The 25 Most Anticipated Films of 2018

Whatever happens Disney will dominate again this year

by Steve Withers Feb 6, 2018 at 7:29 AM


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    The 25 Most Anticipated Films of 2018
    This year is shaping up to fairly typical when it comes to cinema releases with the usual selection of remakes, reboots, sequels, adaptations and comic book movies.
    It looks as though 2018 will be owned by Marvel, who have no less than three of their own films opening, along with two X-Men entries from Twentieth Century Fox and a Spider-Man related movie from Sony Pictures. Perhaps DC are wise to leave the majority of the year to Marvel but, after Justice League underperformed, there's a lot riding on Aquaman which opens in December. The same could be said of Solo: A Star Wars Story which, at this late stage, has disaster written all over it.

    In amongst sequels to Jurassic World, Pacific Rim, Sicario, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible, Fantastic Beasts and Wreck-It Ralph, there are also reboots for Tomb Raider, Predator and Ocean's Eleven. At least there are some interesting adaptations on the way such as Ready Player One, Alita: Battle Angel and Mortal Engines, along with more original films like The Shape of Water, Mute and Red Sparrow. Although whatever happens this year, it's safe to say that Disney and its subsidiaries will dominate the box office yet again.

    So ready or not, here are our choices for the most anticipated movies of 2018.

    Black Panther

    Marvel wisely chose Creed helmer Ryan Coogler as the co-writer and director of Black Panther, the first film in their Cinematic Universe to star a black superhero. Whilst Wesley Snipes's Blade might have the honour of being the first black Marvel character to headline his own film, Black Panther goes full 'black power' with an impressive group of ethnically appropriate actors. Aside from the talented Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther himself, we get Coogler regular Michael B. Jordan as one of the villains. There's also Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis rounding out a superb cast. As set up at the end of Captain America: Civil War, the film takes place in the isolated and technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda and it certainly looks exciting in the trailers. It will also probably lead directly into Avengers: Infinity War which opens only two months later and appears to feature Wakanda in the plot, if the trailer is to be believed. Advanced ticket sales for Black Panther have been extremely strong and so, with its release, Marvel's assault on the 2018 box office will have begun.



    Black Panther opens in the UK on the 13th of February.

    The Shape of Water

    Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water represents one of the few original films on this list, although it has clearly been influenced by other movies such The Creature from the Black Lagoon and del Toro's own Hellboy. The film picked up 13 Academy Award nominations, making it the front runner for the Oscars this year, which is surprising given the fantasy aspects of its plot. The Shape of Water takes place in a top secret research facility in the 1960s, where a lonely mute janitor (played by Sally Hawkins) forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held there in captivity. There's strong support from Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins, whilst del Toro regular Doug Jones plays the amphibious man. It's certainly an unusual love story but Guillermo del Toro is one of the most visually inventive directors working today, making The Shape of Water one of the must see films of the year.



    The Shape of Water opens in the UK on the 14th of February.

    Mute

    It's an indication of the changing times that we live in, that one of the most anticipated films of the year won't even be opening at the cinema. Duncan Jones's new film Mute, which apparently takes place in the same universe as his excellent debut feature Moon, premieres on Netflix on the 23rd of February. The main character, played by Alexander Skarsgard, is a mute bartender who goes up against his city's gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner. The film also stars Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux and, based on the trailer, Mute boasts production values to rival any film on this list – so with the success of Bright at the end of last year, we can expect more high profile films to premiere on streaming services going forward. Duncan Jones is an interesting director, so we're certainly looking forward to catching Mute when it becomes available for streaming and the fact that we can do so in the comfort of our own home is just an added bonus.



    Mute is available to stream on Netflix from the 23rd of February.

    Red Sparrow

    Jennifer Lawrence goes full Black Widow in her new film Red Sparrow. In the film she plays a ballerina called Dominika Egorova, who is recruited to 'Sparrow School' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. However her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence, who worked with Lawrence on the last three Hunger Games movies, so the pair should have a pretty good short hand by now. The Oscar-winner certainly needs a hit because outside of the Hunger Games and X-Men franchises, the box office performances of her films haven't really justified her sizeable fees. The idea of Lawrence in full R-rated spy mode certainly seems appealing but Red Sparrow will be the test of whether her star power is enough to open a non-franchise film.



    Red Sparrow opens in the UK on the 1st of March.

