It may only be January, but thanks to Hollywood studios’ very advanced planning, we already know 2016 will be a fantastic year for movies.
Movies, of course, come in all shapes, sizes, languages and styles, but what really stands out on first inspection is the sheer wealth of movies geared towards what could, less than charitably, be described as nerdy audiences.
This year will see the return of popular franchises like Star Trek, sequels to classic blockbusters like Independence Day, and a host of comic book movies and adaptations (which we’ll be taking a closer look at in a later article), among other standalone films tackling areas from sci-fi to whistleblowing.
To get you in the right frame of mind for this bumper year, we’ve gathered here a list of some of the most exciting upcoming sci-fi, tech and fantasy movies scheduled to be released in 2016, as well as a few others that may be of interest.
Midnight Special – 15 April
Midnight Special, starring Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and recent Star Wars alum Adam Driver, tells the story of a father (Shannon) who will do anything to protect his gifted son from those who don’t understand him. The movie plays out as an epic chase, with religious extremists and government agents tight on the family’s tail.
Snowden – 12 May
There are few people out there who don’t already know the story of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who brought NSA privacy breaches and global surveillance to public attention. Snowden offers a dramatisation of his story, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the starring role. Zachary Quinto takes on the part of Glenn Greenwald, the The Guardian journalist who helped Snowden take his information public.
We’re yet to see a full trailer, but this teaser certainly ramps up the tension ahead of the Oliver Stone film’s (delayed) release.
Independence Day Resurgence – 24 June
I can barely contain my excitement for Independence Day Resurgence. A not-looked-for – but infinitely welcome – sequel to iconic invasion movie Independence Day, Resurgence picks up 20 years after the climactic events of the original, as Earth once more faces destruction at the hands of alien forces.
The original cast returns – with the exception of Will Smith, who apparently didn’t want to do another father-son story, or some guff – and some new faces round out the roster on what looks like a perfect summer blockbuster.
Star Trek Beyond – 22 July
The latest instalment in the post-JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek, Star Trek Beyond, sees the crew of the starship Enterprise returning to the silver screen, sans starship Enterprise. This sequel sees the crew stranded on – and trying to escape from – an unknown planet following the destruction of the Enterprise by alien forces. (We have to wonder if the trailer’s scoring to The Beastie Boys’ Sabotage” is indicative of further plot points.)
Judging by the trailer, the movie will retain the humour of the preceding two films. That same trailer, though, fairly reeks of Fast and the Furious-style antics – no surprise, given the provenance of new director Justin Lin. While that may sound like a god-awful mix, Star Trek Beyond is certain to be an insane romp, and a starring role for Idris Elba can only mean good things. Surely something to look forward to.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 16 December
Image via Lucasfilm/Disney
The Star Wars: The Force Awakens buzz isn’t even close to dying yet, but the next Star Wars instalment has already been announced by movie powerhouse Disney.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not the next part of the trilogy (Star Wars movies always come in threes) and little is known of its plot. It is rumoured, however, that it will take place before the original series (Episodes 4-6), and will focus on a father and daughter duo – Mads Mikkelsen and Felicity Jones – who try to atone for the sins of the father (designing the Death Star) by stealing the plans to it. The film will likely see them teaming up with some rebel fighters.
Somewhat miraculously, there is no trailer for Rogue One just yet, but we can no doubt expect them to start cropping up with alarming regularity quite soon.
Passengers – 23 December
Jennifer Lawrence image via Shutterstock
Another movie without a trailer, but perhaps one that doesn’t need any just yet.
Passengers pairs Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt – Hollywood’s current darlings – in what is likely to be a story of reluctant romance among the stars. The movie takes place on board a ship bound for a distant colony. Due to a malfunction, one of the passengers (Pratt) is woken from sleep 60 years early. Rather than live, grow old and die alone, he decides to wake a second passenger (Lawrence). This may be a straight romance but, given the proven comedic chops of the two leads, we can probably expect some laughs thrown in as well.
Zoolander 2 – 12 February
The sequel to the most iconic movie ever made about the cutthroat world of male modelling, Zoolander 2 – or 2oolander, if you’re being ridiculous – picks up the story of Derek Zoolander and Hansel some years after the original movie’s exploits.
Zoolander 2 sees our favourite male models re-entering the game in order to stop a global conspiracy to kill the world’s most beautiful people. In spite of the controversy surrounding an androgynous character (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), this could be a big hit this spring, returning us to the madcap antics – and idiocy – of the 2001 (!!) film.
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell return, with Penélope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Cumberbatch and a host of other stars rounding out the cast.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny – 26 February
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is an interesting one. A sequel to the gorgeously shot and beautifully told 2000 martial arts film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this instalment is directed by Yuen Woo-ping – who was behind the choreography of the original – and returns star Michelle Yeoh to the screen.
What really makes it interesting, though, is that this is a Netflix original with a twist. In addition to streaming on the video-on-demand site, Sword of Destiny will enjoy a limited theatrical release.
While, at first glance, Sword of Destiny does not have the easy grace or elegance of its predecessor, it’s almost certainly still worth a look.
Ghostbusters – 15 July
Image via Sony Pictures
There are probably few people out there who weren’t aware that this Ghostbusters reboot was on the way.
The movie’s production has been widely covered, with director Paul Feig and the film’s creators having received no small amount of flak for casting an all-female team, but that’s certainly unwarranted. Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are all SNL alums – and movie stars in their own rights – and Melissa McCarthy is the comedy golden girl du jour. Chris Hemsworth completes the cast as the Ghostbusters’ assistant. Certainly a recipe for decent comedy!
Whether you’re excited for this or not is all a matter of perspective, really. My two cents? Reboot is just another word for remake, and why remake perfection? That being said, though, I’m intrigued to see what they do with it. Plus, the surviving cast members of the original (RIP Harold Ramis) will crop up, so it might be worth going for that alone. A trailer may be the deciding factor.
Finding Dory – 29 July
One of the most anticipated sequels of 2016, Finding Dory reunites the three leads of Pixar smash Finding Nemo but, this time, puts Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) centre stage.
The plot sees notoriously-forgetful Dory begin to regain some of her memories, and follows her, Marlin and Nemo as they set out on an adventure through the wide open sea to find her family.
A new cast of sea creatures fills out the call sheet, with Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba and Dominic West all taking voice duties for the film.
If it has even a fraction of the warmth and humour of Nemo, Finding Dory will be well worth the 13-year wait.
All dates are Ireland or UK releases, where possible.
Main image via Shutterstock