Blockbuster season starts earlier and earlier every year – in 2017, we have made it three whole days into March before those studio tentpoles start to break ground. Heavy hitters Logan, Kong: Skull Island, Power Rangers and Ghost in the Shell will get the blockbuster year off to a roaring start. Meanwhile, those in search of smaller-scale entertainment can enjoy Terence Malick’s latest dreamy drama, a cannibalism flick with a reputation that precedes it and a festival favorite featuring a career-best performance from Kristen Stewart. Here’s what you need to see over the next month.
Beauty and the Beast (Mar. 17th)
Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme … but who couldn’t use a quick refresher? Emma Watson takes up the mantle of Belle in this live-action mounting of Disney’s celebrated romantic fantasy, with Legion star Dan Stevens barely recognizable as the ferocious Beast. They will, of course, be joined by a mansion’s worth of singing appliances (voiced by the likes of Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson), and, we’re assuming, will triumph over interspecies differences and an angry mob of villagers to find love. It’s up to Disney to conjure the same magic that made the original cartoon the high-water mark of their Nineties renaissance.
Ghost in the Shell (Mar. 31st)
Having played an alien (Under the Skin) and a sentient computer program (Her), a crimefighting automaton was really the next logical career move for Scarlet Johansson. In this remake of the popular anime, she portrays Major Motoko Kusanagi, a police officer keeping a futuristic Tokyo free of cybercrime. Complications arise, as they so often do in these dystopic situations. Come for Robot Scarlett (TM), the action and the mystery; stay for the eye-popping vision of a psychedelic future complete with lightning-fast motorcycles, techno-monks and giant koi fish that float between skyscrapers.
Kong: Skull Island (Mar. 10th)
One of the movies’ best-known tall, dark and handsome leading men (ginormous ape division) made his last appearance in Peter Jackson’s remake of the 1933 monster-run-amuck classic. For his latest revival, however, King Kong won’t straddle the Empire State Building this time around; instead, our ferocious, furry friend is terrorizing a band of explorers (including Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman) who have ventured onto his mystical home island. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts really worked the Apocalypse Now vibes in the trailer., and you can expect the chest-beating regent to cross paths with a whole Godzillaverse of creatures soon at a theater near you. But for now, you can simply thrill to him taking on Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend.
Life (Mar. 24th)
With seven new life-sustaining planets now in the mix, this sci-fi chiller may have just jumped from an afternoon at the movies to a prophecy of events to come. A crew of astronauts (including Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson) make the discovery of the century: an active life form in the vacuum of space. It starts off as a little petri dish’s worth of sentient fuzz, but as it rapidly evolves, it turns against the spacecraft’s crew. Any viewers looking to get a fix of interstellar mayhem before this summer’s Alien: Covenant need look no further.
Logan (Mar. 3rd)
This is not your father’s Wolverine solo movie, bub. In what he claims will be his last go-round with the character, Hugh Jackman plays Logan, an older, grizzled iteration of the X-Man living in a scorched-earth, mutant-free future. He tends to a crumbling Professor X (Patrick Stewart) while staying in hiding, but their position is compromised when a young girl (Dafne Keen) with awfully familiar claws enters their lives. Director James Mangold drew from Westerns for this brutal, sparse take on the typical comic-book movie, earning the hard-R rating and then some. It’s the gritty reimagining to end all gritty reimaginings – and a fitting end to the saga.
Power Rangers (Mar. 24th)
The Saturday-morning teen heroes get the Transformers treatment with this big-budget, effects-laden reboot. The song remains the same: A collection of high schoolersstumble upon a mystical artifact in a hidden cave. They are imbued with the power [cue “BWAAAM” sound effect] of the Rangers. The kids will also face a serious threat in acid-queen baddie Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), but they’ll get help from the wise Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and the hijinks-prone android Alpha 5 (voiced by Bill Hader), yadda yadda yadda. No word on whether the “Go, Go” clarion call made it in, but it wouldn’t be a Power Rangers movie without at least one formation of the mighty Megazord.
Personal Shopper (Mar. 10th)
Kristen Stewart was the toast of the Cannes Film Festival last May for her turn as Maureen, a young woman processing the death of her brother. In between errands for a demanding prima donna, she fields hostile text messages from an unknown source and feels an eerie presence clinging to her. Reteaming with France’s Olivier Assayas after 2014’s sensational Clouds of Sils Maria, Stewart continues to move away from her Twilight years and straight into arthouse A-list territory. Like the film itself, she’s beguiling, mysterious, and unknowable.
Raw (Mar. 10th)
A few viewers present for the Toronto International Film Festival screening of Julia Ducournau’s horror film had to be wheeled out on stretchers. But hey, graphic depictions of cannibalism aren’t for everybody, right? In this fiendish French-Belgian fever dream, a vegetarian college student is force-fed meat as part of an initiation ritual; she not only develops a taste for the stuff, but starts takes a liking to homo sapien filets. Just as intense as the gorier sequences are the emotions behind them; Garance Mariellier delivers a scary-committed (and just plain scary) performance in the lead.
Song to Song (Mar. 17th)
Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender each play a figure involved in Austin’s music scene, as each of their lives intersect with director Terrence Malick’s customary cosmic grace. Incorporating footage shot on the down-low at 2012’s Austin City Limits music festival, the film features a wide array of real-life acts in cameo roles, from Arcade Fire to the Black Lips to Florence and the Machine. And for the arthouse crowd, elevator pitches don’t get much more enticing than “Terence Malick does indie-rock Nashville.”
T2: Trainspotting (Mar. 17th)
Surprise: After two decades, the likes of Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie are all still alive and kicking. Danny Boyle’s era-defining Britpop ensemble movie has finally gotten its sequel, with the original cast from Ewan McGregor on down all reprising their roles. With a couple notable exceptions, the former no-good bastards have gotten their respective acts together, and this new film finds them examining their functional lives and wondering where they went right. Choose stability. Choose life. Choose a nostalgia-fueled sequel.