8   +   8   =  

It seems The Hunger Games has scared off big budget competition, creating a clear run through to the release of the final instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit series. But not everything has to be an action spectacle as this week’s releases proves. And if Peru bound immigration, comedy sequels and religious teen dramas can’t slake your first and you’re still hankering for $100m plus carnage, home entertainment has you covered.

It would be advisable to stock up on marmalade because Paddington’s back. Everyone’s favourite travelling bear makes his big screen bow just in time for the run-up to Christmas. Michael Bond’s famous creation has taken his time transitioning to the big screen, but it looks like the wait has been worth it. The second feature from The Mighty Boosh director Paul King, following 2009’s charming Bunny and the Bull brings together an impressive stable of talent from Ben Whishaw to Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman. Whether you’re meeting him for the first time or reacquainting, make sure you get down to the cinema.

Horrible Bosses reaped a large return in 2011 with its all-star cast and string of decent jokes. The simple premise – three put-upon employees make a pact to kill each other’s bosses – admirably avoided overcomplicating the comic hijinks. The trio of would be assassins, played with verve by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, all return for Horrible Bosses 2, as do Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston, the surviving tyrants from the previous outing. With another stroll down criminal lane beckoning, there’s a danger it might end up a lame rehash of old material. The addition of Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine could save it from this path. The reviews so far suggest they don’t.

For a change of pace, German brother and sister Dietrich and Anna Brüggemann’s (Dietrich directs, they both write) religious drama, Stations of the Cross, makes its way from the Berlin Film Festival in February to the UK this week. Following teenage Maria as she makes her way through the 14 Stations of the Cross in a bid to prove her commitment to Jesus. It’s a religious coming of age tale that grapples with the power and complexity of faith rather than solely denigrating it. For a rich and thoughtful experience before the madness of Christmas breaks, you can’t do much better.

Off the big screen, the Marvel mould is finally broken in this week’s pick of the new DVD releases. After a solid run-up to The Avengers, the aftermath has increasingly felt like a slog through the same characters facing the same challenges. Step forward Guardians of the Galaxy, a gleefully enjoyable space opera that plunges Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and a disparate band of miscreants and misfits into an adventure to save the universe. The action is every bit as spectacular as you’d expect from Marvel. What differs is the sheer level of fun. Frequently hilarious, it’s a delight that deserves to be seen more than once.

I guess that’s all for now. With November wrapped up I bid you farewell. I’ll see you next week for a submarine and Bill Murray (sadly not combined).

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