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This Fallout TV Show Is a Terrible Idea—Unless It’s a Comedy

This Fallout TV Show Is a Terrible Idea—Unless It’s a Comedy

Ever since Cats of Zero Wing delivered the oddly worded threat “all your base are belong to us” some 30 years ago, the writing in video games has been received with varying levels of enthusiasm. Often, it’s denounced as stilted, hackneyed, and just plain nonsensical. At the same time, it has become a much loved, instantly recognizable genre unto itself. While the earliest iconically bad dialog mostly derived from poor translations—like Magneto in the 1992 X-Men arcade game introducing himself as “Magneto, master of magnet!” and shouting “Welcome … to die!”—a lot of it has been terrible all on its own: Peter Dinklage, for example, tried to take a subtle approach to the lines he was fed in Destiny and sounded unmistakably like he’d been drugged.

Infamously, Hollywood has spent billions of dollars trying to adapt game franchises into movies and TV shows, yet decades since a goggling Dennis Hopper horrified children across the world with his turn as Nintendo’s Bowser, it still hasn’t succeeded. The latest show about to embark on this quest? Fallout. News broke earlier this month that Amazon is working on an adaptation of Bethesda’s game franchise, and on paper a post-apocalyptic, retro-futuristic wasteland—a bombed out version Don Draper’s Manhattan, with robot butlers—sounds like a prestige TV slam dunk. But here’s the problem: The game’s creator has done more to advance the idea that video game writing is awful than any other modern studio. From furious orphans in Fallout to lusty Argonian maids in The Elder Scrolls, characters frequently engage in what players, who catalog the moments on YouTube, call “Bethesda dialog.” Endless examples abound. Fallout 4 alone had 111,000 recorded lines and now some unlucky screenwriters are going to have to weave together the franchise’s dire plots with 7-foot yellow mutants bickering about who has to “collect more humans.”

This isn’t to say it’s impossible. Porting the franchise to TV will allow the show’s writers to refine clunky exchanges and capture the series’ epic lore, but sometimes giving a messy idea more room to sprawl only makes more mess. Instead, to truly adapt what Bethesda hath wrought with Fallout there may only be one solution: Make it a surreal comedy.

One of the main reasons Bethesda has been able to get away with being so hokey for so long—the reason their games are still popular meme fodder years after release—is that the dialog takes place in a game. It contains tension. It plays out like a debate, invigorated by the suspense of choosing the right thing to say. Turn that into something where the player/viewer lacks agency, where a scriptwriter has made the decision for them, and it falls flat. The internet has repeatedly pointed out that the dialog in the original Fallouts and Fallout New Vegas is superior to other entries. Yet even New Vegas’ endgame conversation with the red-feathered, gold-masked warlord Legate Lanius is less of a thrill if you’re not the one trying to convince him not to sack the Hoover Dam.

Often viewers, particularly critics, miss what is great about a piece of art because they come to it expecting it to fulfill some preconceived expectation—in this case, recognizably human conversation. But what if they—and by “they” I mean Fallout’s screenwriters—didn’t? Bethesda, unintentionally or not (and probably more intentionally than people give them credit for), create bizarrely surreal worlds. In one of the first pieces I wrote for WIRED, about the comedic uncanniness of bad artificial intelligence in video games, I quoted the academic Peter Stockwell, who argues it is “incongruity” that defines surrealist humor—jokes which “draw attention to their own landscapes as absurd landscapes … and resist sustained immersion.” Bethesda’s worlds are Truman Show–like dream worlds, populated by automaton people who live out their lives in absurdist cycles.

This absurdity extends to the writing, whether it is experienced through the white on-screen text or overheard as chance encounters. Bethesda’s dialog is combinatory, feeling like each line is only tangentially related to the next. Popularly, most people are aware of this type of speech in the work of David Lynch: the cryptic statements, the disconcerting pauses, the non-sequiturs, the feeling that the characters are speaking into thin air, off cue cards, rather than to each other. Bethesda’s worlds are similarly compelling. The studio has taken two of the most overused modern settings—fantasy and apocalypse—and injected them with chaos. Clichéd characters—Elder Scrolls’ Fithragaer, the smiling elf, for example—often end up in horrifically dark situations, like cheerfully bidding the player “farewell” as he is launched into a stone pillar trap. Bethesda games are anti-immersive, constantly alienating their players by drawing attention to the existence of the game itself. This is the ultimate dark joke about Bethesda’s characters: They aren’t just living through the apocalypse, or fighting off dragons in a Tolkien-lite world; they are trapped in a wildly incompetent game.

Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Deal and the Post-Console World

Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard Deal and the Post-Console World

Microsoft’s war chest is a dynamo. With revenues that rival the GDP of a small nation, it’s got enough cash on hand to buy whatever it wants. When it does, it just acquires another money-making machine. Its latest gadget? Video game company Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft announced yesterday it was buying for a staggering $68.7 billion—more than the $26.2 billion it paid for LinkedIn in 2016, almost 10 times the $7.5 billion it paid for Bethesda’s parent ZeniMax Media last year. Microsoft now owns Call of Duty and Halo; it owns The Elder Scrolls and World of Warcraft. It owns Candy Crush. It also owns Diablo, Overwatch, Spyro, Hearthstone, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot, and StarCraft. Its chest is full—but not with machines.

It’s tempting to view the acquisition as the latest shot fired in the console wars, a ploy to use Activision Blizzard’s deep catalog to sell Xboxes. But that would be shortsighted. If anything, the deal shows that Microsoft is far more concerned with acquiring gamers—it’ll gain 400 million monthly active players as part of the deal—than with moving units. “The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming,” the company said in a statement announcing the deal, “allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices you already own.” This is Microsoft’s move to a post-console world. It’s not about getting you to buy a gadget; it’s about luring you into an ecosystem.

When discussing online video game services like Stadia, Sony’s PlayStation Now, and Microsoft’s Cloud Gaming, insiders often reach for the same descriptor: X is “Netflix for games.” The goal of each service is to become a player’s go-to hub, month after month. Indeed, Phil Spencer, who, with the acquisition will be anointed CEO of Microsoft Gaming, uses this comparison often. “You and I might watch Netflix. I don’t know where you watch it, where I watch it, but we can have conversations about the shows we watch,” he told WIRED in 2020. “I want gaming to evolve to that same level.”

This is telling, particularly because of just how much it belies Spencer’s seeming indifference to where people play Microsoft titles. That in itself is a repudiation of the console wars, which have historically been tied to Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony’s alluringly shaped plastic boxes. These “walled gardens” Spencer said, are a “1990s construct” that he’d like to see dismantled. Microsoft’s new ownership of Candy Crush fits into this vision, giving the company an immediate presence in mobile gaming that transcends discussions of Xbox Series X.

“They’re not getting out of consoles, but they’re trying to reduce the degree to which they’re tethered to the Xbox,” says Joost van Dreunen, a New York University business professor and author of One Up, a book on the global games business. “That’s just going to be one of the entry points into their ecosystem.”

The goal here is one streamlined service—Activision Blizzard’s back catalog is the carrot for attracting users into that space. It could take 12 to 18 months for the deal to close, but when it does, Microsoft “will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s catalog,” Spencer said in the company’s announcement of the acquisition. “They clearly see gaming as an entry point that leads to a much broader universe,” says van Dreunen. “The Game Pass service has benefited greatly from this.”

Yellowjackets Is the Internet’s Favorite Anti-Internet Show

Yellowjackets Is the Internet’s Favorite Anti-Internet Show

Nostalgia, they say, comes in waves, each one crashing as a new generation learns how their parents lived. In the 1990s, the narrator of Radiohead’s song “The Bends” proclaimed, albeit sardonically, “I wish it was the ’60s.” By the aughts, pop culture was awash in a yearning for the ’80s—an epoch that saw, perhaps, its final crescendo with the debut of Stranger Things in 2016. Now, in 2022, it seems as though many people—or at least the ones who make movies and TV—are longing for those days when Radiohead themselves first dominated the airwaves.

This churn, the phenomenon of people resuscitating the culture of the past every few years, is at best described as a nostalgia cycle. Problem is, there’s no real metric for the frequency with which these revolutions happen. The aughts, thanks to shows like Mad Men, also had an air of ’60s sentimentality, for example. Adam Gopnik, writing for The New Yorker, called this the “Golden 40-Year Rule,” but sometimes culture whips around much more quickly than that. All it takes is some kids on TikTok breathing new life into Twilight to bring the 2000s back. Or, in the case of Showtime’s mystery/horror/coming-of-age drama Yellowjackets, a deeply wistful appreciation of those flannel-clad days before social media and smartphones took over teens’ lives.

