This major motion picture season is replete with fantasy and comic book fare, but theaters nationwide are also serving up a heaping helping of comedy, drama, family, and action yarns
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE APRIL (UNRATED)
We already know some of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s secrets, so the pressure is on brilliant creator J.K. Rowling to reveal new humdingers. She wrote the screenplay here with frequent Harry Potter film collaborator Steve Kloves. The third installment of Fantastic Beasts (and Where to Find Them) again stars Jude Law as the young Professor Dumbledore, working with magical zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).
THE BATMAN MARCH (RATED PG-13)
Robert Pattinson, the latest Alist actor to don the Bat’s midnight ensemble, offers an even darker and more brooding version of Gotham’s antihero than predecessors Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben ANeck. The Riddler (Paul Dano) is this outing’s villain, while Zoë Kravitz dons the Cat woman suit, and Andy Serkis portrays Bruce Wayne/Batman’s loyal butler Alfred. The cast also features Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot (the Penguin) and Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner James Gordon.
THE CONTRACTOR APRIL (RATED R)
Chris Pine is former special operations marine James Harper, down on his luck and failing to support his family after being honorably discharged but losing his benefits. Harper accepts an offer to become a private military contractor from an old ally, portrayed by Ben Foster. Harper believes he’s still working for his country, unaware of the real purpose and funding of his mission. Soon, he’s on the run, narrowly evading assassins sent by those who hired him. Filmed in Bucharest in 2019.
GOLD MARCH (RATED R)
In the near future, two drifters find a massive gold nugget partially buried in the desert of what appears to be the Middle East, although the movie was filmed in the South Australian outback. One leaves to get the equipment to salvage it, while the other (Zac Efron) stays behind to guard their treasure from would-be thieves and wild dogs amidst unrelenting harsh conditions. The characters in this dramatic thriller do not have names. Efron is billed as “Man One.” Australian character actor Anthony Hayes wrote, directed, and appears as “Man Two.” His real-life partner, Polly Smyth, also appears.
DR. STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS MAY (UNRATED)
Benedict Cumber batch is back as Marvel’s Dr. Steven Strange in the follow-up to his 2016 debut. Directed by Sam Raimi and co-produced by Kevin Feige, the story sees Dr. Stephen Strange cast a forbidden spell that leads to the multiverse. Spoiler alert: humanity is threatened. The race is on for Strange, Wong (Benedict Wong), and Wanda Maximo (Elizabeth Olsen), to save it. Olsen began filming in London two days after finishing WandaVision (Disney+) last year. This fi lm will connect to Marvel’s WandaVision and 2021’s Loki. The music is composed by Danny Elfman. Also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Sir Patrick Stewart. Look for a cameo by perennial cult favorite and frequent Raimi collaborator Bruce Campbell.
OPERATION FORTUNE: RUSE DE GUERRE MARCH (UNRATED)
Action stalwart Jason Statham stars as special agent Orson Fortune in his fifth cinematic collaboration with Director Guy Ritchie. The action fi lm incorporates the glamor, fabulous locales, and other familiar tropes of international superspy flicks with a welcome humorous bent. (“Ruse de guerre” translates to “ruse of war.”) Fortune’s nemesis, Hugh Grant in aviator glasses, is dastardly billionaire arms broker Greg Simmonds. To vanquish him, Fortune and his operatives enlist Simmonds’ favorite Hollywood actor Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett) for their undercover mission. Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, and Bugzy Malone make up Fortune’s crew.
TURNING RED MARCH (RATED PG)
Life as a 13-year-old is challenging enough, but in this animated Disney/Pixar comedy, Mei Lee has an additional complication – she turns into a giant red panda when she experiences strong emotions, carrying on a secret family legacy. When she gets the chance to see her favorite band with her friends, the furry beast in her begins making more frequent appearances, wreaking havoc at school and home. This is the fourth Disney film for Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve), who plays Mei’s mother, and the first Pixar fi lm to be director by a woman of color, Domee Shi (Inside Out, Incredibles 2).