After multiple attempts, studios are still trying to make video game movies happen. Those who advocate for the next 8-bit adaptation are seen as being on a fool’s errand. After all, there have only been two decent — a term that is being used loosely— video game movies: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Warcraft: The Beginning. The former remains the benchmark and the latter is an interesting misfire. With the return of Miss Croft and the legendary director Steven Spielberg taking the reins of another, is the video game movie going to have its moment?
Before we get there though, we must talk about Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian spy. Reuniting with her Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence, Red Sparrow (1st Mar) is a tale of sex, intrigue and violence as J-Law’s “sparrow” falls for her target, an American photographer (Joel Edgerton). Jeremy Irons, Matthias Schoenaerts and Charlotte Rampling offer solid support in this twisted tale of one-upmanship.
The definition of midnight madness movie is Mom and Dad (9th Mar), a film where Nic Cage tries killing his kids. For some bizarre plot reason, the parents of a suburban town start offing their offspring and that’s all you really need to know. Just go for Nic Cage going full on crazy after stepping on a piece of lego.
When You Were Never Really Here (9th Mar) debuted in Cannes, many held their breath hoping Lynne Ramsay would deliver another knockout. She didn’t disappoint with her story about a hitman (Joaquin Phoenix) trying to save a prostitute. The director has laced the film with her usual poetry and has turned into a stunning meditation on the impact of violence and its representation.
A week later, Tomb Raider (16th Mar), the newest adventure from professional plunderer Lara Croft, will probably be a bit more trigger-happy. Academy-Award winner Alicia Vikander plays the heroine who, after the death of her father (Dominic West), has the fate of humanity in her hands. It’s deliciously pulpy and, in blockbuster tradition, is filled with actors who are probably overqualified for the material. Vikander has the chops to pull this off and with Nick Frost in a comedic supporting role, Lara might end the video game curse.
Another different type of female hero rises soon after in A Wrinkle In Time (23rd Mar). Meg (Storm Reid) is a young girl searching for her father (Chris Pine). After three celestial beings (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling) reveal to Meg her destiny is to save the universe, she goes on an adventure with her super-smart brother (Deric McCabe) and friend Calvin (Levi Miller) throughout all of space and time. Madeleine L’Engle’s book is an epic tale told with intimacy. Hopefully, on-form director Ava DuVerney captures the story’s heart and soul, giving young girls a new heroine to route for.
When young girls grow up, their parents have to deal with the consequences of puberty. Blockers (30th Mar) revolves around three parents (John Cena, Lesley Mann and Ike Barinholtz) trying to stop their daughters losing their virginities. Kay Cannon, the writer behind the Pitch Perfect trilogy, is making her directorial debut, and if all goes well, we could have another Neighbours 2 on our hands. John Cena is in the process of pulling a Dwayne Johnson and if Trainwreck is anything to go by, he could steal the show in his first comedic lead performance.
When Wes Anderson made Fantastic Mr. Fox, many wondered if his precise style would translate into animation. The result was one of the best animated films of the noughties. Nine years later, he returns with Isle of Dogs (30th Mar). When a young boy arrives on the island searching for his lost pet, the canines team up and help him find his lost best buddy. Whimsical and witty, this looks like unfiltered Wes Anderson, and after delivering two of his best films recently with Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel, that is something to look forward to.
From one director with a unique style to another. Steven Spielberg, who released The Post two months ago, returns to blockbusters with Ready Player One (30th Mar). Spielberg tackles his own mythology with the story of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a working-class kid who is on an easter egg hunt through the virtual reality simulator known as the OASIS. The fate of free will rests on his shoulders. If he fails his quest, the world falls into the hands of an evil corporation embodied by Ben Mendelsohn. Based on the famously nerdy book, Spielberg can abandon the poor prose and deal with the addictive narrative. He has created a visually vibrant movie by blending live action and motion capture. Will he save video game movies?