Even though a couple of this weekend’s new movies look promising, none stands a chance competing against last week’s record-crushing opening for ‘Deadpool’.
Easter is still more than a month away (March 27th), but because ‘Batman v. Superman’ and the ‘Big Fat Greek’ sequel open that weekend, Sony is putting its Christian resurrection drama ‘Risen‘ out this week instead. Once planned to be an unofficial follow-up to Mel Gibson’s global hit ‘The Passion of the Christ’, Joseph Fiennes stars as a fictional Roman tribune who returns to Jerusalem on the day that Jesus of Nazareth (Cliff Curtis) is crucified. Having the utmost trust in him, Pilate charges the tribune with protecting the tomb – which doesn’t happen – then with tracking down the disciples who presumably stole the body to fake the appearance of Jesus’ resurrection. The tale is meant to offer viewers a perspective on Christ’s atonement from a non-believer who wasn’t present for most of the Biblical events surrounding Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion, but it’s as emotionless and contrived as could be. Several drawn-out escape sequences feel exactly like something out of ‘The Hobbit’ minus CG trolls and wargs, making this an unintentional comedy at times. Mel Gibson’s R-rated Christ film packed an emotional punch, which is something that PG-13 ‘Risen’ repeatedly fails to do.
The next wide release is Focus Features’ sports bio-pic ‘Race‘. Said to be good but not great, this barely advertised picture tells the story of Jesse Owens’ track and field career leading up to and through the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Prior to the event, Owens faced racism in his own country. Once he arrived Germany, obviously, he faced it even more. Stephan James, whom you might recognize from ‘Selma‘, plays Owens. Jason Sudeikis is Owens’ coach. Jeremy Irons and William Hurt also co-star.
Buzz began flying around A24’s acquisition title ‘The Witch‘ following its Sundance 2015 debut. Instead of immediately getting released nationwide, the film made the festival rounds, where its buzz only grew stronger and stronger. Now, more than a year later, we’re finally getting the well-reviewed R-rated horror film. Set in 1630 New England, it follows a Christian family whose quiet rural home is ravished by a local witch hell-bent on destroying them. This sounds amazing. Who’s with me?