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April Movie Preview 2012

We know what you're thinking: shouldn't it be summer movie season already? With some impeccable weather in early spring and the promo materials for The Avengers mounting, it's nothing to be embarrassed about if your cinematic libido is nearly in full swing unseasonably early.

So if the urge to fly to your nearest movie theater cannot be suppressed until then, allow us to at least give you a heads up about what April offerings might hold you over until the merry month of May, when we will unload our Summer Movie Preview 2012 upon you.

Apr. 6

Titanic 3D (Now Playing)

As sure as my heart will go on, James Cameron and company have brought their epic historical fiction romance back for another theatrical run—in 3D. Titanic was a total game changer, winning 11 Oscars on its way to becoming the number one movie of all time, only to be eclipsed by its very writer and director 12 years later.

Why experience the 3D other than on the off chance Kate Winslet’s breasts are presented in RealD, you ask? Other than being a tragic love story capable of bewitching the tear ducts of women young and old to flow ceaselessly, many forget Cameron also brought his special effects magic to this Titanic, sinking the famous ship in extraordinary fashion, though of course not before filling it with water.

Expect as good of a conversion as possible with Cameron’s team behind it. And you can be sure there’s nothing like wearing cheap plastic glasses for 3 hours and 14 minutes. ~Steven

Titanic (1997)
Written and Directed by James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane


American Reunion

It’s been nine years since the last proper “American Pie” movie. Nine. In that time, we’ve been through a Republican and a Democratic presidential term, four Olympics and five “Harry Potter” films. And while there have been a handful of direct-to-DVD spin-offs to keep the franchise name alive, and make sure Eugene Levy gets a paycheck, we may be seeing the iconic franchise come to a close with American Reunion.

The guys and gals from the class of ’99 are back, converging on the town of East Great Falls once more, but now with the weight of real lives following them around. But the more things change, the more they stay the same, so expect plenty drugs, sex and pie for the whole gang, including returning stars Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan and Sean William Scott.

“Harold & Kumar” writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are responsible for this “last slice” of the iconic debauchery saga, handling both scripting and directing duties. Plot details are light, but the series has never been known for its grand narrative, so expect one last big hangout with your favorite characters (and some cameos), before the franchise gets put on ice. ~Sam

American Reunion
Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, Adam Herz (characters)
Starring Jason Biggs, Allyson Hannigan, Sean William Scott and Chris Klein



Damsels in Distress (Limited)

After making its rounds at the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, Damsels in Distress comes to theaters, and the early word is that Whit Stillman’s (The Last Days of Disco) film is an utterly charming, Woody Allen-esque comedy with a great cast.

That doesn’t sound so distressing. “Damsels” finds a trio of college girls played by Greta Gerwig (Greenberg) Carrie MacLemore (Gossip Girl) and Megalyn Echikunwoke (90210) who take a new girl (Crazy Stupid Love’s Analeigh Tipton) under their wing as they strive to change the male-dominated climate of the campus and right some wrongs along the way.

Stillman has not written or directed a film since 1998, but his filmography (which is only four movies strong) is quite acclaimed, the man having been nominated for a best screenplay Oscar for 1990’s Metropolitan. Gerwig is one of those actresses that will never become a household name but can always be counted on to turn in great performances with her blend of quirk, innocence and wryness. Like its lead, Damsels in Distress is never destined to become a breakout comedy, but if the buzz indicates anything it may be worth keeping an eye on those art-house theaters. ~Simon

Damsels in Distress
Written and Directed by Whit Stillman
Starring Greta Gerwig, Adam Brody, Analeigh Tipton, Megalyn Echikunwoke



Apr. 13

The Cabin in the Woods

A fantastic teaser poster, hugely positive word of mouth since its debut at South by Southwest (it is currently at 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and boasting talent to spare, success seems to be The Cabin in the Woods’ achievement to lose.

In this The Evil Dead/LOST hybrid, director Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) steps behind the camera instead of writing duties, which were performed by upcoming “Avengers” director Joss Whedon. Speaking of The Avengers, Thor’s Chris Hemsworth stars alongside a group of relative unknowns as the fear-stricken group of friends, and the great Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford also appear in supporting roles.

One thing that has been promised about The Cabin in the Woods is that it will be a cheeky spin on the typical teenagers-trapped-in-the-wilderness flick, though that isn’t to say things don’t start out very traditionally. Of course, we have a group of teens heading out to a cabin for a weekend of partying, cross paths with an ominous gas station attendant on the way and then things begin to go bump in the night. What makes this effort veer of course are its sci-fi elements, which promise government conspiracy/genetic testing and hungry mutant attackers.

This tongue-in-cheek horror experiment just looks too nifty to pass up. Although Whedon hasn’t had the best of luck keeping his television shows running, he is a man of many, many ideas now making his mark on the big screen. ~Simon

The Cabin in the Woods
Directed by Drew Goddard
Written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutcherson




In the world of action films, the president's daughter has been kidnapped countless times while prisoners just keep taking over their respective prisons. How can both motifs be made fun again? By throwing them together—in space.

