2017 was a rough year for movies. It started out great as the winter (usually a dead zone) had hits like John Wick 2 and The Lego Batman Movie. Spring had Logan breaking records and Fast 8 continuing the franchise. But summer brought quite a few “sure-fire films” that instead became flops like Baywatch, The Mummy and more. The fall has brought success in some forms but not others. Wonder Woman soared but Justice League faltered. It’s telling how the biggest success story was Get Out, a low-budget horror movie that was a hit with audiences and critics on a scale no one could have imagined. It just shows how it’s often harder to figure out waht will and won’t work at the movies as 2018 dawns.
Sure, some are obvious. No one expects another Fifty Shades movie to be good while Mission Impossible 6 should be a great time. Yes, there are sure fire ones but even those likely to make money may not be that good a movie (look at the Transformers films). Trailers can often be misleading to make something look terrific but a letdown while others can surprise. With a pretty big slate of films coming, some stand taller in terms of anticipation. Some are likely to be hits and great films even without as much promotion. Others are likely to falter, even those that seem to have “Hit” written over them and not be that good. It’s hard to tell sometimes but fun guessing. Here are 8 movies coming in 2018 likely to really suck and 8 that won’t, so you can judge how to spend your cash at the movies.
16 WON’T: Ready Player One
What’s better than a story that mixes together nearly every piece of pop culture from the last 30 years? A movie version directed by Steven Spielberg. Edgar Cline’s best-seller comes to beautiful life in a way even fans of the book can’t believe. In 2045, Earth is overpopulated, cities are basically massive trailer park slums and hope is dead. The only escape is the OASIS, a massive virtual computer play place where gamers can do anything they want. In a video will, its creator says he has hidden a special prize within the game and whoever finds it gets control of the OASIS and $250 billion dollars. Tye Sheridan is the young man who finds the clue but soon pursued by others in both worlds as he discovers the secret behind it all. While some complained about the story, the trailers promise nothing but pure joy. That includes a race through New York with folks on everything from TRON light-cycles to Doc Brown’s DeLorean as well as a battle scene involving Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, the Iron Giant and more. To see all this brought to life by Spielberg promises a nostalgia ride like no other.
15 WILL: The Meg
It’s taken years but at last, the best-selling novel is hitting the big screen…although it may not be worth it. Jason Statham plays a scientist who is the only survivor of a research station and no one believes his story it was destroyed by a 70-foot wide shark. Years later, he’s sought out as it turns out the creature does exist and is threatening an underwater station with some Chinese scientists. The movie has been plagued by massive delays and false starts and the presence of the Chinese plot is simply because that’s the only way they could get funding. No footage is shown but rumor has it the CGI is on the cheap and thus the shark barely looks more believable than the old mechanical one from Jaws. That it’s being released in the “dead zone” of late August seems the final nail in the coffin. While the book may have been a best-seller, it’s unlikely this will be a hit but rather sink fast at the box office.
14 WON’T: Black Panther
What better month than February to have a movie about the first black comic book superhero? Chadwick Boseman reprises his scene-stealing role from Civil War as T’Challa, the king of the small African nation of Wakanda. Like his forefathers, T’Challa is also the Black Panther, the sacred champion who protects Wakanda secret: Under the facade of a third world nation lies the most advanced civilization on the planet and a population of fierce warriors. But an unholy alliance between arms dealer Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who wants the throne himself, threatens to expose this as T’Challa fights for his home from Africa to New York. The supporting cast has Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Lupita Nyong’o amid some fantastic action scenes and proud of an almost all-black cast. Having this be the last key step to Infinity War just adds to it and makes this a must-see and possibly the coolest Marvel film to date.
13 WILL: Robin Hood
The classic hero has had his ups and downs over the years on film. Yes, he had great turns with Errol Flynn but also endured ones with Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe. This new film takes a “streetwise” view, turning Robin of Locksley into an outcast street crook in London with no idea of his skills. Jamie Foxx is Little John (imagined as a runaway Moor), a gang leader who takes Robin in. That’s right: Robin is just a flunky for the Merry Men, not the heroic leader. Ben Mendelsohn plays the Sheriff of Nottingham while Eve Hewson plays Marian. The entire plot reminds people of last year’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which was a massive flop. Trying to put a “modern” edge on a classic tale like Robin Hood has promise but this doesn’t look to be anything but a truly wretched film and no doubt just serves to remind fans there are far better versions of the archer’s tale to enjoy than this.
