Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Everything Everywhere All at Once (Movie Review)

The concept of alternate realities is one that has been explored in countless works of fiction. There is something deeply fascinating behind the idea that somewhere out there exists other versions of ourselves. In the span of just a few short months, we've gotten movies like The Matrix Resurrections and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also taking a stab at this subject matter, both with varying levels of success. And now we have Everything Everywhere All at Once, a movie that is already poised to give all those other works a run for their money.

The film stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang, an ordinary woman whose barely-together life is shaken even further after she starts receiving instructions from an alternate universe. Her reality is just one of several that make up the multiverse, all of which are now being threatened by a mysterious enemy seeking to destroy it all. And out of the multitude of Evelyns that exist in the multiverse, hers is the only one capable of unlocking the unique set of skills needed to prevent this from happening. 

If it sounds like you've heard that plot summary before, that's because you probably have. For all intents and purposes, this is the same basic premise from the 2001 sci-fi movie, The One. Except instead of Jet Li turning two motorcycles into lethal weapons, we have a just as capable Michelle Yeoh, and the craziness surrounding its high-concept premise has been dialed all the way up to 11. 
But to say that Everything Everywhere All at Once is nothing more than a rehash of older films would be very reductive and also not true at all. It is, simply put, a transcendent work that manages to outdo everything that came before it at every turn. The film itself almost defies classification, taking all its familiar concepts and using them as a springboard to craft something truly profound. 
Its narrative touches upon everything from existential crisis to the meaning of life itself, and it does so with a surprising level of heart you wouldn't expect from what is essentially a comedy with plenty of visual gags and some gross-out humor. But it is the way in which all its disparate genres have been stitched together that lends the film its uniqueness, resulting in one of the wildest cinematic rides that I've been on since Mad Max: Fury Road.

At the core of that experience is a career-best performance from Michelle Yeoh. She channels the full gamut of her skill set in order to bring Evelyn to life, from her nuanced dramatic acting and comedic timing to some of the most creative uses of martial arts seen outside of a Jackie Chan movie. Her role was actually originally intended for the seasoned actor and it is easy to see how the current iteration of the character pays homage to his earlier work.

Everything Everywhere All at Once lives up to its promise of a wild and wacky adventure that is unlike anything you've seen before. Its high-concept premise wouldn't feel out of place in a Rick and Morty episode and I mean that in the best way possible. Some aspects of its narrative might not appeal to everyone's tastes, but there is indeed something here for every type of movie fan. This is the true Multiverse of Madness and the fact that it is able to tell a compelling story while passing a heartfelt message is reason enough for why it is worthy of your time.

Friday, 13 May 2022

The Northman (Movie Review)

After making a stunning directorial debut with The Witch in 2015, Robert Eggers returns to helm The Northman, his most ambitious project yet. The historical epic is said to have cost somewhere north of $70 million to make, a huge jump from the shoestring budgets behind his two previous films. But does all that additional money translate into a better movie, or does his latest film get bogged down by the conventions of blockbuster filmmaking?

The film is loosely based upon the legend of Amleth, a Viking prince on a quest for vengeance. Having witnessed his father die at the hands of his uncle, he vows to save his mother from his evil clutches and to bring bloody retribution to the usurper. But it would appear that the gods have greater things in store for Amleth, and he'll be forced to choose between fulfilling that destiny or carrying out his revenge on those who have wronged him and anyone standing in his way. 

From the moment I first caught wind of The Northman, it looked like a film with heaps of potential. Not only was it being helmed by one of the freshest visionaries working in Hollywood today, but it also had him stepping outside of his comfort zone to tackle something that looked very grand in its ambitions. But don't let its big-budget aspirations fool you; The Northman is still an arthouse film at its core. This is not a knock on the film or its marketing by the way, just my way of attempting to help set realistic expectations. 
Its classic revenge tale is interspersed with plenty of surrealist imagery, and the action takes a back seat in favor of beautiful shot compositions. All these things work together to lend the film a visual identity that has Robert Eggers' fingerprints all over it. Even the dialogue and the actors' deliveries bring to mind his prior work on both The Witch and The Lighthouse. And much like those films, this latest one has a supernatural element that has you questioning what is real or make believe.

