Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In February (2024)

According to: Selina

20 – Popular Theory (2/9)

Director: Ali Scher
Writer: Ali Scher, Joe Swanson
Actors: Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Lincoln Lambert, Chloe East, Cheryl Hines, Marc Evan Jackson, Kat Conner Sterling
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Rated: PG
Length: Unknown Length
IMDb Blurb: Erwin, a girl genius, is the youngest student in high school. Unfortunately she struggles with social isolation. When she meets fellow science guru, Winston, they team up to invent a chemical that changes the high school hierarchy forever.
Popular Theory looks cute, but I have seen it before.
In the 90s, it was called Love Potion No. 9 (1992), and I watched it so much that I wore out the VHS tape. Back in the day, it was my favorite rom-com. The trailer for Popular Theory leads me to believe that it’s basically a reboot for teens. Some of the scenes are pulled almost completely from the 1992 film.
I wanted to put it a bit higher on the list, but there are some creative flicks coming out this February, so it feels like something to mention, but not push.
19 – Lights Out (2/16)

Director: Christian Sesma
Writer: Chad Law, Garry Charles
Actors: Dermot Mulroney, Scott Adkins, Jaime King, Frank Grillo, Kevin Gage, Mekhi Phifer
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 30min
IMDb Blurb: A drifting ex-soldier turns underground fighter with the help of a just released ex-con, pitting them both against a crime boss, corrupt cops and hired killers.
When I see Frank Grillo (The Grey, Boss Level, Copshop) in an action flick, I take notice. I’m not a hardcore fan of his, but I can’t deny that he brings something fun to anything action. He’s just got that action hero way about him.
Of course, Lights Out still looks a little basic, so I couldn’t really have it any higher on my list.
18 – Float (2/9)

Director: Sherren Lee
Writer: Jesse LaVercombe, Sherren Lee, Kate Marchant
Actors: Robbie Amell, Andrea Bang
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 40min
IMDb Blurb: After she nearly drowns, a young woman unexpectedly falls for the small-town lifeguard who rescued her. Based on the novel by Kate Marchant.
As rom-coms go, Float looks pretty decent. It’s adorable, and I can feel the chemistry between Robbie Amell (Upload, The Tomorrow People, ARQ) and Andrea Bang (Kim’s Convenience, A Million Little Things, Fresh) throughout the trailer. It will almost undoubtedly be a bit on the trope-y side, but cute none-the-less.
17 – Land of Bad (2/16)

Director: William Eubank
Writer: William Eubank, David Frigerio
Actors: Milo Ventimiglia, Russell Crowe, Liam Hemsworth, Ricky Whittle, Luke Hemsworth
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 50min
IMDb Blurb: A rookie air force combat controller and a seasoned drone pilot support a Delta Force team as they try to shift a mission gone wrong into a rescue operation.
The cast for Land of Bad is outstanding. That said, the writers/director leave a bit to be desired and the plot is a touch on the overdone side. Still, I have faith in it. I think there’s every possibility that Land of Bad could be something special.
16 – Red Right Hand (2/23)

Director: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Writer: Jonathan Easley
Actors: Andie MacDowell, Orlando Bloom, Garret Dillahunt, Brian Geraghty, James Lafferty, Jeremy Ratchford, Scott Haze
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 51min
IMDb Blurb: Cash is trying to live an honest and quiet life, but when Big Cat forces him back into her services, he proves capable of anything to protect the town and the only family he has left.
I did several double takes before I realized the lead in this film was Orlando Bloom (Gran Turismo, Zulu, Pirate of the Caribbean). It caught me very off-guard. This is simply not the kind of flick I expect to see him in. That said, I’m here for it.
I’m especially excited to see Eshom and Ian Nelms (Squirrel Trap, Night of the Dog, Small Town Crime) at the helm of Red Right Hand. I’ve seen how they handle crime and comedy, and they have an eye for that kind of direction that I think would lend brilliantly to an action/thriller.
15 – No Way Up (2/16)

