It’s that time of the year again. Yes, the “dump” months of Hollywood are back. And they aren’t looking any better than before. While one particular film may have already earned back 35 times its budget, that doesn’t mean it’s worth your money. I guess the worse the reviews the more interest audiences have, unfortunately. Let’s take a look at what the studios are slinging our way this January.
Only one wide opening hit theaters and it made a ton of money. We can warn moviegoers all we want, but that still didn’t keep them away from The Devil Inside. I seriously hope to see this fall off the radar rather quickly as word-of-mouth spreads faster than the body jumping demon does through the last ten minutes of this mess.
Mark Wahlberg stars in Contraband, what should hopefully be the weekend’s #1 film. A remake of the Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam, Baltasar Kormákur (star of the original) makes his Hollywood debut in the director’s chair. Wahlberg stars as a former drug smuggler setting out to protect his brother-in-law from a Panamanian drug lord. Brother Robert Wahlberg is along for the ride with a not-so-bad supporting cast consisting of Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons, Diego Luna, and Kate Beckinsale (in the first of two films for her this month). While Marky Mark looks like he’s got an itch to scratch on the poster, here’s hoping for a nice surprise.
Meanwhile, director Todd Graff continues to mine the new niche he seems to have found for himself with this week’sJoyful Noise. After his directorial debut of Camp at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, his career path is starting to look a little rocky. He may have bigger stars in the likes of Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, but this film just looks like the geriatric version of Glee. While I do tune in every week to catch up with the talented kids of McKinley High, everything makes this film look like the travesty it’s bound to be.
If you are wise, you will skip Joyful Noise and choose to see Meryl Steep’s latest Oscar bait portrayal as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher instead. Rejoining her Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd, I can assure you they’re bound to garner Steep yet another Best Actress nomination. Beauty and the Beast also opens in 3D as Disney continues their new trend of re-releasing their greatest hits collection, even if this one’s been available on Blu-ray 3D since October. Is it really worth paying to see in theaters when you probably already have it in your collection? Probably not, but I digress.
Speaking of milking cash cows, the vampires and lycans are at it again in the fourth Underworld film, this time subtitled: Awakening. Too bad Kate Beckinsale has returned for her third part of the dead in the water franchise her husband, Len Wiseman, has built. Admittedly, I was kind of excited for these before the first film was released. But what looked like a monster mashed Matrix turned out to be just another series leaning towards fans of the other god-awful Sony owned Resident Evil films. At least Beckinsale is far more fun to watch in her skin tight leather than Milla Jovovich could ever dream in her chop-suey edited, CGI breast-enhanced, fight scenes. Four screenwriters and two directors later, this still doesn’t look any better than the last three.
On the positive side of things, we do get a new Steven Soderbergh action thriller with Haywire. Heavily touted as the big screen acting debut for MMA fighter Gina Carano, let’s hope that Soderbergh brings along his independent film sensibilities to add some panache to the chaos that’s bound to ensue. Armed with a great supporting cast in Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Mathieu Kassovitz, not to mention Michael Douglas and Ewan McGregor as villains, maybe he can wind up bringing us this year’s Hanna. Having a script from Lem Dobbs, a man who knows his way around a good story (Dark City, The Limey, The Score), only seems to improve those chances.
In the meantime, two more action-oriented films are also heading our way. First, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard (as Col. A.J. Bullard) take their fight to the sky in Lucasfilm’s Red Tails. TV director Anthony Hemingway makes his big screen debut aided with lots of computer effects to enhance his story of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program during World War II. On the flip side of things, Ralph Fiennes’ John Logan (Rango, Hugo) scripted take on William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus finally hits theaters. Even with a cast consisting of Jessica Chastain, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, and Fiennes himself as the titular character, it’s more than likely that standout Vanessa Redgrave is who shall be garnering our attention come time for the Best Supporting Actress announcement.