Looking ahead: 2020 at the cinema

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A round-up of the biggest movies to be screened across UK cinemas in 2020. Please note, this list is not exhaustive and details are subject to change, but the information below is accurate at time of publication (31 Dec 2019).

January

JoJo Rabbit (out New Year’s Day)

Attracting considerable controversy is this WWII comedy – incredibly produced by Disney, the least controversial of studios – that portrays Hitler as a daft comic foil for a young boy and Nazi war efforts (led by children) as ‘hilariously’ ineffective.

Some critics are saying it pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable with satire, others that it’s a great comedy and a neat way of satirising the Nazis. Either way, it’s a decidedly different start to your new year at the cinema.

The Gentlemen (New Year’s Day)

Guy Ritchie’s eleventh feature length movie as a director proves he has not lost his focus on rollicking action comedies featuring swaggering, laddish types.

Headlining the starry cast is Matthew McConnaughy as an American drug kingpin based in the UK who decides to sell his empire leading to crime, confusion and chaos from those who want it.

Co-starring High Grant, Charlie Hunnam and Michelle Dockery.

1917 (Fri 10 Jan)

This epic is already being cited as the definitive WWI movie that follows two young British soldiers –  played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman – as they try to deliver a vital message across a seemingly impossible route and odds.

Colin Firth, Andrew Stott and Benedict Cumberbatch co-star.

Bombshell (Fri 17 Jan)

A mega-wattage female cast – Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie – lead this drama, based on the real-life story of a group of women who took on the mighty Fox News CEO Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow) following accusations of sexual harassment.

Bad Boys for Life (Fri 17 Jan)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reunite for their third Bad Boys adventure that isn’t the only sequel scheduled for release that is coming out many years after the last movie in the series (part two hit screens in 1995).

Given that both actors are now in their fifties, it’s good that the writers and producers have worked in references to ageing, with Smith undergoing a mid-life crisis as the duo tackle a Romanian crime boss as they prepare to retire.

February

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Feb 7)

Film poster Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2019)

Suicide Squad, featuring Jared Leto as The Joker, earned around $700m at the box office. A sequel was inevitable, but this one focuses on Joker’s demented female acolyte Harley Quinn.

Margot Robbie returns as Harley, collecting a group of other misbegotten women to take revenge on crime lord Ewan MacGregor. The trailer tantalisingly suggests this is wickedly enjoyable, off-kilter nihilism, including a sequence with Quinn as Marylyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Only the final product will reveal if this is yet another addition to the questionable series of super violent ‘fun’ films like Joker (2019).

Sonic the Hedgehog (Feb 14)

You can place how old you are many different ways including what computer games you played as a kid, what computers you played them on…and if either still exist.

For this big-screen version of the old Sega Mega-Drive hit (first issued c. 1990 – THAT’S how old I am!), the main character, a blue hedgehog who dashes about at superspeed collecting coins and battling baddies, has been massively updated, visually, to look almost nothing like the Sonic the younger me knew and loved.

James Marsden plays a cop who helps the adventurous hedgehog escape government officials. Jim Carrey co-stars.

March

A Quiet Place II

Film poster A Quiet Place II (2020)

I gave the first A Quiet Place (2018) four thumbs up out of five, saluting the bravery of writer/director/star John Krasinski for stripping his script of dialogue and giving his audience blissful silence.

His co-star and real-life wife Emily Blunt returns, now the head of her silent family, forcibly mute to avoid detection by terrifying monsters who are activated by the slightest sound. Leaving the relative safety of their farmhouse, they discover that the monsters aren’t the only threat in the world outside.

Teaser trailers reveal tantalisingly little about this sequel, but it looks like the creepy, unsettling, pin-drop being heard atmosphere is still in check.

Mulan

Of late, rather than work on new animated material, Disney have been mining a lucrative seam by dredging up their old cartoon blockbusters and remaking them as live action spectaculars.

It’s worked stonkingly well for Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Cinderella (2015), so why not their old hit about a Chinese warrior maiden, conscripted to serve in a mighty war?

Yifei Liu takes the title role in this sweeping film made to look like an old Hollywood epic and she is supported by luminaries such as Jet Li.

April

The New Mutants

It’s not the best sign when a movie’s original release date is postponed for a year.

So it’s no better when its release is delayed by another year.

Such is the case with this ‘young X-Men’ reboot, which will – apparently – finally see the light of day this Spring after filming wrapped way back in September 2017 (IMDb still list it as being in ‘post production’).

Five young mutants, including Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, held in a secret facility against their will fight to escape their past sins and save themselves. Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, 2014) directs.

