Trailer Park: ‘Logan,’ ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and other March releases

With the exception of the thoroughly awesome LEGO Batman Movie, things have been a little sleepy down at the multiplex. As usual in the cold post-Christmas months, theaters have been burning through their backlog of late-2016 Oscar nominees (Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Fences, Manchester by the Sea, La La Land), junky filler (Sleepless), and the occasional what-the-hell? misfire (Live by Night, Fifty Shades Darker). So, if you’re the kind of person who sees all the awards season releases when they first come out, it’s been a good time to catch up on your Netflix queue.

But as we get closer to March, the studios’ release slates start to get more interesting. Take a look.

Logan (March 3)

Circling back to the grizzly, grumbly hero who helped kick off the comics-film renaissance, Logan reunites Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine/Logan with director James Mangold, who also helmed the Japan-set, surprisingly good standalone entry The Wolverine. (Remember that he also directed Jackman in the time-travel rom-com Kate & Leopold; a superb piece of work even given its lack of ninjas and Mutants.) The trailer, set to the grave-dry cover of “Hurt” by Johnny Cash — a nod to Mangold’s Walk the Line — shows an aging Logan and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) hiding out in a world without Mutants, only to be given the responsibility of caring for a little girl Mutant. Hopefully this one ends up being a worthy capstone to Wolverine’s mixed solo track record, and not a wasted trip back to a dried-up well, ala Jason Bourne.

Contemporary Color (March 3)

Because David Byrne is David Byrne, when he thought it would be cool to stage a big art happening at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center arena where musicians like himself, St. Vincent, and Nelly Furtado were paired for performances with color guard teams from the U.S. and Canada, it actually happened. The trailer, filled with the color guard’s routines of synchronized dance moves and twirling flags, makes this documentary of that happening look like one big happy swirl of music and movement. Kind of like those massive stadium routines that they put on in North Korea, only in a good way.

Kong: Skull Island (March 10)

Showing that Hollywood will never, ever, give up on bringing once-cherished monster properties back to life, even after the resolutely unoriginal rehash that was Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong, they’re giving the big ape one more shot. Only this time, they are really not taking themselves seriously. The trailer — which, let’s be honest, makes it look like about half a whacked-out stoner masterpiece — mashes up classic roaring giant ape action with Vietnam War film visuals (sheets of napalm and Huey choppers silhouetted against a setting sun) and a heavy dose of comedy, particularly from John C. Reilly, who appears to be doing a riff on Dennis Hopper by way of Adam McKay. Somehow, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, and Samuel L. Jackson are all along for the ride.

Beauty and the Beast (March 17)

It’s been over a decade since Bill Condon last directed a musical (2006’s Dreamgirls). But his splashy visuals could well be the right fit for this inevitable live-action remake of the animated Disney musical — whose once-groundbreaking animation is looking ever-more threadbare these days. The pipes of Emma Watson and Dan Stevens remain to be judged, but from the trailer they do seem to yearn quite well. Luke Evans looks to be a perfect mustache-twirling fit for Gaston, and it appears that everyone from Ian McKellen to Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci is providing voices for the various animated objects in the Beast’s castle. One could do worse; and we have.

Frantz (March 17)

Normally, the premise of Francois Ozon’s Frantz would not have much to recommend it. In Germany just after World War I, a widow discovers a Frenchman visiting the grave of her husband who died in the war. The trailer, in crisp and beautiful black and white, doesn’t give much away except for the promise of some illicit-seeming romantic attraction. But in the past, Ozon’s mix of sharp visuals and stinging irony (Potiche, in particular) have made for a tasty cocktail.

Free Fire (March 17)

It’s been a while since audiences were treated to an old-fashioned movie-long shootout. Most likely Ben Wheatley, given the trippy machinations of A Field in England and the quasi-sociopolitical commentary in High-Rise, has more on his mind than sheer firepower in this late-1970s-set actioner about a bunch of hoods, a deal gone bad, and a warehouse full of guns. But if that’s all he really felt like delivering, then I think most of us would be okay with that.

Ghost in the Shell (March 31)

No, they probably didn’t need to make a live-action version of the 1990s cyberpunk anime classic about a cyborg cop with questions about her past — particularly since this adaptation from the director of the visually appealing but dead-on-arrival Snow White and the Huntsman looks to have amped up the action and jettisoned the original’s philosophical backdrop. Also, Scarlett Johansson could well be reiterating her robot killer shtick from Luc Besson’s Lucy. On the other hand, the trailer does reveal the great and rarely seen (in American films, at least) Takeshi Kitano, so it may be worth checking out, after all.