2021 will be a hugely transitional year for television and cinema as they react to our new post-pandemic habits. It could also be hugely entertaining year for audiences, as we get all those delayed 2020 releases plus some new ones. Here are my picks for three TV shows and three movies to see this year, plus a rundown of other big series and films:
Wonder Woman 1984” has automatic goodwill by being released straight into our homes for free (if we already have HBO Max), and director/co-writer Patty Jenkins cashes in a lot of it in the early going. We like Diana/Wonder Woman because she’s so perfectly played by Gal Gadot, and Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor has great chemistry with our heroine, and Kristen Wiig makes a decent Barbara/Cheetah. But after a neat Themyscira triathlon in the style of ancient Rome featuring kiddie Diana (Lilly Aspell, returning from the 2017 original), the sequel moves to 1984 Washington, D.C., and switches to a plodding pace.
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” plays like a throw-it-at-the-wall experiment, but an earnest one. This eighth DC Extended Universe movie is certainly the least stiff — a free-flowing, time-jumping crime-and-evasion tale from the perspective of flighty narrator Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who we met in “Suicide Squad.” It’s not as good as it should be, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.
Here are 10 movies and 10 TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
There’s something to be said about B-list superheroes. The average moviegoer (who doesn’t have a doctorate in comic-book lore) has lower expectations, and we also don’t have as many preconceived notions about what the movie should be. “Shazam!,” featuring a game turn by Zachary Levi and a cadre of good child actors, slots nicely into this space, calling to mind “Big” (and at one point directly referencing the Tom Hanks classic) but also making me hope the kid-on-the-inside Shazam can exchange dialog with the dour Batman at some point.
With “Shazam!” – the superhero answer to “Big,” starring Zachary Levi – hitting theaters April 5 and “Aquaman” available for rental March 26, it’s a good time to look back at the DC Extended Universe as it stands so far. While I admit the DCEU can’t hold a candle to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which again owns the superhero calendar with three 2019 films, or even the in-flux X-Men Universe, I’m probably in the role of DCEU apologist in most conversations about superhero movies.
Aquaman” (2018) is an artistic feast, with its underwater city of Atlantis, its bevy of sea creatures and the way the ocean peoples’ hair flows in the water. This latest DC Extended Universe film takes full advantage of the possibilities of modern special effects. Jason Momoa is a pretty good special effect, too, as the title character. As we know from “Justice League,” he isn’t like the cartoon version, but he boasts brawn and charm and makes all the punchlines about Aquaman instantly outdated.
Our year-end countdown lists wrap up with Shaune’s picks for the 10 best movies of 2018:
In the Fall 2018 Movie Preview episode, John and Michael each pick their “three to see” this fall.
John’s Three to See:
- “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
- “The Predator”
Michael’s Three to See:
- “First Man”
- “Bad Times at the El Royale”
The fall movie season arguably looks better than the summer season this year, with a nice mix of traditional fall films and a few scattered blockbusters – although a look at each film’s pedigree reveals this to still be the season of the auteur. Here are my picks for the top 10 movies to see: