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This article was published 29/11/2018 (346 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s beginning to look a lot like… time for a holiday movie preview.
Yep, December generally ushers in a movie morass of Oscar bait and box office blockbusters designed to getting audiences flocking to theatres during the Christmas season.
This year, the pickings are sparser than usual in the first half of the month. It’s not until mid-December when the studios backload their big guns — superhero movies, dystopian fantasies and dramatic powerhouses from directors including Clint Eastwood and Robert Zemeckis — to duke it out at the bijou.
Mark your calendars. Here’s how the month plays out.
December turns out to be the month when studios will give us a second shot at movies we have already seen. Chief among these is Schindler’s List Remastered (Dec. 7), a new print of Steven Spielberg’s harrowing 1993 drama about how one German industrialist (Liam Neeson) attempted to save Jews from the maw of the Holocaust. The multiple Oscar winner (including best picture) is a great film but a tough watch. But after 25 years, some viewers may decide they’re ready to see it again.
Don’t be fooled by the title Once Upon a Deadpool (Dec. 12). It’s a PG reissue of Deadpool 2 designed for young audiences who couldn’t get admittance to the 14A version released earlier this year. A perverse twist is a storybook wraparound device in which Ryan Reynolds’ antihero is telling his story to a grown-up Fred Savage, reprising the role he played as a kid in The Princess Bride.
Finally, at Cinematheque, we get to see the newly remastered 2001: A Space Odyssey (Dec. 26), Stanley Kubrick’s landmark science fiction epic on a screen that, well, is probably bigger than your TV.
Let’s face it, Sony has dropped the ball when it comes to stand-alone Spider-Man movies since Sam Raimi’s trilogy. But a possible saving grace comes in the form of the animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Dec. 14), a fantasy that sees a meeting of many different Spideys from parallel dimensions, a twist possibly inspired by the animated cable series Rick & Morty.
Anyone remember when a movie version of Aquaman (Dec. 21) was a running joke on the cable series Entourage? Joke no more: Aquaman looks like a legit genre offering with Jason Momoa providing an earthy humour to the role of the Justice League’s dampest member.
Mortal Engines (Dec. 14) is a big dystopian fantasy about large cities that roll around the Earth swallowing up smaller cities in a cartoon-like illustration of future imperialism.
Bumblebee (Dec. 21) is a Transformers offshoot/prequel wherein the robot who disguises himself as a yellow VW bug is discovered in 1987 by a young woman (Hailee Steinfeld) hanging around in a junkyard. John Cena also stars.
The 54-years-later sequel Mary Poppins Returns (Dec. 19) sees everybody’s favourite magical nanny (Emily Blunt takes over from Julie Andrews) returning to her former charge Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) to take care of his three kids, in her own inimitable fashion. Lin-Manuel Miranda co-stars, but watch for an appearance by Poppins OG Dick Van Dyke.
Steve Carell plays a traumatized artist who loses his memory in a senseless attack in Welcome to Marwen (Dec. 21). He creates his own therapy creating and photographing doll tableaus that help prepare him for the challenge of testifying in court against his attackers. Director Robert Zemeckis, dramatizing the events of the 2010 documentary Marwencol, layers Carell’s bleak reality with amazing fantasy sequences enacted by action figures.
Reilly, seen teaming with Joaquin Phoenix in the October release The Sisters Brothers and with Sarah Silverman in the November release Ralph Breaks the Internet, reunites with Step-Brothers co-star Will Ferrell for the dumbed-down Sherlock Holmes-inspired comedy Holmes and Watson (Dec. 25). (If you miss it, fear not, Reilly addicts. He’ll be back in January opposite Steve Coogan in Stan & Ollie.)
In Mary Queen of Scots (Dec. 7), screenwriter Beau Willimon (House of Cards) turns his political insight to Elizabethan England where the queen (Margot Robbie) finds herself challenged by Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) in an unnecessary fight for royal supremacy.
The subject of gay conversion therapy, already addressed this year in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, comes up again in Boy Erased (Dec. 7), an adaptation of a true story by Garrard Conley about the son (Lucas Hedges) of a small-town Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe) pressured into attending a conversion therapy program. Director Joel Edgerton also stars as the therapist in charge of the facility.
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in the title role of The Mule (Dec. 14) as an 80-year-old failure who decides to take a job as a delivery driver, initially unaware that he is actually moving drugs for a Mexican drug cartel.
Director Adam McKay reunites with his Big Short star Christian Bale for another glimpse into the abyss of American corruption. Vice (Dec. 25) casts Bale as U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney, the man who pulled all the presidential strings while ostensibly working under president George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell).
Peter Jackson competes with his own sci-fi epic Mortal Engines (which he produced) with the documentary feature They Shall Not Grow Old (Dec. 27), an intimate history of the First World War employing the voices of men who fought. More astonishingly, the ancient black-and-white footage from the era has been enhanced with colour and 3D technology.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.