December 2015 Movie Preview
Well, this is an oddly quiet month. While the U.S. gets a very crowded December as studios endeavour to get their Oscar-contenders out by the end of the year, the U.K. is much more lax with its release schedule and has presented only a handful of films this month. While I normally preview around 15 films a month (and usually have to exclude quite a few others in order to meet deadlines) I could only find 10 movies this month with no qualms about missing any.
But, who knows? Maybe we’ll find something special here so that the multiplexes will be crowded when the weather outside gets frightful. Let’s examine December 2015 in the U.K.!
December 1st 2015
Christmas with the Coopers –
The first movie out of the gate on the first day of December is a Christmas comedy movie with an all-star cast. This ensemble comedy stars Steve Martin, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Diana Keaton, Olivia Wilde, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried and more as ‘Christmas with the Coopers‘ centres around the Cooper family around Christmas when everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong.
Brought to us by Jessie Nelson, the writer and one of the producers of the 2007 Holiday “classic” ‘Fred Claus‘, ‘Christmas with the Coopers‘ may boast a brilliant cast and a relatable story but reviews have not been kind. The problem with making theatrical Christmas-themed movies is that you’re essentially competing against thousands of other movies that can be seen on T.V. or home media during this time of year and it looks like you’d probably be better off watching something else this Christmas instead of paying for the movie-going experience with ‘Christmas with the Coopers‘.
December 3rd 2015
Victor Frankenstein –
And now for something completely different, we have a movie that looks like it should have been released around Halloween, but instead we have the horror-action movie ‘Victor Frankenstein‘. The reason for this release date is that ‘Victor Frankenstein‘, directed by TV’s “Sherlock” director Paul McGuigan, seems to be going for the same demographic as 2009’s ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ which made bank with a December release. The comparisons are easy to make; classic literary source material, a memorable pairing, a period setting and selling itself on action as opposed to the brain-power of its lead, ‘Victor Frankenstein‘ is clearly trying to set-up another literary franchise.
Despite talented leads James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe and ‘Chronicle‘ writer Max Landis (who can’t seem to catch a break this year after ‘American Ultra‘ flopped) the reviews for this have been incredibly poor and the trailers, despite selling a very pretty looking movie, don’t seem to show anything that ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ didn’t already give audiences. Full disclosure, I have a friend who worked as an extra in the film and she said she had a fun time filming. So there’s always that.
December 4th 2015
We started off this preview with a wholesome Christmas movie, then we followed it with a horror monster movie and now we have something in-between. All audiences are catered for. Krampus is a German folklore monster who is the essentially the anti-Santa Clause who punishes children at Christmas who misbehave. Brought to us by Michael Dougherty who directed the seasonal Horror movie and cult classic ‘Trick ‘r Treat‘ we have the horror-comedy ‘Krampus‘.
Honestly, this looks like a great anti-Christmas movie for this time of year and it feels like forever since we got a theatrical Christmas horror movie (straight-to-DVD is saturated with them). It looks cool, it’s great to see a practical Krampus suit in the trailer and there were even a lot of laughs to be had (“You wanna trade?”). I’m looking forward to this one.
The Night Before –
“From the guys who brought you ‘This Is The End‘, ‘Bad Neighbours‘ and almost ‘The Interview‘” said the trailers for ‘The Night Before‘. That basically sets the tone of what you’re in for and whether or not this movie will be your cup of tea. Actors Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt re-team with director Jonathan Levine after the success of ‘50/50‘ to bring you a Christmas movie about three guys, the aforementioned Rogan and Levitt along with Anthony Mackie, who meet up every Christmas Eve to party and this night is the last night the three can take part in the tradition.
This looks like a lot of fun from the trailers and Anthony Mackie seems tailor-made for this type of comedy and should fit in very well with the rest of the cast and the creative team. Good Christmas comedies are rather hard to come across nowadays but if anyone can make a memorable one, it’s this team and it looks like a lot of low-brow fun.
December 11th 2015
By The Sea –
A passion project for Angelina Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt ‘By The Sea‘ is a low-budget drama movie starring the two and directed by Jolie that centres around a married couple whose relationship is falling apart. Universal Pictures are presumably funding the film in order to get Jolie on board for a sequel to ‘Wanted‘ as well as a ‘Bride of Frankenstein‘ reboot for the Universal-Monsters Cinematic Universe.
Honestly, this looks like a pretty looking arthouse film but it’s been critically panned and was a box-office bomb in the states. What we seem to have with ‘By The Sea‘ is a movie that these two wanted to make but no one else wanted to see.
