The 2020 Film Release Calendar: February

Because of a calendar quirk, and the fact that the Oscars are happening at least two weeks earlier than they normally do, this year’s Film Release Calendar is being much more segmented than it usually is. Most of the time I do January through May or June the first few days of the year and then Oscar nominations happen and then I finish the last half toward the end of January. This year, Oscar nominations are out in ten days and then I only have time to go over Oscar categories before Oscar night. It’s that short this year. So the rest of the Release Calendar is going to be posted in February. But to make sure I’m covered for these first two months, I posted January’s yesterday and February’s is today.

We’re gonna go over all the films set to come out in February and then move onto all the other important articles I need to post before Oscar nominations come out.

So without further ado, here’s February:

February

The Lodge

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.

By the directors of Goodnight Mommy, which was fair. Stars Riley Keough as the stepmom. This got pushed from fall to January, which is probably all I need to know about it.

3 stars.

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

This seems like it’s receding into its own corner of the DC universe, which gives me hope it’ll be fun and worthwhile. Christina Hodson, who wrote Bumblebee, writes. Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn and on board we have Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ali Wong, Chris Messina, Rosie Perez.

Here’s the thing — it’s a 3-star floor film. 3.5 feels like the case if it’s fun and has some smarts to it. And given all the people and that they’re trying to make it more female-centric, I’m more willing to 3.5 stars than 3 here. So let’s do that and hope it lives up to it. Worst case I’m getting 3 and it’s another generic DC movie to go alone with the rest of the garbage they’ve put out. It seems contained and small (ish), which is why I’m willing to go higher on this. It doesn’t look overburdened by CGI set pieces.

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

Lara Jean and Peter have just taken their relationship from pretend to officially official when another recipient of one of her old love letters enters the picture.

And they’re back. The first one was a very charming rom com that surprised me. But they rushed this one into production. They shot the second and third one back to back and seem to be releasing them both this year. The director of both is the DP of Fast Color, Doctor Sleep and Gerald’s Game (and the first one). But the fact that the director is not back leads me to believe she’d rather have taken the time to get it right and they just wanted the cash grab.

They got the first writer back, but now a dude is also credited on it, which means that either she wrote the first draft and they brought him on to change it, or he rushed a first draft and she came on to polish it up. He seems like he writes generic romance movies. Not sure it matters either way, because this is still reeking of cash grab.

3 stars.

I’d be really surprised if this got up to the level of the first one. This feels like standard sequel drop and borderline ‘I’m done with this’ because it’s completely generic and lacks any of the interest and good writing of the first movie.

Downhill

Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other.

It’s the American remake of Force Majeure. Which automatically means at best it’s fine and at worst it’s unnecessary.

The important thing to remember, for you people with strong opinions out there… it does not affect the quality of the original in any way. If people will only see this and not watch the original, that says more about them than the quality of either version.

I have to go 3 stars on this. I can’t assume it’s as good as the original. There is no way they’re gonna properly hit that tone, and I can already see from the trailer how likely they are to overdo the scenes and add unnecessary stuff to the plot to make it more American.

At most the plot will get me to 3, but there’s no way I can see this getting to 3.5.

Fantasy Island

A horror adaptation of the popular ’70s TV show about a magical island resort.

Blumhouse is doing a horror version of Fantasy Island. That sounds so stupid.

Trailer looks even worse.

2.5 stars.

Do. Not. Care.

Stop making horror versions of famous IP. They’re all shit.

What About Love

Two young lovers change the lives of their parents forever when the parents learn from the joyful experience of their kids, and allow themselves to again find their love.

Oh boy, overly serious YA movie. Or not? Because it’s YA and older people romance? With Andy Garcia and Sharon Stone?

2.5 stars.

This looks like it’s gonna be bad.

Sonic the Hedgehog

A cop in the rural town of Green Hills will help Sonic escape from the government who is looking to capture him.

Remember when this was gonna come out in November but then they pushed it because the Sonic designed looked creepy as shit?

So now they’ve released a new trailer that basically gives you the entire plot of the movie and further establishes it as something purely for 8 year olds that people who grew up with the game are not gonna like.

I’m not even gonna pretend like I’m gonna care about this and go 2.5 stars. I’d normally say 3 on pure instinct because I love Sonic, but that trailer tells me exactly how little I’m gonna care about this. All the jokes seem dumb, the plot has nothing to do with Sonic and I can’t see anything that’s gonna make me think, “Okay, sure, that was fine,” outside of the possible exception of it catching me on a good day. And I cannot assume that’s going to happen, so indifference it is.

Ordinary Love

An extraordinary look at the lives of a middle-aged couple in the midst of the wife’s breast cancer diagnosis.

I love the idea that it’s about a regular couple. I’m not crazy about the breast cancer aspect. I kinda just want it to be a look at the average couple when nothing particularly special happens. That would, to me, be the point of seeing an ‘ordinary’ couple.

But hey, I like Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville and it looks like it’s gonna be perfectly fine.

