It is the first Friday of March, and that can only mean that it is time for Great Stories to preview and give our quick thoughts on the March movies release schedule based on the trailers we have seen.
21 & Over (Relativity)- From the makers of The Hangover, comes the latest in trip down debauchery lane. Just replace the wedding party with college-age kids intent on making their passage to 21 a memorable occasion.
Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros)- Bryan Singer, director of the X-Men, brings along Ewan MacGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Stanley Tucci into the fabled world of Kings and Giant-kin, based on the well-known children’s story.
The Last Exorcism II (CBS Films)- Eli Roth produces the sequel to the successful original which sees the return of Ashley Bell as the young demon-afflicted girl who now deals with her condition in the aftermath of her family’s demise.
Phantom (RCR Media)- Ed Harris plays a Soviet submarine captain and David Duchovny returns to the big screen as a KGB agent with his own agenda in this underwater thriller.
Great Stories Pick: Jack the Giant Slayer
The trailer to Jack the Giant Slayer had us genuinely excited for a big screen excursion. Bryan Singer is a proven commodity as director, and the film just has fun written all over it. Solid cast, and what it not to like about creating a “larger than life” representation of such a great children’s classic? You may not be able to bring your overly young children to see this one with the PG-13 tag, but it is certainly something the older kids and you could enjoy! 21 & Over had that been there and done that feel to it. Heck, the trailer had already screamed out The Hangover even without the crack marketing team telling you it was from the same people who brought you said movie. The only thing that caught the eye was the appearance of a certain Dharma Initiative celebrity (for you Lost fans out there). The Last Exorcism was an excellent movie, filmed in that lost footage style with plenty of atmosphere and good acting from a cast of unknowns. The trailer for the second movie has us far less interested, as this sequel takes on a narrative style approach. It is good to see Ashley Bell return to her role, but the premise seems to take away from the mystique of the origiinal’s surprise ending. Phantom, on the other hand, had us very interested when reading the synopsis. Another tale in the mold of Hunt for Red October screamed for attention, especially with Ed Harris, whose acting chops are well known and David Duchovny of X-Files fame playing the role of the antagonist. But the lackluster preview trailer dulled our excitement. Again, Jack the Giant Slayer looks to be the sure-fire winner of the week!
Dead Man Down (Film District)- Colin Farrell tries to amend his ways after the terrible Total Recall remake with this moody mutual revenge flick.
Oz the Great and Powerful (Disney)- Another classic children’s tale re-done with a new spin will attempt to bring families flocking to the cineplex with James Franco and Mila Kunis taking the leads.
Emperor (Lionsgate)- Tommy Lee Jones plays General MacArthur as he visits Japan just after their surrender in WWII, charged with the responsibility on how to deal with Emperor Hirohito. Matthew Fox (of Lost fame) co-stars as General MacArthur’s chief investigator.
Great Stories Pick: Oz the Great and Powerful
Let it not be said that this was an easy call for us. Emperor looks fantastic, and history/WWII buffs will probably be in for a treat with this picture. But Oz the Great and Powerful looks to be another winner for Disney. James Franco is one of Hollywood’s great young actors with many good roles to his credit, and this one seems to hold a bit of magic and wonder for all ages. Add in the beautiful Mila Kunis, as well as supporting roles by Michelle Williams and Rachel Wiesz and it is hard to argue with the strength of the cast. As for Dead Man Down, the trailer makes a strong case for some attention, but we are a bit trigger shy after the last two big screen appearances from Farrell in the terrible remakes of Total Recall and Fright Night. It makes one wonder if his script choices are a reflection of a poor agent or his fading star. Maybe we can be pleasantly surprised?
The Call (TriStar)- Halle Berry stars as a 911 call operator who is witness to the repeated crimes by a sadistic killer and is forced to take a more active role in catching him before he commits his next crime.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros)- Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi star as childhood friends who are bonded together by their love of magic and make a carreer of it until their commercial appeal is replaced by a new magician in the public eye.
Spring Breakers (A24)- A group of wayward young girls (including Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens) steal some money to afford the spring break of their lives when they meet a local drug runner/arms dealer (James Franco) who takes them even deeper into the underbelly of the criminal world leaving the girls to ponder the choices that led them there.
Upside Down (Millenium)- Kirsten Dunst stars in the sci-fi drama about the inhabitants of twin planets who share incredible proximity and atmospheres but strangely different gravitational rules. Also separated by socio-economic differences, a man and a woman defy their societies and risk it all to be together.
