In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be bringing you a guide to the cinematic dump months (January and February), telling you what to watch and what to avoid. We can’t cover everything, but these are the films that should be on your radar, one way or another.
January 10th, 2014
Film: The Legend of Hercules
Director: Renny Harlin
Humans: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, Liam Garrigan, Liam McIntyre, Rade Serbedzija
Synopsis: After the demigod son of Zeus is betrayed by his royal step-father, he must battle his way back from exile and slavery to depose the king. (via Wikipedia)
CHUD Prognosis: Renny Harlin is in a different kind of movie jail now. One where he’s forced to replicate the style of an eight-year-old movie (300) and work with a Twilight alumnus (Lutz) in order to get a modestly budgeted movie targeted at teenaged latchkey kids made. What’s worse is that this is obviously going to be the lesser of the two (TWO!) Hercules movies coming out this year. The latter, directed by Brett Ratner, has the benefit of a real movie star in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a slightly higher budget. Harlin’s movie has Scott Adkins and Rade Serbedzija, which makes it required viewing for old school Chewers, as well as instantly avoidable for everyone else. The best case scenario is that the movie approaches some of the mid-budget madness that came with 2011’s Conan The Barbarian, but this is a PG-13 film, so even those low stakes seem unattainable. Put it this way: a prepubescent Hercules isn’t going to kill anyone with an egg in his mouth.
CHUD Pull Quote: “If you only see two Hercules movies this year, kill yourself in a public park.”
January 17th, 2014
Film: Devil’s Due
Director: Radio Silence
Humans: Zach Gilford, Allison Miller, Robert Belushi,Sam Anderson, Aimee Carrero, Vanessa Ray, Colin Walker
Synopsis: After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin. (Via IMDB)
CHUD Prognosis: Were it not for the directing team behind this, I’d consider it an easy skip. But Radio Silence is responsible for the best segment in V/H/S (“10/31/98″, the one with the haunted house), so my interest is piqued. The trailer is less inspiring, though I like the idea that the constant filming comes out of something relatable, like documenting a young couple’s first pregnancy. That’s at least one hurdle cleared in a genre that’s proven problematic to those of us who don’t understand why most of these characters don’t just drop the camera and fuck off running. The rest is going to depend on using the conceit as a launching pad for something other than whip-pan scares, waiting for an overly lit face to jump out of the shadows. Unfortunately, they can’t go the Rosemary’s Baby route, since the genre doesn’t allow for subjective filmmaking (prove me wrong!), but they can still trade off the familiar, everyday fears of having a child before launching into something more generically “scary.” As the second found footage horror movie to be released in this short year (with more to come) it’s going to have to do something pretty fucking special to get our attention.
(Side note: Community fans should check out Alison Brie in the laughable, Born if they can’t wait two weeks to see this.)
CHUD Pull Quote: “Want to see an hour and a half of pregnant people documenting every single development of their unborn child? Spend an afternoon on Facebook.”
Film: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Humans: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Nonso Anozie
Synopsis: Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. (Via IMDB)
CHUD Prognosis: This is a big one. Or at least it should be. Shadow Recruit was, once upon a time, a tentpole film with a Christmas release. Paramount has been grooming Chris Pine to revitalize their intermittent “Jack Ryan” franchise for a while now and he’s an unequivocally great choice to step into a role that’s already been played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. The dude has charisma like few actors working today and I’d personally love to see him knock this one out of the park. There’s also something very comforting about putting a real, underused movie star like Kevin Costner in a supporting, mentor role. Pine was at his best in Star Trek when playing opposite Bruce Greenwood, and it feels like a wise decision to replicate that here. On the other hand, Branagh’s accent sounds otherworldly (i.e. I don’t know what planet that character is supposed to be from). Having a Russian bad guy played by a non-Russian is…quaint, at best, and a little out of step with the kind of terrorism with which we’re currently accustomed. There’s certainly room for a slick, mid-budgeted spy thriller in my life, I’m just not 100% convinced this is it.
CHUD Pull Quote: “One for Jack Reacher: Into Darkness, please.”
January 24th, 2014
Film: I, Frankenstein
Director: Stuart Beattie
Humans: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney, Aden Young, Kevin Grevioux, Socratis Otto, Mahesh Jadu, Caitlin Stasey
Plot Synopsis: Frankenstein’s creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.
CHUD Prognosis: There will probably be crappier movies to make it to the theater this year, but I’m guessing this is going to hang on to the mantle through a good chunk of it. Ignore the further misuse of the name “Frankenstein” (it’s the fucking doctor, not the monster!) or that this looks like Underworld: Frankensteins vs. Gargoyles or the terrible special effects or the overused idea of an ancient order of immortal monsters secretly running the world or trying to make Frankenstein’s monster sexy or…you know what, did Miranda Otto just say, “Frankenstein must be destroyed”? That’s a Hammer movie! Are there more clumsy references like that? I take it back! I take it all back!
CHUD Pull Quote: “I, don’t care.”
January 31st, 2014
Film: That Awkward Moment
Director: Tom Gormican
Humans: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Jessica Lucas, Mackenzie Davis, Parker Block
Plot Synopsis: After their friend Mikey’s break-up, Jason and Daniel promise to stay single with him. However, they both end up falling in love and have to avoid facing their promise. (Via Wikipedia)
CHUD Prognosis: You know how you and your bros are constantly making pacts? And then you know how you and your bros are constantly falling head over heels in love? And you know how you and your bros are constantly wondering why they don’t make romantic comedies for bros like you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re the elusive chimera for whom this film was made! A romantic comedy just for guys! Sorry, girls! Roger Ebert could crawl out of his casket tomorrow, proclaiming this the greatest film of all time and I still wouldn’t muster a single fuck. Not one fuck.
On second thought, bros? Let’s get out of our spacious, loft apartment for a night, put on our dopest scarves and see this!
CHUD Pull Quote: “Roger Ebert could crawl out of his casket tomorrow, proclaiming this the greatest film of all time and I still wouldn’t muster a single fuck. Not one fuck.”
So how’s my winter lookin’ thus far? Not great, Bob.
We’ll run down February in another week or so.