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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to January

“I, FRANKENSTEIN”

Who: Aaron Eckhart, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney and Bill Nighy
What: Frankenstein’s creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.
When: January 24th
Why: It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to discover that “I, Frankenstein” was adapted from a comic book created by “Underworld” co-writer Kevin Grevioux, because the movie shares a lot of the same DNA as the horror/fantasy series, only this time around, it’s demons vs. gargoyles instead of vampires vs. werewolves, with the added bonus of Frankenstein’s monster thrown into the mix. Not only does it look like a blatant clone of the “Underworld” films visually, but it shares many of the same producers and two of its co-stars (Grevioux and Bill Nighy.) What’s perhaps most amazing about “I, Frankenstein,” however, is that an actor of Aaron Eckhart’s quality actually signed on to this dredge, because while “Underworld” fans will lap this up, there’s a pretty good chance that the movie will be just as dumb as it sounds.

“GIMME SHELTER”

Who: Vanessa Hudgens, Brendan Fraser, Rosario Dawson and Stephanie Szostak
What: A teenager sets out to find her Wall Street father and is forced into the streets in a desperate journey of survival.
When: January 24th
Why: Following her appearance in last year’s “Spring Breakers,” Disney star Vanessa Hudgens continues her bid to be taken as a “serious actor” with this indie drama based on a true story. But while it’s nice to see Hudgens pushing herself with more challenging material, it ultimately feels like an Oscar bait movie that wasn’t good enough to be released during awards season. The fact that the trailer contains not one, not two, but THREE pull quotes from self-serving film critic Pete Hammond (and no one else) pretty much sums up all you need to know about “Gimme Shelter.” Hammond is the most notorious quote whore in the industry, and if the studio had to rely on his hollow praise to promote their movie, then it must not be very good.

“LABOR DAY”

Who: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith and Clark Gregg
What: Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer an escaped convict a ride. As police search town for the man, the mother and son gradually learn his true story.
When: January 31st
Why: Director Jason Reitman has enjoyed a near-perfect career since arriving on the scene with his 2005 debut “Thank You for Smoking,” so it was probably only a matter of time before that streak came to an end. Though he’s had previous success adapting novels for the big screen, “Labor Day” hasn’t quite earned the same critical acclaim as his past efforts, receiving mixed reviews during its limited, Oscar-qualifying run in late December and almost completely ignored for awards season. You really can’t go wrong with actors like Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin (the former was even nominated for a Golden Globe), but the thriller-cum-romantic drama sounds more like something you’d expect from the Oprah Book Club than the man behind such darkly comic films as “Juno,” “Up in the Air” and “Young Adult.”

“THAT AWKWARD MOMENT”

Who: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller and Imogen Poots
What: Three best friends find themselves at that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide, “So, where is this going?”
When: January 31st
Why: Believe it or not, this may be January’s most intriguing new release. Though it’s essentially a chick flick with male actors playing the typical female parts, the cast is comprised of some of the best young talent in Hollywood. Between this and the upcoming Seth Rogen comedy “The Neighbors,” Zac Efron looks like he’s finally found his niche, while both Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan seem to be on every studio’s speed dial at the moment after their career-making turns in “The Spectacular Now” and “Fruitvale Station.” Whether or not that speaks well of first-time director Tom Gormican’s script remains to be seen, but the trailer is promising enough, and it has all the markings of the perfect date movie, and one that should do good business in the otherwise humdrum winter season.

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