2007 Winter Movie Preview: March
The snow is melting, your Christmas debt has (hopefully) been (mostly) paid off, and the stench from the dreck the studios farted into your local cineplex during the first two months of the year has largely evaporated. It's time for movies to get serious -- or good, anyway. So how does this March stack up? Well, we've got our share of wincingly dumb stuff on the schedule (see: Hogs, Wild) -- not to mention our second Drew Barrymore romantic comedy in two months (see: You, Lucky) -- but there's some wheat to go along with the chaff, at least. Read on!
Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia (Sky High, March 1)
Starring: Donald Sutherland (narrator), Pr Rodolfo Coria
Director: Marc Fafard
The Pitch: Coria, a renowned Argentinian paleontologist,
leads the audience through what the Earth might have been like had dinosaurs
not been driven to extinction.
The Buzz: Documentaries are always an iffy proposition at the box office, and 3D movies have been disappointing audiences since the days of red-and-blue glasses and "Smell-O-Vision." Still, toss some giant, pissed-off lizards up on the big screen, and you're appealing to the ten-year-old boy in all of us.
Trailer Highlight: Everything with a giant, pissed-off lizard in it.
Bottom Line: CGI dinosaurs, in 3D -- and not the cute Disney kind? Sign us up.
Official Web Site: http://www.dinosaurs3dmovie.com/
Full of It (New Line, March 2)
Starring: Ryan Pinkston, Teri Polo, Craig Kilborn, Kate Mara, Joshua Close, Amanda Walsh, Carmen Electra, Cynthia Stevenson, John Carroll Lynch
Director: Christian Charles
The Pitch: A habitual liar (Pinkston) is startled to discover that his lies are coming true. His resultant popularity at school causes a whole new set of problems.
The Buzz: An interesting premise, but the involvement of Carmen Electra -- also known as "the Ted McGinley of film" -- does not bode well.
Trailer Highlight: None available.
Bottom Line: Remember when films like this one were fodder for a network "movie of the week" that would run on a Friday or Saturday night, for free, and never be heard from again? We miss those days too.
Official Web Site: N/A
The Hills Have Eyes 2 (Fox Atomic, March 2)
Starring: Jessica Stroup, Reshad Strik, Michael McMillian, Daniella Alonso, Lee Thompson Young, Ben Crowley
Director: Martin Weisz
The Pitch: A group of National Guard trainees is attacked
by mutants in the New Mexico desert.
The Buzz: Yep, it's another quickie sequel to another remake of another '70s horror film. The script was written by Wes Craven (a good sign) with his son (a potentially very bad sign). Director Weisz is primarily known for his commercial and video work, which isn't a bad thing by itself; the artists he's worked with, however, include Puff Daddy, Korn, and Nickelback.
Trailer Highlight: Some creepy-looking dudes, some rope, a desert, and a gentle pop song. Brilliant.
Bottom Line: No amount of bad reviews, bad word of mouth, or common sense can drive away folks who want to buy a ticket to a movie like this. You're either one of those folks or you aren't.
Official Web Site: N/A
Watch the Trailer: IGN Player
Wild Hogs (Touchstone, March 2)
Starring: John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Tichina Arnold, Jill Hennessy
Director: Walt Becker
The Pitch: A group of middle-aged suburban guys, frustrated with their boring and predictable lives, decide to form a biker gang.
The Buzz: Travolta! Allen! Lawrence! It's a cinematic hat trick of guys with red-hot careers...ten years ago!
Trailer Highlight: The un-ironic usage of Collective Soul's "Shine" as tough biker music.
Bottom Line: Touchstone has always had a soft spot for Day-Glo comedies taking place in suburban neighborhoods lifted from the opening credits of "Leave it to Beaver," and sometimes they're actually not awful, but Christ, this looks like a direct-to-video title if there's ever been one. We're laying even odds there's a gruff-but-lovable "real" biker named Tiny or Mad Dog who winds up saving the day somehow.
Official Web Site: http://www.wildhogsmovie.com/
Zodiac (Paramount, March 2)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Ezra Buzzington
Director: David Fincher
The Pitch: During the late '60s, a series of murders perpetrated by a man calling himself the Zodiac Killer kept Bay Area residents up at night; his brazen taunts consumed the lives of the cops and reporters on the receiving end. "Zodiac" looks at the effects of the killings on an editorial cartoonist (Gyllenhaal), a reporter (Downey Jr.), and two cops (Edwards and Ruffalo).
The Buzz: Directed by David Fincher, otherwise known as the guy who brought you "Seven" and "Fight Club." In other words, if you're looking for a movie to see with the kids this weekend, "Zodiac" ain't it.
Trailer Highlight: Um, you know what? This all looks pretty great. Even Chloe Sevigny can't weigh this sucker down.
Bottom Line: Great director, great cast, and a series of grisly unsolved killings for source material. What else do you want?
Official Web Site: http://www.zodiacmovie.com/
300 (Warner Bros., March 9)
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, Rodrigo Santoro, Dominic West
Director: Zack Snyder
The Pitch: Like the Frank Miller graphic novel it's adapted from, "300" tells the tale of the Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartan soldiers squared off against the massive Persian army.
The Buzz: The film's unique look -- it was shot using a combination of live action and CGI backgrounds -- and epic violence should help attract ticketbuyers without history degrees.
Trailer Highlight: Informed by a Persian soldier that his army's arrows will "block out the sun," a Spartan warrior calmy replies, "Then we will fight in the shade."
Bottom Line: Good Lord, this thing looks cool.
Official Web Site: http://300themovie.warnerbros.com/
Fido (Lionsgate, March 9)
Starring: Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly, Tim Blake Nelson, Henry Czerny, Dylan Baker, K'Sun Ray
Director: Andrew Currie
The Pitch: In the post-zombie war town of Willard, the undead have been domesticated, and are used to perform menial tasks or kept as pets. Little Timmy Robinson (Ray) doesn't believe the "zombies are safe" propaganda spouted by the ZomCon coporation, but still, when his mom (Moss) and dad (Baker) get a zombie (Connolly) for the family, he can't resist growing attached to his new pal Fido.
The Buzz: From the premise to the casting to the tagline ("Sometimes, it takes a dead man to teach us all what it means to be alive"), this looks utterly, brilliantly ridiculous. We're there.
Trailer Highlight: Connolly's entrance as Fido.
Bottom Line: Carrie-Anne Moss as a suburban housewife? Billy Connolly as a freakin' zombie? Did we mention we can't wait to see this?
Official Site: N/A
Reign Over Me (Sony, March 9)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler, Safforn Burrows, Cicely Tyson, Robert Klein, Melinda Dillon, Mike Binder, Ted Raimi
Director: Mike Binder
The Pitch: Sandler plays a man whose grief over the loss of his family is soothed by the rekindling of his friendship with an old college roommate (Cheadle).
The Buzz: Sandler's character loses his family in the 9/11 attacks, which could either give the film added emotional impact or send it straight into Treacleville. But Sandler's dramas tend not to suck, and we've got no reason not to trust Cheadle, so chances are this will be worth seeing.
Trailer Highlight: Watching Sandler do Benicio Del Toro doing Rain Man. At least, that's what we think he's doing.
Bottom Line: If you like quiet, uplifting dramas (and Liv Tyler), this will probably be right up your alley.
Official Site: http://www.sony.com/reignoverme
I Think I Love My Wife (Fox Searchlight, March 16)
Starring: Chris Rock, Kerry Washington, Gina Torres, Steve Buscemi
Director: Chris Rock
The Pitch: Married man Richard (Rock) is bored and feeling neglected by his wife (Torres) -- feelings compounded by his friendship with the exciting, flirtatious Nikki (Washington).
The Buzz: Rock doesn't have the greatest of track records when it comes to bringing his comedy to the big screen. "I Think I Love My Wife" looks like a 90-minute version of the "commitment...or new pussy?" bit from "Roll With the New," and was co-written by Louis C.K. Neither of these things bode well for the film.
Trailer Highlight: Kerry Washington sure is fun to look at, no?
Bottom Line: It could be a genuinely funny, thought-provoking statement on marriage. But it probably won't be.
Official Site: N/A
Lucky You (Warner Bros., March 16)
Starring: Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall, Debra Messing
Director: Curtis Hanson
The Pitch: Pro poker player Huck Cheever (Bana) must come to terms with the father who abandoned him (Duvall) before he can fully commit to cocktail singer Billie Offer (Barrymore).
The Buzz: Hanson has a great track record. Or maybe we should say "had" a great track record.
Trailer Highlight: It actually contains the lines "I can't play it safe, that's not who I am" and "It must be tough playing in the shadow of your old man." So, you know, we're not sure if "highlight" is really the right word here...
Bottom Line: Could do for poker what "Over the Top" did for professional arm wrestling. (Not a good thing.)
Official Site: http://www.luckyyoumovie.com/
Premonition (Columbia, March 16)
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Jeff Galpin, Nia Long, Amber Valletta, Marcus Lyle Brown, Mark Famiglietti
Director: Mennan Yapo
The Pitch: A woman (Bullock) is tormented by incredibly lifelike dreams of her husband's death. When she realized they aren't dreams at all, she desperately tries to keep them from becoming reality.
The Buzz: Cool premise, and judging from the trailer, Bullock is less annoying than usual. In a soft month for new releases, this could be a sleeper hit.
Trailer Highlight: How about the fact that the trailer doesn't give away the ending, or even what the movie might actually be about?
Bottom Line: It's always smart to proceed with caution where Sandra Bullock is concerned, but we'll give it a tentative green light.
Official Site: http://www.sony.com/premonition
Shooter (Paramount, March 16)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Rade Sherbedgia, Ned Beatty
Director: Antoine Fuqua
The Pitch: Wahlberg stars as ex-Army sniper Bob Lee Swagger, reluctantly pressed back into duty by a Secret Service operative (Glover) who needs his help to prevent an attempt on the life of the president. Double crosses, explosions, and tense, muttered dialogue ensue.
