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Ali Plumb's biggest films of 2019

The ones to watch out for

We’re just a couple of weeks into 2019, and there have already been a couple of gems in cinemas – including The Favourite and Stan And Ollie – with the likes of Unbreakable and Split follow-up Glass on the big screen so, so soon.

But what have we got to look forward to over the rest of this year? What are the cinema-filling blockbusters that we’ll be talking about over the next 12 months? Well, that’s where I step in…

Feb 1: How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Director: Dean DeBlois

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington

The third – and possibly final – How To Train Your Dragon finally arrives in February, five long years since How To Train Your Dragon 2. Beloved by its big-screen fans, as well as pretty much anyone who’s seen the spin-off TV shows, this is an eagerly-anticipated family-friendly animated movie that’s warm, fun, exciting and looks absolutely gorgeous. Plus, dragons! Always great.

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Feb 8: The LEGO Movie 2

Director: Mike Mitchell

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Tiffany Haddish

The first Lego Movie landed in 2014, and since then there’s been the excellent Lego Batman Movie and the not quite so good Lego Ninjago Movie, so it’s a long time coming for the first proper direct sequel to the original brick-based blockbuster.

Part of what made TLM – as I call it and no-one else does – such a big success was the sheer randomness of it all. Could Hollywood make an entertaining, interesting, inspiring animated movie based on, essentially, building blocks? The answer: 100%, but can they pull it off a second time? We’ll find out for sure just before half-term…

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March 8: Captain Marvel

Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law

Finally, the Marvel Cinematic Universe releases a movie with a female superhero front and centre. It only took 11 years – cough – but here we are, with the Oscar-winning Brie Larson donning the star-spangled flashy red-and-blue (and occasionally green) costume as she plays one of the most powerful and iconic characters in Marvel’s back catalogue. What makes this film particularly interesting is that it’s set in the ‘90s, with a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson playing a younger, non-eyepatched version of Nick Fury, letting Marvel have some fun with a different time period whilst somehow setting up what we’ll see in the all-important Avengers: Endgame a few months later…

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March 29: Us

Directed by: Jordan Peele

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Elizabeth Moss, Winston Duke, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Off the back of his Oscar win for Best Screenplay, Get Out’s Jordan Peele returns with what looks like another absolute beauty: a twisted, bloody horror about a family confronted with murderous clones… of themselves. The trailer arrived over Christmas to play with our tiny minds, leaving anyone watching it with Luniz’s ‘I Got 5 On it’ stuck in their heads forever more. In a good way. Kind of.

Disclaimer: Trailer contains violent and disturbing scenes

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March 29: Dumbo

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin

Disney’s ongoing mission to make us cry continues apace with Dumbo, the latest live-action reimagining of a classic feature-length cartoon, taking the trippy, odd 64-minute 1941 original and passing it through the lens of the legendary Tim Burton. Trailers and posters for this have leaned hard on the cute factor, so seriously, bring a box of tissues: you’re going to cry.

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April 5: Shazam!

Director: David F. Sandberg

Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong

Another superhero movie, sure, but bear with me: this one’s a little bit different. Deep inside the DC comics archive are the stories of Shazam!, a caped crusader with a bit of a twist: he’s a 14-year-old boy. Yep. One who can turn into a super powered adult, complete with golden cape, whenever he says the word “Shazam!” It’s like Big crossed with Superman and it looks… quite fun, to be honest.

Disclaimer: Trailer contains violent and disturbing scenes

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April 30: Avengers: Endgame

Director: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch

It’s come to this. After just over a decade of films – this will be the 22nd in the series, up to and including the original Iron Man in 2008 – we have the fourth and potentially final Avengers movie. At least, The Avengers as we know them. With certain actors’ contracts coming to an end, there’s a good chance some of our favourite heroes, be it Chris Evans’ Captain America or Chris Hemsworth’s Thor (other actors not called Chris are available), will not appear in any further outings. Gulp. With the teaser trailer getting us appallingly excited late in 2018, all Marvel fans are desperate for more info. Do you know anything? Hit me up on Twitter, please, I’m begging you.

