This Month in Film: December 2018

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2018 in film has flown by. We’ve had instant classics (Roma and Avengers: Infinity War), the good (A Star is Born and BlacKkKlansman), the disappointing (Solo: A Star Wars Story and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), and the utterly dreadful (look no further than Slender Man). But we’re not quite finished yet, with December looking like it has the potential to add to all four of these categories.

Mary Poppins Returns, dir. by Rob Marshall

Starring: Emily Blunt, Dick Van Dyke, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Release Date: 21st December

Few films are as well suited for a festive-season release as a Mary Poppins one. Released in 1964, the Julie Andrews starring musical became an instant hit with both children and adults alike, encapsulating everything that we would come to love about a Walt Disney work. Given the legacy of the original, and the fact that Hollywood seems to have an obsession with remaking every film that has ever been popular, it’s almost surprising that it has taken until now for the magical nanny to return to our screens. What is particularly interesting about Mary Poppins Returns is that it is not your bog-standard remake. Instead, the new film takes place many years after Poppins’ original visit to the Banks family as a grown up Michael (Ben Whishaw) requires a spoonful of sugar to get through a difficult time. This time around, Emily Blunt takes on the titular role, and having already been given the seal of approval from predecessor Andrews, she seems to be the perfect fit. The rest of the cast is pretty wonderful too, with the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Julie Walters rounding things off (you’d be forgiven for wondering if this film is in fact Mamma Mia! 2.5). Quite frankly, Mary Poppins Returns looks lovely.

Bumblebee, dir. by Travis Knight

Starring: Hailee Steinfield, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett, John Cena
Release Date: 26th December

The Transformers films are a lot like marmite, you either love them or you hate them. In recent years, I have been firmly in the hate camp, turning my nose up at pretty much everything that Michael Bay has done with characters that have all the potential to be interesting at heart. Bumblebee, however, looks like it could offer something refreshingly different. Gone is both Bay and the outmoded misogyny that plagues his work, and instead, the trailer suggests that this Travis Knight directed film has all the ingredients of an emotive and entertaining character study. Set in the late 1980s, it follows female protagonist Charlie (Hailee Steinfield) as she revives a beaten-down VW bug. All the elements of the smash-em-up blockbuster are present in this origin story (it stars John Cena, say no more), but there’s a sense of depth and humanity in the trailer for Bumblebee that recent Transformers iterations have painstakingly lacked. Whether it will offer anything more than popcorn-fuelled entertainment remains to be seen, but it is certain that Bumblebee marks an interesting new direction for an exhausted franchise.

EDITOR’S PICK: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, dir. by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Starring: Hailee Steinfield, Nicolas Cage, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber, Jake Johnston, Shameik Moore, John Mulaney
Release Date: 12th December

Spider-Man films aren’t exactly hard to come by. Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland have all done a valiant job of portraying arguably Marvel’s most-loved hero, but what many don’t realise is that there is a whole other side to the character and the world he inhabits. With a star-studded voice cast and input from the fantastic Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the brains behind The Lego Movie), it is this different side that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is set to explore by venturing into the world of Miles Morales, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir and a whole host of other intriguing characters that have long been left out of Spider-Man on screen. Besides the fact we won’t be seeing Spidey exactly how we know him, the other major difference is of course the fact that this film is animated. No medium could be more fitting to represent the alternative dimension, with its creative, flexible possibilities sure to be used to their full potential in this web-slinging affair. A lucky few have already had the chance to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and put it this way, they’ve loved it. In fact, if these early reviews are to believed, Spidey’s animated venture could end up being the best Spider-Man film yet.

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Film Editor 2018/19. Self-professed Ryan Gosling expert and karaoke master.

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