It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. As the nights draw in, what better way to hibernate than to visit your local cinema? There are some amazing movies on release this month, so let’s take a look at them.
FILM OF THE MONTH: FIRST MAN
The remarkable true story of the Moon landing proves to be another giant leap for director Damien Chazelle’s career, whose star has been on a meteoritic rise for the past few years. The Oscar winning director behind La La Land and Whiplash takes a keen eye and a novel approach to portraying this expansive story, deciding to focus on the man rather than the mission. The end result is a heartfelt and utterly engrossing account that leaves a captivating mark on you. Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is drafted into a high priority mission to reach the surface of the Moon. With the Russians making leaps and bounds in their space program, the race is on to get there with the best minds in their respective fields working overtime to make this dream a reality. Relocating with his wife Janet (Claire Foy) and his kids, Neil must handle the pressures of the job at hand, with setbacks, complications and tragedy poised at every juncture.
This remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic has all the hallmarks of becoming yet another cult favourite. It’s all bonkers of course, and by the time the OTT finale rears its head you will either be laughing or wincing at the carnage. A renowned dance company in Germany is the setting for this dark and twisted tale as an American newcomer named Susie (Dakota Johnson) joins the troupe amid some mysterious circumstances and missing persons associated with the school. Under the tutorship of Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton), Susie begins to learn what is really going on behind the scenes. Mia Goth, Chloë Grace Moretz and Angela Winkler hand in stellar support, but the undeniable star is Swinton, who plays multiple roles in the film – including one very surprising character. Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino helms this with verve and style, and it features one of the most disturbing horror scenes you’ll ever see put on film. However that happens quite early on, and the film never quite manages to reach those highs again.
Credit: Warner Bros
This premise turns the familiar on its head with delightful glee; ‘What if it’s the Bigfoot who uncovers the existence of humans (aka Smallfoot)?’ We start with Migo (Channing Tatum), the son of Dorgle (Danny DeVito) who has a very important job in their Yeti community that live high up in the mountains. Migo trains to wake up the village up every morning by alerting the sun to rise (by firing himself headfirst into a gong). This is one of the many rules the Yeti’s live by, as decreed by ancient stones which are held by the Stonekeeper (Common), the elder leader. Migo has a crush on the Stonekeeper’s daughter Meechee (Zendaya) and one morning, gets distracted by her as he is hurtling in the air towards the gong. He misses it and ends up crash landing beyond the mountain, a desolate land which no-one goes to. Once there he spies a plane that crash lands and sees something remarkable – a Smallfoot! But will anyone back in the village believe him?
JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN
It’s been 7 years since we last saw Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English grace our screens, and in a move that has surprised everyone we now find ourselves welcoming a third chapter in this franchise. The story is relatively inconsequential, but centres on a computer hack to British Intelligence, compromising every known agent they have in the field. With limited options available, the Prime Minister (a scene-stealing Emma Thompson) authorises the re-instatement of a former agent to investigate. Enter Johnny English – now a school teacher who spends his time teaching his students the art of being a covert spy, which isn’t strictly on the curriculum. Happily answering the call, English reunites with Bough (Ben Miller) and begins to track down the source of the threat. Rowan Atkinson is still as hilarious as ever and makes this a worthy watch with the family.
GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN
Credit: Sony Pictures
This is a family-friendly and spooky adventure that’s great fun. A new set of characters keeps things ticking over nicely even if the plot may seem a bit familiar, but the addition of Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ken Jeong and the return of Jack Black is always a welcome sight. Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and his friend Sam (Caleel Harris) have a get-rich quick scheme where they will clear out any old junk you might have. Told that they could keep whatever they wanted from the old abandoned house in the neighbourhood, they get to work and stumble upon a hidden room containing a chest. Once opened there’s an unfinished book in it from R.L. Stine called Haunted Halloween, which soon manifests into Slappy (the voice of Jack Black), the mischievous, possessed ventriloquist’s dummy. It all starts off well, with Slappy helping the boys do their homework and handle the local bully (Peyton Wich) but he is soon up to his old tricks again and plans to take over the town with a little help from some resurrected monsters and witches. It’s left to Sonny, his sister Sarah (the excellent Madison Iseman) and Sam to put an end to Slappy’s masterplan before it’s too late.