12 WON’T: X-Men Dark Phoenix
For X-Men fans, the Dark Phoenix Saga may be the greatest storyline in the long history of the characters. Many loathe Last Stand for all it completely messed it up but thanks to the wacky time travel reboot of Days of Future Past, there’s a shot at a do-over. The producers have admitted learning from the mistakes of 2016’s Apocalypse film and are hoping to improve this sequel, set in the 1990s. The entire cast is back with highlights of Professor X, Magneto and Mystique stepping up to the plate. But the focus is on Sophie Turner as Jean Grey whose psychic powers are growing beyond comprehension. Soon, it leads her to transform into a creature no longer mutant or human but a force that could possibly destroy the world. The images of Turner covered in flame have been a sensation and promise to push a broader film (Jessica Chastain has a secret but vital role). True, no Wolverine this go-around but for fans, seeing Phoenix light up is going to be worth the wait.
11 WILL: Rampage
The last time Dwayne Johnson did something involving a video game, it was the wretched Doom. He’s trying again with this big-screen adaptation of the classic quarter-munching arcade games. Johnson is a zoologist who raises a beloved white gorilla from captivity to being his friend. But a genetic experiment goes crazy and soon turns the gorilla into a massive hundred-foot tall beast running wild in a city. To make things worse, a wolf and a crocodile have also been changed and all three monsters are ready to go at it. That should be fun but it appears the movie focuses more on Johnson than the monsters and the “beast who’s treated like a child” motif doesn’t appeal to fans who just want to see giant animals trash cities. Johnson has shown he’s not immune to flops with 2017’s Baywatch and thus this film is unlikely to break the “video games make crap movies” mantra.
10 WON’T: Deadpool 2
It took way too many years but in 2016, Deadpool finally got his due. The R-rated comic book film rocked audiences by perfectly capturing the insane motormouth killer as he goes on a quest for revenge while talking to the audience. A sequel is inevitable and the studio is having fun keeping much of the plot under wraps. What is known is that Wade Wilson is still with beau Vanessa when he finds himself under a huge contract that has slews of would-be killers after him. This will lead to a clash with the time-travelling Cable (Josh Brolin), bringing one of comic’s most famous bizarre bromances to life. Frankly, the plot doesn’t matter. What does is seeing what Ryan Reynolds does to top the behavior of the first flick so expect even more gross action, nutty jokes and shots at everything from politics to Disney buying Fox. Whatever the case, it will be a fun ride to remind fans how much fun the Pool can be.
9 WILL: The Grinch
Who was asking for this? Seriously? 2000’s live-action version of Dr. Seuss’ classic tale imagined the Grinch as a put-upon kid to explain his behavior and why he hates Christmas. But to many, that was totally unneeded as it didn’t matter what turned the Grinch like this to enjoy the immortal special. But that’s not stopping the creators of the Despicable Me and Minions franchise from taking him on. This animated movie focuses on the child Grinch, who he is and where he came from; why he’s the only person like him around this village; how he grows and eventually does his big scheme to steal the Whos’ holidays. Benedict Cumberbatch is a bizarre choice for the voice and most believe this will be even worse than the 2000 movie. There are just some sacred cows of Christmas you don’t mess with and trying to give the Grinch a warm backstory just misses what makes the story work.
8 WON’T: Ant-Man And The Wasp
While it was overcrowded by other entries, 2015’s Ant-Man was still a worthy entry in the Marvel movie franchise. Paul Rudd was great as Scott Lang, a crook turned into a size-changing hero with Michael Douglas as former Ant-Man Hank Pym. The sequel picks up with Lang now a fugitive after the events of Civil War but trying to help out as a hero. The big move is that Evengeline Lilly picks it up as the Wasp, a costumed heroine who helps Hank out. Together, they face the mysterious industrial espionage agent the Ghost with Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster. The biggest face is Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne, Hank’s wife who was supposed to be long dead but actually trapped in another dimension. As with the first movie, this is so far being overlooked among bigger Marvel entries. But as fans know, the little guy packs a major wallop and thus should be another fun ride to show great things come in small packages.
7 WILL: Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom
Yes, 2015’s revival of the classic blockbuster series was a monster hit. But it was also criticized for a poor story, too much CGI and the sight of Bryce Dallas Howard running through a jungle in high heels. The sequel picks up a few years after the dinos went wild and destroyed the park as Howard come to see her former beau (Chris Pratt) and asks him to return to the island. It seems a volcano is about to erupt and destroy the dinosaurs left and she wants to save as many as she can. Pratt isn’t sure but talked into it on the idea of saving a Raptor he helped grow. If anything, it reminds folks of the plot of the much-loathed Jurassic Park III and the trailers just promise more of the same in fake dinos running around amid explosions. Jeff Goldblum does return as Ian Malcolm but that may not be enough to elevate this movie as just another bloated blockbuster sequel.
