Despite Ridley Scott being back at the reins, Prometheus (2012) turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. Its sequel (and the prequel to the original Alien) looks miles better already.
Ripley-esque Katherine Waterston and Danny McBride are among crewmates on the good spaceship Covenant who find what looks like paradise but turns out to be a much less friendly place. Its sole inhabitant: David, the synthetic person played by Michael Fassbender (and the highlight of Prometheus).
Two years on from their storming Ex Machina, Alex Garland and Oscar Isaac are back with the story of a biologist (Natalie Portman) who signs up for “a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply”. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a – we’re assuming – slightly unhelpful psychologist.
If the return of Harrison Ford in The Force Awakens made for the most eagerly-anticipated sci-fi of 2015, the return of Harrison Ford in a very belated Blade Runner sequel must make Denis Villeneuve’s flick – also starring Ryan Gosling, for God’s sake – the early pick of next year’s. One of the most expensive R-rated movies ever made, it’s still pretty secret, but we do know Robin Wright, Jared Leto and Dave Bautista co-star.
The Dark Tower
Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey topline this Stephen King adaptation – the former as a lone knight patrolling the alternate dimension of Mid-World; the latter as a vicious sorcerer hellbent on preventing our 11-year-old hero reaching the Dark Tower and thus saving everyone from extinction. Danish director Nikolaj Arcel (whose last movie was period romance A Royal Affair) looks a bracingly unconventional choice to tackle King’s bracingly weird series.
Call it the hangover Gravity effect, but space is big in 2017 – very, very big. Despite some slightly ropey lineage – the director is an Independence Day veteran; Gerard Butler features prominently in the cast – there’s some positive buzz building around this tale of a man who tries to stop climate-controlling satellites from creating a huge storm. And then his brother discovers a plan to assassinate the president (Andy García). Never rains but it pours, eh?
Ghost in the Shell
The casting of Scarlett Johansson in this second big-screen transfer for the Japanese anime has raised a few eyebrows and blood pressures, but we’re still eagerly anticipating Rupert Sanders’ sleek-looking take. Juliette Binoche pops up as a doctor, in case you were still unconvinced.
Kong: Skull Island
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Kong: Skull Island: trailer for Tom Hiddleston’s epic ape adventure
Not a follow-up to Peter Jackson’s mo-cap King Kong, but rather a sister film to Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Samuel L Jackson star in the larky-looking story of explorers in Hawaii who happen on a massive angry ape (plus a very hairy John C Reilly).
More space-filling: this time Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal are among tense astronauts cultivating some seeds of life discovered on Mars. At first they’re excited, then ecstatic, and then very, very worried as it turns out it might not only destroy them but, if they return to Earth, everything there, too.
Star Wars: Episode VIII
With Rogue One winning the Christmas race even more comprehensively than predicted, signs are strong Rian Johnson’s latest instalment in the central Skywalker saga will wipe every other movie off the box office next year. Mark Hamill is said to have a slightly larger part this time round (not hard, we know), while Harrison Ford a slightly smaller one (sorry, spoiler … ).