THE last year or so has seen the cinema industry in a state of flux. The pandemic caused swift changes.
We saw films shelved or postponed, and heavy hitters miss their theatrical window and head straight for streaming platforms.
It means 2022 will be bursting with heavyweight films, much anticipated blockbusters, and notable sequels.
There is an added effect: studios have come to see the value of streaming services and premium on-demand. While the likes of Netflix fully appreciated the demand for TV shows, films had yet to be a massive part of their slate. Now Oscar contenders are finding homes online faster than you can say popcorn. So, 2022 what have you got in store for us?
Is it a bird, is it a plane? Why, yes, it is a plane, and it isn’t just any plane. Maverick is back as Tom Cruise takes to the skies once more in Top Gun: Maverick.
Thirty-six years since he blazed across the sky in an F-14 Tomcat, Maverick is now training recruits, but will no doubt be drawn back into a battle in the sky.
The thing that excites me the most is that in 1986 the effects used for the flight scenes were years ahead of their time. Just think about what they will be able to do now!
Cruise will also bring us Mission Impossible: Seven, as Hayley Atwell joins the fold. Trust me; this is exciting news.
Another long-awaited sequel is Hocus Pocus 2, which sees Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Doug Jones reprising their witchy characters from their 1993 outing.
Also donning the sequel hat is Avatar. I’m not sure if we really need a return to the blue people, but James Cameron always manages to make something spectacular.
Twenty-five years after Ghostface terrified a bunch of teens in Scream, he returns to terrify a new batch of young people, but will Neve Campell be able to pass on her survival techniques to the new generation?
The last Jurassic Park film ended on a crazy note that divided fans. If they keep going with the crazy in Jurassic Park: Dominium, it might just work. Tone it down, and they will lose fans faster than a pterodactyl in flight.
Speaking of flight, Batman returns in a reboot, with Robert Pattinson taking on the Dark Knight mantle. Colin Farrell stars as the Penguin, and the word is they are really leaning into the dark side for this one, and the trailer backs that up.
Good thing we have something on the lighter side of things in the form of Lightyear.
Ever wondered how Buzz Lightyear became a toy? It turns out that Buzz was a celebrated astronaut, and the figure was created so kids could have their own little astronaut man.
Chris Evans voices the real Buzz - well, real in the Disney Pixar world. On the subject of Mr Evans, he also stars in The Gray Man with Ryan Gosling. It is a CIA action thriller based on a book directed by the Russo Brothers, well known for their action prowess.
Closer to home, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast has just been nominated for seven Golden Globes. I had a sneak preview, and it is stunning.
Based on Branagh’s childhood, it stars Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, and the wonderful Dame Judi Dench.
The Norseman was also filmed in Northern Ireland and stars Alexander Skarsgard as a Viking on a revenge mission. It also stars Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman, and Anya Taylor-Joy and is directed by Robert Eggers, an exciting director who tends to make anything but ordinary films.
Disenchanted was also filmed here during the summer, with stars Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and Maya Rudolph hanging out in Wicklow in the sequel to the Disney romantic comedy, Enchanted.
West Cork filmmaker Pat Collins brings us a new documentary, The Dance, which follows the staging of a new international dance and theatre work. Collins is renowned for deeply rich filmmaking, and this looks to be no exception.
Foscadh is an Irish-language film starring Dónall O’Healaí, the break-out star of 2020’s Arracht. It is Ireland’s nomination for Best International Film at the Academy Awards; fingers crossed it makes the cut.
Tom Holland takes the lead in Uncharted, a big-screen adaptation of a massively popular video game. Traditionally, video game adaptations haven’t been too successful, but Holland is a charming actor, and the character has an Indiana Jones vibe, so it could be the one to make the box office sing.
By the time 2022 kicks off, we will have learned the ramifications of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is set to stir the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a new direction.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania are both guaranteed to bring more of the timey-wimey stuff to the fore.
If you aren’t up to date in your timey-wimeyness, you’ll need to catch up to follow the next batch of Marvel movies. Thor: Love and Thunder is the follow-up to Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarök. Waititi brought a lot of wacky comedy to Thor, making it a firm Marvel favourite. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be a bitter-sweet affair as its lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, sadly died last year.
Director Ryan Coogler has said the film will honour Boseman without replacing him. It will be interesting to see how they do it.
There you have it, a whistle-stop tour of 2022. Get the popcorn out; I’m on my way.