The festive season is officially upon us and we're delighted to announce that classic movies The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Polar Express and It's A Wonderful Life will be returning to your Cineworld screens this December.
In collaboration with distributor Park Circus we asked one of their student Ambassadors, Ben Jones, for his thoughts on these three Christmas masterpieces. It's time to snuggle up warm and kindle that fireside glow...
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This particular Muppet movie is undoubtedly unique. Compared to most of their other films, the tone is actually relatively serious and the script sticks very closely to Charles Dickens’ original source material. That level of respect for the original material gives it a sense of authenticity and gravitas, aided by the beautiful set design and solid, straight-faced central performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge.
It even has one of the creepiest Ghosts of Christmas Past, with an ethereal, doll-like face, that isn't threatening, but isn't quite lovable either. But this is still very much a Muppet movie. The Great Gonzo narrates it, often breaking the fourth wall along with the accident-prone Rizzo the Rat.
They provide most of the comic relief, but all the other Muppets play roles in the story, and occasionally slip out of character (such as Sam the Eagle forgetting the story is set in England). With all this and some delightfully sweet and catchy musical numbers, it is perhaps one of the most lovable Christmas films out there. Perfect for families (but to the adults out there, there's no shame in going alone!).
Click here to book your tickets for The Muppet Christmas Carol, re-released as part of our Movies for Juniors on 6th December (subtitled) and again on 15th December.
The Polar Express (2004)
Robert Zemeckis directs arguably the most successful fully motion-captured film out there (before you say it, Avatar had several live-action characters!).
It's the story of a boy, struggling to believe in Santa Claus, who boards a magical train to the North Pole. Based on the 1985 children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, the film retains a sense of bedtime-story magic and wonder.
It's a tour-de-force for Tom Hanks, who lends his wonderful voice and facial likeness to several characters, some of whom you won't recognise are him until the credits roll. His 'hobo' character is particularly compelling; an uncharacteristically edgy, unsettling role for Hanks.
The main appeal of The Polar Express may simply be its abundance of rollercoaster-esque sequences. With dexterous direction and beautiful CGI, you'll feel very much like you’re along for the ride. Thoroughly recommended for those searching for a little Christmas magic.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
Now fully embedded as an integral part of the Christmas experience for many, Frank Capra's enduring tale follows George Bailey (James Stewart), a man who lives selflessly but with little luck.
It's Christmas Eve and he's on the verge of suicide, when an angel appears to show him how different things would be if he had never been born. The angel, Clarence, is definitely a highlight in the film, bringing heavenly comic relief (pun intended) to otherwise less-than-cheery proceedings.
The famous "never been born" sequence is superbly chilling and builds to a moving conclusion. The film was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor – and it's a testament to Stewart's talents that audiences don't tire of watching George’s sorry exploits, rooting for him until the very end.
It's surprisingly dark for a Christmas film, but never fear, as you will end up feeling the joys of the season by the end. Go see it for the first time, or for the hundred and first time.
Click here to book your tickets for It's A Wonderful Life, returning to Cineworld on 11th December.