The final month of the year is upon us, which means Christmas movies…and yes, Episode VII – perhaps the most anticipated cinematic event since, er, well, The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Starring: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford
Finally, the wait is over, as the next wave from a galaxy far, far away sweeps into cinemas. Thanks to restrictions on press screenings and the notorious veil of secrecy surrounding the whole project, at the time of writing we still haven’t seen it. But suffice to say, as long as Jar Jar Binks isn’t in it, we think we’re going to be pretty happy. Certainly the material we’ve seen so far is spectacular, director JJ Abrams has promised a return to the more practical, un-CGI world of the past and the young cast look awesome. Will Han die? Is Chewie the one to go? Is Rey (Ridley) a Solo-Skywalker? What are the chances of Lando showing up? Just what connection does baddie Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) have to Darth Vader? Will a generation of male kids want to be Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)? Just how cool does Harrison Ford’s jacket look in the trailer? So, SO many questions. And we can’t wait to find out the answers.
Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay
We’ve seen clever takes on the Frankenstein story before (Mary Reilly did it from the housekeeper’s perspective though was pretty rubbish) and this one goes one step further since strange assistant Igor (Radcliffe) wasn’t in the original Mary Shelley novel. In fact, he was created for some of the later film adaptations, most memorably in Mel Brooks’ hilarious comedy Young Frankenstein, when he was played by Marty Feldman. This movie takes a far more serious tone as we dig into Igor’s backstory and find out how he and his boss came to create life (of sorts). Most impressive of all – Radcliffe gives us some more great hair action. The star really goes have the hirsute look down pat.
Charlie Brown & Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie
Starring: Bill Melendez, Alexander Garfin, Noah Schnapp
Snoopy, Woodstock and the gang get the big-screen treatment in this adaptation of Charles Schultz’s iconic comic strip. Americans are used to seeing Charlie Brown and co. in animated form – the Christmas TV film has been a staple of Yuletide telly line-ups for decades – but it’s never permeated the UK culture in quite the same way. That said, the simplicity and honesty of the strip is a respite from the noisy kid-orientated product we’re more used to nowadays, so this could be just the ticket.
In the Heart of the Sea
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, Cillian Murphy
Taking on a seabound tale has become significantly easier since the invention of CGI, which is why director Ron Howard has lent his talents to this seaworthy story about a real-life 19th century trip which inspired Moby-Dick. Cue enormous whale – and Hemsworth’s enormous biceps in a puffy shirt.
Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini
They worked brilliantly as a comedic pairing in The Other Guys, now Ferrell and Wahlberg are back in a more domestic setting for more of the same. Ferrell is the kind, but nervy stepdad to Wahlberg’s kids, who faces a battle for supremacy with their biological father returns to try and re-establish himself as their primary male caretaker. Both actors are great at that kind of nudging, passive-aggressive posturing, while Ferrell remains king of the pratfall. It’s a sensitive subject for a comedy to be sure – and some of you dads out there might not find it quite so amusing – but sometimes comedy needs to be uncomfortable.
The Night Before
Starring: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie
Rogen and Gordon-Levitt reunite (they starred together in 50/50) for this nostalgic comedy about a group of mates meeting up for their regular pre-Christmas get-together. Only this year, things have changed. Rogen’s character is about to become a dad and Mackie’s is now a celebrity, which makes things very different to their usual laddish, booze-filled antics. This speaks to growing up and staying in contact with friends – fathers will know what we’re talking about – and does so in watchable way, mainly thanks to the great cast. As grown-ups, getting together with old friends provides an outlet to just be yourself – not the middle-aged, tired-eyed dad that so many new people see you as – so this film ticks a lot of boxes. Whether it’ll make you consider refreshing your life in some way? That’s up to you.
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner
In Alpine folklore, Krampus is described as a horned, anthropomorphic figure who punishes bad kids at Christmas. He’s basically like the demonic opposite of Santa. He’s also the basis for a new comedy-horror film about a boy who gets frustrated when his family clash on Christmas Eve, precipitating a visit from the Big K. Just remember how terrifying those Nordic myths can be – it’s safe to say he doesn’t show up in a red suit. On the plus side, he’s a brilliant way to make sure your children behave if they want to get that balance bike this year.