IT’S SUMMER HOLIDAYS AND WITH THAT COMES PLENTY OF GREAT FILMS HITTING CINEMAS OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. THESE ARE THE TOP PICKS AT THE MOVIES
Stars: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman
They say: Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.
We say: Pre-awareness tracking of this DC Comics-produced superhero movie indicates this is likely to be the biggest hit of the summer. The charismatic Momoa has already successfully road-tested the marine man-mountain character in Batman v Superman and Justice League.
Close up: Australian connections are plentiful in this $200 million production, which was largely shot on the Gold Coast last year. Melbourne-born James Wan (of Saw and The Conjuring fame) directs, while Nicole Kidman plays Aquaman’s mum.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
Stars: The voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot
They say: Six years after the events of Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a Wi-Fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.
We say: Another sure-fire hit, and without doubt the animated movie kids will most want to see during the coming holidays. Wreck-It Ralph was jam-packed with clever ideas, and the same goes for the sequel.
Close up: Look out for a head-spinning array of cameos from Disney-owned characters like Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Kermit the Frog, Yoda and even Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell
They say: The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power in reshaping the US as Vice President to George W. Bush.
We say: Normally, a political biopic is about as inviting as an offer to sit in peak-hour traffic. This one is different due to a killer creative pedigree. The same team that brought you the brilliant high-finance exposé The Big Short.
Close up: Bale went all method to play the infamous Cheney, plonking on almost 20kg of flab and almost as much ageing makeup. The current frontrunner for the next Best Actor Oscar.
ALSO OPENING IN DECEMBER
BUMBLEBEE (December 20): Yep, this is the same Bumblebee of Transformers fame. The charismatic Autobot is popular enough to deserve his own spin-off, hence this origin-story prequel set in the ‘80s.
HOLMES & WATSON (December 26): Ace detective Sherlock and his doctorly offsider must save the queen from assassination. Stars reunited comedy dream team Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly (remember Talladega Nights?).
THE FAVOURITE (December 26): Currently a big Oscars boom on this strange 18th century comedy-drama about Britain’s eccentric Queen Anne. Stars Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman also drawing raves.
JANUARY MARY POPPINS RETURNS
Stars: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep
They say: While fighting to save their beautiful home in Depression-era London, the Banks family is paid a surprise extended visit by their enigmatic former nanny.
We say: Australia loves its summertime musicals, as The Greatest Showman recently proved yet again. As long as the songs are catchy and Emily Blunt honours the legacy of the great Julie Andrews, we’ll be there!
Close up: This is not a remake. The score by Marc Shaiman features more than a dozen brand new tunes. In tribute to the original, there will be an extended sequence combining live-action and hand-drawn animation.
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner
They say: Feeling a void opening up in their marriage, a childless couple explore adoption as a means of extending their family. Soon they are raising three children who have been abandoned by their mother.
We say: There is always room in the crowded holiday market for a feel-good comedy that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Being based on a heart-warming true story only enhances its wide appeal.
Close up: This genial affair has already been very well received by audiences in the US, where it will soon have grossed over $100 million. From the producers of the Daddy’s Home franchise.
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Guy Pearce
They say: Scottish monarch Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.
We say: Cometh the Oscars season, cometh the costume dramas! This lavish production certainly has the flashy threads to light up a screen … and the acting firepower looks mighty explosive too.
Close up: The competition was hot for the two lead roles until Ronan and Robbie won the day. Among those to miss the boat were Scarlett Johansson, Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Lawrence and Keira Knightley.
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Taissa Farmiga
They say: A 90-year-old horticulturist and WWII veteran is caught transporting $3 million worth of cocaine through Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel.
We say: According to the man himself, this shapes as the last time we’ll ever see the great Clint Eastwood in front of the cameras. Here’s hoping it is a fitting goodbye for a heck of a career.
Close up: At 88 years of age, Eastwood is still one of the busiest directors in Hollywood and has several projects queued up to go. A fair effort by Clint landing the white-hot Bradley Cooper as his co-star.
ALSO OPENING IN JANUARY
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD (January 3): Took a while, but the deceptively popular animated series based on the Cressida Cowell novels finally comes to a close. Hiccup is now the chief, but for how long?
STORM BOY (January 17): Remake of the 1976 Aussie chestnut about a junior beach bum whose best friend is a pelican. Like the original adaption of Colin Thiele’s much-loved children’s book, filmed on some stunning coastal locations in South Australia.
GREEN BOOK (January 24): Another Oscars contender. Viggo Mortensen plays a burly bouncer who becomes the driver of a black classical pianist touring the American South in the 1960s. A true story, too.
JASON MOMOA AND NICOLE KIDMAN STAR IN AQUAMAN, WHICH OPENS IN AUSSIE CINEMAS ON BOXING DAY – ALONG WITH RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET.
THE LEGENDARY CLINT EASTWOOD SAYS THE MULE WILL BE THE LAST TIME AUDIENCES GET TO SEE HIM IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS.