Essays · Movies

The Movies You Need to Watch Before You Go to the Movies in 2019

Our annual backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns of the coming year.
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By  · Published on January 13th, 2019

Men in Black (1997), Men in Black II (2002), and Men in Black 3 (2012)

Between the long gaps between movies and diminishing returns of the franchise, Men in Black has fallen to the wayside of pop culture relevancy. Now it’s time for a comeback, as the spinoff sequel Men in Black: International introduces new agents (played by Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth) at the London office. As you get through the original trilogy, you’ll hopefully see how low the brand can go before hopefully being properly resurrected.
Due Date: June 14th

Shaft (1971), and Shaft (2000)

It’s been 19 years since the last Shaft remake, which was also a sequel, and now Samuel L. Jackson has become the elder prior title character, just like Richard Rountree before him. The new Shaft in focus is Jackson’s character’s son, John Shaft Jr. (Jessie T. Usher), a cybersecurity expert looking to avenge a murdered friend. There are a couple direct sequels to the 1971 blaxploitation classic, but they’re not necessary viewing in preparation of the new movie.
Due Date: June 14th

To Watch Childs Play

Child’s Play (1988)

Following a long franchise that went from a genuinely scary movie about a killer doll to the camp follow-ups appreciated by certain fans of horror comedy and Brad Dourif’s vocal performance as Chucky, Child’s Play is getting rebooted. This time, Aubrey Plaza stars as the mother of a son who gets the possessed doll for his birthday. The only part of the original series you need to watch before it is the first one, with Catherine Hicks in the mom role.
Due Date: June 21st

Ju-On: The Grudge (2003) and The Grudge (2004)

After 2009’s The Grudge 3 went direct to video, the fourth installment of the American Grudge series has been changed to a reboot and is heading to the big screen. Before you find out how the latest version of the supernatural horror movie fares in comparison, go back and watch the Japanese original and then the initial Hollywood redo.
Due Date: June 21st

Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), and Toy Story 3 (2010)

While the horror fans get to see a new Chucky doll in theaters, families are getting their own resurrection of a franchise about sentient toys. Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang from Pixar’s first feature are back for another installment, Toy Story 4. See where it all began and continued over the last 24 years with the first three movies.
Due Date: June 21st

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Avengers: Endgame (2019)

You should have seen Spider-Man: Homecoming as part of the marathon of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies ahead of Avengers: Endgame, but it’s a good idea to watch it again before the sequel, Spider-Man: Far From Home. And see Avengers: Endgame in theaters, too, because we’re still not sure if Far From Home takes place after it or not.
Due Date: July 5th

The Lion King (1994)

Arguably the best Disney animated feature of all time, The Lion King is one that fans should be most skeptical about being redone. Then again, the Hamlet-inspired film has already spawned an extraordinarily inventive Broadway adaptation, and now the Jon Favreau-helmed “live-action” reimagining promises state of the art performance capture and performances from the likes of Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and James Earl Jones, who again portrays slain lion king Mufasa. Get in on the circle of the life of this film story by watching the original, which turns a quarter-century this year.
Due Date: July 19th

Dark Phoenix (2019)

Maybe there’s no connection between the latest X-Men proper feature and the spinoff The New Mutants, but with the delays both installments have been through, who knows what to expect with either. Just be sure to have seen X-Men: Days of Future Past earlier in your prep for Dark Phoenix, maybe, since characters in that movie overlap with The New Mutants.
Due Date: August 2nd

Fast Five (2011), Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015), and The Fate of the Furious (2017)

In anticipation of the Hobbs and Shaw spinoff — terribly titled Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw — you needn’t marathon all the Fast and the Furious movies, just the last four. Maybe not even that many, but Fast Five saw the introduction of Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs, who continued his run in Fast & Furious 6, which also introduced Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw in an uncredited cameo. In Furious 7, the two characters face off directly for the first and second time, then The Fate of the Furious features their continued beef as they meet again in prison — a popular sequence that secured the idea of spinning them off from the main series.
Due Date: August 2nd

The Angry Birds Movie (2016)

Considering the phenomenal popularity of the game it’s based on, The Angry Birds Movie wasn’t much to talk about when it arrived in theatres a few years ago. The animated feature had decent legs, though, and managed an okay domestic gross of about $108 million and more than doubled that overseas. So, The Angry Birds Movie 2 is on the way. Watch the original and don’t say anything about it and then see the sequel and continue to maintain the series’ insignificance.
Due Date: August 16th

Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016)

Who would have thought, of the two “Die Hard in the White House” movies of 2013, Olympus Has Fallen would have been more popular let alone spawned a whole new franchise? Gerard Butler is a star, apparently, and now his Secret Service agent character is back for Angel Has Fallen, in which he’s the protagonist of a wrong man scenario involving a presidential assassination attempt. Get ready for the gritty sequel with the original and its internationally expanding follow-up.
Due Date: August 23rd

IT (2017)

Also now known as IT: Chapter One, the first part of Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s IT was a smash hit two years ago, ensuring the return of the Loser Gang for the time-jumping IT: Chapter Two. Become acquainted with the young versions of the kids from Derby, Maine, before you meet their adult selves with the horror sequel.
Due Date: September 6th

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.