Cinemas are reopening as more places open up after lockdowns or COVID-19 restrictions. Thanks to major studios ramping up their distribution schedules to make up for the delays from the pandemic, more films are hitting cinemas now. Here are some must-watch films coming out in 2021.
16 top movies to watch in the remainder of 2021
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi, a martial artist who is forced to confront the past that he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious organisation known as the Ten Rings. As he navigates this treacherous journey, he encounters mysterious artefacts, strange new realms, and discovers that the power within him is greater than he ever could have thought.
Read our review of Shang-Chi here. The greatest draw of this film is undoubtedly Tony Leung, who plays Shang-Chi's father Wenwu. Who would have thought that we'd one day see Tony Leung in an MCU film? It's a must-watch, with action, family drama, evocative locations, giant magical creatures, and most importantly — Asian representation. This is where Phase 4 of the MCU truly begins. Shang-Chi is currently showing in theatres but Disney+ just announced that it'll be streaming from 12 November.
Dune (16 Sep)
A mythical and emotionally charged hero’s journey, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence — a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential — only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
Our review of Dune is already out here. Based on the novel of the same name, Dune is the second attempt at a film adaptation of the story, after a controversial first adaptation was made in 1984. If you didn't know, Dune covers roughly the first half of the novel — which means that a sequel is likely if this film does well. With a sprawling ensemble cast and an equally epic premise, Dune is certainly a feast for the eyes. Will Dune manage to carve out its own legacy amongst all the other fantasy and sci-fi films coming out this season?
No Time To Die (30 Sep)
In No Time To Die, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
Having seen numerous delays, No Time To Die finally hits cinema screens this month. Fan-favourite villain Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) returns to menace Daniel Craig's Bond after his debut in Spectre, and 007 also has to contend with new antagonist Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). While Bond is the star of the show, I'm curious to see what sinister new plans Safin and Blofeld have for the spy and the rest of the world.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (1 Oct)
Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, a man bonded to an alien symbiote that serves as his clothes and weapons. Directed by Andy Serkis, the film also stars Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson in the role of the villain Cletus Kasady/Carnage.
Tom Hardy's sweaty portrayal of Venom/Eddie Brock was surprisingly entertaining in his own 2018 film Venom, which teased Carnage's appearance at the end of the film. To be honest, I feel that Woody Harrelson doesn't really fit the character of Carnage, who's often depicted as a wildly maniacal murderer with few traces of subtlety. But if it's popular, then this interpretation of the character will eventually be reflected in the comics version of Carnage.
Game Changer (7 Oct)
When a criminal overlord unexpectedly dies, his four henchmen conspire to keep it a secret and continue his criminal activities, pretending they're still acting under his orders. But their plan goes awry and they find themselves on the run from gangsters and ne'er-do-wells all over the city. Now that the game has changed, the question is — can they keep up?
This action comedy has also seen several postponements due to the pandemic, but its colour palette and quirky style has kept it on the radar all this time. Crime comedies aren't new, but to see it in Thai cinema is quite a novelty. Coupled with its whimsical set design and bold, striking use of colours, Game Changer looks like it'll live up to its name in more ways than one.
The Last Duel (14 Oct)
The Last Duel is a tale of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Jodie Comer, Adam Driver, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
Period pieces are always fun to watch, and this medieval drama looks to be no different especially with its rather contemporary themes and perspectives. With our current inability to travel, the power of cinema to bring us to different times and places is more valuable than ever — something that The Last Duel promises to do. Medieval shows have been in short supply in the past two years, and this film is a welcome addition.
Tokyo Revengers (21 Oct)
After a loser finds that a gang murdered his girlfriend, he mysteriously time travels back to his middle school days. Realising that he has a chance to change the trajectory of his life and save the girl he loves, he sets out to become the leader of the very gang that killed his girlfriend.
The live action adaptation of the popular manga and anime series brings to life a popular fantasy that everyone has had before — going back in time to change the course of one's life. The franchise is so popular that there's even been a stage play adaptation of it. The film hit Japanese cinemas earlier in July, and Tokyo Revengers looks set to land in Singapore in October.
Dear Evan Hansen (21 Oct)
Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) writes letters to himself as a way to cope with his anxiety disorder. But his letter is stolen by a classmate who later commits suicide, and it gets mistaken as a letter from the late classmate to Evan. Evan finds himself having to keep up the pretence in this coming-of-age story that is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name.
Ostensibly, this movie seems to be one that highlights issues of mental health against a backdrop of teen drama. But it's so much more than that. This musical is a story of hope and forgiveness, and its arrival could not be timelier in this era, when that is so sorely lacking.
