Spring is a tricky time of year at the multiplex. Anticipation for early summer blockbusters is in the air. Foreign films and documentaries pop up in local theaters hoping for an Oscar bump. Meanwhile studios dump movies that aimed for Oscars and turned out… well… bad.
Don’t get caught out with your friends at the wrong movie. Sure the trailer looks good. But should you see it? Or skip it?
“Jack the Giant Slayer” (March 1)
SEE IT! “Jack the Giant Slayer” looks to be a more than serviceable fix for those moviegoers who can’t wait for summer to arrive. This grown-up spin on a famous fairy tale promises action, romance, and visual effects in epic proportions.
Director Bryan Singer, coming off “Valkyrie” and “Superman Returns,” has acquired a reputation for disappointment among knowledgeable filmgoers. But “Jack” reunites Singer with Christopher McQuarrie (screenwriter, “The Usual Suspects”), and seems to suit the strengths the director exhibited in “X-Men.” A star turn for Nicholas Hoult, who recently impressed in “Warm Bodies,” certainly can’t hurt.
“21 and Over” (March 1)
SKIP IT! Trailers for “21 and Over” tout the latest from Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (writers, “The Hangover”). You know the routine: a tale of debauchery, partying, and nakedness unfolding on the night of a straight-A student’s 21st birthday. The real question is, after “The Hangover” and its mediocre sequel (a third is in the works), along with copycat “Project X” and predecessor “Superbad,” does “21 and Over” have something new to bring to the table? I’m betting not.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” (March 8)
WAIT AND SEE! With Disney betting on this movie to the tune of $200 million dollars, an “Alice in Wonderland” box office explosion seems more likely than a “James Carter” death spiral (Oz: The Great and Powerful = Alice And Wonderland? Let’s Hope Not). Still, promotional materials are light on character and heavy on cartoonish, over-saturated visuals– a technique that makes me very suspicious. If people are still buzzing about “Oz” after opening week, you might catch me buying a ticket.
“Dead Man Down” (March 8)
SEE IT! “Dead Man Down” is under the radar and opening against a Disney blockbuster, but don’t count out Director Niels Arden Oplev. He makes his English language debut after critical hit “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (not the one you saw, the one in Swedish). A master of the crime thriller, Oplev is in his element at the helm of “Dead Man Down.” Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star.
“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (March 15)
SEE IT! The most exciting premiere in March unites comedy greats Steve Carell and Jim Carrey with spectacular character actors like Steve Buscemi, Alan Arkin, and James Gandolfini. “Burt Wonderstone”is the story of a washed-up Vegas magic act, a fresh premise which seems rich with opportunities for comedy.
“On the Road” (Expands March 22)
SKIP IT! You might be thinking you can impress your friends by attending this high-brow adaption of the famous Kerouac novel. Unfortunately audiences will be divided mostly into two groups: (1) those who read the book and think the movie doesn’t live up and (2) those who haven’t read the book, and consequently can’t make any sense of the movie.
“Admission” (March 22)
SEE IT! Director Paul Weitz has serious comedy-cred (“American Pie,” “About a Boy”) and co-stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are crowd favorites in the genre. But what makes this film stand out is its attempt to double dip on big laughs and a sincere, positive message. A college admissions counselor (Fey) puts her career in jeopardy to help a prospective student who might turn out to be her son.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (March 29)
SKIP IT! “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” found an audience despite mediocre response. “Retaliation” promises more of the same, with the pleasant additions of Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson– but that’s still not enough to convince me that this one is worth the trip.
Excited for something I forgot? Loving something I’m skipping? Give me a shout on twitter @Ethan_Wellin