I’m going 3 stars, but I want this to be 3.5. I can’t assume it’s going to be, because this feels like a clear 3.5 trap that only goes 3 in the end. It has a shot at 3.5, but I can’t assume it. I’ve been burned too many times on these early films.

Buffaloed

Set in the underworld of debt-collecting and follows the homegrown hustler Peg Dahl, who will do anything to escape Buffalo, NY.

Stars Zoey Deutch, and the trailer actually looked good. She looked like she’s going all out on the performance, and I like it. It’s also from the director of Hysteria, which I quite enjoyed.

This has a shot at 3.5 stars. My gut says to stick with 3 stars and let it go 3.5, but honestly, let’s aim high.

3.5 stars.

I’m getting 3 at worst, but this feels like it’s got enough going on that it could pretty easily get to 3.5. And I’m hoping it does. It looks fun.

Brahms: The Boy II

After a family moves into the Heelshire Mansion, their young son soon makes friends with a life-like doll called Brahms.

Oh god. Why?

Spare me this.

2.5 stars.

It’s horror movie bullshit, and I hated the first one.

I’d like to skip this, but it’s out early enough I might watch it and just sleepwalk through the entire thing.

If there’s one thing I can guarantee you about this movie, it’s that my reaction to it, should I actually see it, will be a very pronounced yawn.

Greed

Satire about the world of the super-rich.

It’s directed by Michael Winterbottom, who did 24 Hour Party People, A Cock and Bull Story, A Mighty Heart, The killer Inside Me and The Trip movies. Unsurprisingly, Steve Coogan stars in this as well.

Trailer looked fine. Not seeing anything more than 3 stars out of this. Seems like it’ll be fine but I won’t care much past that.

Emma

It’s an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel starring Anya Taylor-Joy.

That’s pretty much all you need to know.

We know how these movies go — they look good, costumes are great, they’re colorful, the performances are perfectly charming, and they’re only 3 stars. They’re fine, but that’s about it. It doesn’t feel like we have another Little Women on our hands, so let’s just assume the norm until the movie proves otherwise.

The Call of the Wild

A sled dog struggles for survival in the Alaskan wild.

This is based on the Jack London novel, which was previously adapted in 1935 with Clark Gable and Loretta Young. And also Charlton Heston in the 70s, but it’s that 30s one I really like.

This one stars Harrison Ford, which is a good choice. However, and that synopsis tells you the big point about this movie — it’s a DOG MOVIE. They’re selling it like one of those Dog’s Journey movies. The trailer makes it seem more like the adventure it should be, but it feels like it’s being structured around the dog, rather than Harrison Ford, which concerns me. As does the seeming over-reliance on CGI, which looks atrocious in the trailer.

So all that being said, 3 stars. Can’t see how it goes higher than that, given the dog movie angle and the bad-looking CGI.

Burden

When a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan opens in a South Carolina town, the idealistic Reverend Kennedy strives to keep the peace even as he urges the group’s Grand Dragon to disavow his racist past.

This played Sundance in 2018 and is only getting released now. That tells me a lot.

It’s the writer-director’s first film. Stars Forest Whitaker and Garrett Hedlund. Feels similar to Skin, which came out last year.

Trailer made it feel like it could have maybe gone 3.5 if there were better stuff in the actual movie they didn’t show, but the two years between Sundance and release, plus my general history with films of this ilk tell me it’s not going higher than 3 stars.

The cast will make it watchable, but the result will just be middling.

Color Out of Space

A town is struck by a meteorite and the fallout is catastrophic.

Starring Nicolas Cage.

I’ve heard varying things about this, as it played some festivals late last year. Judging from the trailer, it looks cheap and low rent, so the insanity of his performance (assuming it’s there), will be tampered by that.

3 stars.

That feels the baseline rating for Cage, and I’ve got nothing in what I’ve seen that makes me assume it’s going higher than that. And I’d be surprised if this crazy set up doesn’t give him enough crazy shit to do to make it drop to 2.5.

The Invisible Man

When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

It’s Blumhouse, so that tells me most of what I need to know.

It’s Leigh Whannell who wrote and directed it, and admittedly I did like Upgrade.

3 stars.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt to make it decent, but I refuse to think it’s anything I’m gonna like or care about past that. This is not my genre at all.

Wendy

Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up.

It’s Benh Zeitlin, who did Beasts of the Southern Wild, reimagining Peter Pan.

I’m in, and a half.

4 stars.

I hope it’s amazing.

All the Bright Places

The story of Violet and Theodore, who meet and change each other’s lives forever. As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they discover that even the smallest places and moments can mean something.

It’s by Brett Haley, who has made pretty solid little indies thus far. I’ll See You in My Dreams, The Hero, Hearts Beat Loud.

However, it’s a YA adaptation. And as such, I cannot ethically go above 3 stars. The movie can go higher, but I can’t guess higher. Normally I’d go 2.5, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt to make this watchable.

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