March movie madness: Your monthly collection of cinematic selections
Geez, oh man – those Oscars were something else. What an embarrassing blunder on Hollywood’s biggest night. There’s plenty of jokes to be made at the industry’s expense, but honestly it’s hard to muster up the snark while looking at this month’s releases.
Every week has at least one big blockbuster, prepping us for the upcoming summer movie season.
The month starts off strong with the latest release in the “X-Men” franchise. Hugh Jackman returns for the last time as Wolverine, a role he has been playing since 2000 – and yet he has never looked better.
Inspired by Mark Millar’s phenomenal comic book arc, Old Man Logan, the film finds an aged Logan who is spending his days as a chauffeur and hustling for prescription drugs in Texas. Logan is caring for a senile Professor Charles Xavier, once again played by Patrick Stewart.
Logan’s attempts to hide away from the world are up-ended when he takes on a job to escort a small girl named Laura – who happens to share the same powers as Logan – to a place called “Eden.”
Director James Mangold returns to the character after directing 2013’s “The Wolverine,” where he successfully washed the bad taste of 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” out of our collective mouths. This time he brings with him the best parts of his previous filmography: Westerns (“3:10 to Yuma”) and the music of Johnny Cash (“Walk the Line”).
“Kong: Skull Island”
Tom Hiddleston (“Thor,” “The Avengers”) stars in this reboot of the “Kong” franchise as a former British Special Air Service captain who joins an expedition to the mysterious Skull Island. Working for a secret government organization called Monarch, Hiddleston along with Brie Larson (“Room”), John C. Reilly (“Step Brothers”), John Goodman (“Monsters, Inc.”) and Samuel L. Jackson (“The Hateful Eight,” every other movie) must survive on the island as the titular ape battles creatures nicknamed “Skullcrawlers” for control of the island.
“Skull Island” will serve as the second installment of Legendary Entertainment’s MonsterVerse which began in 2014 with “Godzilla.” It also marks King Kong’s return to the big screen where he has been absent since 2005 with Peter Jackson’s "King Kong," the movie that made us all realize Jack Black could do more than jump around and make funny mouth noises.
“Beauty and the Beast”
Disney continues remaking its animated classics as live-action affairs, this time with the 1991 classic “Beauty and the Beast.”
Emma Watson stars as Belle, a young woman who is take prisoner by the Beast (Dan Stevens, “Downton Abbey”) in exchange for her father’s freedom. While imprisoned in the castle, Belle befriends the enchanted staff and begins to fall in love with the Beast, despite his exterior appearance.
Other familiar faces – or voices – include Ewan McGregor (“Star Wars,” “Trainspotting”) and Ian McKellan (“X-Men”) as Lumiere and Cogsworth, the lovable duo who help Belle adjust to her new life. Luke Evans (“Dracula Untold,” “Furious 7”) and Josh Gad (“Frozen”) star as the arrogant Gaston and his sidekick Le Fou.
“Trainspotting” (1996) was director Danny Boyle’s (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “28 Days Later”) pitch-black comedy about the lives of heroin addicts living in Edinburgh, Scotland. 21 years later, much of the main cast returns to reprise their roles and let us catch up with the characters in real-time.
After 20 years of estrangement, Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to reunite with the old crew: Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewan Bremner), Begpie (Robert Carlyle), and Tommy (Kevin McKidd).
Making a sequel to a cult film decades later is a tricky feat, but Boyle is a talented director and any fan of the original has to at least be curious as to what Renton and the boys are up to.
If you’ve not seen “Trainspotting,” it’s worth a watch for any fan of '90s cinema – as long as you’re okay with needles.
Go, go Power Rangers! Even if you were a little young for the original “Mighty Morphin” series, there’s a good chance you grew up with one of the franchise’s many iterations.
This reboot will be a re-imagining of the original “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” bringing Jason, Kimberly, Billy, Trini, and Zack to the big screen for the first time since 1995.
While the Rangers themselves are relative unknowns, the supporting cast has no shortage of star power. Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games,” “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”) plays the villain Rita Repulsa, an alien witch and former Ranger who is searching for an artifact known as the Zeo Crystal. Zordon is, of course, aided by his trusty robot sidekick Alpha 5, voiced by Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live,” “Trainwreck”).
Zordon, played by Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), assembles five teens with attitude and grants them the power of the Rangers to combat Rita and her minions.
Fun fact, before Cranston was Walter White, or even the dad from “Malcolm in the Middle,” he provided the voice for some of the monsters in the original “Mighty Morphin” series.
“Ghost in the Shell”
This film based on the manga and anime of the same name sparked controversy when it was announced that Scarlett Johansson would be portraying the lead character, The Major, a “full-body prosthesis” cyborg tasked with combatting cyber-terrorists.
Many levelled allegations of whitewashing against the film, believing that as it is based on a Japanese property, an Asian actress should have been given the role. You can argue the validity of that complaint; a major blockbuster film led by an actress of Asian descent would be pretty impressive.
It’s also easy to argue that when selecting the perfect human form, you would immediately go with Scarlet Johansson.
But if the film delivers on the promise of the trailer than we are in for something like we have never seen before in a live-action film: the stylized fight scenes, the cyberpunk world, the killer kabuki robots.
The line between sentient beings and life when it comes to the development of robots has been a little over done lately. “West World” just had 10 solid episodes about it, but if nothing else, it should be fun to look at.
David Tunis-Garcia is the arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org