Sunday 1 January 2023

My 11 Most Anticipated Films of 2023

Looking at the year ahead, and there's a lot to look forward to. Fom big budget blockbusters to smaller, more intimate stories, here's a snapshot of the 2023 films I can't wait to see...

11th - Knock at the Cabin (February) 

From the highs of The Sixth Sense to the lows of Lady in the Water, M Night Shyamalan has undergone something of a resurgence in recent years, with a string of solid thrillers (Split and Old) putting some respect back on his name, not to mention that Apple TV+ series he's helmed, Servant

An adaptation of a book called Cabin at the End of the World, Knock at the Cabin sees M Night sticking with the thriller/horror territory, for a story about a family of three who are taken hostage by four strangers at a remote cabin. Dave Bautista is first on the call sheet, with Rupert Grint, Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge filling out the ensemble. 

Will it be any good? It really could go either way with M Night, but one thing's for certain – it'll be a little weird, offbeat, schlocky and (hopefully) a bit of fun. 

10th - Rebel Moon (2023)

Look, I know Zack Snyder divides opinion – but I'm here for any bold, brazen filmmakers who always swings for the fences when handed a big budget. Partnering with Netflix once again, following on from 2020's Army of the Dead, Snyder's next film – titled Rebel Moon and billed as the first in a wider franchise – was initially pitched to Lucasfilm as a 'more mature take on the Star Wars universe' over a decade ago, before Disney took the reins. 

Since then, the film has been reworked into an original IP – one that lifts inspiration from Star Wars, as well as the works of Akira Kurosawa (no surprise there, since George Lucas was heavily influenced by Kurosawa in the first place). 

With this and the sequel filming back-to-back, it looks like Netflix is keen on Snyder's vision – and he's bringing with him a decent ensemble cast too, including Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Ray Fisher, Djimon Hounsou, Jena Malone and Anthony Hopkins. 

The logline – a peaceful colony on the edge of the galaxy is threatened by the armies of a tyrannical regent, so they dispatch a young woman who has a mysterious past to seek out warriors from nearby planets – sounds very Seven Samurai, so expect big battles, alien worlds, sci-fi gizmos and (knowing Snyder) lots and lots of slo-mo.

9th - Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December) 

Let's set aside all the drama at DC for just a second – because let's face it, all four films that are due this year are about to get retconned out of existence by James Gunn – to talk about James Wan's Aquaman sequel, which was due to arrive last month but is now set to swim into cinemas a whole year later, around Christmas 2023. 

We don't know an awful lot about this one yet; this'll likely be Jason Moma's last appearance as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, alongside the returning ensemble cast members: Amber Heard as Mera, Willem Dafoe as Vulko, Patrick Wilson as Orm, Dolph Lundgren as Nereus, Nicole Kidman as Atlanna and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as villainous pirate Black Manta.

Aside from that, I'm kind of basing my hype of this one on my fondness for the original, which racked up over a billion dollars back in 2018. I thought Wan brought propulsive action and visual flair to the underwater world of Atlantis, as well as colour and clarity that was lacking in Snyder's original vision for Aquaman's world. 

Let's hope that the discourse around DC's upcoming reboot doesn't overshadow what will hopefully be another fun, splashy superhero flick. 

8th - Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 (May) 

Speaking of James Gunn, DC's new head honcho is farewelling his fruitful stint at Marvel with the third and final Guardians of the Galaxy film. 

The recent trailer didn't give too much away, but what we do know is that all the usual suspects are back – Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillian, Pom Klementieff as the Guardians – plus Will Poulter makes his MCU debut as Adam Warlock. It does look like Rocket will be a focus of the story, with some flashbacks perhaps filling in the space rodent's origin story. 

Also, we may have gotten a little clue as to the film's story in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, where we learned that the Guardians have purchased Knowhere from the Collector. Maybe that will serve as their base between adventures? Wherever they're based, I'm confident that Gunn has crafted something fun, kinetic, colourful and a wee bit emotional too. 

7th - John Wick: Chapter 4 (March) 

Another film that has been shuffled into 2023 on account of the pandemic (as well as Keanu Reeves shooting The Matrix Resurrections), the fourth John Wick film promises another round of high intensity kung-fu, gun-fu and highly-accurate headshots. Chad Stahelski is still in the director's chair, so you know the action is going to be good – I think the main question mark here is whether or not the screenwriters can continue upping the ante and the stakes forever and ever. 

Filming for Chapter 4 included visits to Berlin, Paris, Osaka and New York, and joining the cast for this entry is Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Scott Adkins and Hiroyuki Sanada.

6th - Creed III (March) 

As well as reprising his role as Adonis Creed, Creed III marks Michael B Jordan's first foray into directing – and when you've had filmmakers like Ryan Coogler come before you, there's the expectation that you'll ace it. But he's continuing a grand Rocky franchise tradition, by moving into directing – Sylvester Stallone famously did the same, directing Rocky II, III, IV and 2006's Rocky Balboa.