Director: Claudio Fäh
Writer: Andy Mayson
Actors: Phyllis Logan, Colm Meaney, Will Attenborough, James Carroll Jordan, Sophie McIntosh, Jeremias Amoore, Grace Nettle, Manuel Pacific, David Samartin, Scott Coker
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 1h 30min
IMDb Blurb: Characters from different backgrounds are thrown together when the plane they're travelling on crashes into the Pacific Ocean. A nightmare fight for survival ensues with the air supply running out and dangers creeping in from all sides.
I love disaster films, but it’s very easy for them to become repetitive. After all, how many plane crash movies are there? And we all know none of them are ever going to be better than Cast Away (2000).
What I like about No Way Up is that there’s something to set it apart from the others. Being alive after a plane crash on a desert island, or even in the middle of the sea is one thing. On the bottom of the ocean? Especially after the whole world learned, just this past summer, exactly what could happen to people that go down too far? That’s a different animal altogether.
It’s still a disaster film, so I’m sure there’ll be tropes utilized that are the same in just about all of them, but I’m still excited.
14 – How to Have Sex (2/2)

Director: Molly Manning Walker
Writer: Molly Manning Walker
Actors: Anna Antoniades, Mia McKenna-Bruce, Lara Peake, Enva Lewis, Samuel Bottomley, Shaun Thomas
Genre: Drama
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 31min
IMDb Blurb: Three British teenage girls go on a rites-of-passage holiday - drinking, clubbing and hooking up, in what should be the best summer of their lives.
I’ll be honest, How to Have Sex is not the kind of movie that usually draws me in. That said, there’s something about it that really draws me in. As I continued through my list of trailers, I kept returning to this one.
It’s all instinct where this flick is concerned. I wish I could point out exactly what it was that made me believe How to Have Sex was something to look out for, but I can’t. Sometimes there are just indecipherable patterns. None-the-less, I’m looking forward to it.
13 – Orion and the Dark (2/2)

Director: Sean Charmatz
Writer: Charlie Kaufman, Lloyd Taylor, Emma Yarlett
Actors: Carla Gugino, Paul Walter Hauser, Natasia Demetriou, Jacob Tremblay, Angela Bassett, Colin Hanks, Werner Herzog, Ike Barinholtz
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: TV-Y7
Length: 1h 30min
IMDb Blurb: A boy with an active imagination faces his fears on an unforgettable journey through the night with his new friend: a giant, smiling creature named Dark.
Personally, I’m more into Orion and the Dark than I am The Tiger’s Apprentice, but I can’t ignore the target demographic. Since my daughter falls right into that category, I showed her both trailers and let her choose the order.
Obviously, I trust Dreamworks. The How to Train Your Dragon (2010-2019) flicks are among my favorites. That said, even I have to admit that Orion and the Dark doesn’t seem quite up to their normal standards. Still, the story has some great lessons and an age-appropriate plot that still seems to appeal to adults as well.
12 – The Tiger’s Apprentice (2/2)

Director: Raman Hui, Yong Duk Jhun, Paul Watling
Writer: David Magee, Christopher L. Yost, Laurence Yep
Actors: Henry Golding, Brandon Soo Hoo, Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Michelle Yeoh, Bowen Yang, Leah Lewis, Jo Koy
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 39min
IMDb Blurb: Tom Lee, a Chinese-American boy, after the death of his grandmother, has to be apprenticed to the talking tiger Mr. Hu and learn ancient magic to become the new guardian of an ancient phoenix.
The Tiger’s Apprentice feels a little less original than Orion and the Dark, but it’s not a bad mix of inspirations. I’d say it combines Kung Fu Panda (2008) with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) – which are both cute, decent films.
It’s got a clean animation style, with beautiful settings and designs. Not the best children’s offering I’ve seen, but it works for a February release.
11 – Madame Web (2/14)

Director: S.J. Clarkson
Writer: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Claie Parker, S.J. Clarkson
Actors: Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Dakota Johnson, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott, Celeste O’Connor, Jill Hennessy, Mike Epps
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 56min
IMDb Blurb: Cassandra Webb develops the power to see the future. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women bound for powerful destinies, if they can all survive a deadly present.
I don’t know anything about Madame Web as a comic book character, but we all know I’m a Marvel fan girl. Just based on my fan-girl status, Madame Web should be high up on my list. So, why doesn’t it even make my top 10 this month?
As much as any Marvel fan will go and see every one of the movies, no matter how disappointing the last one was, we all also know that other companies tend to spoil things.
The trailer looks great, the cast is fantastic, and the director has a hell of a filmography behind her, she even directed a couple episodes of Jessica Jones (2015) – which was an amazing show. All promising facts.
A less promising fact is that the writers of Morbius (2022) are involved. After the travesty that was that shit show, it’s something that’s hard to ignore. I will never understand why another Marvel property has been entrusted to them. Seems like a bad call.
I’m looking forward to Madame Web, but I won’t be too surprised if it winds up disappointing me.

