March movie preview: The Batman, Ryan Reynolds, a new Pixar and some Sundance favorites
CHICAGO - We may be heading into the third month of 2022, but the 2021 awards season has just hit its stride. With the Academy Awards set for March 27, plenty of people will be catching up on the major contenders (in fact, we put together a guide to help you do just that). But there is no shortage of new movies coming your way this month either.
RELATED: Oscars 2022: Where to watch the Best Picture nominees (and other movies like them)
From a Ben Affleck/Ana de Armas erotic thriller to a Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum adventure romance to Netflix’s new Ryan Reynolds sci-fi action drama, movie stars are back in full force. Plus Robert Pattinson suits up as a superhero named Batman in an epic noir take on the Caped Crusader, dramatically titled "The Batman."
Elsewhere, Pixar debuts its new feature "Turning Red," indie studio A24 turns out some wholly original new projects and several breakout hits from this year’s Sundance Film Festival are already making their way onto streaming platforms.
Here’s what’s headed your way, cinematically speaking, in March 2022.
Against the Ice (Netflix, March 2) / The Weekend Away (Netflix, March 3)
Left: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in "Against the Ice" (Netflix). Right: Leighton Meester in "The Weekend Away" (Netflix).
Netflix kicks off March with two very different thrillers set in two very different climates. "Against the Ice" is a historical survival drama led by "Game of Thrones" star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. He plays one of two men sent to the frozen tundras of Greenland in this true story of a 1909 Danish polar expedition. "The Weekend Away," meanwhile, is a soapy thriller featuring original "Gossip Girl" star Leighton Meester as a woman falsely (or not?) accused of murdering her best friend on a girls trip to Croatia. You could even call this particular doubleheader... a song of ice and fire. (Nailed it!)
"Against The Ice": Rated TV-MA. 103 minutes. Dir: Peter Flinth. Featuring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joe Cole, Charles Dance, Heida Reed. / "The Weekend Away": Rated TV-14. 90 minutes. Dir: Kim Farrant. Featuring: Leighton Meester, Christina Wolfe, Luke Norris, Amar Bukvic, Ziad Bakri.
West Side Story (streaming on Disney+ and HBO Max March 2)
Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo in 20th Century Studios' WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
While "West Side Story" has been hanging around theaters since December, it’ll likely find a whole new life on streaming. The musical remake — which racked up seven Oscar nominations — will debut on both Disney+ and HBO Max on the same day. Here’s what our reviewer had to say: "Remaking an iconic Hollywood classic is a steep proposition. Restaging a new version of a popular stage show is slightly less daunting. For his new take on "West Side Story," director Steven Spielberg sort of splits the difference — he pulls from the beloved 1961 movie musical as well as the original Broadway stage show, while adding a few new elements of his own. This is "West Side" as you’ve seen it before, and also as you haven’t."
Read Caroline Siede’s review of "West Side Story."
Rated PG-13. 156 minutes. Dir: Steven Spielberg. Featuring: Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, Mike Faist, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James, Josh Andrés Rivera.
The Batman (in theaters March 4; advanced IMAX screenings start March 1)
Robert Pattinson in 'The Batman.' Photo: Warner Bros.
Robert Pattinson joins Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck as the latest actor to don the cowl and cape for a live-action Batman adventure. And, perhaps even more excitingly, Zoë Kravitzis the latest leading lady to get to put her own spin on Catwoman too. Writer/director Matt Reeves brings a noir mystery angle to this latest Bat-installment, emphasizing Batman’s comic book roots as the "World’s Greatest De0tective." Paul Dano’s Riddler, Colin Farrell’s Penguin and John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone are on hand as the baddies. And if the movie’s whopping three-hour (yes, three-hour!) runtime is a bit too much of a hurdle, "The Batman" should start streaming on HBO Max 45 days after its theatrical debut.
Read Caroline Siede’s review of "The Batman."
Rated PG-13. 176 minutes. Dir: Matt Reeves. Featuring: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis.
After Yang (in theaters and streaming on Showtime March 4)
Colin Farrell appears in "After Yang" by Kogonada, an official selection of the Spotlight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Benjamin Loeb / A24.
For a very different side of Colin Farrell, he also plays a sensitive dad with a robot son in "After Yang," a humanistic sci-fi drama from acclaimed indie studio A24. The movie generated major buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where our reviewer wrote: "‘Tone poem’ and ‘memory play’ are two of the most overused terms when it comes to indie arthouse films, yet it’s hard to think of better descriptors for writer/director Kogonada’s elegiac sci-fi family drama "After Yang." After an exuberant burst of an opening credits dance sequence, the movie quickly becomes a wistful meditation on what it means to be human, what it means to be an android and what it means to be a family. When your child’s robotic big brother breaks, is it like fixing an iPad or losing a son?"
