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16 blockbuster movies to look forward to in 2016

Benedict Cumberbatch in tights, a superhero smack-down and an all-new ‘Ghostbusters’ – 2016 is shaping up nicely. But should we believe the hype?

By Tom Huddleston
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Hollywood is gearing up for its biggest year ever in 2016. From superheroes to spaceships, fantastic beasts to big friendly giants, the studios are going all-out. But will these mega-budget blockbusters live up to the hype? We take a closer look...

1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
A semi-sequel to 2014’s Superman reboot ‘Man of Steel’, chucking in everyone’s favourite dark defender for good measure. Director Zack Snyder and star Henry Cavill return, with Ben Affleck controversially cast as the Bat.

The hype
As the subtitle implies, this is the first big step in Warner Bros and DC Comics’ attempt to ape Marvel’s insanely successful ‘Avengers’ franchise by building their own cinematic superhero team – the slightly Nazi-sounding Justice League. Thus the pairing of Supes and Bats, plus a supporting role for Wonder Woman before her own movie comes out in 2017. They’re selling it as a major clash of the titans.

Do we believe it?
Mostly. ‘Man of Steel’ was daft but fun, and as long as Snyder resists the temptation to go down the dark-and-brooding route this should be, too. How long audiences will stay enthused about muscly dudes in tights remains to be seen, but for the time being, consider us sold.

‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is out on Friday March 25.

2. The Jungle Book

Film Family and kids

The pitch
This motion-capture adventure is more a remake of the Disney movie than a return to Rudyard Kipling’s original stories. A cast of CG animals – voiced by the likes of Idris Elba, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson – educate young Mowgli (Neel Sethi) in the ways of the jungle.

The hype
Everyone adores Disney’s ‘Jungle Book’, right? Now imagine it with sort-of-real animals! Basically, they’re selling you the story you love, but with more modern effects.

Do we believe it?
Not really. The first trailer has a really weird vibe – the celebrity voices don’t match up at all with the furry on-screen characters – and the orchestral rendition of ‘The Bare Necessities’ on the soundtrack is quite off-putting. That said, the visuals look spectacular.

‘The Jungle Book’ is out on Friday April 15.

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3. Captain America: Civil War

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
The biggest soap opera in movie history keeps rolling on. This is a sequel not just to the last Cap adventure, ‘The Winter Soldier’, but a follow-up to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and a setup for the massive ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ two-parter due in 2018.

The hype
The film sees Captain America going up against Iron Man, allowing Disney to roll out the time-honoured ‘Team this’ versus ‘Team that’ marketing trick. Like ‘Batman vs Superman’, they’re pitching it as a monster superhero smackdown.

Do we believe it?
Yes. ‘The Winter Soldier’ was one of the better Marvel flicks, and – against all the odds – Cap has turned out to be one of their most likeable, conflicted characters. Square him off against Robert Downey Jr’s trash-talking Iron Man and we should be in for an enjoyable battle of wits. And fists.

‘Captain America: Civil War’ is out on Friday April 29.

4. X-Men: Apocalypse

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
Yet another team of superheroes take on yet another world-threatening villain, as the rebooted X-Men (Fassbender/McAvoy as opposed to McKellen/Stewart) take on the original mutant, prehistoric blue meanie Apocalypse.

The hype
It’s the biggest X-Men movie ever! As they tell us, every time. Still, the Apocalypse storyline has long been a favourite of the comic nerds, so expect them to line up in droves for this big-screen adaptation.

Do we believe it?
That’s a tough one. Director Bryan Singer’s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ was a bit of a mess, and here he doesn’t even have the benefit of Hugh Jackman’s charismatic Wolverine. Also, the villain looks really daft: Oscar Isaac in blue facepaint and armour gives the whole thing an alarmingly camp, ‘Batman Forever’-ish edge. Still, Singer has a strong CV overall, and the X-Men characters are always fun to catch up with.

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is out on Thursday May 19.
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5. Warcraft

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
Online role-playing game ‘World of Warcraft’ attracts thousands of players and has been spun off into books, board games and comics. Now here comes the movie, a fantasy epic set in the land of Azeroth, where an ages-old war between humans and orcs is about to spiral out of control.

The hype
Like ‘Game of Thrones’? Like ‘Lord of the Rings’? Like muscly men in bearskin and epic CGI landscapes? Then you'll love ‘Warcraft’!

Do we believe it?
Not even slightly. The trailer is ridiculous, a mish-mash of fantasy clichés without the wit of ‘Game of Thrones’ or the literary integrity of ‘Lord of the Rings’. The special effects don’t look very special, and the characters all seem to stomp around yelling at each other. Then again, it could just be a case of misguided marketing: we do have some faith in its director, Duncan Jones, the man behind ‘Moon’.