10 – Players (2/14)

Director: Trish Sie
Writer: Whit Anderson
Actors: Tom Ellis, Gina Rodriguez, Joel Courtney, Damon Wayans Jr., Liza Koshy,
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 45min
IMDb Blurb: New York sportswriter Mack has spent years devising successful hook-up "plays" with her friends, but when she unexpectedly falls for one of her targets, she must learn what it takes to go from simply scoring to playing for keeps
Although Players has that ridiculously convoluted heist-y vibe, it doesn’t remind me of the movies a flick like that would tend to remind me of. Instead, it reminds me of Slackers (2002) – a movie I only know about because I followed Devon Sawa’s (Idle Hands, Final Destination, Chucky) career closely when I was younger.
Both movies are about a group of friends working closely to game a system. In Slackers, it’s about cheating through college, while Players is about running the perfect scheme to get a date from someone.
Players has a comedy-heavy cast to work with. Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin, Someone Great, Not Dead Yet), Damon Wayans Jr. (The Other Guys, Big Hero 6, New Girl), Liza Koshy (Work It, Cat Person, Liza on Demand), and Tom Ellis (Lucifer, Isn’t It Romantic, Miranda) are all well known for comedic roles. I’m not the biggest fan of Trish Sie’s (Pitch Perfect 3, The Sleepover, Step Up All In) directorial work, but Whit Anderson (Ozark, Daredevil, Allegiance) impressed pretty much all of us with his TV Shows – though they aren’t of the comedy genre. I’m a bit curious about how that will translate to this project.
9 – Stopmotion (2/23)

Director: Robert Morgan
Writer: Robin King, Robert Morgan
Actors: Aisling Franciosi, Stella Gonet, Tom York, Caoilinn Springall, James Swanton
Genre: Animation, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 33min
IMDb Blurb: A stop-motion animator struggles to control her demons after the loss of her overbearing mother.
Until recently, I’d completely written off stop-motion animation as something I could get into. Then Phil Tippett (Jurassic Park, Starship Troopers, RoboCop) came along with his absolutely glorious Mad God (2021) and my mind changed so quickly. Now I find myself actively searching it out.
I think stop-motion animation is an underused, and fruitful, medium for horror. It produces an uncanny valley kind of feel throughout the jerky motions and versatile model designs. I understand why it’s not more widely used – it’s extremely labor intensive after all – but I’m definitely paying more attention to a film when it is.
Stopmotion is intensely creative and seems to utilize stop-motion animation well. The creepy story telling meshes with the animation style well. I was thoroughly uneasy each time I watched the coming attractions.
8 – Bob Marley: One Love (2/14)

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Writer: Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, Zach Baylin, Reinaldo Marcus Green
Actors: Kingsley Ben-Adir, James Norton, Lashana Lynch, Michael Gandolfini
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 44min
IMDb Blurb: The story of how reggae icon Bob Marley overcame adversity, and the journey behind his revolutionary music.
Bob Marley is one of the most influential artists of our time. I don’t think there’s a soul alive that doesn’t know at least one of his songs.
I don’t know anything about the story behind his music, but I’m not surprised that there’s violence. People react harshly to messages of peace and unity. That’s what his music is about, after all. In a world of darkness, his tunes bring some light and hope.
The only reason Bob Marley: One Love is so low on my list is because biographies are tricky. They’re starting to get a bit played out at this point, so there needs to be a hook that draws people in other than the big name.
7 – This is Me… Now (2/16)

