Movies to Watch Before You Go to the Movies in 2017 — 2nd Quarter

By  · Published on December 31st, 2016

The Adventures of the Smurfs (1965)

Long before the 1980s Smurfs cartoon many of us grew up on, not to mention the recent live-action and animation hybrid movie series, this black and white Belgian feature compiled a number of shorts that previously aired on TV. It doesn’t seem too easy to see, so before the new 3D animated reboot, Smurfs: The Lost Village, you can substitute the more successful 1976 theatrical release, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute to become familiar with the Smurfs overall. However, neither film features Smurfette, who was created in 1966 and is now the main character of the new movie.
Due Date: April 7th

The Smurfs and the Magic Flute

Going in Style (1979)

Maybe you know the poster, in which caricatures of stars George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg are wearing Groucho glasses. The three veteran actors play a trio of bored old guys of varied ages (83, 61, and 78) who decide to rob a bank. Now the Zach Braff-helmed remake of Going in Style is a vehicle for three current veteran actors of less-varied ages: Michael Caine (83, in the Burns role), Alan Arkin (82, in the Carney role), and Morgan Freeman (79, in the Strasberg role).
Due Date: April 7th

Going in Style

The Belle of Amherst (1976)

It’s surprising that Emily Dickinson hasn’t had a proper biopic already, but with Cynthia Nixon taking the honor of portraying her in a major motion picture, titled A Quiet Passion, there is one previous effort worth seeking out. The Belle of Amherst is really just a televised taping of Julie Harris’s Tony Award-winning one-woman show portrayal. There’s also the documentary Loaded Gun: Life and Death and Dickson, which features Harris.
Due Date: April 14th

The Belle Of Amherst

The Fast and the Furious (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Fast & Furious (2009), Fast Five (2011), Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015)

If you’re not all caught up and fully invested in the Vin Diesel-fueled Fast and Furious franchise, then you’ll want to do so before the eighth installment, The Fate of the Furious, because this one introduces Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren to the mix. If you have to start from the beginning, it’ll be a slog for a while, but you might be fine just jumping in midway with Fast & Furious.
Due Date: April 14th

Fast & Furious 7-Movie Collection (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD)

Lost in the Amazon: Col. Percy Fawcett (2011)

This documentary, which aired on PBS as an episode of Secrets of the Dead, labels Percy Fawcett as the original Indiana Jones, but so far Jones hasn’t gone missing on any of his major expeditions. Let it be a primer on the explorer and his quest for a city of gold in South America before the release of the dramatic telling of the story, The Lost City of Z, starring Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett and Tom Holland as the son who disappeared with him. Due Date: April 21st

The Dinner (2013)

Cate Blanchett was supposed to make her directorial debut with the first English-language adaptation of Herman Koch’s 2009 novel, which is about two sets of parents who meet at a restaurant to discuss a crime committed by their sons. Instead, Oren Moverman is helming The Dinner off his own script. The internationally popular book has been adapted twice before, first in its native Dutch in 2013 and then more loosely in Italian in 2014. Start with the former.
Due Date: May 5th

The Dinner (2013) ( Het Diner ) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import – Netherlands ]

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The 10th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe mega-franchise is one of the most entertaining and most independent, which means you don’t have to watch the other nine, or more, before going forth with the space adventure sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Due Date: May 5th

Guardians Of The Galaxy [Blu-ray]

Knights of the Round Table (1953)

The legendary king and character Arthur appeared in film as early as 1909’s Launcelot and Elaine and was obviously a big part of the many versions of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in the first half of the 20th century. But it’s 1953’s Oscar-nominated take on the Arthurian tales that is most related to Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and the origins of Arthur (Mel Ferrer) pulling Excalibur from the stone. The new movie doesn’t go as far into the legends, but maybe Knights of the Round Table will also be a primer for its sequels.
Due Date: May 12th

Knights of the Round Table

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules (2011), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012)

Did you know there are already so many Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies? The fourth, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, is actually an adaptation of the ninth book in the children’s novel series, so maybe there’s not too much continuity and background needed, though it’s also apparently a direct sequel to Dog Days despite also seeming like a reboot with an all new cast. Due Date: May 19th

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1, 2 & 3 Blu-ray

Prometheus (2012)

Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise prequel has a bunch of issues, but overall it’s a good addition to the series and may play even better after the release of its sequel ‐ also an Alien prequel ‐ Alien: Covenant, which is bringing back Michael Fassbender’s android character. Going by the trailer, it might also be worthwhile to acquaint yourself with Alien and maybe Aliens to appreciate some of the repeated and reworked ideas of those first two installments. Due Date: May 19th

Prometheus (Blu-ray/ DVD + Digital Copy)

The Nut Job (2014)

You didn’t see The Nut Job? Well, get on that ASAP so you can enjoy the sequel, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature. You can’t deny that title.
Due Date: May 19th

