2017 is finally over. What better way to celebrate that historically bad year for movies than culminating with the melodramatic outrage surrounding the definitely-flawed-yet-mostly-adequate The Last Jedi? Is not even Star Wars safe from our collective hyperbolic hatred? Will 2018 be better? If January is any indication, no.
JANUARY 5, 2018
INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY
Insidious: The Last Key – Every year begins with a horror movie that studios want to bury (The Bye Bye Man (2017), The Forest (2016), The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2015)), and 2018 opens with Insidious: The Last Key. This is the fourth film in the Insidious franchise, whose previous installments opened in April, September, and June, respectively. For those keeping track, this is the one with Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as paranormal investigators, which is not to be confused with The Conjuring/Annabelle series, which has Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigators. (Of note, Wilson/Byrne are virtually absent from the promotional material, with the focus being on series’ stalwart Lin Shaye.)
JANUARY 12, 2018
PADDINGTON 2 v. THE COMMUTER v. PROUD MARY v. THE ROOM
Paddington 2 – The month’s big kid’s movie is a sequel to 2014’s Paddington. This time the kid-friendly CGI bear must solve a crime, and in doing so he has received universal accolades with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%, 8.4/10 average rating with more than 60 reviewers counted.
The Commuter – In the most Liam Neeson film of the year, Liam Neeson is your average, every man (this time, an insurance agent) … who finds himself in the midst of a conspiracy where he has to use his cunning and particular sets of skills to etc. etc., etc.
Proud Mary – This blaxploitation throwback from director Babak Najafi (London Has Fallen; TV’s Banshee) stars Empire‘s Taraji P. Henson as a hitwoman who seeks revenge after a job gone wrong. Provided that Najafi and Henson can get the tone right – and the trailers make it seem like they may – it could be a fun action movie.
The Room – Following the success of The Disaster Artist, Tommy Wiseau’s masterpiece finally gets a wide release. Definitely worth seeing again and again.
JANUARY 19, 2018
12 STRONG v. DEN OF THIEVES v. MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER v. MOM AND DAD
12 Strong – January has become a big month for based-on-a-true-story military movies. Recent years have featured 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016), American Sniper (2015), and Lone Survivor (2013) – movies that received both commercial and critical acclaim. Capitalizing on that trend, 12 Strong stars Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, and Michael Pena, among others, as the first soldiers sent to Afghanistan to take down the Taliban after 9/11.
Den of Thieves – Over the past few years, Gerard Butler has churned out some of the worst genre fare in recent memory. Last year brought us the disastrous disaster flick Geostorm and the year before, he graced the screen with the equally poorly received fantasy epic Gods of Egypt. This January, Butler tries his hand at Generic Cop Drama. A team of criminals try to rob the Federal Reserve Bank, with LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Butler hot on their trail. Is he a cop that doesn’t plays by the rules but gets results? The trailer packs in so many cliches that it hits the point of parody.
Mom and Dad – This VOD movie looks genuinely entertaining. From director Brian Taylor (Crank), Mom and Dad stars Nicolas Cage (living up to his reputation) and Selma Blair as parents caught in the midst of a frenzy where all adults try to kill their kids.
JANUARY 26, 2018
THE MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure – This young adult franchise is still going on? I’m surprised. I thought they’d ostensibly shut it down, like they did the Divergent series. But after numerous real life near death experiences during filming, star Dylan O’Brien finally gets to the end of the maze in this “epic finale.”
So that’s January. There’s several awards contender still making their way around the country – Phantom Thread, The Post, All The Money in the World, I, Tonya, etc. – which is good, since this month is pretty much devoid of anything. If they get it right, Proud Mary might be the biggest stand out. Then onto the far more intriguing February, with the likes of Annihilation, Black Panther, and … The War with Grandpa.