December 12th 2015
Jason Moore’s directorial debut was the 2012 dark horse hit ‘Pitch Perfect‘ and he’s stayed relatively quiet until now where he makes his return with ‘Sisters‘, an adult comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Incidentally, after this movie Moore’s next project is a live-action “Archie” movie. As for ‘Sisters‘ the plot revolves around two sisters who return to their childhood home which is about to be sold-off so they decide to throw one last huge party.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been a great comedic duo on SNL and hosting the Golden Globes twice so it’s a surefire thing that these two will be great on-screen together and there will be a lot of fun ad-libbing. Whether or not the movie will be anything more than that remains to be seen, however. The trailers have been funny and John Cena who had a small role in the movie crushed it in ‘Trainwreck‘ earlier this year so this could be a fun time.
December 17th 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens –
Well, here we are. Three years ago George Lucas sold LucasFilms to Disney for over $4B and before the ink was even dry on the agreement they announced a brand new trilogy. From ‘Star Trek‘ and ‘Super 8′ director J.J. Abrams and the writer of two of the original films we have a movie taking place a few decades after the events of ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi‘. We’ll see the return of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as well as introducing Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and more.
Honestly, I’m not entirely sold on the movie yet. The hype surrounding the release of this film is quite contagious but J.J. Abrams doesn’t quite have the track record to justify giving him the benefit of the doubt, especially his treatment of the ‘Star Trek‘ reboot. There’s every chance that Abrams’ fixation with his flawed “mystery box” gimmick will provide massive out-of-character elements for these beloved characters or find a way to break the universe before it can even get sequels and spin-offs (see ‘Star Trek Into Darkness‘). I’m sure we’re in for something better than the prequels, but something worthy of the Star Wars legacy? That’s up in the air.
December 21st 2015
Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie –
While Charlie Brown and Snoopy are recognisable characters in the U.K., the “Peanuts” franchise by Charles M. Schultz isn’t quite as big in this country as it is in the U.S. This could be why ‘Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie‘ is coming out here almost two months after its U.S. release and is being sold as a family-friendly animated movie for Christmas as opposed to just another flick. Well, with adult-focused competition such as ‘Krampus‘ and ‘The Night Before‘ there may be a gap in the market.
Anyway, what we have is a 3-D animated mainstream movie designed to look like a cheap, wholesome 2-D animated movie and it’s a very interesting approach and something I look forward to seeing on the big-screen. It also seems like a refreshing change of pace where a children’s movie isn’t about saving the world or larger-than-life characters but instead focuses on grounded more relatable ones. Either way, it looks good and charming despite the U.K. title of ‘Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie‘ being quite a mouthful.
December 26th 2015
Daddy’s Home –
Marking the second collaboration between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg after the modest box-office success of 2010’s ‘The Other Guys‘, ‘Daddy’s Home‘ is working from a relatable narrative hook, i.e. a step-dad trying to impress his kids in the face of their awesome and more masculine biological father. It seems a very odd time of year to release this movie, though the trailers do show a scene taking place at Christmas, so maybe that justifies it.
Speaking of the trailers, while they are funny I don’t see much substance here which could really help to get across that initial relatable premise. Obviously as a comedy the studio’s main intention is to make people laugh and get butts in movie theatres but I feel like an opportunity is being missed here. Still, we’ll find out when this gets released on Boxing Day.
In The Heart of the Sea –
And the final movie being previewed in 2015 is Ron Howard’s ‘In The Heart of the Sea‘ which is based off the real life encounter that inspired the story of “Moby Dick”. Chris Hemsworth plays the First Mate of the whaling ship Essex which is attacked by a giant, enraged sperm whale. If you know anything about the true story then you’ll know that it goes to some disturbingly dark places…but the movie is a 12A so who knows how far they’ll be willing to go with that.
Ron Howard’s last movie was the dual-biopic ‘Rush‘ which also starred Chris Hemsworth and wound up in my Top 10 “Best of” list for 2013 so I’m naturally anticipating this film. Howard is an underrated technical director so I look forward to seeing what he can do when given an action-packed and VFX-heavy movie like ‘In The Heart of the Sea‘. If the movie sticks to what happened in the true story then we’re in for a grim end to 2015 but maybe in the best possible way.
And there we go. An unusually quiet month, but that’s mainly because the big-awards movies aren’t being released in the U.K. until 2016, such as ‘The Danish Girl‘, ‘Joy‘, ‘Room‘, ‘The Hateful Eight‘, ‘Creed‘, ‘The Revenant‘, ‘The Big Short‘ and ‘Spotlight‘ being released JUST in January.
But, as for December, it’s a slower month than usual so I may try and take the opportunity to catch up on some movies I missed this year that are making it to DVD. So that should be fun. My most anticipated films for this month are, in no particular order;
- ‘Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie‘
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘
- ‘In The Heart of the Sea‘
So what are you folks looking forward to in the final month of the year? Are there any releases that I missed that you can’t wait to see? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below!
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Posted: 6th Dec 15