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May 10: Detective Pikachu

Director: Rob Letterman

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe

I’ll make this as simple as possible: there’s a Pokemon movie coming out, and it stars Pikachu. Well, a Pikachu, who thinks he’s a detective. Who can talk. With the voice of Ryan Reynolds. And it’s called Detective Pikachu. If you need any more detail than that, I don’t think there’s much hope for you.

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May 17: John Wick: Chapter 3

Director: Chad Stahelski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne

Also known as “John Wick 3: Parabellum”, this sees the return of Keanu Reeves’s legendary hitman, now on the run, as he fights for his life on a journey across the globe. There’s a $14 million global contract on him, and none of his safe houses are, well, safe anymore so Baba Yaga – as he’s sometimes known – must fight his way to freedom. Expect punching, kicking, more punching, a bit more kicking, plenty of gunplay and lots of Halle Berry. Oh, and Anjelica Huston, and Jason Mantzoukas, and a few other surprise guests. Basically, there will be balletic violence, quality character actors and a whole lot of Keanu Reeves looking cool. What more could you want?

May 24: Aladdin

Director: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban

Guy Ritchie? As in Snatch, Sherlock Holmes and Lock, Stock Guy Ritchie? Directing Disney’s live-action remake of beloved animated musical Aladdin? You better believe it. Stepping into the pointed curly shoes of the late, great Robin Williams in the role of The Genie is Will Smith, who caused a stir online recently when a magazine front cover revealed his version of everyone’s favourite wish-distributer won’t always be blue. Shock, horror! Seriously, we need to see footage of the big blue Genie we know and love, or there will be a whole new world of trouble.

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May 31: Godzilla King Of The Monsters

Director: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins

Following on from 2014’s so-so reboot – the one that starred Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Juliette Binoche and more – here comes another Godzilla movie, only this time there are many more monsters. Many, many more. Also, with Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown in this movie, I’m starting to think that hanging out with her is just asking for something supernatural to occur.

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June 14: Men In Black: International

Director: F. Gary Gray

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Liam Neeson

We’ve had the Men In Black trilogy – yes, there was a third one, Josh Brolin was in it – and now there’s a spin-off reboot thing, starring two of the leads from Thor Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, making this a bizarre little Revengers reunion (if you’re geeky like me, that is). As you may have guessed from the title, the story this time around sees two Men In Black agents hopping from country to country, spending time in the UK, Morocco and Italy as they try to find a mole inside the MIB. One publicity photo has an alien spaceship smashed up in front of a William Hill bookies in London, which is both bizarre and a bit brilliant.

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June 21: Toy Story 4

Director: Josh Cooley

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale

After Toy Story 3 broke our hearts so wonderfully back in 2010, Pixar fans across the planet started to move on with their lives. Back then, the idea of another Toy Story was impossible. Now, the impossible is just around the corner. Reuniting the old gang – including Little Bo Peep, by the by – as well as introducing a few new characters, such as someone voiced by Keanu Reeves, the fourth adventure of Woody of company takes Andy’s one-time best friends to a carnival, of all places. Expect hijinks and capers, and hopefully a proper, not too emotionally-scarring trailer sometime soon.

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July 5: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Director: Jon Watts

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal

The third Marvel movie of the year, Spider-Man: Far From Home is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, which means that… Peter Parker is okay? Presumably? Otherwise this will be a very short film. If ol’ Web Head does make it through Thanos’s snap, he’ll be enjoying a holiday across Europe, presumably as a bit of r ‘n’ r after what The Mad Titan got up to with his shiny jewelled glove. Unfortunately, trouble follows Spidey wherever he goes, so look forward to Tom Holland facing off against classic Spider-Villain Mysterio, as played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Yep. Jake Gyllenhaal in a Marvel movie. It happened.

