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New in Theaters March 24: Power Rangers, CHiPs, Life and Slamma Jamma

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By Chris Kavan - 03/23/17 at 06:51 AM CT

We've had blockbuster after blockbuster this March - which is kind of a strange month to have such big films, but I guess March is the new July. In any case, Beauty and the Beast, Logan and Get Out are going to have to contend with four new wide release films. Power Rangers is based on the long-running TV show but ditches the cheese factor and looks more like Chronicle than your basic adaptation. But that's not the only movie based on a TV show as CHiPs looks to bring a comedic twist to the California Highway Patrol. If you would rather be scared, an all-star cast finds Life from Mars but it turns out to be a bit more aggressive than first thought. Finally, on a more limited scale, a former basketball star charged with a crime he didn't commit plots a comeback in order to compete in the national slam dunk competition. It's going to get very crowded as Spring Break is going to hit for many people, we'll see how Beauty and the Beast does on its second week amidst the new films.

POWER RANGERS We have had plenty of movies come out that are based on existing TV shows: Chipmunks, Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, of course, Transformers. On the surface, Power Rangers seems like a strange choice as, from what I remember, the original show was kind of cheesy and hilariously bad (sometimes in a good way... more often not). But, taking a page from Chronicle, this updated version looks to instill some drama along with the action and hopefully give things a little more heft. It helps that Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston and Bill Hader have signed on. Rather than go with big names for our Rangers, they are made up of relative unknown actors: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin and Becky G. play our five super teens. If the story can actually match the trailers and deliver a more adult experience, who knows, this could actually be pretty good. Granted, I don't think it's going to be enough to dethrone Beauty and the Beast, but it is sure going to try.

CHiPs Our second adaptation is going the comedic route, placing Michael Peņa and Dax Shepard in the role of Frank 'Ponch' Poncherello and Jon Baker respectively. In this version of CHiPs, Baker is the oldest rookie in California Highway Patrol history, and he won't let his broken body stop him from making arrests. Ponch is a hardened undercover agent looking to infiltrate CHP to investigate a multi-million dollar heist - but still winds up shooting his new partner more times than not. The two, of course, don't get along but I'm sure by the end of the movie they will be best buds, and solve the case, and probably get some kind of award or something. Unlike Power Rangers, this had almost no redeeming qualities for me - though I do like Peņa, so it at least has one good thing going for it. The box office is devoid of comedies right now, which might be the only reason this does halfway decent business.

LIFE One thing the box office is not devoid of is good horror. Get Out has been tearing up the box office week after week and shows little sign of slowing down much. So what to think of Life? This sci-fi thriller follows an group aboard an international space station who make the discovery of a lifetime when a sample taken from Mars is the first extraterrestrial life recorded. But the six astronauts find their elation turning to fear when the creature begins a rapid evolution - and they discover that there was life on Mars and this wiped it out - and now it could very well threaten all life on Earth. The cast looks solid: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya play our diverse team. The trailers make this look suitably compelling but I just don't know if it will be enough for this to break out. This is one I will gladly catch on streaming in the near future but we'll see how much audiences support it in the theaters.

SLAMMA JAMMA While it's being released in far fewer theaters than the above movies, Slamma Jamma still looks to make its mark. The film also apparently takes a faith-based approach, while also featuring sick dunks. Chris Staples portrays Michael Diggs, a wrongfully convicted man who takes the opportunity to hone his one-time basketball skills in order to take part in the national slam dunk competition, while also finding redemption in himself and those he loves. NFL star Michael Irvin plays a hard-bitten agent while baseball star Jose Canseco apparently plays himself (or another guy with the same name). While it doesn't have the star quality of The Shack, maybe it can still find appeal among its core audience.

The weekend is going to get a lot more crowded, but I have a feeling that Beauty and the Beast will have no problem retaining its crown. We'll find out on Sunday.


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