Coming Soon: February Movie Releases

Whew, what a whirlwind the last two months have been! Somehow between the usual holiday crunch jumping around the state for one hundred and one family gatherings and jetting around the country for work, we bought and moved into our first home. It's great and amazing, the only drawback being a two month detour on my road to "Watch Every Movie"™. Well, we're settled in now and I'm ready to get back on track.

Like Puxsutawney Phil I've popped my head out and seen my shadow, which means six more weeks of winter and another four weeks of winter dump month movies. As always, we run down the trailers for each new release and try to guess their quality with wild, baseless speculation. Dress warmly, take a blanket and sneak some cocoa into the theater - here are the eleven nationwide February releases.

In Theaters February 3


At Glance: In "Rings," the secrets of "The Ring" are found to go deeper than just death after seven days when a woman discovers a second message hidden inside the original cursed tape.

Why I'm Not Excited: I started to write that this was the sequel to 2002's "The Ring," forgetting completely that there has already been a sequel in the form of 2005's "The Ring Two." I didn't see it, but a cursory Google search suggests it was terrible. "Rings" of course shouldn't be judged against any of its predecessors sins and has indeed changed hands to both a new director and a new writing team. Unfortunately, director F. Javier GutiƩrrez's work has not been well received in the past and one of the screenwriters is responsible for the abominable "Batman & Robin." Yikes.

The Space Between Us

At a Glance: Born unexpectedly to an astronaut, Elliot Gardner has lived his whole life on Mars, far from Earth and anyone his age. After striking up a digital friendship with an Earthbound girl, he gets the chance to travel to the planet for the first time. But the trip may come at too high a cost: as the young Martian's organs begin to fail in the terrestrial environment he embarks on a race to experience a world he never knew.

Why I'm Ambivalent: By now reviews for this are starting to trickle in and boy howdy are they not positive. But I firmly believe that critics be damned, you should see always experience film for yourself. Even the worst movies have fans. But aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes are helpful in terms of expectation management. They just shouldn't determine your opinion. Low expectations can be pleasantly met a lot easier than sky high ones. Anyway, I like space and Asa is pretty okay. And really, what else am I going to see this weekend?

In Theaters February 10

Fifty Shades Darker

At a Glance: This follow-up to 2015's "Fifty Shades of Grey" threatens to leave suburban moms everywhere flush, hot and bothered. In the aftermath of the first film's events, an independent Anastasia Steele is passionately pursued by Christian Grey and comes face to face with demons from his past.

Why I'm Not Excited: I have a penis.

John Wick: Chapter 2

At a Glance: Sequel week continues with a follow-up to 2014's action-packed surprise hit about a former hitman seeking revenge on those who stole his car and killed his dog. "Chapter 2" sees Wick travel to Rome with a bounty on his head and shadowy enemies seeking power.

Why I'm Excited: I haven't seen the first, but word of mouth from folks I respect is that it's great and the same team is responsible for "Chapter 2." Action flicks tend to be very samey and formulaic; anything that breaks the mold is worth checking out. Besides, Neo and Morpheus together again? Sign me up!

The LEGO Batman Movie

At a Glance: This spin-off set in the LEGO universe pits LEGO Batman against his nemesis The Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime's nefarious machinations may prove too much for the tiny plastic Caped Crusader alone, forcing him to turn to the unlikely heroes around him for help.

Why I'm Excited: I'm ready for a DC movie that isn't bound by the rules of the DC Cinematic Universe that resulted in a boring, incoherent "Batman v Superman" and a brainless, forgettable "Suicide Squad." This looks like the complete opposite of those movies. Get lost, drab grays and browns, this movie has color. So long, overplayed grim seriousness, this movie jokes about Robin's tights. Get fired into the sun, Jared Leto's Joker, this movie forgets you exist! This is a celebratory send up of one of the notoriously serious superhero franchises. After those bombs, that's just what I want.

In Theaters February 17

 A Cure for Wellness

At a Glance: A young executive goes to retrieve his CEO from a remote spa in the Alps, but begins to suspect something sinister behind their miracle treatments.

Why I'm Excited: Everything about this trailer is very much my jam. Hidden mystery tucked behind the apparently perfect? Check. Weird medical setting? Check. Creepy cult-like imagery? Check. But remember: trailers lie, and it's February. Still, the premise has me intrigued and the creative minds behind the film produced some good work (despite an overall uneven record). An aside presented without interpretation: Today 20th Century Fox retweeted a ton of positive publicity from people selected to attend an early screening.

Fist Fight

At a Glance: A teacher accidentally gets another, more feared teacher fired on the last day of school, resulting in his challenge to an after-school teacher throw down he is sure to lose.

Why I'm Not Excited: How do you stretch this premise into a satisfying ninety minutes? I'm sure I don't know. Trailers lie, but there's enough repetition in the three minutes above that I'm not sure these guys do either.

The Great Wall

At a Glance: Mercenaries seeking gunpowder in Song dynasty China are set upon by a monster and, fleeing, are taken prisoner by the Chinese armies at the Great Wall. When the Wall is itself besieged by an army of the creatures, they join in its defense.

Why I'm Excited: Okay, hear me out. I'm almost certain this movie will be ridiculous. That said, there's an interesting element to "The Great Wall" in that it is an inverse of the common Hollywood trend of shoehorning Chinese elements into films to appeal to the Chinese market. This film has already been released in China, was produced in-part by a Chinese production company, was directed by a renounced Chinese director, and has a majority Chinese cast. Matt Damon, arguably, was shoehorned in to appeal to Western audiences, concern over white-washing not withstanding. It's an interesting layer in a complex issue the industry is rightfully grappling with.

In Theaters February 24


At a Glance: A man returns to a life of drug smuggling to raise the money for the kidney transplant his girlfriend desperately needs, only to end up on the run from his dangerous employers.

Why I'm Not Excited: I like Hoult, Jones, Kingsley and Hopkins, but I'm not sure anyone is exactly screaming for an English "Taken."

Get Out

At a Glance: Writer-director Jordan Peele takes a break from comedy to turn in this surprise race-based horror film about a man visiting his white girlfriend's family for the first time. At first relieved to see another person of color, bizarre behavior leads him to suspect something is very wrong at the picture-perfect estate. His only goal: to get out.

Why I'm Excited: I love seeing talent try new things. Satire has been the heart of Peele's work since the comedy sketch show that helped propel him to fame and while this may be his first horror film, it's clear that the premise comes from a nugget of personal truth. I've always enjoyed his work and can't wait to see what he's come up with.

Rock Dog

At a Glance: A guard-dog training to be the protector of his village discovers a passion for music after a radio falls from the sky and sets off to pursue his musical dreams, inadvertently becoming the key for the hungry wolves threatening his peaceful home.

Why I'm Ambivalent: This seems harmless, and is this month's only option for younger kids who may not be ready for "LEGO Batman." It's probably no "Norm of the North," but (despite the trailer's hinting) it's unlikely to be "Toy Story 2" either.

And that's the month! Remember, all commentary is wild, baseless speculation and in no way indicates a movie's actual quality. See what you want! So, what are you excited you see this month? Sound off in the comments below to share what you're seeing and why!

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