Last week cinemas opened again after the last COVID lockdown restrictions eased, and the year’s release calendar has been slightly compressed. There are still a bunch of great movies coming to South African cinemas for the next three months of 2021 – here are some highlights to look forward to:
Please note: All these dates are subject to change.
Disney’s next film-based-on-a-theme-park-attraction after the success of Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. It has received mixed reviews so far, with Rotten Tomatoes’ consensus saying “Its craft isn’t quite as sturdy as some of the classic adventures it’s indebted to, but Jungle Cruise remains a fun, family-friendly voyage.”
The latest thriller from hit-and-miss writer-director M. Night Shyamalan featuring a group of people who find themselves trapped on a secluded beach where they start rapidly aging. Critics praised the film’s cinematography and concept, but criticised its execution. In my book, any Shyamalan movie is still worth checking out.
The Suicide Squad
A group of ‘bad guy’ outcasts band together on a near-impossible mission to save the world. Again. This is the sequel to a not-quite-successful film with practically the same title, this time written and directed by James Gunn, after being labeled a ‘bad guy’ and cast out by Disney from his role at the helm of the Guardians of the Galaxy films. The trailers look spectacular, early critical response are great (with a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this might be the best-rated superhero movie ever), and Gunn’s unique angle could make this SUPER special.
After a longer-than-anticipated break, the Marvel Cinematic Universe returns by going back in time for a mission in Natasha Romanoff’s past, with a collection of new characters that might reappear in future Marvel projects. Getting good reviews, this movie seems pretty much on-par for a Marvel superhero film that doesn’t reinvent the wheel.
This Aretha Franklin biography film with Jennifer Hudson in the lead role looks spectacular, and the title and life story suggest some DRAMA. I smell Oscar-bait, and I’m E-X-C-I-T-E-D.
This Ryan Reynolds action-comedy has an intriguing concept for anyone who’s ever played Grand Theft Auto Online or watched Stranger than Fiction and somehow wished those worlds would combine. A bank teller wakes up and realises he’s a background character in an violent open-world video game. After Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard earlier this year, I’m hoping Reynolds’ unique sense of humour hasn’t run its course, but the high concept and recipe for ludicrous action has potential.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
The sequel to 2019’s Escape Room didn’t get great reviews, but not terrible either. The Rotten Tomatoes audience reaction synopsis says “Even if this Escape Room doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises or improvements over the original, Tournament of Champions is tense enough to satisfy thriller fans.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Besides the wider Hollywood always wanting to tap into the huge Chinese movie market, I’m sure Marvel Studios is hoping that Shang-Chi can do for China what Black Panther did for Africa.
Gunpowder Milkshake looks like a John Wick-style over-the-top action film. Who can say no to that?
An action-thriller starring Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Patrick, and is directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro, Goldeneye).
If you’re a fan of James Wan’s horror movies (like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring), you should check out this one he made between Aquaman films.
Venom: Let There be Carnage
The sequel to the negatively-reviewed but supported-by-audiences 2018 surprise has Woody Harrelson as the villain Carnage opposite Tom Hardy’s Venom.
Also releasing on 17 September is Cry Macho, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood.
The Night House
This psychological horror film features Rebecca Hall as a recent widow, grieving alone in the lakeside home her husband built for her. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, and has received generally positive reviews from the handful of critics who’s seen it.
Off The Rails
An English rediscovery-of-youth dramedy starring Kelly Preston, Jenny Seagrove, and Sally Phillips.
No Time to Die
The repeatedly-delayed 25th film in the James Bond franchise has a lot of hype to live up to, and as Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the role, will hopefully neatly close off the chapter on a high note.
A sequel to the underappreciated local feel-good comedy about stand-up comedians struggling with cultural expectations. Especially after Joey Rasdien’s stellar performance in Bakarat, New Material could be a real heartwarming hit.
Kristen Bell stars as one of two housewives who started a multimillion dollar coupon scam. Vince Vaughn is one of the cops on their trail.
Also releasing on 8 October is The Addams Family 2 & Copshop.
2018’s Halloween, being a sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter original horror film that reboots the franchise, ignoring all the original sequels. But of course, Michael Myers never stays dead, so here’s a sequel – plus another, Halloween Ends, coming in 2022.
The Last Duel
Ridley Scott directs this historical drama featuring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer, about the last legally sanctioned duel in France’s history. Knight Jean de Carrouges challenges his squire Jacques Le Gris to trial by combat, over the rape of his wife.
Director Denis Villeneuve is making epic science-fiction films, that may be unlikely to make a profit. After Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, his latest project is a re-adaptation of the novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. The impressive ensemble cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
The Card Counter
Paul Schrader (director of First Reformed & American Gigolo, writer of Taxi Driver & Raging Bull) writes and directs this story of an ex-military interrogator turned gambler, starring Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, and Willem Dafoe.
Dear Evan Hansen
Based on the Tony Award-winning 2015 stage musical of the same name, this film sees a high school student with Social Anxiety Disorder inserts himself into another boy’s past when a misunderstanding with a therapeutic letter occurs.
This comedy, starring John Boyega, Olivia Cooke, & Bill Skarsgård had its debut at San Francisco International Film Festival in April.
Director Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart, Black Mass) supernatural horror movie following a school teacher and her police officer brother, where they become convinced one of her students is harboring a supernatural creature.
Also releasing on 29 October is Jewish folktale-horror Abyzou, and local film Courting Anathi.
The rest of the year
3 Dec: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, Tiger Rising, House of Gucci, The Homecoming
10 Dec: West Side Story, Last Looks, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Violence of Action
17 Dec: Spider-man: No Way Home
24 Dec: The King’s Man, Sing 2, Untitled Matrix Sequel
31 Dec: Parallel Mothers, Cyrano, Singleholic