The Buzz: You know which demographic this film is -- ha! -- shooting for, even before Wahlberg's dog fetches him a beer from the fridge. And there's nothing wrong with that. But did they have to be so obvious about it? Christ, Bob Lee Swagger? That isn't a movie character, that's an Internet university. They should have just titled it "Let's Find out if NASCAR Fans Go to the Movies" and been done with it.
Trailer Highlight: Wahlberg's tragic mountain-man beard in the first few scenes.
Bottom Line: This looks like something Brian Bosworth would have been offered in 1990. And passed on. Danny Glover, we're very disappointed in you.
Official Site: http://www.shootermovie.com/
First Snow (Yari Film Group, March 23)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner, J.K. Simmons, Shea Whigham, Rick Gonzalez, Jackie Burroughs, Adam Scott
Director: Mark Fergus
The Pitch: A shifty traveling salesman (Pearce) hears some unpleasant things from a fortune teller, and becomes desperate to avoid his foretold fate.
The Buzz: Worth checking out if only for the involvement of Pearce, who's done an admirable job of picking his scripts thus far, and Fichtner, quietly coming into his own as one of Hollywood's premier character actors.
Trailer Highlight: It's all good, really -- this clip does a nice job of slowly ratcheting up the tension without giving away too much. Even Perabo looks like she might not be distractingly bad this time out.
Bottom Line: Pearce has been involved with some word-of-mouth hits before. This could be another one.
Official Site: http://www.firstsnowthemovie.com/
The Last Mimzy (New Line, March 23)
Starring: Joely Richardson, Timothy Hutton, Michael Clark Duncan, Rhiannon Leigh, Chris O'Neil, Rainn Wilson
Director: Bob Shaye
The Pitch: Two young siblings find a box of toys -- sent, unbeknownst to them, from the future -- and begin showing signs of paranormal powers.
The Buzz: Original premise, great cast, cool trailer. Will Rainn Wilson be the next member of the cast of "The Office" to make the leap to film stardom?
Trailer Highlight: "This is Mimzy. She's my teacher."
Bottom Line: Could be "Zathura" good or "Jumanji" crappy. We're betting on the former.
Official Site: http://www.mimzy.com/
Pride (Lionsgate, March 23)
Starring: Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Tom Arnold, Regine Nehy, Kevin Phillips
Director: Sunu Gonera
The Pitch: Based on the true story of swim coach Jim Ellis (played by Howard), who, in the mid-'70s, took a group of Philly toughs to the state championships.
The Buzz: Howard is great -- maybe even great enough to transcend all the hoary old cliches that sports movies can't help but lean on.
Trailer Highlight: This is Howard's movie, but it's Bernie Mac's baleful stare that steals the show.
Bottom Line: "Swimming drama" -- sounds like a horrible gag, doesn't it? But if the trailer's any indication, this could really be worth watching.
Official Site: http://www.pridefilm.com/
TMNT (Warner Bros., March 23)
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Chris Evans, Ziyi Zhang, Kevin Smith
Director: Kevin Munroe
The Pitch: Monsters have been unleashed on New York City, and the Turtles are needed more than ever.
The Buzz: This has been a long time coming (six years), and it looks like the original "Turtles" comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird has been used as inspiration for the CGI characters. Awesome.
Trailer Highlight: Michelangelo falling into the dumpster as the other Turtles strike a pose.
Bottom Line: The grittier, the better.
Official Web Site: http://tmnt.warnerbros.com/
Meet the Robinsons (Disney, March 30)
Starring: (voices of) Angela Bassett, Tom Selleck, Harland Williams, Adam West, Laurie Metcalf, Tom Kenny, Ethan Sandler
Director: Steve Anderson
The Pitch: A brilliant inventor's latest project, the Memory Scanner -- which he had hoped to use to find his birth mother -- is stolen by the dastardly Bowler Hat Guy. Just when all seems lost, a mysterious hero named Wilbur Robinson comes to the rescue.
The Buzz: It's been awhile since Disney served up anything besides warm leftovers, but if the trailer's anything to go by, "Robinson" could herald a new era of CGI glory for the studio.
Trailer Highlight: Dinosaur subtitles.
Bottom Line: Take the kids. You (and they) won't be disappointed.
Official Site: http://www.meettherobinsons.com/
The Reaping (Warner Bros., March 30)
Starring: Hilary Swank, David Morrissey, AnnaSophia Robb
Director: Stephen Hopkins
The Pitch: A fallen missionary (Swank) spends her time debunking religious myths, until she visits a town and experiences things she can’t explain by scientific means, including one creepy little girl.
The Buzz: Bumped from August to November, and now bumped until March 2007, is never a good sign. But in fairness to the movie, there were some other supernatural thrillers (“Wicker Man,” not to mention “Saw III”) on the slate, so perhaps they’re just trying to distance themselves from the competition.
Trailer Highlight: “Have you come to kill my baby?” “No!” “Why not?”
Bottom Line: Swank has pretty good instincts, and even when she does a bad movie, she chooses good-bad (“The Core”), so we’re cautiously optimistic.
Official Web Site: http://www.thereapingmovie.com/