Halloween Kills (28 Oct)
The sequel to 2018's Halloween begins right after the previous film left off. It sees the deadly masked monster Michael Myers breaking free and wreaking havoc once more. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) must lead the survivors of his rampage in a last ditch attempt to stop the killer once and for all.
If you are (or were) a fan of the Halloween movies, then 2018's Halloween reboot must have been a breath of fresh (but bloodied) air after a long string of Halloween duds. This sequel looks like it'll be more of the same, although the trailer does seem a little over the top. Let's hope that it keeps up the return to form that we saw in the previous movie.
The Eternals (4 Nov)
After the return of half the population in Avengers: Endgame (2019) ignites "the emergence", the Eternals—an immortal alien race created by the Celestials who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7,000 years—reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.
If you're a Marvel Comics fan, then you're probably incredibly excited to see the appearance of the Celestials, including Arishem the Judge! Given that the last pantheon of gods we saw (the Asgardians) were mostly wiped out in the MCU, we now have room for a new pantheon in the form of the Eternals. After all, the trailer portrays them with such poise and elegance that it's hard to think of them as anything but gods.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (18 Nov)
Set in the universe of the first two Ivan Reitman films from the 1980s, Ghostbusters: Afterlife tells the story of Callie, a single mom struggling to survive in Chicago with her two kids. When she receives news of her long-estranged father's passing, her family moves to a rotting, worthless dirt farm in the small midwestern town of Summerville. They soon discover that they have mysterious ties to the original Ghostbusters.
This new Ghostbusters film tries as hard as possible to distance itself from the 2016 reboot by openly stating which continuity it belongs to, which also taps on the nostalgia from the 1980s movies. However, if the trailer is anything to go by, it feels like it is pushing too hard on the small town aspect of the movie, which is odd since the 1980s Ghostbusters took place in the city of New York. But hey, there's the Staypuft Marshmallow Man (or at least a pint-sized version of him), so this film might still be able to recapture the glory of the first two!
West Side Story (9 Dec)
West Side Story tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. It is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.
Romeo & Juliet is a classic love story for the ages, so it's no surprise that any adaptation of it — like West Side Story — will in turn, spawn more adaptations. While seeing a film adaptation of a musical is a pale substitute for actually watching the musical live, it's the next best thing during this pandemic — and a welcome virtual trip to Broadway.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (16 Dec)
For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighbourhood hero is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life from the high stakes of being a superhero. When he asks for help from Doctor Strange the stakes become even more dangerous, forcing him to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Far From Home left us with this huge dangling cliffhanger where Spider-Man's identity as Peter Parker was revealed to the world, and this film looks like it'll resolve that! It prominently features Doctor Strange, which also means it is partially a Doctor Strange movie. But what's more exciting is that with the incorporation of the multiverse, fan-favourite villains like 2004's Doctor Octopus (and not-so-fan-favourite villains like 2014's Electro) will appear... and with them, the possibility of other versions of Spider-Man as well!
The Matrix Resurrections (22 Dec)
From visionary filmmaker Lana Wachowski comes The Matrix Resurrections, the long-awaited fourth film in the groundbreaking franchise that redefined a genre. The new film reunites original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in the iconic roles they made famous, Neo and Trinity.
Not much is known about the plot of The Matrix Resurrections, beyond the fact that it's the fourth instalment of The Matrix franchise. Neo's appearance is curious, given that he (seemingly) perished in the previous film. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II replaces Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus in this film, which will probably be explained away as some machination or error in the Matrix. Expect to see plenty of bullet-time shots in this movie.
The King's Man (23 Dec)
As a collection of history's worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them. Discover the origins of the very first independent intelligence agency in The King's Man.
It's odd to see a Kingsman film without the two leads that defined it, Taron Egerton and Colin Firth. While it's understandable because this is a prequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, it doesn't boast the same feels as the original film did. Still, it has the same visual style and quirky sense of humour, so maybe this new direction that the franchise is going in may work after all.
Life Is Beautiful (release date TBC)
The film is a musical drama about a woman Oh Se Yeon (Yum Jung-ah), who makes a strange request to her husband as a birthday gift. The request is to find her first love from her school days. Her husband Kang Jin-bong (Ryu Seung-ryong) reluctantly joins her on this journey as they sing and dance their way to their destination.
A Korean musical drama probably works best if you understand the language, since much of the meaning is lost when you're reading English subtitles for a Korean song. But K-pop fans who don't speak Korean have managed all these years, so that means that Life Is Beautiful might work for non-Korean speakers. In any case, it looks fairly funny, so it might be an amusing diversion for the holidays.
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