With everything on offer from stop-motion to sci-fi there are already numerous big releases slated for 2018 at the cinema. Weekend editor and critic David Morgan talks about the films he is most looking forward to seeing next year


February 23


Alex Garland has very quietly become a big name in the film industry.

The Londoner rose to prominence after writing The Beach which became the source material for the Danny Boyle movie of the same name. He then continued to work as a screenwriter on the likes of 28 Days Later and comic book favourite Dredd.

Garland’s directorial debut, Ex Machina, a clever, creepy sci-fi thriller about artificial intelligence was even better.

And now the filmmaker could be set to make his big breakthrough with Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, Portman stars as biologist Lena who searches for answers following the disappearance of her husband in an environmental disaster.

So she joins an anthropologist, a psychologist and a surveyor on an ill advised expedition to ‘Area X’, an abandoned zone cut off from the rest of civilization. What could possibly go wrong? Garland’s claustrophobic Ex Machina was tightly plotted and intense. If he can bring those qualities to a movie on a larger scale we can expect something very special.

Isle of Dogs

March 23

Wes Anderson’s oddball characters and quirky style has led to some great films over the years like Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenenbaums.

More recently Anderson has turned his hand to stop-motion animation with Fantastic Mr Fox and he is returning to the century-old technique for Isle of Dogs.

The premise sounds wonderfully bizarre: an outbreak of canine flu leads the mayor of a Japanese city to banish all dogs to an island that’s also being used as a garbage dump.

But the outcasts soon have a guest when a 12-year-old boy arrives on the island to find his beloved pet.

Warrington also has its own connection to the film too. Mackinnon and Saunders, co-founded by former Penketh High student Ian Mackinnon, are on board as puppet masters after previously working with Anderson on Fantastic Mr Fox.

The voice cast is pretty special too featuring the likes of Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and even Yoko Ono.

Ready Player One

March 30

A Steven Spielberg movie is always a big cinematic event and Ready Player One will see the director tap into the zeitgeist with a story about virtual reality and interconnectivity.

The film, based on Ernest Cline’s novel, stars X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan in his first major lead role. Set 30 years in the future, the story sees slum-like conditions all over Earth due to overpopulation, pollution, corruption and climate change. So to escape their desolation, people all over the globe hook up to a virtual reality system called OASIS. From slums to super powers, expect a film of contrasts from this big budget spectacular which will also act as a warning about the course the world is on.

Avengers: Infinity War

May 4

Those folk at Disney really know how to make money out of the film business. They introduced us to Marvel’s heroes like Captain America, Thor and Iron Man before teaming them up to form The Avengers. Then there were those quirky Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Thought Disney was almost finished with Marvel?

Think again. For the first instalment of the two-part Infinity War, the Avengers will be partnering up with the Guardians to defeat galactic supervillain Thanos. It is easy to be cynical but Disney’s track record with the Marvel films has been generally great.

There are always good actors, directors and writers involved and a mega budget to see it through.

And this one will see the Russo brothers returning to the helm after making Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, both of which are highly regarded.

The only concern is having enough room in the movie for all those superhero egos...

Solo: A Star Wars Story

May 25

Some Star Wars fans may be hesitant to get behind 2018’s Han Solo spin-off.

The film has had production problems with Disney even firing the original directing team at the helm, Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

Lord and Miller, who were behind the universally acclaimed The Lego Movie, were said to have ‘creative differences’ with the studio which went on to appoint The Da Vinci Code’s Ron Howard for the project.

Rumour has it that there were fears that Lord and Miller were turning ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ into a full-on comedy – which seems a strange concern given how much humour there was in The Last Jedi. Hopefully Howard can work with Disney to get the tone of the film – about Han Solo’s early days as a young rogue – just right.

And it still makes the list if only because the casting looks spot-on. Hail’s Caesar’s Alden Ehrenreich will play Han. He has the right physique and that glint behind the eyes. He’s a relative newcomer to Hollywood but his few roles so far have impressed.

