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Hollywood kicked off 2017 with a lineup of movie releases, starting with a sequel to Kate Beckinsale's vampire flick. I must say I'm pretty excited about movies in general this year. Unfortunately, January's lineup doesn't seem to be up to par with the rest of the year. But, nevertheless, here's my opinions and predictions to the films hitting theaters soon.

Underworld: Blood Wars

"Vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) continues her struggle against the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her, with both sides trying to use the blood of her and her daughter to become Corvinus Strain hybrids. After hiding her daughter, Selene, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), attempt to end the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, though Selene must take a risk that may cost her life."

Kate Beckinsale is back as sexy vampire Selene, our favorite borderline necrophilic wet dream, and this time, she's endowed with the power of the Speed Force?

I personally really liked this franchise - mostly because I was a closet vampire lover back in my junior high school days. But after the second movie, I failed to keep up with it. This was mostly due to the lack of previously mentioned Kate "there-is-no-way-she's-43" Beckinsale leading the vampire brood.

I will say that the trailer for the fifth installment seems okay. Helmed by Anna Foerster in her directorial debut, it recalls the struggle from the first film of tainted bloodlines and vampire/werewolf hybrids. The action scenes also brings back memories of some supernatural super fight goodness from the first film.

But one has to question the reveal of Selene receiving superhuman (supervampire?) speed through some kind of mummification. She seem to have become so powerful, that the villains can't keep up. This worries me because it could means one of two things. One: she's just going to rip her way through the villains without any real obstacles, which would result in a boring movie. Or two: they basically just revealed that the "risk that may cost her life" wasn't that risky.

I would probably see it when it comes out on DVD or Netflix. I want to support the franchise, but feel I would be let down if I saw it at theater prices.

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: I'm Lycan what I'm seein'.

The Bye Bye Man

"Three college students move into an old, off-campus house, where they find themselves hunted by a supernatural entity called The Bye Bye Man who may be responsible for possessing various people and causing them to commit killing sprees throughout recent history. The students discover the origins of the Bye Bye Man and find that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don't say or think his name, because once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control."

I am not a big fan of horror movies. When I was younger (like 6-7 years old), my great grand father would sit me down and make me watch Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. And that was okay for me because gore didn't scare me. But this trailer - I'll be completely honest - I didn't sit through at all. Those first few images already had my brain screaming "TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!"

I'll comment on the title though. Bye Bye Man? Reading the description for the movie makes me think Jonathan Penner, the writer, thought "what would be scarier than Bloody Mary or the Boogeyman? Porque no los dos?"

It's hard to judge because the 5 seconds of the trailer I watched doesn't really give me much of an idea for what this movie entails, but the description does paint a clearer picture that if I ever wanted to be a mass murdering ghost killer, I just have to wait by an old house because college students LOVE old houses. But, hey, maybe you scary movie lovers will have another movie to add to your list of "it wasn't that scary, man".

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: nope nope nope nope.

Sleepless

"A police detective with a connection to the criminal underground finds his secret life exposed when he and his partner are caught stealing cocaine from a powerful drug lord, a move that puts his son's life in danger."

'Member when Jamie Foxx had that show where he played the worst hotel service representative in the world who sings his problems away? I 'member. Well, now he's a cop that's going around beating the crap out of white people.

This film is actually based on a 2011 French film called Sleepless Night. It mirrors the premise word for word. The French film was very well received according to Rotten Tomatoes (with a 96% rating) and Metacritic (with a 76 score). This prompted Hollywood to pick up the rights to the movie for an American remake of it. That, of course, means more explosions, more fists to the face, but less nudity and profanity. And as excited as I am to see how Hollywood... well, Hollywoodizes this film, I'm actually more excited to watch the Indian remake Thoongaa Vanam!

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: hoping there's a Bollywood dance finale.

Monster Trucks

"Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp (Lucas Till), a high school senior, builds a monster truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed who he names Creech, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town and a most unlikely friend."

...what?

"What are you...?" is right, Havok. But I'm not talking about the shark-opus that doubles as a V8 engine. I'm talking about the movie as whole and why Paramount feels the need to assault my eyes with it.

From first glance, this movie is ridiculous. I really sense the zero ****s by Paramount and Nickelodeon on this one. The whole premise of the movie sounds like they're trying to sell toys, but without a likable figure. A monster living in an engine bay that drinks gasoline hardly sounds like something I want my kids to be involved with. But the worst part is you can sense the "I'm the bad guy but I learned my lesson through the power of your love for this hideous creature" ending just waiting to trigger the biggest eye roll of your life.