Speaking of actors, the film has a stellar ensemble that features past collaborators like Anya Taylor-Joy and Willem Dafoe, as well as Alexander SkarsgÄrd, Nicole Kidman, and Ethan Hawke. Each one goes above and beyond with their performances, helping elevate the material past the appeal of a typical revenge flick.

Gore hounds would also be pleased to know that the film wears its R-rating like a badge of honor. This is a movie about Vikings after all, doing Viking stuff and generally being loud and aggressive. There are more than a few decapitations and disembowelments sprinkled throughout the film but it never becomes needlessly excessive.

The Northman marks yet another win for Robert Eggers, proving that he can just as easily excel at big-budget productions. It is easy to see where all the money went with its high production values and mesmerizing visuals. Its violence and artful approach might not be to everyone's taste, but its brisk pacing and easy-to-follow story should ensure that it stays captivating enough for everyone else.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Movie Review)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues its expansion into realms unknown in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Billed as the MCU's first true stab at horror, they'd picked what many felt was the perfect director to bring this darker side of the universe to the big screen. But does Sam Raimi manage to do justice to the material, or is this perhaps another misstep in the highly-beloved franchise.

The film picks up after the former Sorcerer Supreme's shenanigans in Spider-Man: No Way Home. But in terms of overall continuity, the movie has closer ties with the first Doctor Strange film and his involvement in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, as well as WandaVision and certain story beats from Marvel's What If...? Because of this, the aforementioned stories seem like required viewing in order to fully grasp what is going on here.

In terms of the film's actual plot though, it is hard to discuss any of it without immediately falling into spoiler territory. I'm still shocked by how much of it was already revealed in the trailers. But believe me when I say that none of that is enough to prepare you for the true scope of the film, which goes beyond anything you could've imagined. There are plenty of twists along the way and the fact that they were able to condense all that storytelling into two hours is a feat in itself.

So I'll just jump right into my thoughts about the film, which I thought was amazing. Or to put it in another way, the film was every bit as wild and bonkers as its trailers promised, and then some. It delves into areas of Marvel lore that have seldom been explored outside of the comic books, showing once again that Kevin Feige and his writers still have a vast sea of material to craft stories from.

It also paints a bright picture for the future of the MCU, with crowd-pleasing cameos that hint at great things to come down the road ahead. And speaking of paint and pictures, Multiverse of Madness is easily the most visually-striking film in the MCU, managing to outdo the already mind-bending first Doctor Strange movie at every turn. 

Sam Raimi really goes all in with the otherworldly depictions of the various beings and creatures that call the darkest recesses of the multiverse home, lending the film his signature touch and never shying away from becoming too scary or graphic with its violence. It might not be a straight-up horror film but this is as close to horror as the MCU has ever managed to get, and I am here for it.

I do indeed need to also touch upon the stars of the whole thing. It is, after all, still a Doctor Strange movie. Both Elizabeth Olsen and Benedict Cumberbatch give what is perhaps their best performances as their respective characters since they'd set foot in the MCU, while Xochitl Gomez makes a memorable debut as America Chavez. It was also nice seeing both Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor reprise their roles from the first film, and Benedict Wong gets to shine like never before.

It is almost tempting for me to end the review here and declare that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a perfect film. But if I'm to point out any perceived flaws in its storytelling, then it's the fact that the film often felt too overstuffed for its two-hour runtime. It is also worth mentioning that the horror elements might not be to everyone's taste, especially families with younger children who'd grown to love these characters over the course of the previous films. But if you're a fan of Sam Raimi and his work on past films like Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell, then there's plenty to love about this one.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a treat for the eyes and senses. But even more than that, it is one of those rare sequels that manages to upstage its original. I haven't been this thoroughly entertained by a Sam Raimi film since Spider-Man 2. The director once again proves why his unique sensibilities work so well in the context of a comic book movie, and it is that vision that carries his latest film through in the end.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

365 Days: This Day (Movie Review)

Netflix just keeps delivering the goods, beefing up its catalog of quality at-home entertainment with banger after banger. All jokes and puns aside though, the streaming giant has been in the news recently for losing subscribers despite the immense success of shows like Squid Game. But with movies like 365 Days on the opposite end of the spectrum, it is easy to imagine why. We are not here to discuss the company's financial woes alas, but rather their sequel to one of 2020's most notorious movies.

