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New in Theaters March 23: Pacific Rim Uprising, Unsane, Sherlock Gnomes, Midnight Sun, Paul, Apostle

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By Chris Kavan - 03/22/18 at 06:43 AM CT

If Black Panther can stave off both A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider, it could very well also hold off a bunch of giant, fighting mechs. Pacific Rim: Uprising looks to give the Marvel hero the most trouble over the weekend, but will the new Uprising be as memorable with Guillermo del Toro directing? There are plenty of other films coming out as well, including an animated sequel, Steven Soderbergh tackling the horror genre, a biblical drama and a teen romance. Black Panther has held off a lot of competition before, we'll see if it has one more week at the top.

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING I was kind of surprised when they announced a sequel to Pacific Rim. Guillermo del Toro's original was a lot of fun - because who doesn't want to see giant mechs fight giant monsters, right? But it didn't exactly make a lot of money, even with worldwide totals taken into account. Somehow, we still got this sequel but while del Toro was off making an Oscar-winning film Shape of Water, that meant that Uprising does not benefit from him as a director, only a producer. Steven S. DeKnight, who only has a few television episodes under his belt, takes over and while the cast includes the likes of John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Charlie Day and a returning Rinko Kikuchi - something tells me that the loss of del Toro is going to be felt. Sure, the trailers still make this look like fun - you still have giant mechs punching out giant monsters - but it just doesn't have that spark and, let's face it, the original wasn't among del Toro's best efforts, either. The big question is going to be if Uprising can finally displace Black Panther after six weeks. You would think it would have no problem, but I'm not so sure at this point.

SHERLOCK GNOMES If giant mechs aren't you're thing, get the family together and have a bit of fun with Sherlock Gnomes. The sequel to the equally punny-titled Gnomeo and Juliet has the couple (voiced again by Emily Blunt and James McAvoy) having to enlist the help of the garden's greatest detective (voiced by Johnny Depp - why not?) when other garden ornaments begin to disappear. The cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor as Watson, Maggie Smith and Michael Caine as Lady Bluebury and Lord Redbrick as well as Mary J. Blige, Matt Lucas, Julie Walters, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant and Dexter Fletcher. The original film did decent - nearly $100 million stateside and a little under double that worldwide back in 2011. It's entering the box office at a good time - Peter Rabbit has run its course and A Wrinkle in Time was a bit of a fizzle so families looking for relief will have to look nor further. That's the best thing going for it - we'll see how it stacks up to the $25 million opening of the original.

UNSANE Director Steven Soderbergh is no stranger to crime, action and even comedy - but the closest he's come to horror is the the 2011 disease thriller Contagion (which was scary - but not really a horror film). That is why I'm really interested to see how Unsane turns out. This is also an experiment in how far one can go with smartphone filming - as Soderbergh used an iPhone for the entire process. The film follows Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy), who finds herself in a mental institution against her will - but when she confronts her greatest fear, she will have to decide if it's real or a product of her delusions. I mean, it looks pretty freaky to me - and 2018 is shaping up to be another great year for horror, but this one might be a case of niche horror fans only (wait until A Quiet Place drops - that should get in a bigger crowd). In any case, I'm a fan of niche horror so I hope it does well.

MIDNIGHT SUN Another film that will play to a certain crowd above others is Midnight Sun. The film follows Katie (Bella Thorne), a young woman who has Xeroderma Pigmentosum that prevents her from being in the sun, as even a small amount could seriously injure or even kill her. But this doesn't prevent her from living out her dreams or even finding love, when Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger) arrives in her life. The film is a reamke of the 2006 Japanese film of the the same name. Katie, with the support of her father (Rob Riggle) performs at night on her guitar. Charlie becomes entranced by her, not knowing her condition, and wants to help her but even as she realizes she might finally be able to make her dreams come true, her condition worsens. This is a proper teen tearjerker romance. It will draw in young women, for the most part, but I don't see it having a wider appeal.

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST Last week the biggest story aside from Black Panther's continued box office domination was the strong performance from the faith-based I Can Only Imagine. This week it will be joined by another Christian-leaning drama in Paul, Apostle of Christ. But whereas I Can Only Imagine had some crossover appeal, Paul looks to be aiming for the more hardcore Christian crowd and I don't think it's going to be nearly as popular. James Faulkner plays the title character, who has suffered much abuse at the hands of the Romans who, under Nero, are determined to rid the country of all Christians. Alone, seemingly forgotten, Paul reflects on his past misdeeds and wonders if there is any salvation. That brings us to Luke (Jim Caviezel) who risks everything to venture into the city and visit his friend. Luke wants to tell his story - and so much more - for his books will be the basis of a religion, one he is determined to spread across the land. Very heavy this - and I don't think general audiences are going to go all out for this (not when you have giant mechs, superheroes, tomb raiders and animated gnomes about). It will play well to the dedicated Christians, but I don't see it extending beyond that audience.

Pacific Rim: Uprising has the best chance yet of topping Black Panther. Still, after six weeks, I think it's going to put up a good fight. We'll see where the chips land on Sunday.


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