Read Caroline Siede’s full Sundance review of "After Yang."
Rated PG. 96 minutes. Dir: Kogonada. Featuring: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson.
Fresh (streaming on Hulu March 4)
Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones appear in "Fresh" by Mimi Cave, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Another Sundance favorite making its streaming debut is "Fresh," the provocative horror-comedy thriller starring "Normal People" breakout Daisy Edgar-Jones and Marvel heartthrob Sebastian Stan. According to our reviewer: "When the title of ‘Fresh’ pops up onscreen some 30-ish minutes into its expertly-paced runtime, the bold letters do exactly what they are meant to do: let the audience know that the movie has finally started. That might sound like a complaint, but it’s not. The opening act of director Mimi Cave’s assured, darkly comic debut feature immediately puts the viewer in the position of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s honest storytelling and a fiendish trick all at once — after all, if you found yourself in the middle of a storybook meet-cute, wouldn’t you be suspicious too? And if you found yourself being suspicious, wouldn’t you wonder if you’re just being paranoid? ... Alas, writing about ‘Fresh’ without giving away its secrets is pretty much impossible, so let’s leave it at this: See it. Have fun. And maybe don’t eat first."
Read Allison Shoemaker’s full Sundance review of "Fresh."
Rated R. 114 minutes. Dir: Mimi Cave. Featuring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. GIbbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang, Dayo Okeniyi.
Lucy and Desi (streaming on Prime Video March 4)
A still from "Lucy and Desi" by Amy Poehler, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
As "Being the Ricardos" enjoys major awards-season attention for its fictionalized recounting of the lives of Lucille Balland Desi Arnaz, this new documentary from director Amy Poehler looks to bring a little more real life into the picture. Made up of archival material and testimony from family, friends and fans, the doc shines a light on the wildly influential Hollywood couple who not only starred in "I Love Lucy" together but also brought a laundry list of groundbreaking creative and social changes to Hollywood too.
Rated PG. 103 minutes. Dir: Amy Poehler.
Turning Red (streaming on Disney+ March 11)
"Turning Red." Image: Disney+.
Like "Soul" and "Luca" before it, "Turning Red" is the latest Pixar film to get a direct-to-streaming release instead of a full theatrical one. And while that may make some Pixar fans nervous that Disney isn’t throwing its full weight behind the studio anymore, parents will no doubt rejoice at the chance to mix up their home viewing rotation with something new. Set in the early 2000s, "Turning Red" tells the story of Meilin "Mei" Lee, a confident 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who’s horrified to discover that she magically transforms into a giant red panda whenever she gets stressed or excited. Writer/director Domee Shi (the first woman with solo directing credit on a Pixar film) crafts what looks to be a funny, sweet metaphor for puberty and growing up.
99 minutes. Rated PG. Dir: Domee Shi. Featuring: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Wai Ching Ho, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Orion Lee.
The Adam Project (streaming on Netflix March 11)
The Adam Project (L to R) Ryan Reynolds as Big Adam and Walker Scobell as Young Adam. Cr. Doane Gregory/Netflix © 2022
One of the big entertainment stories to come out of the pandemic is that audiences love Ryan Reynolds. Like, really, really love him. Not only did "Free Guy" smash box office expectations at a time when most films flopped, his action-comedy "Red Notice" also became one of the most-watched movies on Netflix last year. Now Reynolds hopes to recapture that success with "The Adam Project," a Netflix sci-fi adventure directed by "Free Guy" helmer Shawn Levy. Reynolds plays a time-traveling fighter pilot who accidentally crash lands in his own childhood, where he teams up with his 12-year-old self on a mission to save the future — and their dad (Mark Ruffalo).
Rated PG-13. 106 minutes. Dir: Shawn Levy. Featuring: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldana, Alex Mallari Jr.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (in theaters March 17)
Jason Statham in "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre." Screenshot: YouTube.
With 2019’s "The Gentlemen," director Guy Ritchie delivered an ensemble crime caper. With 2021’s "Wrath of Man" he finally reunited with early muse Jason Statham. Now Ritchie is back with an ensemble crime caper starring the Stath, which could make "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" the ultimate Guy Ritchie film yet. Statham is a super spy, Aubrey Plaza is his girl Friday and Josh Hartnett is the movie star they blackmail into going undercover to stop a billionaire arms broker played by Hugh Grant. Sounds like a recipe for a good time at the movies, especially if this finally kicks off the long-awaited "Hartnett-aissance."
