What to Expect This Spring at the Movies

It can't be the Spring season without the usual array of films, all from the explosive to the intriguing. While it may be a bit more anticlimactic than the summer, which churns out some of the best (and worst) in cinema, the Springtime is known for its memorable blockbusters that struggle to see who comes out on top. Following the much-acclaimed Oscar season of American sharpshooters and boyhoods, this Spring holds great promise, as well as great disappointment, as films like Avengers: Age of Ultron reign supreme, and lacking comedies bite the dust. In anticipation for this fresh season of cinema, here are some things to expect this Spring at the theater:   

The Return of Our Favorite Teams:

Avengers: Age of Ultron- You can't start your movie-going season without mentioning this megastar and all of its growing anticipation. Whether you're a superhero fan or not, the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is sure to bring people of all ages to the theater seats, promising even more explosive excitement than 2012's breakthrough blockbuster. Probably my most anticipated film of this year, with Star Wars and Mad Max not far behind, Age of Ultron looks to be Marvel's darkest film so far, with an even darker antagonist set to bring the superpowered team out of their comfort zone and into the toughest battle yet. Expect deadly robots, frightening surprises, and a good amount of teasing cameos in one of this year's biggest films.

Before Cap and Iron Man duke it out in Civil War, the team faces their biggest foe yet

Furious 7- A continuation of the acclaimed series of fast cars and over-exaggerated stunts, Fast and Furious 7 aka Furious 7 travels down the same road we've been down for the last three films, with Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his motley crew of ex-cops, bulky military men, and sexy female bad-asses struggling to evade high-speed danger. Having defeated the villainous Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in a fiery plane battle in their last installment, this time...it's basically the same thing. Fortunately, with fellow car-speeding bad-ass Jason Statham joining the mix as Shaw's no-good brother Ian, this next installment of the drawn-out, yet always star-studded, franchise can bring back the high-octane thrills the films used to have.
One final ride with the late Paul Walker is enough to draw me back into this fast-paced series

Pitch Perfect 2- Sequel to the musical breakout film of 2012, with enough beat-boxing and Rebel Wilson to give you a headache, Pitch Perfect 2 reunites the team of A cappella pros as Beca (Anna Kendrick) and Fat Amy (Wilson) compete through their senior year at Barden University. With Pitch Perfect star Elizabeth Banks taking up the reins as director this time, and it somewhat appearing to be of similar comedic levels of the last film, this singing sequel may or may not hit the right note in the end. But sure enough, expect more hilarious hi-jinks from Kendrick, Wilson, and the rest of the gang, as well as some on-par musical stylings.      

Violence, Explosions, and More Liam Neeson:

Mad Max: Fury Road- His world is fire and blood. His life is lonesome and dangerous. His name...is Mad Max. In the much-anticipated, and very much surprising, continuation/reboot of George Miller's desolate tale of one man's struggle to own the road in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy, replacing Mel Gibson in the role) is forced to join up with a skillful imperator, Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and her band of psychotic desert riders. Fleeing from a ruthless warlord out for blood and revenge, this band of misfits dives into a battle of rugged road war and fiery mayhem as the hidden chaos of these peaceful grounds is quickly, and violently, revealed. Not being very familiar with the previous films of this series, them being before my time, I'm excited to jump into this new world of Mad Max, and hopefully immerse myself in the past films' gritty glory someday soon. Expected to be one of this year's most explosive films, just by looking at the beautiful trailer, Fury Road looks to ignite the summer season right with its immense heat. 

The Gunman- Taking cues from Liam Neeson's revenge series Taken, Sean Penn returns to the screen in yet another violent book adaptation to make it to the theater. Playing a former Special Forces operative who now suffers from PTSD in a film where he must clear his name in whatever way possible, you can already see where this one's going. The usual action-thriller with a troubled protagonist, as well as a kidnapped family member/lover, The Gunman looks to be both cliché and, in contrast, quite intriguing. Yes, while it may be the Taken 5 nobody wants or needs, the cast looks promising, as well as the action, with Idris Elba and Javier Bardem matching wits with a spry Sean Penn. In the end, don't expect this one to be a box-office hit, but more or less a sleeper thriller like last year's The November Man.
Returning from the depths of the LA gang world, Sean Penn takes
another swing at action thrillers 

Run All Night- When speaking of famous aging action stars, you can't go without bringing up the man himself, Liam Neeson. Tossing out his usual Neeson thriller of the year, past examples ranging from three mediocre Taken films to other shoot-em-ups on planes and in eerie graveyards, Neeson takes to the streets this time as a conflicted father on the run. Alongside the new RoboCop Joel Kinnaman and fellow aging actor Ed Harris, Neeson shoots and threatens his way through another dreary action-thriller. While Neeson may be able to churn out more cash in the box office than Sean Penn, don't expect a whole lot from this one, as it pulls from the bag of clichés and delivers yet another Springtime firefight.   

