2015 Ascending (In Movies)

Intermission: 2015: 9x4

There’s a lot of great — or at least interesting — movies to look forward to in 2015.

The New Year brings two things: The promise of a year’s worth of new films to look forward to (or dread…) and at least one week where absolutely nothing newsworthy or interesting happens in Entertainment News. With both of those in mind, here’s a breakdown of how your 2015 in film is shaping up from the vantage point of… well, right now.


An original epic space-opera from The Wachowskis — what more reason do you need? A pair of superpowered human/animal hybrids (Channing Tatum, Sean Bean) protect a seemingly-ordinary woman (Mila Kunis) unknowingly destined to claim sovereignty of Earth itself from an alien corporation looking to hijack her birthright. Looks big, bold and bizarre. Sold.

James Bond meets XXX (the Vin Diesel movie — don’t act like you remember it existed) by way of Harry Potter, in which a London street punk is given the opportunity to join an elite fraternity of secret agents by a family friend (Colin Firth). Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) directs.

FOCUS (February 27)
Will Smith and Margot Robbie play con-artists, but let’s not pretend anyone is going to see this other than to look for signs that this is a “thing” or to get a sense of their chemistry before they re-team for Suicide Squad.

CHAPPIE (March 6)
District 9’s Neil Blomkamp is back after the disappointing reception of Elysium with another gritty sci-fi feature, this one about a robot torn between a life of crime or nobility. Looks very promising, and no one else is doing sci-fi of this type right now.

Ron Howard, the most consistently under-appreciated big-budget filmmaker working, goes to sea for this muscular survival epic based on the true accounts of a whaling ship allegedly destroyed by an unusually large, unusually aggressive rogue whale that inspired the writing of Moby Dick. Call it “Monster & Commander.” Sold.

FURIOUS 7 (April 3)
Modern action-cinema’s most improbably-evolving franchise (started awful, turned into ironic fun, then turned legit-good, somehow) heads for the finish line (supposedly the studio is looking to end on Part 10) in what will be the final appearance for the late Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor. New villains include Kurt Russell and Jason Statham, presumably because even Jason Statham agrees there’s no good reason for him to not be in this series.

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The original Avengers was a magic-trick that can only be performed once, which means this time around Marvel Studios is going to have to deliver a blockbuster with meat, teeth and muscle beyond “We did it! Everyone’s onscreen at once!” Can the Hollywood studio on the hottest hot-streak since Disney Animation in the 90s make a miracle happen twice?

George Miller is back in the desert. He brought the cars, blood and dust with him but isn’t going to force us to deal with the presence of Mel Gibson. Hurrah!

The top-secret plot of this Disney project may or may not involve a disillusioned teenaged girl and a secret civilization where the optimistic futurism of the Space Age never “gave up” re: improving humanity through science and technology. If that’s the case, is this Disney’s Atlas Shrugged — or its BioShock?

I’ll be honest: I want to see this strictly because no one actually knows what it’s about. All that’s been revealed is that it’s a live-action/CGI hybrid based around the sport of monster truck driving, aiming to be a “Transformers-style franchise.” Okay, let’s see what it is.

Finally getting to see what a fully-realized, functioning Jurassic Park looks like? Rogue geneticists making super-mutant Franken-dinos? Heroic (?) trained good-guy Raptors being deployed to fight (?) the new menace? Which god did I please??

INSIDE OUT (June 19)
Pixar’s newest original IP is about the exploits of the personified emotions inside the head of a young girl as she begins the difficult transition from child to teen. Sounds great. Looks better. Sold.

TED 2 (June 26)
The first Ted was a really nice surprise. The premise of the sequel is being kept under wraps for some reason, but Amanda Seyfried joins the cast and is rumored as a love-interest for Ted. If so, that sounds pretty damn funny.

Having exhausted all other options and proving rather decisively that A) The Future War isn’t as interesting to see as we’d assumed and B) Nobody cares if Arnold doesn’t show up, the Terminator franchise uses time travel to reboot itself into a mash-up of its best elements. Now, there’s a hero T-800 and a battle-toughened Sarah Connor fighting a new T-1000 in gritty/grimy 80s LA. Okay, I’m onboard.

ANT-MAN (July 17)
Marvel Studios has yet to release a genuine clunker, but the high-profile split with original director Edgar Wright and a public scramble to build a partially-completed feature into something new under a new director has cost a lot of goodwill, and that’s without this one also having to *follow* the mega-sized Age of Ultron with the exploits of a single, largely-unknown (outside of fandom) character. Should be an interesting moment, one way or another.

PIXELS (July 24)
Remember that short film Pixels about 80s video-game characters invading NYC? Well, they made it into a feature-length comedy with Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage as one-time arcade high-score rivals called to defend Earth from digital alien invaders who’ve mistaken video game transmissions for an act of war.

Fox hired sought-after Chronicle helmer Josh Trank to build a big-budget, radically-different take on a Marvel franchise… and is seemingly terrified of anyone actually seeing the results. No stills. No trailer. Barely any plot details. Nothing. What is this movie? I want to find out.

Yeah, the surviving key members are successful and respectable now, but the hook of N.W.A. back in the day was they really lived (almost) as hard and shady as they rapped. Which means a feature biopic supervised by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre is probably going to be an unintentionally comic-exercise is sanding off very specific edges (“Can we keep the theft and murder but maybe dial-back the gay-bashing and sexism?”) in the name of brand-maintenance. Should be interesting, though.

VACATION (October 9)
Yeah, this rebootquel (Rusty Griswold follows in his dad’s family-vacation footsteps, with now-aged Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo in cameos) probably isn’t going to be any good. But the original Vacation is one of the greatest comedies ever made, and Christmas Vacation is an intensely-beloved feature by many families, my own included. So yeah, I’ll be there to see how this works out.

007: SPECTRE (November 6)
James Bond’s original Golden Age nemesis-organization returns at last. I’m still sort of “whatever” about the gritty/”realistic” Craig-era 007, but this is promising and I really enjoyed Skyfall, so let’s see.

PEANUTS (November 6)
They. Had. Better. Not. F***. This. Up.

Pixar’s next has been a troubled, re-started production. That’s not good news. But it’s about dinosaurs, so I’m there. Bring it.

Is this reality? Am I really just under a year away from watching a new Star Wars movie? Set in the post-Return of The Jedi era? With Luke, Leia and Han all returning for one more go-around? Alright. Trailer looks good. I’m ready to believe again. Let’s do this.


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Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.