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Must-See Holiday Movies

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The holidays are approaching, and if people are not busy running around thinking of Christmas or Hanukkah gifts, they're considering what to do with their family when they actually have to entertain everyone.
Every year there are big blockbuster films that come out around Thanksgiving and Christmas purposely devoted to people looking to enjoy time with their families, or to escape from them for a few blissful hours.
Here's a look at some of the movies coming out for the holiday season:
November 6 - Disney's A Christmas Carol
Disney is no stranger to taking beloved tales and making them into box office darlings, so it was no surprise when they announced "A Christmas Carol" as their newest endeavor for family entertainment. Why this is being released in November rather than in December, where it honestly belongs, is still a mystery. Jim Carrey stars as Ebenezer Scrooge, an old, vicious, and cold-hearted miser who hates everything but his money. In one night his entire view changes when he's visited by three ghosts who show him the truth about his life and how it could be. This classic tale is originally a Charles Dickens' story, and it will be released on 3-D and IMAX. Carrey will be voicing four of the characters (Scrooge and all three ghosts), and the rest of the cast includes Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, and Robin Wright Penn. The movie will be performance capture, which could be dangerous since that kind of animation has been criticized in the past for seeming soulless, like in "The Polar Express." Still, it has a strong cast, a legendary story, and Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Beowulf," "Cast Away") as the director. Sounds like a great moral tale for families everywhere, right?
Watch "A Christmas Carol Trailer"
November 13 - 2012 and Fantastic Mr. Fox
In the second week of November two movies are coming out sure to win the audiences over: "2012," which is promised to be the best disaster film in years, and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," another classic tale taken from Roald Dahl. "2012" is based on the idea that the Mayan Long Count Calendar declared that year to be the one where the world ends. In the film, the world does indeed seem to be ending as earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, and general global disorder happens. It stars John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson, and Danny Glover.
Then there is "Fantastic Mr. Fox" which will be more family friendly and was made with stop motion animation. It is about Mr. Fox, a creature who steals chickens and livestock from three mean farmers to protect his family. The farmers try to kill him and starve him out of his hole, but the animals band together to keep off the nasty men. It's a very charming tale told by Dahl, and it attracted big name voice actors like George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Willem Dafoe. Parents can take their kids to "Fantastic Mr. Fox," while fans of destruction and mayhem can go check out "2012."
November 20 - Twilight Saga: New Moon
Not much needs to be told about this movie; everyone and their mother has heard about the "Twilight" series by now, whether they want to or not. The popular young adult series has just started being adapted into film, and the first movie did very well in its release. It was no surprise then that "New Moon" was put into production overdrive and will be released only a year after its predecessor. The film focuses on human everywoman Bella and her love affair with the sparkling vampire Edward, although in "New Moon" she gets drawn to the animal magnetism of werewolf Jacob. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner all return as the main characters, with Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning joining the cast. If you're a fan of the series you probably already have your tickets!
November 25 - The Princess and the Frog
Is that another 2D animated film from Disney I see? The company planned to stop after "Home on the Range," but it is great to see them getting back to their roots in this upcoming movie. It is based roughly on the fairy tale "The Frog Prince," but it seems to be going in a more lively direction in its New Orleans setting and funky Jazz music. A prince is turned into a frog by a voodoo magician and he convinces a pretty girl to kiss him, thinking it will turn him back into a man. Instead it turns her into a frog, and they must journey together to find a cure. The jury is still out on whether this movie is decent, although it has stirred up plenty of controversies already with its location choice, but it does look very creative. This is another family film option, and at the least it should have excellent music between Tony winning actress Anika Noni Rose and Randy Newman.
December 18 - Avatar and Nine
I don't know if you've heard of this film called "Avatar," it may ring a few bells since people have been talking about it for, oh, 10 years! James Cameron actually wrote the first idea in 1994, and he's had it in mind ever since. The film moves between live action and motion capture and performance capture animation. It has been rumored to revolutionize CGI and animation, and so far it looks visually incredible. The movie is about a paralyzed man named Jake who takes part in a program that lets him put his mind into the body of an alien creature. He goes to their planet to infiltrate the tribe and gets drawn in by the beautiful world and the people. It stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver.
If this sci-fi blockbuster isn't really your thing, however, there is "Nine," a musical based on a Tony-Award winning musical of the same name. It's about the midlife crisis of an Italian director who contemplates his lifelong relationship with women. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, and Kate Hudson. With a star-studded cast like that, it really seems worth a look.
December 25 - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Sherlock Holmes
Let's face it: most of the hype over "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" comes due to the fact it is Heath Ledger's last movie before he died, and because three exceptional male actors took his place since he wasn't finished the role. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all play versions of Ledger's original character Tony, and they each donated their paychecks to Ledger's daughter. The movie itself is finally coming out, and it is about Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) who leads a traveling theater group and makes a deal with the devil. He was given powers over the imagination and must trade his daughter in return. It looks bizarre and fun and beautiful, so if you're in the mood for something a little difference, this is the one to check out.
Then of course there is "Sherlock Holmes." The brilliant detective brought to life by Arthur Conan Doyle has starred in many books, TV series, and several other films in the past. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr., fresh from his "Iron Man" success, as the title character and Jude Law as his best friend and partner Watson. Using Holmes' unique style of investigation and intellect, the duo plan to stop a cult leader (Mark Strong) from destroying Britain. The film is directed by Guy Ritchie, which means it kind of comes off as more of an action movie than fans of the books might expect, but the humor and charm of its main characters seem solid and attractive. It's elementary, my dear readers, that this will definitely be a Christmas Day hit. Read More...


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