As expected, January was a little lackluster with movie releases this year, while February was a little too heavy on the romances. March, however, is chock-full of some really promising speculative fiction releases. There are two sequels, a novel adaptation, and two twists on well-known tales. And for lovers of high fantasy like myself, the first two weeks of March couldn’t look better.
1. The Last Exorcism II
A direct sequel to The Last Exorcism (2010), The Last Exorcism II picks up within hours of where its predecessor left off. The protagonist from the previous film is now dead, so The Last Exorcism II follows Nell, the woman who was possessed. She can’t remember much of the previous months, and she regains consciousness to find that her family is dead. But that’s not enough for the evil forces that terrorize her. This is a very dark horror flick; and, if it maintains the stylistic qualities of The Last Exorcism at all, there will be a lot of violence and demonic imagery to go around.
Release Date March 1
2. Jack the Giant Slayer
“Jack and the Beanstalk” is a classic English fairy tale and the basis for Jack the Giant Slayer. Director Bryan Singer (X-men, X-2) places us solidly in a fantasy realm true to the original tales. Jack (Nicholas Hoult; Warm Bodies, X-men: First Class) is a young farmhand who accidentally opens a portal between his world and the that of the giants, thus igniting a war. Jack is forced to fight for his life, save the kingdom, and just maybe rescue and win the heart of the Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson). The fact that this looks like pure epic fantasy (my favorite!), as well as the depth of supporting actors (Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Bill Nighy) has put this on my must-see list.
Release Date March 1
3. Oz The Great and Powerful
Life for fantasy movie buffs like myself gets even better with the release of Oz the Great and Powerful. There are very few people who have never seen The Wizard of Oz starring Julie Garland; it’s so iconic that a direct remake is impossible. Instead, Sam Raimi (The Spider-Man Trilogy) has given us a prequel. James Franco (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Spider-Man Trilogy) stars as Oscar, a carnival magician who suddenly finds himself in the strange Land of Oz. The coming of a great wizard was expected, and Oscar seems to fit the bill. But the three Witches, Glinda of the North (Michelle Williams), Theodora of the West (Mila Kunis) and Evanora of the East (Rachel Weisz), are not convinced of Oscar’s greatness, forcing Oscar to become the Wizard of Oz we all remember from our childhoods. With a music score by Danny Elfman and Disney’s special effects houses and gargantuan budgets, this is sure to be a technicolor marvel.
Release Date March 8
4. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Another sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an action based thriller starring Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum, and Dwayne Johnson. Based on the perennial bestselling toys by Hasbro, this movie was slated to be released last summer. Paramount pulled it, supposedly to not only add in 3-D but to re-shoot several scenes and strengthen Tatum’s character. Plot-wise, Retaliation picks up where Rise of Cobra left off, with Zartan impersonating the President of the United States and framing the Joes as traitors. Calling in the original Joe general (Bruce Willis) they put together a plan to overthrow Cobra, Zartan, and their allies. While this may be long on action and short on plot, it’ll be an enjoyable and high-octane ride nonetheless.
Release Date March 29
5. The Host
Stephanie Meyer fans rejoice! Her fame mainly stems from the Twilight Saga, but her science fiction novel, The Host, is now also a major motion picture. Sometime in the future, Earth has been colonized by a parasitic alien race who call themselves “Souls.” Souls take over human bodies, erasing the original occupants. Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is one of the last free humans when she is injected with the Soul named Wanderer. Melanie bombards Wanderer with her memories and emotions, causing Wanderer to form bonds with Melanie and Melanie’s human family and friends. Much like Twilight when it was released, this film does not feature any A-list talent, but does include a number of experienced actors. What brings me the most hope for this film is writer/director Andrew Niccol, whose past credits include Gattaca and Lord of War.
Release Date March 29