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A preview of movies hitting theaters this spring

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Hollywood generally takes a breather in January and February. That pause gives awards contenders time to play out before the Oscars, and audiences get a chance to catch up with holiday attractions. But as Marvel superheroes Ant-Man and the Wasp are proving, moviegoers are also looking for something new. In his spring movie preview, NPR's Bob Mondello says there will be lots of new in theaters before Memorial Day.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: New, let's note, is in the eye of the beholder. And Hollywood is doing the beholding, so brace yourself for lots of brand-new sequels.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EMINEM: Introducing the star of our show. His name is...

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Shazam.

MONDELLO: "Shazam! 2" brings the return of an accident-prone teen superhero.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS")

ZACHARY LEVI: (As Shazam) I don't deserve these powers if I'm being honest. Like, what am I even contributing? Ow.

MONDELLO: Then there's volume three of another superhero saga.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3")

CHRIS PRATT: (As Peter Quill) The Galaxy still needs its guardians.

DAVE BAUTISTA: (As Drax) And we'll kill anyone who gets in our way.

PRATT: (As Peter Quill) No, not kill anyone.

BAUTISTA: (As Drax) Kill a few people.

PRATT: (As Peter Quill) Kill no people.

BAUTISTA: (As Drax) Kill one guy, one stupid guy who no one loves.

PRATT: (As Peter Quill) Now you're just making it sad.

MONDELLO: Speaking of sad, there's the rival boxer in "Creed III."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CREED III")

JONATHAN MAJORS: (As Damian Anderson) Try spending half your life in a cell, watching somebody else live your life. I'm coming for everything.

MICHAEL B JORDAN: (As Adonis Creed) You threatening me?

MONDELLO: And in "John Wick: Chapter 4"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4")

KEANU REEVES: (As John Wick) I'm going to need a gun.

MONDELLO: ...It's our hero who's sad.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 4")

REEVES: (As John Wick) You and I left a good life behind a long time ago, my friend.

MONDELLO: "Book Club: The Next Chapter" will strike a lighter note...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER")

MARY STEENBURGEN: (As Carol Colby) Rome. I love this city.

JANE FONDA: (As Vivian) I love anything that's falling apart more than I am.

MONDELLO: ..."Scream VI," a more horrific one...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SCREAM VI")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, screaming).

MONDELLO: ...And, presumably faster and more furious than all of them, "Fast X."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FAST X")

VIN DIESEL: (As Dominic Toretto) You want to see the old Dom? Watch.

MONDELLO: None of this striking you as particularly new? Well, the one would-be blockbuster that's actually new is really seriously old. In the sci-fi thriller "65," Adam Driver pilots a spacecraft.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "65")

ADAM DRIVER: (As Mills) My ship was hit by an undocumented asteroid. Send help.

MONDELLO: Unlikely for an equally unlikely reason...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "65")

DRIVER: (As Mills) We've crash-landed on an uncharted celestial body.

MONDELLO: That uncharted celestial body is Earth. The title "65" is for 65 million years ago, with all the raptors and T. rexes that suggests. That is a lot of action for one season. But there are quieter movies coming, too, like "Paint," a comedy about a public television personality...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PAINT")

OWEN WILSON: (As Carl Nargle) It's hard not to feel a little lost as we begin.

MONDELLO: ...Played by Owen Wilson.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PAINT")

WILSON: (As Carl Nargle) Let's just take it all in.

MONDELLO: He's a painter on TV - soothing, mellow, walking through every brushstroke until one day he has competition.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PAINT")

CIARA RENEE: (As Ambrosia Long) Hi, friends, and welcome to "Paint With Ambrosia."

LUSIA STRUS: (As character) It takes paint to a whole new place.

MONDELLO: He didn't want to go to a whole new place.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PAINT")

WILSON: (As Carl Nargle) You're entitled to your favorite TV show. That's what makes this country great.

MONDELLO: Even more low-key, the drama "A Good Person" in which survivor guilt meets opioid addiction meets grief counseling with Morgan Freeman.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A GOOD PERSON")

MORGAN FREEMAN: (As Daniel) Allison, don't run away now because of me.

FLORENCE PUGH: (As Allison) There are thousands of meetings. I'll find another one.

FREEMAN: (As Daniel) Well, somehow you found your way to this one.

MONDELLO: Also trying to rebuild shattered lives, Tim Roth as an alcoholic former boxer with a gay son in "Punch"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PUNCH")

TIM ROTH: (As Stan) I set up your first professional fight. This is your big break.

JORDAN OOSTERHOF: (As Jim Richardson) Dad, I've got a life.

MONDELLO: ...And Jake Gyllenhaal in "The Covenant" as a soldier who owes his life to an Afghan interpreter left behind by America's withdrawal.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE COVENANT")

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: (As Sergeant John Kinley) There is a hook in me. Ahmed and his family are in trouble.

JONNY LEE MILLER: (As Vokes) We can't intervene.

GYLLENHAAL: (As Sergeant John Kinley) I'm going to have to get him out myself.

MONDELLO: Am I making spring movies sound downbeat? - because they mostly aren't. They just center on a lot of conflict, even comedies - say, the one about a longtime grudge that unites Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, though not as "Grace And Frankie." It's called "Moving On," which is what Fonda's character is having trouble with.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOVING ON")

FONDA: (As Claire) Evelyn, I need to talk to you.

LILY TOMLIN: (As Evelyn) About what?

FONDA: (As Claire) I told him I was going to kill him.

TOMLIN: (As Evelyn) I could chat.

MONDELLO: It takes a court order to turn Woody Harrelson into a less conflict-oriented basketball coach in "Champions."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHAMPIONS")

ALEXANDRA CASTILLO: (As Mary Menendez) I will offer you community service, coaching adults with intellectual disabilities.

