It’s no surprise that movie studios dump their least desirable products during the first few months of the year. After all the Oscar hopefuls march through theaters, multiplexes become a wasteland.
But do not despair, cinephiles. Before the summer movie season officially kicks off in May with “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” there are some big titles coming out between January and April that look promising. Here are 7 wide releases (we’re overlooking the 2016 prestige films opening here in early ’17) that we hope will brighten up big screens during these cold winter months.
Jan. 20 – “Split.” One should always be cautious when a film proudly advertises that it’s “written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.” But the notorious filmmaker somewhat redeemed himself with 2015’s bizarre horror-comedy “The Visit,” and this thriller received surprisingly solid reviews when it premiered at last year’s Fantastic Fest. And besides, James McAvoy, playing a kidnapper with 24 different personalities, hasn’t had a decent acting showcase in awhile.
Feb. 10 – “The Lego Batman Movie.” 2014’s “The Lego Movie” was a terrific surprise, a feature-length toy commercial that was actually funny, zippy and smart. And it was released in the doldrums of February. It’s easy, then, to move this spin-off, starring Will Arnett’s gruff Caped Crusader, to the top of 2017’s most anticipated. This’ll do after the debacle that was “Batman v. Superman.”
Feb. 17 – “A Cure for Wellness.” OK, this could easily be a boondoggle: It’s an indulgent fantasy-mystery-thriller from the guy who directed the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, and it’ll run nearly 2 1/2 hours. The trailer for Gore Verbinski’s latest, though, is filled with haunting, intriguing images – the obvious visual cues from Ken Russell’s “The Devils” have me sold already – so if it’s a disaster, it’ll at least be an interesting one.
March 3 – “Logan.” Perhaps the third time’s the charm. After 2009’s dreadful “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and 2013’s not-that-bad “The Wolverine,” the notion of a standalone Wolverine film finally sounds promising. It doesn’t hurt, either, that “Logan” has been rumored to be R-rated and violent. Considering how well that worked out for “Deadpool,” I’m excited.
March 10 – “T2: Trainspotting.” Sequels released years (or even decades) after their predecessors are dicey propositions (see: “Zoolander 2,” “Bad Santa 2,” “Independence Day: Resurgence,” etc.), but I’m crossing my fingers that the second “Trainspotting” film will be at least half as good as the first. Much of the original cast is returning, as is director Danny Boyle, so here’s hoping they again capture the twisted charm of novelist Irvine Welsh’s characters.
April 14 – “The Fate of the Furious.” Like any sensible moviegoer, I like to see the occasional explosion and car chase, and the “Fast and Furious” franchise has become one of the most reliable outlets for both. These movies get more ridiculous as they go on (I mean that as a compliment), and while the recent death of star Paul Walker hangs like a pall over the series, adding Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren to the ensemble of this eighth installment is certainly a plus.
April 28 – “The Circle.” I picked up Dave Eggers’ novel about an omniscient internet company in an airport bookstore last Christmas and was immediately engrossed in its slightly alarmist but eerily plausible tech scenarios. This adaptation has a few big things going for it: The cast includes Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega, Bill Paxton and Patton Oswalt, and it’s written and directed by the talented James Ponsoldt (“Smashed,” “The Spectacular Now,” “The End of the Tour”).
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