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New in Theaters March 06: Chappie, Unfinished Business, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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By Chris Kavan - 03/05/15 at 06:39 AM CT

March - in like a lion, out like a lamb and vice versa. So how is the first weekend going to shape up? We're still in that time frame where blockbusters are the exception rather than the norm - but at least it looks like there are bigger things in store than the last few weekends. We have sci-fi auteur Neill Blomkamp's latest, a raunchy road trip comedy and a sequel to everyone's favorite geriatric Indian hotel (well "everyone" being adults over 40). I have a feeling there may be more to like - but we'll see if it's enough to get over the winter slump (and don't forget Daylight Savings!).

CHAPPIE After bursting on the scene with the pretty incredible District 9, Neill Blomkamp followed it up with the incredibly mediocre Elysium. Now he returns with another sci-fi effort, this one focused on A.I. with Chappie. One thing about Blomkamp - he does what he likes - (although that is about to change now that he's been announced for a new film in the Aliens franchise) - he isn't afraid to take chances and has his own vision. Now, where will Chappie fall? When I first saw the trailers, I thought this was going to be a pretty straight-up robot-learning-to-be-human almost feel-good story - but an R-rating and a few trailers later, it's obvious this is going to be more focused on robots being used as soldiers and a rogue team of researchers re-programming one of this seemingly mindless killing machines to think on its own - making some people very uncomfortable (and not opposed to using violence to make sure everything goes their way). Regular Blomkamp collaborator Sharlto Copley voices the rouge Chappie, while Dev Patel and husband and wife team Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser (both newcomers) play the research team. Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver are also on board as the opposing factions - Jackman the military man and Weaver as the politician. It looks like a well-rounded cast, and what I seen thus far has me intrigued. I'll still trust Blomkamp to deliver something unique - we'll see whether taking another chance is worth the ticket.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS Can there be a road-trip comedy for adults and teens alike? While these type of films usually focus on college-age kids getting in to all sorts of trouble - this time around the cast is a bit older. Comedy vet Vince Vaughn leads the pack, with Tom Wilkinson and James Franco along for the ride. The trio play a small business owner and his two associates looking to close a major business deal in Europe. But, of course, nothing goes quite as planned and things soon get out of control with sex fetish bash and global economic summit coming into play. Supporting cast includes Sienna Miller, Nick Frost and James Marsden. While I haven't seen anything that differentiates this from your standard comedic formula - it looks like a safe bet. The R rating means they can get away with a lot more and I'm sure the film will be funny. That being said, it take a lot for me to get excited about any comedy - so if I catch this, it will be streaming - but if it can capture the right audience, this has a chance to do pretty good over the weekend.

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL One wouldn't think a film about a bunch of retired folks taking a chance on an excellent home in India (where the place turns out to be more fixer-upper than five-star accommodations) would be a hit - but, lo and behold, the $10 million film make nearly $50 million domestically. I'm guessing a lot of that has to do with the cast: big names like Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith lent their considerable talent to the film - and people (of a certain age) certainly liked it. On this second trip back, the film has added David Strathairn and Richard Gere to the cast. Once again, this is clearly targeting an older audience, as I can't see teens running out in droves to check into the Marigold Hotel. But the thing about older audiences is that they are much more likely to support a movie over time. So while the opening of this sequel may not be huge - it will probably stick around for a few weeks. If the budget is likewise in the low millions - it should have no problem making some bank.

The weekend is shaping up to be the best in a few weeks - I'm hoping Chappie is another hit for Blomkamp and that Unfinished Business and the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel can draw their respective audiences to make March roar in with some power.


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