10 films hitting the silver screen in March 2012

10 films hitting the silver screen in March 2012

Now the awards season is done and dusted, and all the glistening film accolades are sitting on the mantle-pieces of their deserving/underserving recipients – depending on your perspective – the cinema world will switch gears, and start looking forward to the herd of blockbusters that will stampede into multiplexes on the back of inescapable market campaigns in the coming months. The first of those will be released this month – more on John Carter later.

Truth be told, it is quite difficult to find 10 potentially interesting film released this March and some of the films on this list could well be complete toss. There can often be a lull in cinemas between the close of the awards season and the opening of blockbuster time.  That said, there are a clutch of films that look promising this month. These are the films for your consideration this March:

The Raven

Director: James McTeigue

If you’re thinking:’ hmm, would this have anything to do with Edgar Allen Poe?’ you would be spot on. Poe’s dastardly tales of murder and mystery are reworked in the seemingly inspired plot in V for Vendetta director James McTeigue’s new thriller. That plot sees Poe turn from writer to detective, as he hunts down a serial killer who is recreating his sinister stories.

If you’ve read the macabre poems and prose of Poe, you’ll be aware that there is a genuine sense of terror about his chilling stories. The imagery in his stories is still really quite startling; Poe’s material is timelessly twisted. McTeigue will have to have done something really wrong if this isn’t a gothic, dark moody and edgy film. They seem to have cast Poe well; John Cusack as Poe seems a great choice.

 

The Hunger Games 

Director: Gary Ross

Nightmarish, post-apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi films are rarely aimed at a teen an under market for obvious reasons. It is strange to see a film with such a dark context as The Hunger Games, marketed towards such a young audience; sci-fi fans can’t help but wonder if an intriguing sci-fi idea here, is going to have its context sacrificed in the hope of securing the very youthful multiplex target audience.

The story, about a young child selected to fight to the death on live television, in an America that has now fully descending into ruin, does look like a welcomed return to sci-fi territory covered in films like The running man; Logan’s run and Battle Royale. It’s clearly got a range of influences but The film this looks most similar to plot wise for me is a little seen unknown indie gem called Series 7: the contenders (IMDB it), a disturbing look at the sadistic nature of television audiences with a plot about a range of random folk selected to fight to the death, exactly like The Hunger games then. Fighting to the death, particularly fights to the death involving children, have to be taken to the extreme to have impact, the PG 13/12a certificate, suggests The Hunger games might be, well, starved of peril. We will see when the games begin this month.

 

Wanderlust

Director David Waine

This looks like a similarly recession proof concept for a comedy as last year’s Horrible bosses – if it is half as funny, it will be worth a watch. The story involves a cosmopolitan couple Paul Rudd and Jenifer Aniston who are prematurely thrown on the scrap heap after a jobs cull, so they decide to investigate other living options by moving to a new age commune. Likeable comedy everyman Paul Rudd’s previous collaboration with director Daivid Waine produced a pretty funny comedy in Role models – so the two have generated laughs before.

I liked the idea for this and then I saw the underwhelming trailer; now I’m concerned that this has a bit of a right-wing agenda and the idea of living alternatively is going to be pitifully mocked and belittled, so people who are thinking of taking inspiration from Rudd’s character, start to think twice about leaving their soul sucking life in the corporate world. We will see – it’s definitely a timely concept for a comedy, but is it a funny one?

 

Cleanskin

Director: Hada Hajaig

The last time a British film took on the contentious and controversial subject of Islamic terrorism, the results were the excellent satire Four lions. Director Hada Hajaig takes on that taboo subject, in a thriller involving a secret service agent hunting down a suicide bomber.  The film stars Sean Bean who can be a grizzled screen presence. If this is done authentically, it could be tense.

 

John Carter

Director: Andrew Stanton

Giving the shamelessly cynical Stars wars 3D release a run for its unjustly earned money in the sci-fi- genre this month, will be this big budgeted sci-fi blockbuster from Disney.  The story is set on Mars, which means the designers have had some fun conceptualizing kooky, weird looking alien monsters, of which, as anyone who has seen that trailer doing the rounds this week will know, this has its fair share of. It does look slightly silly and a tad cheesy but when you see that Pixar’s Andrew Stanton – the man who made such Pixar perfect gems as Finding Nemo, A bug’s life and Wall-E, is making his live-action debut with this, you have to wonder whether this will be an enjoyable family style adventure in space. Stanton can tell a story in a totally enchanting way. Can he make this story about a civil war veteran, the eponymous Carter, transported into a Martian war, exciting? Stanton hasn’t put a foot wrong so far, so hopefully he can bring his magic to enliven this Avatar like set-up. Could be gladiator in space, could be shudder, Battlefield earth.

