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My Most Anticipated 2016 Movies

2015 was the year that I learned two core things about my movie going preferences. The first one is that while I am slowly growing out of them (really slowly, like snail slow yo) I still love blockbuster spectacle. The second thing is that I have a habit (whether it is bad or good I'll let you decide) of getting ultra hyped for movies. So in the spirit of getting hyped up mostly for blockbusters - here are my most anticipated movies of 2016. 

1. Passengers (December 21st) - There was a period of my life where I was reading lots of screenplays and in that period - this one stands out as the most memorable. A funny, honest, and heart warming story about a guy (played by everyone's favorite Chris Pratt) who wakes up 60 years too early on a long space voyage and decides to wake up his dream girl (played by everyone's favorite Jennifer Lawrence) so he doesn't have to spend his time (aka die) alone. That is a kind of a morbid sounding description, but trust me, if it is anything like the screenplay - this could be an amazing movie. 

2. Star Wars: Rogue One - Surprise, I'm pumped about a Star Wars movie! Although this is probably not the Star Wars movie your are looking for, Disney is alternating the episodic Star Wars movies each year so in 2016 we won't get a continuation of Luke's story but rather a prequel to A New Hope. Focusing on the humans (aka non-jedis) who stole the plans for the original death star - this movie will hopefully be a new kind of Star Wars movie. At it's best it could be a kind of Fast & Furious style heist movie and at it's worst it may just make you yearn for light sabers. 

3. Midnight Special - I mean just watch that trailer and tell me you aren't immensely intrigued. 

4. Captain America: Civil War - The previous Captain America movie was easily my favorite of all the Marvel movies and this one looks to build on it in every way and then some. I would be stoked even if this movie didn't have him fighting Iron Man, but uh, it has him and seemingly every Avenger except Thor & Hulk battling each other. Most of all I'm just excited to see his story with his childhood friend Bucky continue as I find it to be the most emotionally rewarding of all the super-hero plots. Yeah, I said it's emotional rewarding and it is a super hero movie.

5. Bourne 5 - Peep that clip from The Bourne Ultimatum. Now realize that Damon and his mastermind director Paul Greengrass are returning to the franchise with a story that is apparently Snowden inspired and will have Bourne fight/elude/destroy in Vegas and other locations around the world. Yes, please!

6. Knight of Cups - Here's a fun fact you may not know about me based off of this list: I love Terrence Malick movies. You know the ones that are more tone poems than movies, the ones that people either say are mystifying/spiritual or baloney/nonsense. I just love how he combines the moving image with symbolism, meaning, and thematic weight. Enough flowery hyperbole - his new movie Knight Of Cups comes out this year and stars Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and a whole host of other people. It's about a screenwriter who's looking for his soul in a sea of Hollywood depravity. Sounds amazing. 

7. Sausage Party - An R-Rated animated story about one sausage's quest to find out where he came from. Fully jammed with a hilarious voice cast including Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton, Seth Rogen, James Franco and Paul Rudd. This is like the pseudo spiritual sequel to "This Is The End" which is a masterpiece.  

8.10 Cloverfield Lane - I was so insanely roped into the hype around Cloverfield when it first came out 8 years ago. I wrote multiple articles about it all of which are like time capsules of my previous movie going self (just kidding the read the same, nothing has changed!) that when I saw this "blood relative" sequel to it I lost my shit. Don't care if only it's a passing mention to the events of that movie - the plot alone here about some people trapped in a survivalist bunker with John Goodman sounds amazing enough. 

9. Doctor Strange - Another year another Marvel movie that sounds bizarre on paper but will surely turn out to be amazing. Yeah call me a fanboy, but it is hard not to get stoked about a cast that includes: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

10. The Witch - Here's one you may not have heard of but is getting a TON of hype, all of it rooted in the fact that it is immensely creepy. Remember those scenes from The Crucible where the kids are out in the woods with "the witch?" This looks like that times a million. Buckle up. 

