I have to say it: this month has kinda sucked for SFF on screen. With not a lot so far beyond the pretty-but-messy adaptation of the classic A Wrinkle in Time, and the super bland Tomb Raider reboot no one wanted or needed, it's really no wonder that Black Panther has ruled the box office for five weeks running. Wakanda forever!
But there are still two weekends left for March to redeem itself; today's release of Pacific Rim: Uprising is expected to finally topple the Marvel box office behemoth (despite Pacific Rim's less than stellar reviews). And if it doesn't, next week's Spielberg adaptation of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One surely will. Sandwiched in between this battle of the sci-fi action-adventure blockbusters: Steven Soderbergh doing horror on an iPhone and Wes Anderson doing... well, Wes Anderson, in a fantastical, animated, dystopian way.
Here are my top spec flix to watch the rest of this month on screens big and small...
Coming to Theaters:
I Kill Giants (In Theaters, DVD & Streaming March 23)
I Kill Giants faithfully adapts the graphic novel for a striking coming-of-age movie that blends magical realism with heartbreaking drama. Young Barbara escapes the realities of life by retreating into a fantasy world to fight evil giants. With help from a new friend and a school counselor, Barbara soon learns to face her fears and battle the giants that pose a threat to her. [Fantasy | Drama | Thriller - 86% Rotten Tomatoes]
Watch this if you... loved A Monster Calls the book, if not so much the movie adaptation; are now or have ever been a struggling teen; want to see more strong girl protagonists; or if you'd just like to see a smaller-scale, more somber comic book adaptation.
Isle of Dogs (In Theaters March 23)
In a dystopian future Japan, dogs have been quarantined on a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island due to a "canine flu". 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture. [Fantasy | Sci-Fi | Adventure - 94% Rotten Tomatoes]
Watch this if you... love dogs and Wes Anderson (especially his Fantastic Mr. Fox); like dystopian tales; or if you like watching award-winning stop-motion festival films (Anderson won the Silver Bear for Best Director at this year's Berlinale).
Pacific Rim: Uprising (In Theaters March 23)
Jake Pentecost is a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity's victory against the monstrous Kaiju. Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through cities and bring the world to its knees, Jake is given one last chance by his estranged sister, Mako Mori, to live up to his father's legacy. [Sci-Fi | Action | Adventure - 45% Rotten Tomatoes]
Watch this if you... liked the Guillermo Del Toro original and won't be too bothered by his directing absence here; if you'd like to see John Boyega in something other than Star Wars; if you like kaiju movies; or if you really loved Robotech and long for a live action version (although this will probably just make you pine even more).
Unsane (In Theaters March 23)
Sawyer Valentini relocates from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape from the man who's been stalking her for the last two years. While consulting with a therapist, Valentini unwittingly signs in for a voluntary 24-hour commitment to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Her stay at the facility soon gets extended when doctors and nurses begin to question her sanity. Sawyer now believes that one of the staffers is her stalker -- and she'll do whatever it takes to stay alive and fight her way out. [Horror | Thriller - 79% Rotten Tomatoes]
Watch this if you... like Steven Soderbergh movies and want to see his take on a low-budget horror movie shot entirely on an iPhone; or if you just like horror and psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators in general.
Ready Player One (In Theaters March 30)
In the year 2045, people can escape their harsh reality in the OASIS, an immersive virtual world where you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone-the only limits are your own imagination. OASIS creator James Halliday left his immense fortune and control of the Oasis to the winner of a contest designed to find a worthy heir. When unlikely hero Wade Watts conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends-known as the High Five-are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS and their world. [Sci-Fi | Action | Adventure)- 79% Rotten Tomatoes]
Watch this if you... liked the book and want to see it brought to life; if you liked the 'virtual reality gamer' premise of the book, if not so much the book itself; if you're a Spielberg fanboy or fangirl; or if you love 80's pop culture references mixed in with your sci-fi à la Stranger Things.
Binge Watch Now:
Jessica Jones (Season 2 on Netflix)
New York City private investigator Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is beginning to put her life back together after murdering her tormenter, Kilgrave. Now known throughout the city as a super-powered killer, a new case makes her reluctantly confront who she really is while digging deeper into her past to explore the reasons why. Based on a graphic novel intended for adults, this Netflix original is not a superhero story for the kids.
Watch this if you... loved the first season; love how Netflix adapts comic books; have loved Krysten Ritter since way back in the day (be it from Breaking Bad or Gilmore Girls or Veronica Mars); or if you just love brooding, bad-ass, ass-kicking chicks.
Santa Clarita Diet (Season 2 on Netflix)
Picking up right where we left off, Season 2 of Santa Clarita Diet finds the Hammonds trying to adapt to Sheila's now-advanced undead state -- even though she's desperately working to hold on to her suburban lifestyle and not be defined as just another monster. Unfortunately -- while the family has become markedly better at murder -- the number of missing people in Santa Clarita is starting to pile up and it's no longer going unnoticed. Meanwhile, the Hammonds are chasing the source of the virus so they can stop it from spreading and save humanity -- which seems important. Through it all, Sheila and Joel are grounded by their unconditional love for one another. Sure, being undead -- or loving someone who is -- isn't always easy, but don't all relationships have their challenges?
Watch this if you... loved the hilarious first season; love Drew Barrymore and/or Timothy Olyphant; love quirky, off-beat, weird fiction, especially with a small town vibe; love zombie tales of any kind, but especially the comedic ones.
On DVD & Streaming:
In addition to the Oscar winners and big blockbusters you already know about (The Shape of Water, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, Jumanji, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), check out these smaller SFF films coming to DVD & VOD this month: