February may not be spring exactly, but it's not January, at least. So in honor of this most terrible, frigid of months, let's take a look at the movies coming in the next few months. Because the longer the days and the warmer the weather, the more we're going to want to sit inside in the dark.
What It Is: The first of Melissa McCarthy's big post-Bridesmaids movies, this somewhat unpleasant looking comedy stars Jason Bateman as a regular Jason Bateman-type guy who finds his life in upheaval after his identity is stolen. He tracks down the thief, a boorish weirdo played by Melissa McCarthy. Then the movie seems to turn into a road comedy/action movie, when some actually dangerous criminals start chasing both McCarthy and Bateman. Wacky violence ensues, zany laughs abound, and presumably some sort of heartwarming friendship is formed. This is a million Martin Lawrence movies with Melissa McCarthy instead.
Why You Should See It: As one of the two leads, McCarthy's got a lot more on her shoulders than usual. So it will be interesting to see how she handles herself. Plus the clip they showed on McCarthy's recent Daily Show appearance was significantly funnier than anything in the trailers. (2/8)
What It Is: Yet another adaptation of a supernatural young adult book sensation, this one the first in the Caster Chronicles. "Caster" is the term the books use for witches/sorcerers/whatever you want to call them. Basically, two young people (Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert) fall into puppy love, only for the boy to find out that the girl is fated to become a caster on her sixteenth birthday. Will she be a good witch or a bad witch? That's for her to figure out, though certain members of her family — including Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, and Emmy Rossum — certainly have opinions on the matter. Lots of swirling magic happens, there are some smoldering looks between teen hotties, and probably the world, or the town, is saved in some capacity.
Why You Should See It: Well if you have some sort of moony tween or teen in your own life, this is probably what they will be talking about for the next couple of weeks, so it might help to know just what it is they're yammering about. Ehrenreich and Englert are easy on the eyes, if you're into such things. Plus who doesn't want to see Emma Thompson flail around as a bad witch and Emmy Rossum do a silly Southern accent?? Oh, and Viola Davis is in the movie, and she's always good. Look, February is a bleak month, so what's wrong with a little (or lots of) silliness? (2/13)
A Good Day to Die Hard
What It Is: Um, duh. It is the fifth movie in the venerable but only slightly creaky Die Hard series. In this one, John McClane (Bruce Willis, obviously) travels to Russia and teams up with his son (Jai Courtney) after they uncover yet another world-threatening terrorist plot. I mean who really cares about the particulars of the story? The point is that lots of guns are fired, many things blow up, and at one point father and son fall through several floors of a building and, we're to believe, miraculously survive. It's all physics-defying bombast and tough-guy one-liners. Just like always.
Why You Should See It: Because it's Die Hard! These movies are always lots of senseless fun, and there's no real reason to expect this will be any different. Sure the franchise lost some of its luster with Live Free or Die Hard — which wasn't as good as the other three and had way too much to do with computers — but it's still pretty strong. Also, it will be interesting to see if this Jai Courtney fellow is worthy of the McClane name. But mostly because a helicopter explodes and a truck goes careening off an overpass and there's a babe on a motorcycle. Are those not all solid reasons to see this? (2/13)
And the Rest...
Nicholas Hoult is a zombie who falls in love with a human in the indie horror-comedy Warm Bodies (2/1) ... Sylvester Stallone continues his ultra-violent twilight career in the unfortunately titled Bullet to the Head (2/1) ... In the documentary The Gatekeepers, members of Israel's secret service agency are interviewed about their shadowy work (2/1) ... Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin are old crooks in the dark comedy Stand Up Guys (2/1) ... Steven Soderbergh takes on the medical/psychological thriller genre with Side Effects, starring Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum (2/8) ... Roman Coppola's A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III looks to be an aggressively quirky comedy in the style of extreme Wes Anderson, with Charlie Sheen as its star (2/8) ... Top Gun is getting a week-long 3D re-release, so get your beach volleyball shorts ready (2/8) ... The animated comedy Escape from Planet Earth posits that aliens kept at Area 51 are responsible for all the world's greatest inventions (2/14) ... Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough make quite the dynamic acting duo in Nicholas Sparks's next psychosexual dream ballet, Safe Haven (2/15) ... Keri Russell stars in some sort of alien horror movie called Dark Skies (2/22) ... The Rock and Susan Sarandon finally combine their talents for the action picture Snitch (2/22)
What It Is: Acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook makes his English-language debut with this horror-thriller from writer Wentworth Miller. (Yup.) The movie, which recently made waves at Sundance, tells the story of a particularly dark and twisted family — mother Nicole Kidman, dead dad Dermot Mulroney, creepy daughter Mia Wasikowska, and mysterious uncle Matthew Goode. Oh and Jacki Weaver's in there too, as a batty old aunt. Daughter and uncle form sort of menacing bond and things go to all kinds of artsy hell. A spider factors in somehow. We know that much.
