BIG-SCREEN SE­QUEL CRAZE CON­TIN­UES UN­ABATED

Creepy girl re­turns in Rings and Train­ing Day gets the TV treat­ment, writes Chris Lackner.

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MOVIES

Big re­leases on Feb. 3: Rings; The

Space Be­tween Us.

Big pic­ture: The 2017 vi­ral case of se­queli­tis keeps spread­ing. Fit­tingly, this week in the hor­ror genre. The creepy, crawl­ing, sop­ping well girl is back — the one that still haunts your night­mares from 2002’s Ring.

Ghost girl is back to ooze, climb and slip her way through more screens. On one hand, with the promi­nence of flat-screen TV’s, the tiny de­mon’s job has got far eas­ier. On the other hand, does she have to shrink down to Smurf size when her cursed video is played on tablets and smart­phones? (And what hap­pens if you post the deadly clip on your Face­book feed? Does anti-Casper claw her way out of all your friends’ screens si­mul­ta­ne­ously seven days af­ter they “liked” your video in a scrolling daze? On a side note, I think I just hashed movie No. 3.) With­out re­veal­ing too much, Rings finds our vi­ral phan­tom killing ma­chine more am­bi­tious: She wants to be re­born.

Mean­while, The Space Be­tween Us is just like The Mar­tian only with 14 more peo­ple, plus a heart­felt teenage on­line love story. An astro­naut dies in child­birth on Mars, thus be­gin­ning the out-ofthis-world life of Gard­ner El­liot (Asa But­ter­field) — a quirky, bril­liant kid who reaches age 16 hav­ing only met 14 other peo­ple on Mars. His on­line friend­ship with an ec­cen­tric Earth­ling girl named Tulsa leads to a seem­ingly doomed love af­fair once Gard­ner fi­nally gets to visit Ma’s na­tive soil. Sadly, Gard­ner’s Red Planet or­gans can’t han­dle our at­mos­phere, so he races against time to fall in love, and find his fa­ther. This movie makes the phrase “I love you to the moon and back” seem like a hand­shake. Fore­cast: Rings will rule them all, but it was an un­nec­es­sary se­quel. I would have pre­ferred Rings as a meta ur­ban fan­tasy in which we learn that Sau­ron and Mid­dleEarth are real, and his mon­strous armies cross into our world to con­quer Lower-Earth. Sure, Sau­ron is pure evil. But in an age of “al­ter­na­tive facts” and “fake news,” I think he’d be a re­fresh­ingly straight-shoot­ing plan­e­tary em­peror. (I also would have ac­cepted a spe­cial Feb. 2 re­lease of Ground­hog Day 2. I’d pay a small for­tune for the comedic plea­sures of watch­ing Bill Mur­ray es­cape an­other time loop.)

Big events: Pow­er­less (Feb. 2, NBC); Train­ing Day (Feb. 2, CBS/ CTV); Santa Clarita Diet (Feb. 3, Net­flix); 24: Legacy (Feb. 5, af­ter the Su­per Bowl).

Big pic­ture: Pow­er­less is a work­place com­edy set in a world of caped cru­saders and be­ings faster than a speed­ing bul­let, but it fo­cuses on the or­di­nary folks who have to deal with the colos­sal mess su­per­heroes leave be­hind. A top-notch cast brings to life the char­ac­ters in a spe­cial claims ad­justers of­fice as they safe­guard the world against souped-up calami­ties. Vanessa Hud­gens and the ever-re­li­able Danny Pudi (Com­mu­nity) an­chor the se­ries, set in the DC Comics uni­verse. Watch these in­sur­ance champs make state­ments like, “I want to nail Aqua­man so hard,” and de­bate whether Won­der Wo­man­in­flicted dam­age clas­si­fies as an act of God given she is only a demi-god.

Mean­while, speak­ing of re­makes you could do with­out, Train­ing Day re­hashes the 2001 Den­zel Wash­ing­ton ve­hi­cle into a drama about an ide­al­is­tic rookie cop and his cor­rupt, ef­fec­tive vet­eran part­ner (Bill Pax­ton). Ex­pect edgy bro­man­tic ban­ter like, “Po­lice work is like sex: It’s more ef­fec­tive when it isn’t pretty.”

Fi­nally, Drew Bar­ry­more phones home in the dark Net­flix hor­ror-com­edy, Santa Clarita Diet. She plays a real es­tate agent turned into a mur­der­ous pseudo-zom­bie. Her loyal hus­band (Timothy Olyphant) and chil­dren de­cide to help feed and cover up their su­per­mom’s new habit. The pro side of be­ing un­dead? Ma has end­less en­ergy, only needs two hours sleep and can sud­denly par­al­lel park with con­fi­dence.

On the other hand, she also chows down on hu­man limbs like corn on the cob. In an ode to Dex­ter, the sub­ur­ban four­some opt to kill peo­ple who de­serve it be­cause “the fam­ily that slays to­gether stays to­gether.”

An on to a fi­nal re­boot in 24: Legacy, Jack Bauer’s long, ter­ri­ble days are fi­nally in­flicted on a new­comer Corey Hawkins (The Walk­ing Dead). The drama moves to its reg­u­lar Mon­day slot on Feb. 6.

Fore­cast: Pow­er­less will soar up, up and away, and Santa Clarita Diet will have bite. As for 24: Legacy, we now all live in a re­al­ity show called 48 (Months) where the daily lies, plot twists, dan­gers and melo­drama beat any­thing 24 will ever de­liver on­screen.

MU­SIC

Big re­leases on Feb. 3: Big Wreck (Grace); Big Sean (I De­cided); Rose Cousins (Nat­u­ral Con­clu­sion).

Big pic­ture: It’s a big week for Big acts. First, frontman Ian Thorn­ley and com­pany re­lease their third ef­fort since their 2010 re­union, in­clud­ing the epic in­stru­men­tal Sky­bunk Marché. Mean­while, pop­u­lar Detroit rap­per Big Sean re­leases an al­bum cen­tred on his rein­ven­tion and re­birth (once she’s out of her ghastly pur­ga­tory, Sean and the Ring Girl should re­ally do lunch).

But the best bet this week is Hal­i­fax’s Rose Cousins, an East Coast coun­tri­fied folk-pop singer with siren vo­cals. This is her first stu­dio al­bum in five years. The last won net­ted a Juno Award.

Fore­cast: My nat­u­ral con­clu­sion is to lis­ten to Cousins. (Ques­tion: Now that Trump is pres­i­dent, should ev­ery mu­si­cian with the word Big in their name change it to Huge? Dis­cuss).

NET­FLIX

Drew Bar­ry­more stars in Santa Clarita Diet, out Feb. 3 on Net­flix.

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