Best New Movie Bets: March [Complete Guide]

March 6: "300: Rise of an Empire"

8 years after the release of 2006’s surprise smash “300”, the sequel is finally here. This time the action centers on Greek leader Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Artemisia I of Caria portrayed by the outstanding Eva Green. Based on the unreleased graphic novel “Xerxes” by Frank Miller, “Rise of an Empire” promises to stay in keeping with the green screen epic-ness that was the original.

Stepping up to replace original director Zac Snyder is the interesting choice of Noam Murro, who previously helmed the 2008 indie dramedy “Smart People”. The first film spawned the Hollywood breakthrough of actor Gerard Butler, who led the original with the star quality necessary to make it a blockbuster. Who, if any of the cast proves to be a breakout from its sequel; will be interesting to follow. Read Eclectic Pop's Review by clicking here

March 14: "Need for Speed"

“Breaking Bad” alum Aaron Paul stars in this ridiculously plotted answer to the “Fast & Furious” franchise. The film is a gamble for the critically lauded Paul, who is making his first big-screen push since "Breaking Bad" ended, in a video game adaptation.

The cheese factor for this movie is off the charts, and movies adapted from video games have had a history of low success both in box office and critical praise. In my opinion, “Hitman” is the only quality adaptation that’s broken the mold.

While attention is aimed at Aaron Paul, there’s another actor looking to make waves in “Need for Speed”; Dominic Cooper who's been on the fringe of his big Hollywood break for a while now. He’s an actor capable of spanning a range of characters from a romantic lead (“Mamma Mia”) to a seedy gangster (“Dead Man Down”).

 His landmark performance came in the chilling film "The Devil's Double" where he gave a remarkable turn, in a dual role as both the depraved Uday Hussein and his victimized double. Stealing the show is his forte and in the flashy role of a villain, he seems poised to do that in “Need for Speed”.

Add in British ingénue Imogene Poots coming into her second supporting role of the year (“This Awkward Moment” being the other) and you have several rising careers riding on a movie that could prove make or break. Read Eclectic Pop's Full Movie Review here

"Veronica Mars"

For the last 10 years you’d be hard pressed to find a greater saga in fandom history than the “marshmallows” who banded together to save their favorite show when it was on the verge of cancellation in the UPN/WB merger and again after it was cancelled on The CW in 2007. It’s been 7 years since the series left the airwaves and its dedicated fans have been working around the clock ever since to get closure or a continuation of the story.

Last year through Kickstarter, MTV reports that fans raised $2 million in less than ten hours so their beloved Veronica (Kristen Bell) could come back to life on the big screen. Series creator Rob Thomas penned the script and most of the original cast has returned to reprise their roles. No matter the box office results over the weekend, the best reward has already occurred with fans finally getting their happy ending.

It’s also a huge testament to social media and the fans who’ve used it to accomplish their goal. The “marshmallows” have also given hope to every other fandom who feels their show ended too soon. The next question is which TV show (if any) will follow in its footsteps? Read Eclectic Pop's Full Review by clicking here.

"Better Living Through Chemistry"

This dark comedy boasts a notable cast that includes; Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Ray Liotta and Jane Fonda. After reading the summary it is easy to see why they were all intrigued. The story follows a conservative pharmacist (Rockwell) who’s boring life gets a major jolt of excitement when he begins a torrid affair with his married customer (Olivia Wilde) and things start spinning out of control.

Rockwell is one of the most underrated actors in the business and he can elevate even the worst source material. Thankfully, he appears to have something to work with in this script, which seems to be a promising use of his talents. Read Eclectic Pop's Full Review by clicking here

"Enemy" [Limited Release]

After collaborating with director Denis Villeneuve on last year’s exceptional thriller “Prisoners”, Jake Gyllenhaal had reteamed with Villeneuve for “Enemy”, an innovative thriller operating on an original premise. When a man (Gyllenhaal) spots his doppelganger in a movie, he begins a search to find him and unravel the mysterious link between them.

While Gyllenhaal is a major draw, he has two impressive co-stars to aid in his efforts, actresses Melanie Laurent and David Cronenberg’s casting darling, Sarah Gadon. In the current Hollywood film arena, it is difficult find a refreshingly unexhausted storyline and “Enemy” appears primed to provide just that. Read Eclectic Pop's Full Review by clicking here

March 21: "Divergent"

It has been billed as the next “Hunger Games”, as it is the latest YA adaptation to revolve around a rebel female protagonist who must stand against the tyrannical leadership of elitist dictators in a dystopian future. There’s a lot of interesting social commentary that inhabits the best-selling series of books by Veronica Roth.

In the “Divergent” universe people are segregated by character traits and can only co-habitat among their like kind. What sets heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) apart is that she is equally gifted in 3 of the 5 characteristics aka a “divergent”.

All eyes are on Woodley after wrapping up her run on ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” and garnering acclaim in her mainstream breakout role in “The Descendents”. She has been on a path to being a household name, for a while now. It was her role in last year’s indie romance “The Spectacular Now” that truly sold this notion, as she found easy charm in a remarkably natural performance as the girl-next-door with a heart of gold.

Her rise to prominence hasn’t been without its setbacks though, as she was infamously excised from the upcoming “Amazing Spider-Man” sequel as Mary-Jane due to “streamlining”. It was a decision that Woodley handled incredibly well, earning a lot of goodwill.

Whether “Divergent” solidifies Woodley’s star status or not, she’s definitely made a case for earning it and while her career has been the big story, there are other actors in the film clamoring for their break.

Among those vying for commercial heat is British ingénue Theo James. Who previously gained career traction in a supporting role in the last “Underworld” installment (another female led franchise) and the lead in last year’s ill-fated CBS drama “Golden Boy”. For Woodley’s “Spectacular Now” co-star Miles Teller, “Divergent” is yet another step that secures his rising star status.