Why You Should See It: Um, have you seen the trailer? Mean mamas! Bad girls! Wicked uncles! It all looks very stylish and moody and exciting. Park Chan-wook made Oldboy, and the rest of the Vengeance Trilogy, and it doesn't get more intense or gripping than that. While this feels more like a fall film, a little blackness and bleakness in an otherwise lighter season ought to be refreshing. (3/1)
Oz: The Great and Powerful
What It Is: Director Sam Raimi tells a Wizard of Oz prequel story in this CGI fantasia. James Franco plays the young wizard, while Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, and Michelle Williams are the three witch sisters of infamy. The big question about the movie is which one of these ladies is the Wicked Witch of the West, though trailers give us a pretty good idea of how that turns out. Really this movie is all about the spectacle, all that computer-animated magic and landscape, all those silly creatures, and of course the Emerald City. It's a feast for the senses. If you can stomach that kind of thing, anyway.
Why You Should See It: That's hard to say, honestly. To us, this looks like yet another cold, computer reimagining of a classic, beloved story. Why Raimi is trying to be Tim Burton here — by making his own Alice In Wonderland — is a little beyond us, but here it is anyway. We suppose that it could be interesting to see how Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams handle themselves in such a big fantasy epic, and to see if theories about the Wicked Witch's identity are accurate. If you've got kids, you'll probably be forced to see this, but if not? Maybe wait to hear what your friends who were dragged there have to say afterward. (3/8)
What It Is: Provocateur Harmony Korine returns to the sordid youth culture of his first screenplay Kids, this time turning his gaze on the sexy-sleazy world of spring break. Deliberately casting Disney/ABC Family princesses Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens against type (alongside Korine's own wife), he tells a story of girls gone bad, going on a crime spree to support their partying, getting involved with all the wrong people in the process. James Franco, be-cornrowed and grilled, plays the main unsavory character, in what appears to be a bizarre performance that borders on parody. How filthy can this thing get? Well, it's Harmony Korine, so probably pretty filthy.
Why You Should See It: There's obviously the sordid fascination with previously squeaky clean actresses getting down 'n' dirty — Justin Bieber's ex-girlfriend is doing what now?? And of course Franco looks to be a wholly ridiculous delight. Judging by much of Korine's past work, this movie may actually prove pretty grim and hard to sit through, but you won't know until you go, right? So put on a hat and a trench coat and go to the early matinee like the creep you are. And bring your creep friends! (2/22)
The Place Beyond the Pines
What It Is: Ryan Gosling reunites with his Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance for this tale of crime and punishment, fathers and sons. We've heard that Bradley Cooper, playing a conflicted cop, gets just as much focus in the film — which is separated into three sections covering some fifteen years — though Gosling and his Drive-esque intense stare get most of the focus in the very dramatic trailer. Basically this looks to be a slightly artier version of a James Gray/Pride & Glory-type movie. And it stars the guy from Drive!
Why You Should See It: Well, lots of people at last year's Toronto film festival were pretty excited about the movie, so that might be reason enough. Obviously if you're not yet sick of Gosling's mute tough guy with a heart of gold routine this is the movie for you. We're mostly curious about the structure of the film, which isn't touched upon at all in any of the early promos. Up-and-comer Dane DeHaan apparently gets a lot of focus toward the end of the film, which is interesting. And we're curious to see if Bradley Cooper continues his winning dramatic streak. But, of course, we also acknowledge that this movie has plenty of potential to be a pretentious bore, as some have suggested it is. (3/29)
And the Rest...
21 and Over is a crazy college night movie featuring Miles Teller, who was also in the crazy high school night movie Project X (3/1) ... Mark Webber stars with his own son in the Sundance darling The End of Love, about a young widowed father struggling to raise his kid (3/1) ... Nicholas Hoult makes his second spring appearance in Jack the Giant Slayer, a large-scale, long-delayed (not a good sign) retelling of the "Jack and the Beanstalk" tale (3/1) ... We gotta sit through another one of these damn exorcisms in The Last Exorcism Part II, which really better be the last one (3/1) ... Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star in the action thriller Dead Man Down, directed by the guy who did the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movies (3/8) ... The Romanian film Beyond the Hills, about a rural convent, won raves and awards at Cannes (3/8) ... Elle Fanning and Beautiful Creatures's Alice Englert earned praise at the Toronto Film Festival for the coming-of-age drama Ginger & Rosa (3/15) ... Steve Carell and Jim Carrey make a lot of silly faces in the dreadfully unfunny-looking The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (3/15) ... Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess are upside down in the sci-fi romance Upside Down (3/15) ... Tina Fey and Paul Rudd star in the romantic comedy Admission, about an uptight admissions counselor and the young man who might be her son (Paul Rudd does not play that part) (3/22) ... Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone voice ugly cave people in the animated comedy The Croods (3/22) ... The hilariously titled Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler as a Secret Service agent tasked with saving the president (Aaron Eckhart) after the White House is sacked (3/22) ... Liam Hemsworth stars in the apparently very low budget romantic Vietnam War-era drama Love and Honor (3/22) ... G.I. Joe finally returns after a long delay in Terrence Malick's G.I. Joe: Retaliation (3/29) ... Stephenie Meyers's first for-grownups book The Host gets the movie treatment, starring Saoirse Ronan, who is not a grownup (3/29) ... Tyler Perry tells another tale of relationship woe in the succinctly titled Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (3/29)
What It Is: It's Tom Cruise vs. the aliens once more in this graphic novel-based sci-fi thriller. Some sixty years after aliens all but destroyed Earth, Cruise is one of the last people left, a guy who repairs the robots that are extracting the last of Earth's sweet, sweet resources. But then he meets a lady down there who's not supposed to be down there and he learns things he never thought possible. Oblivion was directed by the guy who did Tron: Legacy, so expect lets of smooth slickness and slick smoothness. And, of course, lots of yelling from Mr. Cruise.
