Shovel out that driveway and head to your local theater. P.S. Don’t forget to save the date—Sunday, March 2—for the award show of the winter season!
Not Just for Kids
There’s no bigger toy on the market than LEGOS, and there will be no bigger animated feature this year. An ordinary guy named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) is chosen to live an extraordinary life. Batman (Will Arnett), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), President Business (Will Ferrell), Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) and Spaceman Benny (Charlie Day) are Emmet’s small-statured, brick-based co-stars. From the directors of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”
Drama, Drama, Drama
I’m a sucker for movies about writers. The real world of Dickens is exposed in this biopic about the famed novelist’s philandering ways. Turns out the wordsmith who created Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickelby spent 13 years in a secret relationship with a woman who was not his wife. “He Who Must Not Be Named” (er, Ralph Fiennes), Felicity Jones (“The Worst Witch”) and Kristin Scott Thomas (“Salmon Fishing in Yemen”) are cast in this critically acclaimed, film festival-approved release.
Two writers’ movies in one month: bonus! This limited release is worth a look, I promise you. Jack (Englishman Simon Pegg, “The World’s End,”) didn’t set out to become a children’s author. His fear of the local launderette inspires him to pen a crime novel that transforms his life in this cool British comedy.
Two words: George Clooney. Need two more? Matt Damon. If you’re still not convinced, then maybe the plot will win you over: FDR installs a WWII platoon tasked with retrieving stolen artwork from Nazi thieves. Based on true events in U.S. history.
This film had me at Scott Speedman, who had me in “Felicity.” (If you haven’t seen the late-‘90s series, put it in your Netflix queue.) Evan Rachel Wood (last seen on the big screen in “The Ides of March”) plays an innocent, slightly unstable home-schooled hippie who falls for a bad boy known for one-night stands. J.K. Simmons adds ample laughs in this rom-com.
Vamp It Up
“Twilight” fans, rejoice! There’s a new teen vampire film based on best-selling young adult fiction. (Let’s hope the stars of this one can act.) Sarah Hyland (“Modern Family”), Ukranian model/actress Olga Kurylenko, Zoey Deutch (from ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth”) and Cameron Monaghan (from Showtime’s “Shameless”) play the leads in this tale of half-human creatures vs. evil immortals. Irish actor Gabrielle Byrne raises the age-quotient in this otherwise youthful flick.
“Crime has a new enemy” in “Robocop,” the perfect date movie this Valentine’s Day—right, guys? When a good cop (Swedish-American hottie Joel Kinnaman, “The Killing”) takes a bad spill, he is transformed into a crime-fighting robot. But underneath, he’s a man with his own agenda. TV series and video games included, this is perhaps the 500th addition to the “Robocop” franchise. This one features the legendary Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton (rumored to star in a “Beetlejuice” sequel), Abbie Cornish (from Discovery Channel’s “Klondike”) and Samuel L. Jackson (who needs no introduction).
Move over, “Robocop.” This is a far better choice for your romantic February 14 outing—sorry, guys! While you await the release of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” take in this remake of the 1981 guilty pleasure, with the beautiful Gabriella Wilde (no relation to Olivia) in place of Brooke Shields and hunky Alex Pettyfer (“Magic Mike”) in place of Martin Hewitt. Spoiler Alert: If you’ve seen the original, then you know how this ends. (Bring a tissue.)
“Back to the Future” set the bar for teen time-travel movies. Call “Welcome to Yesterday” a modern adaptation, with a found-footage (one of my favorite genres) twist. Newcomers Sofia Black D’Elia, Ginny Gardner, Johnny Weston, Katie Garfield and Cameron Fuller share the spotlight in this blockbuster from big-budget producer Michael Bay.
Russell Crowe, Will Smith, Colin Farrell, William Hurt and Jennifer Connelly form a celebrity-studded ensemble in this epic about a burglar who meets the love of his life on the job. The twist in THIS flick is how it goes from a period piece to a modern-day drama through the power of reincarnation.
Photo: In a train warehouse in Paris, GRANGER (Matt Damon) picks up a painting with CLAIRE (Kate Blanchett) in Columbia Pictures’ THE MONUMENTS MEN. (Claudette Barius, © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.)