Let’s be clear: Yellowjackets is not a hazy, rose-colored view of youth. It’s about a New Jersey high school girls’ soccer team that gets stranded in the Canadian wilderness following a plane crash on their way to a national championship in 1996. Some of them—the show is purposefully vague on how many—make it back to civilization. But there are hints, many of them, that Very Bad Things happened out in those woods, up to and including some sick ritualistic Lord of the Flies shenanigans and maybe-probably cannibalism. Like Lost, it time-jumps—cutting between the girls’ childhoods and the present day, sprinkling Reddit-thread-worthy unsolved mysteries everywhere. But unlike Lost, its appeal feels rooted in a desire to return to those halcyon days before the internet—while also serving as a reminder that they weren’t so halcyon at all. 

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It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when, but at some point in the last few weeks, Yellowjackets went from a low-key phenomenon to a cultural force. Case in point: There’s now a BuzzFeed quiz designed to tell you which member of the soccer team you are. A lot of the show’s popularity can be attributed to stellar reviews, excellent word-of-mouth, and the fact that viewers had extra time during the holiday season to catch up—plus Omicron has kept many home and watching.

But there’s something else, something even more base about its appeal: It’s a mystery full of the kinds of symbolism, clues, and Easter eggs that the internet loves to devour and hypothesize about. There are Reddit threads (lots), news articles, and more Twitter chatter than you can shake an Antler Queen at, and in this deep-winter Covid-19 surge moment, it’s hard not to go down an online rabbit hole trying to decode it all. Last night’s Season 1 finale only gave fans more cannibal catastrophe content to chew on.

This is all somewhat ironic because one of the things that’s appealing about Yellowjackets is that it’s so lo-fi. American teens in 1996 barely had AOL, and none of them had smartphones. They listened to Snow’s “Informer” because that’s what was on the radio and watched While You Were Sleeping on VHS because there was no Netflix. This isn’t to say that everyone who watches Yellowjackets wants to go back to a more primitive, pre-internet time, but there is something appealing about living in that world—for Gen Xers and millennials who grew up in it and for younger generations curious about its contours.

It’s also a story that almost has to take place in a previous decade. If the Yellowjackets were a big-deal high school girls’ soccer team now, they’d all probably be quasi-famous TikTokers or microinfluencers. Their disappearance would be the subject of hours of online sleuthing, much like the show itself is. The reason the survivors of the crash (that the audience knows of thus far)—Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), Misty (Christina Ricci), and Natalie (Juliette Lewis)—were able to keep a somewhat low profile after their return to civilization is likely due to the fact that it happened before the era of Don’t F**k With Cats-style Facebook watchdogs, before Serial turned everyone into a wannabe detective. Not only does half the show take place in a wilderness with little to no technology, its modern segments feature heroines who largely eschew it, with the possible exception of Misty, who is now herself a true-crime junky. (Having Lewis, Ricci, and Lynskey—three ’90s indie-movie staples who built their careers just before the era of celebrity blog culture and managed to survive its wrath—play its adult leads remains the show’s best in-joke.)

The Mandalorian Could Use a Watson

The Mandalorian Could Use a Watson

The new Star Wars TV show The Mandalorian follows the adventures of a ruthless bounty hunter named Din Djarin. It has a strong Western vibe, something science fiction author Rajan Khanna appreciated immediately.

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to see from the Star Wars universe is them tackling other genres, so not just space opera, but Westerns, thrillers, spy stuff, whatever,” Khanna says in Episode 395 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I think the universe is broad enough and deep enough to handle that, so to have this Western feel worked really well for me.”

Din Djarin is a man of few words, and for virtually the entire show his face is hidden behind an expressionless metal helmet. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley says that’s appropriate, since the character is clearly intended to capitalize on the popularity of another Star Wars bounty hunter, Boba Fett.

“[Boba Fett’s] appeal is basically that he’s so mysterious, and you don’t know everything about him, and there’s not a ton of character development,” Kirtley says. “So I feel like maybe it would not be true to that whole character or that whole appeal if [Din Djarin] had a lot of character development and you knew his backstory in extreme detail.”

But science fiction author Matthew Kressel found the lack of characterization frustrating, particularly over the course of an eight-episode TV show. “You get tiny little glimpses of who he is, but every time they give you a glimpse, it’s a cliché,” Kressel says. “Who is he? What are his values? What does he think? Does he have any great desires? I never got any of that.”

