It’s the third X-Men spin-off for everyone’s favourite mutant, Wolverine, but it’s being marketed very differently. James Mangold returns, after salvaging this ‘side franchise’ with The Wolverine, and Logan already seems like it’s going to surpass his previous course correction. Inspired by the esteemed Old Man Logan comic book, this takes us into the near-future, where a haggard-looking Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) now in the autumn of his life and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) is suffering from dementia in his nineties. Fans will be excited to hear that the Wolverine’s popular clone daughter, X-23 (Dafne Keen), will also be a part of this movie. But it also promises to be a bittersweet film, as it’ll be Jackman and Stewart’s final X-Men appearance after 17 years with the franchise. Early word suggests they go out on a major high, too.
UK Release: 1 March 2017.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
It’s another King Kong “remake”, although this one works as a prequel to Legendary Pictures’s own ‘monster cinematic universe’ that began with Godzilla. We can expect to see the ‘King of the Monsters’ fighting Kong in a few year’s time, but for now it’s back to the 1970s to see an all-star cast (Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson) dropped into an Apocalypse Now-esque island environment teeming with giant monsters and one particular building-sized ape. Directed by little-known Jordan Vogt-Roberts (2013’s coming-of-age indie The Kings of Summer), the studio have their fingers crossed Skull Island is going to become this year’s spring blockbuster of choice. The trailers have certainly been gorgeous presentations.
UK Release: 10 March 2017.
IRON FIST — Season 1.
The final Defender gets his own solo outing, following the Netflix/Marvel successes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. This time, step forward billionaire Buddhist Danny Rand (Finn Jones), whose origin story splices together elements of things we’ve seen in Batman Begins and Doctor Strange, to become a kung fu master with a signature ‘iron fist’ punch. I have high hopes based on the previous three Netflix series, which have been pretty good, despite some flaws, although this one seems like the least original.
UK TV: 17 March 2017, Netflix.
BEAUTY & THE BEAST
The current vogue is for Disney to remake their classic animations into live-action blockbusters, and it’s worked out pretty well following Cinderella, The Jungle Book (and to a lesser extent Maleficent). Beauty and the Beast seems to have become more eagerly anticipated than any of those, strangely, perhaps because the 1991 original is more modern and something younger filmgoers will have a childhood attachment to. Plenty of them saw B&B in the cinema, whereas Jungle Book has been more of a television and DVD experience for most people under-50. Just a theory.
Emma Watson (Harry Potter) takes the lead as Belle, with Dan Stevens (Legion) as The Beast, joined by Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson — although most are playing magical objects.
UK Release: 17 March 2017.
THE LOST CITY OF Z
It’s a pop mainstream kind of month, with an emphasis on big movies, but something a little more cerebral comes in the form of The Lost City of Z. This movie by James Gray stars Charlie Hunnam as real-life early-20th century explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett, who made several attempts to find an ancient lost city in the middle of the Amazon. Spoilers abound if you do some light research on Fawcett and the numerous attempts to find any evidence of his expedition party years later, so tread carefully. The 2009 novel by David Grann was optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company a year after publication, and hopes are high for a thrilling adaptation.
UK Release: 24 March 2017.
GHOST IN THE SHELL
The 1995 anime was a pioneering and hugely influential Japanese movie, which became a particular favourite of James Cameron and utilised ideas and visuals the Wachowski’s would later scavenge to make The Matrix. Now, 22 years later, there’s a live-action US remake, that’s already caused controversy by ‘whitewashing’ the lead character by casting Scarlett Johansson. However, coming from Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman), the trailers suggest we’re going to be treated to something with a lot of visual imagination and panache. I just hope it’s not as intellectual empty as Sanders’ previous movie, which felt like a commercial showreel. You’d hope they can’t go far wrong if they’re going to follow the ’95 movie’s story closely, but then you note it’s been adapted by Jamie Moss (Street Kings, Spectral) and Ehren Kruger (Scream 3, Transformers 3–4) and you’re suddenly less excited. But hopefully this will surprise everyone by being an effective update of the anime, with Johansson on good form after all her Marvel universe physical prep.
UK Release: 31 March 2017.