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The 2018 Film Release Calendar: March

It’s January, which means it’s preview time up here at B+ Movie Blog.

I don’t really peruse other places, but if I were to guess, I would say I’m the only person that goes this deep on their preview coverage for a year. I go month to month based on what’s scheduled to come out, preview like 200 extra movies that you probably have never even heard about as of now, and then bring back all the stuff from last year and previous years that I’ve been tracking that hasn’t come out yet. I’m not the kind of person who just goes, “Oh my god, Avengers! Wrinkle in Time! (Insert other movies the studios are paying us to talk up to fit the narrative to get us more clicks)!” If you ever see a slideshow from me, then you know I’ve given up.

The reason I do this is purely for me, though I imagine anyone stumbling on this will get something out of it to. What I try to do is preview everything so I’m aware of it when it comes out, and, to make it interesting for myself, try to guess what I’m gonna think of it when I do see it. That way, I can see what films surprised me or disappointed me from every angle (before, during and after).

Today is March.

March

Death Wish

Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as it’s rushed into his ER -until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts for his family’s assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media’s attention, the city wonders if this deadly avenger is a guardian angel…or a grim reaper. Fury and fate collide in the intense action-thriller Death Wish.

This was like, weeks away from coming out but they pushed it. Now, we know why they pushed it (Harvey), but still — might as well have gone through with it. Since I think everyone was primed for this who was gonna be primed.

My excitement for this has not diminished. I don’t expect high art, but I do expect decent fun.

The question is whether or not I go 3.5. I kinda want to, but I also know that Death Wish is not exactly the greatest material with which to draw from.

I’m thinking we get another Mechanic scenario. The first Statham Mechanic got 3.5 from me, even though it was more a strong 3 star movie. So I’ll say 3 stars and figure it doesn’t ultimately get to 3.5. But if it does — cool. I also think we saw that entire movie in the trailer, so I’m not sure what, if anything, it has up its sleeve.

Red Sparrow

Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to ‘Sparrow School’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.

Oh, well that’s better than the synopsis this had last year. Calling her a ‘sexy Russian spy’, as opposed to just ‘Russian spy’. The trailers for this have been… not great.

A friend asked my thoughts on this the other day, and the first thing I could think of (which is gonna become my five-word film review for this) is, “Not a natural Atomic Blonde.” Because that’s clearly what they’re going for.

I want to give Jennifer Lawrence the benefit of the doubt, so I’ll say 3.5 stars, but I’m almost sure that I’ll be wrong. This feels like 3 stars. But you know what? Fuck it. I want this to be a visual disappointment for me. So we’ll say 3.5 and see if they put any effort into this. (Moving it from November to March usually implies it didn’t turn out the way they’d intended it to.)

Gringo

GRINGO, a dark comedy mixed with white-knuckle action and dramatic intrigue, explores the battle of survival for businessman Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) when he finds himself crossing the line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal.

Directed by Joel Edgerton’s brother.

Watch the trailer for this. It looks fun as shit.

This is exactly the kind of movie I enjoy more than most people, so I’m going 3.5 stars. The cast is awesome, the tone looks right. I’m down.

The Hurricane Heist

Thieves attempt a massive heist against the U.S. Treasury as a Category 5 hurricane approaches one of its Mint facilities.

I’m so fucking in. This is like Geostorm meets Hard Rain. Remember Hard Rain?

3 stars. Automatic. It’s Rob Cohen, and it’s a heist movie set during a natural disaster. How am I not gonna enjoy this?

I’m legitimately more excited for this movie than I am for A Wrinkle in Time.

Strangers: Prey at Night

A family staying in a secluded mobile home park for the night are visited by three masked psychopaths, to test their every limit.

Because that’s what we needed, a decade later.

I still haven’t seen the first one. Which means I’ll probably need to before I see this.

I hear good things about the first one, but I also hear that unless you were in a theater, it’s just fine.

So I imagine this will be fine-ish.

I’m gonna regret this probably, but 3 stars. I think they’re at least trying to do interesting things with the setting and visually to make this worthwhile for me.

Let’s also not get our hopes too high — this is a film by the director of 47 Meters Down. The original director just made The Monster with Zoe Kazan two years ago, which was awesome. So let’s not expect the same quality as the original, whatever that may be.

The Upside

A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy paraplegic and an unemployed man with a criminal record who’s hired to help him.

Oh, so this is the American Intouchables remake. Starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart.

K.

Nicole Kidman is also in this, and it’s directed by the guy who did Divergent, Limitless and The Illusionist.

3 stars seems pretty certain on this. Do we think this will actually be good enough to get to 3.5? I’m doubtful. Let’s see what it can be.

A Wrinkle in Time

After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him.