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: I've seen enough hentai to know where this is going.

Split

"After a wholesome teen birthday party, three girls are kidnapped in broad daylight: friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), and difficult outsider Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). Their captor Kevin (James McAvoy) locks the trio in a windowless room, then proceeds to frighten and baffle them. One minute he's wearing eyeglasses and obsessive about cleanliness, the next he's presenting as female, and later he acts like a nine-year-old boy. It is revealed that Kevin exhibits some 23 alternate personalities, and in order to escape, his captives must hope that one of these 23 will set them free, before the 24th personality awakens."

Here's a question: why does M. Night Shyamalan continue to put his name on movies?

From the trailer alone, it looks like a movie I would go see if I wasn't the type of cheapo that would only pay for comic book flicks. James McAvoy is an awesome actor, and seeing him play out 23 different characters within 2 hours would be the kind of craziness I would pay for.

BUT! Like Mr. Shymalan's twist endings, this shouldn't be much of a surprise - just seeing his name on a movie turns me off towards it. I have yet to forgive him for his awful rendition of The Last Airbender.

Despite reviews for Split to be generally positive (81% on Rotten Tomatoes and 75/100 on Metacritic), I'm going to wait for reviews after it is released. Then, and only then, if the reviews are good, I MIGHT catch it on DVD that I borrowed from a friend that bought it from a street vendor that sells bootlegs.

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: I rather see dead people.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

"Extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), thought to be long dead, comes out of self-imposed exile to race villain Xiang (Donnie Yen) to recover a powerful weapon known as "Pandora's Box". Recruiting a group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself caught up in a deadly conspiracy of corruption among world governments."

First, I want to say to anyone looking at my internet browser history... I was just looking for the trailer of this movie and nothing else. I swear!

I never watched any of the xXx movies, but if they were anything like this trailer, I might just go back and watch them. Yes, even the one with the frozen water blocks. It's not every day you see Vin Diesel drive fast cars, brawl on the streets, and overall act bad ass.

I mean, what's not to like? Nick Fury recruits Dom Toretto to take down Ip Man. Add in that hot lady from Orange is the New Black (you know, the one that makes you question your sexuality because she looks suspiciously like Justin Bieber), that hot lady from Vampire Diaries but with glasses (I know, I have a vampire fetish), and... uh... Tony Jaa. Sounds like a win to me.

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: I am Groot.

A Dog's Purpose

"A devoted dog (Josh Gad) discovers the meaning of its own existence by showing humans how to laugh and love over the course of several lifetimes."

I'm not crying! You're crying! Shut up!

Okay, I know the theater will probably be filled with kids. And it's a lot of money to spend on watching people play with dogs. And dogs don't have more than one life, cats do. But... PUPPIES! A LOT OF PUPPIES!

I've always been more of a dog person despite having a cat and three rabbits, so hearing the inner thoughts of a puppy makes me smile from the deepest darkest parts of my heart. If this movie is done well, I can imagine it as a classic that I would sit down with my children someday to watch. And I have full confidence that this movie would be heart warming, adorable, and fun considering it's from Steven Spielberg's production company Amblin Entertainment (and I love Spielberg). To give you an idea on the quality of movie to expect, Amblin also produced movies such as Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Men in Black, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Goonies, Jurassic Park, etc.

And I suppose a down side would be missing my old dog so much that I run out and adopt a new one immediately. But that's a chance I'm willing to take.

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: *wags tail furiously*

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

"Picking up immediately three weeks after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, humanity is on its last legs after Alice is betrayed by Wesker in Washington D.C. As the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity's final stand against the undead hordes, Alice must return to where the nightmare began – Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse. In a race against time Alice will join forces with old friends, and an unlikely ally, in an action packed battle with undead hordes and new mutant monsters. Between losing her superhuman abilities and Umbrella's impending attack, this will be Alice's most difficult adventure as she fights to save humanity, which is on the brink of oblivion."

Another sequel to one of the few video game movies that I enjoy. And it looks pretty damn good. It almost makes me sad that this will be the last movie in the franchise, but knowing Hollywood, they'll probably reboot it next month.

I actually saw all of the trailers and clips for this movie thus far, and even though I'm not blown out of my seat by it, it's one of the few films releasing this month that I'm looking forward to. It's one of those guilty pleasure movies, like Fast and Furious, where the movie hardly makes my top ten, but every time I rewatch them I find them enjoyable. And I have a feeling this movie will be the same.

Here's hoping that the ending does justice to the journey.

ANTICIPATION LEVEL: I'd take a bite out of that.

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