Nostalgia has been at the forefront of Hollywood for a long while, but last month’s box office offerings really took that trend to new heights. In particular, releases like Beauty and the Beast, Power Rangers, T2: Trainspotting and Ghost in the Shell banked on moviegoers’ interest in reliving the early-to-mid 1990s, to mostly successful results. Elsewhere, Kong: Skull Island and Logan marked a pivotal resurgence and curtain call, respectively, for their title characters.
Moving into April, the weeks ahead bring far fewer anticipated blockbusters (save for one particular franchise installment). However, there’s certainly no shortage of promising films on the docket, from broad comedies and taut thrillers to some engaging smaller releases featuring some of the industry’s top talent. So, before the onslaught of summer movie season kicks into gear in May, let’s take a quick look at what’s arriving in a theater near you this month.
Here are 10 films to check out in April 2017:
Going in Style (Release Date: April 7)
Going in Style may be a remake of the 1979 film with which it shares its name, but the appeal of Oscar winners Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin will likely go a long way toward making the film as relevant as ever. The film marks director Zach Braff’s third big-screen effort and the first in which he doesn’t star.
Following the same basic premise as the original film, Going in Style follows three senior citizens who turn to bank robbery to recoup the funds they’ve lost due to their cancelled pensions. We can safely assume that hilarity ensues, and while it remains to be seen whether the script will be up to snuff, the fact that it is written by filmmaker Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures) probably bodes well for the finished product.
Check out the latest trailer for Going in Style.
Colossal (Release Date: April 7)
Hitting limited release this month, Colossal stars Anne Hathaway as a woman who returns to her hometown after losing her job in New York and discovers a surprising connection between her mental state and a horrific monster attack in South Korea. If that premise alone doesn’t have you at least intrigued, may we add the fact that Legion and Beauty and the Beast star Dan Stevens makes an appearance?
Colossal might just be one of the more offbeat films arriving in theaters in April, but the sci-fi comedy might prove to be a sleeper hit with its distinctive take on the kaiju genre. It also marks the latest project for writer/director Nacho Vigalondo, who is still best known for his mind-bending 2007 time travel thriller Timecrimes. If Colossal is half as engrossing as that film, moviegoers are in for something special.
Check out the latest trailer for Colossal.
Gifted (Release Date: April 7)
While the world debates whether or not Chris Evans will don his iconic Captain America costume beyond the fourth Avengers film, the actor is wasting no time filling his schedule between appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Gifted (in limited release this month), he plays the uncle of a mathematically advanced girl (Mckenna Grace) who is drawn into a custody battle with his own mother.
Featuring a solid supporting cast that includes Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate and Lindsay Duncan, Gifted – not to be confused with Fox’s upcoming X-Men show, though few really would – could be just the grounded drama moviegoers need before the onslaught of blockbusters invade theater screens. Similarly, it marks filmmaker Marc Webb’s first directorial effort since The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Check out the latest trailer for Gifted.
Your Name (Release Date: April 7)
Many would say that anime rarely gets the respect or attention it deserves in the American mainstream. Well, those moviegoers will have yet another chance to support these films when Your Name arrives in limited release this month. The new film from Makoto Shinkai (The Garden of Words) already has a reputation to live up to stateside, having become the highest-grossing anime film worldwide.
The film is based on Shinkai’s own novel and follows a high school girl in rural Japan and a high school boy from Tokyo who establish a far deeper connection than they ever thought possible. That rather vague premise may leave the film something of a mystery, but Your Name is the kind of movie for which viewers would certainly benefit from knowing as little as possible, especially considering its near-universal critical acclaim.
Check out the latest trailer for Your Name.
The Fate of the Furious (Release Date: April 14)
Following the death of Paul Walker, it was unclear how the Fast and Furious franchise would go on without one of its most integral figures. Yet, The Fate of the Furious looks like it will once again subvert expectations, as Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) shockingly turns his back on his “family” due to the coercion of Charlize Theron’s deadly Cipher. Along the way, fan favorites like Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez and Jason Statham return to stop Dom.
Of course, in addition to the ongoing melodrama among Dom’s crew, no Fast and Furious film is complete without ridiculous, over-the-top action sequences. This eighth entry seems determined to up the ante in that regard, with a key set piece involving a trip to the Arctic, a tank and a submarine. At this rate, we can only imagine that Dom and company may be headed to space by the time the planned 10th entry rolls around. We’re kidding (sort of).
Check out the latest trailer for The Fate of the Furious.
