It’s easy to be cynical about the state of modern movie making.
Sequels. Reboots. Remakes. Movies based on video games, toys and other marketing-driven goodies.
Aren’t you glad we were spared a “Stretch Armstrong” movie (for now)?
Still, the next 12 months offer some intriguing reasons for Hollywood hope. Sure, some could be clunkers, but the talent and premises behind the following seven films give us reason to cheer.
1. Wonder Woman
It’s hard not to dread the social justice push behind this project. It’s the first major female superhero film of the modern movie era. That means the press and Twitter Nation will refuse to let it fail.
That said, the first two trailers have been terrific. Gal Gadot proved a perfect choice to play the Amazon warrior, given how she stole scenes in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” And Warner Bros. knows there’s plenty at stake should “Wonder Woman” flatline at the box office.
For all those reasons, this looks like a must-see superhero entry.
2. Star Wars Episode VIII
Any “Star Wars” film is a must-see until proven otherwise. That’s not the only reason to anticipate this new chapter in George Lucas’s space saga. “The Force Awakens” effectively brought the franchise back from the grave. “Rogue One” delivered the kind of mature science fiction drama the maligned prequels couldn’t muster.
Plus, Disney is entrusting the franchise to young, hungry directors. Gareth Edwards successfully steered “Rogue One” into the winner’s circle. Now, it’s Rian Johnson’s turn. The director of “The Brothers Bloom” and “Looper” is in charge of “Episode VIII.”
We can’t wait.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
James Gunn gets Marvel’s singular tone. Brisk action. Cheeky humor. Good vs. evil sans hand wringing. So Gunn looks to deliver more of the same with his “Guardians” sequel, complete with a clever subtitle.
The trailer’s Baby Grunt looks a tad precious, but the killer cast is back as well as the retro tunes.
Crank it up … again.
4. T2 Trainspotting
Many sequels hit theaters for all the wrong reasons. Think “Zoolander 2” (if you must). Director Danny Boyle clearly wanted to find out what happened to the druggie antiheroes of his 1996 cult hit.
So he brought the old gang back together, including star Ewan McGregor, for a sequel that could blend strong storytelling with old-school nostalgia. What’s not to love?
Details are skimpy so far, but the cast felt plenty of emotion returning to their iconic characters. That’s a good sign.
Any movie directed by Christopher Nolan is an event. Period. Even if his 2015 “Interstellar” proved a tad disappointing.
This World War II drama looks spectacular for all the right reasons. Of course, we don’t know a lot about the film. Even the official website is a portrait of spoiler-free marketing.
We do know the cast is … interesting. Tom Hardy. Oscar winner Mark Rylance. Cillian Murphy. Kenneth Branagh. Harry Styles. Yes, that Harry Styles.
6. Beauty and the Beast
Disney doesn’t mess around with its A-list library. Consider just how good the live-action “Jungle Book” proved to be last year. The studio also is cautiously making both the Marvel movies and each “Star Wars” installment worthy of the source material.
Now, the Mickey Mouse outfit turns to its beloved 1991 animated classic. The live-action reboot stars Emma Watson as Belle, a role that could forever bury her image as the plucky Hermione.
7. War for the Planet of the Apes
Sure, the new film is a sequel of a rebooted property. So what? The first two chapters recharged the “Apes” brand, fusing killer FX with thought-provoking themes.
This wasn’t your usual brand renovation project.
The third film doesn’t rely on name recognition. “War” star Woody Harrelson remains the best actor to emerge from “Cheers,” but he hardly guarantees fannies in the seats.
The brand alone will sell tickets. And, if the third film in the series matches the intensity of parts 1 and 2, moviegoers are in for a treat.