The holidays tend to light the cold, snow-covered nights with a warm and hearty glow, but after New Year’s, it’s pretty much cold, dark, days ahead until the spring thaw comes. Ironically enough, it’s during the light, fun, days of summer that we feel most compelled to crowd into dark chilly rooms for movie escapism; the doldrums of winter tend offer very little in the way of quality theatrical entertainment – and the first quarter box office often reflects that reality.

However, more and more we’re seeing the winter movie season transform before our eyes; instead of being a dumping ground for studios’ failed attempts at filmmaking, now the early portions of the year are being filled with what could best be described as “blockbuster-lite” films – movies that may be big in scope and production, but don’t carry the studio confidence to be contenders in the heavily-occupied late-April – September blockbuster prime time, or the new October – December second wave.

This year we’ll be getting a Paranormal Activity spinoff, a new sword-and-sandals epicHercules prequel story, and Robocop remake – all within the first eight weeks of 2014. Winter may not bring the best films of the year, but it will certainly offer a few gems, this year.

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January 2014 Movies

 

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Jan 3rd

The writer of Disturbia and Paranormal Activity 2 – 4 attempts to take the franchise in a semi-different direction by tacking-on opening up the convoluted franchise mythos to a side chapter about a Latino boy named Jesse who is inflicted with a supernatural curse. This is basically an attempt to market PA to the Latin demographic, while attempting to snare followers of the franchise further into this web of found-footage jump-scares and mysteries with no real explanations. By now you view at your own risk.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box

Jan 10th

Seventeen-year-old Mariah Mundi’s life is turned upside down when his parents vanish and his younger brother is kidnapped. Mariah discovers a hidden realm of child-stealing monsters, deadly secrets and a long-lost artifact that grants limitless wealth – but also devastating supernatural power. With the fate of his world, and his family at stake, Mariah will risk everything to unravel the Curse of the Midas Box! Michael Sheen, Lena Headey, Ioan Gruffudd and Sam Neill star, Jonathan Newman directs.

Her

Jan 10th

In a near-feature Los Angeles, a writer in the middle of heartbreak (Joaquin Phoenix) starts to fall in love with his new A.I. operating system (voice of Scarlett Johansson). This new film from Being John Malkovich and Where The Wild Things Are director Spike Jonze is yet another offbeat-yet-insightful look at that which makes us human, and the nature of love. Sure to be a 2014 awards contender.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

The Legend of Hercules

Jan 10th

In this “Hercules Begins” origin tale, Kellan Lutz (Twilight) plays the titular demigod in his formative years, when he is exiled by his stepfather the king (Scott Adkins) and sold into slavery. Of course, when his godly powers begin to emerge, Hercules goes from slave to hero. Directed by Die Hard 2 helmer Renny Harlin with a 3D design, Hercules may draw Lutz’ fangirl base, but Brett Ratner’s Hercules movie with Dwayne Johnson may be the one to wait for.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

Lone Survivor

Jan 10th

Based on the real-life 2005 military op gone bad, Lone Survivor follows four Navy SEAL team members (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch) as they venture into Afghanistan to capture a high-value Taliban leader. The title of the film should pretty much tell you that things ultimately go bad. Directed by The Kingdom‘s Peter Berg, this looks like an unflinching (read: brutal) look at four of US military’s finest making their last stand.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

Devil’s Due

Jan 17th

After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin. It’s January, so that means time for another intriguing-but-probably-hollow found-footage horror film.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jan 17th

In this reboot, Chris Pine (Star Trek) takes over the Jack Ryan role for an updated origin story about how Ryan the CIA numbers analyst became Ryan the punching-shooting field operative. The plot revolves around the threat of economic terrorism, with director Kenneth Branagh serving as the villain, too, and Kevin Costner serving as Jack’s mentor in the field. Brainy action thrills ensue – and from what we’ve already seen, this could be a definite step up from Sum of All Fears. A solid bet for the early new year.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

Reasonable Doubt

Jan 17th

When up-and-coming District Attorney Mitch Brockden (Dominick Cooper) commits a fatal hit-and-run, he feels compelled to manipulate the case to acquit the accused criminal (Samuel L. Jackson) who was found with the body and blamed for the crime. Following the trial, Mitch’s worst fears come true when he realizes that his actions freed a guilty man, and he soon finds himself on the hunt for the killer before more victims pile up.

Ride Along

Jan 17th

Kevin Hart plays a man trying to win approval from his fiancee’s tough-as-nail cop brother (Ice Cube). The brother decides that it’s time for Hart to prove his manhood, by taking a 24-hour ride along through the streets of Atlanta. Hilarity and action ensues – and with the odd-man pairing of Hart and Cube, we’re hoping that both the action and the comedy sides of the equation are strong in this “The Heat with black guys” comedy flick.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

Gimmie Shelter

Jan 24th

A teenager (Vanessa Hudgens) sets out to find her Wall Street father (Brendan Fraser) and is forced into the streets in a desperate journey of survival. Based on a true story. Hudgens (Spring Breakers) is almost unrecognizable in the central role, with Rosario Dawson also getting gritty to play her drug addict mother. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Hudgens has been quietly proving herself in the roles she plays, and this could be serious indie-cred for the former High School Musical star. 

(WATCH the TRAILER)

I, Frankenstein

Jan 24th

Set in a dystopic present where vigilant gargoyles and ferocious demons rage in a battle for ultimate power, Victor Frankenstein’s creation Adam (Aaron Eckhart) finds himself caught in the middle as both sides race to discover the secret to his immortality. From the creators of the hit supernatural saga, Underworld, written for the screen and directed by Stuart Beattie based on the graphic novel “I, Frankenstein” by Kevin Grevioux. The trailer gives a Van Helsing vibe (not good), and Beattie’s writing on B-movies like Collateral and 30 Days of Night suggests this is NOT going to be a spectacular action vehicle for Eckhart.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

Best Night Ever

Jan 31st

Claire is about to get married and she goes to Las Vegas with her sister and two friends for her bachelorette party. Things quickly spiral out of control. On the one hand, this is the new film from the guys who did those abysmal spoofs films like Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie and Vampires Suck; on the other hand, this will be their first Rated-R comedy venture. So hedge your bets accordingly.

Labor Day

Jan 31st

Depressed single mom Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man (Josh Brolin) a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited. The new film by Up In the Air and Juno director Jason Reitman may be his most serious effort yet. With a supporting cast that includes Tobey Maguire, James Van Der Beek and Clark Gregg, this one probably deserves a spot on your radar.

(WATCH the TRAILER)

That Awkward Moment

Jan 31st

Three best friends find themselves where we’ve all been – at that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide “So…where is this going?” Starring three of the biggest up-and-coming young leading men – Miles Teller (Spectacular Now), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) and Zac Efron, this film already has some clout behind it. 

(WATCH the TRAILER)

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