So we have to start by me admitting that I’m one of those people who somehow avoided this book as a child. By like, fourth grade, I had been asked by all my older family members if I’d read it, and by then I think I realized, if I hadn’t read it by then, it probably wasn’t happening. (Though I feel like now it’s become more of a middle school book. Plus I was also somewhat advanced in my education, so I might just have gotten to things early.) I think I bought a copy with intent to read but never did. So I have no real idea what this story really is about and have no real affinity toward it.

All this to say that I’m treating this solely on the merits of the movie itself without any sort of preconceived vision for the product or nostalgia for the product.

I will also say that I’ve been turned off by the marketing of this movie from the start. They announced this as though it were gonna be the biggest movie of the year, but like — The Little Prince, The Giver — these movies also happened and were either ‘meh’ or ‘delightfully okay’. The publicists were feeding news stories, talking this up like it were Marvel, which annoyed me. (Which isn’t necessarily about the movie, I’m just recognizing outside factors that went into my feelings on this, as we all must do with every movie.) Then the trailer — “from visionary director Ava DuVernay” — has she demonstrated a vision before this? Selma was fine, but it’s not like her ‘vision’ of the material changed my life. You know what movie deserves ‘visionary’ in front of it? The Shape of Water. Because only Guillermo could have envisioned that movie.

I also — does that trailer look particularly exciting to anyone? Because to me, it looks like they’re feeding us a narrative that they’re gonna get a lot of people to buy into without questioning it. It looks fine.

I don’t even feel strong enough on the visuals to guess 3.5 here. This seems all around like a 3 star movie. I really don’t see how this looks great. But to each his own. Disney’s already paid for an 85%+ Rotten Tomatoes score, a $50 million+ opening weekend and the inevitable ‘can this movie be nominated for Oscars’ articles between March and May. There’s really no stopping that train. But that doesn’t mean I need to get on board or give a shit about it.

Thoroughbreds

Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost.

I really like the two leads, Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. This being held over doesn’t give me a lot of hope, but I think I’ll get 3 stars out of this. Hoping for 3.5, but this feels like a 3 star movie.

Love, Simon

Everyone deserves a great love story. But for Simon it’s complicated: no-one knows he’s gay and he doesn’t know who the anonymous classmate is that he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, scary and life-changing.

This looks like pure teen movie nonsense. Directed by Greg Berlanti, who created all those DC TV shows like Flash and Supergirl. Which means I’m not guessing above 2.5 stars. That TV mentality for a movie like this? Nah, son. That’s the recipe for indifference and a generic movie.

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

Why March? Are we just expanding the summer from Valentine’s Day to Labor Day? Is that what this is?

I get that this is lower risk than putting it in May and August assumes failure, but still… weird date for this.

I love Alicia Vikander, but I’m not sure this was a good choice. I mean, sure, she wants to do action, get a paycheck. Maybe it can work. Bourne wasn’t a great decision for her.

It’s by the guy who did The Wave, which no one saw. It’s a solid enough disaster movie. That leads me to believe they’re not aiming high with this one.

It looks like all those action movies you’d expect. 3 stars. Can’t assume anything but. If I can get 3.5 stars, I’m happy. If this can be smart and the action can be good and doesn’t just end up with CGI setpieces and generic villain plots, I’m willing to say it’ll be 3.5. But I don’t think we’re getting that.

7 Days in Entebbe

Inspired by the true events of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight en route from Tel Aviv to Paris, and the most daring rescue mission ever attempted.

I think there are two Entebbe movies this year. This is the kind of historical drama that they don’t make anymore. Which unfortunately means this will be seen by almost no one under the age of 45. It was directed by the guy who did RoboCop, who also has two episodes of Narcos under his belt.

This looks exactly like the kind of movie that’ll get 3 stars from me. No reason to think otherwise.

Dear Dictator

When political turmoil forces a British-Caribbean dictator to flee his island nation, he seeks refuge and hides with a rebellious teenage girl in suburban America, and ends up teaching the young teen how to start a revolution and overthrow the “mean girls” in her high school.

Looks exactly like the movie I’d stumble upon on cable and go, “Oh, Michael Caine is in this? Okay.” And then I watch it and go, “That was okay.”

3 stars.

If there were a confidence pool by how confident I was in my ratings guess, I’d put a lot on this one being 3 stars.

Flower

A sexually curious teen forms an unorthodox kinship with her mentally unstable stepbrother.

After seeing a trailer, I have no idea what this is really about.

3 stars. No clue. Let’s just assume baseline and go from there.

What They Had

A woman must fly back to her hometown when her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother wanders into a blizzard. The return home forces her to confront her past.

Hey, Hilary Swank is back with more Oscar bait!

This one has Michael Shannon in it, which is what interests me more than anything.

3 stars. I might have gone lower if Shannon wasn’t in this.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.

