We just finished a pretty fantastic year for fans of science fiction and fantasy movies, so 2018 has a lot to live up to.
There was something for everyone last year, from big superhero movies (like Wonder Woman and Logan) to franchise favorites (Blade Runner 2049 and War for the Planet of the Apes), as well as a few interesting flicks that split the genre fans right down the middle, including the odd but engaging Valerian, the quietly creepy space station thriller Life, the certifiably insane Beyond Skyline, and the oddly wonderful masterpieces Okja and The Shape of Water.
And, thankfully, 2018 is shaping up to be a pretty big year as well. Here's a look at all the high-profile genre films on the calendar right now.
January 26: Maze Runner: The Death Cure — The third and final chapter of the Maze Runner franchise sees Thomas and his pals running all over the post-apocalypse trying to figure out mysteries and uncover secrets about a disease called the Flare.
February 16: Black Panther — It's safe to say that Black Panther was one of the highlights of the highlight-laden Captain America: Civil War, so it only makes sense that the guy gets his own movie, and it sure looks like T'Challa's home nation of Wakanda is jam-packed with all sorts of high-tech awesomeness. Plus it'll be cool to see what Creed director Ryan Coogler can bring to the Marvel universe; they've already proven to be quite adept at choosing their directors.
February 23: Annihilation — Natalie Portman, Tessa Thomspon, and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this hotly anticipated sci-fi thriller from Ex Machina director Alex Garland. Based only on the early trailers, it looks a bit like a cross between 2015's Arrival and the 1979 Russian classic Stalker; and it's about a biologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist who examine -- and eventually explore -- some sort of cosmic tear in the face of reality. Also there are monsters.
March 9: A Wrinkle in Time — The widely admired 1962 Madeline L'Engle novel finally gets a big-screen adaptation -- the 2003 adaptation was produced for television -- and it certainly seems like director Ava DuVernay (Selma) has tackled the project with a lot of respect for the source material. Plus she snagged herself a fantastic cast that includes Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, and Reese Witherspoon.
March 23: Pacific Rim Uprising — The bad news is that Guillermo del Toro is not returning to the director's chair. The good news is that ... hey, we got a Pacific Rim sequel! (Big fan of Part 1 here.) This is sort of a "next generation" affair, with John Boyega starring as the son of the late Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), but he won't be battling kaiju alone. The super-cool Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) makes her heroic return, as do the bickering scientists played by Burn Gorman and Charlie Day.
March 30: Ready Player One — Ernest Cline's first novel seems to be a decidedly "love it or hate it" piece of contemporary geek culture, but given that science fiction legend Steven Spielberg is adapting the tome for the big screen, even the book's toughest critics may have to give the adaptation a shot. Check out the book for yourself (it's about a kid who goes on a wild adventure in a super high-tech virtual reality world) so you can join in the conversation come late March. Because we're all gonna see this movie.
March (TBA): Mute — Director Duncan Jones' first two feature films were Moon and Source Code, which earns him a Sci-Fi Mega-Geek Free Pass for his third, Warcraft. His fourth, Mute, is a futuristic neo-noir about a mute bartender on a quest for his missing girlfriend. Alexander Skarsgard is our protagonist, and Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux are also involved in some inevitably shady fashion.
April 13: The New Mutants — The 11th official X-Men movie looks to head off in an entirely new direction, with the filmmakers describing it as a combination of Stephen King and John Hughes (which tells me we're about to see the X-Universe version of Stranger Things). Also we're being told that this is sort of a horror story (set in an insane asylum!) in addition to a superhero movie, so this thing sounds all sorts of interesting.
April 20: Rampage — When I was a kid, there was an arcade game in which you could play as a giant monster who smashes buildings and tosses tiny people into its mouth. If memory serves, the game was a whole lot of fun. Now we get a movie version starring the Rock, which could make for a kick-ass matinee or just another explosion of empty special effects.
April 20: Untitled Cloverfield Movie — All we know about this one is that it's somehow connected to the Cloverfield universe, it used to be called God Particle, and it has also been known as Clean Pass. It's about a runaway particle accelerator inside a space station ... or at least that's what Bad Robot is telling us at this point. And that's fine by me. Cinematic surprises are rare and welcome things these days.
May 4: Avengers: Infinity War — The world's most popular cinematic soap opera keeps chugging along, and if you thought Captain America: Civil War had a lot of Marvel heroes to keep track of, you'll need a scorecard to follow all the colorful characters in this one. Infinity War looks to be the big payoff to the long-running "Thanos" sub-subplot, but I'd rather not even know the plot ahead of time. These movies are like candy to me.
May 25: Solo: A Star Wars Story — The last time the Star Wars machine pumped out a spin-off, it was the well-received stand-alone action flick Rogue One, but this time around, the powers that be are digging into the early history of Han Solo, everyone's favorite sardonic smuggler. The highly likable Alden Ehrenreich steps into the role made famous by Harrison Ford, and (the also very affable) Donald Glover is on hand as the young version of Lando Calrissian. Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, and since he wrote both Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back, I call that good news indeed.
June 1: Deadpool 2 — That foul-mouthed, self-referential, hyper-violent, and amusingly meta-textual anti-superhero is back. And so is pretty much the entire gang from the smash hit Deadpool: that sleazy pal, the loyal fiancee, the angry young warhead gal, the guy who can turn into metal ... Oh, also they've added Josh Brolin as fan favorite Cable. If this one's even half as fun as Part 1 ...
