Movie Preview

The holiday movie season has finally arrived, and this year the Hollywood executives decided to diversify their releases. There is a grab bag of movies to choose from this year; every genre is well represented.

There are plenty of family-friendly films to choose from this year. Disney’s “Enchanted” will be amusing as it mocks the formula they’ve become known for by bringing their stereotypical animated characters into a modern day live-action setting in New York. Fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” will be happy to see Patrick Dempsey in a different romantic comedy role. The acting skills of Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman helm “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” a film about a magical toy story. It shows potential as the second project from screenwriter Zach Helm (“Stranger than Fiction”).

“The Water Horse” will entertain audiences with special effects about a mythical creature in a Scottish lake and the boy who discovers it. Even though it is based on a book by author Dick King-Smith (author of “Babe”) and has great actors like Ben Chaplin and Alex Etel, it might not prove to be a worthy gamble. The effects look great, but the plot appears to rely too heavily on cute animal tricks. The same can be said for “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” which hasn’t been getting any publicity as of yet, probably for good reason. Even the comedic talents of Jason Lee and some detailed animation might not be able to save this one.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, there are plenty of chills and thrills coming out this season too. Most notable is Will Smith’s “I Am Legend,” where he will play the last man on earth who turns out not to be alone after all. The previews already show that the film will contain some visually memorable scenes and some terrifying encounters.

The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) will also have a film coming out, “Southland Tales,” set in a futuristic Big Brother version of L.A. This film will highlight post-apocalyptic scenes on the sunny beaches of L.A. where sunbathers will be gathered – not your average dystopian fare.

For fans of epic or blockbuster films, the most promising of these is “The Golden Compass.” Also based on a children’s book, the film appears to include amazing special effects and a plot including plenty of action, not to mention dueling polar bears. The cast, which includes Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Ian McKellan and Eva Green, will hopefully deliver as well.

Just as widely advertised is “Sweeney Todd,” which will team up director Tim Burton with Johnny Depp once again, to the delight of fans. This musical will not appeal to everyone, though, since the director has also promised plenty of gore for the grisly tale of the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” There’s also the animated epic “Beowulf,” which uses Robert Zemeckis’ trademark motion-capture technology and has plenty of special effects depicting legendary creatures to keep audiences entertained.

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The sequel “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” however, seems doubtful. Although it has the same cast (which is always good for a sequel) and the previews show there will be plenty of adventure with secret passages and historical secrets, it also has the potential be quite cheesy. There are far too many locations, countries and history involved in the plot. When a sequel tries that hard, it’s never a good sign.

For those looking for a good romantic movie, “P.S. I Love You” stars the newly discovered Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank. This film will also include the comedic talents of Lisa Kudrow, who already has some great one-liners that elicit laughs in the previews. It shows high potential for being a memorable romantic comedy. “Love in the Time of Cholera” will be more on the drama side. Based on a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it to have plenty of magical realism to keep audiences enthralled with this popular story.

Those more in the mood for drama will find plenty to choose from as well. “The Bucket List” will include the phenomenal talents of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as they play two dying men who set out on a road trip together to finish off their lists of things to do before they die. “August Rush,” with Freddie Highmore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell and Robin Williams, will be a bit more on the family-friendly side as it modernizes “Oliver Twist” with music.

There are even films that are clearly gunning for an Oscar by being released at the last minute. Most obvious of them all is “Charlie Wilson’s War,” starring big-screen veterans Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. There’s no better chance to win the award than to have three Oscar-winning actors in a film about Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s involvement in training fighters in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.

Not all holiday fare will be worth watching, and there’s always that holiday problem of overindulging. But whether audiences want family friendly films, blockbusters, romance or thrills, this season has it all.


Release Dates:

“Southland Tales” Nov. 9
“Fred Claus” Nov. 9

“Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” Nov. 16
“Beowulf” Nov. 16
“Love in the Time of Cholera” Nov. 16

“Enchanted” Nov. 21
“August Rush” Nov. 21

“Atonement” Dec. 7
“The Golden Compass” Dec. 7

“Alvin and the Chipmunks” Dec. 14
“I Am Legend” Dec. 14

“P.S. I Love You” Dec. 21
“Sweeney Todd” Dec. 21
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets” Dec. 21

“Water Horse” Dec. 25
“The Bucket List” Dec. 25
“Charlie Wilson’s War” Dec. 25