Following the cliffhanger ending seen in the last film, the new one opens with a dreamlike sequence that wastes no time in showing viewers what type of movie it is: a glorified telenovela filmed like a string of music videos masking as an erotic thriller. But if you somehow manage to make it past that opening without clicking off Netflix, then you'll discover that the story begins one day before the wedding between our two protagonists, Massimo and Laura.

The movie wastes no time in brushing aside all the loose threads from the last one. Not only is Laura alive and well, but she is also no longer pregnant. I guess a baby bump or motherly duties would have gotten in the way of all the steamy sex scenes they had planned for the film. That one detail aside, we finally get to see our two lovers legitimize their romance through holy matrimony. 

But the honeymoon phase doesn't last very long and Laura is soon forced to grapple with what it truly means to be the wife of a mafioso. In the midst of all that grappling walks in Massimo 2.0, a hired hand named Nacho whose textbook advances slowly begin to win Laura's affections. Now Laura must also grapple with her loyalty to Massimo as the very foundation of their ill-conceived love gets tested.

Let me just start by saying that I realize there is a target audience for these types of low-brow erotic films, and that I am clearly well outside that demographic. That said, every movie is still made up of the same fundamental elements like plot and characterization, regardless of genre. And while individual films might be shaped by genre conventions, those basics still act like the glue holding the whole thing together. So I figured I'd assess this one on those very grounds.

In terms of plot, the story in 365 Days: This Day is pretty much the same generic "trouble in paradise" tale we've seen a million times in better films. But here it is cobbled together so sloppily that the mere act of sitting through it feels like a chore. The characters are likewise one-dimensional with often questionable motives, spouting meme-worthy lines of dialogue while failing to show any meaningful growth or development. But I bet no one was heading into this film expecting any different.

In fact, I'm pretty certain the only reason this film was green-lit was to tap into the demand for female-skewing erotic entertainment ala 50 Shades of Grey, and on those grounds, its existence seems almost justified. Noticed I'd said almost because the sex scenes themselves are so heavily scripted and overproduced that they can't help but come across as stiff and comically so. But I suppose if that's what you're here for then at least there's enough of it to make enduring all the bad dialogue and sloppy writing seem worthwhile.

In case I haven't made it clear enough at this point, 365 Days: This Day is as bottom-of-the-barrel as it gets. It caters to the lowest common denominator in a way that even defenders of the original film (all two or three of them) are bound to feel insulted. There are, quite frankly, far better erotic films out there for those that care enough to seek them out, making it very hard to recommend this one to anyone but the laziest of Netflix subscribers.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Morbius (Movie Review)

Coming fresh off of the success it had gotten with Spider-Man: No Way Home last Christmas, all eyes are on Sony and the third film in their villain-centric Spider-Man Universe, Morbius. This is after several delays that saw the film get moved out of its original 2020 release date, all the way to April 1st, 2022. And as trailers continued to sell us on the film's connections to Spider-Man and the other villains in his rogue's gallery, so also did our interest continue to grow. But like a cruel April Fool joke that nobody saw coming, the movie finally arrives to show us that things are not quite what they seem.

The film stars Jared Leto as Michael Morbius, a doctor who was born with a rare blood disorder. In his quest to find a cure for his illness, he begins to conduct experiments with a peculiar breed of bats he believes have the enzyme needed to reverse his condition. But the experiment ends up also giving him some of their other vampire-like qualities, including their insatiable thirst for human blood. Now Morbius must wrestle against becoming the monster people already see him as, before he ends up hurting those who are dearest to him.

On the surface, Morbius looks like a film with lots of potential. We have a fairly popular antihero from the Spider-Man comic books being played by a more-than-capable Jared Leto. We also have the promise of connections to the larger Sony Spider-Man Universe. Most importantly though, we have an origin story that looked like it would deliver both the heart and thrills we've all come to expect from these comic book movies.

