Holiday movie guide

Deck the box office

A guide to the holiday’s big releases

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The stormtroopers are notorious for having bad aim. Hopefully J.J. Abram’s will be better.

By Austin Lindner | Echo

With students out of school and vacations beginning, the holiday season is a crucial time at the box office. When your options for holiday viewing range from a Christmas monster to the history of the Miracle Mop, it can be difficult to decipher which film to see with the family.

In an effort to help you wade through the sea of posters at the movie theater this December, here is a quick guide to a few of the bigger contenders that will competing for the crowds this Christmas.

 

Krampus – Dec. 4

Santa Claus is already pretty unsettling. He stares at you while you’re sleeping, he knows when you’ve been bad, and he annually breaks into your house to eat your food. But if St. Nick isn’t scary enough already, “Krampus” is the holiday film for you.

This horror-comedy hybrid blends a comedic ensemble including Toni Collette and Adam Scott of “Parks and Recreation” with an age-old legend of a Christmas demon. Instead of bringing gifts and good tidings, the Krampus monster brings horror and a bag for kidnapping naughty children.

While the horror-comedy genre is already difficult to pull off, horror-comedy-holiday is unheard of. But according to relatively positive reviews, director Michael Dougherty is able to achieve a fragile balance of giggles and gore. At the very least, “Krampus” promises to be a unique viewing experience. But maybe don’t bring Grandma and her fragile heart to this one.

 

In the Heart of the Sea – Dec. 11

After a few decades of cute films like “Free Willy” and “Big Miracle,” Hollywood is finally rejecting the idea of cuddly, misunderstood whales. Instead, “In the Heart of the Sea” exposes these creatures for the terrifying sea monsters they really are. Starring Chris Hemsworth as someone other than Thor, this film adapts the true story of the Essex whaling ship disaster onto the big screen.

Although it inspired the well-known story of “Moby Dick,” the sperm whale attack of the Essex is rarely referenced in film. Renowned director Ron Howard is clearly playing up this legendary aspect of the story in an effort to create a modern epic. The visuals from the trailers look beautiful and the cast is more than worthy, but the film will have to rely on more than choreographed whale attack scenes to keep it floating.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Dec. 18

When the news dropped that this famous 40-year-old sci-fi saga would be continuing, both adults and children were left in puddles of happy tears. While the official trailer dropped only a month ago, it has already garnered over 68 million views on YouTube, along with about 68 million different opinions about whether this film will fly or flop. The hilted lightsaber, the fact that Disney is behind the reboot, the new droid design—every slight adjustment to the legacy creates a controversy within the Star Wars community.

With J.J. Abrams, creator of “Lost” and director of the “Star Trek” reboots, at the helm, it remains to be seen whether or not “The Force Awakens” will be able to rise above the lifeless, CGI-saturated Star Wars prequels. But hey, we can at least bet on a few sweet lens flares.

 

Sisters – Dec. 18

Having co-hosted the Golden Globes multiple times, in addition to appearing in each other’s solo movies for years, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have made quite the name for themselves as a comedic duo. This holiday season they will be teaming up once again in a new buddy movie, “Sisters.”

The plot isn’t brilliant. Two middle-aged sisters return to their childhood home and discover that their parents are planning on selling it in the near future. The more wordly, party-crazy sister, played by Tina Fey, convinces the more subdued one, Amy Poehler, that they should have one more epic house party as a proper goodbye.

While the concept isn’t unique, the fact that Poehler and Fey have banded together for this particular project is. It will be interesting to see if the duo are able to bring their typically quick and satirical brand to a genre of comedy known for its shallow laughs and raunchiness. Like all of my own crazy house parties, this film could either be a hit or a total disaster.

 

Joy – Dec. 25

Jennifer Lawrence’s time as the Mockingjay has come to an end, but her career as an actress is only beginning. Already her performance in director and writer David O. Russell’s latest film has some critics talking about another potential leading actress Oscar nomination on the horizon.

“Joy” follows the life of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano as she rises to the top of the business world, pushing through the work and family conflicts that arise. Like most David O. Russell films, “Joy” incorporates an ensemble of reputable actors, including Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.

Although many of Russell’s previous works like “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Fighter” have earned him awards and praise, advanced screening reviews of “Joy” are drawing mixed reactions, with most of the compliments resting solely on Lawrence’s performance. But if you want to see a movie about family and betrayal with a strong female character, you might find joy in this film.

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