Films to look forward to in 2019: Part Two

02 Apr 2019

5 mins

With the beginning of the year and its coveted award season behind us, we now prepare for the arrival of the summer blockbuster and, along with it, our second preview of 2019. Throughout the next three months, get ready to be immersed in thrilling live-action and animated fantasy worlds or be moved by more intimate, teen-fronted features.

Adventures for the Family

April kicks off with several comedy adventure films such as Shazam!, the latest film adaptation based on the DC Comics superhero universe, in which a street-smart 14-year-old boy can magically transform into a cape-wearing adult superhero by shouting one word. Released on the same day, Missing Link, from the groundbreaking animation studio LAIKA and the director of ParaNorman, is a beautifully animated film exploring feelings of loneliness, belonging and the importance of respecting others through the story of Mr. Link, an adorable 8-feet-tall furry yeti. Alongside Sir Lionel Frost, a renowned myths and monsters investigator, and adventurer Adelina Fortnight, Mr Link travels to the fabled Shangri-La in search of his own kind. 

Beyond these, Wonder Park pictures another colourful fantasy world in which a creative young girl discovers that the magnificent amusement park she had imagined with her mother has come to life; Spy Cat follows the hilarious crime investigations of Special Agent Marnie and her cat-friends; and The Secret Life of Pets 2 continues the story of spoiled dog Max and his pet buddies as they go about their secret adventures after their owners leave the house each day.

Release dates*:

  • Shazam!: 5 April
  • Missing Link: 5 April
  • Wonder Park: 8 April
  • Spy Cat: 26 April
  • The Secret Life of Pets 2: 24 May

Young Protagonists 

Teen-oriented films make for an increasing number of cinema releases in the next few months, particularly from first-time actors-turned-directors exploring notions of childhood, identity, coming-of-age and much more.

American actress Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut with Booksmart, a female-fronted film starring up and comers Kaitlyn Dever (Beautiful Boy) and Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird) as two attentive, straight-A high school students who make up for four years of hard work by indulging themselves in an epic night of fun on the eve of their graduation. Mid-90s, written and directed by debutante filmmaker Jonah Hill is an aesthetically compelling nostalgic trip back to 1996, capturing a summer in the poor neighbourhoods of Los Angeles where 13-year-old Stevie struggles to cope with a troubled family life, finding a sense of belonging when he befriends a group of skateboarders.

Another 13-year-old is the focus of comedian Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade, an insightful comedy led by Elsie Fisher's powerful performance as a girl in her last year of middle school who struggles balancing her social anxiety at school and her confident online persona; meanwhile We The Animals is a heartfelt lyrical coming-of-age tale tackling questions of identity and emerging sexuality through the formative years of Manny, Joel and Jonah, three brothers attempting to navigate a turbulent home life and find their own way in the world.

Release dates*:

  • Mid-90s: 12 April 
  • Eighth Grade: 26 April 
  • Booksmart: 31 May 
  • We The Animals: 14 June

Celebrating the Artist

Raffey Cassidy (TomorrowlandSnow White and the Hunstman) and Natalie Portman play, respectively, young and adult pop star Celeste in Vox Lux, a film tracing key moments in the life of a teenage music prodigy who rises to fame after singing at a memorial service following a tragic school shooting. Further proof that the demand for the musical genre is not slowing down after its 2018 triumphant return on the big screen comes in the form of Rocketman, an epic musical biopic retelling Sir Elton John's breakthrough years and Yesterday, a romantic musical directed by Danny Boyle from a screenplay by Richard Curtis, in which a struggling musician wakes up to discover that he is the only person to remember The Beatles, using the iconic group's hits to boost his career.

A good resource for literature classes, Tolkien is a biopic about the famed British author, his early life, friendships and romances, as well as the experiences which have inspired his worldwide successes set in Middle-earth, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Release dates*: 

  • Vox Lux: 3 May 
  • Tolkien: 3 May
  • Rocket Man: 24 May 
  • Yesterday: 28 June 

Anticipated Blockbusters

Thrilling adventures await adorable and hilarious Detective Pikachu in the film of the same name when a young man asks for his help to solve the mystery behind his father's disappearance. As the duo joins forces and chases clues throughout the modern metropolis of Ryme City, they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters but also discover a plot that threatens the peaceful co-existence between humans and Pokémon.

Finally, the pre-summer season promises to bring exciting blockbusters featuring much-loved characters to UK cinema screens. Continuing Disney's successful string of live-action films such as the recently released Dumbo (and later this year, the much-anticipated The Lion King), the vibrant remake of the 1992 animated Aladdin follows a charming street boy's adventures as he encounters a magical lamp inhabited by a Genie (played by Will Smith) who has the power to make his deepest wishes come true. Following this is the fourth film in the Toy Story franchise in which Woody, Buzz Lightyear and their friends embark on an adventurous journey alongside both long-lost friends and new ones such as Forky, a spork-turned-toy with googly eyes.

Rounding off this April-to-June film preview are fantasy and sci-fi features from major studios. Shortly after the release of Captain Marvel, the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame finds Iron Man and his cohorts fighting to bring back their vanquished allies and restore harmony after the villainous Thanos decimated the universe; and Disney/Fox's X-Men: Dark Phoenix follows the familiar heroes as they unite to preserve the galaxy from the evil threat of the Dark Phoenix after Jean Grey is hit by a solar flare that does not only make her more powerful but also dangerously uncontrollable. Last, but certainly not least, Godzilla: King of the Monsters showcases a parade of unstoppable, God-like creatures doing battle on Earth, leaving humanity's very existence hanging in the balance.

Release dates*: 

  • Avengers: Endgame: 26 April 
  • Detective Pikachu: 10 May 
  • Aladdin: 24 May 
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters: 31 May
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix: 07 June 
  • Toy Story 4: 21 June

* = release dates are subject to change

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