The Film Fix: Previewing March’s Top Films in Theaters, Streaming

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By JONATHAN W. HICKMAN, Special to The Paper

Below are reviews and capsules of various films this month in theaters and/or streaming. Review rating … A “Fix” is recommended with a rating between 6 and 10. A “No Fix” is not recommended with a rating between 1 to 5.

In Theaters

Cocaine Bear (now playing) – Fix Rating 7/10 – In the 1980s, a cache of cocaine is dumped from a crashing plane in the Tennessee/Georgia mountains. When a black bear discovers and ingests large amounts of the powdery, white substance, she goes on a rampage.  

This tongue-in-cheek comedy, loosely based on a true story, is equal parts funny and gory. Destined to be a cult classic, director Elizabeth Banks infuses her “Jaws” parody with ample amounts of 80s nostalgia. The movie features a stellar cast featuring a humorous turn by Alden Ehrenreich, an adorable and funny pint-sized, foul-mouthed Christian Convery, and the last performance by the late Ray Liotta.

Creed III (March 3) – No Fix Rating 5/10 – In the third, and, hopefully, final, Creed film, Michael B. Jordan never lets you forget that he’s a movie star–from his expensive designer clothing, his fabulous LA mansion, to his perfect Rolls-Royce. In this slick production, Jordan looks rich from head to toe, even when his character is taking a beating in the ring.  

That wealthy, polished persona belies the rough and ready one that handsomely launched the “Rocky” spin-off “Creed” in 2015. By contrast, “Creed III” lacks the raw edge and the street cred that the 2015 film captured perfectly. This entry is a marginal improvement over the cartoonish “Creed II,” but it’s a wasted opportunity for Jordan, who also makes his directorial debut.  

When interviewed about this project, Sylvester Stallone said, “I like my heroes getting beat up, but I just don’t want them going into that dark space. I just feel people have enough darkness.” In exploring Creed’s relationship with an emotionally damaged childhood friend, arguably, “Creed III” might not be dark enough.

Even though Stallone does not appear in this film, the narrative he originally wrote in 1976 is partially recycled in “Creed III.”  The story has Adonis “Donnie” Creed retiring after a rematch with Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew). As a second career, Creed turns to promotion and management.

One afternoon, he’s visited by an old friend Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), who has recently been released from a long stint in prison. Anderson, whose age hovers around 40, was once a golden glove champ. He desperately wants Creed to give him a shot at the title. Can Creed overcome the demons of his past and make things right with his friend? Naturally, this is gonna end up in the ring.

“Creed III” is the kind of pulpy entertainment associated with lesser installments in the prolific boxing movie franchise. But something is off, as the core theme is confused, with an irresponsible message promoting that all problems can be settled with your fists. An attempt to grapple with this dilemma is jettisoned in a false moment when Creed’s thoughtful wife (Tessa Thompson) embraces the violent solution with little explanation. 

Majors, who just last month was the best thing about the MCU’s “Quantumania,” once again proves that he’s the real deal. If only this script would have allowed him to be genuinely as frightening as he could be. But what’s surprising is that despite his questionable motives, I found myself rooting for his character as the final battle with Creed hits the ring.

Streaming Selects

HBO MAX

Perry Mason (Season 2 starts on March 6) – The origin story for the famous 1950s-era television lawyer continues with its second season. Matthew Rhys plays the title character, a private investigator and, eventually, a lawyer, in 1930s Los Angeles. The noir drama was well-received when it launched, but nearly three years have passed since season one, meaning that viewers may have to do some heavy lifting and rewatch the first eight episodes to reacquaint themselves with the players and their place in the world.  

NETFLIX

Agent Elvis (season 1, March 17, 2023) – In this animated adventure, Matthew McConaughey gives voice to a fantastical version of the famous Memphis singer. In “Agent Elvis,” the rock star becomes a secret agent who, according to the Netflix synopsis, “trades in his jumpsuit for a jetpack” and joins forces with a secret government program. The musician-turned-spy reportedly battles “dark forces that threaten the country.”  The trailer looks like adult-skewing fun, and McConaughey’s voice work sounds less like Elvis and more like, well, McConaughey, which is “alright, alright, alright.”

APPLE TV+

Ted Lasso (March 15) – “If seeing is believing, I believe we’ve been seen,” Ted (Jason Sudeikis) quips, standing beside his right arm Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt). The two seasoned pros inspect the team lockers, each adorned with a custom version of his trademark motivational term, “Believe.” Believing in Lasso, Apple’s streaming platform hopes that the return of its marquee show will help viewers discover all the quality programming it has been churning out.  

After checking out “Ted Lasso,” you can also give their climate change series “Extrapolations” a look starting on March 17. And at the end of the month, you can watch the movie “Tetris,” which is a narrative about the origin of the famous video game; hint, it was smuggled out of the Soviet Union.

DISNEY+

The Mandalorian (season 2, episode 1, March 1) – Disney’s most popular space opera series returns after more than a two-year hiatus. Meanwhile, the crown of the Star Wars universe’s best series was taken by last year’s transcendent “Andor.” In the season three “Mandalorian” trailer, Mando (Pedro Pascal) decides to return to Mandalore to seek forgiveness. Still, there’s darkness threatening the galaxy, and he’s got the child, Grogu, to protect. Of course, Grogu might not need protection as its powers continue to grow.

AMAZON PRIME

Daisy Jones & The Six (season 1, March 3, 2023) – Fix Rating 6/10 – Adapted from the bestseller by Taylor Jenkins Reid, “Daisy Jones & The Six” is arguably an improvement over the tedious source material. The book was composed of a laborious series of documentary-style interviews, partially recreated in this series. But the material comes alive as the action is vividly recreated in the cinematic form. The story follows the rise of a 1970s rock band. Elvis’ granddaughter Riley Keough plays the title character, a Stevie Nicks-inspired siren, who joins a Fleetwood Mac-style music group.

Theatrical Teasers

Scream VI (March 10) – The latest installment in the long-running self-aware horror franchise takes Ghostface to New York City.

Luther: The Fallen Sun (March 10) – The hit British television series gets a theatrical spin-off. Disgraced detective John Luther (Idris Elba) is forced to escape prison to capture a serial killer in London.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (March 17) – Shazam (Zachary Levi) returns to do battle with a new group of super-powered villains led by Hespera (Helen Mirren) in the latest DC comics adaptation.

65 (March 17) – Adam Driver plays an astronaut who crashes on a strange planet where he discovers that the life there might not be very hospitable.

John Wick: Chapter 4 (March 24) – Keanu Reeves is back in fine form as the super-killer title character. This time, he’s offered a chance at freedom from the dangerous organization, The High Table.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (March 31) – This reboot of the 2000 adaptation of the popular role-playing game stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and Hugh Grant. While the action looks fast and furious, the comic vibe might make the movie even more entertaining.

Jonathan W. Hickman is an entertainment attorney, filmmaker, college professor, and novelist. More about Jonathan can be found by visiting: filmproductionlaw.com. Folks can also follow him at dailyfilmfix.com.

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