2015 is officially part of history, and what year in media it was. It saw the revival of beloved franchises like Jurassic Park, Mad Max, Rocky and, of course, Star Wars. Though we didn’t get a new movie out of this franchise (thank god), Back to the Future saw a resurgence of public mindshare during the lead up to October 21, 2015, which was unofficially known as the official Back to the Future Day – the exact day Marty McFly travels forward in time to in Back to the Future II. We bid farewell to two of late night’s favorite hosts in Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and David Letterman (The Late Show), but gained one back in Stephen Colbert. We had a HUGE year in gaming, both figuratively and digitally, with games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Destiny: The Taken King, Batman: Arkham Knight and, probably the most anticipated game of the past 5 years and one of its biggest surprises of 2015, Fallout 4. Not to mention all the fantastic smaller-scale games that launched in 2015 like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Her Story, Rocket League and Ori and the Blind Forest. Yes, there were a plethora of great time-wasting opportunities available in 2015, and yet, 2016 promises to bring them bigger and better than ever before.
MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIES OF 2016
One of my most important New Year’s resolutions is to watch more films. It’s my goal to go to the theatre more and to see at least 52 new movies this year – new as in one’s I’ve never seen before. I really want to expand my personal film watching portfolio so I’m more aware of pop culture film trends. These movies I’ve listed here aren’t award winners by any means, but they tickle my nerd fancy and look awesome (in no particular order).
It doesn’t look like Captain America: Civil War will be a strict interpretation of the Marvel Civil War comic series, but the heart of Civil War – friends pitted against friends – is still integral. From the little bit we’ve seen, it looks more like an Avengers sequel than just a Cap story. Most of the heroes we’ve come to love in the MCU are back, either on Team Stark or Team Rogers. Plus, two new heroes are meant to be introduced in Black Panther and Spider-Man, who will get their own films in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
Since seeing Interstellar and The Martian, I’m totally amped for and realistic space exploration films. 400 Days doesn’t feature big name stars like McConaughey or Damon, but that’s what’s drawing me to it. It’s a small budget space movie with astronomical aspirations. Four astronauts are entered into a psychological test to see if they can withstand the rigors of deep space travel. The test is meant to be a mission simulation, but quite possibly ends up being something else. Lost in the wonder of space travel is the mental damage it could have on the human mind as they lose all communication from the only place humans have ever lived. 400 Days looks like it’ll explore that element like no other film has, and do it with Dane Cook as a leading man!
The merc with a mouth is finally in his own film, and it’s one the fans wanted. No watered down, PG-13 version of the hero like all over comic book movies are. Deadpool is every bit the wise-cracking, murder loving, fourth wall breaking, anti-hero hero we’ve loved from the comics for years. Ryan Reynolds has already admitted that the version they put on screen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was garbage, along with the rest of the movie, so this film promises to be an uber-faithful interpretation of the character. I really don’t even know what the movie’s plot is, but from the trailers and the marketing campaign they’ve put behind Deadpool, I’ll be there on opening night.
The Revenant looks dark and gritty and very real. When Leo DiCaprio gets mauled by that bear (not raped) I feel like he, or more likely his stunt double, actually got mauled by a bear. The film takes place during the “Lewis and Clarke days,” early 1800’s, when most of America was unexplored wilderness. This is a setting I’ve not seen much in film, a context I feel is rife for storytelling. The Revenant is an adventure movie for sure, but it contains elements of sci-fi, drama and horror that combine to create a truly unique setting for film. American history is my favorite subject in any form of media. Combine that with historical fiction and this may end up being my favorite film of 2016.
There are an easy three reasons why I’m excited for this movie. One: it’s the MCU. Two: I love new heroes in the MCU. Three: Benedict Cumberbatch is a beautiful man. We haven’t gotten a trailer yet for Doctor Strange, but from articles I’ve read it promises to add a “mystical element” to the MCU, like Guardians of the Galaxy did with its cosmic setting. Cumberbatch looks great as Sorcerer Supreme Stephen Strange. I just wish we could see him fighting alongside the other Avengers sooner than 2018.
It’s going to be a looooooooong wait for May 2017 when Star Wars episode 8 is scheduled to release. Rogue One isn’t a true Star Wars sequel, not adding to the canon like The Force Awakens did, but it will expand on a greatly pondered upon question: how did the rebels get their hands on the Death Star schematics? The film is the first in the planned anthology series that will take place in between proper Star Wars sequels. Rogue One is set before the events of A New Hope and is set up like a heist film (think Ocean’s Eleven). Though it’s the first stand alone Star Wars movie, it will have the look and feel of classic Star Wars films assures producer Kathleen Kennedy.
