TL;DR This Week In Cinema: Apartheid, Animation and A Jolly Good Xmas
Because I am a strategic mastermind, I've cleared the slate to make Boxing Day manageable for you and I, dear readers. Please enjoy this very reasonable portion of holiday goodness, along with a carefully selected highlight that you can take your immediate family along to as means to drown out your cousin's declarations of loyalty to Trump.
There's also a blissful absence of Christmas-themed material. Thank every deity in existence.
A UNITED KINGDOM
David Oyelowo (who you might remember as Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma) and Rosamund Pike star in this apartheid-era tale of an empire standing between a king, his crown and his love.
READ our full review of A United Kingdom here
Ironically, the more critical reviews lambasted it as having all the complexity of a Disney princess movie, when in fact this week's Disney princess movie is receiving accolades for being precisely the opposite.
Diving between London and Botswana, Amma Asante's historical heartwarmer pits its fine leads against the heights of British dickery - Captain Norrington (Jack Davenport) and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton).
tl;dr Still more united than *some* kingdoms.
When the news stories about actors in heat overwhelm discussion of the film itself, it's wise to lower one's expectations.
For those Women's Weekly fans who enjoy shipping post-divorce Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, there's plenty of steam for the rumour mill. For everyone else, an underwhelming wartime intrigue that at least briefly teases the return of Lt. Aldo Raine.
It's fair to say we're many years past Robert Zemeckis' finest directorial effort, which of course is Death Becomes Her.
tl;dr They think Cotillard's the spy, but Pitt's the finest undercover guy there is.
Now this is exciting - Disney's latest echoes its princess films of old, but in a refreshing new light that pays tribute to Polynesian culture (instead of merely aping it) and paints the titular female lead accurately.
Just think - there's an entire generation of young women for whom Katniss, Jyn, Rei, Judy Hopps and Moana (newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) are role models, and that's frickin' awesome.
The plight of Moana is not to find a prince, but to wrangle demigod brat Maui (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) into helping her recover the stone heart of the goddess Te Fiti. It's already smashing the box office in the US and picking up critical acclaim on par with the wonderful Zootopia.
And it's brought to you by the same duo that wrote and directed Aladdin, Hercules, The Princess And The Frog and The Little Mermaid - John Musker and Ron Clements. If that ain't clout, I dunno what is.
tl;dr Should ask Dreamworks for tips on drawing mighty and powerful gods.
Illumination Entertainment is to animation what McDonald's is to food: at best, briefly satisfying, but also a soulless multinational conglomerate churning out shit to make a few people rich.
Not sure who they are? They're the one your mum tells you is cute and funny because of these little. yellow. VERMIN. You know, the ones invented to sell toys instead of to actually entertain people. They're even trying to cash in on the Zootopia market by anthropomorphising their characters!
Their latest involves them stringing together no less than EIGHTY-FIVE POPULAR SONGS with the barest thread of a plot, to put bums on seats and sell a few records. Not my jam, thanks. At least Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks are trying to say something with their merchandising.
tl;dr It's important to grow old with dignity.
I agree with the title, but I really feel it should have been addressed to the casting agent.
Yes, dear friends, my post-Freaks And Geeks distaste for all things Franco (not the French, the actors) continues, and now James has gone and dragged Bryan Cranston into the mess. Could this patriarchal bullshit, also starring the very funny Megan Mullally, be any good?
Nope, not according to Rotten Tomatoes. Writer/director John Hamburg has really run the critical gauntlet, too, vaulting from the height of I Love You, Man (84%) to the crushing low of Little Fockers (a withering 10%). At least he's evening out?
DOCTOR WHO: THE RETURN OF DOCTOR MYSTERIO (Special Screening)
'Tis the night before Christmas, and all through the UK, every household watches the Doctor Who special or they lose their citizenship.
The nation that brought us empire, Simon Cowell (blergh) and all the best swear words sends us Peter Capaldi as a peace offering, in a slightly more PC manner than the fare for which he is best loved.
Also starring Matt Lucas, Charity Wakefield and Justin Chatwin, I have no idea what's going on as I'm a few seasons behind the curve. Who cares! It's a Chrissy special, fucking be jolly for fuck's sake.
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
Disney takes the Christmas biscuit. For family-friendly thrills, head out on the open ocean Wind Waker style with Moana.
Until next year, dear readers! Enjoy your holidays!