This is the core of Lockout. The unappreciated Guy Pearce stars as Snow, a government agent wrongly convicted of conspiring against the United States. While he tries to clear his name, the president's daughter (Maggie Grace) travels to a specialized maximum-security prison circling the Earth and housing some of the most violent prisoners the world has to offer. During her visit the prisoners stage a revolt, taking control of the prison and forcing her into hiding. Back on Earth, Snow is offered the chance to clear his name if he can travel to the prison and get her out alive.

Pure escapism is what we can hope to get from Lockout. It has a solid lead in Pearce, capable producer/co-writer in Luc Besson (Taken, The Fifth Element) and is being put out (in part) by the same studio behind last year's Drive. The fact that it is a relatively low-budget ($30 million) sci-fi actioner adds a little flavor to the mix, and even if the effects are not as smooth as a Cameron film, low-budget effects films tend to do more with what they have. Or at least they go down trying. ~Max

Directed by James Mather and Stephen St. Leger
Written by Luc Besson, James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun



The Three Stooges

Peter and Bobby Farrelly have had a rough go of it lately. The guys who helped define comedy in the ‘90s with Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary are the folks today bringing you Hall Pass and The Heartbreak Kid. When they announced they were doing a “Three Stooges” movie, however, most ears perked up.

Although biopic jumped to mind, we overestimated them. Sitcom regulars Sean Hayes and Will Sasso along with unknown Chris Diamantopoulos were cast in a new “Stooges” film as Larry, Curly and Moe, respectively, names that weren’t Jim Carrey or Benicio Del Toro as previously rumored. The story revolves around the trio being raised by nuns and uncovering a murder plot.

“Stooge” humor still has a place in people’s hearts, but there’s no doubt the Farrellys are one of the last bastions for slapstick in modern comedy. If anyone is going to be true to the “Stooge” way, it’s these guys. Let’s just hope any dealings with Snookie of Jersey Shore were emphasized just to try and reach a younger crowd. ~Steven


The Three Stooges
Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Written by Mike Cerrone, Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, Will Sasso



Apr. 20

The Lucky One

Although it doesn’t feel like it, it’s been two years since we’ve seen a Nicholas Sparks adaptation on the big screen, the last being the Miley Cyrus-led romance The Last Song. The Lucky One sees a Marine (Zac Efron) returning from Iraq and seeking a woman (Taylor Schilling) he believes gave him good luck that saved his life during his time overseas.

We’re not expecting this adaptation to swoon the critics, but Sparks always succeeds with audiences: of the films that derive from his novels, the only one to make less than $50 million since 2005’s The Notebook was Nights in Rodanthe. Efron will need to be up to snuff, as his only dramatic effort was Charlie St. Cloud, which made about $30 million domestically and almost $50 million globally from a $44 million budget. Schilling is untested in regards to leading mainstream properties.

Perhaps this effort will see Efron making a breakthrough as an actor and as a box-office draw, but who knows? If nothing else, at least we might get some good work out of Blythe Danner as Schilling’s mother. After all, Jessica Lange did an admirable job with her brief role in the surprisingly worthwhile The Vow earlier this year. ~Julian

The Lucky One
Directed by Scott Hicks
Written by Will Fetters (screenplay); Nicholas Sparks (novel)
Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner



Think Like A Man

Similar to 2009’s ensemble comedy He’s Just Not That Into You and the upcoming What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Tim Story’s Think Like a Man derives loosely from a book giving advice of some sort (in this case about romance) and boasts an impressive ensemble cast that often reads like an issue of People. The source material itself is present in the film, with women using Steve Harvey’s book of a similar name as a weapon against their male lovers. When the men find out, they plan to fight fire with fire.

Kevin Hart, whose Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain ranks one of the highest grossing stand-up films ever, leads the male cast alongside Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Terrence J. and Romany Malco. Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson shares the female spotlight with Meagan Good, Regina Hall, and Gabrielle Union.

The film could well turn out not to be particularly great, the presence of Good, Hart, (especially) Henson, and Union could make for something interesting. ~Julian

Think Like a Man
Directed by Tim Story
Written by Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, Steve Harvey (book)
Starring: Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union



The Moth Diaries (Limited Release)

This one is for the ladies, in a manner of speaking. Mary Harron, director of American Psycho, is set to release her first film in seven years based on Rachel Klein's novel The Moth Diaries.

Set in an exclusive boarding school for girls, "Diaries" focuses on Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), a 16-year-old who was sent to the school after her father's passing. With her roommate Lucy (Sarah Gadon) being her closest friend, Rebecca grows cautious and protective when new student Emessa (Lily Cole) moves in. While many girls take to Emessa, Rebecca begins to suspect that her past is a dark one—going so far as to think Emessa is a vampire. With the dark events that follow her and Lucy growing more obsessed with Emessa, Rebecca seeks out the truth.

