A new movie year stretches out before us like a virgin field of glistening, beautiful snow, untouched and full of magic and promise. Let us take a moment to enjoy it, before we start to deal with all the slush and black ice and backbreaking shoveling of the movies shortly to pockmark that snow. Because it’s January, after all, where decent movies go to die.
And here’s a particularly icy patch of yellow snow to kick things off: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, a Latino-themed spin-off of the little franchise that wouldn’t die. It would take very little effort for it to be better than the last two in the main line of the series, but “very little effort” is the clarion call of the entire found footage horror genre, so let’s say that I’m not stocking up bottles of champagne to celebrate.
Your standard-issue prestige movie expansion, as Her and Lone Survivor both start widening their nets, but the only really new, really wide release is The Legend of Hercules, an old-school sword-and-sandal picture that, to judge from the advertising, doesn’t realise that Greece and Rome weren’t the same place. And Renny Harlin directs! Truly, this will be a fantasy epic for the ages.
Almost half of the movies coming out all month are being dumped in one day, with the breakout film clearly set to be Ride Along, a cop comedy with Kevin Hart doing his Kevin Hart thing. It’s even probably going to be the best movie in a generally miserable, wintry landscape, though maybe Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit will find some way to be surprising, because films getting shoved to January at the last minute is a good sign.
In the Land of No Hope, the year’s first animated film is a viciously generic-looking comedy, The Nut Job, which wants to be the Rififi of sassy talking animals. And even that’s still going to be better than Devil’s Due, a “pregnant with Satan’s baby” picture that has had the shamelessness to finally adopt the title that every film in its subgenre must have passed by with a shudder at some point.
In I, Frankenstein, Aaron Eckhart plays Sexy Frankenstein’s Monster fighting an army of evil angels. My vote for the “get drunk and go with your friends” release of the month.
Jason Reitman’s Labor Day, having been quietly smacked with an Oscar qualifying release, sneaks out to let the rest of us for Kate Winslet. Also, That Awkward Moment is probably the best way to describe the experience of sitting in the dark, watching a movie in which Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan can’t pee because of their raging Viagra erections.