February! From the darkest month of winter comes a bevy of beautiful cinematic concoctions! Plenty of fodder for your Valentine’s date money, and some proper blockbusters to boot! We should probably get right into it.
- BLACK PANTHER – Feb. 16, RealD3D, IMAX3D. This is a big one. When it was announced, a lot of prognosticators thought this would be Marvel’s first misstep. How would it play in middle America? (Meaning, will racists go see it?) The answer seems to be, “Who cares, don’t need ‘em” since early reviews and box off tracking are through the roof. This is unabashedly African, with no obvious attempts to make it more palatable for more alabaster audiences, and it’s a monster. A must see.
- ANNIHILATION – Feb. 23. Alex Garland’s EX MACHINA was a genre masterpiece, and he’s followed it up with another sci-fi tale grounded somewhat in reality, even though it’s about an alien biome appearing on Earth and drastically changing everything and everyone inside it. Natalie Portman’s the lead, with Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and THOR: RAGNAROK’s breakout star Tessa Thompson along for the ride. Early reviews are super positive.
- EARLY MAN – Feb. 16. Nick Park’s Aardman Animation is an international treasure, largely thanks to WALLACE AND GROMIT, so it’s always a treat to have some fresh Claymation goodness on the big screen. This one tells the tale of a stone-age village coming up against the bronze age, literally and figuratively. Reviews are a little mixed but it’s still worth checking out.
- GAME NIGHT – Feb. 23. A group of friends gather for their usual game night, and end up in a murder mystery which they assume is a big elaborate game. It’s tricky to see actors you love playing idiots, but Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams seem to be having fun with it. This one’s directed by the duo who wrote SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, but it’s written by someone who went through a Disney internship program, so there’s some conflict there but I’m pulling for it.
- WINCHESTER- Feb. 2. Ah yes, another horror film Based On A True Story. At least this one’s got some class thanks to Helen Mirren, playing the heir to the Winchester fortune dealing with a haunted mansion. It looks great, and it’s directed by the Spierig brothers, who made the great cult films DAYBREAKERS, UNDEAD, and PREDESTINATION, so it’s definitely got a chance to stand out from the horror pack.
- PETER RABBIT – Feb. 9. It’s a bit early for an Easter movie, innit? Peter Rabbit was always a rascal, but here they seem to have made him more of an asshole, and he’s voiced by James Corden. This is a mix of CG and live action, with Rose Byrne and Brendan Gleeson taking on the thankless living side. Basically, Gleeson wants to murder Peter, who’s like a pet to Byrne. It doesn’t look like the humans know that the animals can talk, and also plan elaborate attacks. If you like watching animals punch people you’ll get your money’s worth here.
- FIFTY SHADES FREED – Feb. 9. The end of the trilogy. Expect nothing different. It’s also being shown in IMAX, only so they could use the tagline “CLIMAX IN IMAX”. Our society is doomed.
- THE 15:17 TO PARIS – Feb. 9. Clint Eastwood is in “Ooo-rah” mode once more. To tell the story of the young American soldiers who stopped a terrorist attack on a French train, he decided to cast the actual soldiers to play themselves. What gets Americans more excited than stories about Americans standing up when no one else will? Of course it also shows their lives at home and in battle to reinforce just how American they are. Like, REAL American.
- EVERY DAY – Feb. 23. Well, for a teen romance this one’s taking a different path than usual. A girl falls in love with a… soul… who wakes up in a different body every day. Like, it wakes up in control of another person’s body. And they hang out and make out and stuff. In another person’s body. I’m sure it’s supposed to be about loving someone no matter what they look like but JESUS CHRIST. They seem to tap dance around the whole moral issue but the film focuses on the girl instead of the soul. The book it’s based on got really great reviews, so hey, maybe it’ll be something special. But I somehow doubt it.
- SAMSON – Feb. 23. Oh man. Nothing like a low budget biblical epic to get the blood pumping. How hard could it be? Take a bible story everyone knows, at least in theory, flesh it out with some side characters, write a few paychecks for some name actors (Billy Zane and Rutger Hauer), and whammo. Producer PureFlix is getting to be a real player in the Christian film market, but I’ve got a feeling this won’t break them into the mainstream. Because it looks terrible. In case there was any confusion.
So lots to see this month! And of course, lots to avoid as well. March is gonna run the gamut from all-timers to nightmare fuel, but we’ll talk about that in, oh, four weeks.