Not yet rated. Dir: Guy Ritchie. Featuring: Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Hartnett, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone, Hugh Grant.
WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Guy Ritchie directs "Sherlock Holmes" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"
Windfall (streaming on Netflix March 18)
WINDFALL - (L-R) LILY COLLINS as WIFE, JESSE PLEMONS as CEO and JASON SEGEL as NOBODY. Cr: Netflix © 2022
Netflix reportedly paid big money to acquire the streaming rights for this modern-day Hitchcockian thriller. Jesse Plemonsand Lily Collins play an incredibly wealthy young couple who arrive at their vacation home only to find a mysterious man (Jason Segel) robbing it. What follows is a tense three-hander that dances around social issues of class, gender and relationships. According to the trailer, at least, "Windfall" promises an offbeat tone that’s as darkly funny as it is unnerving.
Rated R. 92 minutes. Dir: Charlie McDowell. Featuring: Jesse Plemons, Lily Collins, Jason Segel.
Deep Water (streaming on Hulu March 18)
Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck in "Deep Water." Screenshot: YouTube.
With movies like "Fatal Attraction," "Indecent Proposal" and "Unfaithful," director Adrian Lyne once ruled the erotic thriller genre. Now after a 20-year break from filmmaking, Lyne is back with this spicy-looking adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel. Of course, the other big story around "Deep Water" is that this is the movie where Affleck and de Armas met and briefly became a real-life celebrity power couple. "Deep Water" has been pushed back so many times that Affleck has already built a new public persona around his rekindled celebrity relationship with J.Lo. All that tabloid history will certainly add a fascinating layer to watching Affleck and de Armas play an unhappily married couple who start playing deadly mind games with one another.
Rated R. 153 minutes. Dir: Adrian Lyne. Featuring: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Rachel Blanchard, Lil Rel Howery, Finn Wittrock, Jacob Elordi.
The Outfit (in theaters March 18)
Mark Rylance stars as "Leonard" in director Graham Moore's THE OUTFIT, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Nick Wall / Focus Features
"The Imitation Game" screenwriter Graham Moore makes his directorial debut with this period crime thriller set in 1950s Chicago. "The Outfit" stars Academy Award-winner Mark Rylance as a mild-mannered English tailor who makes clothes for the mafia. When his shop unwittingly becomes a makeshift hideout for a hot gun and some angry mobsters, however, he has to do whatever it takes to survive the night. Young stars Zoey Deutch and Dylan O'Brien are also on hand in this tense drama that promises thrills, mysteries and some stylish suits.
Rated R. 105 minutes. Dir: Graham Moore. Featuring: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Johnny Flynn, Dylan O'Brien, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Simon Russell Beale.
X (in theaters March 18)
"X." Photo: A24.
Between "The Witch," "Hereditary" and "Midsommar" indie studio A24 has swiftly established itself as a place for atmospheric arthouse horror. Now writer/director Ti West ("The Innkeepers," "The House of the Devil") is the latest horror filmmaker vying to add a feature to that exalted canon. Set in 1970s Texas, "X" follows a group of young filmmakers who set out to secretly shoot an adult film in a secluded farmhouse. Things get weird at night, however, as the elderly couple who own the farm take a turn for the haunted. As the film’s tagline goes, this one is "dying to show you a good time."
Rated R. Dir: Ti West. Featuring: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, Scott Mescudi.
Master (streaming on Amazon Prime Video March 18)
Regina Hall appears in "Master" by Mariama Diallo, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Not only is Regina Hall set to co-host the Oscars this month, she also leads this social commentary horror flick, which is yet another Sundance breakout. Hall plays Gail Bishop, the first Black Dean of Students at an elite New England college that may or may not be haunted by a witch. Gail’s story runs parallel to that of two other Black women on campus: A shy freshman (Zoe Renee) and a free-spirited professor seeking tenure (Amber Gray). First-time feature director Mariama Diallo combines those pieces into a haunting, thought-provoking exploration of modern campus life.
Rated R. 91 minutes. Dir: Mariama Diallo. Featuring: Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Talia Ryder, Talia Balsam, Amber Gray.
Cheaper by the Dozen (streaming on Disney+ March 18)
Gabrielle Union and Zach Braff in "Cheaper by the Dozen." Image: Disney+.
Gabrielle Union and Zach Braff lead this remake that Boomers might know as a 1950 film starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, and Millennials probably remember as a comedy series starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. This time around, the family is blended, adding a "Brady Bunch" flair (or a "Yours, Mine and Ours" twist) to the multi-kid shenanigans. The trailer promises a pretty charming mix of goofy gags and wholesome family fun — perfect for an all-ages movie night.
