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March! Despite not even falling in the already loose definition of the “summer” season, March could easily be the biggest movie month of 2017. Sure, we might have some “bigger” tentpoles in the next couple of months such as Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (May 26) and Transformers 5 (June 23), but this month has consecutive solid weeks – plus movies that people actually seem to look forward to. (I mean I’m sure at some point Pirates 5 seemed like a good idea, but when your selling point is the return of Orlando Bloom, maybe this franchise is best left at sea.)
MARCH 3, 2017
LOGAN v. THE SHACK v. BEFORE I FALL
Logan – Another X-Men movie? Except this one might be good? Even really good? Following the catastrophe of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (probably the worst superhero of the past 20 years, even worse than Fantastic Four), and the thoroughly mediocre The Wolverine (Wolverine goes to Japan), it was easy to count Logan out. But the R rating, the focus on a character/family drama over action, and (most importantly) the universally terrific early reviews have put Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s alleged last outing in the X-iverse on a lot of people’s radars. (And I say alleged because, let’s face it, Jackman will show up in Deadpool 2.)
Between the ultraviolent dark comedy of Deadpool, the humanity and seriousness of Logan, and the wonderful surrealism of FX’s Legion, it seems that there is some life remaining in the often adrift Fox Studios comic book universe – as long as they stay away from Generic Superhero Movie (e.g. X-Men: Apocalypse). You’re not topping Marvel, you’re probably not going to top DC, continue experimenting and you might fine. Or not.
The Shack – This month’s big religious movie is The Shack, based on a best-selling Christian novel about a man whose daughter is killed, and then he finds God in a mystical, What Dreams May Come-esque shack. The guy, notably, is once big budget “star” Sam Worthington (the precursor to today’s Jai Courtney) who just escaped from Hollywood jail with help from Hacksaw Ridge. Sadly, he’s sure to be tossed right back in the hole when Avatar 2, 3, and 4 begin filming later this year.
Before I Fall – The month’s big based-on-a-Young-Adult-novel movie, Before I Fall avoids being like others in the genre by not being about a chosen one fighting a totalitarian government in a desert dystopia. Rather, it is about a young woman (Zoey Deutch) who Groundhog Days and relives the day of her death over and over again. Reviews are slightly positive with a 65% Fresh, albeit with only ~25 reviews in and a 5.6/10 average.
MARCH 10, 2017
KONG: SKULL ISLAND v. PERSONAL SHOPPER
Kong: Skull Island – Remember when Peter Jackson followed up Lord of the Rings, one of Hollywood’s great epics by remaking King Kong? The one where everyone complained about how long it took the characters to get off the boat and how out of place Jack Black was? The movie was chockful of elements people could appreciate (if they wanted to) but couldn’t truly like? That was 2005!
And since we can’t let a good brand name die, it’s time to bring it back! While it would be easy to chalk this feature off as yet another pointless and loud reboot, the cast (including John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Shea Whigham, and Samuel L. Jackson) is outstanding, and the trailers (particularly the newest one, see above) make it look genuinely fun. Curiously enough, much like how the Jackson remake was a period piece set in the 1930s (the time of the original movie), this third remake is actually a period piece set in the era of the first remake from the 1970s. Will King Kong Take 5 be set in the 2000s? Additionally, this movie is confirmed to take place in the monster universe established by Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla. And unlike that film, this one seems to have good human characters…who probably, disappointingly, won’t be teleported 40 years into the future.
Personal Shopper – Kristen Stewart re-teams with director Olivier Assayas (their Clouds of Sils Maria won her a prestigious Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress) for this ghost story about a Parisian personal shopper. While one might expect something more atmospheric and classier than your traditional horror movie from this feature that showed at the Cannes Film Festival, reviews are mediocre-at-best (currently 65% on Rotten Tomatoes (6.5/10 average)). However, the former Bella Swan has racked up a number of accolades for her work in the leading role.
MARCH 17, 2017
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST v. T2: TRAINSPOTTING v. THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
Beauty and the Beast – Disney has been testing the waters with live action remakes of their cartoons, and it’s all been leading up to this. It’s hard to think of another adaptation that could attract more people than Beauty and the Beast, one of their most beloved films of all time. (I don’t even think The Lion King, which is utterly devoid of humans, could compete.) This one perfectly hits the nostalgia button – people who saw this movie as children by this point have or know children whom they can share the wonder with, which ensures not just a major opening weekend but also a lot of repeat viewing. (It’s surprising Disney isn’t doing a brief theatrical re-release of the animated feature…) With the exception of Star Wars, this could possibly be the biggest movie of the year.
