In my year away from reviewing, I spent most of my time praying, fervently, that if I ever returned, Hollywood would have stopped making Power Rangers movies.
Those prayers have not been answered.
There is another Power Rangers reboot on the schedule March 24. On the other hand, there are reputed wonders to behold among the movies slated to open between now and mid-May, before the summer blockbusters arrive: the Oscar-nominated The Salesman from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (he's already won for A Separation), the hand-drawn Red Turtle from multinational animators affiliated with Studio Ghibli, and attractive mainstream titles like The Circle, featuring Tom Hanks in an adaptation of the Dave Eggers best-seller.
There's a live-action Beauty and the Beast musical with new versions of the classic tunes and three new Alan Menken songs. There's a Jessica Chastain biopic, The Zookeeper's Wife. Wolverine returns in Logan.
And to Power Rangers fans, I say that, although I do not share your affection for this piece of retread culture, I do understand it. Perhaps I'll see you at the CHiPS movie - I'll be first in line.
Here is a list of titles slated to open between this weekend and the start of blockbuster season, with the caveat that dates are subject to change.
Rings (Feb. 3). Meryl Streep wasn't kidding when she spoke of Hollywood as a multinational industry. Rings is a sequel to an American remake of a Japanese horror hit about a video that brings ghastly death to those who watch it. This one is directed by Spanish horror whiz F. Javier Gutierrez, known for the hyper-violent Before the Fall, and it follows a young woman who finds there is an equally deadly "movie within the movie." Probably not La La Land. With Vincent D'Onofrio.
The Space Between Us (Feb. 3). A boy (Asa Butterfield) raised on Mars befriends a girl (Britt Robertson) in Colorado, discovers that Earth's gravity is bad for his organs, and encounters other evidence that long-distance relationships can be difficult.
The Salesman (Feb. 10). Iranian Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) returns with the story of two actors who move into a new apartment and become enmeshed in ugly intrigue involving the previous occupant. Farhadi is up for an Oscar again (best foreign-language film) but has vowed not to attend the ceremony to protest new U.S. restrictions on immigration from Iran and other proscribed nations.
John Wick: Chapter Two (Feb. 10). Will it hold a candle to the original? Keanu Reeves returns as the dapper hit man with a heart of . . . well, hate, but he kills only people worse than he is. With Sir Laurence Fishburne.
Fifty Shades Darker (Feb. 10). Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) has called things off with S&M boyfriend Christian (Jamie Dornan) to pursue a career in publishing, where she is sure to learn the true meaning of suffering and masochism. With Kim Basinger, directed by James Foley.
The Lego Batman Movie (Feb. 10). This spin-off/sequel finds grumpy Batman trying to find his less-inhibited inner self. Will everything still be awesome? Original writing and directing team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have farmed this out.
Red Turtle (Feb. 17). This highly touted animated movie is a another multinational affair. Dutch director Michael Dudok de Wit works with French and Japanese animators on this story (told without dialogue) of a castaway learning to live with nature on an uninhabited island.
Fist Fight (Feb. 17). Two high school teachers (Charlie Day, Ice Cube) agree to fight after school when a misunderstanding causes Cube to lose his job. Sounds like something conceived for Kevin Hart, but Day could make this work.
The Great Wall (Feb. 17). Fantasy epic about warriors (including Matt Damon) fighting monsters attempting to breach the Great Wall of China. Then getting them to pay for it? Directed by Zhang Yimou.
Logan (March 3). Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is older and ailing, which makes him crankier than usual. And soon he has a female clone (reportedly Dafne Keen) to deal with. We await the scene in which she gets her nails done.
The Shack (March 3). Adaptation of the William Young best seller features Sam Worthington as a grieving father who finds the scene of a tragedy (spoiler alert) transformed into a mystical place of faith and healing. With Octavia Spencer.
Kong: Skull Island (March 10). Congratulations, Brie Larson, you've won an Oscar. Now you get to star in this King Kong spin-off, joining a monster-plagued expedition with Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman.
T2: Trainspotting (March 10). Not sure why they're co-opting the Terminator shorthand, but OK. Original cast of Danny Boyle's art house heroin-addiction classic returns 20 years later for a fraught reunion. Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle.
Beauty and the Beast (March 17). Disney's live-action version stars Emma Watson – not as the Beast – and Dan Stevens. Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) directs.
Saban's Power Rangers (March 24). High school kids with special powers endeavor to save the world. Featuring Penn grad Elizabeth Banks.
Life (March 24). Space-station astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson) discover life on Mars, and apparently not the good kind.
CHiPS (March 24). Yes, they made a movie from the '70s TV show about California motorcycle troopers. With Michael Pena and Adam Brody in the leads, written and directed by Dax Shepard.
Ghost in the Shell (March 31). Scarlett Johansson is a brunette, and also a cyborg, in this manga-based sci-fi flick about good versus evil in a near-future corrupt metropolis.
The Zookeeper's Wife (March 31). Jessica Chastain stars in the true story of a Polish woman who helped save lives in the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation. With Daniel Bruhl.
Going in Style (April 7). Old-timers (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin) plot to steal money from the financial institution that stole their pensions. That sounds funny, but . . . what are pensions? Directed by Zach Braff.
Born in China (April 21). Disney weaves rare footage of pandas, snow leopards, and golden monkeys with narrative to create a "true-life adventure film." Starring John Krasinski.
Unforgettable (April 21). Katherine Heigl makes life hell for the woman (Rosario Dawson) who's taken up with her ex-husband. And Heigl has the nerve to complain there are no good roles for women.
The Circle (April 28). Adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel about an internet tycoon (Tom Hanks) who persuades a protégé (Emma Watson) to live her life with complete transparency. Right, like internet tycoons want to strip away all personal privacy. Alexa: I have complete privacy, don't I?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5). Guardians have a new mixtape and a new mission: exploring the mystery of Peter Quill's parentage. With Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana.
Snatched (May 12). Bawdy action comedy about a mother and daughter (Goldie Hawn, Amy Schumer) who are kidnapped while vacationing in Ecuador.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12). Guy Ritchie's take on the durable story, with Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, and David Beckham.
Alien: Covenant (May 19). Ridley Scott says this movie answers questions raised by the prequel Prometheus. I wonder whether they include: What were you thinking? And: Why did you bother? With Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, James Franco.