If part one of our Christmas Cinema Movie Guide was a bit too animated for you, then step right this way for more festive family films 2018.
Read on for heartwarming comedies, family adventures and old favourites a-plenty. Order us a large mixed popcorn, will you? There’s a can of G&T in this carrier bag for you!
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 12A
A thesp-heavy portrayal of JK Rowling’s second-best series and directed by Potter veteran David Yates, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is one of your best chances for as good a time as the kids. In an effort to thwart Gellert Grindelwald (erm, Johnny Depp) and his plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over us Muggles, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested in an increasingly-divided wizardy world. And of all that sounds better than the latest Nativity sequel, then you are a Harry Potter fan and you’ve probably already seen it, right?
Nativity Rocks! (U)
THERE’S NO MR POPPY!!! (erm, it’ll probably all be okay but as big Nativity fans we’re still grieving tbh).
The robots are still in disguise but rather than the modern heavy metal blunder of the previous Michael Bay-helmed films, this sixth (?!) Transformers film is set in 1987 and sees troubled Californian teen Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) hook up with battle-scarred Beetle bot Bumblebee. What could have been just a tepid offshoot – albeit one with an added dose of government intrigue (including one John Cena as Sector 7 agent Burns) -actually turns out to be the best Transformers film yet with director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) bringing plenty of Eighties LOLz, decent characterisation and – whisper it – an actual plot.
The Nutcracker And The Four Realms (PG)
Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, this Disney film looks astonishing but doesn’t quite cut it despite the heavyweight cast (Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman). The tale of Clara (Mackenzie Foy) and her search for a magical key, the story takes places in a mysterious parallel world where she, brave Nutcracker soldier Phillip, the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) and a LOT of CG mice must restore harmony to the Four Realms. It’s all very Narnia-by-numbers and the CG is more than a tad overwhelming but when you get a bit sci-fi-ed out, this is a saccharine return to an Oz-like innocence. Hey, it’s Christmas. Let’s get saccharine.
First off, massive phworr. Game of Thrones hunkazoid Jason Momoa was one of the best things about the decidedly meh Justice League and this James ‘Saw’ Wan-directed film will build on that promise and then some. The story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and his ascent to the Atlantean throne, one of the stars of the film isn’t just Momoa’s pecs but the astonishing underwater world Wan has created full of warrior dolphins and fishy intrigue thanks to Arf’s inevitably-troubled half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson). Only just released at the time of writing, signs are this will follow Wonder Woman in saving DC’s face. Fingers crossed.
Robin Hood (12A)
Given there have been approximately 345 Robin Hood films to date, hopes aren’t exactly high for yet another ‘throw in some bullet time’ version of a classic but hey, not so judgey. First up, our Robin of Loxley is played by Kingman’s cheeky Taron Egerton plus it has Jamie Foxx in it (stay with) as a Moorish commander. Second, director Otto Bathurst won a BAFTA for his work on Peaky Blinders and has worked on Black Mirror. Third, it’s no rerun of the traditional story (see intro line “I could bore you with history. But you wouldn’t listen…”) and instead, plumps for a brave politico-sociological take on Batman (our hero is no longer Robin Hood but class warrior vigilante, The Hood) via obvious allusions to the Iraq War. Not for those who traditional fare, it’s okay (think Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur) but we miss the talking foxes, TBH.
Home Alone (2018 Re-Issue) PG
What more can you say about Home Alone other than BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER!!!!! Anyhoo, a spurious but welcome Christmas 2018 reissue for the Big Screen is enough for us to say go go go. You know the score: bratty eight year-old Kevin McCallister gets left in his Chicago home while his family head off to Paris for Christmas. You know the rest – Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are astonishing as the blundering Wet Bandits, John Candy almost tops his Uncle Buck peak as polka king Gus Polinski, Catherine O’Hara is AMAZING – so instead use this time to book tickets, read our ‘Why you’re not the world’s worst parent’ feature and then go and watch Dryvrs and its astonishingly dark take on what Kevin’s up to now. Man, parents really screw you up…
Mary Poppins Returns
It’s not all superheroes and toy franchises… Well, actually it pretty much is but Mary Poppins Returns shows Disney isn’t just about capes and plastic. This sequel sees the mysterious nanny returns to Depression-era London where Jane Banks and her brother Michael, now a father of three, have lost their sense of joy and wonder after a – NO SPOILERS! – personal loss. A very strong cast (Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth) and decent director in Rob Marshall augers well, with preview clips showing plenty of song and dance, plus an animated (NOT CG!) sequence that will take older viewers back to halcyon days of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. And yes, Dick Van Dyke is in it! This looks a total joy and WAY better than it deserves to be – anyone for a double bill with Aquaman?!