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New in Theaters February 19: Race, Risen, The Witch

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By Chris Kavan - 02/18/16 at 06:51 AM CT

With Deadpool breaking all kinds of records over the long President's Day weekend, do any new films have a hope to topple the R-rated hero? I would say it's going to be a tough challenge and though there are worthy films, Deadpool is likely to rule the roost for at least another weekend. That being said, we have a sports biography, a horror film and a biblical drama all looking to make their mark. While none will probably hit the top spot, the top five should be in the cards for at least a couple of the movies.

RACE The sports biopic has been well received. One just has to look to the success of 42 and what it did for the career of Chadwick Boseman. One can hope that Stephan James can look forward to the same type of reception as he takes on another iconic role - that of Jesse Owens leading up to the 1936 Olympics held in Germany. The track and field star faced about as much discrimination at home as he did in Hitler's Aryan paradise - but, none-the-less, went on to make a statement that would resonate long after the games were over. Jason Sudeikis is on board in a non-comedic role for once, joined by Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, Carice van Houten, Eli Goree and Jonathan Higgins, among others. That's a good lineup and should help the film's chances, but I don't see this being quite the breakout film as 42. The film could stick around, but I doubt it will have the legs to make is much into March.

RISEN Maybe you want your drama to lean a bit more on the religious side of things. Now, for my money, I think Risen would have done a bit better close to Easter, but I'm not the person in charge of things. Still, this drama, which centers around the Resurrection but is viewed through the eyes of a non-believer, the Roman Clavius and his aide, Lucius who are tasked with determining what really happened to Christ in hopes of stemming rumors of rise Messiah and a growing uprising in Jerusalem. Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton portray the Roman and his aide, while Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis, Marķa Botto and Luis Callejo are in the supporting cast. This is a religious film I can get behind, unlike the faith-based films that seem to pander to a Christian audience, this one seems genuinely interesting and provides a new perspective on a much-told story. I doubt I'll watch this in theaters, but the cast has me at least interested enough that I would be done for home viewing at some point.

THE WITCH The Witch has the possibility of becoming this year's version of The Babadook or It Follows - a clever and engrossing horror film that relies as much on characters as it does scares. Taking place in the 1630s, a large family at the edge of the untamed wilds starts to fall apart and turn on each other as a series of unexplained events eat away at their faith and sanity. Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson play the family while Sarah Stephens and Bathsheba Garnett play the titular "Witch" who may or may not be real. The film sounds pretty intense with the family drama being just as scary as the more supernatural elements. This is one that has been on my radar and am very keen on checking it out. Now, as a niche horror film, I don't expect it to burn up the box office but I do think it is probably the best film of the week (in my eyes). I hope it does exceptionally well, but even if the grosses are low, I have a feeling it will be well worth tracking down and watching.

With Deadpool still looking to mighty to topple, the three new films will all be fighting for a spot in the top five. I'll be back on Sunday to see which one comes out on top.


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