Many noteworthy films opening in coming year

by RYAN FITZGERALD//Staff Writer

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As the year begins, movie studios hit the ground running with a roster of pre-determined films that reflect several years of development.

From editing and re-writing the script, to vetting potential directors, followed by costuming, make-up, props and set design, then the actual process of shooting the film, all of which comes to a close during the post-production process as edits are made, visual effects are touched up and sound is mixed, just months before the film hits the silver screen.

So what have studios been cooking up? What films are finally coming out in 2017 that reflect the culmination of the aforementioned process? Here are few films you need to see this year:

kongskullisland“Kong: Skull Island” is up first. Fans are finally getting a relatable “re-imagining” of the King Kong origin story.  Set in the 1970s, a diverse team of explorers venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific, led by the Monarch organization – a group that prides itself on studying massive, unidentified terrestrial organisms, and as the universal monster lore suggests, is the same organization behind the exploitation of Godzilla.

This movie will serve as the precursor for the upcoming “Kong vs. Godzilla” film that is expected to hit theaters in 2020. Additionally, this will be the first time that King Kong is scaled up to the size of the King of the Monsters – in order to make the clash between the two seem feasible in the future films. “Kong: Skull Island” is scheduled for release on March 10.

loganAnother movie already creating buzz is “Logan.” In what is expected to be Hugh Jackman’s final film as Wolverine, “Logan” chronicles the final chapters in the life of “Wolverine,” as fans of the “X-Men” franchise have come to know him. Set in 2029, a secluded and disconsolate Logan is drinking his days away in some hideout along a remote stretch of the Mexican border, in a world where mutants are nearly non-existent.

He is joined in exile by an ailing Professor X, whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent request–that Logan shepherd an extraordinary young girl to safety. As expected, the claws return as Logan must face off against dark forces and a villain from his past.

“Logan” is said to be based roughly on the “Old Man Logan” storyline, published by Marvel comics.  Additionally, I suspect fans will be introduced to X-23. A “daughter” of sorts to Wolverine, X-23 is cloned from a damaged copy of Wolverine’s genome, in which she exhibits traits similar to that of Wolverine, such as regenerative healing, heightened senses and reflexes, and even retractable adamantium-coated claws. “Logan” is set to open in theaters on March 3.

wonderwomanComic book fans get the first solo, female superhero film in any comic universe with the upcoming release of “Wonder Woman.”

Diana, princess of the Amazons, was raised a warrior on a sheltered island paradise. After the crash of an American pilot on her shores brings news of conflict in the outside world, Diana choses to leave home and discovers her true powers in the war to end all wars.

Several questions remain unanswered, such as how close to the actual, classical origin of Wonder Woman, who was ‘born’ from a clay statue that is imbued with life by a Greek goddess – or, whether any of her comic book villains, such as Ares, will be involved in the film. “Wonder Woman” will break nationwide in June 2017.

guardiansofthegalaxy2Since one “Guardians of the Galaxy” wasn’t enough, Marvel is set to release the sequel to an all-time fan favorite, with “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” this coming May. The Guardians we’ve come to love, along with a few new additions, set off to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Star-Lord) parentage.

As those who saw the first “Guardians” film can recall, Peter Quill had no knowledge of his father’s identity as a child. Through a Nova Corps DNA scan, it was revealed that his mother’s mysterious lover wasn’t human – that, in fact, he was an unknown alien being of ancient and powerful origins – which somewhat explains why Star-Lord and The Guardians were able to touch an Infinity Stone and not die at the end of the first installment.

Additionally, Marvel has already revealed that Kurt Russell will portray Quill’s father, Ego the Living Planet, but I’ll let the film attempt to explain the connections in “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” when it opens this summer.

spidermanhomecomingAfter five different Sony movies that feature two different Peter Parkers, the Spider-Man franchise has found itself in the hands of Marvel studios with “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Shining in the small role he had in “Captain America: Civil War,” Tom Holland takes the reigns as the web-slinging kid from Queens who gets to blend the aches and pains of his stereotypical teenage years with the responsibilities of someone having to grow up with a super power.

Since this film is technically a re-boot, a bit of the traditional Spider-Man original story is expected to be explained. However, Marvel films is choosing to play this one close to the vest, as only hearsay suggests Marvel wants to hit the ground running with Peter Parker in high school, following the events that played out in “Captain America: Civil War,” as Peter is taken under the wing of Tony Stark. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” hits theaters in July 2017.

“War for the Planet of the Apes,” the sequel to 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” is the third installment to the rebooted Planet of the Apes series. The tension between lastjediCaesar, his followers and humans has risen to the point where only conflict will determine the fate of both species and the future of the planet. Audiences can expect Caesar to wrestle with his darker instincts and begin a personal quest to avenge the death and destruction that has beset his kind. Fox has the opening for “War for the Planet of the Apes” slated for July 2017.

Other films to keep on your radar are “Star Wars Episode Eight: The Last Jedi,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s still early in the year for Disney to release any information related to the sequel of 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” but fans should expect much-awaited insight into Rey’s heritage, Luke’s self-imposed exile, and the relationship between KyloRen and Supreme Leader Snoke. More news on this latest beautyandthebeastaddition to the Skywalker saga will likely be released toward the end of the year, as the film approaches its December release date.

Lastly, Disney’s live action “Beauty and the Beast” will dance into theaters next month. A modern adaptation of Disney’s elegant tale will use the best in visual effects technology to bring a new life, perspective and look to traditionally animated characters, including the Beast, Le Fou, Cogsworth and Lumiere. Fans of the classic story will follow Belle once more, along her journey to look past the Beast’s tough exterior to recognize the true heart of the prince within.

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