Marching On

March 06, 2007
A thought by James Berardinelli

From a distance, the March movie slate doesn't look as stale as leftover Christmas cookies, but neither is it brimming with promise. There are some high points, but those who would prefer to lengthen their hibernation are justified. The long-term prospects for April are brighter but with winter winds howling outside, spring doesn't seem all that near.

Two of the most intriguing March releases are already out as I write this: Black Snake Moan and Zodiac. I'm recommending both although I think David Fincher's latest suffers from a common syndrome: the director can't figure out what the movie is really about so he throws in everything he can think of, hoping some of it will stick. In an interview, Fincher claimed he knew the movie was too long but couldn't decide what to cut. This can be seen as evidence that his vision for the film isn't clear. There are a lot of ways Zodiac could have gone, all of which are subsets of what's out there. It's as if Fincher decided that instead of waiting a year for the deluxe, expanded director's cut of the movie on DVD, he'd release it in theaters instead. At two hours, this might have been one of 2007's best. At nearly three hours, it's too long.

This weekend, there are only two notable releases: 300 and The Host. Both already have groups of die-hard supporters. 300 does not disappoint - it offers precisely what would-be fans are expecting. The Host may be a harder mainstream sell. Yes, it's a monster movie, but it's also subtitled. The problem with a movie like this is that too many lazy movie-goers see a conflict between the fun of watching an old-fashioned monster movie and the "difficulty" of reading subtitles. This country's mass reluctance to see subtitled movies baffles me. It may be awkward at first but once you've seen a few of them, reading the dialogue becomes second nature. The Host this month and Black Book next month are examples of movies that could attain mainstream acceptance if they were in English.

Perhaps the March movie that most intrigues me is I Think I Love My Wife. Unlikely combinations and strange bedfellows abound in the motion picture industry, but never did I think to see a marriage between Eric Rohmer and Chris Rock. Nevertheless, I Think I Love My Wife is a remake of Chloe in the Afternoon. Admittedly, this could be a train wreck but I'm hopeful and very interested. The other two mainstream releases that weekend (March 16) are less impressive looking. There's another horror film, Dead Silence (at least this one is rated R). Then Sandra Bullock finds herself tripping time lines again with Premonition. The preview looks good at first glance but the more I see it (I studiously avoid previews, yet I've seen this one four times), the more it looks like it's a slickly made grouping of highlights for a movie that might not hold together very well.

March 23 is the day TMNT opens. (That's how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are referred to in the '00s.) As previously stated, I will not be seeing or reviewing this. I wasn't joking when I wrote that my hatred for this franchise knows no bounds. In all honesty, I would rather watch a romantic comedy with Hilary Duff and the Olsen Twins before seeing this. There are plenty of other movies opening that weekend. First Snow and The Last Mimzy look the most promising. Shooter appears generic, but it has Mark Wahlberg and is directed by Antoine Fuqua (I'm willing to forgive him King Arthur considering what went on behind the scenes). Pride is what it looks like – a generic inspirational sports movie - and that's not impressive. Reign over Me has an awful trailer - the studio should fire whatever marketing firm did it. The jury is still out about whether Adam Sandler can succeed as a serious actor. This is his next test. Finally, there's The Hills Have Eyes 2. I'm sure there won't be a press screening of that one but since I'm skipping TMNT, I may force myself to spend a Friday afternoon with bloodthirsty mutants. I used to love horror movies, but they have become so lame and unimaginative that, as a rule, I now dread them.

March ends with a weekend that offers something for everyone. Despite sounding like a war movie, Blades of Glory is the latest Will Ferrell comedy. I don't expect much from it. The guy can be hilarious at times but his misses are painful, and he whiffs more often than he hits. The trailer for this is laugh-less, and that's usually not a good sign for a comedy. The Lookout is the weekend's thriller and it represents my late March lifeline. This is one of those movies that I want to see and for which I would visit a multiplex if I wasn't writing reviews. For the family audience, there's Meet the Robinsons (an uninspired looking animated film), and horror fans have Skinwalkers, another werewolf film. (Wasn't Blood and Chocolate enough?)

April brings Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Hot Fuzz, and Paul Verhoeven - all as the world sits in wait for what could be the biggest box office May in the history of box office Mays.