Notable new releases and events
David Bowie's first album in a decade, Tuesday's The Next Day reunites the music legend (now 66) with his longtime producer Tony Visconti. While Bowie has long been at the stage where every new release is hailed as a comeback, return to form, or his best album since [insert your favorite Bowie album here], all of those descriptions actually seem to fit The Next Day, which intentionally points back to key moments from throughout his career (including on the album cover itself, which is basically Heroes redacted). The album has been receiving terrific reviews over the past week, and you can preview the entire LP right now at iTunes.
Also out Tuesday is Mala, the first release in four years for L.A.-based indie-folk-rock artist Devendra Banhart. It's his debut for his new label Nonesuch, and he co-produced the stylistically diverse set with Noah Georgeson of his touring band.
Looking for something to play while waiting in SimCity's server queues? Tuesday brings the latest installment in the StarCraft saga, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. The PC strategy game expansion pack is the second of what will eventually be three StarCraft II titles, following 2010's Wings of Liberty 93. Swarm's campaign mode picks up the story a few years after it last left off, with 20 new missions centering on the Zerg race. Multiplayer will also see some changes, with new and revised units and improved graphics providing plenty of incentive for longtime fans to return to the Koprulu sector.
There are no reviews in yet for the StarCraft expansion, but there are plenty available for Tuesday's major PS3 release, God of War: Ascension, which looks likely to become the lowest-scoring game to date in the popular franchise. The seventh God of War game overall and the first new title in the Greek mythology action-adventure series to debut on the PS3 since 2010's God of War III 92, Ascension follows Kratos as he launches his rebellion against Ares. The big news, however, is the addition of online multiplayer for the first time in the series, and it is that multiplayer—as well as a general feeling that the franchise is beginning to run out of original ideas—that is the cause of some of the tepid reviews.
Veteran TV director Don Scardino (30 Rock) returns to feature directing for the first time in nearly 15 years with Friday's The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a PG-13 comedy about rival magicians penned by the team behind Horrible Bosses. Steve Carell stars as a Vegas magician who attempts to enlist his former partner (Steve Buscemi) to regain his mojo after a street magician (Jim Carrey) becomes the most popular act in town. Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, and James Gandolfini also star.
Also out Friday in limited release is Spring Breakers, perhaps the most mainstream film yet from Harmony Korine (Gummo, Trash Humpers). Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, and Ashley Benson star as four girls gone wild whose idea of Florida spring break fun involves a crime spree; James Franco also stars. Early reviews have been mixed, which is nothing new for a Korine film.
Friday's From Up on Poppy Hill is the latest animated adventure from Japan's Studio Ghibli, with studio founder Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki, directing. ... Also out Friday is The Call, a thriller that stars Halle Berry as a 911 operator who attempts to save a kidnapped girl (Abigail Breslin) who phones for help. ... In limited release, Ginger & Rosa is a coming-of-age story set during the 1960s from director Sally Potter (Orlando); Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, and Annette Bening star. ... The Grand Prix winner at last year's Cannes, dramedy import Reality is Italian director Matteo Garrone's follow-up to Gomorrah, and it follows a fishmonger obsessed with becoming a contestant on Big Brother ... Sci-fi film Upside Down finds separated lovers Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst stuck on twinned planets with opposing gravities. .... Documentary My Amityville Horror looks at the youngest member of the upstate New York household allegedly haunted in the 1970s.
Tuesday's key DVD/Blu-ray releases include Oscar winner Life of Pi, Dave Grohl's Sound City, and lauded documentary This Is Not a Film. Check our DVD Release Calendar for a full list of this week's new releases.
In a slow week for TV debuts, one of the top options revives one of television's greatest comedies. For the British version of Comic Relief, Ricky Gervais is bringing back his David Brent character—the boss on the original UK version of The Office—for a short one-off special that explores what Brent has been doing for the past decade since we last saw him. (Hint: focusing on his music career, which includes sure-to-be-hit singles such as "Equality Street.") The Office Revisited will air Friday on BBC One in the UK, but everyone else can watch it online that same day at Gervais' YouTube channel (where you can currently view a preview of the special).
Also this week, Showtime debuts The World According to Dick Cheney (Friday, 9p), a documentary about the former vice president by filmmaker R.J. Cutler ... Hell's Kitchen (Fox) kicks off its 11th season with a two-hour premiere Tuesday at 8p. ... A pair of cable miniseries start Monday. Hindenburg: The Last Flight (Monday and Tuesday at 8p on Encore) looks at the 1937 airship disaster; Stacy Keach stars. And Lost's Terry O'Quinn heads the cast of Ring of Fire (Monday and Tuesday at 8p on Reelz), which finds the Earth facing cataclysmic change thanks to a series of volcanic eruptions.
Closing the book on last week
|Most Popular Title on Metacritic|
|SimCity (PC) 71||Week of 3/3-3/9|
|Weekend Box Office Champion (Estimated, U.S. only; source: Boxofficemojo.com)|
|Oz: The Great and Powerful 45||$80.3 million; 1st week at #1|
|#1 Album on Billboard 200 (Source: Billboard.com/Nielsen SoundScan)|
|Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox 70||1st week at #1|
|Top-Rated Primetime Broadcast Show (Source: Nielsen)|
|NCIS (CBS)||20.7 million viewers; week of 2/25-3/3|