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Culture: Have the popcorn ready for 2018's film bonanza

By David Hannant, Local Democracy Reporter

Ocean's 8
Ocean's 8

Plenty of well-loved characters are returning to cinemas in 2018. Laura Harding gives a rundown of all the reasons to visit the cinema in the new year

Mary Poppins, Lara Croft and Han Solo are among the famous characters due to return to the big screen in 2018.

It’s been more than 50 years since Julie Andrews dazzled movie-goers as Mary Poppins – now Emily Blunt picks up the famous carpet bag in Mary Poppins Returns, due for release in December.

In the sequel, Jane and Michael Banks, now played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw, are grown up, while Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Colin Firth all join the cast.

Ass-kicking video game heroine Croft will swing back into cinemas in March in the shape of Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander, who will take on the role that made Angelina Jolie a superstar.

Tomb Raider will trace Lara, the daughter of an eccentric adventurer, as she leaves everything behind to search for her father’s last-known destination before he disappeared – a tomb on a mythical island off the coast of Japan.

Meanwhile, Star Wars spin-off Solo will tell the origin story of anarchic pilot Han Solo, played by Hail, Caesar!’s Alden Ehrenreich. While the plot is kept a closely guarded secret, it is known that he will be joined in a galaxy far, far away by Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Atlanta’s Donald Glover.

Elsewhere, there will be comic book sequels in the form of Deadpool 2, The Incredibles 2, Ant-Man And The Wasp, X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as a return to Jurassic World in Fallen Kingdom, a reunion with Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Freed and another visit to the Fantastic Beasts in The Crimes Of Grindelwald.

One of the most eagerly anticipated comic book films of the year is Black Panther, released in UK cinemas on February 12, starring Chadwick Boseman in the title role as Marvel’s first black superhero. In the movie, he returns to his isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

The Get On Up star leads a cast that includes Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya and Sterling K Brown.

Jordan will also be seen reprising his role of Adonis Johnson in Creed II, a sequel to the Rocky spin-off, in which Sylvester Stallone will also return as Rocky Balboa where the 2015 film left off.

There will also be the long-awaited return to the Greek islands for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which will arrive in cinemas in July, 10 years after the original blockbuster musical was released.

The new film will be a prequel centring on Meryl Streep’s character when she was younger, now played by Lily James.

It promises to be a good year for female protagonists in 2018, with Sally Hawkins leading Britain’s Oscar hopes in Guillermo Del Toro’s dreamy sci-fi love story The Shape Of Water, due out in February.

She is likely to be in contention with Irish star Saoirse Ronan, who is tipped for nominations for her role in Lady Bird, the directorial debut of actress Greta Gerwig.

Another star generating a buzz is Margot Robbie, who takes on the role of disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I,Tonya.

But one of the most anticipated films of the year is the all-female Ocean’s Eleven sequel Ocean’s 8, starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson and Helen Bonham Carter.

The heist film, out in June, centres around a plot to steal jewellery from the Met Gala, promising a long string of dazzling celebrity cameos and some spectacular fashion.

Rihanna will not be the only singer hoping to make a splash at the box office as Lady Gaga steps into the shoes of Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand for a new version of A Star Is Born, which will be the directorial debut for Bradley Cooper.

The new year will also bring new projects from high-profile directors, including Wes Anderson, Terry Gilliam, Steven Spielberg and Damien Chazelle.

Anderson will return to the world of stop-motion animation for the first time since Fantastic Mr Fox with his new effort Isle Of Dogs, out in March, in which talking dogs are banished to their own island.

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