IMDb Picks: February

by IMDb-Editors | created - 16 Jan 2015 | updated - 31 Jan 2015 | Public
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1. Jupiter Ascending (2015)

12 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

40 Metascore

A young woman discovers her destiny as an heiress of intergalactic nobility and must fight to protect the inhabitants of Earth from an ancient and destructive industry.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean

Votes: 162,651 | Gross: $47.39M

Jupiter Ascending has had a bumpy road to the big screen: at the last minute, the Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic was bumped from its prime July 2014 release date back to this less prestigious February slot. Since then, much of the word surrounding the movie has focused on how silly much of it looks, and what a costly misfire it’s sure to be.

Regardless, I’m still excited to check this one out. The Wachowskis have struggled to deliver a hit in recent years, but they could still hit a home run any time they step up to the plate; Jupiter Ascending is their first original movie since The Matrix, and we all know how that turned out.

And hey, even if the story doesn’t quite work – and there’s enough reason to believe that’s the case – it seems pretty clear at this point that the movie will feature some of the most spectacular sci-fi visuals in years. That alone should be worth the price of admission.

-Ray

Release Info: Opens in theaters on February 6th

2. Ballet 422 (2014)

PG | 75 min | Documentary, Music, Sport

74 Metascore

From first rehearsal to world premiere, Ballet 422 takes us backstage at New York City Ballet as emerging choreographer Justin Peck crafts a new work.

Director: Jody Lee Lipes | Stars: Justin Peck, Tiler Peck, Sterling Hyltin, Amar Ramasar

Votes: 1,024 | Gross: $0.33M

Frederick Wiseman and Shirley Clarke are two of my favorite documentarians; when I saw that reviews of this project by Jody Lee Lipes's invoked the names of those two filmmakers, I added it to my list of must-see-in-a-theater-not-at-home-on-Netflix movies.

-Arno

Release Info: Opens in theaters on February 6th

3. Better Call Saul (2015– )

16 | 46 min | Crime, Drama

The trials and tribulations of criminal lawyer, Jimmy McGill, in the time leading up to establishing his strip-mall law office in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Stars: Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks, Patrick Fabian

Votes: 235,249

On "Breaking Bad", when Walter White's problems grew to be bigger than he could handle, he decided to enlist the services of an unctuous, law-bending attorney named Saul Goodman. But before Saul was the guy you called, he was a down-on-his-luck attorney named Jimmy McGill -- and he actually had his good points.

"Better Call Saul" is an interesting proposition: it asks viewers to understand how a man who strives to do the right thing, and to be even be good at times, comes to embrace the darker territory of grey ethical areas.

Odenkirk’s nuanced performance gives us a different view of the man who becomes Saul Goodman, with just enough shades of the character we eventually came to know. Mind you, "Saul" does stand on its own as a series, but "Breaking Bad" fans will enjoy the appearance of familiar characters within the first season. --Melanie McFarland

Series Premiere: 10pm Sunday, February 8. Regular timeslot is 10pm Mondays starting February 9, on AMC

4. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

12 | 279 min | Documentary, Crime

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki examines the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon Robert Durst, the key suspect in a series of unsolved crimes.

Stars: Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki, Gary Napoli, Debra Kay Anderson

Votes: 31,435

The television industry is churning out plenty of content to capitalize on the success of public radio's monstrously popular "Serial" podcast. And while this series was in the making years before Sarah Koenig began producing her episodes, it's a good bet that anyone who was addicted to "Serial" will be hooked into "The Jinx." Heck, people who don't even know what a podcast will likely be fascinated by the story of Robert Durst: he's the scion of a billionaire real estate family who has been suspected of committing three murders over the past three decades, each under bizarre circumstances, and yet he was never convicted.

Elevating this above the average true crime treatment is the fact that it's directed by Andrew Jarecki, who gave us the Oscar-nominated Capturing the Friedmans. Just as he did in that film, Jarecki leaves plenty of room for the audience to draw its own conclusions about the cases, and simply lets the footage and his interview subjects -- including Durst -- speak for themselves. The result will likely be one of the most fascinating television pieces we'll see this year. --Melanie McFarland

Premieres: 8pm Sunday, February 8th on HBO.

5. Fresh Off the Boat (2015– )

22 min | Comedy

A Taiwanese family makes their way in America during the 1990s.

Stars: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler

Votes: 18,063

Comedies and dramas that deftly employ universal themes and humor that resonate with the wider audience, featuring minority-led casts that don't ignore said cast's ethnicity, are still uncommon. Because of this, the fact that "Fresh Off the Boat" is able to remain true to the Huang family's cultural identity while incorporating storylines anyone can relate to, and landing some terrific punchlines along the way, is a true accomplishment in network television.

Just as significantly, "Fresh Off the Boat" happens to be really funny. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing what the writers cook up for the show's youngest star Ian Chen, who takes the bits that he's given -- including representing his mother at various community gossip klatches -- and spins them into the best moments of each episode.

