Mad Max, Birdman and the Must-See Movies of 2015

By Gerald Lynch on at

2014 wasn’t too bad a year to take a walk down to your local multiplex. We became hooked on a feeling with the Guardians of the Galaxy, slapped around skyscraper-sized beast with Godzilla and bounced around brain-bending black holes with Matthew McConaughey (and his posh wristwatch) in Interstellar.

If you’re a fan of genre flicks, 2015 looks set to be even better. It’s a list that (predictably enough, these days) is dominated by sequels and reboots. But those sequels and reboots see the return of some of cinema’s most beloved franchises of all time: Star Wars, Jurassic Park, James Bond, to name just a few.

Popcorn at the ready then: here are the films we think you’ve got to see next year.

Birdman

Out: 1st January

Already out in the States and garnering rave reviews and film festival plaudits, we won’t get to see Birdman until the very start of the new year. It sounds like it’ll be worth the wait though. With an all-star cast (Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts) led by Michael Keaton, the former Batman is perfectly cast as a washed up actor once famous for an iconic superhero role. This black comedy is on track to be an early Oscar contender.

Chappie

Out: 6th March

Director Neill Blomkamp loves him some robots. Stealing the show in his previous films District 9 and Elysium, an automaton takes centre stage in Chappie. Billed as a thriller and featuring Sigourney Weaver and Hugh Jackman, it’ll be like an edgier Short Circuit -- the titular Chappie is a gifted, one-of-a-kind robot stolen by criminals and raised as their adopted son. What makes it all the more intriguing is that, despite a synopsis that reads like a kooky comedy, it’s actually thriller. Who knows where this is going.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Out: 1st May

Having seen the so-called “teaser” trailer, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen all there is to see with the Avengers sequel. There’s a Hulk-sized Iron Man suit, new heroes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch tearing about (well, Quicksilver turns up in X-Men: Days of Future Past too, but it’s another movie universe because of the ridiculous 20th Century Fox / Disney / Marvel character licensing deal, so we’ll just ignore that for a moment…), and a menacing James Spader somewhere beneath all the CG work as the titular Ultron. If nothing else, it’ll be another massive superhero rumble to veg out in front of. Grab the popcorn / big coke combo deal, slap on the 3D glasses and pretend you’re seven years old all over again.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Out: 15th May

FUCKING YES. Sorry, but I had to get that out. Mad Max: Fury Road ticks every box you’d want checked if you were after a sequel to the road warrior classics. Director / creator George Miller helming it? Check. Insane practical effects and stunt work? Check. Now-deranged Mel Gibson out, top-of-his-game Tom Hardy in the title role? Check. The first trailer captures the grim post-apocalyptic madness of the original’s perfectly. It’s looking like a classic action film for our time.

Tomorrowland

Out: 22nd May

George Clooney and Hugh Laurie look to do for Disneyland’s Tomorrowland park what Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley did for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride. That is, turn a theme park attraction into a gazillion-dollar movie series. Kid-friendly sci-fi mystery by the looks of the trailer, it’s official synopsis is intriguingly enigmatic:

Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.

Jurassic World

Out: 12th June

OK, I’ve had my problems with the inclusion of a brand new, genetically-modified dinosaur (well documented on Giz), but all the other signs from Jurassic World so far have been positive. Director Colin Trevorrow, though relatively unknown, is the man behind the cult-classic Safety Not Guaranteed, which is well worth your time, and has a genuine love for the franchise. Man of the moment Chris “Star Lord” Pratt leads the cast, which sees a fully-functioning Jurassic Par...sorry, Jurassic World open to the public.

Terminator: Genisys

Out: 3rd July

Ah, you might want to watch this one through your fingers as, to be honest, there’s very little chance of this ever being any good. Rebooting the Terminator franchise, you’ve got an aged Schwarzenegger returning as the T-800 who, in a parallel-alternate-Bizarro-World timeline has been acting as a father figure from a young age to a well-trained Sarah Connor (Game of Throne’s Emilia “Where are my dragons?” Clarke). The trailer gives all the necessary fan-serving nods back to the original films that you’d expect, and the apocalyptic future war stuff always looks exciting.

