Not only is Canada an established cinematic tradition in itself, but it has also become a crucial shooting location for American cinema. This is to such an extent that you would be amazed at some of the films that, unbeknownst to you, could have been shot in a locale you know all too well, something I encountered very recently in Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles. So here is my list of the Top 5 Anticipated American Films Shot in Canada for 2019.
- Sonic the Hedgehog– Vancouver and the greater BC area
Before you say it, yes, I know, I know, the Sonic franchise has been a sinking ship-and a painfully slow one at that-since the early 2000s, though it recently gained some credibility back with last year’s Sonic Mania, which managed to recapture the magic of its original incarnations.
Yet the game is indicative of Sonic’s biggest issue today: Sonic Mania is not so much a reinvigoration of the series, akin to 2018’s God of War, but rather an acknowledgement of its heyday back in the early 1990s.
I admit that the film adaptation of this sort could go horribly wrong, especially if Hollywood gets its often-dirty claws on a beloved franchise for the sole purpose of making money (I’m looking at you Rachet & Clank!). Yet, if director Jeff Fowler (an Academy Award nominee, no less) can strike the perfect balance between live-action and animation, while putting Sonic’s inherent charm and visually-promising abilities to good use, everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic hedgehog could find new life in cinema.
Plus, Jim Carrey’s inspired casting as Doctor Eggman gives the dynamic thespian the opportunity to make a long-awaited return to the unhinged zaniness that first launched his storied career, and that alone makes the film worth keeping on your 2019 radar.
- The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Vancouver
I think it is safe to say that The Lego Movie blew each and every expectation audiences had out of the water. The film is brimming with childish nostalgia that is matched by its surprising heart, laugh-out-loud satire and willingness to take big risks.
The only reason I have not placed this entry higher on the list is because cinema’s most creative dynamic duo (I still love you Joel and Ethan!) Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will not return to direct, instead writing and producing, with directorial duties falling to Deuce Bigelow’s Mike Mitchell (no, really). But if the outstanding Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has taught use anything, it is that having Lord and Miller write and produce is enough to bolster a film’s potential for mind-blowing creativity.
- Shazam! – Toronto and Hamilton
I will be the first geek to put up my hand and say that I have very little knowledge about the character and history of Shazam, other than him being an adolescent who takes his superhero the form upon uttering the eponymous words, and that he was created only one year after Superman.
Nonetheless, I am very excited by the prospects of the trailer alone, which suggests that director David F. Sandberg has struck a tone fitting of the source material, while Zachary Levi is perfectly cast as Shazam himself. Although Asher Angel seems well-cast in his own role as Billy Batson, Shazam’s alter ego, it is Levi who will clearly carry the film, as both he and Sandberg fully understand the fact that Shazam is still an adolescent in superhero form, and it seems clear that Levi was the perfect pick given his ability to channel his inner child.
Throw in the menacing presence of Mark Strong as the film’s villain, and you have a winning formula that gives audiences great hopes. Though do remember this is still a DC film, so it has equal chance to go wondrously well, horrendously wrong, or anywhere in between.
2. X-Men: Dark Phoenix – Montreal
Speaking of shaky franchises, the X-Men’s time on the silver screen is marked by highs of the superhero genre like X2 and Logan, or depressing lows such as X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
The series’ most recent release, X-Men: Apocalypse was…okay, I suppose. The problem is that it lacks any semblance of a soul, feeling as hollow as its much-touted villain played by Oscar Isaac, whose talents are sorely wasted. However, with X-Men: Dark Phoenix comes an opportunity to rebound for a number of reasons.
First and foremost is the trailer’s depiction of Professor Charles Xavier, which appears to finally delve into the more deeply flawed aspects of his already complex character. Professor Xavier has previously been depicted as a troubled in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but here he seems to be less of a lost soul, and more of a control freak whose reckless actions could spell doom for mankind. And who better to carry such emotional weight than James MacAvoy.
Moreover, the comic book storyline from which it borrows is a classic staple of X-Men history with resounding ramifications that we can only hope to see onscreen, even if it means losing some beloved characters.
Perhaps most importantly though, Dark Phoenix has the potential to right the wrongs of X-Men: The Last Stand, which drew from the same storyline, yet managed to not only tarnish what could have been a beloved trilogy, but also crap on each and every fan in typical Brett Ratner fashion.
This might be Simon Kinberg’s first outing as a director, who has been hit and miss in the past with his numerous writing credits within the franchise, but both his passion and knowledge have been evident throughout his work, and one can only hope they both show when X-Men: Dark Phoenix finally rolls into theatres.
- It: Chapter 2 – Toronto, Port Hope & Oshawa
It: Chapter 2 tops my list not only because its predecessor was one of the finest horrors of 2017, but also because most of the talents from behind the camera are returning once again to finish what they successfully started.
To add to this, as impressive as the young cast are in the first instalment, older versions of their characters will be played by immense talents such as James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain (who co-stars with McAvoy in Dark Phoenix, as it happens) and Bill Hader to name a few.
The cast aside, I have not read the book, so I am unsure of what to exactly to expect. What I am sure of, though, is that all bets are off in terms of who lives and dies in this sequel to what is the most profitable horror film of all time, and certainly one of the finest Stephen King adaptations.
Andy Muschietti gleefully toys with horror film convention in It, as he was unafraid to depict the horrific deaths of Pennywise’s young victims, which left a lingering sense that a member of the Losers’ Club could have met a similar fate. Alas, it was the combined strength of each member that allowed them to take down Pennywise, concluding with an evocative sense of inseparability to which audiences related.
No doubt director Andy Muschietti and writer Gary Dauberman are keenly aware of the bond audiences made with these characters in the first film, so it only makes sense that they double down to deliver a film that will not only terrify, but wreak emotional havoc.