x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Cinema that sizzles

There are plenty of blockbusters-in-the-making lined up for release over the summer months.

Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass.
Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass.

Summer in the UAE might be some way off, but Hollywood's summer season has already begun. With Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland the first out of the starting blocks and the Clash of the Titans remake just behind, we take a look ahead at some of this year's blockbusters-to-be.

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage What if everyday people began putting on costumes and fighting crime? It might seem like a familiar question in an age dominated by superhero movies, but this action comedy aims to add an extra layer of realism to the idea. An unnoticed high school student becomes a YouTube sensation (calling himself Kick-Ass) after taking on a gang of petty criminals and inspiring a wave of public vigilantism. With a script by Jane Goldman (the wife of the UK chat show host Jonathan Ross), the movie has already drawn criticism for its character Hit Girl, a sharp-tongued, gun-toting, 11-year-old assassin.

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson Expected to become the summer's biggest-grossing movie, Iron Man 2 will see Downey return as the narcissistic billionaire Tony Stark in one of Marvel Studios' biggest franchises. The sequel will feature a dramatically expanded line-up, including Scarlett Johansson as the mysterious Black Widow, Mickey Rourke as the villainous Whiplash and Sam Rockwell as Stark's biggest business competitor. Many superhero sequels manage to improve on their original outings (including X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight) and while it's unknown whether Iron Man will impress critics the second time around, there's little doubt that it will be a box -office hit.


Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett If the director/actor partnership behind Gladiator teaming up for another period action movie isn't enough to get you excited, the prospect of an epic new take on the Robin Hood legend should. With a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, William Hurt and Matthew Macfadyen, it could finally erase all memory of Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The project began as a script called Nottingham, in which Crowe was to play a more sympathetic version of the Sheriff of Nottingham, pitted against a villainous Robin Hood. However, it was rewritten to take a more traditional approach.

Director: Mike Newell

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton Based on the hugely successful computer game series of the same name, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie is already being dubbed Pirates of the Caribbean in the Desert. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a sixth-century Persian street urchin turned adventurer, with an English public school accent. In the ridiculous-looking trailer, Gyllenhaal's character teams up with a snooty princess (Gemma Arterton) to stop an angry ruler/evil wizard/Ming the Merciless look-alike (Sir Ben Kingsley) from unleashing a sandstorm that could destroy the world.


Director: Mike Mitchell

Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz Nine years after the popular animated series began, the fairy tale is drawing to a close. If the fourth Shrek movie's working title, Shrek: The Final Chapter, didn't give it away, its barrel-scraping plot outline did. Apparently, the eponymous ogre will be catapulted into an alternative reality where he was never born. Here, he finds Donkey re-imagined as an intellectual, a morbidly obese Puss in Boots and the original film's villain, Lord Farquaad, still causing trouble.

Director: Michael Patrick King

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall After keeping details of the film's plot secret for months, Sex and the City 2's writer/director Michael Patrick King has revealed that the fabulous four will be ditching the Big Apple for Abu Dhabi (with Morocco doubling for the capital). In a previous interview, the actress Cynthia Nixon claimed the new movie is less of a tear-jerker than its predecessor and more of an adventure story, featuring Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda on the run in a foreign land. Rumoured to make cameo appearances are Penélope Cruz, Miley Cyrus and Liza Minnelli.

Director: Lee Unkrich

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen Fifteen years after Woody and Buzz Lightyear became household names, Toy Story is set to return to screens, this time in 3D. The well-known cast of toys, including Mr Potato Head, Slinky Dog and Rex, are donated to a preschool nursery after their previous owner Andy leaves for college. While conventional wisdom states that sequels rarely live up to their originals, many believed that Toy Story 2 was superior to its predecessor. Here's hoping these vintage toys become even more popular.

Director: Joe Carnahan

Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper The tide of 1980s nostalgia will finally bring Hannibal, Murdock, BA and Faceman back into our lives. With a cast that ranges from the well-respected thespian Liam Neeson to the Ultimate Fighting Championship's Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, it's still unknown whether the new faces will do justice to TV's favourite crack commando unit. The trailer features plenty of audacious action movie fare, though, and possibly the best tagline of the year: "There is no plan B."

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise This action comedy will reunite two of Hollywood's most bankable faces for the first time since 2001's Vanilla Sky, but in a very different kind of film. Cruise will play a secret agent who goes on a blind date with an unlucky-in-love woman (Diaz), but before long the two find themselves on the run from people trying to kill them. The trailer shows a goofier, more accident-prone version of Cruise's Mission: Impossible alter ego, whereas Diaz seems to be playing the same ditzy girl next door she's been doing for years.

Director: David Slade

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson In the third instalment of the Twilight series, a string of unsolved murders takes place, which are suspected to be the work of a rogue vampire. Meanwhile, Bella falls out with her vampire boyfriend, Edward, over her friendship with Jacob the werewolf. For anyone put off by the saga's soppy second instalment, New Moon, it'll be worth your while to persevere; the third novel ups the action, the drama and the mystery and is considered by many to be the series' finest.

Director: Nimród Antal

Starring: Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne What began in 1994 as a script by the then little-known writer-director Robert Rodriguez is finally set to arrive in cinemas. The title is a direct reference to James Cameron's Alien sequel, Aliens, and the film is intended to finally provide a worthy follow-up to the original 1987 Schwarzenegger movie, after the woeful Predator 2 and Alien vs Predator films. Produced by the Sin City/Desperado filmmaker, the film will feature Adrien Brody fighting alongside a group of human soldiers, mercenaries and criminals who have been transported to an alien jungle and hunted for sport.

Director: M Night Shyamalan

Starring: Noah Ringer, Dev Patel Based on the Nickelodeon animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender, the film adaptation was forced to alter its title for obvious reasons. The live-action movie is written and directed by The Sixth Sense filmmaker M Night Shyamalan. The martial arts drama is set in a land where the elements, water, earth, fire and air can be controlled by people known as "benders" and the warlike Fire Nation is attempting to control the world. Despite having a name that sounds like a household appliance, it is intended to be the first part of a trilogy.

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Caine The filmmaker behind the hugely successful Batman reboot, Christopher Nolan, is known for keeping his cards close to his chest, but he seems to have outdone himself with Inception. Almost nothing is known about the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring movie other than it has something to do with stealing thoughts from inside people's heads. Aside from some incredibly cool special effects shots of cities being folded like paper, the film's trailer gives away very few clues. One thing everyone agrees on, though; it's probably going to be excellent.

Director: Edgar Wright

Starring: Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman Based on one of the most critically acclaimed comic-book series of recent years and directed by the frenetic filmmaker behind Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim is likely to become the indie success story of the summer. It follows a 23-year-old slacker (played by Michael Cera) who meets the woman of his dreams but is forced to defeat her seven evil exes before he can finally win her heart. It could be this year's (500) Days of Summer, but with more samurais.

Director: Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham Imagine if all those 1980s musclemen got together for one giant, throbbing, bone-crunching action movie - that's the premise for The Expendables. Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also plays the lead, the film tells of a team of mercenaries who head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator - but that's not really important. The fact that it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and Jet Li makes it worth a watch. Only one question: why no Steven Segal?