With the passing of the Academy Awards, a new year of film begins. Although the spring tends to be a generally weak season prior to the summer season of blockbusters, there are a couple of flicks worth a trip to the local theatre.
To kick off the year, fans of the Broadway musical “Wicked,” and the 1939 classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” will be flocking to theaters this weekend for “Oz the Great and Powerful,” starring James Franco (“127 Hours”) as the title character: Oz. The cast also includes Mila Kunis (“Ted”), Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Bourne Legacy”) as witches trying to help Franco determine whether he is the all-powerful leader this fantasy land so desperately seeks.
In addition to this unofficial prequel, Franco will return to the screen later this month with the release of “Spring Breakers,” in theaters March 22. Franco plays a bawdy arms dealer seeking the help of four college girls to perform dirty work with the experience of their criminal record. The film includes former Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez (“Monte Carlo”) and Vanessa Hudgens (“Sucker Punch”) in risque roles. For Franco, the two films could not be more different despite their close releases.
Also scheduled for release March 22 is “Admission,” starring Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) and Paul Rudd (“This is 40”). Fey plays Portia, the enemy of all high school seniors: an admissions officer for Princeton University. Just as she is eligible for promotion, Portia finds herself considering an application from a chapter of her past she previously thought was closed.
While renowned for her work on television, Fey has made a distinct presence in the film industry with “Baby Mama,” “Date Night” and the high school classic “Mean Girls.” Let’s not also forget her comical and brilliant performance earlier this year with Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”) at the Golden Globes. “Admission” should be one of the more serious films to consider this month.
Earlier this year, Ryan Gosling (“Crazy, Stupid, Love”) was a follower of the law in the crime film “Gangster Squad.” Now he will instigate crime in “The Place Beyond the Pines.” Gosling plays Luke, a young father who puts his days of performing motorcycle stunts behind him to pursue a career robbing banks in order to provide for his family. For the film, Gosling teamed up with director Derek Cianfrance for a second time after their work together on indie-gem “Blue Valentine,” for which Gosling gave an award-winning performance.
This new film also includes additional renowned cast members Eva Mendes (“The Other Guys”), Rose Byrne (“Bridesmaids”) and Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”) as ambitious officer Avery Cross trying to chase Gosling’s character down. The film received critical acclaim during its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and should perform well during its theatrical release March 29.
Also set to release the same day are a couple of fan-base films including “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” the second film in the series after the release of the first in 2009. The film stars Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike”) as the official Captain Duke Hauser. This sequel also brings even more physical strength and man-power than the first with the inclusion of stars Bruce Willis (“A Good Day to Die Hard”) and Dwayne Johnson (“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”). The fans of the G.I. Joe series will have to determine whether it’s too much to have People’s Sexiest Man of the Year, John McClane and “The Rock” all in the same film.
Additionally for those few, still-remaining “Twilight” fans out there, the written works of Stephanie Meyer return March 29 with the release of “The Host.” The film stars Saoirse Ronan (“Hanna”) as Melanie, whose soul has been taken over by an outside host destined to take over Earth. However, she embraces this host as a partner and attempts to save the planet, rather than destroy it. In Melanie’s mission to save her race, she finds romance along the way.
With the conclusion of the awards season, gone are the films on historical events in United States history, abandoned life boats and ballroom dancing. However, this month offers all audiences a variety of films.