Buy, Rent, or Wait: February 2021

Theatrical releases are still a bit of a rarity due to the impact of the pandemic, which means that it can be difficult to learn which films are coming out soon as they’re now delivered through various different platforms. So we’re casting our eyes further afield than just your traditional cinema to find five upcoming new releases for the month. Some will still find their way to the silver screen, but others will be available from the comfort of your home. Our job will be to make wild guesses based on their synopsis and trailer as to whether they’ll worth your time, separating them into one of three categories:

Buy: This film is worth multiple viewings and maybe even a purchase of a hardcopy!

Rent: A movie in this category will be worth the cost of admission, whether that’s an actual ticket or a few dollars as a video on demand.

Wait: This means the film isn’t really worth any additional effort on your part. If you happen to catch it on broadcast television or on a streaming service you’re already paying, then maybe it’ll be worth your time. Or maybe not even that!

So let’s see what February 2021 has to offer!

Last Month’s Results

Before we get to our film predictions, let us take a look at the outcome of our January predictions!

1. Pieces of a Woman

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 76%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 88%

IMDB Score: 7.1

I’m genuinely surprised audiences rated this film higher than critics. Pieces of a Woman addressed a brutal yet crucial topic rarely seen in cinema, although it sadly lags in the middle. It’s certainly worth a look, though it’s not a film you’ll want to revisit any time soon. 

2. Hunted

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 60%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: Unavailable

IMDB Score: 5.4

This intriguing horror film featured a reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood, though it ultimately would only appeal to fans of the genre. 

Our review!

3. The Marksman

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 34%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 86%

IMDB Score: 5.9

Box Office

Budget: $23 million

Worldwide: $8.5 million

The box office earnings look a little sad, though it’s still early days for this film. Regardless, many critics have claimed The Marksman as merely a bland, serviceable action flick, which might be everything the public wants right now anyway. 

4. The White Tiger

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 91%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 81%

IMDB Score: 7.2

The winner for the month, The White Tiger offered an unconventional rags to riches story, littered with biting commentary on India’s (and the world’s) classist societal structure. It’s a tough watch at times, and the film’s morals get a little dirty, but it’s an eye-opening film that’s worthy of your time. 

5. The Little Things

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 47%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 64%

IMDB Score: 6.3

Despite attracting an award-winning cast, The Little Things still manages to fall flat, spinning an endless murder mystery filled with plot holes and unearned twists. 

And now for the films releasing this month!

Earwig and the Witch

Rating: PG

Release Date: February 4, 2021

Distribution: HBO Max

Synopsis: It follows an orphan girl, Earwig, who is adopted by a witch and comes home to a spooky house filled with mystery and magic. (IMDB).

Director: Gorô Miyazaki

Starring: JB Blanc, Thomas Bromhead, Alex Cartañá

There are a handful of family-friendly films coming out this month (Flora & Ulysses on Disney+ and Tom and Jerry in cinemas and HBO Max), though it’s Studio Ghibli’s latest movie, Earwig and the Witch, which has captured everyone’s attention. Most notably, it’s the animation company’s first foray into CGI animation, stepping away from their award-winning 2D style. Expect to see a lot of review bombing occurring on IMDB over this fact alone. It is a bit of a shame; Ghibli’s gorgeous traditional style of animation was one of their brand’s defining features, which means this film will need to have a strong narrative that has the ability to weather such a controversial change in direction. Unfortunately I don’t think Earwig and the Witch’s story will be powerful enough to blast the critics away. It does feel a little bland and it doesn’t help the CGI animation lacks the polish that makes Pixar the king in this field. Honestly, there’s not a lot that excites me here aside from the company name itself, and if I had a choice, I’d wait to see if it was worth investing money into seeing it.

Prediction: Wait

Sator

Rating: Not Rated

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Distribution: iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Microsoft

Synopsis: Secluded in a desolate forest, a broken family is observed by Sator, a supernatural entity who is attempting to claim them. (IMDB).

