Wow, aren’t we glad January is finally over? Hollywood is done slumming and the Sundance Film Festival has come to another close. Let’s take a look at what February will be bringing us before we get to start easing back into the good stuff.
At first glance, Big Miracle may look like it’s just trying to ride the coattails of the dreadful Dolphin Tale. On the plus side, this one features at least a better cast including Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, and Tim Blake Nelson. Yes, the true story to save a family of gray whales trapped by ice in the Arctic Circle just makes for an even fishier comparison. But at least now we know why Kristen Bell puts forth all that effort to cover up those unsightly tattoos before she throws on a parka.
And it wouldn’t be February without the assortment of genre films, right? First is Daniel Radcliffe out to show he’s more than just super wizard Harry Potter as he faces off against The Woman in Black. Coming from director James Watkins (of the awesome Eden Lake) and screenwriter Jane Goldman (Matthew Vaughn’s right-hand wo-man: Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) things are looking mighty creepy for this adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel.
Along with horror, we also get treated to a fresh take on the superhero genre in Chronicle. Three high school teens (Michael B. Jordan, Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell), gain superpowers and start learning how to use them. Of course the trailer shows one of them winding up as the villain, but the trailer boasts some pretty sweet effects and the found footage angle just makes things look even more fun. Let’s just hope that Josh Trank doesn’t tank his big screen debut. Either way, I can’t wait.
After a pretty bad 2011, it appears that Universal is looking to pick things up for their 100th Anniversary. With a spiffy new logo, lots of Blu-ray catalog releases forthcoming, and plenty of action fare headed our way, it looks like they’re about to give us what we’ve been craving. In Safe House, Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington square off as they take cover from an attack upon the titular location. Both have PhDs in wise-assery, and that’s hopefully the tone they bring to the table as it could make for a spectacular pairing for an action flick. Here’s hoping that Swedish director Daniel Espinosa’s Hollywood debut doesn’t take any easy outs just to make some easy money stateside.
Meanwhile, the power of February compels them to thrust a new “rom-com” on us and a sequel with a much better lead than the original had. In The Vow, Rachel McAdams (yay) gets in a car wreck and gains amnesia, forgetting she’s married to Channing Tatum (nay). So far, Tatum has been pretty amusing when he’s in comedy mode, and McAdams is great in everything so here’s hoping they can make this more than Regarding Henry 2-lite. At least that one had a screenplay from J.J. Abrams along with Mike Nichols in the director’s chair and starred Harrison Ford and Annette Benning. Maybe this one doesn’t stand a chance after all.
Now for the sequel that no one wanted, but was bound to happen: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. I’ll be honest, when I heard the title, I thought, “When the hell was there a Journey 1?” But alas, it’s a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, now in a different location, and only Josh Hutcherson is returning. Michael Caine, Vanessa Hudgens (cast for the eye candy), and The Rock joining him on this 3D adventure. Let’s hope The Rock can “peck pop of love” us with his one-liners. Unfortunately, this installment happens to come from director Brad Peyton whose last cinematic atrocity was Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore so let’s not hold our breath.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is bringing Jar Jar Binks into the third dimension today as well.
Sometimes casting is everything. Reese Witherspoon stars alongside the new Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Batman’s possible downfall, Bane (Tom Hardy), playing CIA agents both out to win her heart in This Means War. Things are helped along by action vet director McG (both Charlie’s Angels films and Terminator Salvation) and screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) with Timothy Dowling (Role Models) adding some comedy to the mayhem. Hopefully it all comes tied together with a pretty bow as the word-of-mouth got the film moved up to a standalone Valentine’s Day release date. No matter how good or bad this will wind up, at least it’s not Valentine’s Day 2 (unfortunately, somewhere in Hollywood, a producer’s head just exploded).
Sony sure seems like they know they have a lot to make up for regarding their Ghost Rider sequel. The subtitle, Spirit of Vengeance, just makes it sound like it even more. Alas, this time they’re filming in 3D (of course) but have brought along the directors of the classic Crank franchise to spruce things up. They’ve also scrapped Mark Steven Johnson (of Daredevil “fame”) and brought in comic aficionado David S. Goyer to help breath new fire into the series. While some may balk at the sight of Nicolas Cage pissing flames, it only sets my geekness on fire.
Meanwhile, Disney is thankfully treating us to another stateside Studio Ghibli release with The Secret World of Arrietty. While Hayao Miyazaki may only have written and produced the feature, that just makes room for him to leave his fingerprints all over it. The story sounds ripe for potential as the four-inch Clock family tries to live their life unbeknownst amongst regular sized humans until daughter Arrietty is discovered. With a U.S. voice cast consisting of Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, and Carol Burnett, things are just looking even sweeter.
Four flicks bombard the end of the month today. First up is from Apatow Productions. Director David Wain (Role Models) returns with writing partner-in-crime Ken Marino to bring us a true Apatow film with Wanderlust. Let’s be truthful, Role Models already had the Apatow-vibe going on and Paul Rudd is a long-time friend of both so it was only a matter of time before everyone joined forces. Here we find Rudd with Jennifer Aniston (who also worked together on Friends) playing a married couple who decide to take up residence at a rural commune after unemployment reigns supreme. The trailer only seals the deal that hilarity will ensue.
In Gone, Amanda Seyfried tries her hand at the thriller genre once again. With costar Jennifer Carpenter on board, let’s hope this doesn’t turn into When Praying Mantis Attack as their wide eyes duke it out on the big screen or Attack of the Killer Caterpillar with Wes Bentley’s giant eyebrows in tow under the direction of Heitor Dhalia (Adrift). Seriously though, Seyfried plays a woman convinced the same serial killer who kidnapped her two years ago has returned after her sister goes missing. Meanwhile, Tom Clancy is giving his full endorsement to Act of Valor about Navy SEALs on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. Directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh know the drill here after making their Documentary Short Navy SWCC. Also, there have been reports of another Tyler Perry movie opening called Good Deeds.
So there you have it. Things are looking a little better than January but we still have to wait it out for March before things start to look fun again. In the meantime, choose wisely dear readers.
Photos courtesy Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Screen Gems.