The Nut Job

Baywatch the Movie: Forbidden Paradise (1995)

This first direct-to-video feature-length spinoff from the iconic Baywatch TV series is your gateway to the show in preparation for the big screen Baywatch redo starring The Rock and Zac Efron. Meet their lifeguard characters as originally played by David Hasselhoff and David Charvet (this movie was his last appearance), plus Pamela Anderson, as they go on a group Hawaiian vacation.
Due Date: May 26th

Baywatch: Forbidden Paradise [VHS]

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Is anyone else not actually tired of Captain Jack Sparrow? Johnny Depp’s pirate antihero is back, six years after the last installment, and this time he’s joined by Javier Bardem as the villain. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales not only has a great cast, but it’s directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, of the Oscar-nominated Kon-Tiki remake. That’s enough promise to catch up or revisit the rest.
Due Date: May 26th

Pirates of the Caribbean: Four-Movie Collection [Blu-ray]

Siberian Lady Macbeth (1962)

This is not the first adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s 1895 novel “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk,” about a woman (inspired by Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth) in a forced marriage who turns adulterous then murderous. That’d be a 1927 Soviet feature that doesn’t appear easily seen. So, here’s probably the better option anyway, a version by Polish master Andrzej Wajda to also likely overshadow William Oldroyd’s new take, simply titled Lady Macbeth.
Due Date: June 2nd

Siberian Lady Macbeth (English Subtitled)

Wonder Woman (1974)

You probably know about the 1970s TV series starring Lynda Carter as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. But before that successful show, there were two other attempts. First there was a half-hour pilot in 1967 called Wonder Woman: Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince? made by the people behind that era’s hit Batman series. Then there was this version of the DC Comics character, a TV movie meant as a pilot that stars a much more covered-up Cathy Lee Crosby plus Kaz Garas as Steve Trevor and Ricardo Montalban as the villain. The new DC Extended Universe Wonder Woman movie can’t top Khan.
Due Date: June 2nd

Wonder Woman (1974)

The Mummy (1932)

Universal is giving us a lot of homework with its plan for all their classic Monsters returning to the big screen for one shared-universe mega-franchise. Up first is a new Tom Cruise-led take on The Mummy, with Sofia Boutella playing a female version of the title villain that Boris Karloff originated 85 years earlier.
Due Date: June 9th

The Mummy (1932) [Blu-ray]

Very Bad Things (1998)

Although not an official remake, Rock That Body, is kind of a gender-swapped take on the plot of Very Bad Things. Then the accidentally killed stripper was a woman, hired for a bachelor party. Now it’s a male stripper who winds up dead at a bachelorette party. Either way, what a dark premise played for laughs.
Due Date: June 16th

Very Bad Things

Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011)

Pixar’s Cars series is not the most critically cherished couple of films from the studio, but Cars 3 looks like it could be darker, more mature, maybe less cartoony and kid-friendly. Could it change the course of the franchise? Do we really need to sit through the first two before finding out? Yes.
Due Date: June 16th

Cars 1 and 2 Box Set [Blu-ray] (Region Free)

The Beguiled (1971)

One of the classic team-ups between director Don Siegel and star Clint Eastwood is about to be redone as another great team-up between director Sofia Coppola and actress Kirsten Dunst. The new version of The Beguiled, also based on the 1966 novel “A Painted Devel,” stars Colin Farrell in the Eastwood role as a wounded soldier taken in by an all-girls boarding school and its headmistress.
Due Date: June 23rd

The Beguiled (1971) [Blu-ray]

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Sometimes homework is really hard. But at least I’m not assigning the whole Transformers series ahead of the fifth installment, Transformers: The Last Knight. Age of Extinction was enough of a reboot, with new human characters, that you could skip right to it. Don’t worry about the characters from the initial trilogy that are returning now. Apparently this movie also involves King Arthur, so your earlier assignment of Knights of the Round Table will pay off again.
Due Date: June 23rd

Transformers: Age of Extinction

The Amityville Horror (1979)

We’re not completely sure where the long-delayed Amityville: The Awakening fits into the Amityville horror franchise, whether sequel or prequel or remake. So just make sure you’ve seen the original.
Due Date: June 30th

The Amityville Horror (1979)

Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Don’t worry, you can skip the Minions prequel for now, but these animated films are really not that bad (maybe my brain has turned to mush after so many viewing with my kids). And Despicable Me 3, with its 1980s-obsessed villain, looks to be the most fun yet.
Due Date: June 30th

Despicable Me 3-Movie Collection (Despicable Me / Despicable Me 2 / Minions) (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)

Click Below for the Rest of Your Assignments:
Part 1: January, February, and March
Part 3: July, August, and September
Part 4: October, November, and December

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.