 

Hunky Dorky

Director: Marc Evans

Want to see Minnie Driver do a Welsh accent? No? Me neither. As a Welshman, seeing Driver play a drama teacher from Swansea (South Wales) in the 70’s, seems to be an excruciating prospect. This organic and dry comedy drama is directed by an interesting Welsh director in Marc Evans though, who is highly respected in the British film industry. His previous films of note, My little eye and Trauma, were nihilistic, and rather gritty horror movies, so this seems like a change in tone for Evans. The story, about a high school teacher trying to inspire her students with music and theatre, does seem a little twee, like a Welsh version of Glee. If the characters are interesting though, it could be likeable. And the fact that the title is an excellent album by David Bowie, from that period, makes me inclined to believe that this might be music, as well as cine-literate. Let’s hope it is as naturalistically funny, charming and perceptive as the film set in Wales last year, the excellent Submarine.

 

Carancho

Director: Pablo Trapero

Do you hate the car insurance industry? Of course you do. It’s borderline organized crime. The companies have about as much compassion for victims of accidents as gangsters have for the recently whacked. Why not make the car insurance industry the backdrop for a morally murky little thriller then? Why not indeed?  The dubious dealings of the car insurance industry come under scrutiny in this explosive Argentinian noirish thriller. It looks edgy, it looks intense, it looks dark and it looks original. Will this car insurance themed film have a great pay-off? Word is that this is definitely an inventive film. This looks like the most interesting film of the month.

 

The Pirates! In an adventure with scientists 

Directors: Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt

Anyone who saw the warm, charming and hilarious re-spin of the Christmas story in Arthur Christmas, will be aware that the British animation company Aardman – the company that brought us Wallace and Gromitt –  is brimming with as much visual flair, creativity and imagination as Pixar. The latest release from them is a quirky swashbuckling satire, rendered in Aardman’s trademark stop-motion. The action looks charmingly mad-cap and the story, about two rival pirates competing for the pirate of the year award, looks like it has plenty of potential for some pirate themed pastiche. It looks as colourful and as offbeat as the Monkey island computer games.

 

Big miracle

Director Ken Kwapis

You might think that the Free Wily franchise had the monopoly on the-distressed-whales-and-their compassionate-human-rescuers storyline, but you’d be wrong as this film dives into similar waters covered by the aforementioned film series. The story involves the rescue mission by a news reporter and his Green peace activist girlfriend (Drew Barrymore), of a family of whales trapped in icy waters near Alaska. Everyone loves whales – watching this kind of story unfolding on the news would fill your heart with glee; although this is based on a true story, you do have to wonder whether watching this story in a cinema will be a little unbearably sentimental. The trailer did make the film look funnier, more dramatic and more engaging than it perhaps looks on paper. The film also looks like it will have an eco-conscious message and casting a conservationist in the role of hero, may do wonders for the pr of the likes of Greenpeace, which is a good thing in my book. It will have a positive message no doubt, but will you have a positive reaction to the film? The last film I watched about a whale rescue, The New Zealand film Whale, rider was compelling. Perhaps Big miracle will be too?

 

My week with Marilyn

Director: Simon Curtis

Who was Marilyn Monroe? Well for starters, she was a stage persona rather than a person, Monroe’s real name was of course the less glamorous Norma Jean, which sounds so bland that if it was a colour it would be light beige, you can see why she changed it.  Behind the star there was a real persona; this film goes in search of the real Monroe, by focusing on a blossoming relationship she had with an employee of Laurence Oliver on the set of a film she was making in the UK. Monroe has one of those iconic images, but her real life story was famously full of angst trouble and self-doubt about her acting abilities. There is plenty of potential for Michelle Williams to give a great performance and given that Williams was named on numerous best females lists for her turn here, you’d think that this film does say something fresh about its megastar.

 

Approach with caution.

Now, you should never right off a film totally on a negative preconception before you see it. As films deemed bad can often have a merit the media misses. That said, with the price of cinema tickets rising higher and higher, avoiding a terrible film, can save you a fair bit of money. These three films look dire – I’d say save your money.

The Devil Inside 

This looks like yet another film shamelessly trying to possess the spirit of The Exorcist. It has been absolutely torn apart Stateside – so much scorn has been poured upon it by angry critics, I’m surprised the prints haven’t been burnt for cinematic heresy.

This means war

Two secret service agents squabbling over a girl – that’s a plot that you could write down on a postage stamp. And Mc G directs; he is a MTV video hack somehow carving himself a lacklustre directing career – looks totally lazy and uninspired. This means war – this means bore.

Wrath of the Titans 

Did anyone see the first one? It was a headache of a film. Noisy, overblown, boring and totally trashed the legendary Greek myth characters. When will Hollywood stop grinding the life out of Greek myth? Haven’t the Greeks got enough problems?  Wrath of the Titans would be interesting if it was about The Greek Gods smashing-up Hollywood for sucking the soul out of their beloved mythology – that’s a wrath of the titans I want to see.

What do you think of the films coming out in March. Have your say and I will respond. @filmfelladarren

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About Filmfella Darren
Film critic, writer and long-time cinema appreciator. I write about cinema matters, because cinema matters. Like your clothes and your laptops, my articles were made in Taiwan.

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