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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to February

“SIDE EFFECTS”

Who: Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones
What: A woman turns to prescription medication as a way of handling her anxiety concerning her husband’s upcoming release from prison
When: February 8th
Why: If you believe Steven Soderbergh’s recent remarks about retiring from filmmaking, then “Side Effects” could very possibly be the director’s last full-length feature. Of course, for as prolific as Soderbergh has been over the last few years, it doesn’t really make sense that he would suddenly want to call it quits, especially with this potentially hackneyed thriller as his swan song. Written by frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns (“Contagion,” “The Informant!”) and once again starring Channing Tatum, the cast is packed with enough talent that it might not be as bad as its release date suggests, but I’m already looking to “Behind the Candelbra” as the next must-see Soderbergh project.

“A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD”

Who: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
What: John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son Jack, only to discover that he’s a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist.
When: February 14th
Why: Most action franchises don’t make it beyond three films, and many that do only get worse with each installment. But that’s not the case with the “Die Hard” series, which proved that it still had some life in it with 2007’s “Live Free and Die Hard,” and hopes to do the same with the fifth chapter in John McClane’s ongoing adventures. After bringing back Lucy in the last film, it makes sense to incorporate his son into the story this time around, and it’ll be interesting to see how Jai Courtney fares alongside Bruce Willis. The actor was great on “Spartacus,” and recently went toe-to-toe with Tom Cruise in “Jack Reacher,” but “A Good Day to Die Hard” could be the break he’s been waiting for.

“BEAUTIFUL CREATURES”

Who: Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons and Emmy Rossum
What: Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town, but after meeting a mysterious new girl, the pair uncovers dark secrets about their respective families.
When: February 14th
Why: Yet another movie franchise in the making that’s based on a popular series of young adult novels, “Beautiful Creatures” trades vampires and werewolves for witches in what Warner Bros. is undoubtedly hoping can become their answer to “The Twilight Saga” without losing the “Harry Potter” crowd. As annoyingly common as these movies are becoming, however, you can’t deny the level of talent that writer/director Richard LaGravenese has attracted, including Oscar winners like Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson and two-time nominee Viola Davis. It’s not the type of movie I’m normally interested in, but it’s hard not to be at least a little intrigued with actors like that involved.

“SNITCH”

Who: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal and Benjamin Bratt
What: A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.
When: February 22nd
Why: Reportedly inspired by a true story that was documented in a 1999 episode of PBS’ “Frontline,” “Snitch” is the kind of movie that we’ve all seen several times before, and this one doesn’t appear to improve on the formula despite its real-life ties. Though it’s nice to see Dwayne Johnson challenge himself with a role that doesn’t completely rely on his physicality, and Jon Bernthal is a welcome addition after his excellent work on “The Walking Dead,” not even the cast is enough to get me mildly excited about this film. I’ve been proven wrong before, but “Snitch” doesn’t look like anything other than a generic action thriller that would’ve been better suited for the Johnson of five years ago.

“DARK SKIES”

Who: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo and J.K. Simmons
What: As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
When: February 22nd
Why: There’s nothing particularly scary or thrilling about the trailer for Scott Charles Stewart’s new alien invasion horror flick “Dark Skies,” but there are a few unintentional laughs, and that tells you pretty much all you need to know about why the movie is being released in February. It’s hard to believe that any studio would still be willing to give Stewart money after directing crappy genre films like “Legion” and “Priest,” and “Dark Skies” is shaping up to be his worst one yet. I feel a little bad for Keri Russell, because the actress deserves a lot better than B-movie schlock like this, but she’s ultimately the only one to blame for signing onto a film that was probably a giant mess from the start.

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