June 15: The Incredibles 2 — Filmmakers keep trying (and failing) to turn the Fantastic Four into a big-time movie, but Pixar already delivered the perfect rendition with The Incredibles. (OK, they're different characters, but you get my point.) Early reports state that the sequel will actually pick up with the ending from Part 1, which means that the Underminer could be our big villain. Then again, who knows? The less I know the better on this one. And yes, the whole voice cast is back.
June 22: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — Yes, Hollywood produces a whole lot of sequels. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to Dinosaur Island, only this time there's an active volcano. That's what the trailer showed me. And I'm down for that.
July 6: Ant-Man and the Wasp — One of Marvel's most surprising hits has to be the amusing Ant-Man, which proved that superheroes don't have to be super-famous to produce very entertaining movies. And, as is often the case with decent sequels, the whole cast is back on board. One can only assume from the title that Evangeline Lilly's role will be a bit larger this time around, and I call that good news. Plus that Paul Rudd is just so darn charming. Admit it.
July 20: Alita: Battle Angel — James Cameron has been trying to bring the popular manga title Battle Angel Alita to the big screen since at least 2000, and while he's not the director (that would be Robert Rodriguez), it's safe to say he's kept a firm eye on this project while prepping his Avatar sequels. Rosa Salazar stars as the titular cyborg bounty hunter, and she's flanked by a cast that includes Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, and Christoph Waltz. Even if you know very little about the source material (like me), this project does sound pretty cool.
August 3: The Predator — Writer/director Shane Black (who played Hawkins in the first Predator) once brought some much-needed energy to the Iron Man series, so there's no reason to think the genre-friendly filmmaker won't take to The Predator like a duck to water. This one takes place in a "suburban setting" in the modern day, which sounds kind of basic on paper, but you don't hire Shane Black for basic. Something tells me this will be a very fun flick.
August 10: The Meg — No, it's not a girl's name. MEG is short for Megalodon, which is a gigantic prehistoric shark that currently exists only in cheeseball movies like Shark Attack 3. This flick is based on a smoothly entertaining novel by Steve Alten, and I'm surprised it took this long to get made into a movie. Jason Statham, Ruby Rose, Rainn Wilson, and a bunch of other folks try to avoid being swallowed whole. That's basically the plot.
August 17: Captive State — Don't know much about this one. Vera Farmiga and John Goodman star, which is already good news, but this plot synopsis is also rather intriguing: "Nearly a decade after occupation by an extraterrestrial force, the lives of a Chicago neighborhood on both sides of the conflict are explored." Sounds cool.
August 31: Kin — Another interesting mystery. This one's a "sci-fi crime thriller" from Jonathan and Josh Baker (adapting their own short) that stars James Franco, Zoe Kravitz, Carrie Coon, and Dennis Quaid.
September 14: Alpha — Fans of speculative/prehistoric tales like Quest for Fire, The Clan of the Cave Bear, and (ugh) 10,000 BC should probably keep an eye out for this adventure flick. Kodi Smit-McPhee stars as a young hunter who befriends a large wolf, and together they head for an adventure of some sort.
September 14: The Darkest Minds — 98 percent of the world's children have died, which of course means that the surviving youths have some sort of superpowers that need to be contained. Based on the novel by Alexandra Bracken, this one stars Gwendoline Christie, Mandy Moore, and a bunch of young people I've never heard of.
September 21: The House With a Clock in Its Walls — Noted gorehound Eli Roth directing an adaptation of a scary book that's suitable for young readers? It's true! The 1973 John Bellairs novel, which is still well regarded today, is about a kid who discovers his uncle is a warlock, his neighbor is a witch, and his house contains a hidden clock that could spell the end of the world. Fun stuff. Plus it stars Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, and Jack Black.
October 12: Goosebumps: HorrorLand — Jack Black is back! Again! That's pretty much all we know at this point. But the first movie was quite a bit better than I expected, so I say bring on the sequel.
November 1: Dark Phoenix — Our third separate X-Men movie this year (after The New Mutants and Deadpool 2), this one picks up 10 years after X-Men: Apocalypse and deals with Jean Grey's reluctant transformation into the mega-powerful Dark Phoenix. Also Beast and Magneto and everyone else will be there.
November 16: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — The nerdy wizard zoologist is back. Expect numerous chases, escapes, creatures, magical spells, British accents, and all sorts of expensive fun. And yes, Johnny Depp is returning.
November 21: Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 — We pick up a few years later; Ralph and Vanellope find themselves stuck in the world of internet video games. That's all I need to hear. Sign me up. I'll pay for my ticket right now.
December 14: Mortal Engines — Written and produced by the Walsh/Boyens/Jackson superteam that brought us Lord of the Rings, this Philip Reeve adaptation is "set in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world where entire cities have been mounted on wheels and motorized, and prey on one another." Holy crap that sounds awesome. I may have to read this book immediately.
December 21: Aquaman — Jason Momoa's version of Aquaman was one of the eventual highlights of Justice League (once he warmed up and started having fun), so it'll be quite interesting to see what director James Wan has cooked up for the DC fans. Not too long ago the Aquaman character was a punchline on a terrible TV show, so it's nice to see him gaining a little respect these days. Also, this movie has Dolph Lundgren as the king of an underwater realm, and that's going to be amazing.
December 21: Bumblebee — Finally one of the Transformers gets its own spinoff movie. Also, it's a prequel. I got nothing.
TBA: High Life — Robert Pattinson and his daughter deal with problems deep in outer space. No release date yet, but "science fiction film from Claire Denis" is all I needed to hear.