Spring movie preview

January 21, 2018


Another year has arrived for those with either a passionate or simply passing interest in cinema. This Spring will bring more superheroes, more adventure and more novel adaptations than ever and I am here to run down what you can expect from each month starting in February.


Dr. Thomas Parham, a professor at Azusa Pacific University in California and is a one-time screenwriter for television, particularly with the naval drama “J.A.G.” as well as assistant to executive producer for the same show. He became a Hollywood insider in his time living and working in Los Angeles County.


Live action “Peter Rabbit” releases on Feb. 9 based on the beloved children stories by Beatrix Potter. Reception to the trailer has been negative and Dr. Parham agreed with the general reviews.


“I don’t remember Peter Rabbit being the kind of rascal as seen in the movie,” Dr. Parham said.


I felt he was acting more “Brer Rabbit” than anything else and based on what I have seen is more akin to a pretty awful Easter film with another CGI animated rabbit, Hop, the less said about that feature, the better.


Things get better with Marvel’s next motion picture “Black Panther” (Feb. 16), starring the first black superhero to grace comics. The two of us were much more excited about next month’s tent pole film with Dr. Parham stating that the film has had “the biggest presales for any Marvel movie” and was “looking forward to it”.


In March, large profile releases become numerous starting with Disney’s adaptation of the acclaimed children’s novel “A Wrinkle in Time” (March 9). This is where our excitement diverged with Mr. Parham having read the novel growing up and I myself never have nor particularly want to do so. The trailer, featuring Oprah Winfrey, Mugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine did not sway my mind.


Due to his affection for the source material, Parham was kinder in opinion, noting the “interesting choice to make the lead girl, Meg Murray, mixed race, between Pine’s and Mbatha-Raw’s as the father and mother, and that was a cool choice.” While I remained ambivalent about the upcoming film and its time travel/science fiction machinations, Parham believes it is long overdue.


We went back to agreeing in our disdain for the new “Tomb Raider” (March 16), based upon the gritty 2013 reboot game starring Alicia Vakandar as Lara Croft. My interviewee summed up his feelings for the new one by stating he “hated the first one”, referring to Angelina Jolie’s take from 2001. I at best, am ambivalent on the project, coming down to three things: not being a big fan of the game series, not being sold on the trailer and being aware of the seemingly unstoppable curse of video game movies being terrible. That being said, good luck Lara on your new expedition. She’ll need it.


Next in line is the sequel I hoped would happen but was unsure of due to the shaky financial success of the original, “Pacific Rim Uprising” (March 23). America’s own cinematic take on the Japanese genre of Mecha (giant robots piloted by humans) returns with Stephan DeKnight (“Spartacus, Daredevil”) replacing creator Guillermo del Toro for the director’s chair.


John Boyega of “Star Wars” fame replacing Charlie Hunnam of “Sons of Anarchy” fame for the lead character. The sequel’s existence can be explained by the overseas success the original had as Dr. Parham explained and is glad to see it happening. If it works again and better this time around, perhaps the giant robots, Jaegers as referred to in the film, can get to fight against or alongside Godzilla and King Kong someday. We can dream.


Capping off March is Spielberg’s ambitious adaptation of Ernest Kline’s “Ready Player One” (March 30). Featuring a universe both with virtual reality taken to its logical extreme and hopefully an endless gauntlet of pop culture references from just about everywhere, this could be the “Roger Rabbit” of our time.


“The Player One” evokes the tone “young adult” has set off some warning bells for myself though Parham was “curious, understanding that many of my friends are excited for it.” He doesn’t know much beyond the basic premise though we both express some hope of a picture like “Ready Player One” working in the end.


April, with the year-long delay of Fox’s “The New Mutants,” becomes a less busy or important month for the movies. Most notably for what it’s worth, is “Rampage” (April 20), based off the long running arcade game series from the 80s. Starring Dwayne Johnson as a gamekeeper whose gorilla friend, alongside a wolf and crocodile have become giant monsters that, well, rampage. Out of all the video games left to attempt adaptation, this one leaves me more so than Mr. Parham, flabbergasted, but who knows what the Rock is cooking up for this one?


May brings the year’s most anticipated film “Avengers Infinity War” (May 4). Not much to say from either myself or Dr. Parham other than we share the basic consensus of huge excitement and giddiness for Marvel’s biggest film ever. We discussed who could possibly die, considering the large cast, having “war” in the title, and reinforcing the threat of the movie’s titanic antagonist, Thanos.


Based on what I could tell from the first preview, superheroes like the android Vision, Spider-man and Iron Man seemed to be in the most trouble, though it could be misleading marketing. If I had to make a bet, the two most likely candidates are the Vision due to him literally wearing a plot device on his head, making him a prime target and Iron Man, as having the character which launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe take one for the team would be a harsh yet powerful moment for the franchise.



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