    Tomb Raider

    Seventeen years (God has it really been that long) after Angelina Jolie donned Lara Croft's shorts and twin pistols, it's Alicia Vikander's turn. This reboot of the game franchise loses the shorts and cleavage but retains the same basic premise. Croft is still the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, who must push beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared. This new film will hopefully have plenty of globetrotting archaeological antics but ideally avoid the ludicrous plots that made the Jolie movies rather silly. Tomb Raider is directed by Norwegian Roar Uthaug and boasts an impressive supporting cast that includes Walton Goggins, Kristin Scott Thomas, Nice Frost, Daniel Wu and Dominic West as Lord Richard Croft. Vikander is a great actress but does she have the action chops to carry a film like Tomb Raider? We'll find out in March.



    Tomb Raider opens in the UK on the 16th of March.

    Pacific Rim: Uprising

    Pacific Rim: Uprising is one of two rather surprising sequels to arrive at our cinemas in 2018. The original film, which was directed by Guillermo del Toro, was a minor hit back in 2013 but hardly made enough at the box office to deserve a sequel. However a good performance in Asia and strong revenues from home video have resulted in this second outing, even if it is minus del Toro and original star Charlie Hunnam. This time the directorial duties are handled by Steven S. DeKnight, who is better known for show-running Spartacus and Daredevil, and stars John Boyega as the son of Idris Elba's character from the first film. Scott Eastwood also joins the fun, whist Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman return from the original Pacific Rim. We can expect more giant robots battling enormous monsters and trashing whole cities in the process but whilst that might be fun, the film will undoubtedly lack del Toro's artistry and its box office appeal must be limited.



    Pacific Rim: Uprising opens in the UK on the 23rd of March.

    Ready Player One

    After a string of worthy but, let's be honest, slightly boring films from director Steven Spielberg, he finally returns to what he does best. Ready Player One was quite literally tailor-made for the most successful director of all time because the original novel on which the film is based was itself influenced by the films that Spielberg directed and produced. No one else could really bring this story to the screen or have the clout to ensure so many icons of popular culture could all appear in one film. The plot centres on the OASIS, a virtual reality world where players can be and do anything. When the creator of OASIS (Mark Rylance) dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg, a race that might get him killed in the real world. The cast also includes Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Cooke and Simon Pegg and, based on the trailers, Ready Player One could be the most exciting and enjoyable film of the year.



    Ready Player One opens in the UK on the 30th of March.

    Rampage

    Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is one of the most bankable stars in the world and easily the hardest working man in the film industry. He released three films last year, two of which (The Fate of the Furious and Jumanji) were huge hits and one of which (Baywatch) was a rare misfire. If that wasn't enough he also stars in the HBO series Ballers, as an ex-football star turned money manager. This year there are three more films coming out that star The Rock but its Rampage that looks the most fun, as he re-teams with his San Andreas director to deliver this adaptation of the classic 1980s video game. Let's face it, who doesn't want to see The Rock and a giant ape battle city destroying monsters? April is a busy month for new films but Jumanji held off The Last Jedi, so expect to see Rampage do good business as well.



    Rampage opens in the UK on the 13th of April.

    Avengers: Infinity War

    Marvel has been building toward the Infinity War for a decade and the arrival of the latest Avengers movie sees the Cinematic Universe enter the final stages of Phase Three. Avengers: Infinity War will undoubtedly be the biggest film of the year as we finally get to see all the various Marvel characters join together to try and stop Thanos from acquiring the Infinity Stones and enslaving the galaxy. The film was shot back-to-back with the fourth Avengers movie, which will come out in 2019 and bring Phase Three to a close. Anthony and Joe Russo, who did such a great job directing Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, are joined by regular Marvel writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely in the herculean task of juggling dozens of main characters and a plot that has to be satisfying in its own right whilst also setting up the fourth Avengers movie. The scale looks truly epic in the trailers and who doesn't want to see all of Marvel's heroes together in one film – roll on the end of April.



    Avengers: Infinity War opens in the UK on the 27th of April.