Why You Should See It: The implication in the trailer is maybe that Earth wasn't destroyed by aliens sixty years ago, which is kind of intriguing. Stories about people being sold some grand lie that begins to unravel are usually fun to watch. The movie has a nice aesthetic — all gleaming whites and muddy earth tones. And Morgan Freeman wears some funny glasses and smokes a cigar! Actually, the bulk of the supporting cast is good, from Freeman to the great relative newcomer Andrea Riseborough. This could all end up being some silly mess, as so many sci-fi movies are these days, but it's still intriguing to some degree. Tom Cruise would never do something that was complete junk, would he? Actually, don't answer that. (4/12)
What Is Is: This is the much-discussed Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher. Yes, the Ashton Kutcher. Playing celebrated genius billionaire Steve Jobs. That's quite a tall order! So, no matter what it will be interesting to watch Kutcher try something serious and real-life like this, even if it ultimately doesn't wash off the Pop Chips stink. The supporting cast includes Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak, the ever-busy Dermot Mulroney as Mike Markkula, and Lesley Ann Warren as Steve Jobs's mom.
Why You Should See It: It's called jOBS, guys. Aren't you curious to see how bad a movie called jOBS, starring Ashton Kutcher, really is? It's probably pretty bad! Though, hm, some people who saw it at Sundance actually liked it. So that's kind of a bummer. If you're a tech devotee you have to see this. Likewise if you're a follower of the Kutcher oeuvre, regardless of how bad or good it might be. We can't imagine that it's good, though. How could this possibly be good? It's called jOBS fOR gOD'S sAKE! (4/19)
Pain & Gain
What It Is: Michael Bay directs Mark Wahlberg in a kidnap heist comedy about bodybuilders. Yes, you read that correctly. For some reason this was considered a good idea by all who greenlit it, so here it is. Mark Wahlberg, Tony Shalhoub, Anthony Mackie, and The Rock, in a bodybuilder caper action-comedy. Directed by Michael Bay. You can't make this stuff up!
Why You Should See It: I mean, just watch the trailer. Is there any reason not to see this ridiculous thing? It's been a while since Michael Bay directed a non-Transformers movie, so it's high time we reconnected with just what a ridiculous director he can be. And no, we don't mean "ridiculous" in the good way. (4/26)
And the Rest...
Two broke twentysomething's find a magical teapot that seems to solve all their problems but probably tends to eventually make them worse in The Brass Teapot (4/5) ... Robert Redford directs and stars in The Company You Keep, a drama-thriller about a former '60s radical who may have been found out — so it's basically Sneakers 2, this time with Shia LaBeouf (4/5) ... The Evil Dead is needlessly rebooted with the girl from Suburgatory (4/5) ... Jurassic Park gets a 3D IMAX re-release of its own, so take your college students who were born after that movie came out, ugh (4/5) ... Upstream Color is Shane Carruth's trippy followup to Primer (4/5) ... Brian Helgeland tells the story of Jackie Robinson in 42, featuring Harrison Ford, though sadly not as Robinson (4/12) ... Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, and a bunch of other jerks embarrass themselves in Scary Movie 5 (4/12) ... The family comedy Stuck in Love features Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, and Arnold Schwarzengger's model son Patrick (4/19) ... Mira Nair directs Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, and others in an adaptation of the bestselling novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (4/24) ... Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron are a father and son at war about the fate of the family farm in the musical comedy (sigh, I wish) At Any Price (4/26) ... Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, and Susan Sarandon show the youngsters, including Katherine Heigl and Topher Grace, how it's done in the ensemble comedy The Big Wedding (4/26) ... Matthew McConaughey's next serious role is in Jeff Nichols's Mud, which features another person in need of some serious roles, Reese Witherspoon (4/26)