Fantasy author Erin Lindsey says the solution might be to pair Din Djarin with a more relatable sidekick, similar to the dynamic between Sherlock Holmes and Watson. This would allow Din Djarin to remain aloof and mysterious while still providing opportunities for richer characterization and emotional connection.

“We don’t have to understand him, but we do need to attach to him somehow, even if it’s via a third party,” she says.

Listen to the complete interview with Rajan Khanna, Matthew Kressel, and Erin Lindsey in Episode 395 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

David Barr Kirtley on nostalgia:

“This was really bringing back memories of watching The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. with my dad. I don’t actually remember the show that well. It’s a Western—I think sort of a Weird Western or Steampunk Western or something—but I just vividly remember the feeling of watching that show with my dad, and this really brought back those memories, because it does have this very distinct Old West kind of vibe to it. … What this show is doing is it’s a conscious repudiation of all the advances that TV storytelling has made in the last 20 years. Particularly in the middle, it’s very episodic. It’s simple and straightforward, and the characters are fairly straightforward, and it’s just fun. I think a lot of your reaction to it is going to be whether you find that return to a simpler era of television to be refreshing and nostalgic or just retrograde.”

Matthew Kressel on bad writing:

“I see this a lot in bad storytelling, where the storyteller wants a specific thing to happen, so they manipulate the reality of the world to make that happen. And in [the episode called] ‘The Prisoner,’ it’s this stupid beacon. It’s like, ‘Oh, if you press this beacon then X-wings come and blow you up.’ And I’m like, ‘OK? I guess?’ So apparently you could just take that beacon and put it anywhere, and the X-wings would come and be like, ‘Well, that’s the beacon, I guess we should blow it up.’ What reality is this in? And why is this prison ship not traveling through hyperspace? Why is it traveling through space at a slow speed? I don’t get that. So there were just really weird, stupid plot choices.”

Erin Lindsey on Giancarlo Esposito:

“Giancarlo Esposito is one of my favorite television actors. He’s played one of the most chilling television villains of all time. So they have some great raw clay to work with there. Clearly their intention with this season—at least I think so—was just to introduce him and let us know that he exists, and presumably he’s a recurring big bad in the next season, which is one of the reasons I’m excited. But one of the things that makes Giancarlo Esposito so amazing is that he’s such a subtle actor, and how do you really get the best out of a subtle actor in a black cape and Darth Vader outfit surrounded by stormtroopers? That’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer. So it’s going to be really interesting to watch how they blend those two things.”

Rajan Khanna on bounty hunters:

“I’ve always wanted more of a bounty hunter ‘scum and villany’ focus, so I think that was great. It harkens back to the ‘Han shoots first’ era of Star Wars. There’s a point at which the Mandalorian disintegrates a couple of Jawas right off the bat, and nothing is made of it. He doesn’t feel super guilty or whatever. And I kind of liked that focus. … I really liked the fact that the big bad [in episode 4]—the big thing that was so difficult and dangerous—was just an AT-ST Walker, which we’ve seen many times before, and Ewoks are able to kill them with two logs, but on this scale it’s something that’s devastating, and it takes this big effort to bring it down, which I appreciated. I liked seeing that smaller scale.”


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20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See in 2022

20 Movies We Can’t Wait to See in 2022

Several years from now, when people look back on the many ways the Covid-19 pandemic forever altered the definition of “everyday life,” movies will undoubtedly be a big part of that conversation. Since early 2020, coronavirus mandates have had the power to shut down entire film productions for weeks, and sometimes months, on end (if not entirely). On the distribution end, shuttered cinemas haven’t helped matters. Some of the most anticipated movies of both 2020 and 2021 have been delayed or had their release dates rejiggered multiple times, in part because of the growing popularity of the day-and-date distribution model (aka when a movie premieres in theaters on the same day it drops on a cable or streaming network), which not all filmmakers are championing. We can’t say whether you’ll end up seeing the biggest movies of 2022 in a theater, at a drive-in, or from the comfort of your living room couch. But what we do know is that there’s an enormous slate of must-see movies coming in the next 12 months. Here are the 20 we’re most looking forward to seeing.

