Metro Weekly

Movies: Spring Arts Preview 2016

It's a season full of horror, comedies and superheroes

findingDoryAnother awards season has come and gone, so let’s all settle into some lighter fare. What’s that? There’s a surprising amount of horror releasing in the next few months. Oh, nevermind then. Amongst the supernatural horrors and dinner party thrillers, though, there’s also an abundance of comedy — animated, R-rated, absurd — and more than enough dramas to satisfy the more emotionally involved viewer. Really, though, the run-up to summer is all about one film: the blockbuster. And boy, are there a few standouts to look forward to. Batman is taking on Superman, Captain America is quarreling with Iron Man, while mutants are having all kinds of problems over a new god-like super mutant. If that’s not enough, Earth is threatened by aliens, children have godlike powers, and Key & Peele have lost a kitten. It’s all happening this spring in film.

MARCH

10 Cloverfield Lane — When is a sequel not a sequel? When it’s a “spiritual successor.” Such is the case with 10 Cloverfield Lane, a relative of 2008’s shaky-cam monster horror Cloverfield. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground bunker after a car accident, where Howard (John Goodman) tells her a chemical attack has left the surface uninhabitable. Naturally, Michelle begins to doubt him. Where’s the Cloverfield connection, you ask? Well, there isn’t one — not directly. J.J. Abrams is on board as producer with freshman director Dan Trachtenberg at the helm, but while there’s apparently no literal connection, the film will have the “spirit” of Abram’s earlier film. (3/10)

The Brothers Grimsby — You’ve no doubt seen footage of reactions to The Brothers Grimsby, the latest comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno). The spy caper throws hapless, soccer-loving, working class Nobby into the world of espionage after he tries to find his younger brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), an MI6 agent. Cue odd couple comedy as Nobby is dragged into espionage. However, it’s the film’s more gruesome comedy scenes — one in particular considered too extreme to air on Jimmy Kimmel, apparently — that have audiences talking, laughing and cringing. Curiosity may drive you to the theater, but British critics have been mixed in their response. (3/10)

The Young Messiah — Like Spiderman, Batman and Superman, Jesus is getting an origin story reboot. The Young Messiah is a beautifully captured adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, depicting Jesus returning to Nazareth in Egypt to uncover the truth about his life. Don’t expect either historical or biblical accuracy — not least because every main actor (including Sean Bean, who presumably dies) is white. #JesusSoWhite (3/10, Limited Release)

Eye in the Sky — This British thriller gains added importance as one of two posthumous films starring Alan Rickman, who passed away in January. Rickman costars with Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul as various members of a secret drone mission to kill a terrorist group in Nairobi — a task complicated when a young girl wanders into the target zone, leading to much political hand-wringing and ruminating on the morality of drone programs. (3/10, Limited)

Hello, My Name is Doris — An older woman finding herself by falling for a younger co-worker? Fish-out-of-water dramedy as sheltered individual meets outgoing hipsters? Hello, My Name is Doris sounds rife with stereotypes, but is apparently saved by Sally Field. The Academy Award-winner has drawn critical acclaim as Doris, who is pulled out of her shell by John (Max Greenfield) and discovers a new lease on life. Michael Showalter writes and directs. (3/10, Limited)

Marguerite — One of two films this year about Florence Foster Jenkins, the American soprano who gained notoriety in the ’20s for being dreadful at her craft, yet who genuinely believed she was a gifted opera singer. Xavier Giannoli writes and directs the French production, with Catherine Frot collecting a César Award for her role as Jenkins. (3/10, Limited)

The Divergent Series: Allegiant — Third film in a moderately successful but critically panned series about young adults doing things they shouldn’t have to in order to overcome oppression. (3/18)

Miracles from Heaven — Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah star in this Christian film, based on the true story of Annabel Beam, who fell from a tree, claimed to have visited heaven, and was subsequently cured of her pseudo-obstruction motility disorder. (3/18)

Midnight Special — Writer/director Jeff Nichols describes Midnight Special as a “sci-fi chase film.” The chase in question? Roy (Michael Shannon) is racing to get his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) to a secret location. He’s being hunted by a religious sect and a government agent (Adam Driver), and is assisted by his ex-wife (Kirsten Dunst). Why is he in such a rush? His son has a power that can alter the world as we know it. Better step on the gas, then. (3/18)

