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New in Theaters March 30: Ready Player One, Acrimony, Gods Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

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By Chris Kavan - 03/29/18 at 06:42 AM CT

It's going to be a feast for the eyes and nostalgia as Steven Spielberg delivers one of my more anticipated movies of the year in Ready Player One. The film contains so many Easter Eggs, you won't need to worry about that bunny this year. If visiting the Oasis isn't your idea of a good time, Gods Not Dead: A Light in Darkness provides the faithful with and Easter miracle while Tyler Perry provides Taraji P. Henson with some woman scorned thriller in Acrimony. Easter isn't exactly one of those go-to-the-movie holidays but I have a feeling the weekend is going to be plenty busy.

READY PLAYER ONE I am an unabashedly big fan of Ernest Cline's love-letter to 80s nostalgia, Ready Player One. While it's not going to replace the Great American Novel, I found it a fun, light and fast read - and full of a lot of things I like. Steven Spielberg just seems like the right fit to adapt this geek-fest book and although he's removed almost any mention of his own films from this adaptation, it seems the spirit is alive and well. The film follows regular teen Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) in a near-future America where the world is in decline and the generation known as the missing millions finds relief in a virtual playground known as the Oasis. Creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) has been dead for several years, but not before leaving one last adventure for the players - a quest to find hidden Easter Eggs scattered in the massive virtual universe. Anyone who can complete this task will not only inherit Halliday's vast fortune, but control of the Oasis itself. Watts is joined by his friend Aech (Lena Waithe) along with online crush Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) and Sho and Daito (Philip Zhao and Win Morisaki) as the "good" guys, collectively known as the High-Five, thrust into the spotlight. On the opposite end of things is Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) and his army of corporate goons, including I-Rok (T.J. Miller, goofy as ever), who is looking to claim the free-to-play Oasis and turn it into a pay-to-play money maker, and he is not below killing in the real world to make this happen. The Oasis is virtual playground and contains nods to so many pop culture icons I would say only careful home viewing is going to uncover them all. A few things that pop up just from the trailers include: The Iron Giant, Back to the Future's Delorean, Akira's motorcylcle, King Kong, Battletoads, Freddy Krueger, Duke Nukem, the Joker and Harley Quinn, Tracer from Overwatch, Stephen King's Christine (and, apparently a pretty great scene set to The Shining), Child's Play Chucky - and that's just off the top of my head. It may be a bit of an overload, but I believe it's the right kind and I, for one, am ready to lose myself in this virtual adventure.

ACRIMONY Tyler Perry seems has carved out a name for himself thanks to his series of Madea films - which have been boosted recently by the well-received Halloween entries. I never understood the appeal myself, but Perry isn't just about dressing up as a sassy black woman, he deals with other subjects as well. Acrimony is no comedy, but rather a thriller that follows Melinda (Taraji P. Henson) who has dealt with the indignation and abuse from her husband Robert (Lyriq Bent) but is pushed too far when she learns he has been leading a double life with another woman. That saying about a woman scorned? Never has it been more true. Jazmyn Simon, Ptosha Storey,Danielle Nicolet, Nelson Estevez and Kendrick Cross help round out the cast. Perry films tend to attract more women and (no surprise) African American audiences - two segments that are likely not going to be turning out in droves for Ready Player One, meaning it should have some success, especially with Henson in the lead. It's not going to top Spielberg's film, but should have a decent showing.

GOD'S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS The box office has seen faith-based success (I Can Only Imagine) and faith-based apathy (Paul, Apostle of Christ) and now a familiar contender is going to enter the scene. God's Not Dead is one of the more successful Christian films (top five if you discount Passion of the Christ and the Narnia films) of all time and while the sequel didn't perform nearly as well, the brand is alive and kicking. Light in Darkness follows Reverend Dave Hill (David A.R. White) who must face the unimaginable when his church, located on university grounds, is destroyed. When the college board votes to relocate the church off campus, Hill must mend ties with his estranged brother Pearce (John Corbett) in order to save his church and serve his congregation. The film also stars Shane Harper, Ted McGinley, Jennifer Taylor, Tatum O'Neal and Samantha Boscarino. I have never been a fan of his series, as I find it more often than not these films tend to wield their Christianity with all the tact of a sledgehammer. Still, it's Easter and it will find an audience - but I'm willing to bet I Can Only Imagine still comes out on top.

The weekend is sure to bring out plenty of fans - fans of nostalgia, fans of Tyler Perry, fans of faith-based films - but Ready Player One is going to come out on top, the only question is how big Spielberg's ode to geek heaven is going to open. I'll be back on Easter with the details.


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