Each week on Atom Insider, we’re giving you the heads up on the biggest and most talked about films arriving in theaters. This week, female stars rule Valentine’s Day with sci-fi spectacle, a horror comedy, and, of course, a romantic comedy.
Don’t Underestimate Alita
Alita: Battle Angel has been a massive question mark for 20th Century Fox since it started development. James Cameron has wanted to make this film for at least 20 years, ever since Guillermo Del Toro brought the manga to his attention. All this time later, Cameron is producing and co-writing the screenplay with Robert Rodriguez directing, but to be honest, most of us have been expecting the type of film Cameron is known for: a big, bold CGI effects machine with mainstream appeal.
But the hype has been somewhat dampened in the last year because the film was delayed from July 2018 to…well, right now. There have been reports of budget issues and the post-production needing more time, and yeah, you can try to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is the sort of “new franchise” you don’t want to release in a heavily competitive summer season full of existing franchises. And if the international box office is any indication, this might have been a smart move, because Alita: Battle Angel is already performing pretty well in those markets now that the December blockbusters are winding down.
Here in the States, it’s up in the air how Alita will do with audiences, but Fox clearly has confidence considering how many theaters they’re giving the film. February has been a good luck charm for Fox with releases like Deadpool, Logan, and let’s not forget the first Kingsman. But critics are a bit mixed (skewing positive) on Alita, and it’s unclear if audiences will feel just as uncertain. As someone who actually enjoyed the film quite a bit and even recommend it, I have a feeling it will surprise a lot of people.
Happy Death Day 2U Lives, Dies, And Repeats
Fun fact, I predicted this would be the name of the film a while back, and the director announced and confirmed this as the title on my Twitter thread. Weird flex, I know, but that goes to show how long I (and many others) have been waiting for this sequel from Blumhouse to arrive, despite not knowing much about it until pretty recently.
The first Happy Death Day was a big surprise for slasher fans, because it was the type of “scary, but basically a comedy” film that Sam Raimi helped bring into mainstream culture with Evil Dead. Jessica Rothe returns in the sequel, which repeats the “time loop” formula where she’s forced to repeat the day of her murder over and over again like some murderous Groundhog’s Day, but this time with a few new twists that include her friends also dying around campus.
Once again, Christopher B. Landon writes and directs (he also wrote my favorite Paranormal Activity films), so you get the sense that Happy Death Day 2U will be a familiar, but welcome return to this world of poisonous cupcakes and creepy baby masks. Sure, it’s not coming out on Friday the 13th like the last film, but what better time to celebrate horror than on Valentine’s Day?
Is It Romantic, Or Is It Just Fantasy?
With Lego Movie 2 still out in theaters, Warner Bros. is continuing their “meta” streak this month with Isn’t it Romantic, a romantic comedy that parodies romantic comedies (think They Came Together, but starring Rebel Wilson). The concept itself is definitely interesting and a good idea for a Valentine’s Day release, because the joke is that Wilson’s character wakes up in a world governed by rom-com tropes and clichés. For example, her “sex scenes” with Liam Hemsworth are always cut short because of the PG-13 rating, so she keeps waking up afterward with no memory of what happened. Brutal.
Like the other wide releases coming out this weekend, Isn’t It Romantic is getting pretty mixed responses from critics, but that probably won’t stop a lot of couples and romantic comedy fans from checking this one out for a few laughs. Wilson has made a name for herself in goofball comedies like this thanks to Pitch Perfect, so as a leading lady, I can definitely see audiences coming out to see how well she carries a film on her own.
In (Select) Theaters this Weekend: Fighting With My Family
We’ll talk more about this one next week, but if Fighting With My Family happens to be in your neighborhood this weekend, you’ve got a solid wrestling family comedy to add to your watchlist. It hits limited release this Friday then expands wide on February 22.
Stay tuned next week for our recap of how these movies fared at the box office. To get tickets to these movies and more, head to the Atom Tickets homepage.
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