T2: Trainspotting – The latest in the genre of Unwanted And Too Late Sequels is T2: Trainspotting, a film so out of time that it uses T2 as part of its marketing gimmick. Do I want to like it? Sure. I loved the original movie. Do I expect great things from it? Of course not. While Danny Boyle has only risen in esteem since the first film, it’s difficult to imagine this having the angry spirit of 1990s independent cinema that made the first one so memorable.
The Belko Experiment – Before James Gunn became responsible for arguably Marvel’s best property, he created two fantastic, lesser seen films: Slither and Super. Unfortunately, the responsibilities of this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 kept him from helming the camera for The Belko Experiment, which was going to be one of his next projects. Instead he wrote the screenplay and left it to Greg McLean (Wolf Creek 2) to direct. Described as Battle Royale meets Office Space, it could be fun, especially if Gunn gets to fully indulge his darkly satiric ways. Plus it’ll probably have that anarchist intensity that will surely be missing from T2.
MARCH 24, 2017
SABAN’S POWER RANGERS v. ChiPS v. LIFE. v. WILSON
Saban’s Power Rangers – Yet more 80s/90s nostalgia! While the latest trailers have made the film seem more lively than that horrible original, angsty, miserable, and dour teaser, the latest ads for Power Rangers are better, I guess, but I still don’t think it looks fun. I mean it’s clearly supposed to be fun. The characters are supposed to be friendly and personable. The colors are supposed to be bright and lively. So what’s missing? Despite trying to put on a good show of levity, the film nevertheless feels hollow and lifeless, which I guess was Power Rangers originally, so it fits? I have to give them credit though for not going full on dark, gritty reboot. Hopefully we’re done with that…until King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Robin Hood: Origins.
CHiPS – Remember the TV show CHiPS? Probably not. It was on during the same time as Starsky and Hutch, and that parod-ish movie was released in 2004 (and looking back was surprisingly ahead of its time). It’s clear that writer-director-actor Dax Shepherd wants to replicate the success of 21 Jump Street by doing virtually the same movie. And it’s clear the studio wants to cut the legs off of the upcoming other, more popular TV show parod-ish Baywatch (May 26) by moving (rushing) this film from its original release date in August 2017 to March 2017. (Its first and only trailer premiered a month ago.) But the Jump Street movies had Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Baywatch has Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. CHiPS … has Dax Shepherd and Michael Peña, who are both fine in their own way – actually I think Peña elevates most movies he’s in – even the worst ones, while I have no real opinion on Shepherd – but neither of which has the drawing power of any of those four. But it is the only major release comedy of the month, so it has that going for it.
Life – Small cast space movies can be hit or miss. For every Moon, we get Passengers and Europa Report and Apollo 18 and… The painfully generically named Life stars Ryan Reynolds (re-teaming with his Safe House director Daniel Espinosa and his Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick), Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson in a sci-fi horror film, a sub-genre that always tries to and virtually never lives up to Alien. That this movie is about a crew of people who find what is possibly the first proof of alien life before it goes haywire doesn’t help. If it weren’t for the cast, you could easily imagine this ending up on VoD. And even so, Alien: Covenant is coming out in May and between The Last Supper and the new trailer, it will surely steal whatever minuscule amount of thunder this one has.
Wilson – Before Woody Harrelson becomes Han Solo’s wholly unnecessary mentor in the wholly unnecessary Han Solo movie, he’ll try his hand at the indy set with Wilson about a pathetic man reuniting with his ex-wife to reconnect with his daughter. What sets Wilson apart from other absentee parent comedies is that it’s based on a graphic novel from Daniel Clowes, whose works inspired the fantastic Ghost World and Art School Confidential.
MARCH 31, 2017
GHOST IN THE SHELL v. BOSS BABY v. THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE
Ghost in the Shell – While GITS does not have as many nostalgia points as most of the other movies this month, it’s still another reboot – this time of one of the most well known and beloved animes. The trailers definitely show a keen visual style, but how far can that take this movie? Will it deal with the themes of technology and people losing their identity that the original did, or will it just be another in the long line of mind-wiped super soldier films?
Boss Baby – There has been no other animated movies this month, so it is appropriate to get another standard-lowering children’s film at the end.
The Zookeeper’s Wife – Nazis! Adorable animals! Jessica Chastain looking sad! It’s definitely an older skewing film with the stench of Oscar bait emanating from it, so maybe it’ll get some audience attraction. After all, it might get a nice bump by being the only straight drama this month that doesn’t involve a man with claw hands wiping out an army of cyborgs.
So that’s March. Quite the month. Beauty and the Beast will obviously top, but every week has some point of interest. Then onto April where we get … Smurfs: The Lost Village. April is going to be really lame.