11 films we're looking forward to in 2021
New year, new movies…
So, the second half of 2020 didn’t quite follow the cinematic release schedule we were all hoping for. But that’s OK. It’s given us a renewed appreciation for something we’ve probably all taken for granted in the past.
It also means that 2021 is looking like a CGI tsunami of movie magic, a hulking Death Star filled to the thermal exhaust ports with original screenplay adaptations, long-awaited sequels and childhood-tarnishing reboots that nobody asked for, but we’ll probably all still watch.
And this is our top pick of what’s Coming Soon(ish):
The Last Duel
Expected: January 2021
Ridley Scott is about to enter a sixth decade of making movies, and his cinematic CV looks set to echo in eternity. He was the helmsman for Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, American Gangster, The Martian, and a pretty trippy advert for Apple back in the 80s. So there’s an understandable ripple of excitement whenever new Ridley Scott projects are announced. The concept of ‘duels’ has been a reocurring theme in Scott’s movies, but the name of his latest one, ‘The Last Duel‘ bears a noteworthy resemblance to his 1977 Cannes Film Festival Best Debut-winning piece The Duellists. We know this feature is based on a book, The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager. We know the screenplay was written by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Nicole Holofcener (and also stars Affleck and Damon). But are we ready to get emotionally attached to the idea of this release coming out in January despite the lack of trailer? Not yet, not yet.
Expected: March 2021
Let’s be clear, we did not hate the female-led 2016 reboot of the classic sci-fi comedy, Ghostbusters. We LOL’d. That being said, the fact that this 2021 movie is a straight sequel to the two original 1980s Ghostbusters films, has got us dribbling a little bit of anticipatory ectoplasm. It has some strong spirit DNA — a cast featuring the vampirically youthful Paul Rudd and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), retro gadgets, rumours of role reprisals and a trailer that teases Zuul-esque appendages. But will it all get messy with two separate timelines and a sequel dropping more than 30 years after the movie it’s supposedly following? Not if you follow Egon’s first rule of Ghostbuster club: Never cross the streams.
No Time to Die
Expected: April 2021
Daniel Craig is set to return to our screens in 2021 for a fifth and final (or so we’re told) time as James Bond. There’s been a storm of intrigue and controversy over his potential successor, and even with the tantalising news that Lashana Lynch will play ‘the new 007’, there’s no clarity on whether this will be a permanent fixture. What we know for certain is, that the director for this entry into the franchise, is Cary Joji Fukunaga — the man behind the first season of True Detective, arguably one of the finest bits of television in the modern era. According to our intelligence sources, this movie begins with Bond (Craig) out of active service, only to be lured back by long-time friend and CIA agent, Felix Leiter in a search for a missing scientist. In the trailer we get a brief glimpse of Rami Malek as the movie’s socially-awkward antagonist, alongside Christoph Waltz, the OG Dr Evil, Ernst Blofeld, *Raises pinky finger*.
Top Gun: Maverick
Expected: July 2021
On initial inspection, this movie has some worrying pockets of potential turbulence. It’s a sequel arriving a full three and a half decades after the original, its main star is now nearly 60 (although still somehow manages to look like an Athenian carving), and the trailer teases sections of dialogue that are so spine-tingling corny you could pop them in a kettle and serve them in a concessions stand. You might say, this movie has no business in being great. But on paper, neither did the original. Of course we’re going to watch it, and of course we’ll revel in its retro-kitsch, nostalgic fromagerie. Weapons hot, it’s time to buzz the tower for one last run. It’s what Goose would have wanted.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Expected: July 2021
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this comic book adaption, is that it will be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie to feature an Asian lead, Simu Liu as the titular character Shang-Chi. The story will likely draw from Marvel’s Secret Wars comic book saga, where Master of Kung Fu: Shang-Chi faces off against the Mandarin and his Ten Rings organisation. In the comics, the name Ten Rings actually comes from a set of alien-manufactured finger bling, and we all know how devastating extra-terrestrial jewellery can be in the MCU. Hilarious Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina, is also attached to the project, which wrapped up production in October, in an undisclosed role.