The 355

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If we ever needed a team of experts to save the world from certain death after a top-secret weapon finds its way into enemy hands, the stars of The 355 might be it. Jessica Chastain stars as a smartest-person-in-the-room CIA agent who assembles an all-star squad of fellow badass women to recover the weapon. Together, rival agent Marie (Diane Kruger), psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz), and computer scientist Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) travel around the world to take down the enemy—while Sebastian Stan plays second fiddle. We’d believe it.

Release date: January 7

Scream

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Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett take over directing duties for the late master of horror Wes Craven on the fifth film in the Scream movie franchise, which will see the return of original stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. The film, which is being released 26 years after the original meta horror-comedy, takes place 25 years later, with a new killer(s) dusting off the Ghostface mask and knocking off a group of Woodsboro teens. That the script was cowritten by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and Gary Busick (Ready or Not) gives us higher than average hopes for the relaunch of this franchise.

Release date: January 14

The Batman

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By the time Matt Reeves’ The Batman hits theaters, it will have been nearly three years since former teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson was officially announced as the newest actor to be handed the keys to the Batmobile. There was, of course, the requisite backlash that has followed any new actor being cast in an iconic role (see: James Bond, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Batman, Batman, Batman, Batman, and Batman). And then another uproar when Pattinson questioned whether Batman was really a superhero, given that he has no superpowers (which seems like a fair question). But all that doubting appeared to magically transform into anticipation once the first trailer dropped and audiences finally got a glimpse of what Pattinson has described as a “crazy and perverse” version of The Dark Knight. Which might be just the twist it needed to cement Pattinson’s place in the Gotham City universe. Zoë Kravitz, Andy Serkis, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, and John Turturro costar.

Release date: March 4

Turning Red

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We’ve rarely met a Pixar premise we didn’t like, and Turning Red is proof of why. It’s about a teenager named Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang) who turns into a red panda whenever she gets overly excited. Sandra Oh voices Mei’s mom, Ming.

Release date: March 11

Downton Abbey: A New Era

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If you weren’t a dedicated fan of Masterpiece’s original Downton Abbey TV series, which kept audiences around the world glued to their TV screens for six seasons, then the shenanigans of Lord and Lady Grantham (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) and their upper-crust friends and family members, plus the servants who wait on them, probably seem downright silly. Which is kind of the point. But with this new movie (its second feature film outing), creator Julian Fellowes sends the Crawleys out of the comfy confines of their Yorkshire estate and to a villa in the south of France, which family matriarch Violet, the Dowager Countess (Dame Maggie Smith), has inherited from an old flame. Let the well-mannered hijinks begin!

Release date: March 18

The Northman

Anya Taylor-Joy reunites with her The Witch director Robert Eggers in this hotly anticipated historical thriller, set in Iceland in the 10th century. It features Alexander Skarsgård as a Viking prince (that tracks) who is intent on avenging the murder of his father. The film also re-teams Eggers with Willem Dafoe, who earned some of the highest praise of his career for his role in The Lighthouse. No word yet on how much, if any, flatulence there might be. Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Ralph Ineson, and Björk costar.

Release date: April 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Fifteen years after directing his final Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire, legendary director Sam Raimi is dipping his toe back into Marvel’s waters with this follow-up to 2016’s Doctor Strange, which follows the time-jumping adventures of the eponymous surgeon-turned-sorcerer played by Benedict Cumberbatch. He’ll be joined again by fellow Oscar nominees Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor, with Elizabeth Olsen joining in as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (fans of WandaVision will remember that the end of that series opened the door to this movie).

Release date: May 6

Legally Blonde 3

While it would be easy to call Legally Blonde a “guilty pleasure” (as Jim Halpert did on The Office), the fact is that Reese Witherspoon’s presence alone added a bit of heft to the pink-outfitted-fish-out-of-water comedy that ultimately allowed the actress to play up every ditzy blonde stereotype to her benefit, and then turn it on its head. It’s been nearly 20 years since we last saw Witherspoon’s Elle Woods, and we’re excited to catch up.

Release date: May 20

John Wick: Chapter 4

The new year is bound to be a big one for Keanu Reeves, and for fans of Keanu Reeves, as the actor delivers the one-two punch of The Matrix Resurrections in late December, followed by this fourth installment in the John Wick saga. Adorable doggos are sure to abound.

Release date: May 27

Top Gun: Maverick

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Tom Cruise is feeling the need for speed yet again in this follow-up to 1986’s Top Gun. In the sequel, Cruise’s Maverick is now the one teaching young hotshots how to (safely) navigate the highway to the danger zone. Among them? Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late BFF Goose. Cue the Kenny Loggins.