Director: Dave Meyers
Writer: Jennifer Lopez, Matt Walton
Actors: Sofia Vergara, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, Kim Petras, Trevor Noah, Alix Angelis, Post Malone, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Derek Hough, Fat Joe
Genre: Music
Rated: Unrated
Length: Unknown
IMDb Blurb: Coinciding with the release of her album of the same name, this narrative-driven odyssey tells the story of Jennifer Lopez's journey to love through her own eyes.
Hey look, it’s a musical that is actually being marketed as a musical.
I have to say, that’s been my biggest pet peeve of the last couple of years. Production companies have decided that people don’t like musicals, so they don’t let you know when something is one. I had no idea Wonka (2023) was a musical before it came out, or Mean Girls (2024). That information for both flicks would have strengthened my interest. Instead of being clear about what those films were, companies decided to bait and switch people. That’s a good way to make people mad.
At the very least we know what we’re getting with This is Me… Now. It’s more of an opera based around the life of Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers, Marry Me, Shades of Blue) than anything else. I’m not her biggest fan, but no one can deny her talent.
For This is Me… Now, she’s collected a highly diverse group of talent. Actors and musicians alike are involved: Sofia Vergara (Modern Family, Chef, Strays), Ben Affleck (Argo, Gone Girl, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Keke Palmer (Nope, Hustlers, Scream Queens), Kim Petras (Los Espookys, The Bitch Who Stole Christmas, Sam Smith & Kim Petras: Unholy), Trevor Noah (The Daily Show, Black Panther, Coming 2 America), Post Malone (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, Good Mythical Evening, Wrath of Man), Alix Angelis (Imaginary, The Cleansing Hour, The Magnificent Seven), Neil deGrasse Tyson (Miles from Tomorrowland, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Lazer Team), Fat Joe (Happy Feet, The White Tiger, Hustle), and Derek Hough (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Hairspray Live!, Nashville). It’s even directed by accomplished music video director, Dave Meyers (Billie Eilish: Bad Guy, P!Nk: So What, Missy Elliott: Get Ur Freak On).
This kind of movie concert is picking up steam, and I don’t think This is Me… Now is going to kill interest in the genre at all. I do, however, think that studios need to reconsider their stance on musicals.
6 – Code 8: Part II (2/28)

Director: Jeff Chan
Writer: Jeff Chan, Chris Pare, Sherren Lee, Jesse LaVercombe
Actors: Robbie Amell, Stephen Amell, Aaron Abrams, Jean Yoon, Alex Mallari Jr.
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 40min
IMDb Blurb: Follows a girl fighting to get justice for her slain brother by corrupt police officers. She enlists the help of an ex-con and his former partner, they face a highly regarded and well protected police sergeant who doesn't want to be.
If you’ve been following Trust the Dice for any length of time, then you know that we invested in the first Code 8 (2019). It was a pre-2020 world when we had a little extra money to burn and wanted to use it to help make great movies. Times have changed, our pockets are a little too light to do it these days, but we still have great faith in the films we did choose to add to.
We reviewed Code 8 back in April of 2020, well embroiled in our lockdown. Long story short: we felt the film was a great success. Fun and original. Some critics did believe there was an X-Men feel to it, but most movies involving any kind of mutated power in humans tends to be compared to X-Men. It’s a bit of an overdone critique.
I’m looking forward to Code 8: Part II. A continuation of the story should be great fun.
5 – Restore Point (2/8)

Director: Robert Hloz
Writer: Robert Hloz
Actors: Andrea Mohylová, Matej Hádek, Milan Ondrík, Václav Neuzil
Genre: Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 55min
IMDb Blurb: Set in central Europe during 2041, a female detective investigates the case of a murdered couple where a restoration team is able to bring one of them back to life.
There’s nothing quite like a good science fiction. The cool technology gone rogue, the anything-can-happen story, the familiar-but-different world… both Cat and I go nuts for it.
I waffled over whether to put Code 8: Part 2 or Restore Point higher, but I settled on Restore Point.
It’s an original film, as opposed to a sequel. That’s really the only thing that put it higher for me. I may be more familiar with the people involved in Code 8: Part 2, but Restore Point has that originality to it that comes with the start of a brand new story.
Restore Point seems to be the full-length feature film debut of writer/director Robert Hloz. He has some shorts to his name, however, that boast impressive ratings on IMDb. Only one of which dips into the 5s, while the others never hit lower than a 6.5.
As ‘dark horse’ of a pick as Restore Point seems, I’m confident that it’s a must see.
4 – Drive-Away Dolls (2/23)

