If you like to avoid the heat, or you’re looking for something to beat free-to-air’s non-ratings period blues, then this is the article for you. Take a look as I preview some of the most interesting films and television due to come out in the holiday period!
House of Gucci (Out: New Year’s Day)
Sir Ridley Scott has been pretty outspoken in the press of late, from complaining about superhero films, to blaming people looking at their phones for the flop of his latest, The Last Duel. However, the hype around his newest project, The House of Gucci, is enough to look at making the trip to the theatre. Condemned by both the Gucci family and designer Tom Ford, the film has been praised for its warts and all approach to portraying the larger than life fashion moguls. With a stellar cast led by Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, with Al Pacino and Jared Leto in support, this looks like the kind of sumptuous, adult drama that has been missing from the multiplex for a while. If you’re one of those people who gets together with friends over a glass of wine and bemoans the current state of Hollywood, then vote with your wallet, and go and support this film.
The Matrix: Resurrections (Out: Boxing Day)
Everyone’s favourite movie star returns to the franchise that made him a household name. While the last two films in the franchise were a bit of a letdown, there’s hope that the decision to return to the universe of the Matrix is going to turn out to be worthy of the legacy of the massive game-changer that was the first film. We live in a very different world to that of 1999, and it will be interesting to see what this traditionally future-focused franchise makes of the advent of technologies it predicted (mainly AI) and some it didn’t (the nature of algorithmic programming and machine thinking). Along with Keanu Reeves Carrie-Anne Moss reprises the role of Trinity, and with talented newcomers like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick and Neil Patrick Harris, expect this to make a big splash when it premieres on Boxing Day.
The King’s Man (Out: January 6th)
Matthew Vaughn returns once again to his madcap, frenetic spy franchise, this time delving into the origins alluded to by Harry in the first film. This is set 100 years before the first film, and deals with the formation of the independent spy agency, as they rush to try and stop the events that would eventually set World War 1 in motion. Prequels are a bit of a fraught concept, with something of a low hit rate, but given Vaughn’s return – and the canny inclusion of Ralph Fiennes in what looks to be a similar part to the one Firth played in the original – this looks like it might be worth a look.
King Richard (Out: January 13th)
Not another adaptation of the Bard’s work, this King Richard refers to Richard Williams, the father of the two most successful female tennis players of all time in Venus and Serena. Instead of focusing on them at the height of their powers though, this film looks at where they came from, and Richard’s drive to turn his daughters from tennis prodigies into tennis pros. By shifting the focus from the girls onto Richard, it appears that the film avoids some of the more cliched elements of sports biopics and smartly makes it more about the circumstances rather than the (well-documented) achievements. Add to that an Oscar-buzz performance from Will Smith, and King Richard looks like it will be something a bit different from the summer blockbuster staples.
Scream (Out: January 13th)
After the success of 2018’s Halloween, another long-running slasher franchise is returning to the multiplexes. Scream however was always a different beast, with its self-aware meta humour balanced with the kind of slasher gore and violence associated with the best of the genre. In the hands of a master like Wes Craven, it’s little surprise the first films in the franchise were all pretty successful. However Craven passed away in 2015, so this new continuation has a big question mark over it: Can the Scream franchise work without the legendary filmmaker at the helm? There is some good news for fans, as the film features the return of original stars Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette. However, without Craven behind the camera, this new entry has big shoes to fill when it drops in January.
The Book of Boba Fett (Out: December 29th, Weekly, Disney Plus)
Season 2 of the Mandalorian was full of easter eggs for long-term Star Wars fans, and perhaps the best of them was the return of this legendary bounty hunter. Presumed dead after his encounter with Han Solo and co at the beginning of Return of the Jedi, our first glimpse at the resurrected clone warrior was him silently watching Din ride away with his armour after he reclaimed it from Cobb Vanth. He enters the fray properly in the episode The Tragedy, having tracked Din down. After an unlikely team-up between the two warriors, Boba helps Din to rescue The Child after he is taken by Moff Gideon. His assistance completed, Boba returns to Tatooine, and assassinates Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt’s former right-hand Twilek, and sits on the iconic throne in Jabba’s palace.
This is where we left the character after the surprise post-credits scene at the end of the Mandalorian’s second season. The Book of Boba Fett is a spin-off and looks as though it will provide the on-screen redemption for a fan-favourite character whose story has been spun into all sorts of material in what is now called “Legends” (the non-canon fiction that Star Wars has inspired since its 1977 debut). Despite his somewhat limited presence in the original trilogy, Boba has always been a character that has inspired a lot of intrigue from fans. Temuera Morrison returns to the role and if his performance in the Mandalorian is anything to go by, he will have a commanding presence in this series. His offsider Fennec Shand, played by the always great Ming Na-Wen, will make it a very entertaining two-hander.
If you were a fan of the direction the Mandalorian took, or like me, you just love Star Wars and will pretty much take any excuse to return to its iconic universe, then The Book of Boba Fett is definitely one to look out for.