The Bronze — Critically panned after its debut at Sundance, this film about a gymnastics bronze medallist losing her local celebrity status to a rising star in her town was apparently retooled for its theatrical release. Medals can be polished, but what about turds? (3/18)

The Program — Lance Armstrong gets the biography treatment courtesy of this Anglo-French production. Chris O’Dowd is journalist David Walsh, whose book Seven Deadly Sins detailed Walsh’s 13-year fight to expose Armstrong’s drug abuse. Ben Foster stars as the fallen cyclist, with Lee Pace and Dustin Hoffman also on board. (3/18)

The Little Prince — The world’s fourth most translated book once again receives film treatment, this time combining stop-motion and computer animation. In the original tale, a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince who fell to Earth on an asteroid. Mark Osborne’s film adapts that tale into an original narrative, with the now elderly pilot befriending a young girl who is struggling with an overbearing mother. Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges and Paul Rudd lead an all-star cast. (3/18)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — We all know that Superman would win, so this film’s central premise is entirely moot. Really, what Warner Bros. and DC’s big-budget action film is hoping to spawn is a series of Justice League films, offering a cinematic universe to compete with Marvel’s using Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and others. And heck, if the trailers are anything to go by, we’re totally on board. (3/25)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 — While more Nia Vardalos is never a bad thing, was anyone really hoping for a sequel — particularly one fourteen years after the original? We’re all set for heartburn at this wedding. (3/25)

The Disappointments Room — Written by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame, Kate Beckinsale stars as a mother who, with her young son, unleashes a series of horrors from the attic of their rural dream home. Not a great deal is known about this one, not least because distributor Relativity Media went bankrupt last year, delaying its release. (3/25)

I Saw the Light — Casting Tom Hiddleston, a Brit, as country legend Hank Williams hasn’t been without controversy — Williams’ grandson denounced Hiddleston as having no “moan or soul” in his voice, among other condemnations. However, both he and Elizabeth Olsen as Audrey Williams have drawn advance critical praise for their performances, even if Marc Abraham’s film has been regarded as a little lackluster. (3/25)

The Invitation — Karyn Kusama returns to independent films after a few disappointing releases (hello, Jennifer’s Body), helming a thriller where a man (Logan Marshall-Green) attends a dinner at his former home hosted by his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband (Michiel Huisman), where all is not as it seems. (3/25)

APRIL

Rings — The third film in the Ring franchise, with all of the tape-watching horror that entails. The film’s biggest fallacy? That anyone even owns a VCR to watch the video. (4/1)

Collide — Nicholas Hoult stars in this Mercedes commercial as a — wait, it’s not a commercial? Oh. Okay. Nicholas Hoult puts on his best American accent as a backpacker who gets caught up in a drug smuggling ring, only to end up driving his brand new Mercedes down Germany’s high speed autobahn, using its precise handling and raw power to — wait, are we sure this isn’t a commercial? (4/1)

Meet the Blacks — A joke from Curb Your Enthusiasm crashes headlong into a spoof of The Purge, with a black family named Black moving into a white neighborhood in Beverly Hills, only to find themselves being targeted, mostly by unfunny jokes. There’s even a cameo by George Lopez as president “El Bama,” because comedy. (4/1)

Green Room — After a punk band witnesses a murder at the venue they’re playing at, they must fight for survival against its white supremacist owners, who are intent on keeping the crime a secret. Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) writes and directs this horror thriller, with Patrick Stewart as a supremacist leader, Anton Yelchin as the band’s bassist, and Imogen Poots as a friend of the murder victim. (4/1)

Miles Ahead — Don Cheadle writes, directs and stars in this biography of Miles Davis, the legendary jazz musician. Early reviews have praised the film’s dedication to its period setting, but not its stretching of the truth and action-adventure elements. (4/1)

The Boss — Following last year’s successful Spy, Melissa McCarthy returns for another R-rated comedy. The Boss sees Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) lose her empire after she’s sent to prison for insider trading. When she’s released, she moves in with her assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) and proceeds to take control of the Dandelions — a Girl Scout-esque troop attended by Claire’s daughter, who specialize in selling brownies. Cue lots of shady tactics, swearing and moms getting punched in the face by Darnell. (4/8)

