January 2012 Movie Preview: 'Haywire', 'Underworld: Awakening', and more!

If any thing can be said about the first month of the year, it's that January is a great time to catch up on movies you may have missed out on in December. While the studios are preparing their award campaigns, what are released (or dumped, depending how you look at things) in theaters are movies from the horror or thriller genre which would normally be drowned out by more polished products if released during any other month. February is no better, but we'll leave that for next month's preview.

Scanning through January's release schedule is like walking through the direct-to-video isle of the rental store, when those were still around. Lots and lots of inextinguishable boxes of movies starring people you've never heard of, but there a few with names you'll recognize either from something recent or, mostly likely, from years back when they were in something much better.

Not all is chaff, however. There may be a couple of gems hidden in here somewhere. Let's sift through them and see if we can find any.

January 6

The Devil Inside | Photos
The Devil Inside
In The Devil Inside, a woman's mother has been possessed by not one, but four demons. Expect the possessed woman to cycle between these four personalities while spouting threats and profanities because that's what demons do. As horror movies go, you can do much worse. As to whether or not the all demons will be driven away from this poor woman, I bet we'll have to wait for the inevitable sequel to find out if this movie somehow becomes an unexpected box office hit.

Beneath the Darkness | Photos
Beneath the Darkness
Look, it's Dennis Quaid! You probably remember him from The Parent Trap, starring a young Lindsay Lohan before she turned into the tabloid fodder we have right now. Here, he plays a serial killer who's trying to hide his extracurricular activities from a bunch of teens out to expose him. I bet he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids! As for the movie's outlook, unless you're a fan of anyone in the movie, there are better ways to spend a couple of hours.

January 13

Beauty and the Beast in 3D | Photos
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast was produced between a time in the late 80s and early 90s when Disney had complete mastery over animated musicals. The problem was, that's pretty much all they were churning out. They got the formula down pat but the fatigue factor was apparent with the critics if not with the audience. That's why when Pixar's Toy Story came along, it was like a breath of fresh air. Now many years later, Beauty and the Beast returns to theaters in 3D. If you love movies, Beauty and the Beast is one that shouldn't be missed.

Contraband | Photos
With Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch far, far in his rearview mirror, Mark Wahlberg actually did all right for himself as an actor. His movies are usually serviceable and that's what Contraband looks like. It won't wow you with anything you haven't seen before, but it won't make you feel like you've wasted your time either. Like I've said, serviceable.

Joyful Noise | Photos
Joyful Noise
There's not much to say about Joyful Noise except that you should know right away whether or not this movie will appeal to you. Uplifting? You bet. Light, fluffy, and inconsequential? Can I get an Amen? Despite that, however, Joyful Noise looks like it might leave you with a smile on your face if you know what you're getting into.

The Divide | Photos
The Divide
If you like movies where people screams and do nasty things to one another, The Divide is your kind of movie. If not, you'll know how these post-apocalyptic survivors feel half an hour in: trapped in a situation that's only going to get worse and looking desperately for a way out. Rosanna Arquette and Michael Biehn of The Terminator and Aliens fame are the only named actors in the movie.

January 20

Underworld: Awakening | Photos
Underworld: Awakening
Kate Beckinsale is back in black as the vampire warrior Selene who usually points her twin pistols at vampires or werewolves, but in Underworld: Awakening, humans and whatever resulted from their genetic experiments will meet the business ends of her little friends. Since this is the fourth movie in the franchise, there won't be any surprises here. It's still Selene, in her tight-fitting outfit, taking down the final boss, whoever it may be.

Haywire | Photos
We may have hit pay dirt for January! Haywire stars former MMA fighter Gina Carano as this super badass secret agent out to take revenge on those who've set her up. Gina Carano's character is basically the female counterpart to Jason Bourne, but that's not why you ought to check out the movie. What makes Haywire so intriguing is all the talent behind it. It is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Fassbender. The screenplay is written by the same guy who've wrote Dark City and The Limey. Even if the movie is a failure, it'll be an interesting failure to say the least.

Red Tails | Photos
Red Tails
The first thing you'll probably hear about Red Tails is that it's produced and financed by George Lucas and that the movie is twenty odd years in the making. Other than that bit of trivia, Red Tails looks like your typical run-of-the-mill, patriotic war movie. Those looking for quality aerial dog fights should definitely put Red Tails on their radar because ILM is behind the effects.

January 27

Man on a Ledge | Photos
Man on a Ledge
Sam Worthington plays an ex-convict who claims he had been falsely accused of a crime he did not commit. The trailer should tell you all you need to know whether he's telling the truth or not and who the real culprit is. The rest is details. With Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Genesis Rodriguez, and Ed Harris in tow, Man on a Ledge should be a pleasant diversion.

One for the Money | Photos
One for the Money
Knocked Up's Katherine Heigl stars as a recent divorcee and bounty hunter who has to bring in a man from her romantic past. Will sparks fly between them, you think? Unfortunately, One for the Money doesn't look particularly romantic or funny. The movie is based on a best selling novel by Janet Evanovich. Maybe read that instead?

The Grey | Photos
The Grey
It's man vs wild, or in The Grey's case, it's man vs wild and wolves. Liam Neeson stars as one of the survivors of a plane crash whose difficult trek back to civilization is hampered not only by the cruel Alaskan winter, but by hungery wolves as well. Neeson will have to go into beast mode to get back alive, and we all want to see Neeson in beast mode, right? The Grey should be a decent survival-horror movie, provide you're into that.

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