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Holiday Movie Review 2018

Review all the new movies currently playing cinemas. | Photo: Tyler Collins.
Review all the new movies currently playing cinemas. | Photo: Tyler Collins.

My favourite part of the holidays is always the terrific assortment of new movies that comes to the multiplex this time of year. Even though Christmas has come and gone, there’s still plenty of time over the holidays to see some great (and not so great) films.

With 12 new wide releases in theatres since December 14th, it’s been one of the busiest holiday movie seasons ever. From family films to Oscar hopefuls, there’s no lack of variety, either.

Because there are so many to choose from, Oakville News (and yours truly) presents our now annual holiday movies review. Each new film below, organized chronologically, is listed with our rating, stars, and what cinemas are currently showing it. There’s also a paragraph or two highlighting our thoughts on each, concluding with a trailer for each film.

We hope this collection can help you decide what movies to see this holiday season. Whether you’re going out with friends, your family, or yourself! There’s sure to be something you’ll enjoy. Have a great time at the movies!

Mortal Engines

1 1/2 out of 4 stars

PG, 2hrs 8mins. Fantasy Adventure Epic.

Starring Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving and Jihae.

Released December 14th, playing at Winston Churchill and Oakville/VIP.

The trailers suggest an action-packed epic of mechanical cities devouring smaller, less mechanical cities. Mortal Engines is really an overlong political story with few car chases and actual events. The production design is outstanding, but it’s all style and little substance. Don’t let producer Peter Jackson’s involvement entice you - this is not the next Lord of the Rings.



3 1/2 out of 4 stars

14A, 2hrs 15mins. Foreign Drama.

Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, Diego Cortina Autrey and Nancy Garcia.

Released December 14th. Now streaming on Netflix and playing at Cine Starz Cinema Burlington.

Master director Alfonso Cuaron has made an exceptionally smart, sweeping movie true to his Mexican roots. Housemaid Cleo (an amazing Yalitza Aparicio) must face an unexpected challenge while caring for a wealthy family outside Mexico City. While is film is occasionally slow or obnoxiously artistic and poignant, the beautiful cinematography and direction make up for it.

The movie is both on Netflix (who bought the film) and playing in select cinemas now. Despite the case from film snobs, there’s no shame in watching the film at home on the popular streaming service. It would be criminal, however, to watch this on a smartphone or iPad. If you can’t stream it to a proper television, at least use a computer to appreciate the filmmakers’ scope.




2 1/2 out of 4 stars

PG, 2hrs 23mins. Superhero Action Fantasy.

Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson and Willem Dafoe.

Released December 21st, playing at Film.Ca, Winston Churchill and Oakville/VIP.

Most modern DC comics movies are uneventful and unlikeably serious. Aquaman has the opposite problem. It’s campy, whimsical, and the hero’s origin story is hilariously predictable. What makes it fun is how heartfelt and exciting the movie is. The cast is having a ball, and the tone is optimistic and empowering instead of brooding like last year’s Justice League. So what if it’s 20 minutes too long? The terrific special effects and action sequences make Atlantis really come alive.



Second Act

2 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hr 44mins. Drama Comedy.

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Hudgens and Leah Remini.

Released December 21st, playing at Winston Churchill and Oakville/VIP.

Lopez stars as a grocery store assistant manager who gets a corporate gig for a cosmetics company by lying. The premise is bright and the story is mildly interesting. The defining moment is a dramatic twist about halfway through the movie that definitely gets your attention and your heartstrings. It’s never funny enough to be a comedy nor profound enough to be an effective drama. But it’s still oddly enjoyable, if forgettable.




3 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hr 54mins. Fantasy Sci-Fi Epic.

Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Angela Bassett.

Released December 21st, playing at Film.Ca, Winston Churchill and Oakville/VIP.

This is what Transformers movies were always destined to be. Unlike the past five movies, director Travis Knight takes over from longtime franchise captain Michael Bay. Knight finds moments of charm and dramatic heft in the story, which makes the entire movie warmer and more interesting.

And with shaky cameras and generic explosions gone, the robot fights are also much better staged. One outstanding shot of the climactic fight is angled upwards from the humans as they actively run to save the day. Awesome!



Welcome to Marwen

1 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hr 56mins. Biopic Drama.

Starring Steve Carrell, Leslie Mann, Merritt Weaver, Janelle Monáe, Eiza González and Gwendoline Christie.

Released December 21st, playing at Winston Churchill.

Based on a true story and 2010 documentary, this biopic is largely boring and confusing. Most of the movie is focused on the main character deciding whether or not to attend an event at the local courthouse. Steve Carrell is giving a detailed and emotional lead performance, but even he can’t hold a 15 minute story over a two hour movie. Clashing tones and weird, stilted dialogue make this painful to watch.




3 1/2 out of 4 stars

14A, 2hrs 13mins. Comedy History Biopic.

Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carrell and Sam Rockwell.

Released December 25th, playing at Winston Churchill and Oakville/VIP.

On the other hand, the audience-splitting Vice is a much livelier biography. Christian Bale’s Dick Cheney is mesmerizing. His characterization over 50 years of Cheney’s life is the best male lead of the year. The film would be funnier if a few extraneous scenes were cut. But many of the cinematic gags are hilarious - political comedies don’t get much edgier than this. And don’t worry, they eventually admit to their liberal bias.



Holmes & Watson

0 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hr 32mins. Comedy.

Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Kelly Macdonald, Ralph Fiennes.

Released December 25th, playing at Winston Churchill and Oakville/VIP.

Unfortunately, this Christmas Day release turned out to be one of the biggest blunders this year. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are talented comedians and a great pairing. But I did not laugh once through the overstretched 90 minutes.

It’s criminally unfunny. The story is gross. Most cutaway gags add nothing to the cliché story. The few clever moments are run into the ground. It has almost no redeeming qualities and should avoided at all costs for the holidays and every other holiday for the rest of time.


My other recommendations include earlier December releases Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mary Poppins Returns. Green Book, a November release, is also still playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill.

Happy Holidays!