10   +   9   =  

Just to be clear, there are other films out this week. No one is likely to notice given the return of a certain blockbuster, but it’s a point that needs to made. Now I’ll stop causing distractions and start talking about Star Wars.

Expectations have rarely been this high for a film. For months the build-up to Star Wars has dominated headlines, both in the film press and more generally. Even the first sale of tickets made it into the news. Well the wait is finally over as The Force Awakens covers cinemas across the country. And it seems everyone loves it. Critics have been raving as much as the hard-core fans, issuing 5 star reviews left, right and centre. J.J. Abrams appears not only to have stepped over George Lucas’ shocking prequels, but also to have tapped into the magic of the originals. So enjoy it, because it seems everyone else is. And you certainly won’t be able to avoid it.

Distributors have been running scared of Star Wars even before its release, so it’s no surprise to find a fairly empty slate this weekend. There is still a little counter-programming to get excited about though. On Monday comes the release of Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie. Picking up decent reviews stateside, this big screen outing for the famous comic strip is light on story and heavy on charm. Barrelling through a series of expertly handled slapstick gags, it’s the kind of all-ages entertainment made for Christmas.

If you’re looking for grandeur but sheer escapism isn’t your thing, Sherpa is also out this week. Jennifer Peedom and her team set out for Everest to investigate a story that had seen a group of Sherpas fighting with climbers. While there, they witnessed a tragedy that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpas. This hard-hitting film looks at the role of the Sherpa, and the way their relationship with tourist climbers has deteriorated over the years. There’s optimism though, as the Sherpa’s come together to try and claim back the land that’s always been theirs.

It’s almost Christmas so the DVD market is flooding with new releases. Of all the picks this week, Fantastic Four is the most interesting. In the build-up, everything looked rosy. A hot young director and equally hot cast seemed to be working together to take the characters away from the cheesy earlier films. And then it finally emerged, panned by critics and its own director and ignored by audiences. The final act lurch is terrible, but as a whole the film is nowhere near as bad as the cloud around it suggests. That there’s a strong film in their somewhere only adds to the messy situation.

That’s all for another week. They’ll be a double edition next time to take us through Christmas and the New Year. See you then.

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