the franchise as it stands is destined to have a comedown of some sort…but since that has yet to happen, I am as psyched as ever for Mission: Impossible 6. Returning writer/director Christopher McQuarrie did fantastic work on Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation, and though it will be a little strange for a director to come back and do another Mission: Impossible (a series first), I’m interested to see if this series can wow us once again. I’ve learned plenty of time never to underestimate its potential, that’s for sure.


14. Black Panther

Release: February 16

There’s obviously a far bigger-ticket Marvel Studios’ film in the pipeline for 2018 (don’t worry, we’ll get there), but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on Black Panther. Everything we’ve seen from the project has been extremely cool, and director Ryan Coogler has the talent to really make this something special (he absolutely knocked my socks off with his last film, Creed.) To see Marvel give him the reigns to what looks to be a crazy ass Black Panther movie is extremely gratifying. Add in a crazy good cast of almost entirely black actors (Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman withstanding), and you have the makings of what should be another great Marvel origin movie. By design it likely won’t be the standout for Marvel in 2018, but it can still be one hell of a delicious, early-in-the-year appetizer for what is to come.


13. The Predator

Release: August 3

Shane Black is making a goddamn Predator movie. That alone, really, should be enough to justify the film’s inclusion on this list. And, since I still have 12 more films to get through on this list…it will be.


12. Annihilation

Release: February 23

I think Alex Garland impressed us all collectively with his directorial debut, 2014’s Ex Machina, which alone would make his follow-up worth getting invested in. But apparently, the source material for Annihilation, the novel by Jeff Vandermeer, is pretty great, and perfect for an accomplished writer/director like Garland to adapt. Add in an EXCELLENT cast of primarily female performers ( led by Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez, with a masculine dash of Oscar Isaac as the cherry on top), and Annihilation could end up being the very best science fiction film of 2018. And, to be honest, the behind-the-scenes drama only makes the entire enterprise MORE enticing. A science fiction film that tested poorly because it was too complicated for general audiences, and because it has an unsympathetic lead character? CONSIDER ME SOLD.


11. The Kid Who Would Be King

Release: September 28

We haven’t seen ANYTHING from The Kid Who Would Be King, which for some reason for a lot of films that made my list this year, is actually the norm. But my excitement for the project can be linked pretty directly to the man in charge of it: Joe Cornish, who absolutely blew me away with his directorial debut Attack the Block, and has since vanished for nearly seven years. Cornish is now back behind the camera though with this original adventure fantasy film, which tells the story of “A band of kids embarking on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.” Vague, yes, but nonetheless enticing. Plus, Patrick Stewart. Everything’s a little bit better with a helping of Patrick Stewart.


10. Bad Times At The El Royale

Release: October 5

Speaking of secretive follow-ups to great movies from first-time directors…you probably haven’t heard about Bad Times At The El Royale. To be quite honest, I hadn’t really either, at least not until I started doing research for this list. But though there’s not a lot to work with when it comes to El Royale (“The film is set in the 1960s in a dilapidated hotel in the Lake Tahoe region in California,” says the brief IMDB plot summary), it seems that secrecy is very much the intent with this one. In fact, the Fox executives who bought the script weren’t even given paper copies of it — they had to read the thing on an iPad, and give it back afterwards. That makes me think some crazy shit is actually going on in this movie, only reinforced by my main point of excitement for the film: it’s being written and directed by Drew Goddard, who is no stranger to writing mysterious things (he wrote Cloverfield, and was a writer on Lost, after all.) And the last time he both wrote and directed a film, we got Cabin in the Woods, a genre-bending meta exercise that was also, like, the best. Will Bad Times at the El Royale (which is being fronted by the intriguing pair of Chris Hemsworth and Jeff Bridges) be able to measure up? All I know is that I’m incredibly eager to find out.


