Golly, here we are just, blasting through February, and I totally forgot to do this. We could blame the almost unprecedented slate of outrageous shit that opened in January for ruining movies altogether, and the fact that February is never a great time for films either. But that wouldn’t be true. That would be spectacularly untrue, in fact…
…because this February includes The Lego Movie, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who’ve now gone two-for-two on movies that I wasn’t expecting to like at all and ended up liking a lot, so we’ll see how they can do on a movie whose ad campaign has been one terrifically appealing gag and/or concept after another. Right now, this seems primed to take the Coraline, “February animated release that keeps on being one of my favorite movies of the year no matter how much I see” slot, though at a bare minimum, I don’t think that a hilarious pop culture riff with a great voice cast is too much to hope for.
Elsewhere, George Clooney’s WWII buddy ensemble/caper film The Monuments Men finally opens, after having been bumped from Oscar season, which really just can’t be good. And the latest attempt to kick off a teen franchise, Vampire Academy, from the not-to-be-discounted brother team of director Mark Waters and writer Daniel Waters. So I might even pay to see it. But shit, does it ever look awful.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Love stories for everybody! The loose remake of a loose adaptation of a B-level Mamet play, About Last Night clearly looks to be the most tolerable to watch, almost by default: the bizarrely-marketed remake of Endless Love (the trailer for which demands that you anticipate it will be a serial killer thriller) is likely to be junk, and the confusing-sounding fantasy Winter’s Tale is the feature directorial debut of Akiva Goldsman, a phrase that fills me with about as much confidence and pleasure as “scrotal lacerations”.
The “Liam Neeson is an old man who can kick your ass” subgenre kicks off its highest-profile spin-off yet, in which Kevin Costner is old, and presumably ass-kicking, in the service of rescuing his daughter, in 3 Days to Kill, produced by LNIAOMWCKYA impresario Luc Besson. If you’d told me as recently as three weeks ago that 3 Days to Kill had an easy shot at being the better of Kevin Costner’s first-quarter action films in 2014, I would have been too aghast to even laugh at you. But I would have been wrong.
If your tastes in crappy genre cash-ins runs a bit more old-school, we have here a vintage-style CGI disaster romance epic in Pompeii, continuing the year’s very strange run of shit-looking sword-and-sandal pictures. And if, for whatever reason, you prefer good movies, Miyazaki Hayao’s probably-but-maybe-not last movie, The Wind Rises, begins its US run. A good film aye; not a great film. But a good film, and a solid swan song, if that turns out to be the case.
Unafraid of market cannibalism, a legitimate “Liam Neeson…ass” movie opens, Non-Stop, though it is not produced by Besson. It is however directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, making the “Unknown on a plane” shorthand even more likely than it appears. I’ll admit, I’m still onboard with this late-career action hero phase; if we are going to have asinine action movies that pander to our lowest impulses as consumers of art, I’d rather that those action movies star actors of presence and gravity whom I’d enjoy watching doing pretty much anything. And Julianne Moore! Hell, y’all, I’ve followed Julianne Moore into worse places than this.
The counter-offerings, anyway, are unspeakably dire: Son of God, literally the cheapest possible way to fleece religious viewers, since the film’s entire target audience has already seen last year’s miniseries The Bible, from whose footage this film is entirely derived. Also Welcome to Yesterday, which isn’t just a found-footage movie about teens, but a sci-fi found-footage movie about teens, despite the demonstrated fact that if the gimmick ever works, it only ever does so in horror. “Chronicle was mostly okay, other than the useless found-footage” you might counter. “Michael Bay is producing this”, I respond before turning haughtily away, not even pausing to see your defeatist tears.