Zoe Kravitz and Ansel Elgort are also hoping to make an impression. Elgort has come out of nowhere in the previous year, scoring a part in last year’s horrible “Carrie” remake and winning the male lead in the hotly anticipated tear-jerker “The Fault in Our Stars” (also starring Woodley).

In the end, who manages to diverge from rising status into stardom is almost as interesting a story as the actual movie. Along with the cast, the movie itself has a lot riding on it. Whether it is even a viable franchise is another question only time will answer. Read Eclectic Pop's Full Review by clicking here

"Blood Ties"

While all of the attention for this week’s major releases is directed towards “Divergent”, “Blood Ties” has earned its anticipation as it flies below the radar this weekend. Guillaume Canet’s English-language debut centers on crime riddled 70’s era Brooklyn as two brothers (Clive Owen and Billy Crudup) on different sides of the law, face the consequences of their intertwining fate.

This isn’t the first movie to tackle the topic of strained family dynamics due to crime. The underrated “We Own the Night” readily comes to the forefront as being in the similar vein and "Blood Ties" itself is a remake of the French-language film "Les liens du sang". Among the aspects garnering interest for this film is of course the cast, which includes the aforementioned Owen and Crudup. While also boasting “Rust and Bone” co-stars Marion Cottillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, along with Zoe Saldana and James Caan. The cast isn’t the only thing going for it though. 

After directing 2006’s sensational French-thriller “Tell No One”, Guillaume Canet proved he had a remarkable skill that Hollywood desperately needs more of. He can find the human story, the romance and emotion beneath all of the suspense and drama.

One could surmise that his skill as an actor has aided his ability to bring out the best out in those he directs and it shows. Directing an average of 1 film every 4 years, he must’ve seen something in this story and given his selectivity, it must’ve been extraordinary.

March 28: "Noah"

Darren Aronofsky is back with his first film since, the Oscar winning “Black Swan”. This time he’s tackling a greater lightning rod than the cutthroat underworld of ballet dancers, the Biblical story of Noah.

Aronofsky is no stranger to depicting spirituality on film as he wrote and directed the breathtaking “The Fountain” which was a meditation on life and death, set against the backdrop of the Tree of Life. As with that film and all other Aronofsky creations, this movie is intense and thematically dark. It would be strongly advised that kids steer clear of it.

The behind the camera information that might be interesting to note is that “Noah” reunites Jennifer Connelly with Aronofsky for the first time since he directed her in “Requiem for a Dream”. Meanwhile, rising star Logan Lerman has a multiple co-star reunion having starred with Connelly in “Stuck in Love”, Russell Crowe in “3:10 to Yuma” and Emma Watson in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. The controversy poised to encapsulate “Noah” could very well flood any of these trivial tidbits though.

"Sabotage"

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen has seen its share of struggles. First there were the underwhelming results of “The Last Stand” and then “Escape Plan” both performing to less than stellar box office and equal quality. The once outstanding blockbuster action hero is experiencing a difficult period in his career and the set-up for “Sabotage” doesn’t necessarily bode well as a comeback to his already established comeback.

The plotline is 90’s era formalism in its most basic form. The story: a team of DEA agents begin dropping like flies after they rip off a drug cartel. Despite the generic plot, it is directed by David Ayer who's last effort was the beyond brilliant "End of Watch", an indication of promise.

So why see “Sabotage”? “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello finally getting his close-up alongside “Lost” alum Josh Holloway. Both of these stupendous actors have been stuck playing bit or supporting roles in movies where they could’ve owned the lead. Seeing a glimmer of what they have to offer is worth at least giving “Sabotage” a try.

"Breathe In"

British actress Felicity Jones reteams with her “Like Crazy” director Drake Doremus for this tale of familial intrigue. Jones plays a foreign exchange student who comes to stay with a family in the suburbs of New York. Her stay quickly starts to unravel and test certain dynamics within the family, especially the ties that relate to the family patriarch.

Just as “Like Crazy” explored the physical and emotional ties of a relationship, “Breathe In” looks to explore the repercussions of emotional intimacy and vulnerability with a person outside of the family nucleus. Jones is a remarkable actress who’s been readying for her big Hollywood break for a while now.

With effecting performances in “Chalet Girl” and the indie “Albatross”, she manages to shine when the story is at its most reserved. The restrained technique of Doremus is a good fit for her and starring opposite Guy Pearce can only further her talents.

"The Raid 2"

The follow-up to cult hit “The Raid: Redemption”, returns with star Iko Uwais. The sequel picks up a relatively short time since the original. This time around Rama’s (Uwais) mission is to go undercover, finishing off thugs and ending the corruption within the police force.

Since its release in 2011, the original has set the world of cult film on fire as one of the most name-checked, foreign-language action films in recent memory. For fans, living up to its predecessor will be a difficult feat. It’s covering a lot of ground though with over 4,000 votes tallied it currently holds an (8.8/10) rating on IMDB’s user rating.

"Bad Words"

When an adult (Jason Bateman) discovers a loophole in the rules of a juvenile spelling bee, he decides to take his second chance at winning the title. The plotline is uniquely hilarious and tailor made for the straight-man style of Bateman.

Add in an adorable kid and you have the recipe for something potentially heartfelt with some jovial moments of comedy. The trailer definitely sold some of the film’s best bits. Here’s hoping it didn’t give them all away. Read Eclectic Pop's Full Review by clicking here

Are you looking forward to any of these movies? Eclectic Pop wants to hear from you! You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or tweeting @EclecticPop

Best New Movie Bets: January (click here)
Best New Movie Bets: February (click here)

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