With a particularly unholy burn-off month of January behind us, it's time to head into the year's most consistently weird month: a little bit of unbridled trash, a lot more random films that simply couldn't be stuffed anywhere else, and - if we are lucky - the occasionally wonderful little thing that slips in, unnoticed, and is great. This year, we have the best candidate we've had in ages for a genuinely good motion picture with a winter release date, alongside all of the usual suspects: tacky romance (lots), tacky action (some), and the year's first family movie, a truly hideous thing that is going to put a serious test to my tradition of always and in every case seeing the first wide-released animated movie of the calendar year.
How about that? Tacky romance and tacky action at the exact same time! Warm Bodies was, if I am not mistaken, original scheduled for an August release, one of the only months as dubious as February, and I can't imagine why not "the power of love cures a zombie" is the sort of concept that can only be approached with some measure of dazzled disbelief, by fans of zombies and fans of the power of love, particularly since the ads, at least, suggest that there's a bit more Twilight than Shaun of the Dead in its approach to genre. Though it will surely not be the month's worst wide release, it's readily the one I'm least excited about.
Though it's not that far behind Bullet to the Head, in which Sylvester Stallone plays a grizzled old cop, or some such, in the companion piece to The Last Stand that, to my knowledge, nobody alive wanted. Walter Hill, who many generations ago made great action films, is on hand, though I see no reason whatsoever to assume that's a good sign.
In a much narrower wide release, the "old actors is funny!" thriller Stand Up Guys rears its head, after opening the Chicago International Film Festival last year to general indifference
Steven Soderbergh movie! And, if his thoughts in that recent Vulture interview, in which his retirement suddenly sounded like a real thing and not just an artist talking out of his ass, hold true, maybe the last-ever theatrically-released Steven Soderbergh movie! Which is certainly more pressure than I want to subject the romantic-thriller thingy Side Effects to, but when one of America's most important working filmmakers stops being that thing, it is an occasion for holding his last hurrah to a ridiculously unsupportable standard. Anyway, it's the one film of the month - nay, of the first third of the year - for which I'm unhesitatingly excited, because Soderbergh releasing films in the dead of winter worked out really well last time, IMHO.
Meanwhile, have you seen the trailer for Identity Thief? It looks like the place where comedy goes to die. Huhr huhr, Melissa McCarthy is a gargoyle!
A Valentine's Day present for everybody!
-For teen girls who want to have unreasonably florid expectations about how romance works - the post-Twilight teenage witch story Beautiful Creatures!
-For adult women to drag their silently resentful menfolk to, Nicholas Sparks adaptation #317, Safe Haven!
-For single men in their 30s, and past the point of caring about what a shambles they've made of their lives, A Good Day to Die Hard!
-For families with small, undiscerning children, a grueling reminder that romance is dead in their lives now, Escape from Planet Earth!
(Okay, that's snotty, I'm actually kind of excited about Die Hard 5. Said the single man in his 30s).
Director Scott Stewart has been a reliable manager of the most barbaric kind of horror lately, between Legion and Priest; sadly, his newest, Dark Skies, lacks both Paul Bettany and any obvious angle for asinine religious imagery divorced from any religion actually practiced on Earth, and will probably thus be a merely bad movie, not an epic botch.
Meanwhile, over in the highly proficient-looking Snitch, Dwayne Johnson goes undercover to fight drugloards and save his son from the DEA, in the the person of Susan Sarandon, who really deserves more than little roles in Mark Wahlberg vehicles that forgot to cast Mark Wahlberg.