9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Release: December 14

I was incredibly skeptical of Sony making an Animated Spider-Man movie at the same time they were developing a whole new live-action trilogy for the character…but then they got Phil Lord and Chris Miller on board. That pair has yet to let me down, and seeing them put their stamp on my favorite superhero filled me with excitement. Then the first trailer for the movie was released last month, and my anticipation only skyrocketed further. This movie has the potential to be really great, even if getting an animated Spider-Man movie, big budget Spider-Man videogame, and an appearance from the character in Avengers: Infinity War all in the span of eight months seems to tilt the property to the point of oversaturation. But if any character can survive being overused in popular culture, it’s certainly Spider-Man, right?


8. First Man

Release: October 12

After Whiplash and La La Land (two films I both loved to almost equal measure), I’m fully in on the directing career of Damien Chazelle. First Man represents a bit of a different project for him (being a biopic about Neil Armstrong, I doubt it will include much in the realm of music or singing…probably), but I have to imagine there was something about the script that led Chazelle to attaching himself to the project. With Spotlight’s Josh Singer credited for the most recent version, hopefully there will be more to this project than just a simple biopic. And even if not…Astronaut Ryan Gosling? Sure, why not!


7. Deadpool 2

Release: June 1

I really, really liked 2016’s Deadpool, very close to the point of loving it. But as super fun and watchable as the original Deadpool was, I still feel like the film didn’t quite practice what it preached. Deadpool wanted to be an unconventional, strange, and abrasive superhero film, and occasionally was that. But beneath all that was a surprisingly standard superhero origin story, one that failed to be as subversive as what you would expect from a “true” film starring the Merc With A Mouth. However, my reservations about the first film are a feature for Deadpool 2, not a bug. I really believe that the original told a necessary story to get people sold on the concept, and cut certain corners that could be deemed too weird to attract general audiences. But with Deadpool being a bonefide smash, and the business of telling the character’s origins out of the way, I’m hoping the sequel will be given a lot more room to play around with, and truly embrace its weird-ass self. The bonkers teaser trailer for the film is certainly leaning in the right direction, and I can only hope the finished product will be a nutty, vulgar, and fun time at the theater. Deadpool set a strong foundation, and I am eager to see what Deadpool 2 (if it ultimately goes by that title) will do to build upon it. At the very least, having John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch on board should provide for some absolutely kickass action scenes, right?


6. Isle of Dogs

Release: March 23

Wes Anderson has created a lot of really great movies (and The Darjeeling Limited) in his over two decades of filmmaking, to the point it’s really hard to say which one is really his best. Is it one of his earlier works like The Royal Tenenbaums? Something newer like The Grand Budapest Hotel? Something, umm, weird like The Life Aquatic? I don’t even know for sure, but I know one thing: by far his FUNNEST film is Fantastic Mr. Fox. A wonderfully realized, incredibly funny piece of stop-motion greatness, Fantastic Mr. Fox is just a delightful little movie everytime I see it. From the initial trailer, it seems like Anderson’s return to the world of stop motion will be a bit more on the serious side (as serious as a Wes Anderson joint can get, I guess), but that doesn’t make his return to the format any less exciting. In fact, I’m super eager to see what Anderson will do with the wide canvas that animation allows him in bringing an original work to life. And with a cast of seemingly everyone in the world (Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johannson, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Courtney B. Vance, Ken Watanabe, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban…good lord, it’s endless), the project certainly isn’t lacking in star power. Plus, DOGGIES! STOP MOTION DOGGIES! What do you need, a roadmap?!


5. Widows

Release: November 16

My Top 5 most anticipated films are regretfully light on original fare, which means including this film on it should in and of itself show how much I’m looking forward to Widows. The first film from Steven McQueen since his Oscar winning 12 Years A Slave (which, jeez, came out almost five years ago), Widows also boast a script by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, which makes for one hell of a critically acclaimed pair here. Widows also has a really fresh premise, as a heist film starring the widows of a bunch of dead criminals puts a nice contemporary spin on the age-old bank robbery flick. And though many films on this list feature great casts, I would argue Widows could go toe-to-toe with any of them. Viola Davis, Jon Bernthal, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall, and of course, Carrie Motherfucking Coon. Consider me very much on board for this.


4. Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2

Release: November 21

Wreck-It Ralph 2 has me just based on the quality of the first film, which remains one of my favorite Disney Animated films in the modern age. As a gamer, the concept is pure catnip to me, and even putting aside all the fun little in-jokes and witty references, there was a really sweet message and relationship at the center of Wreck-It Ralph that really made it sing. I don’t know if the sequel will have quite the same emotional impact, but at least conceptually, it’s just as enticing as the original. Taking the Wreck-It Ralph characters and throwing them into the world of the internet is a genius concept for a sequel and, from what we’ve heard about the film so far, it’s only going to get more and more hilariously meta in its storytelling. With returning writers/directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston once again at the helm, I say bring it on. I’ve been game for more of this franchise ever since the final shot of the first one. And yes, that was a pun. You may stop reading this now.


3. Mute

Release: Sometime in 2017

Speaking of films I’ve been waiting a while for, let’s talk Duncan Jones’ Mute. The long-promised spiritual sequel to Jones’ brilliant sci-fi debut, Moon, Mute was originally supposed to be released in 2017, until Netflix rather silently pushed it into 2017. And while the film still doesn’t have a release date at this point, I’m making a slight exception and including it on this list, because A) it’s already completely done, so I have no idea why Netflix would push it any further and B) it sounds SO AWESOME, guys. Jones tackling a Blade Runner esque future noir is 100% my cup of tea, and with folks like Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux playing characters by the name of “Cactus Bill” and “Duck Teddington,” respectively, this movie could end up being a masterpiece. At the very least, it might be the type of brilliance that puts Netflix’s original movies on the map…after all, Bright sure as hell didn’t.


2. Avengers: Infinity War

Release: May 4

In this list, I have tried my best to provide a variety to the overall selections, doing my darndest not to over-saturate things with just superhero films. But, ultimately, the heart wants what the heart wants…and my heart very much wants Avengers: Infinity War. Even with the slightly underwhelming teaser trailer, I am completely psyched for what is unequivocally Marvel’s most ambitious movie yet, seemingly cramming in everything to ever happen in the grander MCU, and finding a way to make it work between two huge blockbuster films. We’ve been building up to this moment for literally a decade and, at this point, it’s hard not to buy into the hype that such a build-up very much warrants. The Russo Brothers knocked my socks off twice with The Winter Soldier and Civil War, and it will be one hell of a disappointment if they fail to do it once again with Avengers: Infinity War. But I trust those two. I trust Marvel. I really feel this one is going to deliver.


1. Incredibles 2

Release: June 15

But, as always, there can only be one. And in this particular case, this one was pretty much pre-ordained from the moment it was announced, a long, long, long ten years after its predecessor was first released. But the years have only improved the strengths of The Incredibles in my mind, and made the wait for a follow-up all the more unbearable. At this point, I don’t need much of anything else to increase my anticipation: I just want to see more from this world, and these characters, and from writer/director Brad Bird. Barring Tomorrowland (which, like most of America, I try my best just not to think about), Brad has yet to really let me down, and considering how long he waited until returning to this series, I’m hoping he found the perfect story for our superhero family to get wrapped up in.

Regardless, I absolutely can not wait. After all, I already did my waiting. 13 years of it. IN AZKABAN PRISON Writing endless articles on the internet! I NEED this movie, you guys. And, more importantly, I need it to be great. Ball is in your court, Pixar. Good luck — we’re all counting on you.


And there you have it, the 18 films I believe are worth looking forward to in 2018. Think I missed any particularly egregious ones? Well…sorry? Go complain about it on Twitter.


Also published on Medium.

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