But then a school bus does a frontflip. And then Schwarzenegger jumps out of a helicopter, headfirst through another helicopter. And lo, from that point forth, not a single shit was given that this was once a credible, vital science fiction franchise. And let’s not even get started on the spelling of “Genisys”. Sigh. Still, let’s admit it; we’re all going to go see it, aren’t we?

Crimson Peak

Out: 16th October

Guillermo del Toro, he of Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim fame helms this mysterious horror, set in a crumbling country mansion in 19th Cumbria. Mia Wasikowska stars as the young author wife of a secret-filled Tom Hiddleston. Though he’s veered into blockbuster territory in recent years (oh, how I’d loved to have seen The Hobbit movies with him in the director’s chair, as was originally the plan), del Toro’s a master of suspense and other-worldy weirdness. Fingers crossed that one of his insane creature creations make an appearance somewhere here.

James Bond 007: Spectre

Out: 6th November

Daniel Craig’s run as 007 has been fairly solid so far. Casino Royale was ace. Skyfall was even better. Quantum of Solace? “Quantum of Arse-Numbing Boredom” would have been a more fitting title. But Skyfall really reinvigorated the franchise; bringing in Ralph Fiennes as M and Ben Wishaw as Q were inspired choices. And, if you believe the rumours, Spectre has a stroke of casting genius all of its own; two time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz is expected to revive Bond’s nemesis, baldy Blofeld.

The Martian

Out: 27th November

Ridley Scott (he of Alien / Blade Runner fame) was once the master of sci-fi and, the Prometheus blip aside, I believe he’s still got at least one serious future-gazing hit in him. The Martian could be that film. Starring Matt Damon, it’s a timely tie in with humanity’s current fixation with Mars, with Damon as a desperate astronaut stranded on the red planet, struggling to survive.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Out: 18th December

What, you’re trying to tell me you haven’t been watching the trailer every waking second of the day since it was posted? The long-awaited seventh instalment into the Star Wars saga has the hopes of a galaxy riding on its shoulders. But with a stellar cast (including returning favourites like Harrison Ford and rising stars Adam Driver and John Boyega), it seems to be charting a course through space on a collision course with our 'Favourite Movies Evaaaah' lists. J. J. Abrams has committed to practical effects work where possible over CG, and will hopefully keep his lens flare fetish in check.

Legend

Out: TBC (Winter 2015)

Tom Hardy’s second appearance on the list, playing both Ronnie and Reggie Kray, the notorious East End gangsters that terrorised London between the 1950s and 60s. Writer /director Brian Helgeland is better known for his wordsmithery (Mystic River, L.A. Confidential, A Knight’s Tale) than his direction (A Knight’s Tale being his most-loved work behind the camera), but the Kray’s story is one that deserves a more thoughtful approach than casting two fifths of Spandau Ballet as the leads. Hardy’s work as both Bronson and Bane proves he’s the right bruiser to pull it off, while his appearances in Peaky Blinders proves that, with the right script, he’d easily give you a convincing cockney criminal.

The Hateful Eight

Out: TBC 2015

Quentin Tarantino threw a perfectly-reasonable hissy fit when his script for The Hateful Eight leaked to the web. Initially, he’d vowed to scrap the film altogether but (much to our delight, having had a quick peek), he’s decided to plough on with it anyway. A western with an all-star cast (Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen), it sees a distasteful octuplet of distrustful cowboy types shacked up together during a post-Civil War blizzard.

Rambo: Last Blood

Out: TBC 2015

And now we reach the part of the list I like to call “Pump This Old Bloke Full of Steroids One More Time”. Old Sly Stallone washes the blood off his bandana to become John Rambo one last time, taking on the Mexican cartel in a fifth film in the “count the kills” franchise. There’s not a lot known about this at the moment, but note this: Stallone will be 69 when Last Blood comes out. Let that sink in for a minute.