Studios serve up five big movies for Christmas break
Stuff some sliver screen in your stocking
December 20, 2018
Starring Jason Momoa and Amber Heard
The latest installment in the DC Extended Universe follows the titular superhero as he leads the people of Atlantis against the evil sea creature Orm. With last year’s Wonder Woman and Justice League representing the best and worst of what can be found in this Universe, Aquaman seems like it could wind up in between the two.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of this version of the character based on his two previous appearances, but the digital effects in this entry seem markedly less murky than other recent DC films. This movie has already done almost $100 million in business since its opening in China. With early screenings already trickling out around the U.S., all signs point to this being another massively successful superhero stint for Warner Brothers.
Starring Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena
This spin-off of the Transformers franchise (technically a prequel to the first film in the series) focuses on the origin of the titular yellow robot. Set in the late 1980s, there’s a good chance this film will lean into pop cultural touchstones from the era to add a bit of personality to the sci-fi action thrills.
It’s a bit odd to have a big budget blockbuster like this open in the heart of awards season, especially since the past four Transformers films have opened in June, but I doubt this will affect its financial success overall.
With two likeable leads at its center and Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight replacing Michael Bay in the director’s chair, there’s a good chance this could be a critical success in addition to being a hit at the box office.
Holmes and Watson
Starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly
This is yet another Sherlock Holmes adaptation brought to us by the same goofball team responsible for Step Brothers and Talladega Nights. The surplus of recent Holmes variations have generally played things straight, focusing on the detective’s almost supernatural deduction skills, but it’s clear that the strategy here is to play everything for laughs.
I was initially excited for this film when I first caught wind of it, but all the promotional material I have seen so far has made me markedly less eager to see what looks to be pretty flimsy fare. I’m sure there are plenty of laughs that could be wrung from the legendary literary figure, but with gags involving killer bees and selfies present in the trailer, Sony obviously went with the broad approach with this comedy.
Mary Poppins Returns
Starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda
This direct sequel to the classic 1964 musical finds the merry and mystical nanny reuniting with two of the children from the original, now grown with children of their own.
Filling the shoes of a screen icon like Julie Andrews is no easy feat, but it looks like Blunt may be a perfect fit to recapture the charm and whimsy that Andrews brought to the role all those years ago.
The trailers so far have teased images that harken back to the hand-drawn animation from Disney’s heyday and with original music from Tony-winning composer Marc Shaiman, this film could be quite a delight. Expect it to clean up at the box office when it opens early on Dec. 19.
Welcome to Marwen
Starring Steve Carell and Leslie Mann
The film tells the true story of a man desperately trying to reconnect his life after a violent assault leaves him with almost no memory of his previous life. In order to cope with his loss, he constructs a miniature village called Marwen in his backyard populated with dolls that represent his friends and family.
Based on the 2010 documentary Marwencol, director Robert Zemeckis looks to blend pathos with technical wizardry together as he did with previous work like The Polar Express and The Walk.
Carell has proven that he has the dramatic chops for this kind of material. Those looking for an inspiring film around the holidays will likely find what they’re looking for here.