Testosterone-fuelled showdowns torn from the pages of Marvel and DC Comics punctuate the year, including Hugh Jackman’s final bow as Wolverine in Logan (March 3), Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (April 28), and a stand-alone origin story for Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (June 2).

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) spins a new web of intrigue in Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7), sibling rivalry unfolds on an epic scale, pitting Chris Hemsworth against Tom Hiddleston in Thor: Ragnarok (October 27), and Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) flaunt their gym-toned physiques in Justice League (November 17), directed by Zack Snyder.

Reanimation stations
Belgian cartoonist Peyo’s loveable blue creations return in Smurfs: The Lost Village (March 31), arch-villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his Minions are back in Despicable Me 3 (June 30), Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) does a final lap in Pixar’s Cars 3 (July 14).

Later in the year, everything is far from awesome in The Lego Batman Movie (August 18), and Jim Carter, Miriam Margolyes and Tim Pigott- Smith provide voices for The Little Vampire (October 13), based on the series by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg. There are also two live action renderings: Disney’s Beauty And The Beast (March 17), which pairs Emma Watson’s songbird Belle and Dan Stevens’ hideously transformed Prince, while Scarlett Johansson is a counter-terrorist cyborg in the bullet-riddled dystopia of Ghost In The Shell (March 31).

Bucks Free Press:

The bigger picture
The small screen can be thanked for big-budget thrills including Power Rangers (March 24), ofBaywatch (May 12) fand ChiPs (August 11). Outrageous stunts abound in some of the year’s biggest blockbusters. Vin Diesel growls and grimaces in xXx 3: The Return Of Zander Cage (January 19), then puts his pedal to the metal in The Fate Of The Furious (April 14), Keanu Reeves continues his renaissance as a wily hitman in John Wick: Chapter 2 (February 17), Tom Hiddleston encounters a hulking ape in Kong: Skull Island (March 10), and Johnny Depp is all at sea in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (May 26).

The war between the Autobots and Decepticons reaches a crescendo in Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23), conflict rages between the species in War For The Planet Of The Apes (July 14), Taron Egerton puts his politically incorrect spy training into practice in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (September 29), director Denis Villeneuve ( Arrival ) goes back to the future for Blade Runner 2049 (October 6), an accident-prone bear searches for his marmalade sandwiches in Paddington 2 (November 10), and Mark Hamill utters his first lines of dialogue as an aged Luke Skywalker in the as-yet-unsubtitled Star Wars: Episode VIII (December 15). A year of sequels concludes on a high note with the aca-mazing return of the Bardon Bellas in Pitch Perfect 3 (December 22) and a new Jumanji (December 29) replete with Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and a poignant tribute to Robin Williams.

There will be blood...

Tom Cruise meets his match in Sofia Boutella’s decaying Egyptian princess in The Mummy (June 9), Pennywise the shape-shifting clown dances through nightmares in Stephen King’s It (September 8), and hockey mask-clad maniac Jason Voorhees is resurrected in Friday The 13th (October 13).

Additionally, vampires and werewolves continue their feud in Underworld: Blood Wars (January 13), Milla Jovovich completes her six-picture tour in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (February 3), the urban legend of a killer videotape resurfaces in Rings (February 3), and Ridley Scott conducts a symphony of screams in deep space in Alien: Covenant (May 19). There are chills aplenty too in Annabelle 2 (May 26), World War Z 2 (June 9) starring Brad Pitt and a legion of the undead, a belated sequel to Flatliners (September 29), the conclusion to Jigsaw’s reign of terror in Saw: Legacy (October 20), and the supernatural chills of Insidious: Chapter 4 (November 3).

Bucks Free Press:

By the book...

Book shelves provide the inspiration for T2 Trainspotting (January 27), Fifty Shades Darker (February 10), the harrowing real- life events of the bombing of the 2013 Boston marathon in Patriots Day (February 24), and computer- animated comedy, The Boss Baby (April 7). Oscar nominee Jacob Tremblay ( Room ) plays a boy with a facial deformity who proves that beauty comes from within, in Wonder (April 7), the true story of an animal lover’s bravery casts Jessica Chastain as The Zookeeper’s Wife (May 5), Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her supporters face the final showdown in The Divergent Series: Ascendant (June 9), while Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey lock spurs in Stephen King’s western horror, The Dark Tower (July 28). Also, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne blast into space in Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (August 4) directed by Luc Besson, Michael Fassbender plays Detective Harry Hole in Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman (October 13), Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are plane crash survivors in The Mountain Between Us (October 20), Jennifer Lawrence essays a Russian double agent in Red Sparrow (November 10), and Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) interrogates an all-star cast of suspects including Johnny Depp, Judi Dench and Michelle Pfeiffer in Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express (November 24).

Girls and boys on film
James McAvoy plays a creepy kidnapper with 23 distinct personalities in Split (January 20) written and directed by M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), cute critters seek fame and fortune in the computer- animated musical Sing (January 27), Matt Damon faces legions of snarling beasties in Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall (February 17), and the third film in the Cloverfield franchise, God Particle (February 24), pits a team of astronauts on an international space station in a deadly race against time.

Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) and his wife (Gillian Anderson) witness the 1947 partition of India in Viceroy’s House (March 3) directed by Gurinder Chadha ( Bend It Like Beckham ), (Dane DeHaan) unearths dark secrets at a health spa in A Cure For Wellness (March 24), Guy Ritchie reimagines the story of Excalibur in King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (March 24), and an extra- terrestrial entity terrorises a space station populated by Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds in Life (March 24).

British director Ben Wheatley orchestrates a full-blooded shoot-out in Free Fire (March 31), Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer play mother and daughter in the rip-snorting comedy Snatched (May 12), director Christopher Nolan documents Dunkirk (July 21), which features the film acting debut of Harry Styles, and Tom Cruise plays a real-life airline pilot, who turned to drug smuggling in American Made (August 25). Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason trade serves as tennis greats Borg/McEnroe (August 25), firefighters face a deadly Arizona blaze in the true story of Granite Mountain (September 22), Gerald Butler faces ecological disaster in Geostorm (October 20), Liam Neeson stumbles into a deadly conspirator in The Commuter (October 20), and the computer animation wizards at Pixar compose their love letter to Mexican culture, Coco (December 8).

Natalie Portman is spellbinding as Jackie Onassis in Pablo Larrain’s unconventional biopic Jackie (January 20), Annette Bening is a delight as a free-spirited divorcee in Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women (February 10), newcomer Lily Gladstone merits inclusion in Kelly Reichardt’s tender drama Certain Women (March 3), and Isabelle Huppert is in blistering form as a rape victim who becomes empowered by her horrific ordeal, in Paul Verhoeven’s provocative Elle (March 10).

Cameraperson (January 27) champions the power of film to capture everyday life, and when it comes to the foreign language film contenders, Maren Ade’s epic 162-minute comic masterpiece Toni Erdmann (February 3) should sweep all before it. However, it faces competition from Xavier Dolan’s divisive drama It’s Only The End Of The Worl d (February 24), Asghar Farhadi’s suspenseful character study The Salesman (March 31), Claude Barras’ delightful animation My Life As A Courgette (May 5), and the morbidly funny Swedish comedy drama A Man Called Ove (June 30) based on the bestseller by Fredrik Backman.

Damon Smith