Godzilla Vs. Kong, a Disney dragon, and the Snyder Cut are all streaming this March

Godzilla Vs. Kong, a Disney dragon, and the Snyder Cut are all streaming this March

Clockwise from top left: Godzilla Vs. King Kong (Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures); Raya And The Last Dragon (Photo: Disney); Coming 2 America (Photo: Amazon Studios); Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Photo: Courtesy of HBO Max); The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (Photo: Paramount Plus)
Clockwise from top left: Godzilla Vs. King Kong (Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures); Raya And The Last Dragon (Photo: Disney); Coming 2 America (Photo: Amazon Studios); Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Photo: Courtesy of HBO Max); The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (Photo: Paramount Plus)
Graphic: Libby McGuire

Blockbusters are back in a big way this March, even if movie theaters aren’t. Many of the month’s biggest titles, including the showdown between a king of the monsters and a big-ass ape, would probably be box office behemoths during any other moment in recent history. Here and now, they’re hedging their bets, going to a few multiplexes to court the dumbass (or vaccinated) demographic while simultaneously hitting a major streaming platform for those of us who choose life over Dolby sound. Meanwhile, the content stream offered by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. flows freely. This month, it just happens to also include what may be the most loudly clamored-for director’s cut ever. (Hint: Does he bleed? He will.) Keep reading to find out what’s coming to a living room—and, yes, some theaters—near you. And before trekking out to see a movie on the big screen, please read up on the health risks.

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2 / 19

Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell

Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell

Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell

Netflix March 1

The fact that the short, prodigious life of Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G., ended in an unsolved murder has, for decades, attracted posthumous attention to the hard-boiled content of his lyrics. But it was multifaceted talent, not impending fatality, that made him one of the greats. This Netflix doc “immediately establishes that we’ll get to see a more honest, personal side of the late MC,” gushes The A.V. Club’s review; the director, Emmett Malloy, had access to an enormous archive of previously unseen home video footage.

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3 / 19

Moxie

Moxie

Moxie

Netflix March 3

Amy Poehler steps back behind Netflix’s cameras, trading the girls-trip comedy of Wine Country for a riot grrrl nostalgia trip about a zoomer (Hadley Robinson) who catches the punk-feminist bug from her mother’s box of old zines. (On top of directing, Poehler plays the formerly cool mom.) Hearts are in the right place here, but to paraphrase Sleater-Kinney fan Katie Rife, who wrote about Moxie earlier this week, the road to dorky earnestness is often paved in good intentions. “Moxie just isn’t all that funny,” her review laments.

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4 / 19

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run

Paramount Plus March 4

America is forced to confront its serious SpongeBob gap with this, the third film featuring everyone’s favorite bright yellow Bikini Bottom resident (and the second to sometimes adopt the 3D CGI look developed for 2015’s Sponge Out Of Water). After all, international audiences have been enjoying Sponge On The Run’s Keanu Reeves cameo and determinedly random Snoop Dogg performances since the movie released late last year. U.S. fans will have to play catch-up, dipping their toes back into the adventures of SpongeBob (still Tom Kenny) and Patrick (still Bill Fagerbakke), as they attempt to recover beloved pet snail Gary (still pretty quiet) from a malevolent Matt Berry. Reviews from overseas were warm; our own, citing franchise fatigue, isn’t.

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5 / 19

Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America

Amazon Prime March 5

Eddie Murphy reteams with Dolemite Is My Name director Craig Brewer for this 33-years-later sequel to the 1988 comedy classic. Murphy, of course, reprises his role as Akeem Joffer, prince (and soon to be king!) of the fictional African nation of Zamunda. But audiences will recognize some other faces, too—and we’re not just talking about Murphy’s various alter egos, including Sexual Chocolate frontman Randy Watson. James Earl Jones, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, John Amos, Vanessa Bell Calloway, and Louie Anderson are all back, too. And somehow, Coming 2 America also makes room for new characters played by the likes of KiKi Layne, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, and—last but not least–Jermaine Fowler as Akeem’s long-lost son and unwitting heir. But can Brewer juggle all these funny players, old and new, and still deliver the laughs?