The Lost City of Z (Release Date: April 14)
Charlie Hunnam may not be back piloting a Jaeger in the upcoming Pacific Rim sequel, but between The Lost City of Z and a potential franchise-starter in next month’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the actor has definitely been busy. The former film sees Hunnam play real-life British explorer Percy Fawcett, who made several attempts to locate an ancient city in the Amazon.
Based on the 2009 David Grann book, The Lost City of Z promises to be an adventure with a bit more substance than its premise may imply. Director James Gray has established himself as a stylish, talented filmmaker with his underrated work in The Immigrant and Two Lovers. With any luck, this new film can help more moviegoers discover his films, though its limited release means they’ll have to seek it out.
Check out the latest trailer for The Lost City of Z.
Free Fire (Release Date: April 21)
In the past couple of years, A24 has delivered critically acclaimed Oscar-winners like Ex Machina, Room and Moonlight. While Free Fire may not have the same ambitious goals as those films, director Ben Wheatley (High-Rise) does promise to take moviegoers on an exhilarating thrill ride, as an ensemble cast of familiar faces engage in what essentially amounts to a feature-length gunfight.
Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, and Cillian Murphy headline the 1970s-set confrontation between two gangs during a deal gone wrong. Since making its world premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Free Fire has garnered mostly positive critical notices as an enjoyable B-movie action film. With any luck, the film will emerge as A24’s latest box office success story.
Check out the latest trailer for Free Fire.
The Promise (Release Date: April 21)
Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale headline this historical drama, which sees an Armenian medical student (Isaac) compete with an American journalist (Bale) for the affections of the same woman (Charlotte Le Bon). Set during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise appears to be using this fictional love triangle as a way of capturing the larger historical context surrounding the central romance.
While this narrative technique has been employed time and again (Titanic being the best-known example), the presence of such gifted actors as Isaac and Bale and the involvement of co-writer/director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) makes us interested in seeing if the Oscar-nominated filmmaker manages to craft a satisfying romantic epic out of the complex setting.
Check out the latest trailer for The Promise.
The Circle (Release Date: April 28)
Emma Watson may be riding high off the success of Beauty and the Beast, but the Harry Potter alum isn’t waiting long to appeal to more than the family audiences who know her as Hermione Granger and now Belle. While Watson has already given memorable performances in films like The Bling Ring and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Circle could be the Hollywood starring vehicle she needs to take her career to the next level.
In the film, Watson plays a young woman recruited to work for an enigmatic, omnipresent tech company with a sinister agenda at its core. The story – based on Dave Eggers’ novel – is brimming with timely social commentary regarding privacy and transparency, and the inclusion of Tom Hanks in a rare villainous role and supporting roles for John Boyega, Karen Gillan and the late Bill Paxton close the deal for us.
Check out the latest trailer for The Circle.
How to Be a Latin Lover (Release Date: April 28)
Although foreign films don’t ordinarily dominate the box office, Mexican comedy/drama Instructions Not Included became one of the highest-grossing foreign-language films in 2013, bringing in more than $44 million domestically. Now that film’s star, Eugenio Derbez, is returning to theaters with another bid for box office success in actor Ken Marino’s directorial debut How to Be a Latin Lover.
In the film, Derbez plays aging lothario Maximo, who moves in with his sister (Salma Hayek) after his marriage to a much older woman falls apart. Though he is anxious to reactivate his powers of seduction, Maximo bonds with his young nephew and begins to recognize the importance of family. How to Be a Latin Lover may be an exercise in broad comedy, but the charm of its cast – including Raquel Welch, Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell and Rob Riggle – and its worthy message may turn it into a winner this month.
Check out the latest trailer for How to Be a Latin Lover.
Aside from The Fate of the Furious (which is already on track to earn $110 million in its opening weekend), April brings a cornucopia of interesting films that are unlikely to soar to the top of the year’s highest-grossing chart. Yet, from Tom Hanks’ villainous turn in The Circle to Brie Larson and company leading the ultimate shootout in Free Fire, moviegoers have a lot to look forward to, even if April seems like a modest month for heading to the movies. In any case, Marvel heroes, xenomorphs and Captain Jack Sparrow himself are right around the corner. So those of you more attuned to the big-budget franchises won’t have long to wait.
Until then, here are the 10 films to check out in April:
April 7: Going in Style, Colossal, Gifted, Your Name
April 14: The Fate of the Furious, The Lost City of Z
April 21: Free Fire, The Promise
April 28: The Circle, How to Be a Latin Lover