Movies out this festive season: what's opening in the next three weeks

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There are loads of movies coming out over the next three weeks, here’s what you can expect to keep you entertained while you’re on holiday.

Highlights: John Wick, Big Hero Six, Paddington, Into the Woods

19 December

John Wick

johnwick

With New York City as his bullet-riddled playground, an ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Wildly thrilling, smart and heavy on the adrenalin, John Wick is a stylish and rather witty action film, and the perfect vehicle to bring Keanu Reeves back into the spotlight. With 4 stars from Kervyn and 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s the unadulterated action  you’ve been looking for.

Jessabelle

jessabelle

Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return — and has no intention of letting her escape.

Well, if you attended our pre-screening, then you’ll know not to bother going to see Jessabelle again. More light than fright, Jessabelle has every horror movie trope you can think of, lazily compiled and shoddily executed. But if you don’t believe what we had to say, check the 25% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Mr Turner

2014, MR. TURNER

Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies. Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.

One of the fullest biographies ever made, Mr Turner has the critics salivating into their popcorn, especially over the Oscar calibre performance of Timothy Spall – best known to most audiences as Wormtail from the Harry Potter series. Gathering 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, Mr Turner is every inch the artsy movie, from topic to theme to performances.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

NightattheMuseumSOTT

Get ready for the wildest and most adventure-filled Night at the Museum ever as Larry spans the globe, uniting favourite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.

Oddly enough, for the third movie in the Night at the Museum franchise, Secret of the Tomb might actually be the best one. With 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is more than the other two managed, it’s lighter, more enjoyable and less contrived than the previous instalments, even if Ben Stiller still acts like he has a stick up his butt.

24 December

Big Hero Six

BigHeroSix

An action-packed comedy-adventure, Big Hero 6 is about robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who learns to harness his genius-thanks to his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends: adrenaline junkie Go Go Tamago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to his closest companion-a robot named Baymax-and transforms the group into a band of high-tech heroes determined to solve the mystery.

Gorgeously animated, consistently funny, filled with action and heroes, camaraderie and compassion, Big Hero Six is a must see this festive season. Kids and parents alike will absolutely love it, if the 89% on Rotten Tomatoes is anything to go by!

The Best of Me

TheBestofMe

The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today.

If you couldn’t tell by the poster, which features two white people almost kissing, yes it’s based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. Yes, it’s completely melodramatic, formulaic and utter drivel. And yes, it has a terrible score on Rotten Tomatoes, but no that won’t stop your girlfriend from dragging you to see it, especially if she loved The Notebook.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

ExodusGodsandKings

Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Follow defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600 000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

What would the holidays be without a biblical themed movie? A lot quieter, probably. Oh well, while Exodus: Gods and Kings has its moments, with wow-inducing CGI and a noteworthy performance by Christian Bale, it’s not quite epic enough, or emotional enough, to be great. Instead, it falls pretty flat.

Knysna

knysna

Dolf is a regular guy from a modest background in Knysna. He is content with his normal small-town existence, his group of friends and his eccentric grandparents. His life is thrown upside-down when he falls for a beautiful stranger, Stephanie, a somewhat wealthy visitor to the sleepy coastal resort. What she has not been honest about is that she is engaged to the Prince of Lichtenstein, although she has cold feet and is hiding out in Knysna. Stephanie is drawn to the simplicity of Dolf’s life and yearns for her own to be as uncomplicated and free of the limelight.

Knysna is your typical South African rom-com, so expect lots of random slap-stick, side characters that are little more than stereotypes, and third-act complications that no doubt resolve themselves into happy endings. If for some reason, this tickles your fancy, you can watch the trailer here.

2 January

The Judge

TheJudge

Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

Part courtroom legal drama, part family estrangement melodrama, The Judge has critics divided over whether it’s really good or not. The outstanding performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are on the plus side, but on the negative side The Judge is overly long and ends up being fairly middle-of-the-road, serving up nothing new in terms of any of the multiple genres it attempts to emulate. Currently sitting with 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s not the worst, but it’s certainly not the best.

Paddington

paddington

The comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he begins to realise that city life is not all he had imagined, until he meets the kindly Brown family, who read the label around his neck that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you,” and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed, until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.

The first big-screen adaptation of the beloved bear, Paddington serves its source material well, while updating the story enough to fit into modern times. It’s beautifully animated with a story as warm and fuzzy as Paddington himself. With 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s definitely a movie the whole family will enjoy.

Into the Woods

IntotheWoods

A modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel – all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family, and their interaction with the witch who put a curse on them.

Darkly comedic and sneakily touching, with gorgeous set designs and memorable characters, this twisty fairy-tale mash-up is unlike anything you’ve seen so far. And don’t let the “musical” part put you off, the 80% on Rotten Tomatoes is worth putting up with a song or two!

Foxcatcher

foxcatcher

Based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances.

Well I never thought I’d see the likes of Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell, Mark Ruffalo and Sienna Miller in one movie together, let alone one that’s managed to grab 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Intense and suspenseful, Foxcatcher is a dark character driven drama, with most of the praise going to Carrell and, surprisingly, Tatum for their spell-binding performances.

Last Updated: December 19, 2014

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