2018 looks set to be a massive year for film – and 3D movies in particular. With long-awaited sequels and thrilling adaptations in the pipeline, now might just be the time to renew your cinema subscription. Because if you're going to see a film laced with CGI – to fully appreciate the show-stopping 3D art – it's got to be on the big screen, right? Here's the best of what's yet to come this year...
Yes, it’s based on a not terribly interesting video game, and yes it stars The Rock, but who doesn’t want to see three genetically engineered animals tearing into the skyscrapers of Chicago? True to the 1986 coin-op, Rampage stars George, an albino gorilla, Ralph the wolf and Lizzie the crocodile in a fight to see who can become the top apex predator.
By the same team that brought you San Andreas, we’re pretty sure this 3D movie will be short on plot, but long on scenes of city-wide destruction. The movie calls on the skills of Weta Digital for the oversized creatures and Scanline VFX for scenes of devastation – so it should at least be a treat for the eyes.
02. Avengers Infinity War
The 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series see the Avengers joining forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy to defeat Thanos, the murky villain in search of the Infinity Stones. It’s the first of a two-part series, with a direct sequel appearing in 2019, and both films being shot back-to-back.
Infinity War will undoubtedly be a tour-de-force of computer graphics, with big-hitters Framestore and ILM on VFX duties. Indeed, with the entire team in full flight, at least six of the lead characters are all-CG entities, so there’s very little real footage these days.
03. Solo: A Star Wars Story
The Star Wars film no-one really asked for has suffered a troubled production, with a change of directors, reshoots mere weeks before launch, and a lead actor who neither looks nor sounds like Harrison Ford and needed a dialogue coach on set. Recent rumours even suggest that Disney have written the film off and expect it to bomb at the box office. Ouch.
Still, the trailer is pretty engaging and the Star Wars brand seems to be a bulletproof cash-cow. And if the thought of a pristine Millennium Falcon being chased by TIE fighters and a proper Star Destroyer doesn’t lure you in, then this probably wasn’t the film for you anyway.
04. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
When the sequel to one of the most beloved franchises earns $1.67 billion worldwide, you can bet your ass there’ll be another one – and here it is. The action returns to Isla Nublar, home of the original doomed theme park, where an impending volcano threatens to wipe out the remaining dinosaurs. Chris Pratt is back as the velociraptor wrangler, and Jeff Goldblum makes a welcome return as chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm.
The 3D movie promises more dinosaurs than ever, with lots of full-size animatronics, but don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of giant CG reptiles rampaging across the island, and some tasty volcanic effects too, courtesy of ILM.
05. Incredibles 2
The long-awaited sequel to one of Pixar’s best movies is finally here. Even though there’s a 14-year gap between productions, the film takes place immediately after the events of the original. The superheroic Parr family is struggling to lead a normal life while fighting The Underminer and dealing with their latest member, Jack-Jack, who has a host of dangerously uncontrolled powers. And when a new super villain enters the fray, things just get worse…
In terms of visuals, we pretty much know what to expect, with Pixar’s usual honed skills teamed with the stylised retro-look of the first Incredibles film. After a long schedule of kid-friendly fare it’ll be good to get something with little more edge. But how we long for Pixar to break free of Disney’s controlling influence and do something truly ground-breaking.
06. Ant-Man and the Wasp
And the Marvel Studios movies just keep comin’. This time it’s a sequel to the 2015 flick Ant-Man. Paul Rudd reprises his role and gains some back-up in the shape of Hope van Dyne, played by Evangeline Lilly.
This 3D movie riffs on the whole shrinking/enlarging conceit, with a series of gags that include a wheelable office block and giant Pez dispenser. And, having revealed Ant-Man’s ability to become oversized in Captain America: Civil War, there’s bit of that too.
With numerous CG shots, including another trip into the quantum realm, the effects workload has been split across Double Negative, Scanline VFX, Luma Pictures and Rodeo FX.
07. Pacific Rim Uprising
Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 outing was bombastic nonsense, but clearly left enough of an impression to warrant a follow-up. The film stars John Boyega, doing his best Idris Elba impersonation, and Scott Eastwood, doing a passable version of his dad, as pilots of humanity’s giant mechanoid fighting machines, the Jaegers.
Earth is once again under threat when some mysterious organisation opens the Breach, releasing Kaiju monsters back into the world. Shots of citywide destruction channel the Toho monster movies of old, and, thanks to a rogue Jaeger, there’s enough metal-on-metal action to keep Michael Bay happy. For fans of VFX, it’s a veritable green screen CG-fest.
08. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Despite the original Fantastic Beasts being a rather tame affair, worldwide box office takings north of $800 million pretty much guaranteed a sequel. Having escaped custody from the Magical Congress of the United States of America, the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) continues his plan to build an army of pure-blood wizards to rule over the world’s non-magical inhabitants. And it’s Potter fans’ chance to see a young Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law.
With an array of magical effects, wizardly apparitions, period set extensions and, of course, fantastic beasts, you can expect host of CG in this 3D movie. The bulk of the work is being handled by London-based FX houses, most notably Double Negative and Framestore, which have enjoyed long associations with the Harry Potter franchise.
09. Alita: Battle Angel
Based on Yukito Kishiro’s 1990 manga series Battle Angel Alita, this 3D movie adaptation is directed by Robert Rodriquez, under the production auspices of James Cameron and Jon Landau (Cameron had stated his intent to direct, but the little matter of two Avatar sequels prevented that). The bulk of the VFX work – which looks substantial – is being handled by Weta Digital.
The story centres on Alita, an amnesiac cyborg discovered by Christoph Waltz, who – in the comics at least – becomes a Hunter-Warrior in pursuit of killer cyborgs. The trailer does little to expand upon that, but you spend most of the time looking at Alita’s curiously oversized eyes. With a whopping $200 million budget, this feels like a sizeable gamble for Cameron and 20th Century Fox.
10. Mortal Engines
Based on the novels by Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world in which London and other major cities have been mechanised and roam the planet preying on smaller ‘traction towns’. These are dragged on board and stripped of their resources – as revealed in the impressive trailer (which is also rather bewildering if you’re unaware of the books).
With four novels in the series – plus the words ‘Peter Jackson’ and ‘an epic new saga’ – we're pretty sure this is intended as the first in a line of 3D movies, assuming the first is successful. Unsurprisingly, Jackson’s chums at Weta Digital are in charge of the CG work, which should be substantial given the theme of the movie.