Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in a scene from Jumanji: The Next Level. Supplied by Sony Pictures.
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in a scene from Jumanji: The Next Level. Supplied by Sony Pictures.

What’s on the big screen for Boxing Day

THE festive season wouldn't be in full swing without a stack of new movies to keep us entertained as many enjoy a well-deserved break.

Christmas has come early for Star Wars fans with The Rise of Skywalker, director J.J. Abrams' epic conclusion to the Skywalker Saga - George Lucas's trilogy of trilogies - hitting cinemas before Santa had even finished packing his sleigh.

It may not be a slam dunk according to the critics, but fans will still flock to the movie theatre in droves to see the space opera's stunning visuals on the big screen one last time.

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This year's Boxing Day offerings are a mixed bag of action adventure, musical fantasy and audacious comedy.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's megamusical Cats is finally getting a big-screen adaptation, but the look and feel of Tom Hooper's cutting-edge visuals - in which digital fur was added to the actors using CGI in post-production - are already dividing fans.

Even after some last-minute tweaks, it's a strange and drawn-out two hours at the cinema.

The Dwayne Johnson-helmed Jumanji sequel is much more likely to be Star Wars' biggest box office competitor.

A reboot of the beloved 1995 film starring the late Robin Williams, Jumanji's new all-star team of video game warriors returns to 'level up'. Crazy Rich Asians favourite Awkwafina a welcome addition to the cast.

Finally, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi stars in Jojo Rabbit, one of this year's boldest big-screen offerings.

The filmmaker manages to make Adolf Hitler, or an imaginary version of him, his comic foil in this deeply affecting satire.

Cats (G)

Francesca Hayward, centre, in a scene from the movie Cats. Supplied by Universal Pictures.
Francesca Hayward, centre, in a scene from the movie Cats. Supplied by Universal Pictures.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's beloved musical Cats, based on T.S. Elliot's poems, finally gets the big-screen treatment.

Director Tom Hooper is the man for the job after his ambitious adaptation of Les Miserables, which starred our own Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.

Cats is a very different beast, though. Set in a fantasy world, the story centres on a tribe of cats called the Jellicles who must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.

Groundbreaking technology was used to add digital fur to the performers in post-production, but the lifelike effect might be too bizarre for some.

Jennifer Hudson singing Memories should be a highlight. There's also a new original song by Taylor Swift. Read the review.

Stars: Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Francesca Hayward.

Director: Tom Hooper

In cinemas: Boxing Day

Jumanji: The Next Level (PG)

Kevin Hart, from left, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan and Jack Black in a scene from Jumanji: The Next Level. Photo by Hiram Garcia/Sony.
Kevin Hart, from left, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan and Jack Black in a scene from Jumanji: The Next Level. Photo by Hiram Garcia/Sony.

WHEN news of a Jumanji reboot was first announced, it was dismissed as just another rehash. But thanks to its inventive reimagining of the deadly boardgame as a video game, and the chemistry of leads Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan, the film received rave reviews and went on to become the fifth highest-grossing film of 2017.

Now we have a few fresh faces joining the awesome foursome in the sequel The Next Level.

As the gang returns to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world's most dangerous game.

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina.

Director: Jake Kasdan

In cinemas: Boxing Day

Jojo Rabbit (M)

Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has dinner with his imaginary friend Adolf (Writer/Director Taika Waititi), and his mother, Rosie (Scarlet Johansson) in a scene from Jojo Rabbit. Photo by Kimberley French.
Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has dinner with his imaginary friend Adolf (Writer/Director Taika Waititi), and his mother, Rosie (Scarlet Johansson) in a scene from Jojo Rabbit. Photo by Kimberley French.

ACCLAIMED Kiwi filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi is known for his irreverent sense of humour.

Hot the heels of his successful reboot of Marvel's Thor franchise, the director is back with his most bonkers film yet.

In Jojo Rabbit, a lonely German boy's world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

This won't be to everyone's taste, but the anti-hate message at its core is a relevant and timely one. Conceptually, it's his most ambitious film to date.

Stars: Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson.

Director: Taika Waititi

In cinemas: Boxing Day

Little Women (G)

Emma Watson (left), Saoirse Ronan (second from right) and Australian Eliza Scanlan (far right) in a scene from Little Women.
Emma Watson (left), Saoirse Ronan (second from right) and Australian Eliza Scanlan (far right) in a scene from Little Women.

THERE's no shortage of adaptations of Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel.

But with a stellar cast, director Greta Gerwig's new addition to that canon has to rank among the best.

Rising Aussie actor Eliza Scanlen stars opposite Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronan in this modern, yet respectfully traditional take on the classic story of four sisters coming of age in American in the aftermath of the Civil War.

It's a reunion for Ronan and Timothee Chalamet, who starred together in Lady Bird - also directed by Gerwig.

Understandably, fans were shocked when Gerwig was snubbed in the Golden Globe nominations, which have favoured all male directors for the second year in a row.

Stars: Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Eliza Scanlen, Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet.

Director: Greta Gerwig

In cinemas: New Year's Day

Spies in Disguise (PG)

A scene from the movie Spies in Disguise. Supplied by Twentieth Century Fox.
A scene from the movie Spies in Disguise. Supplied by Twentieth Century Fox.

This entertaining family film won't win many awards, but parents won't fall asleep in it either.

Will Smith voices super spy Lance Sterling, who must team up with scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) after he is accidentally transformed into a pigeon.

Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn voices the bad guy, while country music singer Reba McEntire and DJ Khaled have cameos.

First-time directors Nick Bruno (The Peanuts Movie) and Troy Quane (Ice Age: Collision Course) took their inspiration from the award-winning short film Pigeon: Impossible for this espionage comedy, which features a soundtrack by hit-maker Mark Ronson.

There's plenty of action and humorous gags, with a good-natured take home message on the importance of team work. Read the interview with the directors.

Stars: Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Will Smith.

Directors: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane

In cinemas: New Year's Day

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (M)

Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn in a scene from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn in a scene from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Bringing George Lucas's Skywalker Saga to its conclusion was always going to be a tough ask.

In The Rise of Skywalker, the surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron's journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.

Fans will find moments of joy in this final chapter, but overall it's a disjointed mess as director J.J. Abrams tries to right the wrongs of the previous film The Last Jedi.

While the ending is ultimately a satisfying one on an emotional level, the film takes too long to find its feet.

After more than 40 years of love and support, the Star Wars fandom deserves better. Read the review.

Stars: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hamimll, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson.

Director: J.J. Abrams

In cinemas: now

The Gentlemen (MA 15+)

Michelle Dockery, Matthew McConaughey and Charlie Hunnam in a scene from The Gentlemen. Supplied by Roadshow Films.
Michelle Dockery, Matthew McConaughey and Charlie Hunnam in a scene from The Gentlemen. Supplied by Roadshow Films.

DIRECTOR Guy Ritchie, who most recently helmed Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin, returns to familiar ground in this British crime comedy.

Matthew McConaughey stars as American expat Mickey Pearson, who has built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. But when word gets out that he's looking to cash out of the business forever it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him.

This crime caper boasts a great support cast including Jeremy Strong, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Eddie Marsan, Hugh Grant, Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery and a tracksuit-clad Colin Farrell.

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong.

Director: Guy Ritchie

In cinemas: New Year's Day


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