Granted, this comedy isn't perfect; few are, right out of the gate. But there's enough there to make me champion "Fresh" and hope that it inspires more series like it. --Melanie McFarland

Premieres: 8:30pm and 9:30pm Wednesday, February 4 on ABC. Regular timeslot: 8pm Tuesday, February 10.

Read more about "Fresh Off the Boat" on the IMDbTV Blog

6. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

16 | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

60 Metascore

A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

Director: Matthew Vaughn | Stars: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine

Votes: 526,046 | Gross: $128.26M

Kingsman: The Secret Service is director Matthew Vaughn’s fifth feature, and the movie’s R-rated spy action seems like a natural extension of the work he did on X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass and Layer Cake. The Layer Cake connection is particularly interesting, given that that movie essentially served as Daniel Craig’s James Bond audition tape.

On its own, Kingsman looks like a total blast -- fun, funny, exciting, original. Add in the fact that early reviews have been incredibly enthusiastic, and this is without question my most anticipated movie of the month of February.

-Ray

Release Info: Opens in theaters on February 13th

7. Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

R | 125 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

46 Metascore

Literature student Anastasia Steele's life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson | Stars: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford

Votes: 271,163 | Gross: $166.17M

Since I missed out on the novel's phenomenon -- if you must know, I was tied to a bed for months on end, blindfolded -- I'm going to take advantage of sitting in a movie theater full of fanatics who are curious to see how Christian and Anastasia translate to the screen. Personally, knowing that these fictional BDSM scenarios have generated so much attention and controversy in an era where you can stream pornography while waiting for the bus makes me feel as though we're moving backwards as a culture; it's been 40+ years since Behind the Green Door ushered in cinema's golden age of porn, and just about about 20 years since we all started looking for it online. Maybe Jason Reitman should have directed this movie instead of Men, Woman & Children.

-Arno

Release Info: Opens in theaters on February 13th

8. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

16 | 86 min | Comedy, Horror

76 Metascore

Viago, Deacon and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane - like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs and overcoming flatmate conflicts.

Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi | Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Jonny Brugh

Votes: 115,366 | Gross: $3.33M

It's got to be tough to sustain this type of character-based comedy for a feature-length movie, and every reviewer I follow and trust has indicated that Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have seriously honed their combined skills in the years since Eagle vs. Shark, which might now need a second look. The movie apparently breathes eternal life back into the vampire genre; I've even been quoting the trailer.

-Arno

Release Info: Opens in select cities on February 13th

9. Vikings (2013– )

16 | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Vikings transports us to the brutal and mysterious world of Ragnar Lothbrok, a Viking warrior and farmer who yearns to explore - and raid - the distant shores across the ocean.

Stars: Gustaf Skarsgård, Katheryn Winnick, Alexander Ludwig, Clive Standen

Votes: 312,383

When season two ended, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) had defeated the traitorous King Horik and held the sword of rulership. But with more power comes more problems, requiring battles to be waged in both England and on a new front, Paris, on top of fending off the usual betrayals from his own people.

"Vikings" is still an underappreciated TV series, but it does quite a bit with a smaller budget than "Game of Thrones," and its battle scenes can be just as brutal at times. But it's the performances by its cast, including Alexander Ludwig, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Jessalyn Gilsig and Katheryn Winnick as fan favorite Lagertha, that make this History series mandatory viewing for TV thrill-seekers. --Melanie McFarland

Premieres: 10pm Thursday, February 19 on History.

10. Maps to the Stars (2014)

16 | 111 min | Comedy, Drama

67 Metascore

A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack

Votes: 33,800 | Gross: $0.35M

David Cronenberg’s last two movies didn’t really click for me: A Dangerous Method never quite kicked in to gear, while Cosmopolis was a full on bore. When Maps to the Stars first premiered back at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, it was described as a companion piece of sorts to Cosmopolis, which suggested it may be similarly vexing.

As the dust settled and the movie’s release approached, though, it found its way back on my radar. Why? First, reviews are quite strong – it currently has a 72 rating on Metacritic, which is significantly higher than Cosmopolis’ 58 rating. Also, the marketing material has mostly connected for me: Julianne Moore looks like she’s in peak form (she received a Golden Globe nomination), and Cronenberg seems to have put together a truly unique (and unsettling) Hollywood satire.

With the Oscar contenders exiting theaters in late February, Maps to the Stars should be a strong choice for moviegoers looking for something different than the usual studio fare.

-Ray

Release Info: Opens in select cities on February 27th

11. The Lazarus Effect (2015)

16 | 83 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

31 Metascore

A group of medical researchers discover a way to bring dead patients back to life.

Director: David Gelb | Stars: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, Sarah Bolger

Votes: 35,767 | Gross: $25.80M

This kind of looks like a creepy cross between Flatliners and Pet Cemetery, but I was intrigued by the trailer. I am not usually drawn to horror films but the biggest appeal for me is the cast, including Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters, and Mark Duplass. I will definitely check this one out.

  • Michelle


Release Info: Opens in select cities on February 27th



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