April Movie Preview

April certainly won’t be a month for big blockbusters, as Tom Cruise’s Oblivion seems the only possible contender for box office domination. So I would suggest taking this month to explore some little indies or thrillers. Mud and At Any Price, for instance, are both critically acclaimed and seem like a nice way to spend these (cross your fingers) warm spring nights. Some of you may sigh with relief at the news that April is void of YA book adaptation movies, although you don’t have too long to rest easy, as City of Bones comes out this summer. Personally, I’m most excited for Pain & Gain, mostly because I have no idea what to expect from Michael Bay’s latest and I love Mark Wahlberg, who can be a talented comedic performer when he sheds his rough persona (his response video to SNL’s “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals” is priceless). So without further ado, I invite you to peruse the film offerings that April has to give:

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April 5th

File:Jurassic Park 3D.jpgJurassic Park: An IMAX 3D Experience – Steven Spielberg’s classic sci-fi adventure is back with a stylish new look. Jurassic Park has always been a thrilling movie, so it will be interesting to see if the upgrades really improve upon anything. No doubt the film will reel in those who are nostalgic for the ’90s (aren’t we all?), but some may not be willing to shell out the extra money for the 3D and IMAX, instead choosing to pull out their dusty video cassette copies.
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Trance2013Poster.jpgTrance – No doubt trying to capitalize on the success of Inception, Danny Boyle’s (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) new thriller stars James McAvoy as Simon, a fine art auctioneer who steals a Goya painting, but can’t remember its location after a hit on the head. The gang leader who recruited Simon hires a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to search his mind and the twists and turns begin. I would see this film solely for McAvoy, an underrated performer who manages to bring another level to all of his characters (see X-Men: First Class). But psychological thrillers are tricky to pull off, especially with Christopher Nolan setting the precedent, so we’ll see how Trance fares with the reviewers.
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EvilDead2013Poster.jpgEvil Dead – A much anticipated remake of the 1981 cult horror film, Evil Dead is about five friends who head to a remote cabin and discover a Book of the Dead, inadvertently releasing demons living in the woods. Gradually, everyone is possessed until only one survivor remains. The stars of the film are mostly unknowns, except for Jane Levy, who plays a snarky teen on ABC’s Suburgatory. The fact that this is a remake of a cult film bodes well for the box office, as it already has an established audience of horror film aficionados, but word of mouth will also determine its success.
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The Company You Keep poster.jpgThe Company You Keep – A pretty formidable cast puts this political thriller high on my list. Robert Redford both directs and stars in this film about a former member of the radical left group the Weather Underground who is forced to disappear when a journalist (Shia LaBeouf) outs his identity. The cast includes veterans Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, and Brendan Gleeson, among others. Personally, I’m excited to see LaBeouf doing something besides Transformers, and he often does well in thrillers (both Eagle Eye and Disturbia were pretty solid films). The Company You Keep‘s great cast should initially bring in the older crowd, but old folks are the ones who read the reviews, so the film needs to do its job well to keep audiences coming in.

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April 12

42 film poster.jpg42 – Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale, L.A. Confidential) does double duty as the director and writer of this sports drama, which tells the story of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, whose signing of Robinson in the 1940s helped to break down the sport’s color barrier. Little known actor Chadwick Boseman and a practically unrecognizable Harrison Ford play the title characters. Although the movie looks thrilling and especially timely with its emphasis on human rights, I’m worried about the lack of press and the vague, numeric title, which might discourage audiences without prior knowledge of the plot.
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To The Wonder US Theatrical Release Poster, 2013.jpgTo the Wonder – Terrance Malick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line) is back with another potentially confusing but hauntingly beautiful film starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, and Olga Kurylenko. In the film, Affleck’s character is caught between the beautiful woman he met in France (Kurylenko) or his childhood sweetheart (McAdams). While Affleck reconnects with McAdams, Kurylenko makes the acquaintance of a priest (Bardem) who is struggling with his vocation. To the Wonder‘s Oscar chances and box office success will all depend on the clarity and purpose of the film, as many were turned off by Malick’s perplexing The Tree of Life.
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ScaryMovie5.jpgScary Movie V – Everyone’s favorite horror spoof franchise is back with its fifth installment. The series serves as a dumping ground for desperate, washed-up former stars, trying to prove their relevancy (sort of like the Dancing with the Stars for film). It’s supposed to make audiences respect these stars who can laugh at themselves, but instead we just laugh at their comeback attempts. Scary Movie V doesn’t disappoint with a slew of B-listers: Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Ashley Tisdale, Snoop Dogg, and Heather Locklear, among others. Despite its questionable comedic tactics, Scary Movie V will no doubt bring in audiences because of its familiarity. There must be some reason they keep making these?

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April 19

Oblivion2013Poster.jpgOblivion – A post-apocalyptic world serves as the backdrop of this futuristic thriller starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. Cruise plays a drone repairman sent to long-abandoned Earth to extract its remaining resources. He meets up with a group of survivors, led by Freeman, who cause him to question everything he once believed to be true. Cruise has been quiet and out of the spotlight for a while, so he’s in the perfect position to take over the box office if the movie is decent, especially with America’s Sweetheart Morgan Freeman as his number two.

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April 26

The Big Wedding Poster.jpgThe Big Wedding – April welcomes another movie in which family members cannot manage to act like civilized human beings at an important event. In this particular wedding romantic comedy from the writer of The Bucket List, Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton play a divorced couple who must pretend to be married for their adopted son’s (Ben Barnes) ultra-conservative biological mother, who unexpectedly decides to come to her son’s wedding. I do hope that I’ve judged the film too early, because the decent cast includes Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams (as an inappropriate priest – what else?), Amanda Seyfried, and Topher Grace. Let’s make a toast in the hopes that The Big Wedding brings something new to the genre. I could have seen this potentially doing well at the box office as a family flick, but the R-rating will keep many families away.
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Pain & Gain Teaser Poster.jpgPain & Gain – Apparently based on a true story, this film stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson as Miami bodybuilders who get caught up in an extortion ring and kidnapping scheme gone wrong. Directed by Michael Bay as he takes a break from Transformers, this is the wildcard movie of April. Lovers of action movies and anything starring the Rock/Wahlberg will inevitably be drawn to the theater, but it will be interesting to see if the film appeals to a larger audience, as I think it might have the potential to.
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Mud poster.jpgMud – An Official Selection at Cannes last year, Mud tells the story of two young boys (newcomers Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) who find a fugitive named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) on an island in Mississippi. Mud enlists the two boys to help evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his lost love (Reese Witherspoon). Set up as sort of a Southern fairy tale, the indie enters theaters in limited release on April 26. I haven’t heard much buzz around Mud despite its critical reception at Cannes so I doubt it will see much revenue at the box office. But it looks like an indie worth seeing, if just for the supposedly incredible performance by McConaughey.
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At Any Price poster.jpgAt Any Price – Another acclaimed indie, this one starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as a conflicting father and son. Henry (Quaid) wants Dean (Efron) to take over the family farming empire, but Dean has his sights set on professional race car driving. After the government begins investigating Henry’s business, his family and everything he has worked for is put in jeopardy. If the movie is marketed enough, it’s possible that Efron will bring in the younger crowd (the publicity department obviously knows this – there are plenty of scenes with a shirtless Efron in the trailer).
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A few possible winners in the bunch, but only time will tell. Anything that you’re especially excited about? Sound off in the comments below!

Article by Liz Isenberg

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