Great Stories Pick: The Call
The Halle Berry movie seems to have enough tension and excitement to carry us through the weekend without falling asleep in that nice comfortable stadium style seat at the local theater. And after playing it safe with two family-style films in the previous weeks, we felt the need to charge up the adrenaline a bit. As for the other releases, Steve Carrell’s comedic take on the business of magic and illusion had some appeal, but not enough to sway us. After all, comedies are just as good on the small screen, so we can wait. Spring Breakers makes James Franco a bit of a commercial cannibal as he will have had two straight weeks of film release. His portrayal of a scummy drug dealer is certainly a far cry from his wholesome image in Oz. While the film has potential, we will just have to wait and see. Upside Down screams art-house independent and introspective. We love that movies can have a higher level of sophistication, but we prefer to read those types of things as opposed to seeing them on the big screen. Maybe good for a rental?
Admission (Focus Features)- Tina Fey stars as a Princeteon admissions officer who visits an alternative high school on a recruitment assignment and discovers a previously unknown connection to a very gifted student, as we as finding romance along the way. Paul Rudd also stars.
The Croods (Dreamworks)- Animated family feature about the first pre-historic family and their first adventure together as they travel from the safety and confines of their cave home. Stars the vocal talents of Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Nicolas Cage, and Emma Stone.
Olympus Has Fallen (Millenium)- Gerard Butler stars as a haunted secret service agent on the President’s (Aaron Eckhart) detail. When a full scale invasion of the White House by terrorists threatens the leadership of the country, it is up to him to set things right and find redemption. The ensemble cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Dylan McDermott, Rahda Mitchell, and Angela Bassett.
Great Stories Pick: Olympus Has Fallen
We are locked and loaded for a a pretty exhilirating looking thriller, and Gerard Butler has a certain appeal in these types of roles. We haven’t seen D.C. threatened like this since Jack Bauer was all over our TV screens, which seems like forever and a day. And who didn’t like Jack Bauer? That’s right! As for the other releases, The Croods family fare is great for the little kiddies, and is sure to drum up some decent ticket sales. As for Admission, well, what can be said? That is one that we will be refusing to pay for at the Box Office.
The Host (Open Road)- Teen dramas just got another potential flagship franchises as Saoirise Ronan takes on alien hosts that are taking over earth one body at a time, in this Body Snatcher-type sci fi flicks.
Tyler Perry’s Temptation (Lionsgate)- Brandy Norwood, Vanessa Williams, and yes, Kim Kardashian, appear in this drama about an unhappy wife in a marriage that is going through the motions when an attractive stranger enters the picture threatening to turn everyone’s workl upside down.
Family Weekend (Arc Entertainment)- Matthew Modine and Kristen Chenoweth star as a couple of very unconventional parents whose child-rearing style are rubbing their eldest daughter (Olesya Rulin) the wrong way. The motivated teen gets the idea to re-educate her parents in this quirky comedy.
The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features)- Ryan Gosling plays a carnival stunt motorcyclist who returns home to rekindle romance with his old flame (Eva Mendes) and is surprised to learn he has a son. Meanwhile, star rookie police officer (Bradley Cooper) is out to make a name for himself as well as a difference under the shadown of a corrupt police chief (Ray Liotta). The paths of the two men are inextricably linked when Gosling chooses a life of crime to provide for his new family.
The Evil Dead (TriStar)- The remake of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead promises big scares and a new facelift to the franchise which spawned the cult-classic Army of Darkness.
Great Stories Pick: The Place Beyond the Pines
The trailer for Pines looks fantastic, and the talents of Gosling and Cooper as two of Hollywood’s fast rising stars is undeniable. Factor in a dash of Ray Liotta, and you are in for some great entertainment. It is a little bit funny that Drive was a movie that starred Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who turns to criminal activities. Is he risking being typecast as a stuntman? LOL. But the story looks solid and we can’t wait to see how it all plays out. As for the other entries for the last weekend in March, The Host looks to be one of those tween movies that could go either way. Movies marketed towards the teen audience are a tough game, as they tend to be what a Snackwell is to the dessert world. A treat that just isn’t all that fulfilling without the real ingredients. In this way, the stories they tell tend to lack edge and sophistication. Family Weekend might be a good rental, in that same vein as the off-beat Juno. We refuse to see anything with Kim Kardashian in it, so Tyler Perry’s Temptation is off the list. The Evil Dead remake is intriguing, but we are more interested in a sequel to Army of Darkness and a continuation of Ash’s story as opposed to yet another Hollywood reboot.
Chris & the Great Stories team