Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Movie Preview (April 2011)

Family-oriented fare mixes in with more adult-oriented sequels in a busy April release schedule. Several of the movies have the potential to become solid hits, but the crowded field could limit their box-office impact.

“Source Code”

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Directed by Duncan Jones

A military airman finds himself part of a government experiment designed to allow him to briefly take over the identity of another person. He’s instructed to find a bomber on board a commuter train in the hopes of preventing an upcoming attack in Chicago. The science fiction slant on the material should work well with director Jones, who previously helmed the very good sci-fi drama “Moon.” (April 1)

Starring James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins and Hugh Laurie
Directed by Tim Hill

The teenage son of the Easter Bunny decides to head to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming a drummer, only to be hit by a car driven by an unemployed slacker. He then takes the rabbit in, unaware of what he’s getting into. The live-action/CGI hybrid is certainly smart to capitalize on its pre-Easter release date. (April 1)

“Your Highness”
Starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones, Damian Lewis
Directed by David Gordon Green

This comedy is a bit of a reunion between “Pineapple Express” director Green and two of that film’s stars (McBride and Franco), with the actors portraying brothers who embark on a quest to save their father’s kingdom. They are joined along the way by a warrior princess (Oscar-winner Portman), with very little likely to be historically accurate. Then again, that’s not really the point of a movie like this. (April 8)

Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Geraldine James, Luis Guzman and Jennifer Garner
Directed by Jason Winer

While the initial thought of a remake of the excellent 1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli held little promise, perhaps some judgment should be reserved, as this film at least looks to be avoiding a scene-for-scene retread. Oscar-winner Mirren takes over the role of the billionaire playboy’s butler (for which John Gielgud won an Academy Award of his own). (April 8)

“Scream 4”
Starring David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere
Directed by Wes Craven

Picking up a decade after the last film’s action, the fourth film in the “Scream” franchise brings back the main trio of stars for another run-in with the Ghostface Killer. Killings start again in town when Sidney Prescott (Campbell) returns to promote a new book of hers. Filmmakers are reportedly looking at releasing another two films in the series if this one is successful. (April 15)

Starring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx, Jemaine Clement, George Lopez
Directed by Carlos Saldanha

The creators of the “Ice Age” franchise are back with more talking computer-animated animals, with this story focusing on a rare species of macaw who heads to Rio de Janiero to follow another macaw to win her heart. Having tapped into great success with the “Ice Age” films, its likely that these birds should be flying high at the box office throughout the rest of the spring movie season. (April 15)

“Water for Elephants”
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook
Directed by Francis Lawrence

The popular historical novel of the same name by Sara Gruen gets adapated for the big screen with “Twilight” star Pattinson playing the part of a veterinary student who, after a personal tragedy, decides to work for a circus as a veterinarian. It’s there that he falls for an equestrian star (Witherspoon), the wife of a charismatic, yet cruel animal trainer (Waltz). The book has a passionate following which should equate to a strong audience turnout, provided it remains fairly faithful to its source material. That would probably sound like a familiar statement to Pattinson, who knows plenty of trying to please a ravenous fan base. (April 22)

“Fast Five”
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Dwayne Johnson
Directed by Justin Lin

Proving there may be no end to an action movie franchise that already had a thin premise to start with, “Fast Five” marks the fifth entry in what started as “The Fast and the Furious.” The central stars, Diesel and Walker, are joined by another tough action star (Johnson, portraying an FBI agent) on the trail of the street racing crew. Fair warning: A sixth film in the series is already under development. (April 29)