February packed with mixed bag of motion pictures

Hallee Berry in “Moonfall” / Tom Holland in “Uncharted” / Peter Dinklage in “Cyrano”

For the longest time, February was a fallow period for movie-goers. It was as if Hollywood saw its shadow and retreated from theaters.

It was a month when studios burned off movies in which they had no faith and/or little marketing budget for or re-released Oscar hopefuls to capitalize on the publicity of the nominations being announced.

Disney might re-release one of its animated classics for the kiddies or a new horror film might shamble its way to the screen, but that was about it.

However, with Hollywood continuing to deal with a backlog of movies whose openings were pushed aside by theater closings in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is actually a rather robust schedule of movies opening this month, even a few that might actually be good.

Here’s a rundown of some of the movies that will be making their way to theaters in February.

Moonfall – Feb. 4

The Master of Disaster Roland Emmerich, who directed the likes of “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow, and “2012,” somewhat ironically joined Martin Scorsese in talking down movies based on comic books this week while promoting his latest disaster flick “Moonfall,” which basically boasts a plot ripped off from sci-fi comics of the 1950s. That said, I’ll excuse a little self-righteous hypocrisy if he delivers a fun movie. Unfortunately, early reviews for “Moonfall,” which stars veterans of comic-book movies Hallee Berry (“X-Men” and “Catwoman”) and Patrick Wilson (“Watchmen” and “Aquaman”) along with John Bradley of “Game of Thrones” fame is receiving poor reviews. I’ll probably still see this one in theaters because of the special effects.

Jackass Forever – Feb. 4

I’d never suggest anyone go see a “Jackass” movie if they weren’t already inclined to do so. You either find this kind of “humor” and bodily injury funny or you don’t. While I’m not proud to admit it, I’ve rolled with laughter while watching each of the “Jackass” movies, which feature Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, and the rest of their gang performing outrageously dangerous stunts, skits, and antics. To me it’s like watching a modern version of the Three Stooges.

Death on the Nile – Feb. 11

This adaptation of the the 1937 Agatha Christie novel of the same name is a follow-up to 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” It finally hits theaters after being pushed back several times because of the pandemic and the sexual-abuse allegations against co-star Armie Hammer. Kenneth Branagh directs and stars as detective Hercule Poirot, who is once again called into action after a passenger is found dead on an Egyptian cruise. The all-star cast includes Tom Bateman, Annette Benning, Russell Brand, and Gal Gadot. Branagh is an excellent director and performer. This is my second-most anticipated movie of the month.

Marry Me – Feb. 11

While the plot seems like it was crafted for The Lifetime Channel, Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson are evidently movie stars with enough clout and charm to front this romantic comedy in theaters. I guess it’s aimed at the crowd celebrating Valentine’s Day a bit early? Lopez plays Kat Valdez, a pop star who is supposed to accept the public proposal of her equally famous collaborator Bastian (Maluma) on stage. However when she learns he has been fiddling around on her, Kat turns the tables and makes a snap proposal to Wilson’s Charlie, who is attending the show with his daughter. Believe it or not, this is a comic-book movie. It’s based on the webcomic by Bobby Crosby and Remy “Esisu” Mokhthar of the same name.

Blacklight – Feb. 11

Liam Neeson has become a latter-day Clint Eastwood with the way he churns out action-revenge movies. In his latest, Neeson plays Travis Block, a shadowy government agency fixer, who does the dirty work other operatives can’t do. When he discovers a conspiracy, he and his family’s lives are put in jeopardy, and I’m guessing he uses a “certain set of skills” to make things right. While I’m a sucker for this type of action flick, Neeson is slumming in these movies. He’s fine actor. Couldn’t he be doing something better than sleepwalking through a movie he’s made half a dozen times before?

Dog – Feb. 18

Channing Tatum might not have the greatest range in Hollywood, but the star has an undeniable amount of charm and charisma. In his latest film “Dog”, his talents will also be on display behind the camera as he co-directs with Reid Carolin. In the family-friendly movie, Tatum plays an Army Ranger tasked with escorting a dog named Lulu across country to attend the funeral of its former owner. Comedian Bill Burr and Q’orianka Kilcher also star.

Uncharted – Feb. 18

With his smash hit “Spider-Man No Way Home” likely still in theaters on Feb. 18, Tom Holland has a chance of being the biggest box office draw two years running by playing Nathan Drake in “Uncharted,” a highly anticipated adaptation of an ultra-popular video game. Co-starring Mark Wahlberg as Sully, the film features the two on a high-stakes treasure hunt, while also seeking to learn what happened to Nate’s long-lost brother. The movie is directed by Ruben Fleischer and also stars Bryan Cranson and Antonio Banderas.

Cyrano – Feb. 25

“Cyrano” is my most anticipated film opening February. This musical, based on Edmond Rostand’s classic play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” stars Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) as the talented poet who expresses his love for the lovely and intellectual Roxanne (Haley Bennett) by proxy of Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) because — in this version — he is embarrassed by his lack of height and social station.

The Batman – March 4

O.K., this is a cheat. Director Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” doesn’t open until March, but this film looks fantastic based on the trailers and other bits of footage that have been made public. The film reportedly clocks in at 2 hours and 57 minutes, with some labeling it as the “The Godfather” of super-hero movies. As with all castings of popular characters, it took fans time to get used to the idea of Robert Pattinson (“Twilight”) as Bruce Wayne/Batman. His civilian look is a bit gothy, but Pattison has proven his acting chops time and again over the last decade. I’m eager to see what he does with the character who squares off with the Riddler (Paul Dano), whom Reeves has reconceived with the Zodiac Killer in mind. Collin Farrell plays Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin, and Zoe Kravitz portrays Selina Kyle/Catwoman in this adventure set fairly early in the Dark Knight Detective’s career. There are internet rumors that the Joker might make some kind of appearance in the film. We’ll just have to see?

  New in Local Theaters

Jackass Forever (watch trailer) / (R) 1 hr. 36 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne

Moonfall (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 2 hr. 10 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight

Parallel Mothers (watch trailer) / (R) 2 hr. 3 min. / AMC Fiesta Square

Who Are We: A Chronicle of Racism in America (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 1 hr. 57 min. / AMC Fiesta Square