movies

Clear your calendar: the Mamamia team share the movies you must see these holidays.

Christmas has been and gone. The rush for hams and turkeys and who’s going to make the potato salad is officially over. New Year’s Eve has passed as well.

Now, we’re all in that almost-relaxed-but-actually-slightly-elevated-state of being on holiday… but also knowing the end is fast approaching.

Maybe you’re a bit tired of the kids. Maybe you don’t have kids and the thought of any more alcohol is sending your liver into spasms.

Whatever your state of mind, watching a good movie is going to kick you out of it. A dark, cool cinema. Hot popcorn. A different world where you don’t have to go back to work in a week, and you don’t have to think about getting the kids ready for school.

To make choosing easy for you, the Mamamia team has reviewed some of the best movies they’ve seen this summer. Clear your calendar. You’re going to be busy.

La La Land

This one had me the moment I realised it was Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. (It’s lucky, really, they’re not married in real life. It would be too perfect. There’d be no hope for any of us… I digress). I haven’t seen it yet, but my colleagues have been sharing magical reviews.

“La La Land is the best movie I have seen in 100 years (yes, I am that old). It’s is uplifting and thoughtful and joyous and surprising. Yes, Ryan Gosling is singing and dancing, and yes, Emma Stone gives possibly the performance of her career, but it’s much more than a star vehicle for them. It manages to perfectly skewer the ironies of modern Hollwood – EVERYONE drives a Prius, EVERYONE has a shitty second job – without losing sight of the magic that draws a generation of wannabes there in the first place. The ending? Well, you’ll probably cry, but you won’t leave the cinema drained, you’ll leave whistling. Do your tired cynical heart a favour and see it. Immediately.” – Holly, Entertainment Editor.

La La Land. Image via Lionsgate.
ADVERTISEMENT

"La La Land is a joyful and bittersweet throwback to the golden age musicals. The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone leaps off the screen." - Kahla, Evening Editor.

What's it about?

Mia (Emma Stone), is a struggling actress, failing auditions, not getting past the first rounds. She's working in a coffee shop. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), is a young jazz musician, who was fired from his job on Christmas, and stuck in a rut.

They meet, and fail to connect. Then they continue meeting. The movie is about chasing dreams, looking forward, and attempting to reach that oh-so-difficult realisation - "that yes, I am good enough to try". Most importantly, it's a movie about love.

The details you need to know

  • It's written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who was the mastermind behind Whiplash.
  • It stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend and Rosemarie DeWitt
La La Land. Image via Lionsgate.

What other people have to say:

"La La Land breathes new life into a bygone genre with thrillingly assured direction, powerful performances, and an irresistible excess of heart." - Rotten Tomatoes. The "Tomatometer" gave it 93 per cent.

“'La La Land' is a crowd-pleaser if ever there was one, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be part of the crowd. Damien Chazelle’s musical, consistently daring and occasionally sublime, does what the movies have all but forgotten how to do—sweep us up into a dream of love that’s enhanced in an urgent present by the mythic power of Hollywood’s past." - Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It's incandescent and heartbreaking at the same time. Here's to the fools who dream." - Craig Mathieson from The Sydney Morning Herald.

Moana

"I watched Moana last night and I loved it. It was INCREDIBLE. I loved that the story line wasn't centered around a 'princess' and her love interest. It was about a strong, courageous young girl who cares about her community. Visually, it was done so well, it was so colourful and vibrant. I dragged my husband along but we weren't the only couple without kids there. It's definitely a movie everyone can enjoy." - Nicolle, HR Manager.

"Moana is great. It's fantastic visually, and also a great story. It made me want to jump right into the screen and go swimming." - Valentina, Deputy Head of News.

What's it about?

It's a computer animated adventure film that tells the story of a spirited teenage girl, Moana. She embarks on a sailing mission to complete the unfinished quest of her ancestors. Along the way, she meets the demi-God Maui and together they take on the open ocean.

Moana. Image via Disney.

During their journey, the pair come across enormous creatures and impossible challenges. It gives a sardonic nod to the traditional fairy princess story-line when Maui jeers: “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.” But the 16-year-old warrior is something else entirely. She's passionate, courageous and in love with the ocean.

