Original artwork by Leona Moylan
2021 has been a slightly underwhelming year for cinema. That isn’t to say there haven’t been adequate films – major blockbusters (Black Widow, A Quiet Place Part II) and smaller independent movies (Judas and the Black Messiah, The Green Knight) have left audiences and critics satisfied. But previous years offered far more exciting offerings. 2019 had showstopping franchise finales like Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; and in 2018 groundbreaking features such as Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse were released. However, 2021 isn’t over yet, and students can look forward to seeing many more fantastic films in theaters or in the comfort of their own homes over the next few months. Here are just three of the films that everyone should be eagerly anticipating…
Denis Villeneuve, director of sci-fi epics such as Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, is directing his biggest one yet: an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel “Dune,” the world’s best-selling science fiction novel. The book has been adapted before. In 1984, surrealist filmmaker David Lynch tackled the project. The film got mixed reactions – 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and similar scores on IMDb and Letterboxd. Most of its criticisms relate to its inability to adapt the book’s nine hundred pages of extremely elaborate plot into a mere 137-minute run time. This is why Villeneuve is writing two Dune films – the first set to come out this October, the second (Dune: Part II) coming out about a year after. Dune will be 155 minutes, and Part II could be even longer, which hopefully means Villeneuve will faithfully adapt “Dune” and its immense world without the films feeling rushed. “Dune” follows the teenage Paul Atreides, whose family accepts a request to rule the inhospitable desert planet Arrakis, the only planet that can produce a life-prolonging drug called “the spice,” “We are House Atreides, there is no call we do not answer; there is no faith that we betray,” the Duke Leto Atreides (Paul’s father) proclaims in the film’s trailer. This is a simple premise, but it is made far less simple by complex interplanetary politics and explorations of human emotion, ecology, technology, and religion. Paul is played by Timothee Chalamet, famous for his roles in Call Me By Your Name and Little Women. He’s joined by stars even more massive than him – Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, and more. The novel is considered one of the best of its time, a true masterpiece. It has been compared to something like The Lord of the Rings, but in space. This is why it is so exciting to see an adaptation of Dune by one of the greatest filmmakers working today, starring some of the finest modern actors. The film releases October 22nd in theaters and on HBO Max.
2021 might not have been a great year for film overall, but it has been and will continue to be a fantastic year for fans of the MCU, or Marvel Cinematic Universe. Eternals is about the titular Eternals, immortal aliens having secretly lived on Earth for seven millenniums. They were created by the Celestials, introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy as an ancient race of entities predating the dawn of galactic civilization. We only know about this film what the trailers have told us – the Blip (the return of half of humanity in Avengers: Endgame) provided the necessary energy for “the Emergence.” What exactly the Emergence is is a mystery. But two things can be inferred. First, the Emergence is bad. The trailer shows oceans and forests folding in on themselves, trees smashing to pieces in a whirlwind of wood and water. According to the Eternals’ spiritual leader Ajak, all of humanity will be destroyed in seven days. And second, it has something to do with the Deviants, a race of shapeshifting humanoids described in the Eternals synopsis as humanity’s “evil counterparts.” The Emergence will destroy humanity if the Eternals do not step in. But they don’t plan on watching humanity, a race whom they love, die. As Sersi, another member of the Eternals, proclaims in the trailer, “When you love something… you protect it.” Eternals looks to have a fantastic story, as well as an incredible cast – stars such as Kumail Nanjiani and Angelina Jolie feature in the trailer – but its real selling point comes in the form of Chloe Zhao, the woman who wrote and directed Nomadland, which won both Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars last year. She is the director signed on for Eternals, and the first Oscar-winning director to direct an MCU film. Even colossal MCU fans can admit that most of the universe’s entries lack phenomenal cinematography or stunning color correction. But Zhao’s involvement with the film has clearly turned Eternals into the exception, not the rule. Eternals should please MCU fans and cinephiles alike. It looks to be a fresh, interesting entry in the universe, featuring fresh and interesting characters, directed by perhaps one of the freshest and most interesting directors. The film releases November 5th, exclusively in theaters.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
In just four days, the newly released teaser trailer for the MCU’s second Spider-Man sequel has amassed over seventy-seven million views. This is unsurprising, considering that it is far more important of a film than simply a second MCU Spider-Man sequel. At the end of the last Spider-Man film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, the film’s villain Mysterio told the world Spider-Man’s secret identity. And worse, he manipulated footage to make it appear that Peter Parker had murdered him. With his life catastrophically askew, he pays a visit to Doctor Strange, asking him to make the world forget he is Spider-Man. He agrees, but messes up in some way – at least, that’s what the trailer implies. His spell and its expanding orange runes suddenly collapse, bright colors flashing and compressing in the blink of an eye. In the following shot, he tells Peter, “We tampered with the stability of space-time… the multiverse is something about which we know frighteningly little.” What follows next is every nerd’s dream come true – a confirmation that, as the Internet has been speculating for the last several months, Spider-Man: No Way Home will feature not just the Spider-Man we know and love from the MCU, but the Spider-Men featured in the Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man franchises. It is all but guaranteed that Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire will all be starring in the upcoming film, all playing Peter Parker. The two do not actually appear in the trailer, but characters such as Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, and Electro do – Doc Ock’s face even being shown, confirming that he will be played by the same actor (Alfred Molina) as in the original Spider-Man trilogy. Jamie Foxx, who played Electro in the Amazing Spider-Man duology, has confirmed that he will star in the film as Electro; Willem Dafoe, the actor for the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man films, has been spotted on the set of No Way Home multiple times. There are more rumors that have been semi-confirmed, but everything surrounding them is far more speculative than factual, so this reporter will refrain from discussing them. However, they only add weight to what is seeming less and less like fiction and more and more like fact – No Way Home will be a massive multiversal event starring not just Tom Holland, but his counterparts Garfield and Maguire as well. Spider-Man: No Way Home releases in theaters December 17th.