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December 16, 2009 > Movie Review: New Movie Releases

Movie Review: New Movie Releases

By Mona Shah

Christmas is around the corner, and the holidays can be rough and exhausting. So check your list, may be check it twice, from naughty to nice... there are lots of movies coming to town this holiday season.

The major studios usually launch films they think are Oscar contenders in the last two months of the year. This year is no different; some movies listed here are strong contenders.

This list of new releases will soon be on screen at a multiplex near you.



Crazy Heart
Opens: December 16
Rated: R

Jeff Bridges stars as the richly comic, semi-tragic romantic anti-hero Bad Blake in the debut feature film Crazy Heart. Bad Blake is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who's had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times. And yet, Bad can't help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician. As he struggles down the road of redemption, Bad learns the hard way just how tough life can be on one man's crazy heart.



Avatar
Opens: December 18
Rated: PG-13

Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people. More than ten years in the making, Avatar marks Cameron's return to feature directing since helming 1997's Titanic. This movie will incorporate new intuitive CGI technologies to transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that will transport the audience into the alien world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters.



Hachiko: A Dog's Story
Opens: December 18
Rated: G

This family drama reunites actor Richard Gere and director Lasse Halstršm. Born out of real-life events, "Hachiko: A Dog's Story" tells the tale of Hachiko, a faithful dog who would walk his owner to and from the train station every day. But when the man unexpectedly dies, Hachiko continues his daily routine of waiting for his master at the train station for the next nine years, becoming a fixture in the community.



Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Opens: December 18
Rated: PG

The comedy "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" follows a highly successful Manhattan couple, Meryl and Paul Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant), whose almost-perfect lives have only one notable failure - their dissolving marriage. But the turmoil of their romantic lives is nothing compared to what they are about to experience: they witness a murder and become targets of a contract killer. The Feds, protecting their witnesses, whisk the Morgans away from their beloved New York to a tiny town in Wyoming, and a relationship that was on the rocks threatens to end completely in the Rockies... unless, in their new BlackBerry-free lives, the Morgans can slow down the pace and rekindle the passion.



The Young Victoria
Opens: December 18
Rated: PG

1837. Victoria (17) (Emily Blunt) is the object of a royal power struggle. Her uncle, King William (Jim Broadbent), is dying and Victoria is in line for the throne. Everyone is vying to win her favor. However Victoria is kept from the court by her overbearing mother, The Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), and her ambitious advisor, Conroy (Mark Strong). Victoria hates them both.

King William dies and Victoria is crowned Queen of England. Victoria's first decree is to banish her mother and Conroy to a remote palace apartment. The public loves their new Queen. She's cheered as she rides through the streets but this honeymoon with the public comes to a sudden end. Melbourne's party is defeated in the elections and his rival, Peel (Michael Maloney), demands that Victoria replace her ladies in waiting. Victoria refuses. Peel resigns and the backlash is furious.

Victoria's handsome cousin, Albert (Rupert Friend) is invited to visit by her mother. It's obvious that Albert has been coached to win her hand. At first she's annoyed as she has no intention of being married. However Albert is also tired of being manipulated by his relatives. Victoria and Albert talk openly and sincerely and become friends. Consequently they marry and rule together.



Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Opens: December 25
Rated: PG

Pop sensations Alvin, Simon and Theodore end up in the care of Dave Seville's twenty-something nephew Toby (Levi). The boys must put aside music superstardom to return to school, and are tasked with saving the school's music program by winning the $25,000 prize in a battle of the bands. But the Chipmunks unexpectedly meet their match in three singing chipmunks known as The Chipettes -- Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette. Romantic and musical sparks are ignited when the Chipmunks and Chipettes square off.



Sherlock Holmes
Opens: December 25
Rated: PG-13

In a dynamic new portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous characters, "Sherlock Holmes" sends Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson on their latest challenge. Revealing fighting skills as lethal as his legendary intellect, Holmes will battle as never before to bring down a new nemesis and unravel a deadly plot that could destroy the country.



It's Complicated
Opens: December 25
Rated: R

Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin star in "It's Complicated," a comedy about love, divorce and everything in between.

Jane (Streep) is the mother of three grown kids, owns a thriving Santa Barbara bakery/restaurant and has--after a decade of divorce--an amicable relationship with her ex-husband, attorney Jake (Baldwin). But when Jane and Jake find themselves out of town for their son's college graduation, things start to get complicated. An innocent meal together turns into the unimaginable--an affair. With Jake remarried to the much younger Agness (Lake Bell), Jane is now, of all things, the other woman.

Caught in the middle of their renewed romance is Adam (Martin), an architect hired to remodel Jane's kitchen. Healing from a divorce of his own, Adam starts to fall for Jane, but soon realizes he's become part of a love triangle.

Should Jane and Jake move on with their lives, or is love truly lovelier the second time around? It's...complicated.



The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Opens: December 25
Rated: PG-13

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a fantastical morality tale, set in the present day. It tells the story of Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a traveling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr. Nick, in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday he or she would become the property of Mr. Nick. In this captivating, explosive and wonderfully imaginative race against time, Dr Parnassus must fight to save his daughter in a never-ending landscape of surreal obstacles - and undo the mistakes of his past once and for all.



Nine
Opens: December 25
Rated: PG-13

Nine is a vibrant and provocative musical that follows the life of world famous film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he reaches a creative and personal crisis of epic proportion, while balancing the numerous women in his life including his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer (Judi Dench), a young American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), the whore from his youth (Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson) and his mother (Sophia Loren).



Up in the Air
Opens: In theatres now
December 25 (wide)
Rated: R

From Jason Reitman, the Oscar-nominated director of "Juno," comes "Up in the Air," the timely odyssey of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer and consummate modern business traveler who, after years of staying happily airborne, suddenly finds himself ready to make a real connection.

Ryan has long been contented with his unencumbered lifestyle lived out across America in airports, hotels and rental cars. He can carry all he needs in one wheel-away case; he's a pampered, elite member of every travel loyalty program in existence; and he's close to attaining his lifetime goal of 10 million frequent flier miles - and yet . . . Ryan has nothing real to hold onto.

When he falls for a simpatico fellow traveler (Vera Farmiga), Ryan's boss (Jason Bateman), inspired by a young, upstart efficiency expert (Anna Kendrick), threatens to permanently call him in from the road. Faced with the prospect, at once terrifying and exhilarating, of being grounded, Ryan begins to contemplate what it might actually mean to have a home.

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