Release date: May 27

Jurassic World: Dominion

The past meets the present in the sixth installment of the Jurassic World dino-saga, as relative franchise newbies Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard mix it up with OGs Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern. Just when you thought there wasn’t any way to make onscreen dinosaurs even cooler, life finds a way.

Release date: June 10

Crimes of the Future

David Cronenberg is going back to the future. More than 50 years after filming Crimes of the Future in 1970, he’s revisiting his splatter-happy roots with this futuristic tale of a world in which humans are being forced to adapt to their synthetic surroundings and transforming into another kind of being altogether in the process. Viggo Mortensen, who’s partnering with Cronenberg for the fourth time, is a performance artist making the most of the evolutionary state of things and a condition known as “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome” to quickly grow new, and sometimes unusual, organs as part of his act. Yep, sounds like a Cronenberg joint alright. Kristen Stewart, Léa Seydoux, Scott Speedman, and Welket Bungué costar.

Release date: June 2022

Thor: Love and Thunder

Taika Waititi is back to infuse another Thor movie (the fourth) with his trademark wit. And while Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson will definitely be there, so too will Thor’s lady love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

Release date: July 8

Nope

Jordan Peele is back in what could be considered the third installment of his Let’s Upend Every Horror Trope There Is About People of Color trilogy. Not much is really known beyond the fact that it’s a psychological thriller and that Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun star. And really, what more do you need to know?

Release date: July 22

Don’t Worry Darling

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Olivia Wilde has become the topic of many media headlines over her reported romance with former boy-bander Harry Styles, whom she directs in this movie. But don’t let any of that nonsense distract you from the fact that Wilde just may be the voice of a new generation of filmmakers. After tackling high school awkwardness (and wowing critics) with her directorial debut Booksmart, Wilde’s moving on to more adult themes, following Styles and Florence Pugh as a couple working to navigate the ins and outs of married life and utopian living in 1950s America.

Release date: September 23

Mission: Impossible 7

It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility to imagine that Tom Cruise, now 59 years old, might still be running across rooftops and trying to save the world from one potential threat or another 20 years from now as IMF agent Ethan Hunt (just with a handful of Werther’s Original candies in his pocket). In the meantime, we’ll settle for witnessing how the seventh film in the M:I franchise, which was filmed in starts and stops as Covid-19 led to a number of set lockdowns—and at least one epic A-lister rant for the ages—turned out in the end.

Release date: September 30

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

It’s a testament to the singular talent of Chadwick Boseman, and just how special the original Black Panther was, that Marvel has opted not to recast the eponymous superhero following the death of Boseman on August 28, 2020, just a few months shy of his 44th birthday. Though the story will continue with most of the original cast returning, including Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, and Angela Bassett, writer/director Ryan Coogler has been honest about how devastating it was to write another Black Panther story without Boseman. Not much has been revealed about the movie’s plot, but we do know that Michaela Coel, the creator and star of the devastatingly brilliant I May Destroy You, will find her way to Wakanda.

Release date: November 11

Pinocchio

Not to be confused with Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks’ live-action version of Pinocchio (which sounds/looks rather frightening in its own right), this retelling of the classic fairy tale comes straight from the mind of Guillermo del Toro. So you know it’s not going to be something Walt Disney would likely approve of.

Release date: 2022

Rustin

Dustin Lance Black won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2009 for his work on Gus Van Sant’s Milk, a biopic of the life and tragic murder of Harvey Milk, a queer rights activist and California’s first openly gay elected official. Now he’s back to the tell the story of another iconic LGBTQ leader, Bayard Rustin, who organized the 1963 March on Washington. Colman Domingo stars as the title character in this Netflix original, which was produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.

Release date: 2022

Deep Water

Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas play a married couple who have fallen out of love, but whose penchant for messing with each other’s heads is the one thing that keeps them together in this erotic thriller. While the real-life romance that developed offscreen between Affleck and de Armas drew much of the early interest in this movie, it blocked out the real story: that the movie, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1957 novel, marks the big-screen return of Adrian Lyne, who hasn’t directed a film since his Oscar-nominated Unfaithful (2002). With films like Fatal Attraction, Lolita, 9 1/2 Weeks, and Indecent Proposal on his resume, Lyne has long been a master of the Happy Couple Doing Very Bad Things genre.

Release date: 2022


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