BIG RELEASE: Jack the Giant Slayer (March 1)
THE BIG PICTURE: "Whatever you do, don't get them wet." Who knew that Mogwai and magic beans came with the same warning label? The film's infamous trader offers Jack the above warning on his newly pocketed seeds -- and I couldn't help but think of Gremlins (Jack the Gremlin Slayer would have likely made for a much better film.). Alas, this cinematic twist on the classic fable finds Jack climbing the beanstalk to the land of the giants in order to retrieve his beloved princess and battle a Goliath or two. The pros? Director Bryan Singer (X-Men), magic beans ... and 3-D giants. The cons: Nicholas Hoult as a slack-jawed Jack (imagine Kenneth from 30 Rock taking on giants), zero hobbits... and 3-D giants.
FORECAST: Hollywood may want to stop treading on the graves of the poor Brothers Grimm. First Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and now this? We are a Billy Goats Gruff (probably starring Adam Sandler as all three goats) away from the Grimm's rising from the dead hungry for the blood of movie executives.
HONOURABLE MENTION: 21 and Over (March 1). It's American Pie meets The Hangover. College student Jeff Chang is turning 21 and faces an important interview in the morning. Of course, his moronic friends promise to take him out for just "one beer." A night of cross-dressing, substance abuse, wild women, Asian stereotypes and "did we just kill Jeff Chang?" jokes ensue. (Another movie I would have preferred to see this week: Jeff Chang the Giant Slayer.)
BIG EVENT: Red Widow (March 3, ABC, 9 p.m., CTV Two, 10 p.m.
BIG PICTURE: It's Revenge meets The Good Wife meets Eastern Promises. When her "drug-dealer-with-a-heart-of-gold" husband is gunned down, the grieving Marta (Radha Mitchell) gets pulled into the Russian criminal underworld. Her daddy dearest just happens to be a Russian crime kingpin and her brothers are his right-hand men. Did Marta's own blood have something to do with her spouse's execution? Probably. Screenwriting isn't rocket science.
FORECAST: Marta will make you an offer you CAN refuse. The premiere is worth a look, but on a highly competitive Sunday night TV schedule, Red Widow is going to need some extra firepower to hold its own. (I'm hoping they bring Marta's husband back as a zombie. Don't let AMC have all the fun on Sunday nights.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Vikings (March 3, History, 10 p.m.): Speaking of Red Dawn's competition, a new nine-part scripted series explores the violent, ruthless world of the Vikings. Who knew Vikings spoke such great English? It's a Game of Thrones from the pages of human history -- only minus the dragons and endless sex scenes.
BIG RELEASE ON FEB. 26: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell (Old Yellow Moon)
BIG PICTURE: Harris and long-time collaborator, Crowell, team up for a 12-part duet album. Old Yellow Moon will be a delight to any longtime Harris fans. It features surprising new takes on a few of her classics and interpretations on songs from the likes of Kris Kristofferson and Roger Miller. This one is for true fans of folk and ol' country.
FORECAST: Old Yellow Moon will be worth howling over.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Shout Out Louds (Optica). The Swedish band's sunny fourth album will make you nostalgic for the 1980s (something I thought only a John Hughes film could do). Expect a lot of electric piano. But expect to unexpectedly like it.
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop culture
offerings is just what we need. With that in mind, here is what's on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week -- Chris Lackner