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Top 30 Best Movies Of 2019 – Preview Guide

24th  Jumanji 3
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan
Director: Jake Kasdan
Released: December 13, 2019

Sequel to ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’. Plot is unknown but the director and writing team return, as do its four stars… 2017’s Jumanji surprised everyone by making close to $1 billion worldwide – more than the last Bond and most of the Potter films. It was also an enjoyable comic romp through the jungle, based on a couple of amusing premises: each star is an avatar for a teenager, playing against type. And the world is poking fun at videogame conventions (such as interactions with non-playing characters). While financial reward makes the sequel inevitable, it’s not obvious where it will go, if the same concepts would merely be repeated. But with the likeability of the cast all they need is a good idea.

23rd  Dark Phoenix
Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Jen Lawrence
Director: Simon Kinberg
Released: June 7, 2019

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In 1992, a decade after the events of ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, the X-Men are national heroes going on increasingly risky missions. After being hit by a solar flare during a space-shuttle rescue, telepathic/telekinetic Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world… This is the second attempt at the classic comic saga, after ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’. It’s setting out to be more faithful, not only being more Jean-focused, but including the use of alien characters (such as Jessica Chastain’s shapeshifting villain, who manipulates Phoenix), the cosmic representing a new direction for the films. Long-time X-Men writer and producer Simon Kinberg makes his directorial debut. He started on the franchise by co-writing ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ so is, in effect, rebooting his own script, which didn’t really satisfy fans the first time round. Rumours claim there have been heavy reshoots on ‘Dark Phoenix’ and the result resembles another movie Kinberg co-wrote, ‘Fantastic Four’. But those remain rumours for now. Kinberg also wrote series best, ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. Hugh Jackman is out as Wolverine, and many wish Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique would follow, but the great cast still includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) and Evan Peters as the scene-stealing Quicksilver. Hans Zimmer has come out of “superhero retirement” to do the score, his first for an X-Men film. The trailer was watched just 8 million times within 24 hours on Fox’s YouTube channel, but received 44 million views in that same time period across Chinese social media platforms, leading to Fox re-focusing their release plans on China. Sign of the movie times. With the Disney-Fox merger, Marvel Studios will probably assume much more creative control for the next outing.

22nd  Untitled Beatles Comedy
Starring: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran
Director: Danny Boyle
Released: June 28, 2019

Britain’s most versatile director, Danny Boyle (‘Slumdog Millionaire’), and the best rom-com writer in the world, Richard Curtis (‘Love Actually’), are teaming up for a musical comedy. Few plot details are known, but it centres on a struggling musician (Patel, TV’s ‘EastEnders’) who wakes up in a world where the Beatles’ songs never existed/only he remembers them. Reports vary whether it’s 60s/70s set or modern day. Ed Sheeran plays himself, suggesting the latter, and has said the protagonist goes on tour with him, soon eclipsing his fame. Lily James (Curtis-scripted ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’) is thought to play the love interest, while Kate McKinnon’s (‘SNL’, ‘Ghostbusters’) role is unknown. With the gold pairing behind camera, and the production skills of Working Title, it’s guaranteed to be charming, clever and amusing.

21st  John Wick: Chapter 3
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Chad Stahelski
Released: May 17, 2019

John Wick is still on the run following his assassination of a member of the High Table in The Continental, and with a $14 million global contract out on himself. Banned from every Continental service, John’s objective is to fight his way out of New York City… Updating Shortly.

20th  Shazam!
Starring: Asher Angel, Zachary Levi, Jack ‘Grazer, Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou
Director: David F. Sandberg
Released: April 5, 2019

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After being ‘chosen’ by an ageing wizard (Hounsou), streetwise 14-year-old foster kid Billy Batson (Angel) finds he can transform into a 30-something superhero (Levi) whenever he shouts the word SHAZAM! But despite his adult appearance, he retains the maturity of a teenager. Aided by his foster brother (Grazer, ‘It’) who’s a massive superhero fan, Billy will test the limits of his powers and try to navigate being a hero, a process that will take on an urgency with the arrival of a sinister presence (Strong, ‘Kingsman’)… Based on the 80-year running DC comic, this charts a more light-hearted direction for superhero movies, taking inspiration from the Tom Hanks classic ‘Big’. Shazam is an acronym for the immortal Greek elders: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury. Shazam himself is played by Zachary Levi, who’s been in TV for over 15 years (‘Chuck’, ‘Heroes Reborn’) but never really had a breakthrough in film beyond a small role as Fandral in the ‘Thor’ franchise. The film’s directed by David Sandberg who just 4 short years ago was a youtuber making spooky short films in his apartment. Those got attention and after rapidly directing ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Annabelle: Creation’, here he is doing a tentpole film. Mark Strong is an uninspired choice for the villain, though he can do both menace and comedy, but it’ll be more interesting when Dwayne Johnson (hopefully) enters as Black Adam in the next instalment. Shazam’s costume looks unnecessarily 1990s, hopefully the tone doesn’t get too cheesy. Otherwise ‘Shazam!’ looks like wish-fulfilment fun with a heart.

19st  The New Mutants
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt
Director: Josh Boone
Released: August 2, 2019

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Five young mutants discover their abilities while being held in a secret facility against their will, fighting to escape their past sins and save themselves… Standalone spinoff expanding the X-Men universe. The mutants are Magik (Taylor-Joy, ‘Split’) a Russian with sorcery powers who uses teleportation discs to travel, Wolfsbane (Williams, ‘Game of Thrones’) a Scottish mutant struggling to reconcile her religious beliefs with her power to turn into a wolf, Cannonball (Heaton, ‘Stranger Things’) a Kentuckian mutant who can propel himself into the air and is invulnerable while doing so, Sunspot (Zaga, TV’s ‘Teen Wolf’) a Brazilian mutant with the ability to manipulate solar energy, and Mirage (Hunt, TV’s ‘The Originals’) a Native American mutant who has the power to create illusions drawn from the fears and desires of a person’s mind. They are overseen by stern mentor Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga, ‘Predators’) who has the ability to generate a protective bio-field around herself. The director says that while Demon Bear is not the villain (a creature which draws power from negative human emotion and is capable of transformation and the corruption of human souls) the story is “very much inspired” by the Demon Bear comic storyline. The film’s described as superhero-horror or “a haunted-house movie with a bunch of hormonal teenagers”, influenced by the likes of ‘The Shining’, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘The Breakfast Club’. “Fox’s Marvel’s: Elm Street Dream Warriors Part 3” is a shorthand. It’s certainly a change of tone for director Josh Boone who’s only films have been romantic-dramas ‘The Fault in our Stars’ and ‘Stuck in Love’. The trailer dropped back in Oct 2017, but delays have meant the film isn’t coming out until two years later. Reportedly Boone originally wanted to make a full-on horror, but was forced by the studio to tone it more like a Young Adult movie. Then after a strong response to its (slightly mis-sold) horror trailer and the box office bonanza of ‘It’, Fox decided to move it back to Boone’s original horror vision, asking him to reshoot half the movie, which included several all-new characters. Phew. It’s hard to imagine that much indecision is a good thing, but whether reshoots made this ‘Fantastic Four’ or ‘Rogue One’ quality is hard to call.


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