When it comes to film debuts, January historically has been perceived as a dumping ground for dull releases that are expected to tank at the box office. The movies in theaters this weekend do little to dispel that perception.
"Parker," Movie 43," and "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" hit theaters Friday, and all three have earned largely negative reviews.
"Parker," starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, would typically be considered box-office bait. Yet the film has received little promotion, and although Statham has long been a fan favorite, Lopez hasn't lured audiences to theaters in some time. It doesn't help that the movie is garnering so-so reviews.
Indiewire's Drew Taylor noted that the film "gets bogged down in inane plot mechanics and baffling leaps in logic."
Luke Mullen of Film School Rejects called the crime thriller "perpetually bland."
Meanwhile, the first reviews of "Movie 43" appeared on the Web Friday afternoon because the movie was not screened for the press in advance, apparently for good reason.
Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter described it as "witlessly profane" and an "utter disaster." He also labeled the comedy "one of the worst films of all time."
"If you mashed-up the worst parts of the infamous 'Howard the Duck,' 'Gigli,' 'Ishtar,' and every other awful movie I’ve seen since I started reviewing professionally in 1981, said the New York Post's Lou Lumenick, "it wouldn’t begin to approach the sheer soul-sucking badness of the cringe-inducing 'Movie 43,' which has been dumped on an unsuspecting public without advance press screenings."
The gross-out comedy has an all-star cast that includes Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman, and Kate Winslet, but almost none of the film's big-name talent has come out to promote it.
The movie has been dubbed the one "Hollywood's A-List Wants To Forget," according to the New York Post.
Aside from Gerard Butler, most of the cast members who attended the movie's premiere were B-listers, as evidenced by a Yahoo Movies slideshow.
"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," which seemingly came out of nowhere, is also earning scathing reviews. Despite the fact that it stars two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner, who has appeared in a string of hits during the past few years, few observers expect the film to fare well in theaters.
"'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters' is not a good film -- it's inconsistently acted, and somehow both underwritten and overplotted," Andrew Barker of Variety wrote, "but it has some good things going for it. For one, it's not outrageously dumber than its revisionist fairy-tale predecessors 'Van Helsing,' 'Red Riding Hood,' or TV's 'Once Upon a Time,' and it's far more goofily violent."
Aside from the horror film "Mama," which earned favorable reviews and made its debut atop the box-office rankings, most of the major movies released this month -- such as "Broken City," "Gangster Squad," and "The Last Stand" -- have been major disappointments.