Expected: October 2021
This philosophical sci-fi caper is director Denis Villeneuve’s interpretation of the classic Frank Herbert science fiction novel of the same name and serves as a reboot to the popular 1984 movie. The cast of this version is headed up by the brilliant, and deliciously emo Timothée Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, and Jason Momoa. The story follows Paul Atreides (Chalamet), a young man thrust into a power struggle on the distant planet of Arrakis, home to giant murderous sand worms, scheming ne’er-do-wells, indigenous eco-warriors and a battleground for control of the galaxy’s most precious resource, a performance-enhancing ‘spice’ called Melange. Bit of local movie trivia for you, part of the movie was actually shot here in Abu Dhabi’s empty quarter.
Expected: October 2021
Nobody needs reminding that movies based on videogames have the reputation of being almost universally terrible. But as a measure of just how bad they tend to be, Rotten Tomatoes recently ran a ‘worst to best’ list of 43 computer game adaptations, the celluloidal pinnacle of which, was Angry Birds 2. We jest not. Still, hope springs eternal, and there are some hard reasons why we should be hopeful that this movie could set a new precedent. Although that could equally just be the pandemic PTSD talking. The series of games on which Uncharted is based, are probably some of the deepest, most nuanced narratives in the medium. And there’s the fact that the cast includes everyone’s favourite loose-lipped Spidey, Tom Holland next to Bostonian Funky Buncher (look it up Gen Z) Mark Whalberg.
Expected: November 2021
Apologies if you watched the above trailer, understandably expecting a glimpse of the hotly anticipated MCU release, The Eternals. It was too good not to share. First of all, a standing ovation is owed to Marvel for sitting Chloe Zhao in the director’s chair, we can’t wait to see what the storysmith behind Nomadland and The Rider does with a comic book space odyssey. In Marvel lore, The Eternals are an immortal alien race whose guiding hand was instrumental in shaping human development on earth. Having a whole movie devoted to them right at the opening of MCU Phase Four, opens up the possibility of a genuinely thrilling trajectory for the series storyline. The cast is pretty impressive too, with Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani and a Game of Thrones set reunion for Winterfell’s most famous sons Richard Madden and Kit Harington.
Mission Impossible 7
Expected: November 2021
Would you believe it? The world has gone and gotten itself into apocalyptic peril once more, and with millennials seemingly unwilling to do anything about it, it’s down to ‘OK boomer’ Tom Cruise to sort it out. Again. The Mission Impossible series of films has been a bit hit and miss, but at it’s best — it’s the genre crème of big-screen action. And it’s currently on a bit of a hot streak, Rogue Nation and Fallout were both strong movies with box office receipts to match. Plot details on number seven are non -existant but we know that Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham, and Esai Morales are joining the cast. This is just one of two upcoming MI movies currently in the pipeline, with an eighth installment slated for 2022.
The Matrix 4
Expected: December 2021
The first Matrix movie was a watershed moment in cinema, an evolutionary leap in CGI and visual storytelling. It was, in our opinion, a masterpiece. And we are heartened by the fact that the temptation to cash-in on the billion-dollar-grossing franchise was resisted until a suitable script was produced. This time around the film is being directed by a single Wachowski (Lana), and the writing credits include British novelist David Mitchell. There’s been an impressive lack of plot leak information for Matrix 4, but diving into the casting — we can muse on directions the film might take. The two leads from the original trilogy, Keanu ‘keanussance’ Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, are confirmed as returning, despite *spoiler* having died at the end of the last movie. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (who looks suspiciously like a young Laurence Fishburne, AKA Morpheus) and Neil Patrick Harris (who could pass as a youthful Lambert Wilson (The Merovingian)) are attached to the film in as yet, unconfirmed roles. What do we do with all of this? Well, it seems highly likely that this film will either play with timelines or serve as direct prequel, perhaps set in one of the earlier versions of the Matrix. You might say that’s a large spoonful of conjecture. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know, there is no spoon…