    Deadpool 2

    Deadpool was the surprise hit of 2016 and remains the most successful X-Men movie ever. The adult tone, irreverent humour and ultra violence really resonated with older audiences who were sick of films aimed at teenagers. Ryan Reynolds, who was brilliant in the first film, returns as the 'merc with a mouth' but this time the directing duties are handled by John Wick helmer David Leitch. In the sequel Josh Brolin joins the cast as villain Nathan Summers/Cable, whilst Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller and Brianna Hildebrand return from the first film. Details of the plot are being closely guarded but expect plenty of left-field marketing before Deadpool 2 opens in cinemas in May. The first Deadpool was great fun but can Reynolds and co. capture lightning in a bottle a second time? We'll find out in May.



    Deadpool 2 opens in the UK on the 16th of May.

    Solo: A Star Wars Story

    Solo: A Star Wars Story (is that really the best title they could come up with?) has had a very troubled production. The original directors were Chris Miller and Phil Lord, who seemed an inspired choice, but they were unceremoniously sacked towards the end of principal photography. Apparently they clashed with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and Solo screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan over their improvisational shooting style, the amount of comedy and for not sticking to Kasdan's script. Ron Howard was brought in to fix things, reshooting some 80% of the movie and acting as the film's principal cheerleader. The complete absence of trailers, a poster or even stills from the film until very recently didn't bode well but the first trailer seemed passable, although it felt more Marvel than Star Wars. It's fair to say that no one really wanted a Han Solo film that didn't star Harrison Ford and Solo opens in a very competitive month – so it will be interesting to see how it performs. One thing is for sure, it had better be a success because all these reshoots have doubled the budget, making Solo one of the most expensive films of all time.



    Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in the UK on the 25th of May.

    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

    No one expected Jurassic World to be as successful as it was, especially given the lacklustre performance of Jurassic Park III. The film turned out to be a soft reboot of the first movie, essentially a remake posing as a sequel, but there was clearly a global appetite for more dinosaurs. As a result the film broke records in the US and worldwide, ending up the third most successful film in history at the time it opened. In the absence of Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, who was busy making The Book of Henry and then getting sacked from Star Wars Episode XI, the film was helmed by J. A. Bayona who made the excellent A Monster Calls. The new film's plot centres on a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs when the island's dormant volcano roars into life and threatens them all with an extinction level event. Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt are back and joined this time by Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall and Geraldine Chaplin. BD Wong returns as Dr. Henry Wu and, in a treat for fans, Jeff Goldblum is also back as Ian Malcolm. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn't have the surprise factor of Jurassic World and the first trailer failed to impress but expect the new film to do extremely well at the box office, especially in the 25th anniversary of the original film's release.



    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens in the UK on the 8th of June.

    Ocean's 8

    This all-female version of Steven Soderberg's Ocean's Eleven stars Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, who puts together a crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City's yearly Met Gala. Quite how Bullock's character relates to George Clooney's Danny Ocean, if at all, remains to be seen but Matt Damon and Carl Reiner return as their characters from the earlier films. The new film also boasts an incredible cast of female actors, so along with Bullock there is Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Dakota Fanning, Olivia Munn, Helena Bonham Carter, Katie Holmes, Mindy Kaling and Rhianna. Sadly it also stars James Corden but you can't have everything and based on the trailer the plot is the usual mix of scams and robberies but with a female twist. Whether this will be enough to generate some box office buzz remains to be seen in what is a very packed release schedule but the film will doubtless act as a nice alternative to comic book movies and the World Cup this summer.



    Ocean's 8 opens in the UK on the 22nd of June.

    Sicario 2: Soldado

    Along with Pacific Rim: Uprising, this is the most surprising sequel of the year and, in fact, most people probably didn't know Sicario 2: Soldado was even in production. The new film is written by original Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan and follows Josh Brolin's federal agent as he escalates the war against the drug cartels. He enlists the help of Benicio Del Toro's hitman from the first film, thus confirming that Sicario was always more his story than Emily Blunt's. The new film is directed by Stefano Sollima, so it will be interesting to see how it compares to the original, which was directed by the hugely talented Denis Villeneuve. Sicario wasn't really a film that needed a sequel but it was successful and there is plenty of scope for more stories involving these characters, especially given the ongoing and un-winnable war on drugs.



    Sicario 2: Soldado opens in the UK on the 29th of June.

