Monthly Preview: February 2014

Phew, that last month was brutal huh? Let’s all be grateful we got through it in one piece. But now February is here, and it’s thankfully got a decent lineup for once. While there are a couple of high-profile shitshows lurking on this calendar, there’s still a decent amount of good material out there, and this early in the year that’s something to be thankful for. Join me after the jump to see what we’ve got:

A Field In England: Ben Wheatley has been one of the most off-the-wall and prolific filmmakers of the last several years, telling (mostly) horror stories that have wildly different tones and styles while still being recognizably Wheatley’s. And with A Field In England, his fourth feature in five years, he seems to be operating on yet another new wavelength. While there certainly seems to be some similarities to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising (at least on a surface level), I’m sure this will be a hallucinogenic mindfuck that’s pure Wheatley.

Lego Movie: Phil Lord and Chris Miller seem to be making a career out of converting on no-win prospects. After making (actually good) movies of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, they’ve turned their Midas touch to Legos, and it looks like they’ve nailed this one too. The Lego Movie (I do wish they’d kept the early subtitle “The Piece of Resistance”) looks to really capture the mashup, build-anything fun of Legos, while also mixing in the usual anti-corporate commentary and a deconstruction of the “Chosen One” archetype. Combine that with a killer voice cast, and what will probably be the best Justice League appearances on the big screen for the foreseeable future, and this looks like a great early-year success story.

Monuments Men: Despite the tonal confusion of the trailers (is it more comedic or dramatic? What is up with the modern pop music?), this still looks like a nice, solid movie with a killer cast. And the fact that they’re putting it out in February (hopefully) speaks to the fact that it’s probably a more lighthearted movie than the Important Drama that it easily could have been. I don’t think that George Clooney always gets the level of recognition he deserves as a director, and hopefully this is a better attempt at a light movie for him than Leatherheads seemed to be. But hey, Bill Murray in World War 2… that’ll be fun.

Wind Rises: I already mentioned this in my November preview, but it’s getting a full release later this month so I thought I’d call attention to it again (also I missed it then). To quote myself:

“…very excited to see what appears to be his final feature film, a movie focusing on the very grounded story of the designer of the Japanese Zero fighter plane. It’s easy to see how Miyazaki’s usual themes of imagination and peace-versus-war would play into this story, even without watching the trailer, and seeing such a grounded and adult story being told through animation is terrific.”

So yeah, there’s still that.

While it’s very likely to be frustrating-to-worthless, I’m still curious about Welcome to Yesterday; I’m not a big fan of found footage but if we’re lucky it’ll provide a nice lo-fi genre story in the Chronicle mold (EDIT 2/5: Apparently Welcome to Yesterday just got delayed until sometime later in this year, for no definitive reason whatsoever). And while the trailer didn’t wow me, Vampire Academy might still be worth a look, if only due to the creative talents of the brothers Waters (Mark, director of Mean Girls, and David, writer of Heathers), and I’ve heard good things about the books too.

So yeah, not too bad a month, especially by February standards. Better appreciate the lull while you can, because March is going to be INSANE. Enjoy the Superbowl everybody!

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