MOST ANTICIPATED SHOWS OF 2016
I’ve had a hard time keeping up with weekly television shows my whole life either because I forget when they’re on or I lose interest in the story after waiting a week to see it continued. It’s gotten better with DVR and on-demand shows; I’m able to watch at my leisure rather than a schedule THE MAN wants me to be on. Even with that though, I still have to wait until each episode premieres to be able to view it. There’s a lot of waiting involved with most shows, which is why I’ve gravitated more towards Netflix for my television content. I like to consume a narrative how quickly or how slowly I choose.
We left the people of Alexandria in a precarious spot, zombie all around, with no hope in sight. While I am eager to see more The Walking Dead, season 6 is making me lose my faith in the show. So far, I feel the story is going around in circles, trying hard to make situations happen rather than have them occur naturally like in the comic. At the midseason finale, it’s revealed that Negan isn’t very far away. Just hearing his name has gotten me all hot and bothered knowing what sort of action is potentially coming to the show. I just hope they don’t screw this villain up.
Daredevil season 2
Daredevil took me by surprise when it debuted on Netflix in April. It’s set in the MCU, yet it’s totally unDisney. Daredevil took Marvel heroes to the streets, replacing big, spectacular action pieces with small, gritty, fist fighting in narrow hallways. Matt Murdock is a more interesting and deep character than when we last saw him played by Ben Affleck in 2003’s Daredevil movie. Season two will have Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, and Elektra Natchios, aka Elektra, join Matt Murdock, adding more characters to Marvel’s television universe.
My most anticipated television reunion of all-time, Fuller House will bring Uncle Jesse, Uncle Joey, Aunt Becky and the Tanner bunch (minus Michelle) back to America’s favorite San Francisco Victorian. This time, the series will center around D.J. as she raises her three sons with the help of her sister Stephanie and best friend Kimmy Gibbler. This series won’t lack fan service, as each previous cast member will have guest starting roles during the first season. Here’s hoping they keep the same intro song with updated video to show the combination of old and new generations.
To be honest, I can’t remember all the convoluted plot details of season 5, all I know is Jon Show better fucking not be dead! If Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen don’t eventually make love atop a dragon, all the hours I’ve put into this show will have been a waste.
MOST ANTICIPATED GAMES OF 2016
Like I said in the intro paragraph, there were so many good games in 2015 that, to be honest, I’m a little burnt out from gaming. Every great game had giant, expansive open worlds to explore that required a minimum time commitment of 100 hours to fully complete. With a new job and more responsibilities on the horizon in 2016, I don’t have time to create my own stories in my own world. I want a narrative delivered to me in a linear way a la Uncharted. That being said, I can make some exceptions.
The Uncharted series is one of gaming’s crowning achievements. The story told and the adventure had can compete with anything cinema has to offer and is a prime example of video game art. The rumor is that Uncharted 4 will be the last adventure for our hero Nathan Drake. I somehow doubt Sony will end one of its most profitable franchises especially since the PS4 has such a strong lead over the Xbox One. It’s likely developer Naughty Dog is weary of Uncharted games and wants to focus on other projects including The Last of Us 2. Whatever the case is, I’m excited to dive in to one of my favorite franchises finally on next gen consoles.
Yooka-Laylee found life on Kickstarter, created by ex-Rare developers who worked on the original Banjo-Kazooie games on the N64. The game is the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie – a mascot platformer centered around an chameleon and his flying bat friend. Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie and two of my favorite games of all time, so hopefully Yooka-Laylee will hit all the right nostalgic buttons for me.
The Coalition, the new developers behind the Gears series, showed only a little bit of Gears 4 at E3 2015, but what they showed looked amazing. Gears of War is the exact time of linear narrative I need in my life with the awesome characters factor to drive me. The two characters we see in gameplay are new to the series, but hopefully Marcus Phoenix shows up for some good old fashioned chainsawing.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is the exception to my rule about short games in 2016. I’ll gladly dump 200 hours of my life into this galaxy again as I did with Mass Effects 1-3. The Mass Effect universe is so rich with characters from large to background and so interesting in its canon. I’d go as far as to say its universe is as in depth as some of the greatest science fiction properties like Star Wars and Star Trek. The mass relays were destroyed in Mass Effect 3, so it’ll be interesting to see how they get from galaxy to galaxy or if Andromeda is set in a smaller world.
It’s been too long since we’ve seen gameplay footage of the next open world Zelda game. They promised it out in holiday 2015, then they pushed it back to sometime in 2016 and we haven’t heard a peep about it since. From what we know already, it’ll be completely open world – a feature not seen in Zelda since the original. Rumor has it that the next Zelda won’t only be on the dying Wii U, but also on Nintendo’s next console, slated to debut at the tail end of 2016, code named NX. If that’s truly the case, I don’t mind waiting an extra year to get PS4-quality graphics in my next Zelda experience.
So those are my expectations for 2016. Personally, I hated 2015; I’m glad it’s dead and gone. I start my new job in a couple weeks, but hopefully I can stay regular on posts. I want to expand Popularly Uncultured to include more video and audio content, but we’ll see how things shape up.
Thanks for reading, guys. I appreciate the support for my favorite hobby.