The complete guide to summer’s biggest blockbusters
Gal Gadot, Pedro Pascal.
Gal Gadot, Pedro Pascal.
All cinemas from Boxing Day
They say: Wonder Woman polevaults across history to the 1980s, where she finds two new evil adversaries in Max Lord and Cheetah.
We say: In a year where superhero fans have been starved of anything resembling a spectacle, the most popular screen superheroine of all time steps up to save the day. Over the entire summer, WW1984 is the only old-school blockbuster steamrolling into cinemas. Word coming in from the premiere earlier this week is that both Gal Gadot and the franchise as a whole have really lifted their game here. Will be a huge hit.
THE CROODS 2: A NEW AGE
Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds
All cinemas from Boxing Day
They say: The prehistoric clan the Croods are challenged by rival family the Bettermans, who claim to be better and more evolved.
We say: Not sure why this animated sequel took over seven years to follow the original. Most of the viewers who made the first one a hit in 2013 will have grown out of the material, which was always a bit like an Ice Age movie with humans instead of animals. Nevertheless, this movie has debuted at number one in each country it has opened, so Australian kids (especially primary schoolers) will be showing up.
Frances McDormand, David Strathairn
Selected cinemas from Boxing Day
They say: After losing everything in an economic recession that sweeps across the US, a recently widowed woman crisscrosses the country as part of a wandering community that live out of campervans.
We say: Anybody on the lookout for something radically different and thoroughly unique should circle this one twice. Frances McDormand goes close to hitting a new career peak, an achievement all the more striking when you learn the movie was filmed amid a real-life community of modern-day nomads. McDormand's interactions with these non-actors are at once moving, funny and totally authentic.
Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey
Streaming on Disney+ from Boxing Day
They say: A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body, and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.
We say: The summer holidays - in fact, any holiday period - would not be the same without a sublime new offering from Pixar Animation for the whole family. This visually captivating and musically astute affair is already the biggest tip around for the next Best Animated Film Oscar. Thematically, Pixar buffs should place this movie somewhere between the studio's top-shelf titles Coco and Inside Out.
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
George Clooney, Felicity Jones
Now showing in selected cinemas; streaming on Netflix from late December
They say: A lonely scientist working in the Arctic races against time to prevent a spaceship commander and her crew from returning home to a global catastrophe.
We say: George Clooney has always had a major soft spot for ambitious science fiction (Gravity, Solaris). So it should come as no surprise that his return to movies after a lengthy absence scratches his deep-space itch. Definitely a moodier offering than many will expect, but will definitely find a loyal and attentive audience once it migrates to streaming. Clooney also directs here, and does so superbly.
Erica Bana, Genevieve O'Reilly
Selected cinemas from early Jan
They say: A seasoned police detective returns to his country hometown and reluctantly looks into the circumstances that pushed an old friend to take the lives of his own family.
We say: Since cinemas have reopened properly since the big shutdowns of earlier in the year, there have been a notable number of fine Australian films (Rams, Babyteeth, Slim & I) passing through. This hard-headed, emotionally gritty drama will mark a continuation of this upward trend. Adapted from the award-winning bestseller by local author Jane Harper.
Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa
All cinemas from early Jan
They say: When Lt. Artemis and her loyal soldiers are transported to a new world, they engage in a desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers.
We say: Yes, this is the same Monster Hunter that has been around for an eternity as a video game. But don't let that put you off. Two things should have this beeping on the radar of action fans. Firstly, martial arts legend Tony Jaa (of Ong Bak fame) is a great casting match for Milla Jovovich. Secondly, we will get to see why Chinese authorities yanked the movie from release after just one day!
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Carey Mulligan, Adam Brody
All cinemas from early Jan
They say: The fast track to a bright future for a talented young woman is derailed by a dark turn of events. Now leading a dubious double life, she gets one last chance to right the wrongs of the past.
We say: Since her sensational debut in 2009's An Education, Carey Mulligan has amassed one of the most extraordinarily strong track records of any actor working right now. Margot Robbie (who has a producer credit here) originally optioned the rights so she could take what is reputedly a dream lead role. That she passed the torch to Mulligan should speak volumes for how great this should be.
Kate Hudson, Maddie Ziegler
All cinemas from mid-Jan
They say: A woman who has just beaten off a lifelong addiction problem receives news she is to become the sole guardian of her half-sister named Music.
We say: This passion project for the legendarily reclusive Australian singer-songwriter Sia has been swathed in mystery since it was first announced. All that is really known is that Sia penned the screenplay that also served as her feature directorial debut.