6 WON’T: Tomb Raider
After 15 years, Lara Croft finally returns to the big screen. While movie adaptations of video games rarely do well, the Angelina Jolie-starring Tomb Raider adventures were exceptions. This new version adapts the acclaimed 2013 reboot game of a young Lara who’s not quite the great adventurer we know. Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander takes on the part as a video from her late father sends Lara on a quest that shipwrecks her on a remote island. She’s soon chased by a mercenary gang and is forced to fight for her survival. The trailer promises moments ripped right from the game as Lara starts with a bow and arrow before moving onto more brutal tactics. Expect some tomb exploration as well as a gritty fight for survival better than the cheesecake the character is known for. Vikander is a great actress and trained hard for the part and with an early February opening, this should buck the trend and be an adventure both video game fans and action movie buffs can love.
5 WILL: Aquaman
Let’s face it, the DC Movies are not doing that great. Yes, Wonder Woman was terrific but sadly is the exception. Justice League was marred by a huge budget that was too much to overcome and massive talk of how much was changed from Zack Snyder's original cut to the theatrical version. One strong point was Jason Momoa as Aquaman as he forever altered the image of the water-bound hero as a joke. Now, he gets his solo movie which explores his origins, how he rose up from an outcast to king of Atlantis and facing threats. Amber Heard also reprises her role as love interest Mera while Patrick Wilson is Ocean Master and expect classic baddie Black Manta. But given the track record of DC so far, it just doesn’t look good. Momoa may be terrific but he has a struggle carrying such a project and the character still has an aura of “joke” around him that makes this movie unlikely to buck the bad DC film trend.
4 WON’T: Ocean’s 8
The cast alone guarantees a great time. Sandra Bullock plays the younger sister of George Clooney's Danny Ocean, fresh out of prison and already planning a score. Her goal: To steal a priceless diamond necklace right off the neck of a spoiled Hollywood star (Anne Hathaway) right in the middle of the annual Met Gala. She soon organizes a fantastic bevy of female thieves, hackers, con artists and disguise experts: Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina. Expect slews of double and triple crosses (rumors abound there’s more to Hathaway’s character than it seems) and the audience to be kept guessing along with a bevy of celebrity cameos (the big heist scene was filmed at the actually Gala.) But the very fact there’s a movie boasting 8 fantastic female starlets (with Bullock and Blanchett leading the way with great chemistry) should ensure this is a delightfully wicked time and no trouble stealing a lot of box office.
3 WILL: Nutcracker And The Four Realms
The Nutcracker may be one of the greatest ballets ever created. Its music retains power over centuries and it’s always a holiday favorite. However, Hollywood has the bizarre obsession with trying to make a movie version of it into some sort of epic. Disney is now trying their hand with the classic story of a young girl who finds a magical kingdom where her nutcracker doll comes to life and leads her to a great adventure. But rather than the classic music and dancing, we instead get a massive epic with plans for sequels. The cast includes Mackenzie Foy as the lead, Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy (here, a grand witch) and Dame Helen Mirren as the leader of an army of rats. The trailers look completely insane and not quite in the good way. It pushes a huge CGI fest more akin to Tim Burton and the storyline seems to be trying to turn this quiet tale into some huge Lord of the Rings-style saga. Put it together and this may be a treat fans won’t want to chew on.
2 WON’T: Avengers: Infinity War
Like this won’t be a hit. This is what the entire MCU has been building up to, the epic clash between good and evil. On one side is Thanos (Josh Brolin), the mad Titan, finally invading Earth to get his hands on the all-powerful Infinity Stones. Opposing him are the Avengers, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, a space-lost Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy. All that plus Loki playing his own game and the introduction of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. The trailers are promoting epic battles unlike anything seen as Thanos attacks and the formerly fractured heroes have to work together to stop him. Speculation runs rampant there will be major deaths and huge shake-ups that will forever affect the movies. How this falls out is unsure and even bigger given Marvel is already planning a “Part 2” for 2019. One way or another, this is the payoff to years of planning and subplots and makes this possibly the must-see epic of the year.
1 WILL: Mama Mia! Here We Go Again
Mixing a prequel and a sequel rarely goes well. Making both to what some feel was an already great musical and it looks worse. The entire cast of the 2008 hit is back although the movie seems to be losing the biggest player: Meryl Streep. It appears her character has died as the movie begins and her daughter (Amanda Seyfried) is dealing with the loss and becoming pregnant. This leads her to explore the past and discover how her mom (played in flashback by Lily James) first met the three men who were Sophie’s possible dads and handled being pregnant herself. Frankly, the first movie already exhausted the entire ABBA playlist so hard to see how this does any better. Even worse is the bouncing back and forth in time and the addition of Cher as Seyfried’s grandmother. Even those who loved the first movie find this completely unnecessary and hard to see why anyone thought this comedy pre/sequel was a good idea.