Liam Neeson's sure got some major problems with his on-screen kids

Robopocalypse (Unfortunately Not the Book):

Chappie- As the science fiction genre continues to thrive in movies, you could say director Neill Blomkamp has all but mastered the incredible art of bringing the imaginative and unreal to the big screen. Diving back into the world of robotics after two somewhat successful flicks involving everything from aliens to exoskeletons, Blomkamp brings the growing matter of how robotics affect the lives of human beings (and vise versa) to light. With Chappie, Blomkamp dwells on the injustices and consequences that can occur if we, as a species, are not careful about what we create. Along with that, he also delivers a hopeful story of a benevolent robot, that is ultimately conflicted by the underlying problems the government is pushing onto him. A director of both artistic and methodical design, Blomkamp's films may not reign in the box office, but do manage to deliver films that make you both think and stare in awe.  

Ex Machina- Dark and gloomy as ever, Ex Machina also focuses on the topic of robotics, this time dwelling not on their ability to sway governments or shoot a gun, but rather their ability to seduce. Telling of a young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is selected to participate in evaluating the human functions of a mysterious female artificial intelligence, Ex Machina dives into the dark recesses of robotics and human nature. While the plot might sound simple enough, the story only gets more involving as you go deeper, with the protagonist soon unveiling the hidden horrors behind the seductive A.I., as well as her mysterious creator (Oscar Isaac). While it may not be the loudest and most talked-about film this Spring, this gripping sci-fi thriller may be one to watch if you're a fan of gloomy sleeper films like this. 

Dark premise, eerie robots, and an odd cast of fresh faces...Count me in!

More of the Usual Dumb Comedies:

Get Hard- With every Spring season, there's always the usual buddy-cop type film that manages to present a mix of vulgar hi-jinks with hilarious outcomes. While there have been numerous team-ups ranging from Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy to Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in the past, this Spring, the ultimate team-up between the comedy king and prince of Hollywood arrives. In Get Hard, Will Ferrell returns from his fan-favorite Anchorman series to play millionaire manager James King, who is abruptly convicted of fraud and sentences to 10 years in prison. Scared out of his life, he enlists in Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) to teach him the ways of survival in prison. An eccentric businessman himself, who has never actually been to prison in his life, Darnell does whatever it takes to help King "get hard" for a life behind bars. One of the more promising of the dumb comedies of this season, Get Hard pairs two of the biggest comedy stars as partners in crime, hoping to bring outrageous hilarity in this somewhat intriguing plot. With Hart dominating the comedy scene with his numerous flicks from Ride Along to this year's The Wedding Ringer, there's no doubt fans of the short-but-loud comedian will fill the theater seats, along with fans of Ferrell's classic vulgar hilarity.       

Two actors struggling to keep their comedy careers afloat...Seems like the perfect team to me!

Spy- With the director of Bridesmaids and The Heat behind this one, you can already expect it to have the bumbling yet hilarious Melissa McCarthy at the head of it all, before you even watch the trailer. And after you watch the trailer, you can already expect how this film might turn out. With a deadly cast of Jude Law and Jason Statham joining McCarthy and fellow Bridesmaid actress Rose Byrne in this comedic ride through the world of espionage and bad disguises, Spy is like the sequel to 2008's Get Smart that we never wanted. Tossing in a mix of spy antics and the usual McCarthy physical humor, Spy looks promising enough to wait and see on DVD.
Can a team of bad-ass Brits like Statham and Law save this dreary spy parody?

Unfinished Business- The last comedy worth mentioning is the all-business film about a deal gone awry, ultimately leading to some not-so-professional outcomes. Starring a cast from young to old and everything in-between, Unfinished Business pits hard-working businessmen (Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco) against one unexpected business trip for the ages. From sex fetish events to massive global summits, this trio of mediocre comedic actors travels across Europe in hopes of both closing a huge business deal, and also delivering a decent comedy to movie-goers. While it's not at the top of my list for most-anticipated comedies of the year, Unfinished Business may end up surprising me, as it promises a wild ride through Europe and also more stupid antics by Neighbors star Dave Franco (who has a bit less comedic skill than his brother in The Interview).     