Given how this is a Harron-directed film, you can expect "Diaries" to be lush from a visual standpoint. The trailer makes no secret that the film aims to tackle Gothic storytelling and imagery through a modern context, playing with the idea of vampirism being more than literal. Much like American Psycho, "Diaries" also looks to be a polarizing film, having ridden the festival circuit last year to mixed reactions. Still, what looks to be found is atmosphere over jump scares and that can be a good thing on its own merit, if done well. ~Max

The Moth Diaries
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Rachel Klein
Starring: Sarah Bolger, Lily Cole, Sarah Gadon, Scott Speedman 



Apr. 27

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Aardman Animations has proven itself time and again as one of the best animation studios around, focusing on story, character and great comedy. The company’s latest movie, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, seems like it is another hit in the making. Based on a comedy novel by Gideon Defoe, Peter Lord of Chicken Run fame directs with an all-star voice cast featuring Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Imelda Staunton and the Doctor himself, David Tennant.

In this Victorian-set adventure, the Pirate Captain (Grant) sets out to win the Pirate of the Year Award, beating his rivals Cutlass Liz (Hayek) and Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven), despite his years of humiliation. On the way to achieving as much bounty as possible, the Pirate Captain and his ragtag crew meet Charles Darwin (Tennant), who claims that the Pirate Captain’s “parrot” could be the key to great riches. Meanwhile, they have to fend off the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Staunton).

The Pirates! Band of Misfits has already earned high praise in the UK, earning a 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating. ~ Kieran

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Directed by Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Written by Gideon Defoe
Starring: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant


The Five-Year Engagement

Every spring seems to bring a somewhat generic yet still funny comedy from the Apatow clique—I Love You, Man, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, etc. Joining this year's Wanderlust on this list is The Five-Year Engagement, which brings back Apatow veteran Segel, and introduces Emily Blunt into the fold.

The plot is standard for an Apatow production: schlubby guy hooks up with gorgeous girl, and funny stuff happens. This one takes the relationship thing a bit further with an actual engagement. Tom and Violet seem perfectly happy with their nuptials pending, but they're suddenly shipped off to Michigan when Violet gets a great job offer and things are put on hold. Two years turn to three, three turn to four, and still, a date hasn't been set as the two of them begin a bit of much-needed soul searching.

This film could go either way. Five years ago, it would have seemed like a breath of fresh air, but it's hard to imagine it being anything better than passable now. Whether you like their style of humor or not, no one can deny we've had a bit of Apatow overload lately, and as much as the trailer would like to remind you it's from the team that brought you Bridesmaids, nothing else in said trailer gives us the impression that The Five-Year Engagement will have that film's deft comedic touch. ~John

The Five-Year Engagement
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt



The action movie Safe seems like the type of movie in which we see what Jason Statham does best, beating the crap out of out of bad guys. This Lionsgate production from the producers of Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds sees The Stath star alongside newcomer Catherine Chan and Chris Sarandon. It was written and directed by Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans), who recently helped write Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Luke Wright (Statham) is a former elite New York cop who rescues a 12-year-old Chinese girl, Mei (Chan) and has to protect her and the code she knows from the Chinese Triads, Russian Mafia and corrupt New York officials in what hopefully should be a fun action-thriller.

Safe was originally set to be released in October of last year, but was pushed back. ~ Kieran

Written and directed by Boaz Yakin
Starring: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon



The Raven

Take the look of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, the wacky speculative fiction of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and simmer in levels of Baltimore-based dread that would give The Wire a run for its money, and you’ve got an idea of what to expect from The Raven. John Cusack stars as the great American poet Edgar Allan Poe, but stuck in what sounds like one of his own stories.

A murderer is on the loose in pre-Civil War Massachusetts, one with a penchant for modeling his crimes off the works of Poe. When Inspector Fields (Luke Evans) finds himself no match for the killer’s revealing taunts, he calls in the author himself to break the case. But Poe has to stay on his toes, as the very personal game of wits soon drags in his beloved lady-friend Emily (Alice Eve).

Although met with a tepid response from UK critics last month, The Raven may find a more receptive audience in Poe’s homeland. V for Vendetta director James McTeigue looks to have dialed back the frenetic shooting style that characterized that film and 2009’s Ninja Assassin, but it looks like his latest effort will be a stylish bit of murder mystery all the same. ~Sam

The Raven
Directed by James McTeigue
Written by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare
Starring John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve and Brendan Gleeson 



Sound of My Voice (Limited Release)

One of 2011's best independent offerings was Martha Marcy May Marlene, which focused on a damaged young woman's attempt to assimilate back into her family after spending a long period of time in a cult. Fox Searchlight is in familiar territory with Sound of My Voice, a cult indie drama/thriller.

Sound of My Voice does appear to differ from "MMMM" greatly in its primary focus. Whereas that film stayed with Elizabeth Olsen's title character, this one seems much more plot driven. It starts with two investigative journalists (played by Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius) who plant themselves right in the inner circle of a cult lead by Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to be from the future. Being in as deep as they are, however, comes with its consequences.

The film actually premiered way back at Sundance 2011 (along with Martha Marcy May Marlene, actually), and it's earned raves at festival after festival since. Marling, in particular, seems like a talent to watch out for. She wowed the few people who saw Another Earth last year, and just based off the trailer, she looks eerily good here. ~John

Sound of My Voice
Directed by Zal Batmanglij
Written by Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling
Starring: Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius, Brit Marling



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