Demolition — Jake Gyllenhaal is an investment banker who loses it all after his wife dies, starts writing angry (and increasingly emotional) letters to a vending machine company who wronged him, and ends up demolishing his house to find emotional reparation. Therapy would probably have cost less. (4/8)

Before I Wake — Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Absentia) helms another horror film, this one about an orphan whose dreams start to affect reality, forcing his parents (Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane) to deal with the results. Another movie delayed by Relativity’s bankruptcy. (4/8)

Hardcore Henry — It won’t be for everyone, but Hardcore Henry certainly has a unique premise: it’s told entirely from first-person perspective. Title character Henry is resurrected from near death as a cybernetic soldier and sets out on a rampage through Moscow to save his kidnapped wife. Gamers will get a kick out of it, as will action junkies, though it’s probably for the best that it’s only 95 minutes long. (4/8)

Louder than Bombs — Jesse Eisenberg stars as an inexperienced new father in a film The Guardian called “weirdly pointless.” Hardly a ringing endorsement. (4/8)

The Jungle Book — Disney continues to mine its animated fare for more live action hits, this time giving its beloved Jungle Book the treatment. Good news: the animals still talk and “Bear Necessities” is still here. Jon Favreau directs and Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba and Lupita Nyong’o lend their talents to a film that looks to be an utterly beautiful adaptation. Bad news: If it’s better than the animated version, our childhoods will be ruined. (4/15)

Barbershop: The Next Cut — Twelve years after Barbershop 2, Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer return to save the south Chicago barbershop from gang members roaming the streets, with a cast that includes Nicki Minaj and Common. (4/15)

Everybody Wants Some — Richard Linklater (Boyhood) stepped back to his college days, crafting a dramedy about a group of college freshmen negotiating baseball, beer and bongs while trying to figure out the fairer sex. Linklater considers it a spiritual sequel to his coming of age stoner film Dazed and Confused. (4/15)

Criminal — Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman team up for the first time since 1991’s JFK, with a film about a dead CIA agent’s memories and skills being implanted into a death row inmate (Costner) who has been convinced to carry out his mission. Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve and Gal Gadot also star. (4/15)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War — Charlize Theron returns to chew her way through as much scenery as possible as the Evil Queen, in this prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. Here, she battles with her sister, the Ice Queen, after destroying the latter’s child — who threatened the Evil Queen’s stance as most beautiful in the land. Think of her as a hero for narcissists everywhere. Chris Hemsworth returns as the Huntsman, with Emily Blunt as Freya, the Ice Queen, and Jessica Chastain as the Huntsman’s wife. (4/22)

Keanu — While Key & Peele may have ended, fans can look forward to more from Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele in Keanu. Here, Rell (Peele) adopts a kitten, Keanu, after a painful breakup, only for him to be stolen. Rell and Clarence (Key) then set out to find him, posing as drug dealers to infiltrate a notorious gang, while trying to prevent their suburban identities from being discovered. It’s an absurd premise, but if anyone can make a movie about finding a kitten hilarious, this duo can. (4/22)

The Meddler — Susan Sarandon is an aging widow who moves to Los Angeles with her daughter (Rose Byrne), only to end up meddling incessantly in her life. The film was conceived by writer/director Lorene Scafaria as a love letter to her mother, and Sarandon is already drawing praise for her performance as Marnie. (4/22)

Mother’s Day — Here’s a starry cast, with Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant and Margo Martindale, among others, starring in another of those holiday ensemble films from Garry Marshall (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.) we all know and loathe love. Mothers and daughters clash, have problems, and worry about their lives while surrounded by cliches. (4/29)

Ratchet and Clank — Call us crazy, but we’re totally on board with Sony adapting their hit PlayStation game series into a feature animated film. Ratchet and Clank, the titular duo, have always enjoyed some of the funniest, prettiest cutscenes in gaming, with rich characters, intriguing lore, and plenty of opportunity for expansion into a full-length product. It retells the events of the first game in the series, as Ratchet, a Lombax mechanic, and his robot friend Clank set out to save the galaxy from destruction. Expect absurd weapons and beautiful animation. (4/29)