'Warcraft' is out on Friday June 3.

6. Independence Day: Resurgence

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
They’re back! 20 years after alien invaders wiped out most of humanity and (even more unforgivably) blew up the White House, the skies are once again dark with giant ships. It’s up to Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and not Will Smith to save the day…

The hype
Kaboom! This is being pitched not just as the sequel to director Roland Emmerich’s ridiculously enjoyable original, but also the spiritual successor to his eye-frazzling disaster movie ‘2012’. Expect heretofore unimaginable levels of planetary destruction and chaos-porn.

Do we believe it?
Sneakingly, yes. We’ve got a soft spot for the original movie (and Jeff Goldblum), and the trailers look fittingly super-sized. It may not be high art, but when the lasers start flying you’ll find us grinning in the front row.

‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is out on Friday June 24. 

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7. Ghostbusters

Film Comedy

The pitch
Nobody asked for a remake of the iconic 1984 comedy about a quartet of wisecracking scientists who set up a business trapping pesky poltergeists. But this is Hollywood, where every recognisable property is fair game.

The hype
It’s ‘Ghostbusters’ – but not as you know it. Echoing the original movie’s trick of casting popular comedians instead of stars, and then giving the whole thing a gender flip, the remake sees Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig leading the troupe, with Chris Hemsworth as their hapless secretary.

Do we believe it?
Yes, yes, and yes again. Director Paul Feig worked wonders in ‘Bridesmaids' and ‘The Heat’, while the enjoyable ‘Spy’ proved he’s comfortable working on a grander scale. McCarthy and Wiig are insanely watchable, and best of all it’s infuriated all the sad little boys on the internet who can’t bear the thought of girl ghostbusters.

'Ghostbusters' is out on Friday July 15.

8. Star Trek Beyond

Film Science fiction

The pitch
The third in the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ series sees original director JJ Abrams stepping down in favour of ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise veteran Justin Lin. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and the rest of the Enterprise crew all reprise their roles.

The hype
Aware that the last movie ‘Into Darkness’ enraged many by pandering awkwardly to the fanbase, ‘Beyond’ looks set to be a more straightforward space romp. Simon Pegg has co-written the script, so expect a few nod-wink gags thrown in.

Do we believe it?
On the fence. If Lin can recapture the giddy spirit of Abrams’s 2009 ‘Star Trek’ he’ll be on to a winner, but the trailers look noisy, busy and a bit soulless. Pegg’s Scotty has always felt mildly irritating, so if he ends up grabbing more screen time that’ll be a problem.

‘Star Trek Beyond’ is out on Friday July 22.
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9. The BFG

Film Fantasy

The pitch
Two of the past century’s greatest children’s entertainers join forces, as Steven Spielberg adapts Roald Dahl’s beloved story of a plucky girl abducted by the titular Big Friendly Giant.

The hype
Pure cinema magic for all the family: Spielberg looks to be on classic, twinkly form, with trailers and posters highlighting the charming, chocolate-box fairytale aspects of the production.

Do we believe it?
To a large extent. It’s a wonderful book, and Spielberg’s track record when it comes to awe-inspiring kid-flicks is unimpeachable (we love the idea of Mark Rylance as the giant, too). Could it all end up feeling a bit un-Dahl-ish and sentimental? Maybe. But we’ll always give the Magic Beard the benefit of the doubt.

‘The BFG’ is out on Friday July 22.

10. Finding Dory

Film Animation

The pitch
Heroic father-son clownfish duo Marlon and Nemo are back, this time on the trail of their scatterbrained friend Dory, who has absent-mindedly wandered off.

The hype
Finding Nemo’ remains Pixar’s biggest hit. It’s also one of their sweetest, funniest, most endearing movies. No one’s claiming the sequel will be bigger, better or more explosive – they’re just aiming to rekindle the love you had for the original.

Do we believe it?
Almost entirely. Pixar may have an imperfect track record, sequel-wise (for every ‘Toy Story 2’ there’s a ‘Monsters University’ – and if this turns out to be just a retread of the first film, complete with cameos from all the same characters, it might feel a bit underwhelming. But with original director Andrew Stanton back on board and Pixar on a roll after ‘Inside Out’, we’re really looking forward to revisiting the undersea kingdom.

‘Finding Dory’ is out on Friday July 29.

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11. Jason Bourne

The pitch
After a one-film holiday, Matt Damon returns as the amnesiac super-spy still trying to track down the truth about his shady government handlers.

The hype
The original Bourne series went from strength to strength, and this movie reteams star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass for the full ‘car-chase, punch-up, shocking revelation, repeat’ experience. Still, they missed a trick with that title: ‘Jason Bourne’ may be a pitch for gravitas, but ‘Bourne Again’ would’ve been way cooler.