WOODY HARRELSON: (As Marcus Markovich) OK, fellows, we're going to do a simple ball-handling exercise.

MATTHEW VON DER AHE: (As Craig) My girlfriend loves those.

(LAUGHTER)

MONDELLO: Conflict follows a beautiful psychologist in San Francisco when she relocates across the bay in "A Snowy Day In Oakland."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A SNOWY DAY IN OAKLAND")

LORETTA DEVINE: (As Jeanette) Why would somebody smart enough to be a doctor want to put a head shop in this neighborhood?

DEON COLE: (As Davis) What's wrong with this neighborhood?

DEVINE: (As Jeanette) It's full of Black people. Black people don't talk about their problems.

MONDELLO: A different psychological approach informs the vampire comedy "Renfield," starring the Nicks Hoult and Cage. Nicholas Hoult shows up at a group therapy session with a problem.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RENFIELD")

NICHOLAS HOULT: (As R.M. Renfield) I need to get out of a toxic relationship.

MONDELLO: The problem is his boss - controlling, oppressive.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RENFIELD")

BRANDON SCOTT JONES: (As Mark) You can't get him out of your head.

HOULT: (As R.M. Renfield) No.

MONDELLO: What they don't know is how literally Renfield means that.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RENFIELD")

JONES: (As Mark) But if you were to stop focusing on his needs, what would happen?

HOULT: (As R.M. Renfield) He won't grow to full power.

JONES: (As Mark) Exactly. He won't grow to full power. What? That's so weird. Why would you phrase it like that? But yes.

MONDELLO: Enter his boss, played by Nicolas Cage.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RENFIELD")

JONES: (As Mark) Are you here for the meeting? Well, come on down.

HOULT: (As R.M. Renfield). No. No.

NICOLAS CAGE: (As Dracula) I am Dracula.

JONES: (As Mark) OK. Obviously, we're dealing with a little bit more than just narcissism here.

MONDELLO: There are also comedies for younger viewers - an adaptation of Judy Blume's classic novel of a 12-year-old who grows up in an interfaith family.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET")

ABBY RYDER FORTSON: (As Margaret Simon) Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret.

MONDELLO: That's the title. Cue the sixth grade mortification.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) I'm here to speak to you today about your changing bodies.

MONDELLO: There's also the animated kid flick "Mummies," which brings some ancient Egyptians to...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MUMMIES")

JOE THOMAS: (As Thut) The world of the living.

SANTIAGO WINDER: (As Sekhem) You're not alone. You have a team.

MONDELLO: And that third adaptation of Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers the world's been waiting for.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE")

KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY: (As Toad) Come on, Mario. Our big adventure begins now. Ah. Get it off. Get it off. Get it off.

MONDELLO: Happily, there is a corner of the multiplex that'll be devoted to more down-to-Earth fare - biopics and stories based on real life - "The Lost King," for instance, about the amateur sleuth who went searching for Britain's Richard III.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LOST KING")

SALLY HAWKINS: (As Philippa Langley) I'd like to visit his grave.

BRUCE FUMMEY: (As Hamish) There isn't one.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) His mortal remains are lost to history.

HAWKINS: (As Philippa Langley) I know I can find him.

MONDELLO: Also "Chevalier," the story of a Black 18th century composer who charmed Marie Antoinette but not the court.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHEVALIER")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) In any other country, a man of your color would not be wearing such fine clothes.

KELVIN HARRISON: (As Joseph Bologne) One day the whole world will know me. And, of course, the music will be spectacular.

MONDELLO: Two centuries later, as the film "Spinning Gold" chronicles, the place to find music you'd call spectacular was Casablanca Records, which had contracts with...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SPINNING GOLD")

JEREMY JORDAN: (As Neil Bogart) Yes, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight, Parliament, Bill Withers, Donna Summer.

TAYLA PARX: (As Donna Summer) They legally changed my name?

JORDAN: (As Neil Bogart) Everything is hotter in summer.

MONDELLO: There's also a biopic about the rise and fall and rise of heavyweight champion George Foreman.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG GEORGE FOREMAN: THE MIRACULOUS STORY OF THE ONCE AND FUTURE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD")

KHRIS DAVIS: (As George Foreman) Last time they saw me, I looked like Superman.

FOREST WHITAKER: (As Doc Broadus) Now you look like the Michelin Man. This ain't no beauty contest.

MONDELLO: And "Air," the starriest true story, bringing together Viola Davis, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is what you might call a product biopic of the shoe that made Nike, back when all the company had was a swoosh.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AIR")

CHRIS TUCKER: (As Howard White) People don't know what the hell a Nike is.

MATT DAMON: (As Sonny Vaccaro) What's a Converse?

TUCKER: (As Howard White) NBA all-star shoes.

MONDELLO: So if the competition had the All-Stars, maybe think outside the box.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AIR")

BEN AFFLECK: (As Phil Knight) For a rookie?

DAMON: (As Sonny Vaccaro) Yes.

AFFLECK: (As Phil Knight) Who's never set foot on an NBA court?

DAMON: (As Sonny Vaccaro) That's the literal definition of rookie.

MONDELLO: But what a rookie.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AIR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Who's the player?

DAMON: (As Sonny Vaccaro) Michael Jordan.

MONDELLO: A star in the making, a topic Hollywood knows a little something about. Also branding, which will be very big in Hollywood's summer - "Indiana Jones," "Mission Impossible," Pixar. But let's save those for next time. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AIR")

AFFLECK: (As Phil Knight) Got a name for it?

DAMON: (As Sonny Vaccaro) Air Jordan.

AFFLECK: (As Phil Knight) I don't know.

DAMON: (As Sonny Vaccaro) Seriously?

AFFLECK: (As Phil Knight) Maybe it'll grow on me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.