January is a great month for fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s not a great month for new movies though. While many people are excited to get started on their resolutions and hit the gym, I’m mentally preparing myself for the worst month of the year. Personally, I feel like January is just a throwaway month for studios to put out the new movies they know are going to such, and I mean REALLY suck. I’m not talking Transformers suck, where it’s still going to make a ton of money no matter how awful it is. I’m talking “they-realize-what-a-terrible-mistake-they’ve-made-and-hope-nobody-notices” kind of suck. I know, you’re probably thinking I’m just one of those snobby, fancy pants, incredibly handsome and charming critics that gets offended by anything that isn’t high art. Sorry to say that you’re partially wrong on that one.
Let’s take a look at the evidence. Looking back, there have been some cringe-worthy films that scuttled from the darkness once the new year rings in. One of the first movies I ever wrote a review of (and one I’m still trying to erase from my mind), Legion brought the ultimate struggle between good and evil to a dinner in the desert. Taken 3 brought Liam Neeson back to drag the franchise out to the desert and leave it for dead, and Monster Trucks brought us… An alien hiding inside of trucks. Trust me the list goes on and on. Just pick a year and you’ll find a handful of terrible films listed. Seriously, go do it right now. Here’s I’ll do it too…
1995: Houseguest starring Sinbad, Tales from the Crypt Demon Knight, and Highlander 3: The Final Dimension.
With the Holidays forcing many to tighten their wallets, it’s no wonder that box office numbers are down every January. But is that a chicken or the egg scenario? Are there terrible movies because of the numbers or terrible numbers because of the movies? Hell, there have been some pretty decent new movies in the past like Mama, Biutiful, and Split. These though are the exception that only proves the rule, because for every halfway decent film there are three awful ones just waiting for you. Every year I hope that I’m wrong and January, but I have yet to have one with new movies truly worth looking forward to and I’m afraid this year is no different.
The year starts with Insidious: The Last Key. Now the Insidious franchise is pretty ok when it comes to horror films, not the best but not the worst. However, I’m terrified that the studio isn’t releasing this in September or October. That’s normally when we see horror movies come out, even bad ones. Insidious though is coming out the first Friday of the year and something tells me it’s probably because it’s terrible.
Following that, we have The Commuter, which is basically a business man’s daydream about something exciting happening to him on his morning commute. First of all, the name sounds like they’re trying to make a man who takes mass transit to work an action icon. Second, it’s the director of Non-Stop or as I like to call it, “Liam Neeson on a plane.” That same Friday we have Proud Mary, which seems a lot like a John Wick doppelganger, but one that I am still hoping will be at least fun to watch.
The next weekend offers up a couple of action films. The first is 12 Strong, which seems like a pretty cool movie about Navy SEALs at the beginning of the Iraq War. However, Chris Hemsworth has not really had much luck when it comes to movies in January (>cough < Blackhat >cough<) and is only now showing he has potential to be a lead actor and not a brilliant part of an ensemble. There’s also Den of Thieves, which is the standard yearly tough streets cop movie. It’s got a pretty good cast, but I doubt it’s going to be the new Training Day.
The last weekend has a few new movies, but none that really fill me with any confidence. The Maze Runner: The Death Cure comes out and, I mean, look at the title. The Maze Runner films were never that tremendous to begin with, but not even I can take that name seriously. Still, it might be a good Popcorn movie snuck in at the end to give us a glimpse of hope for the year. There’s also some movie called White Boy Rick and Forever My Girl, which looks like it’s going to be the big screen adaptation of every country song ever made.
Like I said earlier, there are a few good new movies snuck into January from time to time. For the most part, though, it looks like 2018 will be business as usual. While you’re out getting a start on that beach body or trying to organize your life for a fresh start, I’ll be huddled in the trenches taking everything January can hurl at a critic. That’s why it’s more important than ever to check out the reviews on Stars & Popcorn before heading off to the movies in the new year. I’ll take the hits and let you know what’s safe to see. I won’t call myself a hero, mostly because I’m not. I’m just a film geek trying to make it through another year at the movies. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.