December is a very important month for the movie industry. It obviously closes out the calendar year, and it looks to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the colder weather and people with some extra time off around the holidays. Going to the cinema is still a time-honored tradition for family members who don’t see each other throughout the year but grew up enjoying movies at the theater with one another.
There are many limited releases coming to the screens across America and at least eleven slated for coast-to-coast roll outs. The first of these is Mary: Queen of Scots, scheduled for a December 7th release. It’s a historical drama with Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, and Martin Compston. It follows Mary Stuart who was Queen of France at 16 and then of her native Scotland. But Elizabeth I of England rises to power and becomes Mary’s adversary in both royal politics and love.
The following Friday brings three more countrywide releases. A fantasy drama, Mortal Engines is adapted from the first of a four-novel series by Philip Reeve. Civilization has been destroyed and London has devolved into a predator city on wheels. A young woman played by Hera Hilmar becomes the planet’s final hope. Peter Jackson of Lord of The Rings fame is one of the screenwriters, and his protégé Christian River directs. Next up is Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. It’s an animated feature with the voice talent of Shameik Moore, Liev Schreiber, and Mahershala Ali. It explores the concept of the Spider-Verse, a world in which more than one person can tap into the Spidey Power. The audience will be introduced to Miles Morales, Brooklyn budding teen hero. The third release this week will be The Mule. It’s already getting buzz as it’s the timeless one, Clint Eastwood, continuing his exploration of aging. In this movie, Clint directs and stars as a desperate man trying to save his business from foreclosure. He unwittingly becomes a drug-smuggling ‘mule’ who lands on the radar of the DEA.
A mid-week Wednesday release on December 19th gives us Mary Poppins Returns. It will be exciting to see what contemporary tech movie magic will bring to this screen, but there always is the danger of a beloved iconic film – and let’s write that as A BELOVED ICONIC FILM – getting the modern makeover. But with the likes of Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Colon Firth, and Meryl Streep in the house, one has to think this film will fly. Who knows? Maybe it will even be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Three films drop coast-to-coast on December 21st. Aquaman has been so long in development with stops and starts that it has reached the mythical status of the underwater world Atlantis depicted in the movie. The plot has a definite environmental undertow (pun intended) that has the Atlantis residents ready to revolt against the landlubbers above who are destroying the oceans. Second Act stars (and is co-written by) Jennifer Lopez. J-Lo is stuck in a limited opportunity life, but with some help from a hacked executive’s account, she has a whole new identity and a chance to prove that she has what it takes to make a splash in the hard-hitting world of Madison Avenue advertising. The movie Bumblebee presents Hailee Steinfeld in the leading role as Charlie, an 18-year-old who discovers Bumblebee, an old yellow VW bug. But before you start equating VW Bugs with peace and love, realize that this is the next in the line of the Transformers franchise! The fourth and final opener this week, Welcome To Marwen, has an impressive cast led by Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, and Janelle Monae. Carell plays Mark Hogncamp, a man who has long-term amnesia as the result of an overwhelming attack he suffers. The movie shows his journey battling real life hardships with the strength he channels through an art installation he creates – the fantasy world of Marwen.
Rounding out the national releases are two Christmas day openers: Vice, and Holmes & Watson. The former chronicles the most activist Vice-President the United States has ever experienced, Dick Cheney – described by many as the most powerful man in the world during Bush The Younger’s two terms as President. The stellar cast includes Christian Bale as Cheney, Sam Rockwell as Bush, Steve Carrell (busy man!) as Donald Rumsfeld, and Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney. What says Christmas more than a political drama about Dick Cheney? Finally, a movie that apparently is based (however loosely) on the beloved Arthur Conan Doyle characters, Holmes and Watson. Do we need to say anything other than Will Ferrell is Holmes and John C. Riley is his loyal biographer, Watson? There’s arch-villain Moriarty, a plot to kill the Queen, etc., but let’s not worry about all that. If you need to laugh on Christmas, get to this flick and enjoy!
Steven James loves to tell the stories that come to the silver screen, and we’d love to help tell your story, too! Enjoy December at the movies!