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The 2017 Film Release Calendar: November

Every January, I preview all the films that are scheduled to come out for the year. I go through the existing release calendar, month by month, and guess how much or how little I’m going to like each of the films.

The major benefit is that it allows me, come the end of the year, to see which movies ended up surprising me for better or for worse, or which ones I had wildly disproportionate expectations for. It also gives me a chance to know what’s coming out and what to look forward to.

I also take all the films that are filming or in post and theoretically able to come out that year and preview those too, along with all the films from the previous year(s) that have yet to come out that I’ve been tracking. In all, I end up previewing more films than pretty much anyone else, I’ve been told.

November

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor must face the Hulk in a gladiator match and save his people from the ruthless Hela.

I think if we had to rank the Marvel movies by superhero, I think we’d all agree that the Thor movies are the weakest. The first movie is fine, and the second movie is god awful.

I have some hope that this one will be fun because Taika Waititi is directing it, and What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople were great. I’m not totally invested in Thor as a character, and I don’t particularly care that they’re bringing in the Hulk or Doctor Strange to this.

I do like that Loki is back, and I do like that Anthony Hopkins is back. Cate Blanchett is the villain — sure. Jeff Goldblum is in it. And that makes me happy. Sam Neill is in this! They brought in Tessa Thompson, who I think is a new love interest for Thor, since Natalie Portman is basically done.

Honestly, 3.5 stars. It’s Marvel. What am I gonna get out of this? They’re all basically the same.

A Bad Moms Christmas

Amy, Carla and Kiki struggle to cope when their respective mothers visit for the holidays.

Did we need this?

2 stars.

Please don’t let this actually get made.

Red Sparrow

A sexy Russian spy falls for a CIA officer and considers becoming a double agent.

Not just any spy. A “sexy Russian” spy.

This is Jennifer Lawrence’s new franchise, apparently. Joel Edgerton costars.

Oh, wait, there’s more of a synopsis:

A young Russian intelligence officer is assigned to seduce a first-tour CIA agent who handles the CIA’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young officers, collide in a charged atmosphere of trade-craft, deception and inevitably forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but of others as well.

Well, I know how this turns out.

3.5 stars. We’ll assume decent, but not great. It’s only here because of The Hunger Games.

The Star

A small but brave donkey and his animal friends become the unsung heroes of the first Christmas.

Sony releasing Christian animation. Which is basically posting signs saying “This is not for you.”

2.5 stars.

I’m gonna be nice and assume indifference.

Justice League

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

Honestly, the plot doesn’t matter. This is post-Batman v. Superman. And from the looks of it they’re trying real hard to let you know this is not gonna be the same as that movie. It might be as bad, but it’s not gonna be as serious. This one’s gonna throw in joke after joke. You know, like Suicide Squad did. And didn’t that turn out great?

Again, they’re taking the group movie to set up individual movies. I’m not even remotely sold on this as a universe. But you know what? I’m gonna go 3.5 stars here. Maybe this is

Darkest Hour

Winston Churchill leads a charge against Adolf Hitler’s army in the early days of World War II.

Joe Wright directs, Gary Oldman plays Churchill. And honestly, based on those two and the photo I saw of Oldman as Churchill, 4.5 stars.

Ben Mendelsohn plays King George VI, John Hurt plays Neville Chamberlain, Lily James is in it, Kristin Scott Thomas — I’m so in. So, so in. I want this to be a top ten. And at the worst, I want Gary Oldman to get an Oscar. Please let this be great.

Coco

Coco follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who sets off a chain of events relating to a century-old mystery, leading to an extraordinary family reunion.

It’s Pixar and it’s original, so they get an automatic 4 stars. Outside of that, not sure I’m particularly interested in this, since it sounds like it could maybe be like that Book of Life movie. But it’s also Pixar, which means it can’t really be that bad. Especially since it’s not a sequel, and it’s not a creepy world where cars watch other cars race.

Let It Snow

They say this is coming out. Hasn’t shot yet. Not looking promising. But we’ll leave it here and then dump it when they inevitably push it and never make it. It’s based on short stories by the guy who did “Fault in Our Stars.” Winter related I guess. Sure. Different stories, ensemble, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

3 stars.

But I doubt this comes out. They’d have to throw this together fast to get it out this year. Don’t think they can pull that off.

Murder on the Orient Express

Renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of a wealthy American traveling on the Orient Express, the most famous train in the world.

Remake of the 1974 movie. Technically also adapted from the book, but you know where it’s at.

Kenneth Branagh stars and directs. And the cast, like the Sidney Lumet original, is stacked. Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, Josh Gad, Michael Pena, Lucy Boynton, Leslie Odom Jr, Derek Jacobi.

I have to guess 4 stars here. Minimum 3.5 stars. How can this not be good? Between the story and the cast, how can they fuck this up?

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