Rated PG. Dir: Gail Lerner. Featuring: Gabrielle Union, Zach Braff, Erika Christensen.
The Lost City (in theaters March 25)
"The Lost City." Photo: SXSW.
Thirty-eight years after "Romancing the Stone" helped define the "adventure romance" genre, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum give that 1980s classic a modern-day spiritual sequel. Bullock is a lonely romance novelist who gets kidnapped in the jungle. Tatum is the sexy cover model who decides to come rescue her. And Daniel Radcliffe is also onboard as the movie’s eccentric billionaire baddie. Like last year’s "Jungle Cruise," "The Lost City" looks to be a bit of an old-fashioned throwback, only this one comes dressed in a purple sequined jumpsuit.
Not yet rated. Dir: Aaron Nee and Adam Nee. Featuring: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, Oscar Nuñez.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (in theaters March 25)
Stephanie Hsu, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in "Everything Everywhere All At Once." Photo: SXSW.
What can you expect from "Everything Everywhere All At Once?" Well, the title says it all, really. Michelle Yeoh stars as an everyday woman who suddenly discovers access to a multiverse of worlds where other versions of herself exist as chefs, movie stars, martial arts masters and even cartoon characters. This trippy-looking movie is the long-awaited sophomore feature for "the Daniels" (directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), who made a major splash with 2016’s "Swiss Army Man" a.k.a. the Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie. "Everything Everywhere All At Once" promises to be something weird, wild and hopefully wonderful.
Rated R. 140 minutes. Dir: Daniels. Featuring: Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong.
Left, from top: "More Than Robots," "Mothering Sunday." Center: "Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u (a Sour film)." Right, from top: "Black Crab," "Huda’s Salon."
FOR HORROR FANS: "Take Back the Night" (in theaters and VOD March 4) serves up a slice of feminist horror. "The Bunker Game" (Shudder, March 17) takes an immersive role-playing game to terrifying extremes. "You Are Not My Mother" (in theaters and VOD March 25) offers Irish psychological folk horror. And Michael Shannon pops up in "Night’s End" (Shudder, March 31), a Chicago-set tale of a man performing an exorcism on his haunted apartment.
FOR THRILLS: Zac Efron defends a giant gold nugget in the desert in "Gold" (in theaters March 11). Keke Palmerliterally runs out of time in the Blaxploitation-inspired "Alice" (in theaters March 18). And "Black Crab" (Netflix, March 18) is Peter Berg’s Swedish post-apocalyptic action-thriller starring Noomi Rapace.
FOR FAMILIES: "The Flash" star Grant Gustin trains an untrainable dog in "Rescued by Ruby" (Netflix, March 17). Plus ambitious teen engineers prep for a robotics competition in "More Than Robots" (Disney+, March 18).
FOR INTERNATIONAL DRAMA: Ghosts, sci-fi and social drama combine in the Laotian film "The Long Walk" (in theaters and VOD March 1). "Huda’s Salon" (in theaters and VOD March 4) is a gripping Palestinian drama based on real events. "Mothering Sunday" (in theaters March 25) is this month’s handsomely shot, impressively cast British period drama. And "Nitram" (in theaters and AMC+ March 30) is an acclaimed Australian drama about a real-life tragedy.
FOR MUSIC LOVERS: Olivia Rodrigo takes viewers behind the scenes of her breakout album in "Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u (a Sour film)" (Disney+, March 25).
FOR ROMANTICS: Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse find love in the sci-fi rom-com "Moonshot" (HBO Max, March 31).
More great movies streaming (for free!) on Tubi
Pretty Woman (1990): What, you’re not going to watch this classic rom-com while it’s streaming for free? Big mistake. Huge. Rated R. 119 minutes. Dir: Garry Marshall. Featuring: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Jason Alexander, Laura San Giacomo, Hector Elizondo.
Battle Royale (2000): Call it the original "Hunger Games." This 2000 Japanese action-thriller is set in a near-future world where the totalitarian government curbs juvenile delinquency by selecting a random high school class to fight to the death each year. Once banned for its controversial subject matter, "Battle Royale" has now emerged as a brutal, bloody, hugely influential cult classic. Rated TV-MA. 122 minutes. Dir: Kinji Fukasaku. Language: Japanese. Featuring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014): Ridley Scott goes biblical in this period piece, which stars Christian Bale as Moses (yes, that Moses). Rated PG-13. 150 minutes. Dir: Ridley Scott. Also featuring Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley.
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she lovingly dissects the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her ongoing column When Romance Met Comedy at The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
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