Euphoria Season 2 (Out: January 9th, Weekly, Binge/Foxtel)
With high profile film roles and modelling work under her belt, Zendaya’s star continues to rise. A big part of that success is the impact the first season of Euphoria had. Exploring teen angst in storytelling is nothing new, but Sam Levinson – taking inspiration from the Israeli series of the same name – based a lot of the story on his own experiences as a teenager, including his own struggles with anxiety, depression and drug addiction. These kinds of mental health issues are usually sidestepped in teenage-focused material, with a lot of shows instead trying to focus on the sexier, more dramatic aspects of that awkward coming of age period.
This is one of the things that makes Euphoria feel fresh – like Skins did in the UK, Euphoria is not afraid of portraying teenagers as they are today, rather than some warped TV executive’s idea of what they should be. It’s essentially the polar opposite of Gossip Girl – the brightly lit, impossibly beautiful cast and idealistic settings are replaced by a sense of reality. Proceedings are grounded by Zendaya’s excellent performance, as a teenage drug addict trying to put the pieces back together of her life. In the wrong hands, this could have come across either as trite or entirely too tragic, but Zendaya harnesses her natural charm and channels it into a performance where you can’t help but be on Rue’s side, even as you watch her make mistakes. I guess that’s also part of Euphoria’s charm; its relatability. We’ve all done dumb stuff as teenagers.
The first season was a huge hit, garnering critical acclaim and attention from different awards ceremonies. Zendaya won a Primetime Emmy and Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Expectations are high for the second season, and if you haven’t already, now is the time to get on board.
Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts (Out: January 1st, One-Of, Binge/Foxtel)
After the 20 year anniversary of the premiere of the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, HBO Max have reunited the majority of the cast for a look back at one of the most iconic film series of all time. Curated by Christopher Columbus who directed the first two films, this looks as though it will be part behind the scenes special, and part a chance for the iconic cast – in particular, the central trio – to take a look at how this franchise defined not only their childhoods but the childhoods of so many people.
Unfortunately, not everyone will be back. A big absence that will undoubtedly be felt during proceedings is the late, great Alan Rickman, on whose shoulders so much of the franchise rested. His arc in the last three films was pivotal to the endgame of this massive narrative – and in the hands of a lesser actor, it might not have been nearly as effective or affecting. The reveal of Snape as a triple agent is one of the most iconic moments in the series. Here’s hoping this special will pay tribute to Rickman in an appropriate manner.
However, this will ultimately be a celebration of some of the most beloved stories ever told, from the perspective of those who told them – both in front of and behind the camera. The opportunity to see interviews from everyone to the central trio to the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter, Robbie Coltrane and many more will delight fans both new and old. I for one am very much looking forward to this trip down memory lane.
Cobra Kai: Season 4 (Out: December 31st, all at once, Netflix)
The Hollywood machine of reboots, reimaginings, reworks, sequels and prequels show no sign of stopping or even slowing down. While this state of affairs leaves a lot to be desired from a numbers point of view, sometimes among all the noise and mediocrity a diamond emerges in the rough.
Cobra Kai began life as an exclusive for the short-lived YouTube Red, which was an attempt to compete with other streaming platforms. The idea was interesting: a fresh take on Karate Kid, where we pick up with the two rivals from the original, only this time the focus is on William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence. It reframes the events of the first film from his perspective, where some punk kid from Jersey came to town out of nowhere, stole his girl, and beat him at the one thing he was good at. At the beginning of the series, Johnny is barely holding on – working a repair job he hates, drinking beer for breakfast and living on microwave burritos. After his car gets totalled, he is forced to take it into a dealership owned by Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso.
Johnny isn’t happy with this turn of events, as their reminiscing appears friendly on the surface but has a sinister undercurrent. Later on, when he witnesses a kid being beaten up by a group of bullies, the combination of events inspire him to open his own dojo, teaching the style of karate he was taught by his brutal mentor John Kreese. Daniel catches wind of this, elects to begin teaching his own brand of karate, and their decades-long rivalry heats up once again.
It’s difficult to explain Cobra Kai’s appeal. I wasn’t even the biggest fan of the Karate Kid beforehand, preferring my 80s movies to star Stallone or Arnold in some sort of jungle setting with lots of blood and bullets. But what the series creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have managed to do is capture the spirit of the original, give it a smart twist, and successfully update the formula for a modern audience. This clash of the new and old school is humorously reflected by Johnny, whose knowledge of popular culture and technology seems to have stopped around the same time he lost the All Valley Karate Tournament.
With this upcoming season, the most unlikely thing has happened: Johnny and Daniel have teamed up. Can they actually work together? Kreese is countering by bringing in his former comrade Terry Silver. How will his return upset this already fragile dynamic? It’s set to be a big clash as Cobra Kai returns to our screens on New Year’s Eve.
Subscribe to FIB’s Weekly Breaking News Report for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!