It is an understatement to say that it’s been a year of uncertainty, lack of clarity, indecisions, and revisions. With this in mind and to answer to the question, with no conditions, caveats or no mention of you-know-what, YES, without doubt, there will be blockbusters released in 2021! Not only that, there will be a lot of them.
I’m not sticking my neck out much when I say this because, as you will be aware, all the titles scheduled for 2020 got log-jammed, plus there is a host of new stuff due to come out in 2021 anyway.
So, we meet again Mr Bond
One of the most well-known casualties of 2020 was the new Bond film, No Time to Die. Initially scheduled for release in April and then put back until November, it is now due for release in April 2021. This time, Bond is saving the world on the trail of a mysterious villain armed with deadly modern technology. Then finally, after 14 years at MI6, we’ll be able to see Daniel Craig hang up his tux and put his martini glass in the dishwasher before heading off into panto.
Holding out for a superhero
We expected phase four of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe but didn’t happen in March as planned. However, if you are longing to see Scarlett Johansson going solo in Black Widow, you only have to wait until May 2021. Other superhero movies coming our way next year are Spiderman 3 (as yet untitled and Venom 2: Let There be Carnage, with Tom Hardy. There is also a new addition, Morbius, starring Jared Leto as a ‘pseudo-vampire’. Playing his best friend is our own Doctor Who and Prince Phillip, Matt Smith.
The Eternals, due out in November, and Sang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, scheduled for July, should also keep Marvel lovers happy. No, I’d never heard of them either! Still, according to Digital Spy, "Like The Eternals, little is known about Shang-Chi, but the Ten Rings organisation is steeped deep in Marvel lore so it's likely to have huge ramifications in Phase 4.” Whoa!
Your mission, if you choose to accept it…
Tom Cruise will be back as Ethan Hunt just in time for Christmas 2021 in Mission: Impossible 7, which according to IMDb features authentic shots taken in the International Space Station making it “the first narrative feature film to be shot in outer space”.
Sticking with Tom Cruise who is never one afraid to reprise a role, is Top Gun: Maverick. Cruise, 34 years after playing him for the first time, stars as elite fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Maverick has to confront the past while training a new bunch of recruits. If, at 57 years old, he has to face the fact that the engines are deafening and his fast jet hasn’t got a loo, is yet to be revealed.
It’s game time!
Space Jam is returning in July 2021, 25 years after its first outing, with Space Jam: A New Legacy. No Michael Jordan or Bill Murray as far as I know but LeBron James will be in it, assisted by various NBA and WNBA basketball stars and that loveable bunch from Looney Tunes.
A West Side Story remake?
Going back even further, this time to 1957 for its source material, is Steven Spielberg’s new production of West Side Story. This version is apparently closer to the stage play than the 1961 film classic. Cinema purists ask, “Why bother with a remake when the 1961 version is already a classic?” It will be interesting to find that out. Steven Spielberg has usually got something special up his sleeve, but I think I’ll wait for it to come to Netflix.
Elvis...! Thank you very much.
With so many superhero, sequel, prequel, and franchise movies in post-production, it isn't easy to find anything original. However, due for release on October 5th next year from director Baz Luhrmann is his first feature-length film since 2013. Luhrmann’s film is about the life of Elvis and covers the time from his breakthrough until his death. The film focuses on the stormy relationship between Elvis, played by Austin Butler, and his manager Col. Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks, and does not have a title at the moment.
Not a sequel but a spin-off from Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels is Without Remorse. It has been a few years since the last Clancy film adaptation, and since the mid-nineties, there have been several attempts to turn this novel into a film. Without Remorse starts as a revenge story and then branches off into familiar Clancy country as the main character John Clark finds himself involved in a high-level political conspiracy.
Liam Neeson steps into his ‘action dad’ persona again in a movie called The Marksman. This time he’s an Arizona rancher who goes to the aid of a young Mexican boy being pursued by a drug cartel. They are going to regret it. No doubt Neeson will again be unleashing his very particular set of skills on that unsuspecting bunch of badasses.
Scraping in for release on Christmas Day 2021 is Babylon with Brad Pitt and Emma Stone. An ‘all-star-ensemble’ cast with Tobey Maguire and Meryl Streep has been mentioned, but like the plot, not much is known about it at this point. It is still in pre-production although we do know that it is set in Hollywood at the time when ‘talkies’ were starting to replace silent movies, and there is a mix of real-life and fictionalised characters.
Shoot Release Repeat
So, we can be assured that a host of ‘big’ films are coming our way in 2021. Having started enthusiastically, I don’t want to turn sourpuss now but what has struck me, and I alluded to this earlier, is the lack of anything original or innovative. What is equally discouraging is that the scheduled releases for 2022 follow the same pattern - The Batman, Jurassic World, Avatar 2, Sing 2, John Wick 4, Fast and Furious 10!
It’s often argued that nothing is truly original. I’m sure that the blockbusters I previously mentioned will be good. But why all the rehashes? Where is the flair that produced the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Sting, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction or Bladerunner (all used as the basis for sequels or spin-offs unless I’m mistaken)? It seems that too much creativity goes into looking for ways to build franchises rather than making great films. I’m sure that most of these new blockbusters will be slick, smart, entertaining and a darn good watch but I’d like a 2021 with a bit more dash and daring and certainly less déjà vu.