No Time to Die

Film poster No Time To Die (2020)

The 25th installment of the James Bond franchise is presumed to be Daniel Craig’s swansong as Bond and there have been a number of excited and angry conversations across the digisphere about the agent character who now holds 007 licence to kill (he quit the role in Spectre – how very un-English).

That character is alleged to not only be a woman but she is also black. Shock, horror!

Actress Lashanna Lynch is remaining tight-lipped, but what we definitely know is Bond (Daniel Craig), no longer on active service, is recruited by CIA pal Felix Leitner (Jeffrey Wright) to help track down a baddie who has got his hands on some new, dangerous technology. Oscar winner Rami Malik plays the baddie.

The backroom boys (Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw) return, as do Lea Seydoux and Christoph Waltz.

The Secret Garden

The producers of the Harry Potter and Paddington films put their money and talent into this new and lavish version of Frances Hodgson-Burnett’s much-loved 1911 children’s novel.

They have a lot to live up to as Agnieszka Holland’s magical, 1993 version is held in high regard. Will better special effects mark this outing as a cut above?

Dixie Egerick stars as Mary, who uncovers a magical, hidden garden in the grounds of her uncle’s country pile and Colin Firth and Julie Walters co-star.

May

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Iconoclastic satirist/movie director Armando Iannucci turns his hand to adapting Charles Dickens’ timeless classic about a much-neglected orphan who, through chance and circumstance and innocence navigates the vicissitudes of Victorian society with the help of his decidedly dotty family and friends.

Clearly, Iannucci has fun upending what we expect of Dickens on film by casting Indian actor Dev Patel in the title role. The genial supporting cast include Peter Capaldi as David’s eternally broke mentor Micawber (Peter Capaldi), Tilda Swinton as his barmy, donkey-hating aunt Betsy Trotwood and Ben Wishaw as the obsequious clerk Uriah Heep.

It might not erase memories of George Cukor’s splendid 1935 adaptation, but should sit rather humbly alongside it.

Legally Blonde 3

Reece Witherspoon’s ‘ditzy LA girl becomes a Harvard educated lawyer’ movies have earned a rather nice $265m at international box offices.

But it’s been 15 years since part two was released and her character Elle Woods will be nearing 50, so will her perpetually positive, sweet-as-honey go-getter character work as an older woman?

No trailers as yet but what we do know is Alanna Ubach and Jessica Cauffiel return as Wood’s BFFL’s.

Artemis Fowl

Is this going to be the start of the next Harry Potter mega-blockbuster series?

Disney have whacked $124m in to this fantasy extravaganza about a young boy with an exceptionally high intellect kidnaps a fairy to sell to an evil pixie, in return for his father.

Kenneth Branagh directs Ferdia Shaw in the title role, based on the first in the series of books by Eoin Colfer.

June

Wonder Woman 1984

Gorgeous, funny and talented Gal Gadot’s original starring turn as the strapping Amazonian warrior-Princess no doubt helped ensure the movie raked in about $500m worldwide.

She returns with Chris Pine as her US Army love interest (even though he was killed off in the first movie) to do battle with Pedro Pascal’s oily TV self-help pundit who has created a product that will help people get anything they want in life.

It’s Reganism on steroids!

Kristen Wiig is an interesting villain, a woman who takes Pascal up on his offer.

Top Gun: Maverick

2020 is the year for sequels coming out, many years after the preceding movie.

This one has the longest stretch – 34 years since Tom Cruise’s appearance as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in the legendary ‘style over substance’ ode to the US Air Force.

We are a bit far off to say too much about this as little has been confirmed, but Joe Kazinski (Tron: Legacy, 2010 and who also worked with Cruise on Oblivion, 2013) is wielding the clapperboard, original co-star Val Kilmer also returns and the story – focusing on Miles Teller’s rookie pilot, the son of Anthony Edwards’ character ‘Goose’ – has been upgraded to include drones in the sky battles.

July

Ghostbusters Afterlife

The female-led cast of the 2016 reboot was high on sarcasm but low on charm and underperformed at the box office, so the producers here opt for a more mixed cast that includes the fantastic young actor Finn Wolfhard (the It movies and TV’s Stranger Things).

But definitely worth noting is that the stars from the original two movies (Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts) will make supporting/cameo appearances.

Jason Reitman – son of original writer/director Ivan – orchestrates the action.

Minions 2: The Rise of Gru

The little yellow toilers continue their search for the right leader focusing on their first meeting with the young Felonious Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) in this animated sequel to the blockbuster first movie/merchandise heavy adventure that set box office tills ringing to the tune of more than £1bn.