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
Eli Goree, Leslie Odom Jr.
Streaming on Amazon from mid-Jan.
They say: The incredible night where iconic figures such as Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Sam Cooke gathered to discuss their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.
We say: What started out as very faint Oscars buzz in the distance is now growing steadily louder with each passing week for this intriguing affair. Best Actor nominations are likely for the charismatic Eli Goree (who plays Ali) and the unknown Kingsley Ben-Adir (a standout as the controversial Malcolm X).
Naomi Watts, Jacki Weaver
All cinemas from late Jan
They say: The true story of an Australian mother left paralysed after a near-fatal accident. A profound healing process for her entire family begins with the arrival of a baby magpie named Penguin.
We say: Good to see Naomi Watts fronting a quality homegrown production after a long spell working exclusively overseas. Her assured presence in a tough and moving role will help steer viewers towards the plentiful feel-good stuff located deeper into this regarding yarn. Could be a sleeper hit with the family market.
Lily Collins, Johnny Flynn
Streaming on Netflix from late Jan
They say: On the eve of WWII, a wealthy British widow hires an archaeologist to excavate mysterious burial mounds on her estate. What he discovers rewrites the history books of Great Britain.
We say: The official synopsis might read as a little dusty here. But scratch the surface, and a plenty of lustre starts shing through. Key co-leading players Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes don't just show up anywhere for the sake of it, and director Simon Stone (The Daughter) is one of Australia's most promising filmmaking talents.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME
Jamie Dornan, Emily Blunt
All cinemas from early Feb
They say: A headstrong Irish farmer has her heart set on winning the love of her handsome neighbour. However, a strange family curse renders him oblivious to his beautiful admirer.
We say: A closer examination of a rather daft trailer does not reveal whether this openly corny romantic drama is in on its own joke. Nevertheless, the Valentine's Day crowd - at whom the release date is strategically targeted - won't care either way. Pairing of Dornan (50 Shades) and Blunt (A Quiet Place) is definitely an appealing one.
Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel
All cinemas from early Feb
They say: A musical reinvention of the classic story of Cinderella, in which a lowly orphan girl goes toe-to-toe with an openly wicked stepmother.
We say: Consider this a complete about-face from the traditional Disney-fied Cinderellas we've become accustomed to over time. The singer-songwriter prowess of the movie's star, Cuban-born pop sensation Camila Cabello, will be right to the fore. For added vocal backup, Idina Menzel (the most famous voice in the Frozen movies) as the stepmother ain't too shabby, either.
BILLIE EILISH: WORLD'S A LITTLE BLURRY
Billie Eilish, Finneas O'Connell
Streaming on Apple TV+ from early Feb
They say: The first authorised documentary charting both the meteoric rise to fame and a mercurial stay at the top of charts for teenage music sensation Billie Eilish.
We say: Mmmm. This could either be a must-see or a who-cares? kind of commodity. Eilish's handlers are notoriously controlling of their precocious charge's public image. However, the doco's director R.J. Cutler (remember The September Issue with Anna Wintour?) knows how to dig for real-world gold.
THE KING'S MAN
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Gemma Arterton
All cinemas from mid-Feb
They say: In the early years of the 20th century, the Kingsman agency is formed to stand against a cabal plotting a war to end the lives of millions all over the world.
We say: Another prequel nobody really saw coming - and that includes fans of those super-slick Taron Egerton-starring Kingsman flicks. An all-new cast and a comparatively ancient period setting should be an intriguing point of difference that justifies more kooky spy-jinks.
THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK
Michael Gandolfini, Vera Farmiga
Selected cinemas from late Feb
They say: A journey back in time to the formative years of leading New Jersey gangster Tony Soprano.
We say: A good alternate title would be The Sopranos: The Early Days. The seminal mobster series that changed the face of TV storytelling gets the prequel treatment here, with 21-year-old unknown Michael Gandolfini retracing the steps of his late father James as Tony Soprano the Younger.
COMING 2 AMERICA
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall
Streaming on Amazon from late Feb
They say: Prince Akeem is about to be crowned King of Zamunda when learns of a son he never knew about in America. Akeem and his royal entourage travel incognito to the US to investigate.
We say: 1988's Coming to America did huge business for Eddie Murphy in Australia. A belated sequel would normally sound alarm bells. However, Murphy has been in great form recently (checkout Dolemite is My Name on Netflix) so not unreasonable to expect the trend to continue here.
Originally published as Complete guide to summer's biggest blockbusters