2023 is only just beginning, and already we’ve been treated to a great array of entertaining movies. January gave us the horror pleasures of M3GAN and Infinity Pool, while February allowed us to cheer along with 80 for Brady and dance to Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Not to be outdone, March provided excellent sequels with Creed III, Scream 6, and John Wick: Chapter 4.
April’s slate is just as impressive, with a long-awaited animated adaptation of a beloved Nintendo video game franchise, a movie about the origin of Air Jordans, and yet another Guy Ritchie action movie. What more can you ask for? Here are the 6 movies you should watch in April 2023.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Now showing)
“It’s-a me, Mario!” There are fewer words that bring such joy across generations as those uttered by everyone’s favorite Koopa-stomping, inter-dimensional traveling Italian plumber. Finally, decades after the notorious 1993 bomb Super Mario Bros., Nintendo’s premier mascot returns to the big screen, this time in animated form thanks to Illumination Entertainment, the geniuses behind the Despicable Me, Minions, and Sing movies.
After an initial outcry over the casting of the non-Italian Chris Pratt for the very Italian role of Mario, fans seem to have gotten in line to fall in love with every trailer, clip, and image that has been released so far. Aside from Pratt, the vocal cast is stellar, with Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, The Menu‘s Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. The movie appears to be fan service in the best possible way, with plenty of Rainbow Roads, Thwomps, and Warp Zones featured to satisfy nostalgic older fans and young kids alike. In a crowded animated landscape, The Super Mario Bros. Movie stands out and is certain to be one of 2023’s biggest blockbusters.
Air (April 7)
You may think an origin story about a pair of shoes is dull, but this movie, directed by and starring Ben Affleck, isn’t just about any old pair of shoes; it’s about the creation of Air Jordans! That’s right, the must-have accessory of the 1990s is getting the big screen treatment with an impressive cast recruited to tell the tale: Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, and, as Michael Jordan’s mother, Oscar-winner Viola Davis.
Air is more about just shoes as though, as the trailer indicates it will probe the rise of a young Michael Jordan as a basketball superstar and how Nike, and then the world, quickly understood they were seeing the birth of a legend. Affleck hasn’t directed a movie in a while, but as he showed with his Oscar-winning movie Argo, he’s more than capable of blending historical drama with subtle satire.
Renfield (April 14)
Nicolas Cage as Count Dracula; that alone is enough of a selling point to watch Renfield. The film is a comedic take on the abuse being hurled at Dracula’s number-one sidekick, with The Great‘s Nicholas Hoult in the title role and Awkwafina as a disbelieving police officer.
Given the talent that has been assembled here, it seems almost impossible that Renfield will not have plenty to delight anyone looking for a good time at the movies. Cage has been known to give larger-than-life performances, and Dracula is a role that definitely calls for plenty of ham. The movie’s trailer has already generated plenty of anticipation with its unique mix of horror and comedy, so count me in on seeing this movie on day one.
Evil Dead Rise (April 14)
It’s hard to believe that the Evil Dead franchise is over 40 years old. It’s even harder to fathom that the franchise can survive and thrive without original director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell. The 2013 Evil Dead remake, directed by Fede Alvarez, was surprisingly good, a smart and clever reimagining of the original that paid tribute to Raimi’s movie but established a bold new vision for the franchise.
The inevitable sequel is set to arrive in April, and its enthusiastic reception at SXSW indicates it retains Raimi’s signature gross-out violence and humor. The movie’s story, about a dysfunctional family dealing with their zombified mother, is separate from all the other Evil Dead movies in plot but shares the same go-for-broke horror and laugh-out-loud tension that made Raimi’s original trilogy, and the remake, so great.
Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (April 21)
2023 is only four months old, and Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant will be his second film so far this year. His first film, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, came and went, so let’s hope this one has more luck with audiences. The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Sergeant John Kiley, an Afghanistan war vet who returns to the battleground when one of his friends, Ahmed, is being pursued by the Taliban. Because Ahmed once saved his life years ago, Jake is obligated to return the favor and venture into a hostile land still filled with danger.
Nobody can do action like Ritchie, but this is the movie where he’s tackling a real-world subject (terrorism) without his signature offhand playfulness that he’s shown in such movies as Snatch and The Gentleman. Gyllenhaal is a pro at this sort of picture, having gone through tour duty once in Sam Mendes Iraq war drama Jarhead nearly 20 years ago. The combination of actor, director, and subject matter all make Guy Ritchie‘s The Covenant one of the more intriguing movies of the month, and one with the most potential to surprise audiences.
Beau is Afraid (April 21)
Ari Aster is not exactly known for being funny, but if the trailers for Beau is Afraid are to be believed, the movie will be an attempt to merge Aster’s horror sensibilities, honed in such A24 horror movies like Hereditary and Midsommar, with some more existential subject matter.
The film, which could be as long as four hours, has been described as a “nightmare comedy.” Not much else is known except Joaquin Phoenix appears to age from a child to an elderly person and is on a quest to find…something. If all this sounds vague, well, that’s because the movie is so shrouded in mystery that you have no choice but to be intrigued by what it could be. Aster has an impeccable track record for delivering compelling movies, and Phoenix is always interesting to watch in any role he’s in.