2011 Winter Movie Preview: March
The Adjustment Bureau (March 4)
When does a Matt Damon movie sit on the shelf for over a year? When it’s “The Adjustment Bureau,” an adaptation of the hard-to-describe Philip K. Dick short story about a politician (Damon) whose love for a ballet dancer (Emily Blunt) faces stiff opposition from a mysterious and powerful group known as -- you guessed it -- the Adjustment Bureau. Hey, maybe those are the guys who keep bumping the movie from the schedule!
Apollo 18 (March 4)
Taking the found-footage fad into outer space, “Apollo 18” imagines a reality in which NASA didn’t actually scrap the titular moon landing mission in 1972, but instead hid the astronauts’ horrifying discovery from an unwitting public. It’s a neat twist on a silly gimmick, and if director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (making his English-language debut) can fulfill its promise, this could mark the start of the spring thaw at the box office.
Rango (March 4)
“Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski makes the leap to family-friendly CG animation here, bringing along his “Pirates” star, Johnny Depp, for the story of a chameleon who struggles to (ahem) blend in with the residents of a rough ‘n’ tumble Old West town. Neither Verbinski nor Paramount is exactly known for high quality animated fare, but the trailer looks good -- and the voice cast, which includes Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, and Stephen Root, sounds top-notch.
Take Me Home Tonight (March 4)
Topher Grace goes from “That ‘70s Show” to this ‘80s movie about a recent college grad whose quest to bed his high school crush (Teresa Palmer) comes to a head during the big end-of-the-summer party in 1988. We were burned last year with the similarly retro (and much more original-sounding) “Hot Tub Time Machine,” but “Take Me Home Tonight” includes a lot of undeniably funny people -- and given the year it’s set in, we’re hoping we might even get a Max Headroom cameo.
Battle: Los Angeles (March 11)
Hey, it’s been awhile since we watched “Independence Day” -- why not watch it again, only this time with a new director (Jonathan Liebesman), new cast (including Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez), and a new title (“Battle: Los Angeles”)? We’re just joshin’, of course -- no matter how much it might feel that way, this isn’t an “Independence Day” remake; in fact, “Battle” offers a whole lot more in the way of rootin’ tootin’ military firepower (not to mention cutting-edge special effects).
Mars Needs Moms (March 11)
The bestselling children’s book from “Bloom County” creator Berke Breathed comes to the screen in this Disney adventure, starring the voices of Joan Cusack, Seth Green, and Dan Fogler. It’s brought to you by the same folks responsible for “The Polar Express” and last year’s “A Christmas Carol,” and they certainly know a thing or two about nifty 3D visuals. Maybe this time, Breathed’s story will help them deliver a film that’s as entertaining as the special effects?
Red Riding Hood (March 11)
Little Red Riding Hood is all grown up in Catherine Hardwicke’s latest supernaturally themed outing, in which our crimson-garbed heroine (Amanda Seyfried) plans to ditch her arranged marriage and run off with the local brooding hunk (Shiloh Fernandez), but things get complicated when the village werewolf -- who may or may not have some sort of mystical connection with Red -- develops a taste for human meat. Based on the trailer, it looks like we might finally be willing to forgive Hardwicke for “Twilight.”
The Lincoln Lawyer (March 18)
Matthew McConaughey sets down his bongos and returns to the world of legally themed film adaptations with “The Lincoln Lawyer,” inspired by the Michael Connelly novel about an attorney whose days of living in the back of his car seem to be over when he picks up a sweet gig defending a wealthy playboy accused of murder -- but, of course, nothing is as it seems. It’s been a long time since we trusted McConaughey to give us anything but crappy romantic comedies, but this looks like the kind of movie Paul Newman might have starred in during his rumpled ‘70s run. Dare we hope?
Paul (March 18)
2011’s first morsel of fanboy bait arrives in “Paul,” the highly anticipated (and eminently Comic-Con-friendly) Nick Frost/Simon Pegg comedy about two sci-fi-loving friends who go looking for evidence of UFOs -- and find it in the form of an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). Did we mention that this is coming from the guys who brought you “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”? Yeah, you can probably just go ahead and pre-order your tickets now.
Limitless (March 18)
You’ve heard of “Flowers for Algernon”? Well, this is “Flowers for That One Guy from ‘The Hangover’” -- a sci-fi action thriller about a down-on-his-luck writer (Bradley Cooper) who takes an experimental drug to turn himself into a super genius...as well as the target of everyone from a curious billionaire (Robert De Niro) to a crew of hit men. This seems like the kind of thing Nicolas Cage would ordinarily star in, but he’s been pretty busy lately; either way, you’ll need something to see if you show up too late for your local sold-out screening of “Paul.”
Sucker Punch (March 25)
Battling babes ahoy! Zack Snyder’s latest FX extravaganza plunges an institutionalized girl (Emily Browning) into a nightmare world of unscrupulous orderlies, samurai warriors, and nasty-looking dragons, all rendered in glorious IMAX. As a storyteller, Snyder’s been rather hit or miss, but “Sucker Punch” looks like a distaff version of “300” -- visual thrills first, story second -- and with a cast that includes Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino, and Vanessa Hudgens, he’s already set a new standard for IMAX cheesecake platters.