July 19: The Lion King

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, James Earl Jones

After the success of The Jungle Book, Jon Favreau has been handed the keys to The Lion King: the one Disney classic you never thought would get the live-action treatment. And if kind of hasn’t. And it kind of has. It’s complicated, but basically Favreau is improving on the CGI tricks he learned on The Jungle Book and has found a way to make a blue-screen ultra-real version. Helping soothe the potentially childhood-wrecking idea of someone remaking The Lion King has a cast that will make you squeal with joy (which you can see above). Beyoncé as Nala. Incredible.

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July 26: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Damien Lewis

As Wikipedia puts it, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is an upcoming mystery crime film centred on the Manson Family murders”, which is true, and of note in of itself. But it’s also a Quentin Tarantino film, his first since The Hateful Eight in 2015. And it stars both Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, not forgetting Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate) and some guy called Al Pacino. There’s been no poster, no trailer, pretty much no nothing (aside from a couple of Instagram posts) said about this film, and honestly, I couldn’t be more excited.

July 26: Fast & Furious: Hobbs And Shaw

Director: F. Gary Gray

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan

The ever-expanding Fast And The Furious franchise gets its first proper spin-off with this odd couple smash-up featuring your two favourite bald big men, The Rock and Jason Statham, reprising their roles as supercop Luke Hobbs and supercrook Deckard Shaw. Joining the fun is Vanessa Kirby as The Stath’s sister – yep – and Big Dris himself, Idris Elba, as the villain called, um, Brixton. I’m not making this up, I promise.

September 6 It: Chapter 2

Director: Andy Muschietti

Starring: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård

After the huge success of the first It, the second chapter was inevitable, but those not au fait with Stephen King’s original novel may not have realised that half-way through the book the time jumps close to 30 years, meaning that for this sequel all the kids you knew before are now proper, fully-grown, grumpy, messed-up adults. So this time around we’ll see Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and more getting the living bejesus shocked out of them by Pennywise the freaky-deeky clown. Balloons at the ready…

October 3: Joker

Director: Todd Phillips

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz

Batman’s ultimate villain gets his own original story, and it doesn’t star Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto, confusingly. This is a whole new Joker, and he gets a whole new actor to play him: Joaquin Phoenix (“You must be Joaquin!”, etc etc). Directed by The Hangover’s Todd Phillips and also featuring Robert De Niro (!), this is not going to your regular average comic-book movie. Shooting a lot of the film on location in New York, a few paparazzi photos have leaked out from this one, and from what I’ve seen, I’m very interested.

November 22: Frozen 2

Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad

Finally! Frozen gets a sequel, and not just an Olaf's Frozen Adventure short or anything like that: this is a proper, 100% real, full-length follow-up to the 2013 monster hit. Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell and Josh Gad will be back, with rumours swirling about Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown possibly joining the voice cast in new roles. Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck are also back on board, so fingers crossed they can recreate the magic that earned Disney $1.29 billion (the highest-grossing animated film of all time) and put ‘Let It Go’ circling around your brain for the rest of your life.

December 13: Jumanji 2

Director: Jake Kasdan

Starring: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Danny DeVito, Kevin Hart

Giving Star Wars: Episode VIII a run for its money two years ago, Jumanji casually put a big smile on the faces of millions in 2017, managing to reboot the Robin Williams vehicle for a new generation, with the help of The Rock – him again – Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillen and a neat computer game gimmick that allowed for plenty of body-swapping fun. What’s in store for the sequel is yet to be unveiled, though The Rock did mention the other day that Danny DeVito might be on board, but who or what as remains to be seen.

December 19: Star Wars: Episode IX

Director: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o

Well, here it is: the big one. After The Last Jedi divided critics and fans alike – and made $1.3 billion in the process – J.J. Abrams returns to the director’s chair to wrap up the latest trilogy set in a galaxy far, far away. Obviously, very little is known about the film, aside from a little scoop from Empire magazine, who revealed that the film is set one year after the events of The Last Jedi. So, there’s that. Otherwise, Abrams will also co-write the film, as well as directing and producing it, with Billy Dee Williams slated to return as Lando Calrissian and previously unseen footage of the late great Carrie Fisher being cleverly reused after her passing.

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