Movie-lovers, we've finally made it: the dark fall films have been released and now we're moving into lighter, more fun content. While spring films normally have brighter content as a lead-in to a fantastic season of summer movies, there will still be some jam-packed action films coming our way in the next couple of months.
"Fifty Shades Darker" (Feb. 10)
The sequel to "Fifty Shades of Grey" shows Ana (Dakota Johnson) trying to move on from her relationship with the BDSM-loving Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). However, Christian convinces Ana to give him a second chance on her own terms. As they pursue their new relationship, a mysterious person from Christian's past threatens not only their love, but also their safety. The first film in the "Fifty Shades" series was universally panned for the writing, direction and acting, and there shouldn't be high hopes that the second film should be any better.
Prediction: D+ (but with major hype)
"Everybody Loves Somebody" (Feb. 17)
Karla Souza from "How to Get Away With Murder" is making the jump from the small screen to the big screen in this feel-good romantic comedy. Souza plays Clara, a successful woman who has it all: except her love life. When she invites her co-worker (Ben O'Toole) to pose as her boyfriend when she attends a family wedding in Mexico, she's shocked to see her ex-boyfriend (K.C. Clyde), who disappeared many years prior. The typical movie cliché of Clara being forced to decide between the two is in play, but this cute film is definitely something to check out during Valentine's Day weekend.
"Fist Fight" (Feb. 17)
Ron (Ice Cube) is incensed after his mild-mannered co-worker Andy (Charlie Day) accidentally gets him fired from his teaching position. He challenges Andy to a fistfight in front of the entire school, ensuing hilarious chaos. While the movie seems like a typical comedy film, Ice Cube is hilarious in everything he is in, and I have hopes that this movie will provide all the laughs we need.
"Leap!" (March 3)
Also known as "Ballerina!" in France, "Leap!" is a film about a poor orphaned girl Félicie (Elle Fanning) who dreams of becoming a ballerina. Her hopes may come true when she gets a chance to audition for the Paris Opera Ballet. The film also stars the voices of Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepson and Dane DeHaan. While the film is clearly kid-friendly, college students (especially dancers!) should check this film out.
"Kong: Skull Island" (March 10)
Legendary Pictures is taking a shot at rebooting the "King Kong" franchise. Set in the 1970s, a team of explorers set out to explore a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, completely unaware that the fantastic ape Kong rules the island. Set to star are Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell and more. Previous reboots of the "Kong" franchise have been either a hit or a miss, but this film looks to be a hit.
"Beauty and the Beast" (March 17)
Twenty-six years later, the live-action version of the beloved animated Disney film is finally here. Emma Watson looks to shine as Belle, who is taken prisoner by a ferocious Beast (Dan Stevens) in exchange for her father Maurice's (Kevin Kline) freedom. While locked away in his enchanted castle, she discovers that he and the other inhabitants are cursed and it will take true love for the Beast to human form. As both Belle and the Beast learn to look beyond first impressions, the narcissistic hunter Gaston (Luke Evans) seeks to kill the Beast and have Belle for himself. This live-action version looks absolutely fantastic, and can definitely see it superseding the original animated film.
"Smurfs: The Lost Village" (April 7)
The third installment in the live-action "Smurfs" films looks to serve as not only a family-fun movie, but also one that college students can go and see with their friends if they want to be entertained. In this film, Smurfette (Demi Lovato) finds a mysterious map that leads to a lost village. She and her friends must discover this village before the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) does.
"The Fate of the Furious" (April 14)
Serving as the eighth film in the "Fast & Furious" series and a sequel to 2015's "Furious 7," the Furious team has settled into normalcy and left their racing lives behind. However, a mysterious woman weaves Dom (Vin Diesel) back into the world of crime, threatening everyone close to him. This is the first "Furious" film Paul Walker due to his death, but fans should have no qualms about the success of this film.
"Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2" (May 5)
Serving as the sequel to the 2014 film "Guardians of the Galaxy," the Guardians team travels through the universe and tries to keep their family together. With a star-studded cast – Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, and more – this film will hopefully not disappoint.
After two years of delays, the "Pirates" crew is back – and so is Orlando Bloom as Davy Jones/Will Turner. Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) is stalked by an old rival, Capitan Salazar (Javier Bardem), a ghost pirate who, along with his ghost crew, aims to kill every pirate at sea. Jack turns to Will and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) for backup. While sadly the film is missing Keira Knightley, it looks to return to the original fun that "Curse of the Black Pearl" had.
Reach staff reporter Adrianne Ramsey here.