And sure enough, the movie starts off with all of the aforementioned promises intact. But it doesn't take very long before the whole thing quickly loses its way with an incoherence that needs to be seen to be believed. Everything from the dialogue, to the one-dimensional characters reeks of a script that needed more than a few more passes in the writing room.

The one area where the film could have scored any kind of redemption points is in its action scenes and even those are marred with a CGI-heavy style that seems ripped straight out of the mid-2000s. It is difficult to tell what is happening at any given moment and most times you just want the whole thing to stop before you develop a headache trying to decipher any of it.

But the movie's biggest offense in my opinion is its utter failure to live up to expectations. The film was heavily marketed as a part of the larger Sony Spider-Man Universe. But any connection it has with the recent Spider-Man films is tenuous at best. In fact, many of the scenes and connections shown in the trailers are nowhere to be seen in the actual movie, in what is probably the most egregious case of false advertising I have seen in recent memory.

It is not all doom and gloom though, as the film did have one or two areas that managed to shine through the murk. First there is Jared Leto as Morbius, whose performance was heartfelt and restrained. Then there was the opening bit like I said, which looked like it should've led into a far better movie than the one we got. Except none of that is enough to save what is essentially another movie more concerned with building an interconnected universe than actually telling a coherent story.

To say that Morbius is a barely comprehensible mess would be putting it lightly. It is, quite simply, one of the worst comic book movies to grace cinema screens since Vin Diesel's Bloodshot. Anyone planning to catch the film on the big screen is advised to do so with heaps of garlic and holy water in tow. And even then, you'll be hard pressed to glean any kind of enjoyment out of its 1 hour and 44 minutes, other than perhaps chuckling at just how bad the whole thing ends up becoming.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Turning Red (Movie Review)

Pixar Animation Studio continues to deliver the goods with Turning Red, their latest coming-of-age adventure film. The movie is helmed by Domee Shi in her feature film directorial debut, whose work on the 2018 short film, Bao, had earned her an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. So anticipation for her latest project was always going to be high, which has only been further heightened by its intriguing premise and good-looking trailers. But does the film itself live up to those expectations, or does it manage to exceed them?

In Turning Red, 13-year-old Mei Lee seems to have everything figured out. She's a straight-As scoring student that balances her free time between helping out her mum at their family-run Temple and hanging out with her close-knit friends, Miriam, Abby, and Priya (not to mention the bond they've forged over their shared obsession with the terribly misnamed boy band, 4*Town).

But beneath her cool exterior lies a girl still struggling to accept the changes that come with adolescence, least of which includes her sudden attraction to members of the opposite sex. And things become even more complicated when she also starts transforming into a giant red panda whenever she experiences an emotional outburst. Now she must learn to keep things under control or risk having her once-straightforward life come crashing down around her.

When it was first announced that Turning Red was going to be skipping theaters in favor of a Disney+ debut, I'd initially felt a jolt of disappointment. This was after all one of the films I was looking forward to the most in 2022, and the third straight Pixar film being sent to the streaming service following both Soul and Luca. But much like those other films had done in 2020 and 2021 respectively, this one also manages to shine despite being relegated to the small screen in key territories.

This has a lot to do with the movie's overall charm and its strong message about the value of friendship. Even though that message would appear geared towards teenage girls, much of what is depicted should be instantly recognizable for anyone who grow up in the late 90s or early 2000s, especially during the height of boy band mania. And while Mei Lee's hijinx are often played for laughs, watching her and her friends navigate adolescence and its inherent messiness is something we can all relate to on some level.

On the production front, Turning Red is completely gorgeous to look at. But I'm pretty sure you already knew that, given Pixar's past work and their tendency for producing top-of-the-line animation. A talented voice cast helps to bring that animation to life, including Sandra Oh as Mei Lee's mother, Ming. Brother and sister duo Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell also populate its soundtrack with some period-accurate pop songs, while Ludwig Goransson rounds out the score.

