Are you like me: completely exhausted from the endless spate of blockbuster superhero movies, especially the ones with seemingly dozens of major characters, most of which are men? I’m looking at you, Avengers. You had more than three dozen male leads and barely a handful of female ones.
That’s on top of the other standalone superhero movies where there are three Spider-Mans to every Captain Marvel and nearly 10 Batmans to every Wonder Woman.
Hollywood: do better.
Ahh ... 2020. There you are. It looks like you are trying to do better. The lineup to the local multiplex 'coming soon' slate includes Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, The New Mutants and The Eternals. Sadly, I suffered MCU burnout a long, long time ago so whatever the last two on the list and Black Widow have to offer are already way low on my list. My calendar only has WW84 marked down for June 5's release. It's been three long years since the original Wonder Woman came out with Patty Jenkins at the helm. For my dollar, it was one of the best movies that came out that year, let alone being one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen. And hey, please also note that Birds of Prey has Cathy Yan directing while Chloé Zhao is there for The Eternals. Just to drive home the point, Black Widow's director is Cate Shortland.
It should also be noted that The Mary Sue (the blog that bills itself as 'the geek girl’s guide to the universe') suggests that the fourth most anticipated movie of 2020 is the Disney live-action remake of Mulan with Yifei Liu in the lead role and Niki Caro directing.
I'm calling this 'the year that women take over Hollywood' and I'm very much looking forward to the shift. I can't tell you the number of times I've watched movies that have been co-directed by brothers – Avengers among them – so I expect to see a lot more Sisters leading the charge.
While my rants about the lack of creativity and cultural value of sequels and remakes have long been noted, I would be remiss if I didn't admit my glee at the upcoming release of a few titles that fit firmly into this category. I'm a fanboy too, and the 2020 marquee has some real gems that seem to be directed right at me.
The King's Man is the newest chapter in the continuation of the Kingsmen saga of gentlemen superspies but it doesn't come out till September, which is a long time to wait. Thankfully, The Gentlemen is lined up for Jan. 24 and I'll be there for it. The Guy Ritchie film has a bounty of male stars in a crime drama that seems vaguely reminiscent of his previous work Snatch. It's too bad that he's off the third in the Robert Downey Jr.-led Sherlock Holmes series but I feel reassured that this one will more than make up for it.
Death on the Nile is Kenneth Branagh's return as Hercule Poirot in the remake of the Agatha Christie mystery, after his gangbusters and star-heavy Murder on the Orient Express. Branagh also acts in Christopher Nolan's new work Tenet.
Coming 2 America might be a bit of a ridiculously gleeful sequel for me as I've long waited for the triumphant return of Eddie Murphy. His turn as Rudy Ray Moore in last year's Netflix release Dolemite is my Name was fantastic, fun and he was perfectly cast for it. If this next one works then the already announced Beverly Hills Cop 4 will surely be a hit though it won't likely come out in 2020. Neither will Triplets, the three decades' past sequel to Twins, Ivan Reitman's comedy with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twin Benedict brothers. Yes, Eddie Murphy plays the third brother. Such is the stuff of comedy gold, I say.
Speaking of Reitmans, perhaps the biggest film news for this coming year and for my money is Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Sure, it's another unnecessary sequel but how can it go wrong? The shot-in-Alberta movie has Jason Reitman leading the charge. If his surname seems familiar, it's because he's the son of Ivan who directed the 1984 original. I've always appreciated Jason Reitman's unconventional view of storytelling, putting big name stars in stories that don't have happy endings or predictable character arcs. I can't wait to see what he does for the GB franchise.
After all that, I'm also looking forward to the return of director Adrian Lyne with his film Deep Water, as well as Denis Villeneuve’s version of Frank Herbert’s Dune and The New Pope, the new HBO series by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino. If you didn't see 2016's The Young Pope then this is your chance to borrow it from the library to catch up on who Lenny Belardo is and what kinds of miracles he can muster. In the new series starting on Jan. 10, Pope Pius XIII (Jude Law) is in a coma so Pope John Paul III (John Malkovich) becomes pontiff. I don't watch TV and don't have time to watch TV series but I love Sorrentino and can't wait to see more of this.
Now that I've pointed out the highlights, let's take a quick look at the lowlights. I'm putting a huge 'PASS' on the new James Bond movie called No Time To Die, and likewise with Bad Boys for Life, Top Gun: Maverick, and The Last Duel. Maybe you've never heard of this last one but it's a Ridley Scott movie co-written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, neither of whom I have much time for.
I have a special rant for Tom Cruise who thinks that he can get away with a sequel to Top Gun from 1986. Watch the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick and you'll see Cruise in the fighter jet cockpit for real. This has been his 'thing' for far too long now and we can only blame Mission: Impossible for this tragedy of cinema. It seems like he thinks it's his duty to be the stuntman running up and down cliffs and the world's tallest building, doing death-defying feats all in the name of acting. Sadly, it does not. Did it make it any less enjoyable to watch Edge of Tomorrow knowing full well that Tom Cruise didn't die repeatedly in combat with alien creatures before coming back to life? No. If he did, would we still be able to watch that movie? No.
I'm reminded of Laurence Olivier's advice to budding method actor Dustin Hoffman, who thought that he should be able to run long distances to believably portray his character in The Marathon Man. Olivier the Thespian suggested that he could simply act.
Yes, Tom. It's called acting. It's pretend ... make believe. You don't really have to fly a fighter jet in order to portray one on film. Focus on your craft, man. You're a much better supporting actor when you do so try to take the same ethos when you're in the lead, please.