Worth Watching in 2021: Blockbuster films return to cinemas

Daniel Craig dons the tuxedo for the last time in his fifth outing as Agent 007 in the film No Time To Die.
Daniel Craig dons the tuxedo for the last time in his fifth outing as Agent 007 in the film No Time To Die.PHOTO: UIP

SINGAPORE - Will things return to normal this year or will it be Pandemic: Year Two?

In 2020, Covid-19 caused major films to push release dates to this year, mainly because of lockdowns affecting cinema patronage in the United States.

But the American situation should matter less this year as major Hollywood studios have decided to cut their risks.

This year, online releases on platforms such as Disney+ and HBO Max will become the backup option or maybe even the first.

This means that in Singapore, the major films listed here are likely to open as planned in cinemas.

Here are the top movies to catch in the year ahead.


Raya and The Last Dragon, March 4


The animation comes from screenwriters Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians, 2018) and Qui Nguyen. PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

This Disney animation feature, set in a South-east Asia-inspired world, comes from screenwriters Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians, 2018) and Qui Nguyen, who trace their roots to Malaysia and Vietnam respectively.

In the fictional land of Kumandra, Princess Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) must find and bond with the dragon Sisu (Awkwafina) to defeat the monsters attacking her people.

Nomadland, March 25


Nomadland is strongly tipped to take home the Best Picture prize at the Oscars in April. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM SEARCHLIGHTPICTURES/YOUTUBE

This movie about living the van life won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, and the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.

It is strongly tipped to take home the Best Picture prize at the Oscars in April, along with a Best Actress nod for Frances McDormand.

Written and directed by Los Angeles-based Chinese director Chloe Zhao, the movie follows Fern (played by McDormand), who, after going bankrupt in the 2008 recession, moves into a mobile home and encounters a subculture (members of which are played by real nomads) comprising the poor and rootless.

The Father, March 25


The film is gaining traction as a Best Picture favourite at the Oscars. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

Along with Nomadland, this family drama, adapted from a stage production, is gaining traction as a Best Picture favourite at the Oscars while earning praise for the performances by Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins.

Hopkins is the title figure, a loving, sensitive man who increasingly believes that those around him are out to hurt him. Is he right? Is everyone, even his daughter, played by Colman, lying and pretending to care when all they want is to inherit what is left of his wealth?

Time and reality become slippery in this work from French writer-director Florian Zeller.

No Time To Die, April 1


This is Daniel Craig's fifth time playing Agent 007. PHOTO: UIP

Daniel Craig dons the tuxedo for the last time in his fifth outing as Agent 007.

The plot in this picture, which was supposed to have been released last year, is set five years after the events of Spectre (2015).

Christoph Waltz's uber-villain Blofeld is behind bars, so an associate enters the picture: Safin, played by Emmy winner Rami Malek. Bond has left the spy game, but is lured back one more time to take care of Safin.

Cary Joji Fukunaga (HBO crime series True Detective, 2014; war drama Beasts Of No Nation, 2015) directs Craig's 007 swan song.

A Quiet Place 2, April 22


The film is the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2018 horror flick. PHOTO: UIP

After a long delay, the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2018 horror flick will finally make it to the cinemas.

This instalment, directed again by actor John Krasinski, adds survivors played by Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou.

Krasinski's wife, British actress Emily Blunt, reprises her role in the first film.

Black Widow, April 29


Black Widow's story in this movie will include bits of her origin story. PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

The Marvel superhero Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlett Johansson since the character's 2010 debut in Iron Man 2, goes from being a supporting character to having her own movie.

The picture also kicks off phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which rolls out new characters and stories following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).

Black Widow's story in this movie will include bits of her origin story, but also the figure of ally Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), who appears to take on the mantle of the new Black Widow.

Fast and Furious 9, May 27


Fast and Furious 9 is a follow-up to 2017's The Fate Of The Furious. PHOTO: UIP

The gang of high-octane mercenaries - played by Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriquez, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris - return in this follow-up to 2017's The Fate Of The Furious.

Wrestler-actor John Cena enters the franchise as Jakob, the long-lost brother of Diesel's Dominic.

One point of interest is the return of the fan favourite character of Han (Sung Kang). He was seen to have died in the third movie, Tokyo Drift (2006),a scene revisited in Fast And Furious 6 (2013) with an overlay of new information.

As the trailer shows, he is very much alive and fans are wondering how.

Others

The second half of the year sees the release of more major films, including another two Marvel productions.

The Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (July 8) stars Simu Liu in the title role, with Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina and Ronny Chieng in supporting roles.

Eternals (Oct 28), a pivotal work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's phase four, is about a powerful alien race of the film's title. It stars Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Kumail Nanjiani.


The Suicide Squad features characters and actors from 2016's Suicide Squad. PHOTO: WARNER BROS

The DC Comics world will churn out The Suicide Squad (Aug 5), which features characters and actors from 2016's Suicide Squad but in a standalone story. Margot Robbie, Idris Elba and John Cena star.

In the cinemas on June 24 will be animation comedy Minions 2: The Rise Of Gru, the follow-up to 2015's Minions.

Action movie Top Gun Maverick follows on July 1. Tom Cruise reprises the role of cocky fighter pilot role Maverick from the 1986 movie. Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm also star.

In September, the highly anticipated science-fiction epic Dune will be released. In this adaption of the celebrated Frank Herbert book series, Timothee Chalamet is Paul Atreides, a man born with the qualities of a prophesied saviour.

The year closes with the Disney musical West Side Story in December, an adaptation of the classic 1961 film, which itself was based on Romeo And Juliet and which spawned hit songs such as Somewhere, America and Tonight.