Theater season to feature superheroes, sci-fi characters and down-to-earth folks (including Tom Hanks as a grumpy widower)
The late fall/winter season is feeling a lot like summer, at least inside movie theaters where superheroes and sci-fi characters are heating things up.
Often emphasized during the summer, comic book-inspired blockbusters are now doing well any time of the year. Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” proved that by posting the best November opening of any movie in history. The sequel continues to dominate the box office.
And the recent DC Comics/Warner Bros.’ “Black Adam” proved the drawing power of longtime heroes from the Justice Society of America. Of course, box office totals benefited from having Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson star as Black Adam.
The trend for sci-fi and fantasy continues in December with the long-awaited sequel to director James Cameron’s “Avatar.”
And a long-awaited sequel with a Montecito connection, Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” will land in theaters in February.
Besides starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly as Scott Lang (Antman) and the Wasp (Hope Van Dyne) respectively, the film stars someone whose family has had a longtime association with Montecito — Michael Douglas as the original Ant Man, Dr. Hank Pym. The film also stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne, Hank’s wife who was found in the Quantum Realm in the 2018 “Ant Man and the Wasp” movie.
This time around, Scott, Hope, Hank and Janet explore the Quantum Realm, where they meet some unusual creatures. Peyton Reed directs the adventure, which also features Scott’s daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), who has grown up a bit since the last film. Bill Murray is also in this movie, as Krylar, and Randall Park reprises his role as FBI special agent Jimmy Woo (who gained more credibility in Marvel Studios’ “Wanda” series).
You don’t have to wait until February to see heroes in action. Ventura native Zachary Levi continues his light-hearted approach to playing a boy in a man’s body in “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” which will be out later in December. For the record, Billy Batson, Mr. Levi’s character, is the original Captain Marvel, who was created long before Marvel Comics introduced its own Captain Marvel.
When Billy yells “Shazam!,” he becomes a man and a superhero with powers similar to Superman, but he has less experience, maturity and finesse. That’s clear in the humor evident in the trailer.
And Mr. Levi is perfectly cast in this role. This writer interviewed him frequently during an earlier part of his career, when he starred in the spy spoof “Chuck” on NBC, and his fun, kidlike spirit was always evident.
Mr. Levi really is a big kid in a man’s body, and that makes him the perfect choice for the “Shazam!” movies.
For those who prefer more down-to-earth stories over superhero tales, the late fall/winter season offers that too. Among the most anticipated films may be “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” also out in December and concerning the life of Whitney Houston.
Here’s the release schedule for movies landing in theaters. Descriptions and details are included with most of the films.
“Violent Night.” This R-rated twist on the Christmas tradition stars David Harbour as Santa Claus, and the cast includes John Leguizamo as Scrooge and Beverly d’Angelo as Getrude Ligthsteon. Tommy Wirkola directs the film, in which Santa Claus must save the day when a group of mercenaries attacks a wealthy family’s estate.
“Empire of Light.” Sam Mendes directed and wrote this film, which stars “The Crown’s” Olivia Coleman as Hilary, Micheal Ward as Stephen and Colin Firth as Donald Ellis. The story is set in an English coastal town during the early 1980s.
“Avatar: The Way of Water.” Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek” and the “Guardian of the Galaxy” movies), Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver reprise their roles from the first film in this sequel co-written by and directed by James Cameron. Jake Sully (Mr. Worthington) is living with his new family on the planet of Pandora when a familiar threat returns. Kate Winslet is in this movie as Ronal.
“Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.”
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” Naomi Ackie and Stanley Tucci star as Whitney Houston and record mogul Clive Davis in this biopic.
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” Antonio Banderas is back as the voice of the famous cat in a new adventure.
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” Zachary Levi reprises his role as the DC Comics superhero.
“Wildcat.” Harry Turner is dealing with PTSD after his time in Afghanistan when he goes to the Peruivian Amazon. There he meets scientist Samantha Zwicker, and they work together to raise orphaned wildlife.
“Babylon.” Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie star in this story about the rise and fall of people during early Hollywood. Damien Chazelle directed the film and wrote the screenplay.
“A Man Called Otto.” Tom Hanks stars as a grumpy widower who meets his match when a young family moves next door. This movie will be in select theaters on Christmas Day before seeing its wide release on Jan. 13.
“M3GAN.” Watch out as a doll comes to life, thanks to a robotics engineer. Gerard Johnston directs the story starring Allison Williams and Jenna Davis.
“A Man Called Otto.” Wide release.
“House Party.” Starring Jacob Latmore and Allen Maldonado, the story is about a high school kid hosting a house party when his parents are away. This is a remake of the 1990 comedy. It’s rated R.
“Distant.” A photographer has a crisis after his wife leaves him in this movie directed and written by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Stars are Muzaffer Ozdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak and Zuhal Gencer.
“Plane.” Gerard Butler stars as a pilot caught in a war zone when he’s forced to land his commercial airplane during a storm. The film also stars Mike Colter.
“Shotgun Wedding.” Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Coolidge star in this movie directed by Jason Moore and written by Mark Hammer. A couple’s destination wedding is hijacked by criminals.
“80 for Brady.” Sally Field, Rita Moreno and Jane Fonda star as friends determined to meet NFL star Tom Brady.
“Knock at the Cabin.” Dave Bautista and Jonathan Groff star in this thriller directed by M. Night Shyamalan. A girl and her parents are taken hostage by strangers who demand the family averts the apocalypse. No pressure.
“Your Place Or Mine.” Reese Witherspoon, Wesley Kimmel and Steve Zahn star in this story about two best friends. One decides to pursue her dream, and the other one agrees to keep an eye on her teenage son.
“What About Love.” Sharon Stone and Andy Garcia star in this romantic drama, released, of course, on Valentine’s Day.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this story that takes the heroes into the Quantum Realm.
“Of An Age.” Thom Green, Hattie Hook.
“Cocaine Bear.” Keri Russell, Ray Liotta, O’Shea Jackson Jr. star.
“Jesus Revolution.” Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Kelsey Grammer and Jonathan Roumie star in this true story that involves a community of teenage hippies, living in the early 1970s in Southern California.