Last month we got a really fun and nicely old-fashioned horror movie, a found footage superhero movie becoming a surprise hit, a terrific hitman/horror/love story, and a B-movie featuring Denzel Washington kicking ass. It was better than an average February. As expected like every year, we’re dealing with a packed March. There are two possible franchise starters and one of the funniest comedies we’ve seen in quite sometime, so we’ve got a pleasant month ahead of us.

Honorable Mentions: Friends with Kids (a fine dramedy) and The Deep Blue Sea (a semi-festival favorite), and Silent House (another film with Elizabeth Olsen being terrorized? I’m in.)

Check out the ten must-see movies of March below.

John Carter

Opens March 9th.

When it comes to John Carter, far too much attention has been payed  to discussing the possibility of a “box-office disaster!” Why aren’t more people talking about how we’re getting treated to another Andrew Stanton picture? After revisiting WALL-E the other day, I’m convinced the man doesn’t have a bad filmmaking bone in his body. Having seen John Carter I can firmly say most of his strengths shown in WALL-E and Finding Nemo are present. This blockbuster may not feature the heart of those films, but Stanton’s sense of fun and eye for scale are more than present in this solid hero’s journey.

21 Jump Street

Opens March 16th.

I can’t say too much about 21 Jump Street, but I will say this is the funniest comedy in recent memory. It’s about as perfect as a comedy can be. If you’re a fan of Chris Miller and Phil Lord‘s equally satisfying Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you’re going to adore this smart, original, and fast comedy.

Casa de mi Padre 

Opens March 16th.

Like Mirror Mirror, this one could go either way. Will Ferrell speaking Spanish is a funny idea, but that’s only an idea. The trailers rely on that “Ferrell speaking Spanish!” joke, but will there be an actual story to back it up? Possibly. Director Matt Piedmont and writer Andrew Steele wrote on SNL during one of its brighter times, so it’s not difficult to build a sense of confidence that Casa de mi Padre will play as more than a one-joke film.

Detachment

Opens March 16th and now on VOD.

I cannot wait to see director Tony Kaye‘s Detachment. We all know Kaye, the man who had his feature film debut, American History X, taken away from him and edited into a modern classic. Kaye’s been working since then, but this is his return to narrative features. Even critics who don’t fully embrace his Adrien Brody-starring film seem to respect Kaye’s intentions. Those who love Detachment declare it an ambitious piece of art. Whether you come to love it or hate it, Detachment should make for a unique experience.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Opens March 16th.

As usual, I agree with the site’s eccentric genius Kate Erbland that the Duplass brothers knocked it out of the park when it comes to Jeff, Who Lives at Home. As she put it, only “audiences who hate joy and whimsy will be straight-up displeased,” and that’s half true. Like the Duplass brothers previous films, they’re not afraid to have their characters act flawed, and when the moment calls for it, be straight up assholes or just act plain odd. They capture real and honest relationships and feelings, and that shows through best in Ed Helms and Jason Segel‘s lovely performances.

4:44 The Last Day on Earth 

Opens March 23rd.

Abel Ferrara + Willem Dafoe + apocalypse = should be interesting?

The Hunger Games

Opens March 23rd.

While everyone is sadly predicting the doom of John Carter, I believe The Hunger Games has a far better chance of failing to meet expectations, quality and box-office-wise. The trailers make this adaptation come off surprisingly small in scale and bland, but it does come from Gary Ross, the director behind the wonderfully sentimental Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. He knows drama, so the odds of him finding dramatic stakes in a story featuring kids having to kill each other is a good possibility. Yes, they’re iffy trailers, but Ross isn’t an iffy director. Hit or miss, it’ll be interesting to see if The Hunger Games lives up to all the “fan” hype.

The Raid: Redemption 

Opens March 23rd.

Many have already declared The Raid: Redemption as an action masterpiece, and that praise sums the film up nicely. It’s quick, brutal, funny, extreme, creative, and plain ‘ol awesome. This is a teenage boy’s fantasy idea of an action movie. There’s no bloat or lame girlfriend subplot; it’s 90 minutes of pure action heaven.

Goon

Opens March 30th.

Goon is a big leap ahead of Michael Dowse‘s Take Me Home Tonight. While that felt like a derivative coming of age story we’ve already seen, Goon manages to surpass its fellow genre entries. Despite not ever passing itself off as a satire, the Evan Goldberg and Jay Barauchel scripted comedy spins enough tropes to have a fresh vibe. There is no big championship game, but rather a bloody fight, a satisfying battle between Sean William Scott and Liev Schreiber, both doing very good work here. And, to much surprise, the film’s got a big heart.

Mirror Mirror

Opens March 30th.

The first trailer for Tarsem‘s kiddy family film was bad, inexcusably so. Even when I saw the trailer play for an audience full of children, they all seemed depressed and left in confusion by the end, which has been the general online consensus as well. However, a Tarsem film is still a Tarsem film. The visionary’s first big studio gig, Immortals, wasn’t the average sword and sandals movie. Mirror, Mirror, hopefully, will prove that ghastly trailer wrong. If the film does reflect its trailer, then this will go down as the must see disaster of the year.


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