Paul Dano takes an assured first step as a director in this absorbing family drama. He also penned the screenplay with his partner Zoe Kazan, which is based on Richard Ford’s book. It’s 1960s America, and after losing his job as a golf caddy, Jerry Brinson (Jake Gyllenhaal) falls into a rut looking for new work to support his family. His wife Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) is a stay-at-home mom, looking after their 14 year-old son Joe (Ed Oxenbould), a good kid who slowly witnesses his parents’ marriage fall apart. Jerry takes up a dangerous, low-paid job fighting forest fires in the mountains, leaving Jeanette and his son for a few months. In that time, Jeanette changes character and looks for a way out of her life, as Joe struggles to keep his family dynamic together. Dano is an undeniable talent behind the lens, but the story has a few creases that needed ironing out. Great performances all around though.
From its retro-inspired titles sequence to its B-movie premise, there’s a lot to enjoy in director Julius Avery’s war actioner/horror. With D-Day just hours away, a group of Paratroopers are tasked with bringing down a key communications tower so the soldiers can get to the shore. But before they can execute that objective, their plane is caught in crossfire and they crash land. With only a handful of survivors, the rag-tag group encounter a local woman named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) who reluctantly agrees to take them in for a few hours before they can continue with the mission at hand. But whilst hiding in her loft, a Nazi detail make their rounds with its cold-blooded leader Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) looking for anything suspicious. In the meantime, Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo), a young soldier stumbles upon a facility where Nazi’s are conducting horrific experiments on the locals. A blistering and visceral thrill ride that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat.
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JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (out now)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom does the basics right and undeniably delivers an entertaining film, but also tries to move the franchise into new waters which is commendable. The end result is a film that doesn’t build upon the potential of the set-up, but will please dino-fans looking for a quick-fix nonetheless. It’s been a few years since the events of Jurassic World and the dinosaurs left wandering the island are now facing extinction at the hands of a volcano at the brink of eruption. Activists claim that these species deserve to be saved but others say their time has come (again) to be destroyed. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is one of those activists, and is convinced by a rich old friend of Richard Hammond named Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) to return to the island to try and rescue some species, especially Blue – the Raptor that Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) trained from young. So Claire reconnects with Owen and they both return to the ruins of Jurassic World, but their good intentions are soon exploited by a rich businessman looking to sell the dinosaurs on the black market.
THE HAPPY PRINCE (out now)
This is a wonderfully absorbing drama with laughter and tragedy peppered throughout. Rupert Everett wears three hats on this project – starring in the movie that he also wrote and directed. A passion project of his for many years, The Happy Prince shines a telling light onto the latter years of Oscar Wilde’s life and his struggle to find peace after everything that was taken from him. When you think of Oscar Wilde, a distinct picture comes to mind but not many stories delve into what happened to him after his incarceration and the broken shadow of a man that was left behind and forced to flee to France, never returning to the UK. After a public dispute resulted in being imprisoned for 2 years for gross indecency with men, an ageing Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett) takes stock of his life and wrestles with his choices as he sees out his final years in impoverished exile.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (out 3rd Dec)
It’s one of the most explosive Missions yet, with a level of excitement and spectacle that simply blows you away. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a stunning affair that hooks you from the opening shot and takes you on a whirlwind adventure that utterly captivates, delivering breathless stunts and big scale adventure that puts you in a permanent state of awe and euphoria. The plot finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his crew Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) trying to recover some plutonium that will be used to create nuclear bombs for a anarchist terrorist organisation named The Apostles. Their leader (Sean Harris) is already in custody thanks to Hunt, but he still has a role to play in this game, as does Ethan’s old friend Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). Throw a career-best Henry Cavill into the mix and you have the best action blockbuster of the year.
ANT-MAN & THE WASP (Out 3rd Dec)
After the cataclysmic events of Avengers: Infinity War, we revisit the more light-hearted world of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his cohorts. For the most part it’s business as usual with director Peyton Reed and the cast all working hard to deliver an enjoyable and undoubtedly entertaining ride. But a final act that slightly drags does affect the early momentum that was built up so meticulously. It’s a shame, but one that doesn’t shrink your overall enjoyment too much. Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) seek Scott’s help again – the only problem is he’s been restricted to house arrest after aiding Captain America in Civil War. Pym believes he can reach his long-lost wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the Quantum Realm but is distracted when his tech is stolen by the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). A fun superhero caper, with one of the best Marvel mid-credit stings you’ll ever see.