Most-Anticipated Spring Films: From Superhero Face-Offs to Nonsensical Thrillers

With yet another Spring season coming our way -- following a bit of somewhat delayed winter weather here on the East Coast -- we can soon forget about all the snow that buried us (or still is burying us), and take in a plethora of exciting new films coming in the next few months. From superhero monsters like Dawn of Justice and Civil War to a gracious collection of sequels and cryptic thrillers, this Spring sparks our first glimpse at what 2016 has to offer from its biggest, and most-anticipated releases:  

War is Coming, and It's Super:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice - Aiming to be the Star Wars of 2016 -- or more like the Deadpool of 2016 --  and tackle every box-office record with its powerful superhero face-off, DC's Dawn of Justice already has many fans on the fence on whether or not the film will live up to the hype. While it does mark the first time famous comic-book heroes Superman and Batman meet on the live-action screen, controversy has surrounded this film ever since it was announced. With long-time superhero and comic fans still clamoring to see this film opening night, many remain hesitant about the film's casting and plot choices. Nevertheless, this legendary sequel-of-sorts to 2013's Man of Steel will surely be a huge weekend at the theater this March.   

Captain America: Civil War - Right on DC's tail with their own legendary face-off, Captain America: Civil War brings two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's biggest names together to wage a massive political war on one another. From the directors of 2014's massively successful Captain America: The Winter Soldier (who also aim to helm the third Avengers two-parter), Civil War takes us inside the conflict of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, as Rogers tries to retain his hero status as Captain America in light of his (and his comrades) actions going unrestricted by the government. Bringing together familiar faces like Bucky Barnes and Ant-Man, as well as some new faces like Black Panther and an all-new Spider-Man, Civil War may not follow the renowned comic-book storyline to its full extent, but this film will surely rely on both its massive star-power and political groundings to surprise us in May.  

X-Men: Apocalypse - After Deadpool took center-stage earlier this month, 20th Century Fox hopes to once more help people forget the trainwreck known as Fantastic Four by enlisting in their much more bankable team of superheroes, the X-Men. With Apocalypse taking us into the 1980s, where we'll find everything from young mutants who look very, very familiar to one giant mystical bad-ass known by many names, the much-anticipated sequel to 2014's Days of Future Past hopes to utilize its retooled timeline to get us back in line with the characters we know and love. With a stellar cast lined up to surprise us even more, from Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy's compelling takes on Professor X and Magneto to the film's newest villain played by the brilliant Oscar Isaac, X-Men: Apocalypse will surely hold the same (if not more) hype for me as the franchise's last installment.   

Typical Crude Comedies, and a Few Surprises:

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Much like Bill Murray traveled to the untamed turf of Afghanistan in last year's ill-fated music comedy, Rock the Kasbah, fellow comedian Tina Fey enters a world of trouble (and love) in March's Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Less slapstick and musically fueled than Murray's journey, the true tale of war correspondent Kim Barker (Fey), who travels to the Middle East for a government operation and finds both surprises and an odd love interest in a fellow journalist (Martin Freeman). Looking to be a fun ride, with witty comedy from Fey, Freeman, and Margot Robbie, as well as a promising plot of an outsider who finds a home where she wouldn't expect it, hopefully Fey's attempt will fare better than Murray's.   

The Nice Guys - Quite reminiscent of Shane Black's surprisingly entertaining buddy-cop thriller Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys retools Black's idea with both a 1970s vibe and a duo you wouldn't expect to see in a film like this. With Black back in the director's chair -- following his last venture into the superhero world with 2013's Iron Man 3 -- and stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe leading the show, The Nice Guys could be Black's way of giving fans a sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Telling of a missing persons and murder investigation that are seemingly unrelated, which ultimately unites the two leading men, the film looks like it could have a very similar tone to Bang Bang, hopefully packing in just as much action and wit.

The Boss - From the usual people behind every Melissa McCarthy comedy, this time including the actress' own husband, The Boss again throws McCarthy into an eccentric role with an even more eccentric wig on her head. Playing businesswoman Michelle Darnell, who is suddenly arrested for insider trading and must recreate her image after being released, McCarthy once again employs her famous crude and undeniably enjoyable comedic style. Before she teams up with Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon in July's reboot of Ghostbusters, McCarthy plans to deliver (hopefully) yet another crude and hilarious hit like last year's Spy. With hope, this one won't end like Ben Falcone's last film with his wife in 2014's Tammy.
Keanu - From the hilarious guys behind Comedy Central's sketch-comedy hit Key and Peele, and starring the show's dynamic duo, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, the odd and simplistic tale of Keanu seems to rely mostly on its star-power to fuel the hype for the film. Telling of a kitten who is kidnapped from his beloved owner Rell (Peele) and his pal Clarence (Key), Keanu tosses us a generic and simpleminded comedy...which could actually be pretty damn good. Capturing the attention of millions with their satirical and sometimes controversial hit series, the duo of Key and Peele might be able to hold their own on the big-screen platform, relying on their crazed antics and sharp writing to make this film a sleeper hit this April.    

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - While I'm usually not very fond of comedy sequels, especially if they're either unneeded or they involve singing chipmunks, the much-anticipated follow-up to 2014's Neighbors could end up being a surprise hit for fans of the last film. Continuing the troubles of suburban parents Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne), who suddenly find out they live again next to a hoard of college partiers, Sorority Rising packs in the similar crude and over-exaggerated antics of comedy alumni Seth Rogen and freshman Zac Efron from the first installment, along with a plentiful amount of new faces like Selena Gomez and ChloĆ« Grace Moretz.   

