The Reel: Five must-sees for spring 2013


Ben Conniff

“A Good Day to Die Hard”

Bruce Willis just won’t quit. For what seems like the umpteenth time, he’s reprising his star-making role as police officer John McClane in the fifth film of the action-packed “Die Hard” franchise.

This time, John teams up with his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) to stop a nuclear weapons heist in Russia. As someone who’s a fan of all four previous installments, I’m excited to see what “the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey” has up his sleeve this time around. “Yipee-ki-yay,” everybody! Look for this one next week, as it hits theaters

Feb. 14.

“Oz The Great and Powerful”

“Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi’s been working with the folks over at Disney to bring us a “Wizard of Oz prequel” told from the perspective of the wizard himself. This film should be interesting, seeing as we’ve never quite gotten the wizard’s backstory before.

There’s the Judy Garland classic, Broadway’s “witchin” musical “Wicked,” and of course, L. Frank Baum’s original stories. I don’t recall a tale yet produced for the masses that chronicled the life and times of a common magician as he becomes the savior and sovereign of the Land of Oz.

I look forward to fine performances from a star-studded cast that includes James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz. In theaters March 8.

“Evil Dead (2013)”

Speaking of Sam Raimi… after finally seeing his frightening, yet darkly humorous 1981 classic “The Evil Dead,” I can honestly say that the idea of an edgier version scares the daylights out of me.

Fans probably know that even 30 years later, the film is still touted as one of the most graphic and gut-wrenching ever made.

With today’s advances in special effects technology and the close guidance of original creators Raimi and Bruce Campbell (“Army of Darkness”), this re-imagining has the potential to once again go on gross-out overload and reset the bar for modern American horror. Catch it April 5.


My most highly anticipated film of the spring tells the true-life story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in Major League Baseball.

For star Chadwick Boseman (TV’s “Persons Unknown”), this could be the home run that pushes his name into the A-list. I also like Harrison Ford co-starring as Branch Rickey, team executive of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time and mentor to Robinson.

From what I’ve seen in the trailer, the performances from these two men look to be positively electrifying, and by giving Ford a supporting role, the focus should be shifted so that there’s ample time for Boseman to shine. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and watch “42” swing into theaters April 12.

“Iron Man 3”

Robert Downey Jr. returns again to kick off another summer stuffed with highly anticipated blockbusters. Already shaken by the events of “The Avengers,” Tony Stark must face his greatest threat yet in The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

I wasn’t too impressed with the “Super Bowl” spot on TV or the extended look on the Internet, but my faith in the almighty RDJ has restored some of these faltered feelings. I’m also excited to see how director Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”) handles what looks like a change in the series’ tone, as well as a host of colorful new characters. Take a break from studying for finals and see this one May 3.