February may be the month of love, but those looking for a date movie on Valentine’s Day will find little in the way of romance. While Nicholas Sparks adaptation Safe Haven may do the trick, along with YA adaptation Beautiful Creatures, the bulk of the month is occupied by grizzled tough guys. Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Channing Tatum, and Dwayne Johnson will be competing against one another for your attention.
Bullet to the Head
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christian Slater, Jon Seda, Jason Momoa
Ready for a trip back to the 1980s? If The Expendables hasn’t clued you in yet, Sylvester Stallone is definitely on a nostalgia kick, and for Bullet to the Head he’s even bringing along veteran director Walter Hill(The Warriors) to get in on the action. After some beef got Wayne Kramer kicked off the production, Hill was tagged in to helm the flick which has Stallone as a New Orleans hitman who teams up with a DC cop to get revenge on the guy who killed their partners. So basically it’s Rambo vs. the guy who failed as Conan(Jason Momoa) in a film that looks like it’s as much cornball as brutal.
The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
Director: Tom Elkins
Cast: Chad Michael Murray, Abigail Spencer, Katee Sackhoff, Emily Alyn Lind, Cicely Tyson
Assuming you can get past the ridiculous title, this is a sequel to 2009’s surprise hit horror, and is the second chapter of a planned trilogy with the next installment taking place in New York. The hook of the series is that each spooky chapter is based on some allegedly true paranormal encounter, with this one starring One Tree Hill’s Chad Michael Murray and Mad Men’s Abigail Spencer as a family whose new Georgia home is possessed by spirits only their daughter can see.
Stand Up Guys (review here)
Director: Fisher Stevens
Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies
Opening in limited release after a brief Oscar-qualifying run(which obviously failed), Stand Up Guys is another film aiming for the older demo, but with far more thrills, excess, salty language, and violence than The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin play three aging criminals, one of whom has been hired to kill another, who go out for one last night of wild debauchery. It was the capper to what was a spectacular year for Walken, and he seems particularly inspired getting to work with another pair of screen legends.
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Dave Franco, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton
Leave it to the guy who made cancer funny and drug use appealing to make a romantic comedy involving zombies. Jonathan Levine(50/50, The Wackness) writes and directs this adaptation of the young adult novel which stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer as a zombie and human girl who fall in love, all while her father is leading the military’s push to wipe out the undead from existence. There’s a pretty significant push behind this one, and the quirky love story seems perfectly geared for the Twilight crowd, so with a prequel already published and a sequel on the way, we may see this turn into a franchise real quick.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Director: Roman Coppola
Cast: Charlie Sheen, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Wait, are we digging into the mind of Charles Swan or its star, Charlie Sheen? The first film from Roman Coppola since his impressive retro debut, CQ, the story is a strange and surreal tale following a famous, womanizing graphic designer whose life crumbles when his girlfriend dumps him. Murray and Schwartzman play his two buds who try with all their might to set him back on the right course.
Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Amanda Peet, Genesis Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet
After an incredible 2012, Melissa McCarthy cashes in her Bridesmaids success with her first leading comedic role, and it comes at a time when the genre is sorely lacking. She stars with Jason Bateman, re-teaming with his Horrible Bosses director, in a wild coast-to-coast romp in which she plays a con-woman who steals the identity of a straight-laced businessman. The script comes from Craig Mazin(The Hangover Part II), and hopefully it leaves enough room for McCarthy to ad lib a little. Based on the trailers there will be plenty of opportunity for her trademark physical humor.
Director: Cate Shortland
Cast: Saskia Rosendahl, Kai Malina
Those who remember Australian director Cate Shortland’s directorial debut, Somersault, know she has a keen eye for young talent. That film introduced us to both Abbie Cornish and Sam Worthington, and now for her next film she may have found an even brighter star in Saskia Rosendahl. Set in 1945 Germany, the oldest daughter of five siblings must escort 900km of dangerous territory when the Allies invade and arrest their Nazi parents. After an eight year wait, it appears to have been worth it, as Lore took home four awards at last year’s Stockholm Film Festival.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones
There seems to be a considerable amount of mystery surrounding Side Effects, and we’ve seen the campaign shift considerably in recent weeks. The final theatrical effort from Steven Soderbergh is described as a thriller surrounding a woman who turns to pharmaceutical drugs to cope with the anxiety of her husband’s return from prison. What we’ve seen in recent days is an increase in focus on Jude Law’s character, a psychiatrist who may have prescribed a drug with some unusual side effects. If this is Soderbergh’s last film we’ll be buying a ticket for, he’s clearly going to keep us in as much suspense about it as possible.
A Good Day to Die Hard
Director: John Moore
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Cole Hauser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead,
Even when he leaves the country, John McClane just can’t catch a break. Bruce Willis is back as the beleaguered trouble magnet of a cop, who finds himself in Russia with his son teaming up against Russian terrorists with plans of bringing down the U.S. economy. This being the fifth in the Die Hard franchise, expectations are mighty low, but all it really needs to be is better than Live Free or Die Hard.
Director: Richard LaGravanese
Cast: Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich, Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, Thomas Mann
Will Beautiful Creatures be the YA film to take over where Twilight left off? Warner Bros. certainly think so, and have spared no expense in adapting Kami Garcia’s southern Gothic tale of magic and romance. Featuring young stars Alice Englert (Ginger & Rosa) and Alden Ehrenreich(Tetro) as two star-crossed young lovers who are drawn together by a mysterious force. Together they uncover dark secrets about their families and their town, while she must choose between the side of good or evil.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Cast: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders, David Lyons
It’s Valentine’s Day, and that means love is in the air. It also means it’s time for yet another Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Sorry, fellas. Safe Haven stars Julianne Hough as a mysterious young woman who moves into a small, close-knit North Carolina town and stirs up all sorts of suspicions. Her attempts to keep to herself are derailed when she meets the perfect man, a widower and single father played by Josh Duhamel. The 8th Sparks adaptation(he has 17 published novels), his films have settled into an $80M-$90M groove that makes them some of the most bankable box office hits each year. In other words, they aren’t going anywhere.
Director: Pablo Larrain
Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antónia Zegers
The first two chapters of Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s “Pinochet Trilogy” dealt with the beginning of the dictator’s reign and the reality of living under it, but No chronicles how it all fell apart. Gael Garcia Bernal stars in the true story of the historic 1988 national referendum to decide whether or not to oust General Augusto Pinochet from power. The campaign was notable for its fierce, dueling advertising strategies, marking the first time such tactics were used in such an election.
Director: Scott Stewart
Cast: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, J.K. Simmons
From the guy who inflicted Legion and Priest on us comes a micro-budget thriller from the producers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity. Those guys know a thing or two about making the most out of a tiny bankroll, don’t they? Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are parents whose family has become the target of an alien presence. The trailers have been downright creepy, and it’s an interesting change of pace for Russell. Plus, it’s got the always awesome J.K. Simmons looking like he’s ready to eat up some serious scenery.
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Benjamin Bratt, Barry Pepper, Michael K. Williams
So he’s just won the WWE Championship and is due to save the world in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but now Dwayne Johnson has to go deep undercover in the crime thriller, Snitch. Based on a true story ripped from an episode of Frontline, Johnson plays a father who infiltrates a drug cartel for the police as a last ditch effort to lessen his son’s prison sentence. So nobody’s expecting this to be an intricate look at our country’s failed drug war or the heavy-handed measures taken against drug users(look to Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In for that), but it should work as another solid actioner in a year full of them for Johnson.