So you took a Guillermo movie that was somewhat personal and took all the personality from it and made it into a giant cash grab?

The first Pacific Rim got 4 stars out of me because of Guillermo. This one… 3 stars. The size of the movie will prevent it from going less than 3, but I just don’t give a shit.

Midnight Sun

Based on the Japanese film, Midnight Sun centers on Katie, a 17-year-old sheltered since childhood and confined to her house during the day by a rare disease that makes even the smallest amount of sunlight deadly. Fate intervenes when she meets Charlie and they embark on a summer romance.

Oh great. An American remake of a Japanese movie that looks like a Nicholas Sparks movie. This’ll end well.

I still have no idea how Bella Thorne became a thing. How can one person show up in so many mediocre movies a year?

This is like that movie that came out last year, where the girl has the autoimmune disease that prevents her from going outside. Only here I’m guessing we’re not gonna suddenly find out the whole thing was bullshit and have it turn into this fucked up family thing where mom is batshit crazy.

This looks proper generic. I’m assuming it’ll try hard enough to get 2.5 stars out of me. 3 would basically be a rave review from me. 2.5 is most likely, and I’ll never rule out a 2 for something like this, because it could just be unwatchable.

Sherlock Gnomes

Garden gnomes, Gnomeo & Juliet, recruit renown detective, Sherlock Gnomes, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of other garden ornaments.

Saw a trailer in front of something. Looks kiddie. First one was marginally cute, I have no reason to think this will be a sequel of more of the same. 2.5 stars. Indifference seems assured.

Unsane

A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where she is confronted by her greatest fear–but is it real or is it a product of her delusion?

This is the Steven Soderbergh movie he shot in secret on an iPhone. Stars Claire Foy and Juno Temple.

Honestly, I don’t even care what it is, Soderbergh automatically gets 3.5 stars from me. These experimental ones do run the risk of only going to 3, but I can’t remember a time he’s gone below 3, so let’s stick with the 3.5 and be glad he’s back.

Final Portrait

The story of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

Stanley Tucci wrote and directed this. This came out in the UK last year. Stars Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer.

Looks fun, and I like the people involved. Can’t go above 3 stars, though. Maybe I get 3.5, but 3 seems the most likely.

Isle of Dogs

Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog.

Wes Anderson. What’s the blanket rating for him? Probably 4.5 stars.

I feel weird going this big this early, but Grand Budapest came out in March and made my top ten. And while I’m not overly excited for this movie, it’s Wes Anderson and I have to trust that he’ll make a worthwhile movie. What’s the worst I get out of this? 4 stars? Okay. I’ll take 4 stars.

Wes Anderson and stop-motion means if this is a piece of shit it’s only going 3.5. And while I do worry that eventually Wes Anderson will collapse unto himself by being too ‘Wes Anderson’, I have no reason to think this won’t at least be a really solid movie.

Acrimony

A faithful wife (Taraji P. Henson) tired of standing by her devious husband (Lyriq Bent) is enraged when it becomes clear she has been betrayed.

This is a Tyler Perry movie. I guess I watch these now.

I’m assuming 2.5 stars is the rating, even though all I have to go on are two Madea movies. I’d be surprised if I ever got 3 out of one of these, and if it’s 2, I’m okay with that. I’ll assume indifference and go from there.

Ready Player One

When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg.

I’ve had mixed feelings about this from when they announced it. Spielberg never felt like the right person to tell this story, especially since, if I remember correctly, in the book, he’s heavily referenced as an influence.

Plus, that trailer — not great. The story in and of itself I’m guessing is Willy Wonka and the Video Game Factory.

I just saw the new trailer for it, and it’s less shitty, but still not great.

It’s Spielberg, so we’re getting 3.5 stars. minimum. Even BFG, which I didn’t like, managed 3.5 from me. I’m assuming this will be about that quality. It looks too overly CGI, and whatever actual drama is there will be counterbalanced by me not caring about the visuals. So 3.5. If I can get 4, I’m happy. But can I get 4?

Lean on Pete

A teenager gets a summer job working for a horse trainer and befriends the fading racehorse, Lean on Pete.

This is by the guy who did 45 Years, which should be enough to give it a look. Plus, horse racing movies generally are things I like.

I wanna go 3.5, but I’m gonna stick with 3 stars. There’s too many pitfalls for this movie to assume it’ll just be really good.

Mary Magdalene

The story of Mary Magdalene.

Directed by Lion’s Garth Davis, starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus. And Chiwetel Ejiofor for good measure. They pushed this from November into March, part I’m guessing because of Easter and part because it was a Weinstein movie.

I have no reason to think I’m gonna love this, but because of the people involved, I have to guess 3.5 stars. I think I’m getting 3 out of this, but I have to let this drop. The talent is too strong to not guess higher.

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