Will 2016, with its over-abundance of sequels on the horizon (Ride Along 2, Kung Fu Panda 3, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — to name just a few), be in a position to introduce audiences to new characters that might one day join the ongoing pantheon of franchise players that dominate the multiplexes?What was it that The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) said about character in Pulp Fiction? “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.” Those are wise words for a new year.Hail, Caesar! (Feb. 5) – No set of writers and directors has given us a greater and more eccentric cast of characters than Joel and Ethan Coen, which means everyone should start lining up now to purchase tickets to Hail, Caesar!. The new film from the Brothers Coen stars Josh Brolin as a Hollywood fixer, a behind-the-scenes private contractor who guarantees that studio stars stay out of trouble (or, once trouble rears its ugly head, the fixer takes care of the situation by any means necessary). Since we’re talking about the Coens — who brought the trials and tribulations of Barton Fink (John Turturro), The Dude (Jeff Bridges), Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) to the screen — have no fear that they will deliver another set of characters that will feel as if they belong to only us.Deadpool (Feb. 12) – Alright, I have to admit that including Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is a bit of a cheat, because the character has already been featured in another film — X-Men Origins: Wolverine — but honestly, who really counts that movie as part of the X-Men onscreen legacy (or within the greater compendium of movie history)? It definitely feels like director Tim Miller and Reynolds (who kept hope alive for this project when it was dead, cremated, buried, dug up, re-cremated and then shot into deep space just to make sure) wanted not only a fresh start for the Merc with the Mouth, but were also dedicated to adhering to the tongue-in-cheek, fourth-wall-shattering flourishes that made the character leap off the page any and every time he appeared in any Marvel title. So, guess what? Dead- pool earns recognition as the character I am most looking forward to seeing in 2016.Race (Feb. 19) – A signature moment in sports history, an even more astonishing scenario in world history. During the 1936 Olympic games, Adolf Hitler seemed determined to prove that his vision of Aryan supremacy would be the only point of discussion globally. But the irresistible force of his master plan hit an immovable object in the form of one Jesse Owens (Stephan James). Television veteran Stephen Hopkins (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) shines a spotlight on a heroic figure that rarely gets the chance to step off the pages of history.The Brothers Grimsby (March 4) – With Now You See Me 2 continuing on its own without Louis Leterrier at the helm, the Luc Besson protégé seeks to chart his own course in the action-comedy realm with this spoofy spy thriller about a top agent (Mark Strong) who joins forces — completely against his will — with his long-lost football hooligan brother (Sacha Baron Cohen) in order to save the world. Intriguingly, The Brothers Grimsby promises a strong sty- listic marriage — Leterrier’s action chops (especially when it comes to outrageous displays of mayhem) with Cohen’s geopolitical absurdist comedy — that could spawn a happily unruly brood.Gods of Egypt (April 8) – Once upon a time, Alex Proyas directed an adaptation of The Crow, and despite the tragic circumstances surrounding that film, there was a real promise in the execution. Proyas took his background in short films and split his time transitioning between music videos and more features. Dark City achieved cult-like status, serving as a harbinger to The Matrix, but something happened — a switch was flicked or maybe Proyas reached a plateau. How else would you describe I, Robot and Knowing? And yet I still wonder, and hope a little, too, each time a new film arrives from him if this could be the one. Gods of Egypt, with Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, could be the prophesized breakthrough for Proyas, right?
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