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February Movie Guide: 13 Films to Watch Out For

Bruce Willis continues to Die Hard, Steven Soderbergh directs his last film and so much more…

January is out of the way and, all things considered, moviegoers got off light. It was no 2012, when the first month of the year introduced some truly stellar films like Haywire or The Grey, but at least Gangster Squad, Broken City and The Last Stand didn't make us want to poke our eyes out with our straws. February, on the other hand? Looks like more of the same. We're starting to see some ambitious films on the horizon, with Warm Bodies hoping to reinvigorate the zombie genre, Bullet to the Head announcing the return of Walter Hill (the iconic director of The Warriors) and A Good Day to Die Hard marking the first potential blockbuster of the year, but we also have movies with titles like The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia to "look forward" to, and yet another attempt to copy the overwhelming success of the Twilight and Harry Potter franchises.

February looks pretty hit or miss, people. So let's see what's what and try to save you some money.
 

Bullet to the Head (R)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Sung Kang, Christian Slater

Directed by: Walter Hill

Release Date: February 1

Sylvester Stallone and Fast Five’s Sung Kang star as a hitman and cop teaming up against a criminal organization in New Orleans.

CraveOnline’s Call: Walter Hill hasn’t directed a movie in ten years (he’s been too busy doing television shows like “Deadwood”), but we’re definitely happy to have the man who brought us The Warriors and 48 Hours back in the cinemas. His latest looks like another buddy cop macho actionfest – Another Another 48 Hours, if you will – and that’s just fine with us. We don’t expect anything new, we expect a 1980s badass action movie to remind us what manly movies used to be like. Whether that’s a good thing or a sad nostalgic throwback remains to be seen.
 

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (R)

Starring: Abigail Spencer, Katee Sackhoff, Chad Michael Murray

Directed by: Tom Elkins

Release Date: February 1

A family moves into a house in Georgia, only to discover their daughter can see malevolent Civil War spirits in their new home.

CraveOnline’s Call: That may be the dumbest name for a theatrically released movie since I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. It’s a “haunting in Connecticut,” set entirely in Georgia? Whatever. We’d be forgiving it The Haunting in Connecticut 2 didn’t look like every other ghost movie ever filmed. It reeks of “just barely skipped Straight-to-Video,” right down to its starless cast – Sackhoff is great, but she’s no headliner yet – and the generic spooky chills in the trailer. Move away.
 

Stand Up Guys (R)

Starring: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies

Directed by: Fisher Stevens

Release Date: February 1

Al Pacino gets out of the slammer, but his reunion with old pals Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin turns bittersweet when one Walken gets the order to kill him.

CraveOnline: It’s a dream team of a cast in what looks like a real snoozer of a movie. Old men get together, behave badly, talk crime stuff and kvetch for an hour and a half? We’d rather see this cast actually do something together… anything. Give them a mission, a plot, a serial killer to fight, we don’t care. Just don’t ask them to hang out for two hours acting “cute.” They deserve better.
 

Warm Bodies (PG-13)

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Release Date: February 1

The zombie apocalypse gets turned upside down when one of the walking dead (Nicholas Hoult) falls in love with a living, breathing human (Teresa Palmer).

CraveOnline’s Call: The zombie genre, fittingly enough, just won’t die, but if it’s going to actually thrive it’s films like Warm Bodies that are going to do it. The tropes are familiar, so subverting them into a love story while still playing up the action and horror chills seems like the right way to go. We’re not sure Warm Bodies is “good,” but it’s the right idea at the right time. We’re hoping for the best.


A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (R)

Starring: Charlie Sheen, Jason Schwartzman, Patricia Arquette, Bill Murray

Directed by: Roman Coppola

Release Date: February 8

A graphic designer (Charlie Sheen) escapes into his imagination after his dream girl leaves him, only to find that his baggage is inescapable.

CraveOnline’s Call: Director Roman Coppola (Francis Ford’s son) burst onto the scene in 2001 with CQ, a unique, funny and meaningful tribute to French cinema of the 1960s. Now, after years of music videos and writing collaborations with Wes Anderson (their latest, Moonrise Kingdom, earned him his first Oscar nomination) he’s back with another quirky and imaginative look at the power of creativity to inform and inspire real-life psychological development. We’re hoping it’s just as lively as CQ, and that the whole “Charlie Sheen” thing won’t be a distraction from the rest of the movie. But that may be a lost cause.
 

Identity Thief (R)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau

Directed by: Seth Gordon

Release Date: February 8

A businessman (Jason Bateman) winds up on a road trip with the firebrand woman (Melissa McCarthy) who stole his identity.

CraveOnline’s Call: We like Melissa McCarthy as much as anyone, but Identity Thief looks just plain awful. It’s an insipid premise that seems only designed to get two mismatched personalities in a car together. Maybe if Bateman and McCarthy’s chemistry is out of this world, they can save it, but we’re not giving this movie our credit card number unless the reviews are absolutely phenomenal.
 