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6 / 19

Raya And The Last Dragon

Raya And The Last Dragon

Raya And The Last Dragon

Select theaters and Disney Plus March 5

Walt Disney Animation, the in-house studio once consigned to the shadow of Pixar, is approaching an unprecedented 10-year hot streak of big, crowd-pleasing hits, often embracing the female protagonists Pixar still rarely offers. Their latest princess story follows Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), a young warrior looking for the mythical last dragon on Earth to help her defeat another group of monsters. She finds Sisu (Awkwafina), a shape-shifting water dragon who makes with the wisecracks. It is, in many ways, a formulaic Mouse House adventure, though some of the cultural texture and a resonant focus on loss help compensate for the film’s safe, palatable familiarity.

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7 / 19

Chaos Walking

Chaos Walking

Chaos Walking

Select theaters March 5

Shot way back in 2017, Doug Liman’s adaptation of the first novel in a bestselling, futuristic YA trilogy finally arrives after years of reshoots and scrapped release dates. The welcome surprise: It’s not too bad! Daisy Ridley plays a spacewoman who finds herself stranded on a planet populated by men afflicted with an anomaly, “The Noise,” that projects all their inner thoughts; Tom Holland is the infatuated orphan who agrees to escort her across the dangerous new frontier, while trying not to constantly betray his growing feelings for the stranger. It’s a flawed but watchable blockbuster boondoggle that gets by mostly on the strength of a great sci-fi hook. That Mads Mikkelsen plays the bastard sheriff villain doesn’t hurt either.

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8 / 19

Boogie

Boogie

Boogie

Select theaters March 5

Having already seen his memoirs turned into hit TV with Fresh Off The Boat, Eddie Huang takes a shot at telling a fictional coming-of-age story. Boogie, the media personality and restaurateur’s debut feature as writer-director, stars newcomer Taylor Takahashi as a high school basketball star growing up in Queens who must learn to balance the weight of his family’s expectations against his love for his girlfriend (Taylour Paige). Huang himself shows up in a supporting role, as does the late rapper Bashar Jackson, a.k.a. Pop Smoke. Unfortunately, the film proves to be something of a generic sports drama, with a lead character who’s way too passive to entirely invest in.

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9 / 19

Boss Level

Boss Level

Boss Level

Hulu March 5

The increasingly crowded “Groundhog Day but it’s _____” genre gets what might be its most violent iteration yet, as director Joe Carnahan (The Grey) casts DTV action hero Frank Grillo as a retired special forces soldier who finds himself repeatedly re-spawning after being graphically murdered by a whole fighting game’s worth of colorful mercenaries. (They’re sent by a crime boss played by Mel Gibson, a star experiencing his own time loop of endless second chances.) Movies like Edge Of Tomorrow (or Live Die Repeat, if you’re feeling formal) proved that there’s plenty of fun to be found by pitting a protagonist who can’t stay dead against a bunch of baddies who literally can’t quit. But despite a solid cast that includes Naomi Watts and Michelle Yeoh, this is one of the weakest recent examples of a plot gimmick that’s growing old; Carnahan’s dopey sense of humor proves especially detrimental.

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10 / 19

The Truffle Hunters

The Truffle Hunters

The Truffle Hunters

Select theaters March 12

Elderly men who make their living unearthing rare truffles in the woods of Italy doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic for a documentary. But directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw dig up some treasures of their own in the eccentric personalities of their subjects, while also capturing some truly breathtaking footage of the wilderness. The film’s formal pleasures are probably one reason nearly every major festival last year—from Sundance to Toronto to the canceled Cannes—made room for The Truffle Hunters.

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11 / 19

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

HBO Max March 18

Squeaky wheels, enjoy your grease! After years of being relentlessly lobbied to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, WarnerBros. finally said, “Okay, screw it, why not?” This is Justice League as director Zack Snyder originally envisioned it, before family tragedy tore him away from the project and Joss Whedon stepped in to finish it, bringing along his signature quippiness (and apparently signature toxic work environment, too). Handed an additional $70 million to realize his aborted vision for the DCEU crossover event, Snyder will reward his faithful fans with a whopping four hours of R-rated, presumably neck-snapping superhero “fun.” All those assuming it has to be better than the Whedon cut would do well to remember Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist.

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12 / 19

The Courier

The Courier

The Courier

Select theaters March 19

The case of the high-level Soviet defector Oleg Penkovsky and his British go-between, Greville Wynne, might be described as a real-life John le Carré novel if it weren’t for the fact that le Carré was still an MI6 agent when it happened: The story comes from the real world that his classic Cold War novels describe. The makers of The Courier (formerly known as Ironbark) seem to be courting the comparison with a Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy aesthetic. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Wynne, a British electrical engineer who was recruited by MI6 to smuggle Penkovsky’s information about Soviet intelligence out of the USSR.

