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New in Theaters March 16: Tomb Raider, Love, Simon, I Can Only Imagine, 7 Days in Entebbe

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By Chris Kavan - 03/15/18 at 06:41 AM CT

Black Panther managed to hold off A Wrinkle in Time, but it's going to face its biggest threat yet in the rebooted Tomb Raider. Alicia Vikander has proven to be a bankable star and while video game adaptations haven't been the most successful at the box office, Tomb Raider was popular before and looks to be a hit again. Besides the action film, we have love, inspiration and thrills - but the other three films don't look to be any kind of threat. Even if Black Panther losses its top spot, it's already made history and shouldn't slow down much on its continued march to glory.

TOMB RAIDER Whereas the 2001 version of Tomb Raider followed a Lara Croft that was already a seasoned adventurer - as did the games of that time, the 2018 version follows a younger version of the tomb raider, one who isn't yet a globe-trotting, risk-taking badass. Alicia Vikander instead is a Lara Croft who is a bike courier, who barely makes enough to pay the rent, rarely gets to the classes she's taking and is unable to take the reigns of her father's company, despite the fact he has been missing for seven years. Against his explicit wishes, she goes in search of the last place he was seen - a mysterious, isolated island, where the legend of the tomb raider will be born. This follows the newest games in the storied franchise as well - and I think these new entries are far more interesting, in both story and character, than the rather cookie-cutter action games that started things off. Vikander is a good choice, she's a talented actress and she has good company: Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas and Derek Jacobi, among many others, are on board. The trailers make this look like a grand adventure - and though Black Panther has had a great run, I think Tomb Raider will be able to top it, but I bet it won't be by much.

LOVE, SIMON Modern day romance is big business and Love, Simon is going to capitalize on that... though I suspect it might lose out on the more conservative audience. You see the film focuses on Simon (he's in the title after all), a high school student who, like every high school student, is looking for love. Just one problem, he's also secretly gay - a fact he has not revealed to friends or family. Yet he may not have to worry much longer, as he has been carrying on an online romance with a classmate, a male classmate, and now he has to come to terms with who he is before the secret gets out. Oh, and also figure out who his secret admirer is in the process. This is truly a love story for all time, and even if it gives certain segments of the population the vapors for featuring gay youth - well, all the better. The film boasts a nice cast - Nick Robinson as Simon, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as his parents and Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Logan Miller and Keiynan Lonsdale as fellow classmates. While it may not be on the same level as Call Me by Your Name, this is more of a John Hughes-like offering, it should still appeal to audiences and wind up somewhere in the top five.

7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE Recently bumped from limited to just over wide release, this crime/thrilled is based on true events that follow a hijacking of an Air France flight in July 1976 and the drama that unfolds when the plane is forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda and demands are made for the release of hostages in exchange for the release of terrorists being held in Israeli prisons. Instead, plans are made for a daring rescue - because, apparently, the U.S. isn't the only country who doesn't deal with terrorists. Rosamund Pike, Daniel Brühl, Eddie Marsan and Nonso Anozie highlight the cast. Director José Padilha is no stranger to action films, having directed the popular Brazilian Elite Squad (and its sequel). He also was responsible for the RoboCop reboot - but not everyone is perfect. This is pretty much an under-the-radar film and given its rather limited theatrical release, I don't see it having that big an impact at the box office. That being said, the story is fascinating and I bet it will be tense and intense to boot, so a great streaming choice in the future for me.

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE That leaves us with the inspirational story of I Can Only Imagine. The film follows the story behind MercyMe's hit song of the same name, a story of hope and forgiveness. I hold no punches when it comes to faith-based films, as these Christian-leaning stories are often there to pander to its core audience and nothing more. But I have just a bit more hope that this will rise above the more generic fare and deliver a film that is inspirational without being just overwhelmingly religious in its tone. I don't know the band nor the song, but the film has managed to wrangle decent talent: Dennis Quaid, Cloris Leachman and country star Trace Adkins among them. If this can find a way to appeal to general audience beyond it core Christian audience, it may surprise and do much better than expected. We'll have to wait and see if it can rise above and do just that.

It's going to be a showdown this weekend between current blockbuster Black Panther and a badass heroine in Tomb Raider. It will be interesting to see where the numbers fall, but I'll be here Sunday with the results.


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