Turning Red captures enough of the old Pixar magic to make it a worthwhile watch for the entire family. It serves as a great metaphor for the various changes that accompany a young girl's transition to womanhood, while still resonating with young and older audiences alike with some of the funniest gags to make it into an animated film under the Disney umbrella. Above all, it is a film about accepting one's self, even if that might not fit into the broader expectations of others or the ones we care about the most.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

The Batman (Movie Review)

It is no secret that The Batman was my most anticipated movie heading into 2022. Following in the footsteps of the 2019 film, Joker, this latest iteration of the Caped Crusader was intended as another standalone DC project, existing outside of the DCEU and divorced from everything that came before it. And from the time that the very first trailers dropped, it was clear that director Matt Reeves had a vision for the film that was steeped in film noir sensibilities. But does all that style translate into a worthwhile movie or is this yet another case of style over substance?

The movie finds a world-weary Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattison) in his second year as the masked vigilante known as Batman. But this is Batman as we've never seen him before on film, a hard-boiled detective that isn't afraid to crack skulls to get answers. He has formed an uneasy alliance with the Gotham PD, through police commissioner, James Gordon (Geoffrey Wright). Their relationship becomes even more strained though when a serial killer known as the Riddler (Paul Dano) starts adorning his victims with personal messages addressed to Batman. But as they race against time to catch the criminal mastermind before he claims more victims, they uncover a trail of corruption threatening to shake the very foundations of the crime-ridden city.

My expectations were always going to be sky-high going into a movie like The Batman. After all, we've had to endure a more than 5-month delay following production troubles during the height of the coronavirus outbreak. And in all that additional time, my anticipation had only continued to grow, spurred on by solid trailer after solid trailer. So the movie certainly felt like it had a lot to live up to. This was not only promising to be a fresh take on a truly beloved DC icon, it was also coming in the wake of the high bar already set by the excellent Dark Knight trilogy. Even the DCEU had already shown us what a world-weary Batman would look like. So it was always going to be a question of whether or not this new film will be able to hit that bar, or at the very least, justify its existence.

Well, I'm pleased to say that the movie definitely didn't disappoint, at least going by the experience I had during my initial viewing. Notice I'd said initial viewing because quite frankly, this is one of those films that simply demands to be seen more than once to fully appreciate. At almost 3 hours in length, the movie is packed with so much detail and interconnected story threads that it often teetered on the edge of becoming overwhelming. That said, I did appreciate that all of it was well-paced and the movie never started to lose any steam or feel like a slog. Most of that is due to Matt Reeve's deft handling of the script, which remained captivating from the opening monologue up until the credits started to roll.

Speaking of monologue, we do indeed have to touch on Robert Pattison's portrayal of both Bruce Wayne and Batman. The seasoned actor continues to prove his acting chops beyond his early Harry Potter and Twilight days, giving us what is easily one of the most grounded versions of Bruce Wayne and Batman we've gotten in live-action. It was impressive the amount of emotion he was able to convey with very little dialogue, as we could still feel all the pain and conflict he was going through in every single scene. All that emotion and overall broodiness might come across as excessive for some though, but I felt it worked in the context of the story the movie was trying to tell.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't say something about Michael Giacchino's score for the film, which was every bit as rousing as one would expect from a film of this scope. But I think where the film shines the brightest is in its visuals. And no, I don't mean that ironically, as the decision to set most of the film at nighttime certainly plays a role in how the city of Gotham was perceived. Its griminess is almost palpable, like a cesspool that is on the very edge of imploding. The actors are also constantly draped in shadows, with plenty of silhouettes and shots that looked like they could have been ripped straight off the pages of a graphic novel. The film is definitely a looker and one that deserves to be seen on the biggest (and hopefully brightest) screen available.

The Batman might not be the DC hero's best cinematic outing to date, but it certainly ranks as one of his most ambitious. It captures a side of the "World's Greatest Detective" that is often neglected in film while peeling back layers of his character that offer more insight into his dual personas and the toll one takes on the other. Most importantly, the film makes yet another case for why comic book movies that exist outside of established cinematic universes need to be greenlit more often. Because that is where true creativity has the freedom to blossom. And yes, I realize that another shared universe is already being planned around this new film. But it was still refreshing to see Matt Reeves take a clean break from everything that came before to craft something truly visionary.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Uncharted (Movie Review)

In recent years, video games have grown to be more and more cinematic in their scope and ambitions. And nowhere is that push for filmic thrills as evident as in the games in the Uncharted series. At once a riff on Indiana Jones and the various action blockbusters we've gotten since then, those games have perfected the art of delivering jaw-dropping setpiece moments. So one would think that the intellectual property is just prime for adapting into film. But how well does it actually translate into the very medium that served as inspiration for its source material?

