Spring Movie Preview: Cyberpunk Thrillers, Revived Classics, and Clawed Conclusions!

With the first two months of the new year already giving us some kick-ass sequels, a few animated hits, and plenty to look forward for the rest of 2017, it's time to take a peek at some of the biggest films coming to theaters soon. From a grim and violent send-off for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine to the revival of a handful of film and television properties like Power Rangers and Beauty and the Beast, Spring 2017 is shaping up to deliver either some of the best money-makers of the year, or some of the most dismal. Whether you're a gung-ho action fan seeking more fast cars and giant killer monkeys, or a grown-up (or at least a '90s kid) wishing to relive the times of your childhood, this Spring has plenty for you to snack on.  

Superhero Sequels: The Grand, the Gritty, and the Galactic

Logan - Already shaping up to be not only a fantastic follow-up to 2013's The Wolverine, but also one of the best superhero films of the decade, this month's gritty final outing for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has become one of the most anticipated films of the year. With its vicious western tone set against a story of revenge and family, Logan looks to be a game-changing superhero flick that doesn't rely on the glitz and glam of past comic-book films to make it memorable. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - While Logan may not be that hard of a sell for a Marvel fan who loves both the character and gritty post-apocalyptic westerns, another superhero film set to release this May still has me on the fence. While the explosive follow-up to 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy might look even grander and more rambunctious than its predecessor, I'm still curious to see just how director James Gunn pushes the boundaries to make this sequel stand out as its own unique adventure. Then again, it's hard not to love Baby Groot.  

Excavating the Past: Reboots and Reimaginings

Power Rangers - The first in line for this year's slew of reboots and remakes comes from one property that isn't too unfamiliar with both the small screen and the big. Tossing the characters of creator Haim Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers into the realm of big-budget filmmaking, after spawning a hit television series and two feature films, the new reimagining finds the five teens made popular by the show discovering their unique powers once more. While the film may appear to be your generic superhero origin tale, the March film still has promise to rejuvenate the franchise and garner it even more fame.  

Baywatch - Another reboot that hopes to revive a popular relic of the past is May's testosterone-filled action-comedy Baywatch. Based on the famed 1989 television series, that saw a gang of rather-attractive lifeguards pitted against the ever-present dangers of the California beach scene, the reboot finds the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron taking up the reins in a similar plot of lifeguard antics. While the premise may not seem at all ground-breaking, the chemistry between Johnson, Efron, and the rest of the cast could offer up a decent late Spring comedy. 

Kong: Skull Island - Quickly becoming another one of my most-anticipated films of the year, the riveting action-thriller of Kong: Skull Island looked to be just what the ape-king King Kong needed to stomp back onto the big screen. Looking now almost as both a refueled version of 2005's King Kong, as well as a dynamic homage to Apocalypse Now, Skull Island still has the great cast and visual splendor to be one of the biggest action films of the year.    

Beauty and the Beast - With Disney now retooling most of their popular animated films for the live-action platform -- everything from Cinderella to The Jungle Book -- the latest victim in their line-up is the beautiful tale of true love and indifference, Beauty and the Beast. With an elegant cast including Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, and Ian McKellen, and a visually-captivating atmosphere, Beauty and the Beast might look to be a carbon copy of its animated predecessor, but could end up being an original, and faithful, homage to one of Disney's best. 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - Ever since director Guy Ritchie spawned his first breathtakingly fresh version of Sherlock Holmes in 2009, and subsequently followed it up with its own dynamic sequel, I have retained a great sense of hope for many of his film projects up to this day. With his latest outing painting a riveting new portrait of King Arthur and the sword Excalibur, I can't help but get excited for what Ritchie has up his sleeve. With its setting  in 4th century London offering a plethora of visual opportunities for the director, and its characters looking to be somewhat-modernized versions of the ones in Arthurian lore, this film could be the perfect platform for Ritchie's unique and unhinged storytelling.    

