At A Movie Theater Near You

Your movie guide to the latest releases

As per usual, the year is starting off slow when it comes to new movie releases. In the film industry, they call this time of the year the “dump months” because audience attendance is considerably low; therefore, movie theater revenue drastically declines. Movie studios release low-risk films so that if it flops at the box office, there will be a smaller financial impact. Unlucky for us, we’re subjected to a mix of cinematic hits or misses.

In other words, it’s slim pickings in the theaters these days.

However, never fear, I compiled a list of popular movies that are currently playing⁠—or will be playing soon⁠—at a theater near you. The good, the bad and the ugly, along with a recommendation of “See It,” “Skip It,” or an indifferent “Meh.”

Full disclaimer: I haven’t watched one of these films⁠—so I guess this is a case of judging a book by its cover, or a movie by its trailer. But in the end, you’ll be the judge.

Category: Action/Fantasy

“Underwater”

Release Date: Jan. 10, 2020

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Jessica Henwick, T.J. Miller Director: William Eubank

IMDb’s synopsis: “A crew of aquatic researchers work to get to safety after an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory. But the crew has more than the ocean seabed to fear.”

Verdict: Meh.

The trailer is so ambivalent that it is hard to find a meaningful plotline. Could it be about an underwater crew⁠—⁠no pun intended⁠—that encounters a creature that lurks below the surface and sets out to destroy anything and everything in its path? It sounds like it.

The internet is pegging this movie as “’Alien’ but underwater,” and sadly, this film doesn’t appear to offer anything that we haven’t seen before. The film has received a mix of both positive and negative reviews. Pro “Underwater” viewers say that the film is relentless from beginning to end and will leave you on the edge of your seat. Opposing critiques claim that the film is a trashy B-movie with A-list actors that copies elements from the 1979 sci-fi horror “Alien.”

“The Rhythm Section”

Release Date: Jan. 31, 2020

Cast: Blake Lively, Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown Director: Reed Morano

IMDb’s synopsis: “A woman seeks revenge against those who orchestrated a plane crash that killed her family.”

Verdict: See it!

Blake Lively kicking ass and taking names?!? Sign me up. Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned revenge flick to satisfy one’s palate? Lively gets a chance to flex her muscles in this action-packed film that transforms her from the pinstripe suit-wearing modelesque look-a-like to an angry widow who has a taste for revenge. The movie channels a mix between the Jason Bourne film series and the Millennium trilogy⁠—aka “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” If Lively can pull this movie off and sell us on the fact that she can do action, this will begin a new chapter in her film career⁠—and the possibilities are endless.

“Bad Boys For Life”

Release Date: Jan. 17, 2020

Cast: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens Director: Stephen Gaghan

IMDb’s synopsis: “The Bad Boys Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are back together for one last ride in the highly anticipated Bad Boys for Life.”

Verdict: Skip it!

When I watch the trailer, I ask myself two burning questions. It’s been nearly 20 years since the last “Bad Boys” movie, so do we really need this movie in our lives? Secondly, is it me, or does it feel like Will Smith threw Martin Lawrence a sympathy bone by agreeing to do this latest movie installment? “Bad Boys For Life” looks like a Will Smith movie co-starring Martin Lawrence, and that’s pretty sad.

If you want to turn your brain off and watch things go boom, this is the movie for you.

“Dolittle”

Release Date: Jan. 17, 2020

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen Director: Bilall Fallah, Adil El Arbi

IMDb’s synopsis: “A physician discovers that he can talk to animals.”

Verdict: Skip It!

I adore Robert Downey Jr. He is a gem to watch on the silver screen, and his movies are highly entertaining. However, this may be a hard exception. I’m pretty sure another Dr. Dolittle film wasn’t in high demand by film audiences, so why torture us with another installment? Based on the trailer and the subsequent reviews, this movie seems tailored to younger audiences⁠—the type of viewer whose age is measured in single digits.

“The Gentlemen”

Release Date: Jan. 24, 2020

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell Director: Guy Ritchie

IMDb’s synopsis: “A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.”

Verdict: See It!

Writer and director Guy Ritchie is back to what he does best: British gangster crime flicks with comedic overtones. Can you believe the director of such cult classics as “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” was behind the live-action reboot of “Aladdin?” Yes, the one where Will Smith plays a big blue genie. So awkward.

Nonetheless, its good to see Ritchie back in his niche of crime comedies/capers. Ritchie has a way of developing circular and interconnected plotlines and the ability to create an ensemble of colorful characters with various quirks and idiosyncrasies. He has a unique storytelling style that distinguishes him in a category of his own. “The Gentlemen” offers an elite all-star cast of characters from McConaughey to Farrell and promises to bring satirical humor, wit, and highly-offensive crassness.

Category: Horror

“The Grudge”

Release Date: Jan. 3, 2020

Cast: Tara Westwood, Junko Bailey, David Lawrence Brown Director: Nicolas Pesce

IMDb’s synopsis: “A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.”

Verdict: Skip It!

Yet another movie that no one asked for⁠—a reboot of a remake. Sigh.

Kevin L. Lee of Film Inquiry put it best when he said, “This Grudge is not good. I’ve seen it done worse, but I’ve also seen it done a lot better. It perfectly demonstrates that these spirits are terrifying enough to be kept alive on screen, but the writers are too afraid to write any new material.”

Well said, Kevin L. Lee!

“Gretel & Hansel”

Release Date: Jan. 31, 2020

Cast: Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw Director: Oz Perkins

IMDb’s synopsis: “A long time ago in a distant fairy tale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.”

Verdict: See It!

The movie claims to be authentically faithful to the original story and is described as “a grim fairytale.” The trailer looks pretty frightening, and the cinematography looks amazing. The PG-13 rating is a tad discouraging, especially for a horror film that’s centered around two kids and a cannibalistic witch. It could go either way; this movie could be surprisingly entertaining or a colossal waste of time. Based on the trailer, I’m willing to take the chance.

Category: Comedy

“Like a Boss”

Release Date: Jan. 10, 2020

Cast: Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, Tiffany Haddish Director: Miguel Arteta

IMDb’s synopsis: “Two friends with very different ideals start a beauty company together. One is more practical while the other wants to earn her fortune and live a lavish lifestyle.”

Verdict: Meh.

The expectations are low on this one, real low. The film comes off like a wanna-be female empowerment comedy that is trying too hard to be liked. What a shame, because the actors within the film are likable. For instance, Rose Byrne⁠—she does comedy well. I’ve enjoyed her performances in “Neighbors,” “Bridesmaids” and “Spy.” Selma Hayek can also generate a laugh sometimes, along with the charmingly funny Billy Porter. And we all know Tiffany Haddish and what she’s capable of⁠—being loud and obnoxious—like usual.

“Like a Boss” has potential, but the trailer gives away too many of the film’s jokes and high-jinks. As I said before, the film tries too hard.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone surmised the film by saying, “what we have here is a comedy on life support, with Haddish and Byrne valiantly performing futile acts of resuscitation. Sorry to report: The patient died.”

Ouch!

So there you have it, the best and the worst that January 2020 has to offer. Hopefully, something on this list caught your attention, and if not, save your time and money and binge watch Netflix.