The movie cold opens with a scene that seems to offer a glimpse of the many thrills that await within its relatively short runtime. But before long, we find ourselves in flashback territory, as a young Nathan Drake does mischievous deeds with his older brother, Sam. Flash forward to present day and an older Nathan is approached by a man named Victor Sullivan, with an offer to help him find some long lost pirate treasure along with the promise of reuniting him with his estranged brother. Throw in a generic villain by way of Antonio Banderas' Moncada, who is also trying to get to the treasure, and you get the general gist of the movie.
If ever there was a film that illustrates the vast gulf that exists between the movie and video game mediums, then that film is Uncharted. The movie simply lacks much of the spark that made the video games special, instead delivering a run-of-the-mill adventure we've seen done better in other films. I concede that each medium has its own idiosyncrasies, and what works in one doesn't necessarily work in the other. For example, while a game has the benefit of telling its story over the course of as many hours as it has exciting gameplay to sustain its player, its film adaptation has to condense all that storytelling into two hours or less.

But all that said, it is still quite baffling how a property like Uncharted could feel like it was merely ticking off boxes while running on autopilot. The decision to adapt bits and pieces of the various games into one movie doesn't work, as we don't have any of the emotional weight that carried those scenes in the games, due to an overall lack of adequate character development. 
Victor Sullivan doesn't come across as anything more than a jerk for huge swaths of the film, and even Tom Holland's boyish charisma isn't enough to elevate his version of Nathan Drake past the appeal of yet another generic action hero. So when both characters are thrust into increasingly perilous situations over the course of the film, it is hard to truly care. To its credit, the film did have one or two surprises along the way, but none of that really worked to shine a new light on the characters involved. 
But poor character development and average writing aside, how about those setpiece moments the games are known for? Sadly, even those are marred by the same overall blandness that seems to permeate much of the film. Add in the fact that some of the special effects on display were of a questionable quality and one starts to wonder what went wrong. Any fans of the games planning to go into the movie solely to see their favorite setpiece moments recreated would be better off just replaying those moments in the games instead.

The video game movie curse rears its ugly head once again in Uncharted, a middle-of-the-road adventure film that barely does enough to entertain. Anyone coming into the film with the games as a frame of reference would be sorely disappointed with just how bland and generic the entire affair has turned out. This is not to say that the film is without its thrills, as it certainly has some setpiece moments as already disclosed in its trailers. But when those thrills feel so tame and watered-down compared to the source material's, it is hard to come out of the movie feeling any kind of satisfaction. 

Monday, 3 January 2022

My Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies for 2022

As the 2021 holiday season slows to an end, the time has come to set our sights on what we can expect in 2022. I am of course talking about the many movies that will serve as escapism over the course of the next 12 months, be that at the cinema or on the various streaming platforms like Netflix. Thankfully, we don't have that many carryovers from the previous year this time around, as the film industry continues to adapt to the new climate, even in the face of the latest variant of concern.

I've tried as much as possible to limit my selection of 2022 movies to those ones that currently have concrete release dates, as well as some form of teaser, trailer or promotional material shared detailing what the film is about. That said, I might still sneak in one or two pie-in-the-sky movies simply because my anticipation for it cannot be contained, even in the absence of said details. So with all that out of the way, here are my Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2022.

10. Morbius

One of the few films to get bumped into 2022, Morbius is an upcoming superhero movie wherein Jared Leto plays the eponymous scientist turned vampire. Sony Pictures Entertainment is currently busy building its own shared cinematic universe to rival Disney's, with their Spider-Man movies serving as its foundation. And so far, it would appear that they've scored nothing but hits with both Venom movies and all their Spider-Man films managing to resonate with fans. This is why all eyes are currently set on Morbius to keep that winning streak going.