    Incredibles 2

    Pixar's decline has been precipitous over the last few years and it's sad to see the once great studio lose its inspiration. The last great Pixar movie was Inside Out but since then they've released the mediocre The Good Dinosaur and sequels like Finding Dory and Cars 3. The Pixar film this year is Incredibles 2, with Toy Story 4 to follow next year, so they're still returning to the well with more sequels. On the plus side The Incredibles was a great movie and with Brad Bird returning as writer and director, the hope is that he can deliver another fun adventure. All the original voice cast are back plus newcomers Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, both of whom are in Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad before that. Although very little is known about Incredibles 2, we can expect more inventive action and funny set pieces, along with the clever animation that Brad Bird brought to the first film. Finding Dory performed extremely well at the box office and Incredibles 2 will probably do just as well, especially given that it has a reasonably clear run at the box office towards the end of July.



    Incredibles 2 opens in the UK on the 13th of July.

    Alita: Battle Angel

    Alita: Battle Angel was originally a pet project of James Cameron's before he decided to spend the rest of his career making Avatar sequels. So instead he has taken a producing role and passed his screenplay on to Robert Rodriguez, who handles the directing duties. The film centres on Alita's journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world. The cast includes Rosa Salazar as Alita, along with Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez and Mahershala Ali. The film is very effects heavy and its success will depend on how believable Alita herself is as a computer generated character. In the trailer it does look a bit strange, with Alita sometimes bordering on 'uncanny valley' but then the N'avi looked a bit weird in the trailers for Avatar and that worked out fairly well. James Cameron knows how to structure a screenplay and Robert Rodriguez can certainly handle action and effects, so Alita: Battle Angel definitely has potential.



    Alita: Battle Angel opens in the UK on the 20th of July.

    Mission: Impossible – Fallout

    The latest Mission: Impossible entry is still filming but Tom Cruise is up to his usual antics, including breaking his ankle in one stunt and hanging on to a helicopter with no pilot in another. Unfortunately this latest entry breaks with the tradition of using a different director for each instalment. Having said that Christopher McQuarrie did a great job with Rogue Nation, so his return as writer/director is very welcome. The film's subtitle is Fallout and apparently the plot involves events from previous M:I movies coming back to haunt Ethan Hunt. There are certainly plenty of returning cast members including Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris and Michelle Monaghan. Joining the cast are Henry Cavill and his moustache, along with Vanessa Kirby and Angela Bassett. The M:I movies have been consistently successful and Fallout will doubtless bring in the crowds, if only to see all the crazy stunts that Tom Cruise has been involved in this time.



    Mission: Impossible – Fallout opens in the UK on the 27th of July.

    Ant-Man and the Wasp

    The dust will barely have settled after Avengers: Infinity War when we get yet another entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact if you count Deadpool 2, this is the fourth Marvel related film this year, with two more still to come. Ant-Man was a surprise when it first arrived back in 2015, successfully combining a more comedic take on the character whilst also fitting into the larger Marvel universe. Paul Rudd's Ant-Man has already popped up in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War but he now gets his own sequel, with Michael Douglas returning as Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp. Joining the cast are Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen (who in a busy year is also in Tomb Raider and Ready Player One) and Michelle Pfeiffer as Hank's missing wife Janet van Dyne. The trailer looks fun and if returning director Peyton Reed can capture that same blend of action and comedy, then Marvel will have another hit on their hands.



    Ant-Man and the Wasp opens in the UK on the 3rd of August.

    The Predator

    Shane Black, who actually appeared in the original film as Hawkins, writes and directs this sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Predator. Although the new film is technically a sequel, after Predator 2, Predators and two Alien vs Predator movies, it's more likely to be a soft reboot like Jurassic World. Shane Black has delivered some great movies recently including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, so it will be interesting to see what he and co-writer Fred Dekker do with everyone's favourite big game hunting alien. He's certainly assembled an interesting cast that includes Thomas Jane, Yvonne Strahovski, Olivia Munn, Edward James Olmos and Boyd Holbrook. Whilst the plot remains a closely guarded secret, you can expect jokes, salty language and plenty of violence.

    The Predator opens in the UK on the 3rd of August.

    Venom

    Whilst Spider-Man is off playing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Peter Parker will be in Avengers: Infinity War – Sony Pictures has decided to fast track a Venom film of their own, making this the fifth Marvel related film of 2018. Venom is a symbiotic life form that attaches itself to Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) giving him superpowers, and has already appeared in Spider-Man 3, played by Topher Grace that time. This new film will be a different take, although details of the plot are unknown and it isn't even clear if Venom is part of the MCU. What we do know is that the film is directed by Ruben Fleischer who made Zombieland and stars Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson and Riz Ahmed.



