Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to April

“The Jungle Book”

Who: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scartlett Johansson and Idris Elba
What: An orphan boy is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear and a black panther.
When: April 15th
Why: Walt Disney continues its latest trend of turning beloved animated classics into live-action films with this effects-heavy reimagining that draws inspiration from both 1967’s “The Jungle Book” and Rudyard Kipling’s original collection of short stories. But while the movie certainly looks impressive with its photorealistic CGI animals and environments, and boasts a talented voice cast led by Bill Murray as Baloo, none of the trailers released thus far have really piqued my interest. If director Jon Favreau is able to strike the right balance between the animated film’s more family-friendly tone and Kipling’s darker text, however, moviegoers could be in for a special treat.

“Criminal”

Who: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds
What: The memories and skills of a deceased CIA agent are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous convict.
When: April 15th
Why: Kevin Costner should leave the butt-kicking to Liam Neeson, because “Criminal” looks like yet another failed attempt at reinventing himself as an action hero. Though the movie features a much better cast than 2014’s “3 Days to Kill,” its high-concept premise – which borrows elements from other identity thrillers like “Self/less” and “Face/Off” – is just as dumb. After all, why would the U.S. government transfer the consciousness of a high-level asset into the body of a career criminal when they could use a more practical candidate instead? It doesn’t make a shred of sense, and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the film.

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”

Who: Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain and Charlize Theron
What: As two evil sisters prepare to conquer the land, a pair of renegades – Eric the Huntsman and his forbidden lover Sara – set out to stop them.
When: April 22nd
Why: “Snow White and the Huntsman” wasn’t a terrible movie, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that was pining for another installment, especially one without Snow White. Though Chris Hemsworth is back as the other half of the titular duo, and Charlize Theron reprises her role as the villainous Ravenna, it doesn’t make the existence of this confusing prequel/sequel (and yes, it’s a bit of both) any less strange. With that said, the addition of Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain to the cast is certainly intriguing, because it provides a sliver of hope that “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” won’t be as bad as we all presumed.

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