January Movie Guide: 10 Films to Watch For

Schwarzenegger makes his big comeback and Hawkeye beats up on witches in what looks like a lackluster month at the movies.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

A new year of movies is upon us and, as usual, we’re starting with the dregs. Every movie studio in the industry is dumping their b- and z-grade motion pictures into January because they don’t want to distract from Oscar season, when limited release contenders like Zero Dark Thirty and The Impossible are expanding into theaters nationwide and need all the buzz they can get. We’re sure there are going to be a couple of gems that come out of the month – we’ve already seen at least one of them, which you’ll read about in a minute – but for the most part it’s lowbrow comedy schlock, generic thrillers and horror movies that apparently weren’t worth releasing in October. Whee.

Which of these movies actually have potential? What should you actually budget your hard-earned money for? Find out in CraveOnline’s January Movie Guide… right freakin’ now.

Texas Chainsaw 3D (R)

Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson,
Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde, Shaun Sipos

Directed by: John Luessenhop

Release Date: January 4, 2013

Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) inherits a house in Texas, unaware that her family legacy is directly tied to the events of Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Horror ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: Few horror films hold up to the first Texas Chain Saw Massacre (“chain saw” was originally two words), so we don’t expect Texas Chainsaw 3D to come anywhere close. What we can expect is a motion picture that eschews the last two, oppressively ugly reboots, since John Luessenhop’s film comes from a different production company. With a little luck it’ll be a fun slasher. Horror fans should probably give it a look, while mainstream audiences might want to steer clear.

Gangster Squad (R)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Release Date: January 11, 2013

A team of police officers (including Ryan Goslin and Josh Brolin) fights to keep organized crime out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s, leading to a showdown with crime boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). Tommy guns ensue.

CraveOnline’s Call: Gangster Squad was originally slated for a September, 2012 release date, giving the all-star period piece a chance at Oscar contention. Then the tragic shootings took place in Aurora, CO, leading the studio to reshoot a key action sequence (originally a shoot-out at a movie theater) and postpone the release to an unceremonious early January slot. We’re concerned about the reshoots messing with the finished product, but also that the cast of too-pretty movie stars will leave Gangster Squad feeling like an overly polished studio project rather than a dramatically sound L.A. Confidential for a new generation. It could go either way. Wait for the reviews.

A Haunted House (R)

Starring: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Nick Swardson, Cedric the Entertainer

Directed by: Michael Tiddes

Release Date: January 11, 2013

A broad parody of the supernatural horror genre featuring parodies of Paranormal Activity, The Exorcist and more. "Hilarity" ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: A Haunted House beats 2013’s Scary Movie 5 to theaters by about three months, so if you’re really eager for this brand of point-and-giggle pop culture reference comedy, you… Really? You are? Wow. Okay, go see this then. The rest of us will stay right here and pretend this whole tedious genre died out years ago.

Broken City (R)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright

Directed by: Allen Hughes

Release Date: January 18, 2013

The mayor of New York City (Russell Crowe) hires a former cop (Mark Wahlberg) to catch his cheating wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in the act. Conspiracies ensue.

CraveOnline’s Call: It’s a solid cast, and director Allen Hughes ain’t no slouch either (he previously co-directed From Hell and Dead Presidents with his brother, under the name “The Hughes Brothers”), but the generic trailer and inauspicious January dumping ground release don’t inspire much confidence. There’s just nothing about Broken City, besides the cast, that makes it look special or even particularly entertaining. Unless the reviews are utterly amazing you can probably sit this one out, at least until home video.