Speaking of Stallone, Creed III is also the first film in the franchise to not feature Rocky 'The Italian Stallion' Balboa. After playing a supporting role in Adonis' first two films, Stallone is sitting this one out – which is probably the right move, so that the focus of this story isn't split and remains on Adonis. 

This time around, Adonis is squaring off with childhood friend and former boxing prodigy Damian 'Dame' Anderson (played by the absolutely jacked Jonathan Majors). Looking to get his life back on track, Dame has everything to prove and nothing to lose by making a bid for Adonis' crown – which could spell danger for the latter's peaceful family life with Bianca (Tessa Thompson). 

5th - Oppenheimer (July) 

Christopher Nolan is back in a period setting, with another Second World War story – this time about Robert Oppenheimer, the man who helmed the Manhattan Project, a military initiative that led to the creation of the first atomic bomb. 

After a pretty public spat with Warner Brothers, Nolan has allied himself with Universal for this big-budget biopic – and a large portion of the budget must've gone straight into casting, because this thing is bursting as the seams with big name actors. In the lead role is Nolan stalwart Cillian Murphy and opposite him is Emily Blunt as Robert Oppenheimer's wife, Kitty.

From there, the list of names just keeps going and going, including but not limited to Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jnr, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Dane DeHaan, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Jack Quaid, Alden Ehrenreich, Kenneth Branagh, Matthew Modine and Jason Clarke. 

Nolan is one of those increasingly rare filmmakers who will sell tickets to a new film based on his name alone – and I'm eager to see if that continues to be the case here, with a film that isn't on the frontlines of the war (like Dunkirk) and isn't heavy on whizzbang visual effects and loopy sci-fi concepts (like Tenet).

4th - Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (June) 

Another film that was set to come out in 2022, but has been pushed into 2023 for COVID-related reasons. The sequel to Sony and Marvel's 2018 Academy Award-winning Spider-Man animated film, Across the Spider-Verse follows the continuing adventures of Miles Morales and Gwen Stacey as the navigate multiverses and meet up with all kinds of weird and wacky Spideys. 

A recent trailer teases a huge cast of Spider-People, starting with Oscar Isaac as Spider-Man 2099 and Issa Rae as Spider-Woman. My only major concern is that maybe, with some many Spider-People, that the film starts to become a little cluttered or complicated? Only time will tell if lighting can strike twice.

But, we can feel confident of one thing – and that's that the animation will look lush, like it's been ripped from the pages of a splashy comicbook. 

3rd - Dune Part Two (November)

The second half of Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Dune is set to arrive this November, and some big names have been added to the already awesome cast.

Austin Butler, recently seen swinging his hips in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis, will play Baron Harkonnen's nephew Feyd-Rautha, alongside Christopher Walken, Florence Pugh and Lea Seydoux as other antagonists for Timothee Chalamet's Paul Atreides to lock horns with.

With the same creatives behind the camera, it's hard to see how this film fails – Villeneuve has been very vocal about continuing with more of Frank Herbert's Dune novels after this chapter as well, so fingers crossed that audiences show up and we can spend even more time in the dusty deserts of Arrakis in the future.

2nd - Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One (June)

Originally earmarked for last September, the seventh Mission Impossible film – titled Dead Reckoning Part One – now arrives in northern summer. The first of two missions that were filmed (or are still being filmed?) back-to-back, Dead Reckoning has reportedly been a huge undertaking, with initial stuntwork starting as far back 2020, taking in location filming in Norway, Switzerland, Italy and the UK. 

What we know at this point is that Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) will be joined by new friends and foes, played by Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham, Rob Delaney and Mark Gatiss, as well as familiar faces like Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Vanessa Kirby and Ving Rhames. 

A recent featurette unpacked the film's signature stunt, which sees Cruise speed along a ramp and off a sheer cliff face, before pulling his parachute and (hopefully) making it out alive.  

1st - Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June)

It may not be helmed by Lucas and Spielberg, and it may feature an octogenarian Harrison Ford, but how can you not be excited by the return of one of cinema's most iconic and exciting heroes - the fedora-wearing, lasso-twirling, gun-toting Indiana Jones?

James Mangold (Ford v Ferrari, Logan) is in the director's chair and this film also marks the final crack of the whip for cinema's most celebrated composer, John Williams. 

Fifteen years since the last instalment – the misunderstood and unfairly maligned Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Indiana Jones' fifth film, titled The Dial of Destiny, will see Ford team up with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and lock horns with Mads Mikkelsen and Boyd Holbrook, for an adventure set against the backdrop of the 60s Space Race and the American moon landing. 

There's rumours swirling that the plot also takes in time travel, and the recent trailer suggests there's going to at least be some flashbacks to the thirties, with some impressive looking visual effects smoothing out Ford's wrinkles to make him look like he did all the way back in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely looking forward to the Marvel offerings and Oppenheimer. Weirdly, I'm excited for Creed III too even though I never bothered with Creed II and didn't love the original.



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