The best future-focused sci-fi film and TV coming in 2019
If you are a fan of weird futurist sci-fi then the next twelve months promise a huge array of amazing new film and television. Here are our picks for the most anticipated future visions of 2019, on both big and small screens. It is going to be a huge year for massive blockbuster spectacle, contemplative hard science speculations, and gigantic franchise TV transitions.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian (late 2019)
Accompanying the looming launch of Disney's big new streaming service in 2019 is the first live-action Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian. Plenty of mysteries surround this long-rumored series, in production right now, but we do know a few things for sure. It will be 10-episodes long, cost upwards of $100 million dollars, and is set seven years after the events of Return of the Jedi.
An Instagram post from executive producer Jon Favreau in October suggested a bit of a western vibe to the show, noting it follows "the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic...."
The director and cast announcements have also affirmed this could be a strangely offbeat series. Episode directors have been revealed to include Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Dave Filoni (creator of the animated series The Clone Wars). The incredibly bizarre cast consists of MMA fighter Gina Carano, 80s icon Carl Weathers from Predator and Rocky, Giancarlo Esposito (aka Gus Fring from Breaking Bad), Werner Herzog (the famously odd German director), and Nick Nolte.
Gemini Man (October, 2019)
The screenplay for this film has reportedly been floating around Hollywood for twenty years, essentially waiting for CGI technology to get good enough so it can be made. The story follows an aging hit man (played by Will Smith) who is hunted down by his own clone, a 25-year younger copy, designed to be the perfect assassin.
Alongside the obvious de-aging CGI the film is set to utilize, it also was reportedly filmed in a high-tech 4K 3D 120fps format. Director Ang Lee notably pushed this new HD format with his last film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which at the time received mixed responses and could only be properly screened in five cinemas around the world. Whether more cinemas will support such a ridiculously high resolution film this time round is yet to be seen, and audiences may not be interested either, but Lee isn't the only filmmaker pushing for higher projection frame rates and better 3D. James Cameron is doing the same with his new Avatar sequels, so we better get used to it.
Cosmos: Possible Worlds (March)
Back in 2014 Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a modern reprise of the famous Carl Sagan series from 1980. Now the impressive documentary series returns with a follow-up season consisting of 13 episodes devoted to more speculative scientific ideas.
Possible Worlds looks to head to the fringes of science, exploring everything from newly discovered exoplanets, to a major zoom-in on the quantum realm. Like the first season it will be structured around Tyson, in his virtual spaceship, traveling anywhere and everywhere with the aid of cutting-edge special effects. This new season is again co-produced by Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, and key player in the Star Trek universe, Brannon Braga.
Ad Astra (May)
On a more high-minded, art-house tip, Ad Astra promises to deliver cerebral sci-fi with a big budget, thanks to the power of star and producer Brad Pitt. The story outline is pretty standard 2001-esque sci-fi stuff: a son sets out on a long space mission to find his father who disappeared twenty years ago on a mission to Neptune.
Think Solaris, think Interstellar, this Heart of Darkness-styled sci-fi is directed and co-written by James Gray, best known for ponderous and austere dramas such as The Immigrant and The Lost City of Z. Sci-fi fans should keep a close eye on what could either be a boring, languid mess or an instant, profound classic. This could genuinely go either way, but we can be sure it will not be a run-of-the-mill genre entry.
Star Trek: Picard (late 2019)
After a few years without a Star Trek TV series on the air, 2019 promises to give us not one but two. Alongside the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, which premiered in 2018 with an enjoyable and dynamic debut, we will see a new show centered around the legendary Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The new series is planned to launch on CBS All Access late in 2019, and will follow Picard's life in the years after The Next Generation. Patrick Stewart will reprise the role of Picard and little is known of what the story will entail. Star Trek fans may remember the classic Next Generation finale, which time-jumped to depict a retired Picard living in France on his family vineyard. Presumably this series will not be an amiable look at wine-making in a future France.
