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February 14, 2013

A sneak peek at this spring’s movies

The hot movies always come out during the summer or the winter. It’s simply the best time to get the best cinematic experience possible. Of course, movies are released all year-round, and there are gems to be found there as well.

The hot movies always come out during the summer or the winter. It’s simply the best time to get the best cinematic experience possible. Of course, movies are released all year-round, and there are gems to be found there as well.

Take “Argo” if you want an example. That film, directed by Ben Affleck, was released in September and has a legitimate shot to win in the Best Picture category at this year’s Oscars.

You could also look at last May’s blockbuster “The Avengers,” considered a financial success in every sense of the word. However, this compilation of reviews dos not focus on peak movie release dates, but the spring releases that have the potential to dazzle or disappoint. So, without further adieu, here are the best and worst of those films we’ll see over the next two months.


When | Feb. 22

Directed by | Ric Roman Waugh

Starring | Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Benjamin Bratt, Barry Pepper

Rated | PG-13

Length | 1 hour, 52 minutes

Synopsis | Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sure has a lot on his plate right now, between wrestling for WWE as its current champion and starring in three of the movies on this list. “Snitch” is up first and it’s the story of a father who goes undercover in a drug cartel to protect his son from a lengthy prison sentence. Johnson has come a long way from doing generic action movies like “Walking Tall” or terrible family films like “The Tooth Fairy,” and this looks like a role he’ll be able to sink his teeth into. Plus, it’s got Barry Pepper, who wins at everything ever. “Snitch” is probably worth the price of admission.

Dark Skies

When | Feb. 22

Directed by | Scott Stewart

Starring | Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, J.K. Simmons

Rated | PG-13 (for violence, terror throughout, sexual material, drug content and language, all involving teens)

Synopsis | “Dark Skies” is a sci-fi thriller about a suburban family that’s tormented by a mysterious and threatening paranormal force. As the entity’s attacks increase in malice and fabric of life at home threatens to tear, the family must take matters into their own hands to save themselves from certain doom. While the plot isn’t anything original, an intriguing trailer makes this movie much more palatable and worth seeing at least once.

Jack the Giant Slayer

When | March 1

Directed by | Bryan Singer

Starring | Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor

Rated | PG-13 (for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language)

Synopsis | Just about all of us know the story of Jack and the beanstalk he climbed to save a princess. Well, here’s Hollywood’s take on the classic tale. Jack (Hoult) somehow manages to open a portal (see: beanstalk) to a world inhabited by a race of giants that want to conquer the human race. Naturally, the humans resist and Jack joins in the fight, seeking adventure and, of course, the love of a princess. Since Hollywood saw fit to release this in IMAX theaters, this movie probably has a large budget. It’s probably worth taking a gamble on.

The Last Exorcism II

When | March 1

Directed by | Ed Gass-Donnelly

Starring |Ashley Bell

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | This movie picks up where the first one left off, with a terrified Nell Sweetzer (Bell) all by herself in Louisiana. She’s missing large portions of her memory and she’s also the last of her family left alive. Enter the spirit which possessed her in the first film, back to try and take over her body once again. Ignoring the fact that the movie title makes no sense because the word “last” implies that there should only be one movie, the movie itself just doesn’t sound that appealing.

21 and Over

When | March 1

Directed by | Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Starring | Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin, Sarah Wright, François Chau, Jonathan Keltz, Daniel Booko, Dustin Ybarra

Rated | R (for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking)

Synopsis | Jeff Chang is a brilliant medical student who is about to turn 21. The night before his medical exams, his friends show up to surprise him and the debauchery begins. This one’s from the minds that wrote “The Hangover,” so it ought to be funny enough. Will it have the success of the aforementioned film? It’s tough to say, but probably not.


When | March 1

Directed by | Park Chan-wook

Starring | Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Nicole Kidman

Rated | Not available

Run Time | 1 hour, 28 minutes

Synopsis | When India (Wasikowska) loses her father in a car accident, an uncle she’s never met suddenly enters the lives of her and her mother. In time, he comes to live with them, but India doesn’t respond with anger or sadness. Rather, both she and her mother are intrigued and infatuated by him, despite their discovery that he may have ulterior motives. It’s not the first movie where a parent dies and a new interest shows up, but usually in those movies the child is suspicious of the new person, not intrigued. Consequently, that makes this movie intriguing.

