January is usually a pretty slow month for entertainment. I struggle to remember a January this slow, however. Any month where “Morbius” is the biggest release is a pretty slow one, and even that was delayed to April. Fortunately, a much more exciting February sits just on the horizon.
The “Scream” franchise has had a pretty rocky history, a stellar first entry with a middling follow-up, then a completely unhinged third film. There are as many bad “Scream”’s as good ones, but this fifth entry, disappointingly not titled “5cream,” looks promising. The core cast of the first four films is back as yet another guy in yet another mask is yet again stabbing people. Early preview reactions on social media have been very positive, so it seems that if no one else, horror fans will be well fed this month.
“Nobody Saves the World” is a silly cartoonish-looking action role-playing game from the developers behind “Guacamelee,” where players shift between different forms to fight monsters and hopefully save the world. The progression system, where forms can be unlocked and leveled up, caught my eye as providing a never-ending array of carrots-on-sticks to chase. The game will be available at no extra cost on Xbox Game Pass on Jan. 18.
“Rainbow Six Extraction” is a cooperative shooter that takes the gameplay and characters of the popular “Rainbow Six Siege” and places them into a very different environment. Instead of competing against other players as in “Siege,” teams will work to complete objectives in areas controlled by gross alien parasites. The characters and their abilities look to translate very nicely between the two settings, and as someone who enjoys “Siege,” but can’t compete with the people who play it, the notion of teaming up with friends and fighting computer-controlled aliens is appealing. “Extraction” will also be available as part of Xbox Game Pass at launch on Jan. 20.
The “Pokémon” games have arguably been the same since the 1996 originals. Over time the games have looked prettier, added and discarded new mechanics, but have grown stagnant with the same structure and the same combat. “Pokémon Legends: Arceus” is the first mainline entry to buck that trend. Set in a much more open world, with completely different mechanics for finding and capturing Pokémon, it has the opportunity to breathe fresh air into a franchise in desperate need. I’m hoping for something exciting and new when the game launches on Jan. 28.
Netflix kicks off the fourth season of “Ozark” on Jan. 21, and premieres “The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window” on Jan. 28. The latter is a very fun-seeming series satirizing thriller films and starring Kristen Bell as a woman who may have seen a murder through her neighbor’s window, or maybe it was a dream.
Disney+ adds “Eternals” on Jan. 12, the third Marvel Studios film to release in 2021. This film will almost certainly have big effects on the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, so fans who missed this in theaters last year should check it out. The service also adds “Betty White Goes Wild!” on Jan. 14, a National Geographic special from 2013 starring the late actress for anyone who wants to cry.
HBO Max added a “Harry Potter” 20th-anniversary special featuring most of the cast of the films on Jan. 1. Author J.K. Rowling was not included, outside of a brief snippet of archival footage, owing to her many controversies in recent years. The second season of HBO Max's original series “Euphoria,” which stars Zendaya, premiered on Jan. 9. “Peacemaker,” a James Gunn-helmed spinoff of 2021’s “The Suicide Squad” will feature John Cena back in the titular role, with an actual eagle as a sidekick, when the series premieres Jan. 13.
Hulu brings “How I Met Your Father on Jan. 18” a spin-off of the infamous “How I Met Your Mother,” starring Hillary Duff. There’s a definite chance this lives up to its predecessor and also runs for nine years before ending terribly, but I’m ready to get hurt again.