As far as movie releases go, March rarely stands out as a heavy hitter. It falls just after the major film awards are over, so it's often outshined by the adrenaline-pumped summer months and the holiday-charged winter season. Fortunately for movie fans, March 2013 is starting to look like a genuine contender. Those preplanning March moviegoing schedules can expect every weekend to be packed with an eclectic mix of adventure, intrigue, and comedy.
March 1 Movie Releases
Leave the television on for mere minutes and it'll be impossible to miss the frequent promos for "Jack the Giant Slayer." The PG-13 film follows the recent 3-D and fairytale trends with the story of a farm boy who accidentally sparks a war with vicious and vengeful giants. Nicholas Hoult leads the cast as Jack, and Eleanor Tomlinson stars as a princess in peril. Veteran actors including Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane, and Stanley Tucci round out the cast under the direction of Bryan Singer of "X2: X-Men United" and "House" fame.
Viewers who enjoy mindless antics should grab a ticket for "21 and Over," a youthful ode to the "The Hangover." The movie stars Justin Chon as a prospective medical school student whose less studious friends treat him to a night of debauchery just before a crucial interview. The R rating is no surprise, as every scene is sure to highlight excessive drinking, sexual humor, and dose after dose of profanity. As outrageous as it may be, "21 and Over" was created by the same writers as "The Hangover," which earned sequel-worthy success.
March 1 definitely offers something for everyone. The release of "The Last Exorcism Part II" marks the forty-year anniversary of "The Exorcist"-a film that inspired an entire subgenre. For suspense lovers, Ed Harris steals the screen in "Phantom" as a Soviet soldier trapped between ruthless KGB members and his own mind-altering seizures. Of course, the children haven't been forgotten. "The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone" is a fantasy film featuring island escapades and a touch of time travel.
March 8 and 15 Releases
Sam Raimi takes on a classic in "Oz the Great and Powerful," an upcoming prequel to the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz." Raimi is well known for directing the popular "Spider-Man" series and can hopefully bring the same charm and dimension to one of the most obscure characters in Oz. James Franco stars as the wizard-to-be, a low-rent magician who finds himself navigating the social politics of a fantasy world. Viewers can catch this PG film in standard format or 3-D on March 8.
One of Hollywood's top actresses, Halle Berry, hits the big screen in "The Call," a thriller in which a 911 operator witnesses a serial murder over the phone. When she relives the same scenario, the operator dedicates herself to preventing the death of another victim. Early previews of the film have been both frightening and moving as lead characters work together remotely to try and outsmart a deranged man, often to the detriment of bystanders who attempt to help. Berry's lead role as the determined operator Jordan is supported by the highly acclaimed teen actress Abigail Breslin, who offers an intense performance as a kidnap victim whose life is on the line.
March 22 Movie Releases
Movie theaters have always been a place for family, and DreamWorks honors that tradition with "The Croods." This 3-D film boasts a prehistoric setting in which a family of cave people lose their home to a volcano and meet up with an inventive nomad who harbors "modern" ideas. The characters are voiced by an all-star cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener, Ryan Reynolds, and Emma Stone. "The Croods" offers DreamWorks' signature spotless animation, with lush scenery akin to paradise. The blend of human and animal characters creates an endearing comedy for all ages.
Other March 22 releases include the romantic dramedy "Admission" and the action thriller "Olympus Has Fallen." "Admission" features an ironic triangle in which a former classmate (Paul Rudd) leads the seemingly prudish Portia (Tina Fey) to a student (Nat Wolff) who might be the son she previously put up for adoption. Anyone who's inspired by surprises and explosions will bite their nails as the president is captured by terrorists in "Olympus Has Fallen." Aaron Eckhart plays the president whose life may depend on a fallen agent played by Gerard Butler.
March 29 Movie Releases
A delightfully creepy science fiction story is a great way to end a month of thrilling movies. The prodigious young actress Saoirse Ronan, known for powerful lead roles in "The Lovely Bones" and "Atonement," stars in the PG-13 sci-fi adaptation "The Host." Ronan's character Melanie lives in world where the people have been mentally subjugated by an alien species. Melanie forms a bond with her host that may be the key to fighting a worldwide invasion. The story comes from "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer, but it will likely find a larger audience with its strong themes of family, compassion, and courage.
At the other end of the spectrum is Tyler Perry's latest drama, "Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor." Adapted from one of Perry's plays, "Temptation" stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell and details the consequences of a counselor's impetuous affair. Action fans in the mood for a sequel can queue up for the sci-fi film "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." Action hero aficionados like Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis are running the show, so this new installment promises to be a smashing good time. With five full weekends to plan trips to the movies, March is the perfect month to find a cozy theater seat.