Blockbuster Franchises Still Afloat

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - With the fifth Transformers not too far down the line, another blockbuster property ringing in for the fifth time is the swashbuckling franchise of pirates and high seas. With the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series looking to both retain the roots of the franchise, while also usher in a soft reboot of the saga, Dead Men Tell No Tales looks like it could be an enjoyable adventure for long-time fans of the series. With the promising return of Orlando Bloom's Will Turner offering some incentive, I may still need a bit more convincing before I set sail with this one. 

The Fate of the Furious - Possibly one of the biggest -- and richest -- franchises still around, the Fast and Furious series of fast cars, over-the-top stunts, and family drama straps in its eighth adventure as it lays out its latest convoluted plot. While 2011's Fast Five might still be my favorite of the series, the high-octane franchise continues to draw audiences in with its no-holds-barred action and the fluent chemistry of its cast. With number eight fueled up and ready to twist our expectations as its lead Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) turns on his family, the Fast and Furious franchise looks like it may still have some gas left in the engine. 

Alien: Covenant - While the sequels to Pirates and Fast and Furious might be expected, one follow-up I was not expecting was another Alien film. Yes, while May's Alien: Covenant might act as a direct sequel to 2012's Prometheus, this intriguing prequel to 1979's sci-fi horror classic Alien looks to return to the true roots of the first film. While Prometheus surely wasn't a wasted effort in my eyes, Alien: Covenant looks to be a much more prominent tie-in to the overall franchise, exploring not only the origins of the famed Xenomorph, but also the characters that helped create it. 

Sci-Fi Thrillers and Shoot-Em-Up Killers

Ghost in the Shell - While Alien: Covenant might be the big sci-fi film to hit theaters this Spring, another ambitious project in the pipeline is the cyberpunk thriller Ghost in the Shell. With the visual appeal of Blade Runner, and the eccentric storytelling of the manga genre, Ghost in the Shell aims to bring one of biggest manga series to the live-action screen. With its premise of a counter-cyberterrorism task force led by field officer The Major already having a long history in literature, film, and television, the slick and intriguing slew of characters inhabit the big screen once more with hopes of delivering a fascinating crime thriller.     

Life - Looking to be in the vein of both Gravity and Alien with its premise of a team of scientists who find themselves stranded in space when they discover a dangerous new form of alien life, Life presents yet another generic-looking horror film that could still surprise us. Yes, while the only true thing drawing me to the film is its cast -- which includes Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson -- the film hopefully will try to differentiate itself from the space-horror films we've all seen before. Or maybe it'll be Passengers with deadly man-eating aliens. 

The Circle - Yet another thriller that's brimming with both sci-fi elements and an efficient cast is April's adaptation of Dave Eggers' 2013 novel, The Circle. With the film tackling issues of privacy and security similar to that of last year's Snowden, while also boasting an attractive cast including Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and John Boyega, it looks almost like The Internship meets The Truman Show. With far less wit and suspense than the two, let's hope the latest book to be touched by Hollywood can manage to leave its mark.

The Belko Experiment - While I might not be the biggest fan of horror films, especially ones involving both the paranormal and the predicable, one horror film that caught my eye this Spring was The Belko Experiment. While the film's producers might have conjured up such films as Annabelle and The Conjuring, The Belko Experiment offers something on the other side of the spectrum from your typical paranormal jump scares. Pitting a building full of white-collar office workers against each other in a deadly game of kill or be killed, the James Gunn-written thriller aims to inject a more sophisticated premise than The Purge into its product, while also delivering a nail-bitting, full-throttle horror flick.

Free Fire - Another somewhat simple premise involving psycho-killers and gunplay comes in the form of Ben Wheatley's latest, April's shoot-em-up thriller Free Fire. While this one may not be at the top of my radar for the Spring season, its ambitious premise of a deal gone wrong and its dynamic cast of Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, and Cillian Murphy could be enough to make it a stand-out indie for the Spring.

What films are you most excited to see this Spring? Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comment section below, and remember to come back for more film reviews as the Spring season kicks off!

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