An odd assortment indeed: A serious actor who might surprise us, a youngster with
only a few film credits to his name, and a comedic actor who's still trying to impress us

Romantic Dramas, Both Suspenseful and Supernatural:

Focus- Continuing down the road of con men and seductive heist jobs, like past films from Ocean's Eleven to American Hustle (among many others), Focus brings the ever-smooth Will Smith back into the game of good filmmaking, and also reignites the heist genre for another year of surprises. Also starring newcomer Margot Robbie, a wickedly talented rising actress who has crossed wits with other great actors like Leonardo DiCarprio, Focus pits future Suicide Squad costars Smith and Robbie against a world of dangerous trickery and deadly outcomes, before they go up against superheroes in the 2016 DC Comics tale. With a seductively intriguing premise that promises both high-stakes and sparks to fly, Focus may not have an all-star cast of hustlers, but it does have two stars who can definitely deliver the goods.   

Before they become Deadshot and Harley Quinn, this duo tackles the tricks of the trade

Serena- In the midst of dark deception and shadowed crimes, there arises another amazing duo of actors to bring another intriguing tale to the big screen. More in the high ranks than Will Smith (well almost) or Margot Robbie, these two have starred in numerous award-worthy films, from Silver Linings Playbook to American Hustle. That's right, I'm talking about the duo of Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Reuniting here as a North Carolinian couple in the Depression era, Lawrence and Cooper bring what looks to be very interesting performances, nothing I've ever seen them do together. However, entangled in a confusing story about revenge and the sins of marriage, the duo's performances may be over-shadowed by a lacking tale. Whichever way this one might go, I hope that this reuniting of these two fantastic actors is worth the money and the time.

Period looks, smooth accents, and conflicted romance might not be able to save this fleeting tale

Cinderella- A modern retelling of the classic Disney story, you could say Cinderella simply waves a magic wand and transforms the famous animated tale into a live-action replica. That's basically true, however, it is also a much-needed retelling of a fundamental and timeless lesson. The lesson that you can do whatever you put your mind to, no matter what kind of adversity you meet, has been a transcending focus of many Cinderella-type tales, dating back to the times before animation and filmmaking. While this new retelling may just be the magic of the Disney cartoon put to live-action, it remains to hold the underlying lesson that appeals to everyone, not just girls seeking fairy-tale wonder. So, while I don't expect much from this rehash of dark fairy-tale storytelling, I do expect this film to appeal to the ones who have never seen the original animation, nor have been changed by this important message that still holds true today.    

Even with an over-used story and eye for the over-dramatic,
the visuals might be one happy ending in this fairy tale

Sequels to Films We Didn't Entirely Love:

Insurgent- Returning for more futuristic action and even more teen romance, Insurgent brings back Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), and their gang of teenage soldiers to continue this young-adult series. Not being a huge fan of the first film (partly because I didn't read the series and partly because it wasn't that good), at first I wasn't all that excited for the much-anticipated sequel. Now, however, with the acclaimed Hunger Games franchise coming to an end this November, and the lacking Maze Runner series not all that impressive so far, I feel that I might have to start rooting for someone. While this overly-hyped sequel may not be my first choice to see this March, competing against the likes of action-thrillers and fairy tales, its massive teen and adult fanbase will surely accumulate a lot of revenue in the box office.

Maybe if I read the books, I might actually enjoy this series...Might.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2- After one hopeful bout at spoofing the lives of mall cops, which ultimately turned into a low-key cult film with a lovable protagonist with hilarious hi-jinks, Kevin James takes a break from his usual lame comedies to usher in the return of another lame comedy. Returning as the ever-lovable and gullible mall cop who we came to love (or hate) in the first film, James enlists again in cringe-worthy humor and his own physical hilarity to churn even more money out of this laughable sequel. While I may have been a fan of his antics back in 2009, him with his trusty Segway and all, now it just looks like a stunt to squeeze all that they can out of the character.

Well, there you have it, a gracious rundown of some of the things you can expect this Spring as a moviegoer. From explosive superhero excitement and high-speed thrills to comical try-hards and romance galore, this pre-summer season is packed with as much anticipation and promise as ever. Whatever films you may or may not see in these coming months, expect both the unexpected and the cliché as you immerse yourself in another year of daring (and lacking) filmmaking. And always remember to come back here or follow for more movie reviews, discussions, and the latest trailers for the latest films.    

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