Same Kind of Different as Me — Based on the memoir of the same name by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, about the unlikely friendship between a white art dealer (Greg Kinnear) and a former sharecropper (Djimon Hounsou) who had become homeless. Introduced by Hall’s wife (Renée Zellweger), who works at a homeless shelter, the pair grow closer after she succumbs to cancer. It’s a faith-based tale, so expect strong religious themes. (4/29)

MAY

Captain America: Civil War — Set after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, this is essentially Marvel’s version of Batman v Superman, as Captain America faces off against Iron Man when politicians start demanding greater oversight of the Avengers program. Naturally, as with all of these films, their conflict will be resolved when an even bigger threat rears its ugly head — plus, they both need to get on board for Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. Disney’s bank balance is counting on it. (5/6)

Snowden — Oliver Stone helms this biography of the controversial former CIA contractor who leaked classified information to The Guardian in 2013. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Edward Snowden, with Nicholas Cage, Melissa Leo, Shailene Woodley and Zachary Quinto. (5/13)

The Angry Birds Movie — No. No, no, no, no, no. What next? Clash of the Clans Movie? Candy Crush Movie? Flappy Bird Movie? No more of this crap. (5/20)

Neighbors 2: Sorority RisingNeighbors was something of a surprise hit, both critically and commercially, in 2014. This second entry sees the main cast return, but really, was anyone else that eager for more fraternity and sorority-related antics? (5/20)

The Nice Guys — If you had to pick an ideal pairing for a mystery comedy, would Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe be anywhere on that list? Despite (or, perhaps, because of) their odd couple stature, The Nice Guys looks to be genuine fun, with Crowe a hired enforcer and Gosling a private eye teaming up to solve the case of a missing girl in 1970s L.A. (5/20)

X-Men: Apocalypse — Yes, it’s time. Time for James McAvoy to finally shave his head and give us the bald Charles Xavier we’ve all been waiting for. There’s also something about an ancient mutant, Apocalypse, who was worshipped as a god, returning from hibernation to destroy humanity. We’re in, regardless. (5/27)

Alice Through the Looking Glass — Alan Rickman will again posthumously appear on our screens, albeit digitally as the Caterpillar, in Disney’s sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. After that film raked in over $1 billion, it’s surprising that it took Disney this long to film the sequel. Also, for Tim Burton fans out there, he isn’t directing this film, but remains as producer. (5/27)

JUNE

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping — Years after they stopped being culturally relevant on SNL, comedy trio The Lonely Island are back with their second feature film. Andy Samberg takes the lead as rapper Connor4Real, whose album bombs, forcing him to reform his boy band. Judd Apatow is on board as producer and Sarah Silverman co-stars.(6/3)

Warcraft — It’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long to turn the gaming phenomenon into a film. Enjoyed by millions of people around the world, Warcraft follows the conflict between humans and orcs in the world of Azeroth, with the film focusing on both sides of the conflict. Whether gamers will drag themselves from their computers to actually watch it is anyone’s guess. (6/10)

Now You See Me 2 — Another example of money over sense, the first film — a caper thriller — received mixed reviews but was fairly successful at the box office. Whether its cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman and Michael Cain, can replicate that a second time is anyone’s guess. We can’t wait for Now You See Me 3: Wait, You Didn’t See Me Last Time? (6/10)

Finding DoryFinding Nemo‘s breakout star finally gets her own feature, with amnesiac Dory setting off to find her family. It takes place six months after the events of the first film — which, if you want to feel old, came out thirteen years ago. Considered by many to be one of Pixar’s masterpieces, Finding Nemo has set the bar high, but with Ellen DeGeneres returning to provide more enchanting voice acting and Andrew Stanton back as writer/director, we have faith that it’ll be something memorable. (6/10)

Central Intelligence — Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart star in classic role reversal comedy, with Johnson the former small, bullied kid and Hart the former big man on campus. But Johnson is now a CIA agent and Hart is an accountant! Johnson is now so big and Hart is now so small! Hilarity! (6/17)

Independence Day: Resurgence — Eugh. No. Nobody needs this. While the first film — released twenty years ago — was fun, there’s absolutely no reason to warrant this sequel, which also lacks Will Smith. (6/24)

The Shallows — Billed as a “shark survival thriller,” Blake Lively is stranded on a buoy while surfing and forced to survive while a great white shark considers her for lunch. Probably best not to see this before heading off for your beach vacation. (6/24)

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.