Side Effects (R)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Release Date: February 8

A psychiatrist (Jude Law) prescribes an experimental new drug to Rooney Mara, but when a dead person turns up at her apartment, a dangerous investigation begins.

CraveOnline’s Call: Steven Soderbergh claims that Side Effects will be his last feature film (the upcoming Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra is going straight to television). We’re not sure this is the way we’d go out, since Side Effects doesn’t look like the next Traffic or Out of Sight. But this medical thriller, from the writer of Soderbergh’s Contagion, does appear to be a mature film preying on very real paranoia regarding prescription drug culture, and looks like a decent movie in general. We suggest you pop it in.
 

Beautiful Creatures (PG-13)

Starring: Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich, Emma Thompson,
Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Irons

Directed by: Richard LaGravenese

Release Date: February 14

Alice Englert stars as Lena, a teenaged girl torn between the light and dark powers that fuel her magical abilities, and falls in love with hunky Alden Ehrenreich. From the popular novel series by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.

CraveOnline’s Call: With Harry Potter and Twilight now out of theaters, studios are scrambling to find the next big crossover franchise combining teen angst and the supernatural. Despite the impressive supporting cast, Beautiful Creatures just looks too damned derivative to separate itself from the rest of the competition. Maybe if fans of the books come out in droves, a la The Hunger Games, this might stand a chance, but that doesn’t matter to us if the actual film is as bland (or worse, as goofy) as the trailers make it seem. Beautiful Creatures could get ugly.


Escape from Planet Earth (PG)

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, Sarah Jessica Parker, William Shatner

Directed by: Carl Brunker

Release Date: February 14

A famous alien hero named Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) responds to an SOS from the planet Earth and winds up trapped in the legendary Area 51.

CraveOnline’s Call: The idea is sound enough, but the personality-free animation and laughless, joyless trailers make Escape from Planet Earth look like a prison sentence. Escape from the theaters seems more like it.
 

A Good Day to Die Hard (R)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Directed by: John Moore

Release Date: February 14

Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to help his son out of some legal trouble, only to discover that he’s part of a larger terrorist plot.

CraveOnline’s Call: The Die Hard franchise is two-for-two so far, with the odd-numbered films typically light years better than the even-numbered installments. That could change with A Good Day to Die Hard, which appears to be taking the fourth film’s ball – overblown action silliness, as opposed to the grounded near-satire of Badass clichés that founded the franchise – and running with it. Still, it’s John McClane, perhaps the most lovable action hero in movie history, doing his thing. It’ll probably be entertaining enough, we’re just not sure yet if we’ll be comfortable calling it Die Hard.
 

Safe Haven (PG-13)

Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders

Directed by: Lasse Hallström

Release Date: February 14

A young woman (Julianne Hough) with a mysterious past falls in love with a handsome widower (Josh Duhamel). But will her – gasp! – mysterious past catch up with her?

CraveOnline’s Call: Oh, Nicholas Sparks, what would we do without you and your sundrenched, weepy melodramas? His latest romance novel looks like the kind of bland, forgettable tripe you’d find on the Hallmark Channel, but director Lasse Hallström ain’t no slouch, having directed such award-winning films as My Life as a Dog and The Cider House Rules. So maybe it’ll be really well made bland, forgettable tripe. Maybe. We’re not counting on it.
 

Dark Skies (PG-13)

Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, J.K. Simmons

Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart

Release Date: February 22

Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton star as parents trying to save their children from an apparently alien presence in their new home.

CraveOnline’s Call: The latest horror thriller from Blumhouse Entertainment, which brought you Insidious, Sinister and the Paranormal Activity franchise, looks like a fairly conventional attempt to do their usual suburban anxiety schtick in a science-fiction milieu. Unlike those other films, however, Dark Skies can’t even seem muster up enough creepy images to fill a single, solitary trailer. Maybe it’s better than it looks – perhaps the “good stuff” is a spoileriffic surprise – but we’re keeping our expectations grounded.

 

Snitch (PG-13)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Joe Bernthal, Harold Perrineau

Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh

Release Date: February 22

A desperate father (Dwayne Johnson) goes undercover for the DEA to save his son from a prison sentence.

CraveOnline’s Call: Dwayne Johnson’s been trapped in family-friendly roles for a while now, so we appreciate this attempt to star in a semi-serious action thriller with genuine stakes on the line. Just getting to see him act opposite the great Susan Sarandon should be enough for most of us to buy a ticket in advance. But director Ric Roman Waugh isn’t known for directing great movies. Remember Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer in Felon? Yeah, we don’t either. But he is known for his stunt work on great films like The Crow, The Last of the Mohicans and the original Total Recall, so hopefully the action will make up for any deficiencies in the drama that may arise. Snitch is probably for hardcore Dwayne Johnson enthusiasts only, but we’re hoping for the best. 
 

Disclaimer: Release dates (and our opinions) are subject to change.


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel, the co-host of The B-Movies Podcast and the co-star of The Trailer Hitch. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.