Chaos Walking (March)
The production of this film has certainly lived up to its title, with Hollywood spending several years trying to figure out a way to adapt Patrick Ness' ambitious YA trilogy. Doug Liman (Edge Of Tomorrow, Jumper) is the director who eventually got this into production, with a screenplay penned by no less than six different writers including Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation).
The difficult to summarize story follows a teenage boy in a future world where a virus has killed all women and given the male survivors an ability to read the mind's of all humans and animals. Daisy Ridley appears as a mysterious woman who can silence the noise in the survivor's minds.
The film finished production in late 2017 but then was held back for extensive reshoots that still have not been completed, bringing its budget above the $100 million barrier. It's undoubtedly been a tumultuous ride to reach its potential March 2019 premiere date, but this deeply odd sci-fi offering could be a compellingly strange film ... if it isn't a total mess.
Science fiction devotees will immediately recognize the one-word title Foundation. Yep, this is a major TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov's seminal book series. In development for several years, the series became truly real in early 2018 after Apple snapped it up as one of its big acquisitions to help launch its upcoming streaming service.
Not much is known about the series so far, and it very well may not appear until 2020, however the scale of the Foundation stories span centuries so this show could very well take any number of different forms. Adding more promise to the project is the powerhouse creative team assembled, including David S. Goyer (writer of Christoper Nolan's Dark Knight movies), and Robyn Asimov, daughter of Isaac Asimov.
Captive State (March, 2019)
You gotta love a good alien invasion movie and Captive State takes a novel approach to the well-worn story, jumping ahead 10 years after extraterrestrials have taken over our planet. An organization called 'The Legislature" now runs the world, with human collaborators helping the alien occupiers, while a rebel resistance called "Phoenix" fight the invaders.
The whole thing feels a little similar to the recent TV series Colony, which ran for several seasons but ultimately was frustratingly unsatisfying. Starring John Goodman and Vera Farmiga, early trailers certainly look impressive and writer/director Rupert Wyatt has a strong pedigree after kicking off the latest Apes franchise on a good note with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
The Twilight Zone (2019)
Is nothing sacred in the age of the remake? Rod Serling's profoundly influential anthology series has already been through a 1980s reboot, but where does The Twilight Zone stand in the age of Black Mirror? The most promising creative connection in this upcoming 10-episode season is that attachment of Jordan Peele as narrator and executive producer. After Peele's brilliant 2017 movie Get Out gave off perfectly calibrated Twilight Zone vibes, he is the ideal candidate to oversee this new interpretation.
No plot details have leaked so far but we do know one of the episodes will be a remake of the legendary classic episode called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. That was the episode featuring William Shatner losing his mind on a plane as he sees a gremlin on the wing outside.
Good Omens (early 2019)
This famous collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman was mooted for film adaptation pretty much as soon as it was published in 1990, however decades passed and it never got off the ground. After Pratchett passed away in 2015, Gaiman vowed to never let a Good Omens adaptation happen – it was a collaboration and if both men couldn't work on it then it wouldn't be made. Pratchett, perhaps sensing Gaiman's stubborn sensibility, penned a letter to his friend with the direction that it shouldn't be delivered until after his death. The letter urged Gaiman to make Good Omens without him, and so by 2017 Amazon and the BBC teamed up to make this six-part limited series.
With a screenplay by Gaiman, this perfectly cast adaptation features a murderer's row of talent including Michael Sheen and David Tennant as the angel and demon combo working to prevent the apocalypse due to their fondness for living on Earth.
Alita, Battle Angel (February)
This one was on our list last year but has been delayed until early 2019, presumably due to a majorly FX intensive aesthetic. James Cameron's long-awaited dream project was ultimately directed by Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Sin City) due to Cameron's recent Avatar workload.
Clips of the film have been released over the second half of 2018, and responses were incredibly mixed with the CGI looking disappointingly old-fashioned. This movie very well may be 2019's biggest disaster but it certainly shouldn't be a bland misfire. It looks gaudy, camp, over-the-top and crazy. Most likely it will be entertainingly terrible.