Wild-Card Contenders: These are films which could either be amazing, average, or trash - but either way I'm intrigued

  • The Founder - About how Ray Crocc (Michael Keaton) stole McDonalds from the the McDonald's family
  • The Girl On The Train - The book was pretty solid so this could be good as well. A new "Gone Girl"
  • The BFG - Spielberg in full Blockbuster mode, I can get pumped I guess
  • The Magnificent Seven - A mega star studded remake of the western classic. With a cast including Denzel Washington & Chris Pratt you would think we'd already be getting press about it.
  • Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice - Only really curious cause I think it's going to be a train-wreck
  • Suicide Squad - Only curious cause FURY and END OF WATCH were amazing. 
  • Independence Day 2: Nostalgia carried Jurassic World, maybe it can do the same here?

Hollywood's Government Hate

There is a new bad guy in town. It's not islamic terrorists. They're still a little too real for comfort. Aliens don't really make the cut (check out the tepid box office for "Edge of Tomorrow".) Zombies and other ghouls seem content to exist on our television screens not the movie theaters so we're left with a void to fill. Who is so evil that they appear in various forms across almost all of the year's biggest blockbusters? You know them well: they live in fortresses, enforce all the rules though a variety of means, and collect your taxes. That's right folks, the new villain in town: your own government.

The Government as presented in the new Transformers movie.

The Government as presented in the new Transformers movie.

I first noticed this while viewing the latest Transformers "film." All previous films in the series had the U.S. Government as the heroes with every other scene featuring American badasses using their wits and firepower to kick ass and save the day. That all changed in the latest film, which sees a shadowy secret division of the Government threatening as the primary antagonist of the film. As a fan of the franchise, this change was shocking to me! I wanna see Tyrese and company kicking ass with Optimus, not government agents threatening to kill teenage girls. This change from the government as the hero to the oppressor is jarring but not surprising - after all, government approval ratings are now at a six year low. But still, this was a Michael Bay movie and like Optimus Prime, he is not known for subtlety, so maybe the evil government oppressor was limited to his robot opus?  Of course not.

Everywhere you look on the screen this summer is some type of overlord government who definitely doesn't have the American people's wellbeing as there number one priority. The biggest movie of the year so far is "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" where we see the hero actively turn against the very government he works for when he discovers the surveillance state. In "The Lego Movie" government and big business are interchangeable and they are both designed to crush individuality. "Godzilla" saw the Government covering up monsters and being completely inept at fighting them, a big change from the 1998 version which had the troops defeat the monster.  "X-Men:Days of Future Past " features a corrupt political system that goes onto destroy the world via technology. If you think the current government is bad - just wait until you see what's coming!

It wasn't always this way, was it? Think about "Independence Day" which literally saw the entire world uniting around the American government to save the planet. Even "Men In Black" portrayed the government as badass good guys - so cool in fact that people thought it was rad when they covered up evidence via memory wipe. Don't forget older blockbusters like "Top Gun" which pretty much established the pro-government formula. The kick-ass government film may have worked in the past but these days people don't want it. Everyone seemingly has a gripe with the government now, it's not unique to one party, so why would audiences want to see the oppressors as heroes. The two greatest fictional American spies of the century (Jason Bourne & Jack Bauer) personify NOT following the orders of the Government. You want to see a heroic C.I.A. agent on the big screen - go see "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," - oh wait, no one (except me apparently) saw that movie*.

Look, I realize this sounds a little paranoid and kind of far off the rails. I'm a big fan of the USA. I had a blast on July 4th and was crestfallen when they got bounced from the World Cup. And if it wasn't clear by me seeing Transformers opening night, I love ra-ra-ra America kicking ass movies. But right now I'm just telling you what I'm seeing on the silver-screen. People want to see Katniss fight "The Capital," they want to see Captain America destroy the government apparatus, and they want Optimus to remind us that freedom is "the right of all sentient beings." And right now, in the eyes of Hollywood, the government is the bad guy impeding on those rights.