Director: Jordan Graham

Starring: Michael Daniel, Rachel Johnson, Aurora Lowe

Out of all the movies on this list, Sator feels like the wildcard of the bunch. Director Jordan Graham reports that Sator is a particularly personal horror film for him, dealing with the demons surrounding his family’s history of mental illness, even going as far to include home video footage in order to “create an interwoven piece between documentary and fiction”. I’m a sucker for documentary horror blends, so I’m really hoping he pulls this concept off as some clips in the trailer don’t look too flash. In terms of quality, it could range from nonsensical silly trash to intriguing cult classic, giving the topic a foreboding sense of seriousness in the vein of other niche films like Missing 411: The Hunted, The Ritual, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The topic of demons in itself is also divisive, where some films step too far into evil while others are oddly Christ affirming in their content. Here’s hoping that this one will at least be worth a look.

Prediction: Rent

To All the Boys: Always and Forever

Rating: TBA

Release Date: February 12, 2021

Distribution: Netflix

Synopsis: Continuing the romantic life of the teenage girl and facing her good and hard times with her friends and family. (IMDB).

Director: Michael Fimognari

Starring: Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Lana Condor

When it comes to February’s Netflix Original releases, there are two romance films that are generating some interest. Malcolm & Marie is the one catching eye of most critics, though I’d be lying if didn’t admit that I’m more excited about To All the Boys: Always and Forever. Third in a trilogy of films, I binged watched the first two last year and absolutely adored them. They’re just really sweet, slightly comedic fare that are simple and breezy to watch, complete with a wonderful and not tokenistic example of Korean-American representation. Like most trilogies, I think this last film will be the weakest of the three, but that doesn’t mean I won’t watch it. If these films came out as a triple pack on DVD, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, but since this movie won’t stand well on its own, I’m going to have to rate it as just a Rent.

Prediction: Rent

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: February 12, 2021

Distribution: Amazon Prime

Synopsis: Two teens who live the same day repeatedly, enabling them to create the titular map. (IMDB).

Director: Ian Samuels

Starring: Kathryn Newton, Kyle Allen, Josh Hamilton

Coming to Amazon this month are two quirky science-fiction movies. Bliss is getting more critical attention due to it being described as a blend between The Matrix and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, though as soon as I heard that The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is within the weird Groundhog Day subgenre, I was sold. This time around there are two people reliving the same day over and over, and yes, it’s a teen romance. I’m certainly intrigued as to what they’re going to add to this narrative format. It could fall flat in the end, but I’m going to be bold in my prediction and label it a Buy. The idea has the capacity to be a brilliant niche film that just hits all the right places, ending up being worthy of a rewatch or two.

Prediction: Buy

Nomadland

Rating: R

Release Date: February 19, 2021

Distribution: In cinemas and Hulu

Synopsis: After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. (IMDB).

Director: Chloé Zhao

Starring: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May

The Academy Awards season will be running a little late this year, but that doesn’t mean the buzz surrounding the Oscars isn’t already here. There are seemingly two films that are currently dominating the landscape: Minari (which is also releasing in February) and Nomadland. Given the film festival chaos that occurred last year, it’s impressive how many times Nomadland has managed to be screened up until now. It has certainly done the rounds, meaning that many film festival curators have wanted this movie to be part of their collection. Advertized as a compelling look into the lives of those who choose a nomadic lifestyle in the United States, there’s just too much positive press surrounding this film to ignore, making it at least worth a look. But is a buy? Critics have described the film as a mastery of minimalism, hypnotic in its delivery despite its lack of action, which essentially tells me this movie will be a novelty experience but one that won’t necessarily survive repeated viewings. It’s for that reason why I’m predicting this one as a Rent, even though Nomadland might have the capacity to take home Best Picture.

Prediction: Rent

Thanks for joining us for Buy, Rent, or WaitLet us know your predictions in the comment section. Join us in March for our next edition!

Are you looking forward to any of these films? What are your predictions? What film are you looking forward to most in February?

Juliana Purnell

After obtaining a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts, Juliana Purnell has enjoyed a successful acting career, working within theme parks, businesses, and on film sets. She has also taken on crew roles, both in film and theatrical productions. When Juliana isn't working, she enjoys watching movies of all genres at the cinema, writing, and playing with Samson, her pomeranian.

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