Good movies here and there, as will always happen, but let us not mince words: the ending months of 2014 pretty well sucked for cinema. A new year now spreads before us, and it brings with us the promise that things will be better.
Not right away, of course. I mean, January. It’s the dead zone.
So speaking of death, the first movie of the year is a horror picture, as tends to be the case. The pretty much not bad at all The Woman in Black finds itself with a sequel in The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, which is, for one thing, too much damn title. For another, the film has a clever work-around to extend the narrative scope – it’s 40 years later, and WWII is on – that suggests at least some effort has been made to avoid the usual sequel needlessness. But seriously, the track record for horror sequels is pretty dire, and winter horror tends to be the worst horror.
We all have our blindspots, and Liam Neeson punching things is one of mine, and that, children, is why I am actually really excited for Tak3n.
Okay, so apparently, despite having the actual worst trailer of the whole year, Paddington isn’t a heaving piece of shit? Can anyone from the United Kingdom confirm this fact for me? Because I like the thought of children’s films with Nicole Kidman as the villain, despite the available evidence.
Moving into darker territory, the Kevin Hart Movie Machine now cranks out The Wedding Ringer, where he plays Josh Gad’s fake best man, and the whole thing doesn’t seem to have any redeeming characteristics at all.
And then there is the befuddling matter of Blackhat, in which we find a Michael Mann film dumped into the hinterlands without even a courtesy Oscar qualifying run. That has to be the worst possible sign, right? I mean, how disastrous does a movie by a brand-name director have to be for this kind of release pattern?
Speaking of brand names, Johnny Depp’s latest exercise in broad character creation, Mortdecai, is also getting the burn-off treatment. Which is, if anything, even uglier: he used to be a major star, and now he’s headlining January comedies. This one is at least as ill-seeming as the Mann thing, but on the other hand, the trailer makes it look so awful that it’s much less surprising.
Strange Magic finds Gary Rydstrom making his feature directorial debut with an animated movie “from the mind of George Lucas”, and boy, it could not look like more of a worst-case scenario for what that phrase could possibly mean. There’s also a thing called The Boy Next Door, which I’m certain I’ve seen an ad for, and it’s like a sexy teen neighbor seducing a woman thing that might, if we’re lucky, be fun sudsy junk. If we’re not, it’s exactly what it sounds like.
Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer teach us all a lesson about race relations in Black or White. Okay, so it has to be better than it looks. Mike Binder’s not the worst writer in the world. But oh, that trailer makes this look Very Special in the most condescending way.
Teens build a time machine and film themselves using it in Project Almanac, which sounds like a found footage Primer for the illiterate. And swingers investigate a murder in The Loft, so that’s like, I don’t know, a thing that exists in the world.