Director: Ethan Coen
Writer: Ethan Coen, Tricia Cooke
Actors: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Pedro Pascal, Matt Damon
Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 24min
IMDb Blurb: Jamie regrets her breakup with her girlfriend, while Marian needs to relax. In search of a fresh start, they embark on an unexpected road trip to Tallahassee, but things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals.
I enjoy both central tropes utilized in Drive-Away Dolls. That odd-couple dynamic between the leads, and the clueless good-guys getting sucked into a criminal enterprise. Both tropes give me the warm and fuzzies.
With Drive-Away Dolls there are two lead actors with exceptional experience representing the odd duo, which I think will elevate the on-screen chemistry. Margaret Qualley (Poor Things, Wake Up, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Geraldine Viswanathan (Miracle Workers, 7 Days, Blockers) may not be household names, but they have a body of work that proves that’s what they could become in the future. There’s also Ethan Coen (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, True Grit, No Country for Old Men), one half of the legendary Coen brothers and the director of classics such as Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998) – though he was uncredited on both. This is exactly the kind of story he should have a hand in directing. It’s his bread and butter. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with Tricia Cooke as a writer, but she has so much talent backing her up that this is a great project to be her full-length feature-film debut.
3 – Lisa Frankenstein (2/9)

Director: Zelda Williams
Writer: Diablo Cody
Actors: Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Romance
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 41min
IMDb Blurb: A coming of RAGE love story about a teenager and her crush, who happens to be a corpse. After a set of horrific circumstances bring him back to life, the two embark on a journey to find love, happiness - and a few missing body parts.
Is it just me, or is Cole Sprouse (Riverdale, Five Feet Apart, The Suite Life on Deck) looking a little Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Tusk) in this trailer? It makes me wonder if we’re going to be seeing a transformation of his career. One of the things that made Johnny Depp so beloved at the height of his career was his ability to become literally anyone – or anything. He played such iconic characters because he became them so completely that it was almost impossible to tell there was an actor under there.
Sprouse is the full incarnation of his character in the trailer for Lisa Frankenstein. I even had to do a second watch-through when I saw his name come up, because I didn’t believe it. I think that bodes incredibly well for this creative flick.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Lisa Frankenstein is directed by the lovely Zelda Williams (Kappa Kappa Die, Shrimp, Dark/Web). If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it should be. She’s the daughter of the late legendary Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Birdcage). I cannot wait to see what she does. I want to see her succeed more than most.
2 – The Promised Land (2/2)

Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writer: Nikolaj Arcel, Anders Thomas Jensen, Ida Jessen
Actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Amanda Collin, Gustav Lindh
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rated: R
Length: 2h 7min
IMDb Blurb: The story of Ludvig Kahlen who pursued his lifelong dream: To make the heath bring him wealth and honor.
There is probably no more perfect part for Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, The Hunt, Another Round) than this. He gets to highlight his intensity and flex his drama chops. Even if the rest of the creative team were lesser, Mikkelsen could carry the whole thing. Luckily, that’s not even the case.
Nikolaj Arcel (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Journal 64, Riders of Justice) is a celebrated director with some amazing work under his belt, while Anders Thomas Jensen (Riders of Justice, Held for Ransom, Mikavlerne) has written some incredible work – winning 40 awards in total. The cast is no worse, with Amanda Collin (Raised by Wolves, Fathers and Mothers, A Horrible Woman) and Gustav Lindh (Burn All My Letters, Riders of Justice, Top Dog) having incredible past filmographies where they’ve been responsible for some outstanding work.
Even though The Promised Land is based on a true story and is technically a biography, the trailer doesn’t feel like it. That keeps it from feeling as overdone as some biopics can.
1 – Argylle (2/2)

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jacon Fuchs
Actors: Sofia Boutella, Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ariana DeBose, Sam Rockwell, John Cena, Samuel L. Jackson, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 2h 19min
IMDb Blurb: An introverted spy novelist is drawn into the activities of a sinister underground syndicate.
Nothing will keep me from devouring a Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) directed film. In fact, that’s one of the easiest ways to get on to my ‘must see’ list. His films are so clean and vivid. The action in them is phenomenally choreographed. Immersion is at its peak in a Vaughn flick.
Sure, they’re usually popcorn films, but they are the highest quality popcorn flicks with flawless escapism. I never miss a Matthew Vaughn film.
Movies to Look out For
According to: Cat
Molli and Max in the Future .20
 Upgraded .19
 Marmalade .18
Red Right Hand .17
 Players .16
 Float .15
Stopmotion .14
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: To the Hashira Training .13
 Popular Theory .12
Lights Out .11
 Orion and the Dark .10
Bob Marley: One Love .9
Out of Darkness .8
No Way Out .7
 Drive-Away Dolls .6
 Land of Bad .5
Lisa Frankenstein .4
Madame Web .3
 Code 8: Part II .2
 Argylle .1
          What makes a movie eligible for Trust the Dice’s Top 20?

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