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13 / 19

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

Select theaters March 19

Nicolas Cage’s recent projects have seemed particularly self-aware about their Rage Cage shlockiness, as if attempting to will a cult movie into existence. So it makes sense that he’d finally go the Being John Malkovich route and play himself as an actor willing to accept any decent-paying gig, which, in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, gets him into trouble when a party appearance at the behest of a drug-dealing fan (Pedro Pascal) goes spectacularly wrong. Soon he’s forced to rise (or sink) to the B-movie occasion and rescue his endangered wife and daughter. (To paraphrase Donald Kaufman, see 10 other Nic Cage movies for other examples of this.) One bad sign: Writer-director Tom Gormican made the spectacularly unfunny That Awkward Moment.

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14 / 19

Violation

Violation

Violation

Shudder March 25

Disturbing even for the notoriously brutal rape-revenge subgenre, Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s debut feature takes psychological horror to upsetting new depths. Sims-Fewer stars as Miriam, a woman who experiences an unforgivable betrayal when she visits her sister and brother-in-law at their lakeside cabin. Most of the film is not about this event, however, but its aftermath, which the directors dramatize in unblinkingly graphic detail that both provides catharsis and complicates the audience’s relationship to it. As we put in our review from last year’s Toronto International Film Festival: “Beware, all those sensitive to graphic violence and animal cruelty.”

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15 / 19

Nobody

Nobody

Nobody

Select theaters March 26

Bob Odenkirk falls pretty low on the list of actors you’d ever expect to receive his very own John Wick. Then again, he does fit rather snugly into Vince Gilligan’s hellish small-screen cartel battlefield. And in any case, that the comedian is ostensibly ill-equipped for kung-fu combat duty seems built into the very premise of Nobody, which casts Odenkirk as a deceptively wimpy suburban doormat with a secret past who’s pushed too far and goes ballistic on the Russian gangsters threatening his family. Llya Naishuller directs, in a style slightly less first-person-shooter nauseating than the one he brought to his last feature, Hardcore Henry.

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16 / 19

Godzilla Vs. Kong

Godzilla Vs. Kong

Godzilla Vs. Kong

Select theaters and HBO Max March 31

Just shy of 60 years after Toho’s most famous radioactive reptile took on the Eighth Wonder Of The World, a big-budget rematch has arrived. What’s brought the two most famous kaiju to city-leveling blows this time? Expect an overqualified cast of puny humans (including a few returning from the uneven Godzilla: King Of The Monsters) to explain during the slower stretches of this fourth entry in Legendary’s MonsterVerse franchise. Adam Wingard, director of You’re Next, The Guest, and that underwhelming Blair Witch sequel, is staging the title fight; pity that witnessing it on the big screen, as God(zilla) intended, is still about as safe as pulling up a chair on the observation deck of Tokyo’s tallest skyscraper to watch one of the big lizard’s rampages.

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17 / 19

Plus

Plus

Yes Day
Yes Day
Photo: Netflix

Plus:

