A backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns.
Hundreds of movies are headed to the multiplex in 2017, and a lot of them are not the first of their kind. Here is our annual preview of what is unoriginal in the coming year by way of what came beforehand. Fortunately, not all of your homework is due by January 1st. So take your time, but be prepared where preparation is needed.
Underworld (2003), Underworld: Evolution (2006), Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009), and Underworld: Awakening (2012)
If you’re like me and have never seen an Underworld movie, you probably have no intention of doing so. But maybe you want to support female directors on big genre franchise films, such as Underworld: Blood Wars helmer Anna Foerster, who is making her feature debut with the sequel. Then you’ll need to go back and acquaint yourself with Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and the war between vampires and werewolves (aka Lycans). One is a prequel, but it’s probably best to watch them in release order.
Due Date: January 6th
Sleepless Night (2011)
One of the most acclaimed films of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, Frederic Jardin’s French thriller was one of the reasons I became a Midnight Madness junkie that year. With its Die Hard comparisons and a lot of energy, Sleepless Night has enough action-packed appeal on its own that it doesn’t need an English-language remake, but alas one has been made with Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan and the shortened title Sleepless.
Due Date: January 13th
It’s been 15 years since the release of this underrated Vin Diesel vehicle, and we’re finally seeing him reprise his role as the extreme sports answer to James Bond in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. There is also a 2005 sequel called xXx: State of the Union starring Ice Cube instead of Diesel, but so far as we know (Cube’s return has been rumored but not confirmed), there’s no reason to see that before the third installment. And it is really bad.
Due Date: January 20th
Resident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), and Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
There has been a lot of good and a lot of bad throughout this franchise, which is arguably collectively the best video game adaptation ever. One of the great things about the series is they link together very well, and now the supposed conclusion, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is coming full circle with a return to the setting of the original movie. Maybe you’d be fine just watching that first chapter, then, but you’re better off going on the whole adventure with Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she battles zombies and other monsters created by a viral outbreak.
Due Date: January 27th
The Ring (2002) and The Ring Two (2005)
Also, yes, the original 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu. And maybe the 2005 short that shares its title with the upcoming sequel Rings.
Due Date: February 3rd
John Wick (2014)
If you’re a fan of this website, it’s hard to imagine you haven’t already seen the movie that made Keanu Reeves cool again. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s action thriller is now just the beginning of one of the more exciting franchises in a while, and if you indeed haven’t already seen it you’ll want to see what everyone’s been talking about and play catch up before everyone starts talking about the sequel, John Wick: Chapter Two.
Due Date: February 10th
The LEGO Movie (2014)
Nobody expected this frenetic animated feature to be such a great movie, let alone spawn a franchise we’re anticipating many amusing installments from. First up, before the official direct sequel, is the spinoff The LEGO Batman Movie, which is centered on one of the characters who was a highlight in this initial effort.
Due Date: February 10th
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
The hit erotic drama based on the bestselling “Twilight” fanfic by E.L. James. See how the romance between Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) began before going deeper into their story with Fifty Shades Darker.
Due Date: February 10th
Three O’Clock High (1987)
While I’ve seen no official confirmation that Fist Fight is intended to be a loose remake of the cult classic ’80s teen movie Three O’Clock High, someone has made the claim on Wikipedia and on IMDb (I questioned the likeness when the trailer dropped in 2016 but my tweet was deleted in a hack). The only real difference between the movies seems to be that the original is about a high school bully (Richard Tyson) who picks a fight with a nerdy student (Casey Siemaszko) and the new comedy is about a tough guy teacher (Ice Cube) who picks a fight with a nerdy teacher (Charlie Day).
Due Date: February 17th
Harvest of Despair (1984)
If you’ve never heard of The Holodomor, a man-made famine as genocidal act against ethnic Ukrainians by the Soviet Union, you’ll need the historical context prior to seeing the drama Bitter Harvest, which stars Max Irons and Samantha Barks as lovers trying not to starve to death. There have been a few foreign dramas with the Holodomor as a backdrop, but for straight information you should watch this standard but well-made Canadian documentary on the “unknown holocaust.”
Due Date: February 24th
More than 20 years later, Danny Boyle has got the gang back together for a sequel to the movie that put him and Ewan McGregor on the map. Before you choose a ticket to T2: Trainspotting, choose a look at the original, an Oscar-nominated adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel about Scottish heroin addicts and their stylish, well-soundtracked exploits.
Due Date: March 3rd
X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: First Class (2011), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
It’s very possible that the latest solo Wolverine movie will be able to stand on its own. But there are likely links from past installments of the X-Men franchise. Logan has been said to follow the aftermath of X-Men: Days of Future Past and also continue from a tease of Mister Sinister in X-Men: Apocalypse. To get to the new movie through those sequels, you need to start from the beginning with Hugh Jackman’s first portrayal of the specially engineered mutant antihero. But you can skip the now barely canonical X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And if it’s true that Deadpool doesn’t have a cameo, you don’t need to see his movie either.
Due Date: March 3rd
Broken Lullaby (1932)
Ernst Lubitsch’s classic World War I drama Broken Lullaby is based on a French play by Maurice Rostand and now loosely serves as the basis for Francois Ozon’s own World War I drama, Frantz.
Due Date: March 15th
King Kong (1933)
Unlike Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong, the new franchise reboot Kong: Skull Island is not much of a rehash of the 1933 original. But it’s still the sort of reboot that is only being made because the giant ape character is so iconic. Therefore the place where it all began is essential. Plus it’s also just terrific. You can follow it with the 1976 remake if only because Skull Island is set in the ’70s and Jackson’s movie, which had Andy Serkis playing the beast. Now we’ve got his former stunt double, Terry Notary, who has also done ape performances in the Planet of the Apes movies.
Due Date: March 10th
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Disney’s live-action redo of its hugely successful 1991 animated feature Beauty and the Beast seems like a redundant effort. Aside from some unlikeable changes to some of the character designs and additional songs, it looks like a literal translation of that previous version of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s classic fairy tale, which was the first animated feature nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture.
Due Date: March 17th
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
This is a list of movies to watch, but if you want extra credit, there are some TV series also being remade this year, including Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, itself a reworking of footage from the Japanese show Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. The series spawned this equally goofy movie between seasons and is a gateway to the small screen adventures of five teenage superheroes who return to the big screen in Power Rangers.
Due Date: March 24th
CHiPs ’99 (1998)
Another TV series to research is the motorcycle cop show CHiPs. There was a TV movie reunion, though, so here’s your gateway to the tales of Baker (Larry Wilcox) and Ponch (Erik Estrada), now being played by Dax Shepard and Michael Pena. You can also find the characters making a cameo in National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1.
Due Date: March 24th
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
See why everyone is upset about white actress Scarlett Johansson starring in the live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell by watching the original anime classic based on Masamune Shirow’s manga.
Due Date: March 31st
Baby Boss: Going to the Boss (2011) and Baby Boss: Boardroom (2011)
While not the basis for the DreamWorks Animation feature The Boss Baby (that would be a 2010 children’s book), these Funny or Die shorts about an actual baby being the boss of a company are worth seeing beforehand anyway. They’re directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who is now at the helm of Kong: Skull Island. Due Date: March 31st