Animated Antics and Outdated Apps:

Zootopia - The first of many bright and shiny new animated flicks to hit theaters this year, Disney's Zootopia hopes to ignite similar wonder and entertainment as last year's Inside Out, as it imagines a world where animals rule the metropolis atmosphere. Intriguing and undoubtedly setting up for some hilarious antics as we see animals running around in human roles, Zootopia could be a hit, which isn't very surprising from the annual Disney features we get. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll be seeing any humans in cages, screaming "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" We'll just have wait til the next Planet of the Apes film.

The Jungle Book- One of the more intriguing reboots of the new year, with a powerful cast and a unique CGI platform that will hopefully look like something out of 2009's Avatar, Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book takes the memorable 1967 Disney flick and retools it for an older audience. Looking to be a bit more dark and realistic, much like author Rudyard Kipling's original tale, this reboot looks like it could have the potential to be at least an enjoyable spectacle to watch. Hopefully not going down the same route as last year's Pan -- the Peter Pan remake that was both dry in plot and poor in execution -- the fantastic cast and decent animation behind The Jungle Book could save it from the typical reboot bashing.

The Angry Birds Movie - Just as reboots populate the unvarying avenues of Hollywood today, so do the typical and mostly unoriginal flicks hoping to capitalize on the fans of popular video games, books, and even apps. While the occasional book adaptation fares well among its fans, films based around video games or apps tend not to do so well. This year, with Hollywood hoping to squeeze all the remaining money out of the popular mobile game, Angry Birds, we're getting The Angry Birds Movie. Pushing somewhat of a plot into the game concept, I don't know what to make of this film right now. While it could end up being a typical summer hit -- with the appeal of the game bringing in younger fans -- it could also be quite lackluster, the adaptation offering little in terms of originality or unique animation.   

Vague and Mysterious Thrillers, Just How I Love 'Em:

Midnight Special - From the director of the unexpectedly-good Mud and looking almost like a Christopher Nolan project, the ever-ambiguous Midnight Special conjures up a plethora of thoughts just from its minute-and-a-half trailer. The premise surrounding a gifted boy who must prevent the government from putting his abilities to use for harm or otherwise, this mysterious thriller packs in not only an curious plot, but also a dynamic array of characters, played by some of my favorite actors. From Joel Edgerton to Adam Driver, the cast could be just enough to get me behind this vague March release.  

Knight of Cups - Yet another confusing project with a top-tier cast, Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups employs the director's profound and experimental technique of filmmaking, while also utilizing a phenomenal cast including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Antonio Banderas, and Natalie Portman. Telling the non-linear and visually-evocative tale of a screenwriter (Bale) struggling to comprehend the events occurring around him, from the death of his brother to his obsession with the overindulgence Hollywood provides for him, Knight of Cups hopes to do what every Malick project does: display a cautious yet conscious investigation into the issues of the world we never really think much about.    

High-Rise - Much like Knight of Cups offers an obscure yet self-reflective peek inside the human nature, High-Rise takes the mysterious classic novel by J.G. Ballard and turns it into a visual journey with thrilling outcomes. Telling of a young doctor (Tom Hiddleston), who suddenly becomes entranced by the idea of the innovative building design of the high-rise in the 1970s, High-Rise tackles not only social issues like class injustice and political corruption, but also how these issues affect human society as a whole. With masterful actors like Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, and The Following's James Purefoy leading the cast, I surely hope for the chance to see this mesmerizing thriller in theaters this Spring.   

Tantalizing Biopics You Didn't Expect:

Elvis & Nixon - Telling of the acclaimed meeting between the famous "King of Rock n' Roll" Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon in 1970s, Elvis & Nixon enlists in two of the biggest stars in Hollywood today to explore this unexpected biographical comedy. Hoping to mix Kevin Spacey's stern but dramatic acting as he tackles yet another President on-screen (following his own Frank Underwood on Netflix's House of Cards), with Michael Shannon's flamboyant portrayal of the rock star Elvis, this film may look somewhat dry on both plot and wit, but it could end up being one of the more humorous biopics we've gotten lately.

Snowden - On a more serious note, another biopic we're getting this Spring is the much-anticipated investigation into the life of ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked classified government intel from the National Security Agency. Branded a plethora of titles, everything from traitor to patriot, Snowden's story hitting the big-screen seems both unforeseen and also quite essential, as the tale has captivated America for the past two years. Uncovering the origins of the infamous programmer, from his days in the United States Army Reserve to his flight to Moscow, where he hoped to isolate himself from the world, Snowden looks like it could be as good as 2013's The Fifth Estate, a similar political thriller that was a sleeper hit in my eyes.

Miles Ahead - A surprising biopic that just dropped its trailer just this month, Miles Ahead takes on the life of jazz musician Miles Davis, a musician I neither know nor ever really cared much about. But now, with a quite courageous Don Cheadle starring in his own directed film about the artist, and a favorite of mine, Ewan McGregor, set to star alongside him, this unexpected peek into Davis' life and legacy might be able to offer up some much-needed knowledge for an uninitiated fan like me. Hoping to elicit some strong performances from both Cheadle and McGregor, as well as a foot-tapping musical score behind it, I have high hopes for this intriguing musical biopic.    

What films are you most excited to see this Spring? Did I miss any good ones in my list? Let me know in the comment section below, and stay tuned for more reviews coming soon!

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