Tuesday, December 31, 2013

5 Movies We're Looking Forward To: January 2014

The month of January has traditionally been a relatively light one as far as new releases are concerned. As we transition from 2013 to 2014, many moviegoers will be playing catch-up on the films they missed from the end of last year - films like The Hobbit or The Wolf of Wall Street - which leaves little time for new product.

Still, there are a few January films that may be worth seeing, if for no other reason than to enjoy a brief 2-hour distraction. We're not saying all of the films on our list are going to be winners, but they do have some potential.

Here are the 5 films we're looking forward to in January 2014.

The release of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones represents a pretty significant risk for Paramount. For starters, this is the first entry not to release around Halloween, which is in and of itself a departure. Moreover, this is the first spin-off entry in the series, one that follows similar themes, and ties into the overarching narrative, but is focused on completely unrelated characters.

That said, the doldrums of January are typically quite accommodating to the horror genre, so it's entirely possible that the franchise, which has stumbled as of late, regains its footing with this entry. At the same time, this could be a Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 situation, where the franchise goes almost completely off the reservation.

One of two Hercules films slated to hit theaters this year, The Legend of Hercules is what most would call the also-ran. The film doesn't have the big name star or the huge budget, but it does have the advantage of being first out of the gate. Twilight's Kellan Lutz plays the titular demi-god in this origin story, which comes courtesy of action director Renny Harlin. Harlin, too, isn't a big name (anymore at least), but he does know his way around an action movie.

Admittedly, this one has the potential of being a real disaster, but we're reserving judgment until we see the final product. We said the same thing about last year's Olympus Has Fallen, which was also the first of two similarly themed movies to release in the same year, and that turned out okay.

If there's one thing to be said about writer/director Spike Jonze it's that he never tries to make the same movie twice. Each of his films has a style and a personality all their own, and his latest film, Her, is no different.

Part sci-fi, part romance, Her follows a man named Theodore who develops a close bond with his new Operating System, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. That premise in and of itself is unique, but early reviews suggest the film has a lot to say about our growing dependence on technology and how we might soon interact with A.I.-controlled devices in the future. If nothing else, Her will offer an intriguing off-beat story, but we suspect it has a lot more going for it than that.

If there was a must-see release of the month, this is it. Like many of the literary characters before him, Jack Ryan is getting the "Jason Bourne" treatment - taking what is essential about a specific character, in this case Tom Clancy's CIA analyst, and bolstering that with a little action hero panache.

In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Chris Pine takes over as the titular hero, but in an earlier stage of his CIA career. Ryan, in typical fashion, uncovers a sinister plot against the U.S., and believes that Viktor Cherevin is at the center of said plot. Cheverin also happens to be played by the film's director, Kenneth Branagh. The January release date has us a little apprehensive, but if the film is successful it will likely jump start a whole new Jack Ryan franchise.

I, Frankenstein seeks to do for piecemeal monsters what Underworld did for vampires, turn them into action movie fodder. At the center of it all is Aaron Eckhart's character, Adam Frankenstein, an amalgamation of body parts brought back to life by electricity who just so happens to fight demons.

In all seriousness, I, Frankenstein is a film that, like The Legend of Hercules, could turn out to be wholly disappointing, and borderline silly. Yet, with Eckhart in the driver seat, and the obvious Underworld connections, it's hard not to be at least a tiny bit excited for this one. Also, any time Bill Nighy plays a villain we have to take notice.While these are the 5 films that made our list there are a few other January releases that may be worth keeping an eye on, including the Ice Cube/Kevin Hart comedy Ride Along and director Jason Reitman's latest film, Labor Day. There's also the horror film Devil's Due and the animated squirrel movie The Nut Job, but we're not banking on either of those being very good. And, as far as the box office is concerned, that's even harder to predict than the quality of a January release.

What about you? Which films are you most looking forward to seeing this month? Let us know in the comments below.

Once again, here are the 5 movies we're looking forward to this month:

January 3rd: Paranormal Activity, The Marked Ones

January 10th: The Legend of Hercules, Her

January 17th: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

January 24th: I, Frankenstein

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