I’m even more convinced by Donald Glover (Atlanta, The Martian, Community) as a young Lando Calrissian.

Deadpool 2
June 1

The original Deadpool stuck two fingers up at all the rules of superhero movies. It broke the fourth wall, it was puerile, it was crazy, it took the mickey out of itself and every other comic book movie, it was gratuitous and explicit. 

A 12A family friendly Marvel flick this was not – and that’s why it worked. 

It was hugely refreshing to see a superhero film genuinely aimed at adults who really should know better.

Ryan Reynolds, who portrays Deadpool/Wade Wilson, also made the 18-rated movie a love letter to the wise-cracking ‘merc with a mouth’ as he is besotted with the character.

Deadpool 2 will see David Leitch, who made John Wick, in the director’s chair and it will no doubt be even more outrageous than the first.

Little is known about the plot so far but the big addition to the cast is Josh Brolin as Cable, a time-travelling mutant soldier and son of X-Men’s Cyclops.

Unfortunately the Deadpool 2 trailers were too explicit for us to feature here!

Incredibles 2
June 15

If you like consistency in your movies then how’s this?

At the end of the original Incredibles film – Disney Pixar’s tribute to 1960s comic books and spy stories – there is a throwaway scene where a villain called ‘The Underminer’ appears before the end credits roll.

That was more than 13 years ago but crime fighting family The Incredibles are back to thwart that very same foe who has declared war on peace and happiness.

This unexpected sequel to the light-hearted film – which shows that busy, multitasking parents are the real heroes – is very welcome.

The original voice cast are also returning including Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl and Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible.

Pixar films are always heartwarming, funny, appeal to all audiences from kids to big kids and look stunning so I’m almost certain this will be another hit.

June 29


Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario about the war against drugs in the border area between the US and Mexico was incredibly intense.

Now Italian director Stefano Sollima, behind the acclaimed Gomorrah TV series, is stepping into the helm for the sequel, Soldado (Spanish for ‘soldier’)

The connecting thread between the two films is writer Taylor Sheridan, who also wrote the screenplay for Hell or High Water which was nominated for four Oscars.

Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin will also be reprising their characters Alejandro Gillick and Matt Graver respectively.

Soldado’s plot seems quite straight-forward on the surface: after discovering that drug cartels are smuggling terrorists across the US border, the CIA sends Matt and former undercover operative Alejandro to eliminate the problem.

The way Sicario was shot, some great performances and the intense soundtrack was what gave the first part of the story its raw power.

So if Sollima can find some way to complement rather than copy that we should be onto a winner.

Alita: Battle Angel
July 20

From the multi-talented Mexican director Robert Rodriguez we have had comic book noir with Sin City, gunslinging with the Desperado trilogy, grindhouse with Planet Terror and Machete and vampires with From Dusk Till Dawn.

The great thing about Rodriguez’s work is you never know what you are going to get and yet at the same time he has a signature style that is easy to pick out and identify.

Action orientated and always having an eye for a great shot, Rodriguez was dubbed ‘John Woo from south of the border’ in his early days. 

This time the filmmaker is looking to bring Japanese Manga to life with Alita with a script penned by James Cameron (Avatar, Terminator).

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the story is about a a cyborg who has lost all of her memories and is found in a junk yard.

The action-packed story sees Alita’s journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world.

With the calibre of the team behind it, it should be a great one if the special effects live up to the ambitious story.

Christopher Robin
August 3

Most of us have a soft spot for Christopher Robin and the lovable creatures of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet and Tigger and co have been around in stories for more than 90 years and so it is likely that this story will appeal to young and old alike – one of those rare movies that bridges the gaps between the generations.

Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin swaps animation for live action with a plot that sounds very innocent and sweet.

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), the little boy from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, is now all grown up and has lost all sense of imagination. 

And so Pooh and his friends re-enter his life to help him find it again.

Hopefully Christopher Robin will be a reminder to occasionally embrace your child-like side, something that can easily forgotten when faced with the drab realities of day-to-day life.