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New in Theaters February 23: Annihilation, Game Night, Every Day

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By Chris Kavan - 02/22/18 at 07:03 AM CT

With Black Panther continuing to set records well after its President's Day weekend run, that means the three new entries this weekend face an uphill battle and none look to have the ability to claim the top spot. Annihilation looks to be a head trip of a sci-fi/adventure/drama/fantasy - but also one that general audiences may not get behind. Game Night looks like a fun, comedic murder-mystery, but even a great cast isn't likely to top Black Panther. And Every Day - well, I'm sure some couples will find it on date night, but I don't see it making that big of impact at the box office. Black Panther has things locked up, but we'll see if any film can challenge it.

ANNIHILATION A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a trip to an ecological disaster zone with the intent of finding out what has happened to her missing husband (Oscar Isaac) and is joined by a group of women (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny and Tessa Thompson) each with their own specialty as an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a linguist. Getting their is just the first step as they realize this area doesn't conform to the laws of man. Director Alex Garland very much impressed me with Ex Machina. Annihilation is based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, one of those that the "unfilmable" moniker gets thrown about because of its content. By all accounts, Annihilation is a trippy sci-fi adventure and because of the lack of shootouts, alien invasions or space dogfights, I have a feeling this is going to be the type of film critics love but general audiences are going to be much more divisive about. I, for one, am looking forward to this - if it can challenge me like Ex Machina did, I will consider it a success, even if I watch it by myself in a mostly empty theater.

GAME NIGHT Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play an ultra-competitive couple who host a game night for other like-minded couples. When a mutual friend, Brooks (Kyle Chandler) seems to plan out the perfect theme murder-mystery, it gets all the couples really into things - until they realize this is not a game and there's much more on the line than winning this time. The rest of the cast includes Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury as the other couples with Jesse Plemons, Michael C. Hall, Danny Huston and Chelsea Peretti as well. I have been a big fan of Bateman every since Arrested Development and McAdams has proven herself adept at comedy (going back to Mean Girls) and action (Sherlock Holmes) alike. It seems the chemistry is right on, and this movie does look like a whole lot of fun, but I have a feeling the cast isn't going to be enough to elevate it to Black Panther's level. I'll keep my eye out for this one on streaming.

EVERY DAY Last weekend, I lamented the fact Samson was yet another attempt to make a heavy-handed Christian movie relate to anyone outside of its core audience - and it failed to break into the top 10. This week is another genre that I find just as bad: sappy teen romance. The actual idea behind the film sounds decent - an average girl (Angourie Rice) finds herself in a none-too-average relationship when she falls for a boy, only to realize this entity (dubbed "A") inhabits a different body each day - but one she loves no matter what. "A" jumps into several people - including those played by Owen Teague, Colin Ford, Jacob Batalon, Justice Smith, Jeni Ross, Katie Douglas, Jake Sim, Nicole Law and Ian Alexander among others. The unconventional relationship, however, faces an even bigger challenge as all this body-hopping takes a toll on "A" leading to a decision that will change everything. Now, if you had a powerful, visionary behind this film, it might work but this is being played as a straight-up young, female-driven film - that is to say, young females will probably think it's good, but I don't think it's going to find a wide audience aside from that. I have a feeling it's going to play better than Samson, but don't expect it to make a huge impact in theaters.

Black Panther looks to be nigh unstoppable at this point, but we'll have to see if any of the three can have an effect on it this weekend. I'll be here Sunday with the breakdown.


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