ADVERTISEMENT

The details you need to know:

  • It's directed by Ron Clements and John Muske, both worked on the 1989 The Little Mermaid and the 1992 Aladdin. Both also had a role in writing Moana.
  • It stars Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger and Alan Tudyk.
Moana. Image via Disney.

What other people have to say:

"With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney's time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages." - Rotten Tomatoes, the "Tomatometer" rates it as 95 per cent.

"Moana, the latest computer-animated epic from Disney, has already proven a hit. This will naturally prove a summery fave for the small-fry, even if the songs don’t quite hit the heights and the final act feels a little flat." - DM Bradley on Adelaide Review.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

"It's a Star Wars side story that's not just for Star Wars fans. It's awesome. Forget Luke and Leia, this movie is about the kick-ass chick who was the REAL hero who saved the galaxy from the Death Star." - Gemma, Head of News.

"Rogue One is a Star Wars movie that's nostalgic but also feels entirely new. It packs a real emotional punch, too - the stakes are higher and each of the characters gets their own tear-jerking moment of heroism." - Kahla, Evening Editor.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
ADVERTISEMENT

What's it about?

The peaceful lives of former scientists Galan Erso and his family, who live on a farm, come crashing down when Erso is kidnapped by the evil Orson Krennic. Galan is put to work at the lead engineer for the Empire's most powerful weapon - the most powerful weapon in the galaxy: the Death Star. Gallan's daughter joins forces with the Rebel Alliance fighters to steal the space station's plans, knowing full well her father holds the key to its destruction.

The details you need to know:

  • It's directed by Gareth Edwards, who also directed the 2014 reboot of Godzilla and the 2010 movie Mosters.
  • It stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Riz Ahmed and Forest Whitaker.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
ADVERTISEMENT

What other people have to say:

"Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground -- and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise." - Rotten Tomatoes. The "Tomatometer" gave the film 85 per cent.

"Rogue One has released to largely positive reviews and a fairly healthy buzz, if not quite the thundering elation and rock solid critical reception of last year's The Force Awakens. The movie was action-packed, had some great characters, and ended with a bang. It was funny and visually striking. And yet... something was missing, both as a film on its own merits and as a Star Wars movie." - Erik Kain for Forbes.

SING

"My daughter walked out of SING saying 'Mum, that movie had a message, it's: Don't let fear stop you'. She's right. The movie - from the same studio that brought us the infuriatingly addictive Minions - follows the fortunes and misfortunes of a tiny, pushy American koala called Buster Moon, who wants to stage a singing talent contest to save his theatre.

"Cue an eye-watering licensing bill as a cast of elephants, gorillas, goats and pigs in glittery spandex croon their way through a songlist that includes Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Leonard Cohen (!) and Carly Rae Jepsen. Yep... Think Zootopia meets The X Factor. The plot's not subtle, as my six-year-old's grasp of it can attest, but it's a family film that will have you all, yes, Singing." - Holly, Entertainment Editor.

SING. Image via Universal Pictures.
ADVERTISEMENT

What's it about?

An animation from Universal Pictures, it tells the story of a Koala - Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) - who is the owner of a once-grand theater that is no longer anything close to "grand". The determined koala will do anything to save his beloved theater, and he takes one final gamble to bring it back to life - he wants to produce the 'world's greatest singing competition'. There are five contestants: a mouse, a humble elephant, a pig, a gorilla and a rock-star porcupine. What could possibly go wrong?

The details you need to know:

  • It's directed by Garth Jennings, who also directed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 2005.
  • It stars Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Tori Kelly, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Scarlett Johansson. (Woah)
SING. Image via Universal Pictures.

What other people have to say:

"Sing delivers colourfully animated, cheerfully undemanding entertainment with a solid voice cast and a warm-hearted -- albeit familiar -- storyline that lives up to its title." - Rotten Tomatoes. The "Tomatometer" rates it at 69 per cent.

"It's hard to close the window on Sing’s charming serenade. I cheered for the porcupine as admittedly shallow feminist sensibilities took root in her “work.” I was enchanted when the pig engineered a Rube Goldberg machine to feed her family breakfast and get them out the door. I even fell for the movie’s most crowd-pleasing set piece, when this same, formerly matronly pig MILFed out in an empty supermarket with a generic Latin dance routine. [...] I ceased smiling like a big dummy only during the two points in the film which had been engineered to make me cry, at which point, voilà, tears." - Sarah Miller wrote for Vulture.