The Last Stand (PG-13)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eduardo Noriega, Forest Whitaker,
Genesis Rodriguez, Peter Stormare, Jaimie Alexander,
Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzm

Directed by: Jee-woon Kim

Release Date: January 18, 2013

A small-town border sheriff (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his quirky townsfolk are the only thing standing in the way of a drug kingpin (Eduardo Noriega) escaping into Mexico. Mayhem ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first starring role since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines isn’t quite what we expected, placing the former action god in what appears to be a manic action comedy instead of his usual stoic badass mold. It’s a bold move, and Lionsgate appears to be hedging its bets with a January release date free of major action movie competition, but director Jee-woon Kim’s last movie, The Good, The Bad and the Weird, was one of the most excitingly over the top action movies in recent memory, so it’s possible that he can turn the low-concept premise into something truly memorable, if not necessarily great. We’re hoping for the best, but prepared to be underwhelmed. Just in case.

Mama (R)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Directed by: Andres Muschietti

Release Date: January 18, 2013

A young couple (Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) adopt two nearly feral children, inviting the wrath of their ghostly mother. Spookiness ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: Producer Guillermo del Toro has a decent track record for this sort of thing (he also produced the excellent haunted house flicks The Orphanage and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, and the cult classic sci-fi horror film Splice), so Mama might be good for a scare or two. We just hope that it’s not a huge mess that winds up ruining Chastain’s chances for a Best Actress Oscar for Zero Dark Thirty, a la Norbit, which screwed up Eddie Murphy’s credibility and, allegedly, ruined his chance to win an Academy Award for Dreamgirls in 2007.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (PG-13)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare, Famke Janssen

Directed by: Tommy Wirkola

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) kill the witch that tried to eat them as children and grow up to hunt the supernatural meanies for a living. Fantasy ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: Didn’t this used to be called The Brothers Grimm? Both films even co-starred Peter Stormare. But whatever. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters looks like the same kind of fantasy update we’ve seen before. We just hoping that director and co-writer Tommy Wirkola can bring the same outlandish creativity he demonstrated in the 2009 splatterhouse Nazi zombie flick Dead Snow. Then maybe it won’t be a total wash.

John Dies at the End (R)

Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown

Directed by: Don Coscarelli

Release Date: January 25, 2013

In an adaptation of David Wong’s hit novel, Dave and John (Chase Williamson and John Mayes) take a mysterious drug that introduces them to a world of extra-dimensional monsters. Hallucinogenic craziness ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: We’ve already seen John Dies at the End, so we can assure you that it’s a cult classic in the making. Director Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep) brings his now-famed level of madness to the screen once again, sprinkled with comedy and genuine drama, in a clever and wildly entertaining adaptation that you won’t soon forget, even if you don’t understand a single frame of it.

Movie 43 (R)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, Chloë Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Josh Duhamel, Uma Thurman, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, Justin Long, Kieran Culkin, Kate Bosworth, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb, Terrence Howard, Tony Shalhoub, Johnny Knoxville

Directed by: Elizabeth Banks, Steve Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, Jonathan van Tulleken

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Lots of directors and lots of big stars team up for a sketch comedy movie in the vein of The Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon. Randomness ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: This kind of movie is rarely attempted anymore, partially because this is the kind of material that usually winds up on YouTube nowadays, but mostly because they almost never made any money. But the preponderance of star power, combined with a truly hilarious trailer, have us hoping that the hits outweigh the misses. Just make us laugh, you guys. Please?

Parker (R)

Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Clifton Collins Jr.

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

Release Date: January 25, 2013

The fourth motion picture based on Donald E. Westlake’s The Hunter stars Jason Statham as Parker, a hardboiled criminal betrayed by his partners and out to retrieve the money they owe him. Machismo ensues.

CraveOnline’s Call: We’re not sure why Taylor Hackford decided to adapt The Hunter again, particularly since John Boorman’s Point Blank, Ringo Lam’s Full Contact and Brian Helgeland’s director’s cut of Payback are so well-regarded (and 19 of the 24 other Parker novels still haven’t been adapted yet). But this is what we’re getting and we just have to hope that the director of An Officer and a Gentleman and The Devil’s Advocate can bring something special to it, because the trailer doesn’t make any such promises. We’re sure Statham can bring the swagger and Lopez can bring the sexy, but will that be enough to make Parker live up to its predecessors? We’re not counting on it, but maybe… just maybe… it won’t suck.

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

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