    Venom opens in the UK on the 5th of October.

    X-Men: Dark Phoenix

    The sixth and last Marvel related film of the year is X-Men: Dark Phoenix which attempts to tell the story of Jean Grey for a second time after Fox made a mess of it in X-Men: The Last Stand. The previous film, X-Men: Apocalypse, was very disappointing so writer/director Simon Kinberg has a lot to make up for, especially as he has been overseeing Fox's X-Men universe for more than a decade. All the First Class crew are back, including Jennifer Lawrence who, despite phoning it in for Apocalypse, really needs a hit at the moment. The Dark Phoenix saga certainly has potential but a lot will depend on Game of Throne's Sophie Turner who, after Apocalypse, needs to prove she really has the acting chops and charisma to play Jean Grey. Although Fox have plenty of other X-Men films in the pipeline, Disney's purchase of the studio presumably means the franchise will move back under Marvel control, making this possibly the last non-MCU X-Men film.

    X-Men: Dark Phoenix opens in the UK on the 2nd of November.

    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

    The Harry Potter universe was far too lucrative for Warner Bros. not to return at some point and J. K. Rowling was happy to oblige by writing a screenplay based on a text book mentioned in her novels and the film adaptations. 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was surprisingly good, with its 1920s setting, New York locations and adult cast providing a different perspective on the world of Harry Potter. The film was a success and Rowling apparently has at least four more stories up her sleeve, the first of which is The Crimes of Grindelwald. This sees the stars of the first film return, along with director David Yates, but also adds Jude Law as a younger Dumbledore and Johnny Depp as the titular villain Grindelwald. As the films approach the 30s and 40s we can expect the storylines to get very dark, so be prepared for plenty of killing spells and wand flicking.

    Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in the UK on the 16th of November.

    Wreck-It Ralph 2

    Wreck-It Ralph was a surprise hit back in 2012, with a nostalgic plot based on arcade video games, some great jokes, a strong voice cast, plenty of heart and loads of very imaginative animation. In fact, although it was produced by Disney Animation, it felt more like a Pixar film and it also proved very popular at the box office. So inevitably there's a sequel which this time sees Ralph break the Internet. Six years after the events of the first film, Ralph and Vanellope, who are now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure. There's plenty of potential with a plot like that and all the main voice cast return, along with a host of newcomers, including the ubiquitous James Corden. However we won't hold that against Ralph and, along with Incredibles 2, this could be a strong year for animation.

    Wreck-It Ralph 2 opens in the UK on the 30th of November.

    Mortal Engines

    Whilst we wait for Peter Jackson to choose his next directorial project, he has kept busy producing a film adaptation of the popular novel Mortal Engines. The film is penned by Jackson, his partner Fran Walsh and their Lord of the Rings co-writer Phillipa Boyens, and is directed by long-time collaborator Christian Rivers. Hugo Weaving and Stephen Lang head the cast but the real stars will be Weta Digital, if the teaser trailer is anything to go by. The film's plot takes place many years after the "Sixty Minute War," where cities survive a now desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources. It sounds a bit strange but certainly looks spectacular and if it's successful there are three more Mortal Engines books to adapt.



    Mortal Engines opens in the UK on the 14th of December.

    Aquaman

    After the hugely disappointing Justice League, the DC Cinematic Universe is in utter chaos and clearly lacks the guiding hand of someone like Marvel's Kevin Feige. Whist Marvel have spent a decade building up to this year's Avengers: Infinity War, DC tried to fast track their own superhero mash-up and the results have been far from satisfying, both critically and commercially. That's not to say that all the films have been bad and last year's Wonder Woman was both fun and inspiring. DC have wisely decided to pretty much leave 2018 to Marvel and its related franchises but with no Star Wars film this December, there is a window of opportunity for Aquaman. The big questions are can James Wan's film help right the DC ship and is there enough interest in Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry aka Aquaman but at least there's a strong cast including Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe and... um... Dolph Lundgren. As Wonder Woman proved, if you can concentrate on the main character rather than trying to shoehorn in an entire cinematic universe, the results can be both critically and commercially popular. Let's hope Aquaman can capture the same mythical magic.

    Aquaman opens in the UK on the 21st of December.

    So that's our list but what are you looking forward to and what have we missed? Let us know in the discussion thread.

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