August

Bill & Ted Face the Music

Age has its plus sides, one of them being that you ‘get’ cultural references that are lost on the younger generation and that you remember when big stars of the present like Keanu Reeves were known for roles lightyears apart from Thomas (‘Neo) Anderson in The Matrix franchise.

Original “bonehead” High School slackers William “Bill” S. Preston, Esq. (Keanu Reeves) and Theodore “Ted” Logan (Alex Winter) endure the monotony of middle-aged life until a visitor from the future asks them to create a song that will save all life on Earth and the entire universe.

There has been a lot of excited chat on social media about this return, as it will be fascinating to see how the older characters are brought up to date for a modern audience.

Spell

Odd, culture-clash ‘comedy’ about an American writer (Barak Hardley) based in Iceland. His girlfriend has died and when his depression meds run out, he wanders the countryside, not sure whether who he meets and what he gets up to are delusions or his actual experiences.

September

The King’s Man

Kingsman offshoot/prequel in which the heroes of the super-secret British secret service Kingsman organisation join forces to try and topple the tyrants who are on a mission to start World War I.

Yes, expect to see an all-action Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) getting into wonderfully staged fights amidst the splendour of pre-revolutionary Russia.

Tom Hollander gets to play a Hanoverian hat trick as George V, Wilhelm II and Nicholas II.

Last Night in Soho

I interviewed Poppy Simone Dowsing, a fashion graduate from the University of Northampton, whose designs feature in this Edgar Wright directed horror.

It’s set in the fashion world of 1960’s London and follows a young girl who meets her idol in a wannabe singer.

But the swinging 60’s is no ‘Cool Britannia’ as time seems to fall apart around her.

This incredible sounding movie will star 60’s icons Terence Stamp, Dame Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham.

October

Death on the Nile

Gal Gadot again, starring this time in the old Lois Chiles role as the bitchy, haughty American heiress bumped off by one of the many River Nile cruise passenger-suspects who accompany her during her honeymoon.

Kenneth Branagh did well to make his recent update of the Agatha Christie whodunnit Murder on the Orient Express noticeably different from the famous 1974 version and almost as good.

He returns twofold – as director and as famously fastidious Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. But will he repeat the trick with this retread of John Guillermin’s 1978 effort?

Halloween Kills

The 2018 reboot to this long-running seasonal horror franchise successfully eliminated all of the other sequels to John Carpenters 1978 original. So, a sequel to that film was inevitable!

The writers continue with their theme of strong women taking physical charge when the seemingly unstoppable, sociopathic and super-strong male killer Michael Myers returns.

The previous trio of women (played by Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andy Matichak) are all back for some knife-wielding, gun-toting revenge action.

November/December

Godzilla vs Kong

If you love utter movie nonsense, then fantasy films will always be your genre of choice and you don’t get more ridiculous or spectacular than a good Godzilla flick.

Pair the legendarily titanic reptile with the mighty gorilla King Kong and let them slug it out and you might have your movie of all time.

The plot is basically as described above and this stars Alexander Skarsgard and Kyle Chandler, the latter having some form here. He starred as the movie idol in Peter Jackson’s King Kong and was the lead in 2019’s King of Monsters.

Dune

David Lynch’s 1984 version of Frank Herbert’s series of galactic war-fare novels failed so spectacularly at the box office – and faced dismal reviews from the critics – Lynch had his name removed from the credits.

I’ve always felt reviewers and Lynch were too harsh on his movie. I loved its gorgeous design, his epic distillation of a massive tome that successfully kept the internal monologue of the characters and the sexy acting of stars like Francesca Annis.

Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049) is the director here Timothy Chalamet will star as hero Paul Atreides and the support cast includes Rebecca Ferguson and Javier Bardem.

Coming to America 2

There might be critical divisions about the 1988 John Landis-directed comedy about an African Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) who mistakenly slums it in Queens to find himself a bride, but it had belly laughs and a certain charm.

A fair chunk of the original cast return for this sequel – including James Earl Jones, who was memorably imperious as Akeem’s father – as Murphy travels back to New York to groom a son he never knew he had for royal life.

West Side Story

Only Steven Spielberg is big enough to tackle a remake of the multiple Oscar-winning 1961 musical based on the Jerome Kern stage hit.

That movie starred Natalie Wood as Maria in a modern-day update of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Original actor Rita Moreno – who won the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role as Anita – puts in a cameo, but this is more or less shorn of stars.

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