With more and more theaters across the world opening back up, April is looking bright for the movie business.
Science fiction dramas, a fresh take on the superhero genre, a reboot of a beloved video game franchise and more are set to hit theaters and streaming services this upcoming month. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone, and with more and more theaters opening their doors again, greater chances of seeing anticipated movies back on the big screen.
‘Mortal Kombat’ April 16th (Theaters and HBO Max)
Mortal Kombat has remained one of the most popular and successful fighting game franchises thanks to its unique roster of fighters and forever controversial depictions of absurdly graphic violence. The series has gone from arcades to the latest generation gaming consoles, so it’s no wonder that film adaptations were attempted back during the franchises’ peak. However, following the failure of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, further movie plans were put on hold until now, over two decades later.
This new reboot is produced by James Wan and directed by Simon McQuoid, and it’s looking to breathe new life into the martial arts genre by leaning hard into the series’ more fantastical elements and of course, putting the games’ famous Fatalities on the big screen in all their gory glory. The story follows a washed-up MMA fighter named Cole Young (Lewis Tan) seeking out the world’s greatest fighters to defend the realm and his own family.
‘The Unholy’ April 2nd (Theaters)
Evan Spiliotopoulos has been writing films for nearly two decades, starting with many animated Disney projects before moving on to live-action movies like 2014’s Hercules, 2016’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and 2019’s Charlie’s Angels. This year, he makes his directorial debut with supernatural horror film The Unholy, which is being produced by horror icon Sam Raimi.
The film follows Alice (Cricket Brown), a young hearing-impaired girl who, after a supposed visitation from the Virgin Mary, is inexplicably able to hear, speak and heal the sick. As word spreads and people from near and far flock to witness her miracles, a disgraced journalist (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) hoping to revive his career visits the small New England town to investigate. When terrifying events begin to happen all around, he starts to question if these phenomena are the works of the Virgin Mary or something much more sinister.
‘Thunder Force’ April 9th (Netflix)
In a world terrorized by supervillains, one woman has developed the process to give superpowers to regular people. But when scientist Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) accidentally imbues her estranged best-friend Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) with incredible abilities, the two women must become the first superhero team. Now, it is up to the newly founded Thunder Force to battle the super-powered Miscreants and save Chicago from the clutches of The King (Bobby Cannavale).
Filmmaker Ben Falcone has been working with Melissa McCarthy for years, directing her in films like Tammy, The Boss, Life of the Party, and Superintelligence, and Thunder Force looks to be another successful team up for the pair. While playing on superhero tropes and ideas, it also hopes to reimagine what superheroes can look and be like.
‘Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse’ April 30th (Amazon Prime Video)
Tom Clancy’s 1993 novel Without Remorse served as the thrilling introduction to John Clark, one of the most prominent characters in the author’s popular Jack Ryan franchise. The film adaptation will star Michael B. Jordan as Clark, with Italian filmmaker Stefano Sollima (Sicario: Day of the Soldado) directing.
The film follows Clark, a US Navy SEAL, as he seeks to avenge his murdered wife. He uncovers an international conspiracy along the way, and joins forces with fellow SEAL Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) and shadowy CIA officer Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell).
‘Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train’ April 23rd (Theaters)
Demon Slayer has quickly risen to become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed anime series of all time, following a young man named Tanjiro who embarks on a perilous journey after a demon attack leaves his family slain and his sister cursed. The series’ raging success is no fluke – the gorgeous animated action is a feast for the eyes and its transcendent music is equally as exciting.
A feature length film that continued the story was released in Japan last year, which immediately set several box office records. It surpassed Spirited Away to become the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan, the highest-grossing anime and Japanese film in history, and the highest-grossing animated film of 2020, placing it as the fourth highest film of any kind that year. It will finally be released in the United States this upcoming month.
‘Concrete Cowboy’ April 2nd (Netflix)
Concrete Cowboy is an uplifting story that focuses on a little known corner American culture – urban African-American horseriding, specifically in Philadelphia. The film is based on the novel Ghetto Cowboy by Greg Neri, which is a fictionalized tale of the city’s Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club.
The film follows a young teen from Detroit named Cole (Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin) who is sent off to live with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba). It’s here that he learns about the local cowboys and they provide a safe haven from the poverty and violence that plague the area.
‘Voyagers’ April 9th (Theaters)
Filmmaker Neil Burger has made a successful career for himself directing films like The Illusionist, Limitless, and Divergent, and his latest film, Voyagers, sees him returning to the realm of science fiction.
Described as “Lord of the Flies in space”, the film is set in the near future and chronicles the odyssey of 30 young men and women who are sent deep into space on a multi-generational mission in search of a new home. The mission descends into madness, as the crew reverts to its most primal state, not knowing if the real threat they face is what’s outside the ship or who they’re becoming inside it.
‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ April 30th (Netflix)
Creative duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have revitalized the animation industry with the groundbreaking LEGO movies and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, both in visual style and story. Their latest production is coming exclusively to Netflix, with an all-star cast that includes Olivia Coleman, Eric Andre, Maya Rudolph, Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Fred Armisen, and many more.
The film follows the Mitchells, a quirky and dysfunctional bunch that embark on a road trip to take their daughter off to college. But things get crazy when the family find themselves in the middle of a robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope.
‘Shiva Baby’ April 2nd (Theaters and VOD)
Shiva Baby takes place almost entirely in real time and in a single location, creating an anxiety-inducing feeling of claustrophobia for the audience and conveying the headspace of its protagonist, Danielle (Rachel Sennott). It can often feel a bit like a horror film in that regard, but it’s also an exceptionally funny setup.
While attending a Jewish funeral service with her family, Danielle is forced into close quarters with her successful ex-girlfriend Maya (Molly Gordon) and her secret sugar daddy Max (Danny Deferrari), who is there with his wife Kim (Dianna Agron) and their screaming baby. It’s like a mix of the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man and the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems.
‘Stowaway’ April 22nd (Netflix)
Musician and filmmaker Joe Penna caught attention at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival with his directorial debut Arctic, a survival drama starring Mads Mikkelsen. His latest film, Stowaway, looks to maintain his sense of edge-of-your-seat thrills while moving into the realm of science fiction.
The film follows the crew of a spaceship headed to Mars, who discover an accidental stowaway (Shamier Anderson) shortly after takeoff. Too far from Earth to turn back and with resources quickly dwindling, the ship’s medical researcher (Anna Kendrick) emerges as the only dissenting voice against the group consensus that has already decided in favor of a grim outcome. The film also stars Toni Collette as the ship’s commander and Daniel Dae Kim as the ship’s biologist.