OPENING THIS WEEK
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Eight years ago, the next-to-last thing anyone needed was a Cloverfield sequel.
The actual last thing was seeing Cloverfield again, after being duped by novel viral marketing into an irritating muddle of nausea-cam gimmicks, a bashful monster and characters not as smart as their phones.
So, why is a Cloverfield followup the most interesting new movie this weekend?
For one thing, there isn't much competition, just more proof that Sacha Baron Cohen is/was a fad, a generic rom-com with a cultural twist and another faith-based drama.
Yes, a Cloverfield sequel looks pretty good compared to that.
In fairness, producer J.J. Abrams — who went on to much better things — calls 10 Cloverfield Lane (PG-13) a "spiritual successor" to 2008's over-hyped hit.
"Those characters and that monster (from Cloverfield) are not in this movie, but there are other characters and other monsters," the reviver of Star Trek and Star Wars franchises told Entertainment Weekly, suggesting a "universe" of sorts.
10 Cloverfield Lane comes with a different sort of ballyhoo. Moviegoers didn't know this movie was coming until the mid-January release of a trailer, after-production secrecy remarkable in this social media era.
All we really know about 10 Cloverfield Lane is that a car accident victim (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is being held captive in an underground shelter by a survivalist (John Goodman). Outside is some kind of chemical emergency that shouldn't be allowed inside. Nobody appears to have a video camera, which is a plus.
A review of 10 Cloverfield Lane will be published at tampabay.com/movies.
THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY
Columbia Pictures didn't allow critics anywhere near Baron Cohen's latest movie, The Brothers Grimsby (R). Not after its crushing rejection on the comedian's home turf United Kingdom, grossing less that half what his flop The Dictator earned in 2012.
The Brothers Grimsby casts Cohen as a drunken soccer hooligan named Nobby Butcher, who joins his secret agent sibling, Sebastian Butcher (Mark Strong), on a mission to save the world. Notice that the brothers' surname isn't Grimsby, a detail you'd think someone would have noticed. Grimsby is actually a working-class town in England displeased with Cohen's depiction.
Mixed reviews from overseas report gags involving an elephant's vagina, various body parts and fluids, and Donald Trump contracting AIDS. Cohen's comedy has shown diminishing returns with each character since Borat. The Brothers Grimsby should keep his career skidding.
THE PERFECT MATCH
Chris Rock's call at the Oscars for equal opportunities in Hollywood is already working. The Perfect Match (R) proves African-Americans have just as much right to recycle hackneyed material as their white counterparts.
Stop me if you've heard this before: Ladies man Charlie (Terrence J, at right), who doesn't believe in love enters a bet with his buddies (Donald Faison and Robert Christopher Riley) that a month with one woman will get him hooked. Enter the beautiful, mysterious Eva (Cassie Ventura) and fill in the blanks.
The Perfect Match wasn't screened for critics.
THE YOUNG MESSIAH
Eyebrows were raised in 2005 when occult novelist Anne Rice turned from vampires and witches to writing about the life of Jesus. A proposed trilogy began with Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, continued with a second book and remains unfinished.
Rice's first stab at imagined theology is the source of The Young Messiah (PG-13), tracing Jesus Bar-Joseph's childhood exodus from Egypt to Nazareth and growing awareness of his destiny. Adam Greaves-Neal , at right, is the deity-to-be, with Sara Lazzaro and Vincent Walsh as the parents keeping a big secret from their son.
The Young Messiah wasn't screened for critics, only the figurative choir of church groups.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 The Revenant: Three Academy Awards, including best actor Leonardo DiCaprio and best director Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
2 The Witch: An exercise in slow fuse occult horror, like watching something forbidden.
3 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Television reporters (Tina Fey and Margot Robbie) cover the Afghanistan war.
4 Deadpool: Gleefully graphic adventures of Marvel's superantihero (Ryan Reynolds).
5 Son of Saul: Holocaust grimness, and winner of the best foreign language film Oscar.
(dates subject to change)
Wednesday: Miracles from Heaven
March 18: The Divergent Series: Allegiant; Hello, My Name is Doris
March 25: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2; The Disappointments Room
April 1: Amityville: The Awakening; Collide; God's Not Dead
April 8: Before I Wake; The Boss; Hardcore Henry
April 15: The Jungle Book; Barbershop: The Next Cut; Criminal