2016 movie preview: My top five most anticipated films

Captain-America-Civil-War-TeamsBy Ashley Pauls/Box Office Buzz

It’s going to be hard to top “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from 2015, but there are still a number of interesting movies coming in 2016 (hey, I’m going to need something to tide me over until Episode VIII in 2017!). 😉 Here’s the top five movies I’m most looking forward to this year, in order of their release dates:

Captain America: Civil War (May 6)

I feel like I’ve already spent enough time writing about my thoughts on “Age of Ultron,” and I don’t want to keep picking at it. However, I still do feel a bit disappointed, because I don’t think the film lived up to its full potential. The good news is, “Captain America: Civil War” has the potential to deliver what we all hoped “Age of Ultron” would be: a darker, thought-provoking look at the superheroes we know and love. This is a tough one for me: Iron Man and Captain America are my two favorite Avengers (with Tony sneaking past Steve to claim my No. 1 favorite), so it’s sad to see them at odds in the trailer. The trailer raises some interesting thoughts about duty and friendship, and how to do the right thing when the issues aren’t black and white. I do have a better feeling about this one than “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” I really want that film to be good but am a little nervous about it. Of the two superhero vs. superhero films, I think “Dawn of Justice” is more likely to be a flop.

X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)

After time-traveling to change history in “Days of Future Past,” the X-Men face an even more serious threat this time around: the world’s first mutant, known as Apocalypse. Now immortal and seemingly invincible, Apocalypse has brainwashed a team of mutants (including Michael Fassbender’s Magneto) and intends to do what supervillains do best: destroy the world. I enjoyed “Days of Future Past,” which combined the cast from the original X-Men trilogy and the newer prequel series. While I’m sad that the original Magneto and Professor X (Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart) don’t appear to be returning, I loved Fassbender and James McAvoy’s portrayals as the younger versions of those characters. I’m curious to see what happens with Magneto’s character in this film and if he actually betrays his friends in the end or decides to help them.

Star Trek: Beyond (July 22)

Some fans weren’t as pleased with the first trailer for “Star Trek: Beyond,” saying it looks too much like “Fast and Furious” in space (director Justin Lin has worked on the “Fast and Furious” franchise). However, I like the hints that this trailer gives us. The previous two Trek films drew heavily on Star Trek lore, but I think this film will take us to someplace new. Although J.J. Abrams isn’t returning as the director, some of the crew members who worked on his previous Trek films are. Actor Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty) also helped write the script. I really love the cast in these rebooted Star Trek films; they manage to capture the spirit of the characters from the Original Series while also bringing something new to the roles. I’m excited to see where this franchise is headed in the future.

Doctor Strange (Nov. 4)

While “Doctor Strange” will take the Marvel franchise into newer, more mystical territory, I’m not really worried about this one. Marvel has shown many times they can successfully translate tricky concepts; after “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man,” I think they are capable of creating a good movie starring just about any character. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favorite actors, and I believe the role of Doctor Strange will be a good fit for him. I’m also excited to see how this character will fit into the overarching Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.

Star Wars: Rogue One (Dec. 16)

Part of me wishes this was actually “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” because I’m very eager to find out what happens next in the saga, but this could still be an interesting spin-off adventure. “Rogue One” follows a band of Rebels who set out to steal the plans for the Death Star before the events of “A New Hope.” This movie will start to test how far Disney can take the Star Wars brand; will people still go to see this even though it (presumably) does not have any familiar characters? The cast is solid, with Oscar-nominated Felicity Jones and cult favorite/former “Firefly” star Alan Tudyk. I don’t think this will come close to making the same amount of money as “The Force Awakens,” but I hope this works, because I would like to see more spin-off films, especially a Han Solo prequel or a standalone Boba Fett story.

So, what movies are you most excited about in 2016? What will be the biggest hit? What will be the biggest flop?

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