Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to January


As if the winter months weren’t already miserable enough, the January movie slate definitely won’t be one to remember. Though recent years have seen a slight increase in the quality of films being released during this time, 2016 will remind audiences why it’s long been considered a dumping ground for bad movies. There a few potential surprises from the likes of Michael Bay and Gavin O’Connor, but you’d be better off catching up on all the awards contenders (and maybe seeing “Star Wars” a third or fourth time) instead.

“The Forest”

Who: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa and Eoin Macken
What: A young woman searches for her twin sister in a Japanese forest, only to find herself surrounded by paranormal forces.
When: January 8th
Why: Believe it or not, “The Forest” isn’t a remake of a Japanese horror flick, but rather an original story whose makers somehow thought it would be a good idea to cast mostly white actors in a movie about a real-life problem in Japan. Cultural insensitivity aside, “The Forest” looks like your typical supernatural horror film circa 2005, when retooling Asian genre movies for American audiences was all the rave. Though it’s nice to see Natalie Dormer in her first Hollywood leading role, the “Game of Thrones” actress is far too talented to be wasting her time on low-rent projects like this.

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Who: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber and David Costabile
What: An American ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.
When: January 15th
Why: Michael Bay’s “smaller” movies always interest me more than his effects-driven blockbusters, like this adaptation of bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff’s book about the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Though Bay’s romanticism of the U.S. military can be a little irritating at times, he’s one of the best action directors around, and “13 Hours” is shaping up to his own personal “Black Hawk Down.” The film also boasts a solid ensemble cast led by John Krasinski and journeyman actor James Badge Dale, but its success will depend largely on whether Bay can tone down the pro-American flag-waving and just focus on telling a good story.

“Ride Along 2”

Who: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Olivia Munn, Tika Sumpter, T.I. and Benjamin Bratt
What: As his wedding day approaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.
When: January 15th
Why: The first “Ride Along” raked in beaucoup bucks for a January release, so it’s hardly surprising that Universal greenlit a sequel as quickly as it did. But just because a movie makes money doesn’t mean it’s good, and the trailers for “Ride Along 2” don’t suggest that it will be any better, especially with the addition of the uber-annoying Ken Jeong to the cast. Though Kevin Hart and Ice Cube form a pretty decent partnership, it’s one that’s far too reliant on the same recycled jokes, which is a shame, because it’s been awhile since Hollywood produced a really great buddy comedy.

“The 5th Wave”

Who: Chloe Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Live Schreiber, Maria Bello and Nick Robinson
What: Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.
When: January 22nd
Why: With the “Hunger Games” franchise now over, everyone in Hollywood is desperately searching for the next YA book series to take its place, and Sony is betting big on “The 5th Wave.” Based on the first novel in Rick Yancey’s planned trilogy, the movie seemingly hopes to do for aliens what “Twilight” did for vampires by using its post-apocalyptic premise (think “War of the Worlds” meets “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) as the foundation for the typical YA romance. But while “The 5th Wave” features a strong cast of actors, I’m so burnt out with these kinds of movies that my interest level is practically zero.

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