Around these parts, 2015 still hasn’t even been properly sent off (I have an opportunity to see Miguel Gomes’s Arabian Nights trilogy in mid-January and so help me, I shall not consider my movie year complete until I have. So you’ll just have to keep waiting on my top 10), but we might as well ring in the New Year by taking a look at the kick-off to 2016. It’s a January film slate. What’s there to say?
Upon watching the trailer for the horror film The Forest, set in the “Suicide Forest” at the base of Mount Fuji, two thoughts leap to mind:
1) It looks damn tasteless.
2) And yet somehow less tasteless than Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees.
The other wide release (other than the expansion of the Last of the Oscar Hopefuls, The Revenant), is The Masked Saint, which from every angle I look at it appears to be a revenge thriller starring a pastor, made for a religious audience. There is a possibility that Most Fascinating Release of 2016 is already all sewn up.
OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, IT’S THE MICHAEL BAY BENGHAZI MOVIE. This is the most astonishingly classy mixture of director and subject since… well since Roland Emmerich made a Stonewall movie (I’m unreasonably disappointed that I’m going to have to miss that one before I complete my Year in Review – the bottom 10 needs just as much TLC as the top 10, y’all). Best-case scenario is that it makes a perfect double feature with Pearl Harbor. Or maybe that’s the worst-case? Well, it’s some scenario, anyway.
Meanwhile, the year’s first largely unnecessary sequel comes along, in the form of Ride Along 2, though given that the original was one of the biggest January releases ever, it’s hardly unexpected.
The year’s first entirely unnecessary animated feature comes along too, with Norm of the North, whose trailers promise some of the most viscerally unattractive computer animation ever given wide release.
The Januarys hit hardest in the pentultimate weekend of the month. Among the wide releases are The Boy, about a nanny who comes to believe that the doll she’s been hired to babysit is actually alive. And y’know, all the love in the world to anybody who dives right into a shlocky concept that feels like it was mothballed in the 1950s. But I don’t think I need to justify why this one sounds pretty damn dodgy.
In fairness, while the other wide releases are equally stupid, at least they have real stars and that gives them the illusion of being legitimate: in The 5th Wave, Chloë Grace Moretz, Liev Schreiber, and Maria Bello fight aliens. And in Dirty Grandpa, Robert De Niro swears and talks about sex and stuff, while Zac Efron feels helpless. Comedy allegedly ensues.
Thank the good Lord, here comes Kung Fu Panda 3 to save the day. And while it’s never a great sign when our savior is a DreamWorks Animation threequel, Kung Fu Panda 2 already managed to be one of the best animated sequels of its generation, dropping hardly at all or indeed not dropping in quality from the adorable, brightly funny Kung Fu Panda. So I think it’s fair to be optimistic, even with the grossly unpromising release date.
Elsewhere, we find the Chris Pine-led The Finest Hours, a movie about a sea disaster, and Fifty Shades of Black, a parody made by the exact creative team as A Haunted House and A Haunted House 2. Because, I mean, the title was just right there, I guess.
Allegedly, the much-benighted Jane Got a Gun is also finally coming out, but I honestly don’t know if I’m going to believe that even after I’ve sat through it and the credits are rolling; the simpler explanation might just be that I’ve hallucinated the whole experience.