Do we believe it?
We want to. The third Bourne movie seemed to wrap things up nicely, and it’s not like we’re short of action flicks about American agents running about Europe hitting people. But Matt Damon is always worth watching, and we have to assume he and Greengrass had a good reason to return – besides a presumably whopping paycheck.

‘Jason Bourne’ is out on Thursday July 28.

12. Suicide Squad

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
You guessed it – it’s another super team-up! Though this time, the heroes aren’t heroes, they’re the worst of the worst: The Joker, plus a bunch of villains only comic-book nerds have heard of, all on the trail of someone even worse.

The hype
The posters and trailers have gone out of their way to make ‘Suicide Squad’ look as seedy, sleazy and sick as possible, all safely within the bounds of Hollywood decency, of course. They’re also trumpeting the fact that Will Smith plays a bad guy, Deadshot, and that all the women are scantily clad.

Do we believe it?
Not so much. Like the recent ‘Deadpool’, this appears to be packed with the kind of ‘adult’ content – swearing, fetish-wear, grotesque violence – that mainly appeals to teenage boys. Still, the cast is solid – Jared Leto promises to be a memorable Joker – and if the script’s genuinely funny it could be a winner.

‘Suicide Squad’ is out on Friday August 5.

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13. Doctor Strange

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
Another superhero movie. Sigh. Still, this one looks like it might actually break the mould, and not just by having the main character swear a lot. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular medical professional, a neurosurgeon schooled in ancient, mystical arts.

The hype
They haven’t started giving us the hard sell yet, but expect Marvel to push this as the oddball antidote to everyday caped-crusader flicks. Cumberbatch is a defiantly off-beam hero, and to make matters weirder he’s joined by Tilda Swinton as his mentor, The Ancient One.

Do we believe it?
Hell yes. Any movie that casts Swinton as a centuries-old, gender-non-specific magical guru gets a free pass from us. The fact that Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen round out the cast is just the icing on an already enticing cake.

‘Doctor Strange’ is out on Friday October 28.

14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
A not-quite-prequel to the ‘Harry Potter’ series. Author JK Rowling has penned her first original screenplay, derived from a passing reference in the Potter books to Newt Scamander, an expert in magical creatures who roamed the globe back in the early twentieth century.

The hype
As far as we know, the film will have no direct ties to the beloved magical franchise besides Rowling’s involvement, but people love Potter so that’s the tack they’re taking.

Do we believe it?
We’re optimistic. The cast is good – Eddie Redmayne takes the lead, with backup from Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell – and the 1920s New York setting should look wonderful. Rowling’s stories seem suited for the screen, though how she’ll fare as a screenwriter remains to be seen.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is out on Friday November 18.
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15. Star Wars: Rogue One

Film Science fiction

The pitch
The first of (at least) three standalone spinoffs from the ‘Star Wars’ saga. This one follows the gang of Rebel operatives who stole the original Death Star plans, leading to the events of the very first movie.

The hype
‘Star Wars’ films essentially sell themselves, and we still haven’t seen a full trailer for ‘Rogue One’. But Disney will surely pitch this to the same nostalgia-heads who flocked to ‘The Force Awakens’: they've made no secret of the fact that Darth Vader will be returning, and very possibly Boba Fett, too.

Do we believe it?
Yes. The idea of a heist movie set in the ‘Star Wars’ universe is truly tantalising, and if they find clever ways to tie it back to ‘The Force Awakens’, that’ll be even better. The cast is terrific – Felicity Jones heads the troupe, with backup from Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn – and the thought of seeing Big Darth striding along the Death Star corridors with his cape billowing is almost unbearably exciting.

‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ is out on Friday December 16.

16. Assassin's Creed

Film Action and adventure

The pitch
Adapted from the popular computer game... No, wait, come back! ‘Assassin’s Creed’ might be the first gaming flick with a shot at an Oscar. A tale of ancient conspiracies set partly in fifteenth-century Spain, it’s directed by Justin Kurzel who made last year’s ‘Macbeth’ and reteams that film’s stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

The hype
The marketing for this hasn’t really got going yet, and it’ll be interesting to see if they push the video-game angle for the fans, or the respectable-historical-drama side for the newbies. Fassbender has been talking it up all over town, saying that the film was inspired by ‘The Matrix’ and he’s already dying to make a sequel.

Do we believe it?
Yes. Fassbender’s enthusiasm is unquestionable, and the presence of Kurzel and Cotillard suggests that this might be something truly special: an all-action video game blockbuster with visual grace and character depth. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

‘Assassin’s Creed’ is out on Friday December 30.

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