9. Jurassic World: Dominion

The highly-anticipated third film in the current Jurassic World trilogy (itself a spin-off of the prior Jurassic Park trilogy) should be hitting cinemas just in time for summer. And if the 5-minute prologue that was shown on IMAX screens last year is anything to go by, the film looks primed to follow in the footsteps of both Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Colin Trevorrow returns to direct, after stepping away for the prior installment, and his latest film is set 4 years after the last one, following that film's surprise ending.

8. Lightyear

Pixar once again returns to the property that helped make them a household name in the realm of animation, but not in the form of another Toy Story sequel. Lightyear is rather a prequel of sorts, going over the exploits of the astronaut that served as inspiration for the Buzz Lightyear line of action figures from those other films. Little is known about the project beyond that premise, but if the studio's body of work is anything to go by, then moviegoers are in for a treat.

7. Black Adam

The Rock steps into the realm of superhero fiction in Black Adam, an upcoming film in the DCEU. The long-in-development project is being positioned as a spin-off of the 2019 film, Shazam!, which is itself set to receive a sequel in 2023 (keep an eye out for it on my 2023 most anticipated films list). Fans got their first real look at the movie in last year's DC FanDome, with a short clip that shows plenty of potential for what would hopefully be another win for the DCEU.

6. The Flash

Speaking of DC FanDome, one of the films that had the most buzz heading into the event was the forthcoming Flash movie. Simply titled The Flash, the film finds Ezra Miller reprising his role as the DC speedster from Justice League. But what had fans most excited was the news that both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck would be reprising their roles as Bruce Wayne/Batman in a story that involves time travel and multiple timelines. And those fans finally got their first glimpse of the former in the short clip that was shown during the event.

5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Following the incredible success of the first Black Panther film in 2018, as well as the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, a lot of speculation has been had regarding what direction the next film in the series would be forced to take. The first film remains one of the most widely beloved films in the MCU, and a lot of that has to do with the man at the center of the film. And while the new film's production is still very much influx at the moment, it is currently slated for a November 11th release date. Here's hoping that it not only honors and carries on Chadwick Boseman's legacy, but also meets and exceeds expectations in other ways.

4. Turning Red

We return to Pixar yet again on my list of most anticipated films for 2022 with Turning Red, an animated film about a young girl with an uncanny tendency to turn into a giant red panda whenever she gets anxious. The premise alone is reason enough to get excited for the film, but when you couple that with some truly gorgeous animation and the studio's pedigree, then it quickly becomes one of 2022's most promising titles.

3. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Part One)

As though the highs of the recent Spider-Man: No Way Home were not enough to tide Spidey fans over until his next MCU appearance, Sony upped and dropped a trailer for the sequel to their Academy Award-winning animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This time around, it appears that Miles Morales and friends would be going "Across the Spider-Verse" as its title alludes. The film is just the first part in what is currently being billed as an overall trilogy, so buckle up for what is sure to be another wild ride.

2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

And while we are still on the topic of Spider-Man, or Spider-Man: No Way Home specifically, the next movie in the MCU looks set to address the ramifications of the events of that film. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Stephen Strange would have to join forces with Wanda Maximoff as he attempts to deal with the consequences of his actions. The film also appears to tie into his appearance in the animated What If...? series, so there's plenty riding on it as things currently stand.

1. The Batman

After suffering a delay that saw it get bumped from October into March 2022, Matt Reeves' The Batman is presently slated to do gangbusters at the box office. The film will have Robert Pattison putting on the caped crusader's cowl in the masked vigilante's latest attempts to clean up the streets of Gotham. And if the trailers are any kind of indication, then this version of Batman might just be the most brutal we've gotten thus far.

Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan have left a rather high-water mark for all subsequent Batman films to follow. But as we saw from Ben Aflleck's take on both Bruce Wayne and Batman, there are still several shades of his character yet to be explored on the big screen. The Batman appears to be the latest one of those, a gritty look at crime fighting that has more in common with films like Se7en than the likes of Batman v Superman and Justice League. And I am all for it.