Director Jessie Barr co-wrote the coming-of-age drama Sophie Jones (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 3/2) with her cousin Jessica Barr, who stars as a 16-year-old struggling to cope with the death of her mother. Documentary The War And Peace Of Tim O’Brien (VOD 3/2) follows the Vietnam veteran and retired novelist as he picks up the pen again. Cult horror icon Larry Fessenden shows up in Dementer (VOD 3/2), which is a thriller about a cult survivor fleeing evil spirits, not another Harry Potter spinoff. A Shape Of Things To Come (virtual theaters 3/4) profiles an elderly loner roughing it in the desert. Brea Grant wrote and stars in the surreal thriller Lucky (Shudder 3/4), about a woman who’s terrorized by the same home invader every night. The Walrus And The Whistleblower (Discovery Plus 3/4) is an award-winning, stranger-than-fiction documentary about an animal trainer who embarks on a crusade against marine mammal captivity. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood…’s Margaret Qualley is an assistant to a literary agent with a rather famous client in My Salinger Year (select theaters and VOD 3/5). Alec Baldwin sicks a gang of priests and nuns (!?) on a vengeful Irish girl played by Olivia Cooke in the crime comedy Pixie (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 3/5). The recent trend of period lesbian romances reaches WWII with The Affair (VOD 3/5), starring Carice van Houten and Hanna Alström as friends who embark on a forbidden romance in 1930s Czechoslovakia. Son (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 3/5) casts Andi Matichak as a mother going to extreme lengths to protect her child from a mysterious ailment. Cannes competitor Adam (virtual theaters 3/5) chronicles the forging of a new friendship at a Casablanca bakery. The People Vs. Agent Orange (select theaters 3/5) tracks the fallout, medical and legal, of America’s use of chemical warfare in Vietnam. While Kedi explored the life of outdoor cats in Istanbul, Stray (virtual theaters 3/5) does the same for the city’s homeless canine population. Stephen King has no involvement in this Dreamcatcher (digital platforms and VOD 3/5), a horror movie that seems to concern a masked killer at an underground music festival. Meanwhile, schlocky Nazi monster movie Stay Out Of The Attic (Shudder 3/11) should have kept the “fuckin’” before “attic” in its title. Paul Rudd and some other famous folks executive-produced My Beautiful Stutter (Discovery Plus 3/11), which interviews kids who stutter. Kid 90 (Hulu 3/12) assembles home-video footage of one-time Punky Brewster star Soleil Moon Frye’s teenage years as a child star. Chuck & Buck director Miguel Arteta made a kid flick called Yes Day (Netflix 3/12) starring Jennifer Garner and Édgar Ramírez! The Spellbound make-a-doc formula is adopted yet again in Own The Room (Disney Plus 3/12), about five youngsters traveling to China to compete in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. A week after starring with Mel Gibson in Boss Level, Frank Grillo is back to serve alongside Bruce Willis in the DTV sci-fi actioner Cosmic Sin (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 3/12). The artist Ephraim Asili makes his feature debut with an ensemble drama about Black activists in Philadelphia, The Inheritance (virtual theaters 3/12). Sleep paralysis is the subject of the sci-fi thriller Come True (select theaters and VOD 3/12). A couple’s camping trip becomes a nightmarish fight for survival in the surreal Koko-Di Koko-Da (Shudder 3/18). Also on the horror streaming platform that day: Slaxx (Shudder 3/18), about a killer pair of jeans! Documentarian Gwen van de Pas investigates her own childhood abuse in Groomed (Discovery Plus 3/18). The dark comedy Happily (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 3/19) drops married couple Joel McHale and Kerry Bishé into a murder mystery. Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker (Kino Marquee 3/19) takes a nonfiction look at the life, work, and death of queer artist David Wojnarowicz. Director Miles Hargrove assembled Miracle Fishing: Kidnapped Abroad (Discovery Plus 3/25) from a video diary of his father’s kidnapping and the fight to get him back. A troublemaking teen finds love at a Christian summer camp in A Week Away (Netflix 3/26). The Good Traitor (select theaters and VOD 3/26) dramatizes yet another true story of World War II, this one concerning a Danish diplomat scheming against Nazi Germany. Likewise Six Minutes To Midnight (select theaters and VOD 3/26), starring Eddie Izzard as an instructor whose job teaching English to the daughters of Nazi officers gets him in hot water. Four friends go on an all-night bender to mourn the breakup of The Smiths, circa summer of 1987, in Shoplifters Of The World (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 3/26). Freddie Highmore and Famke Janssen headline heist thriller The Vault (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 3/26). And Francesco (Discovery Plus 3/28) offers an inside look at the life of Pope Francis.

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18 / 19

Postponed

Postponed

Morbius
Morbius
Photo: Sony Pictures

Postponed:

For a while there, several studios were eyeing March 2021 as the place to move their delayed blockbusters, blissfully unaware that we’d still be in this shit a year later. Though once rescheduled from last summer to this month, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has now fixed its Neutrona Wand on November 11, 2021. Morbius, starring Jared Leto as the Marvel vampire, can add March 19 to the list of release dates it’s scrapped; the comic book adaptation will (maybe) hit theaters in January of 2022. Sopranos prequel The Many Saints Of Newark was briefly slated to open this month, but has since moved to September, one year from its original release date. They’re supposedly still making a sequel to the Alicia Vikander Tomb Raider, but it sure won’t open in the next four weeks. And The King’s Man is truly the king of new opening days: The latest plan is to drop it in theaters this August, but don’t hold your bloody breath on that actually happening.

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19 / 19