Oz The Great and Powerful

When | March 8

Directed by | Sam Raimi

Starring | James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King, Bruce Campbell

Rated | PG (for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language)

Synopsis | Disney and director Sam Raimi offer us the origin story of Oz, the man who sent Dorothy back to Kansas many years ago. Oscar Diggs (Franco) is transported from Kansas to Oz, and suddenly his future seems much brighter in his eyes. At least that’s the case until he meets three witches, played by Kunis, Weisz and Williams. Oscar must use his skills as a magician to help Oz in its conflict, while also growing as a person. A solid cast and an original plot are what will draw the viewers to the theater.

Dead Man Down

When | March 8

Directed by | Niels Arden Oplev

Starring | Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert

Rated | R (for violence, language throughout and a scene of sexuality)

Synopsis | Victor (Farrell) is an enforcer for a crime lord (Howard) who is responsible for the deaths of his wife and child, which Victor desires revenge for. When an opportunity arises, Victor seeks to take his pound of flesh. However, he’s seduced by Beatrice (Rapace), and the two bond over their mutual passion for vengeance. This film marks the American debut of the director of the original “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” movie, and as such will be worth the price of a ticket. There’s just too much appeal here.

The Call

When | March 15

Directed by | Brad Anderson

Starring | Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, Michael Imperioli

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | When 911 operator Jordan Turner (Berry) hears a young girl killed over the phone, she’s devastated. After some time has passed, another young girl (Breslin) is kidnapped by the same killer and Turner must figure out a way to save the girl’s life. Berry and Breslin are both strong actresses, but sometimes that’s not enough to carry a film. However, they should get the benefit of the doubt on this one.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

When | March 15

Directed by | Don Scardino

Starring | Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, James Gandolfini, Jim Carrey, Jay Mohr, Michael Bully Herbig

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | Steve Carrell leads an all-star cast of comedic minds as Burt Wonderstone, a Vegas magician and his partner Anton Marvelton (Buschemi), with an act that is losing steam and money in the face of a rising magical star in Steve Gray (Carrey). Faced with the prospect of fading into obscurity, Wonderstone must seek out Rance Holloway (Arkin) the magician who inspired him to become a magician as a child, and find that passion for magic once again. There are too many comedic geniuses in this movie for it not to do well financially, and it looks like it has potential to be hilarious.


When | March 22

Directed by | Paul Weitz

Starring | Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn, Gloria Reuben, Nat Wolff, Lily Tomlin

Rated | PG-13 (for language and some sexual material)

Synopsis | Portia Nathan is an admissions officer for the prestigious Princeton University. One day she’s asked to visit a school run by John Pressman (Rudd) to meet a boy he suspects is her son, given up for adoption many years prior. Soon they’re falling in love and she’s breaking some rules and along the way some hilarious mishaps likely occur. It’s Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. How are you not going to see this one?

The Croods

When | March 22

Directed by | Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco

Starring | Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman

Rated | PG (for some scary action)

Synopsis | A family of prehistoric cave dwellers is forced to set out an adventure when their cave is destroyed. They enlist the help of a nomad named Guy (Reynolds), who helps them realize their potential by realizing how much they need each other. The list of voice actors and the DreamWorks label pretty much guarantee a fun movie you can take your kids to see.

Olympus Has Fallen

When | March 22

Directed by | Antoine Fuqua

Starring | Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott, Ashley Judd, Melissa Leo, Rick Yune

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | When the White House is attacked and the President (Eckhart) is taken hostage, it’s up to former Presidential bodyguard Mike Banning (Butler) to save the day because he’s still inside the building, codenamed Olympus. It’ll take all his knowledge to save the president and stop a larger attack that looms ominously over the country. Gerard Butler has established himself as a solid draw for action flicks, and with a supporting cast that includes Morgan Freeman, this is one that should definitely do well at the box office, despite its similarity to the Die Hard franchise.

GI Joe: Retaliation

When | March 29

Directed by | Jon Chu

Starring | D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | In this sequel to the 2009 blockbuster, the Joes will continue their seemingly never-ending battle with the forces of Cobra. However, they’ll also have to contend with their own government, which is being run by Zartan, a Cobra operative disguised as the president of the United States. The first one was a hit, and this one promises to be another huge box office draw.

The Host

When | March 29

Directed by | Andrew Niccol

Starring | Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Frances Fisher

Rated | PG-13 (for some sensuality and violence)

Synopsis | Stephanie Meyer’s literature is on the big screen once again, this time in the form of her book “ The Host.” As the people of Earth are attacked by an unknown enemy that robs them of their bodies and minds, young Melanie Stryder (Ronan) will stop at nothing to save those dearest to her. It doesn’t sound as ridiculous as the “Twilight” franchise, and the fact that it’s based on a Meyer work will help its cause. It could very well kill at the box office.

Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

When | March 29

Directed by | Tyler Perry

Starring | Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Williams, Robbie Jones, Renée Taylor, Ella Joyce, Brandy Norwood

Rated | PG-13 (for some violence, sexuality and drug content)

Synopsis | Tyler Perry explores the desire and danger that come with the infidelity of a marriage counselor who cheats on her husband. It affects her career and her life, and she’ll learn about consequences and the gravity of her choice. Perry movies are usually pretty heavy-handed, and viewers can probably expect more of the same. Given the success of most of his films, this one probably draws based on his name alone.

Evil Dead

When | April 5

Directed by | Fede Alvarez

Starring | Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

Rated | R (for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language)

Run Time | 1 hour, 32 minutes

Synopsis | Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t seen the 1981 original version of this film, you should probably knock that out before going to theaters for this one because that movie, simply put, is pretty messed up. Five friends shack up in a remote cabin and discover the Book of the Dead, conjuring up demons that take over their bodies until only one remains to fight for life. If that’s not enough for you, go watch the red band version of the trailer. That’s two minutes of absolute brutality.


When | April 12

Directed by | Brian Helgeland

Starring | Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Andre Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater, Ryan Merriman, T.R. Knight

Rated | PG-13 (for thematic elements including language)

Synopsis | Those familiar with baseball history will know the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. This movie will tell his story, and of his trials and tribulations. This film has Oscar potential written all over it if it’s done right. It’s a must-see.

Scary Movie 5

When | April 12

Directed by | Malcolm Lee

Starring | Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Erica Ash, J.P. Manoux, Molly Shannon, Terry Crews, Heather Locklear, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Chris Elliot, Kate Walsh, Jerry O’Connell, Mike Tyson

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | The fifth installment of the “Scary Movie” franchise, which will likely garner an R rating, centers on a ballet dancer and an ape researcher and their newborn baby as they’re haunted by a bizarre entity. They’ll team up with experts using cameras to try and discover what’s happening to them. As with the “Die Hard” franchise, this is the fifth movie. You know what to expect at this point.


When | April 12

Directed by | Joseph Kosinski

Starring | Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | Jack (Cruise) is a drone repairman on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Just weeks from finishing his duties, he stumbles upon a mysterious woman who stirs something inside him. She will lead him to question everything he thinks he knows, and give him a chance to save humanity. Given that this movie was shot in 4K resolution, creating a much more vivid movie experience, and that it has a compelling story to go with that, “Oblivion” is a must see for any moviegoer.


When | April 19

Directed by | Joshua Michael Stern

Starring | Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons, Matthew Modine

Rated | PG-13 (for some drug content and brief strong language)

Synopsis | Ashton Kutcher takes on the task of playing one of the most influential people of the last fifty years: Steve Jobs. The movie will chronicle his life and the decisions he made that led to his extremely successful life. This one could garner some Oscar attention too, but the same was once said about “J. Edgar,” and that didn’t pan out at all. I can’t see this film sharing in that fate. Go watch this one.

The Big Wedding

When | April 26

Directed by | Justin Zackham

Starring | Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Ben Barnes, Christine Ebersole, David Rasche, Patricia Rae, Ana Ayora

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | It’s a romantic comedy about a large family known as the Griffins during the weekend of their adopted son’s wedding. His biological mother is flying in, which forces his adoptive parents, who are no longer together, to pretend they’re happy. Of course nothing will go as planned and hilarity will ensue. Unfortunately, this one looks like it’s going to along the lines of “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve,” movies that proved having a giant cast of stars doesn’t necessarily make for an awesome movie. Skip it.

Pain & Gain

When | April 26

Directed by | Michael Bay

Starring | Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Tony Shalhoub, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Yolanthe Cabau

Rated | Not available

Synopsis | This story focuses on a group of bodybuilders that decide to try their hand at kidnapping, extortion, and ultimately, murder. Now, when reading the plot, it looks like this will be a serious film, but watch the trailer and you’ll get the opposite impression. Wahlberg and Johnson are hilarious in the short trailer we’re given, and it’s not much of a stretch to think they’ll be strong throughout the entire film. Oh, and the movie’s based on a true story if that’s the sort of thing that draws you out.

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