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It’s a bumper double edition this week to cover the festive period. The run up to Christmas is usually a hectic time spent scrambling around sorting out presents, decorations and countless other tasks. Then, when the 25th has come and gone, the excitement seeps away until the New Year. Thankfully, whatever your mood they’ll be something worth checking out at the cinema over the next couple of weeks. And failing that, hopefully a film or two will find its way under the tree.

If everything starts to get too much, there are a couple of new releases on the 19th to provide much needed relief in the run-up to Christmas. Satisfying all the family, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb marks the third entry in the franchise. This time, Ben Stiller’s museum security guard has to venture out to restore the magic that allows the exhibits to come to life. Expect all-star accompaniment on his journey as Stiller is joined by a cowboy (Owen Wilson), a Roman soldier (Steve Coogan), Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and the sadly departed Robin Williams as President Theodore Roosevelt. There’s even the addition of Rebel Wilson’s fellow security guard, and a returning Ricky Gervais. It should keep the kids quiet for a while at least.

For those who can remember back to the 90s, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ famous morons are back in Dumb and Dumber To. They may have aged but it doesn’t appear Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne have gained any more sense in the intervening decades. Here, their witless adventures send them off in search of Harry’s long lost daughter. The humour will be firmly in the toilet, but if it’s half as good as the original, it should take your mind off preparations.

If you can then struggle through until Boxing Day, the cinema will fill up again with three big releases. First up is Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. It’s not the traditional Christmas bible story, instead stepping further back into the Old Testament. Christian Bale sheds the Batsuit to morph into Moses, leading his people to freedom. A strong cast and some very expensive visual effects come together to try and banish the leftover Turkey blues.

Stirring stuff lies at the heart of Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s second directorial effort. Jack O’Connell crowns a strong year as US Olympic athlete and solider Louis Zamperini. Shot down over the Pacific, he survives a perilous 47 days at sea only to end up in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, left at the mercy of brutal guards who try repeatedly to break him. Tipped as an early awards contender, the nominations have not been flowing to date. Still, if you’re lacking resolve over the holidays, this might be just the thing to buck you up again.

Rounding off an impressive Boxing Day slate is Big Eyes, Tim Burton’s biopic of the artist Margaret Keane. Famed for the titular eyes she paints onto children, Keane had her work fraudulently claimed by her husband for many years before fighting back. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz take the lead roles in a film that offers Burton plenty of opportunity to showcase his trademark quirky style.

There’s rarely a reason not to go to the cinema, but I guess excuses can be made for the next couple of weeks. And you can always watch at home. If you’re looking for something to add to the Christmas list, Into The Storm is out now. Richard Armitage is ostensibly the lead, but the real star is the massive weather front that wreaks havoc on a small US town. Without an ounce of originality, it will still make for entertaining viewing on Christmas Day when the prospect of moving from the sofa is a little too much.

If you then suddenly find yourself awash with gift vouchers come Boxing Day, God’s Pocket featuring one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final performances is released. John Slattery (of Mad Men fame) steps behind the camera for this drama in a working class area of Philadelphia. Powerful performances from Hoffman, John Turturro and Christina Hendricks make the film into an intriguing prospect.

So that’s 2014 done and dusted. All that’s left is to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2015.

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