News + Trends
No more dough for Wallace and Gromit
by Michelle Brändle
Last month of the year, last streaming highlights list of the year. Here’s what’s streaming on Netflix, Sky, Disney+ and Paramount+ this December.
One time, I asked my wife if she’d like a diamond ring for Christmas. «Nothing would please me more!» she replied. «Great», I thought, opting to give her nothing. Alas, I got it all wrong. At least you, dear reader, will get considerably more than nothing in this list of December series and movie recommendations. Unless I’ve forgotten something. If I have, let me know in the comments.
Welcome back, Brendan Fraser. We’ve missed you. After all, the past 25 years haven’t been kind to you. Your rise to stardom in 1999 – as the unforgettably handsome Rick O’Connell in The Mummy – was meteoric. But as much as you loved the Mummy movies, they left their mark on you physically. In fact, they came close to wrecking your life.
You almost suffocated during a stunt on set and had to be resuscitated. Your vocal chords were shot. Later, you needed an operation to relieve pressure from your spinal cord. Part of your knee was replaced. Your compressed spine had to be stretched and screwed back together again. You spent more time in hospital than on film sets – and were barely able to continue making movies.
But that wasn’t all. You went through a difficult divorce in 2007. And then you were sexually harassed by the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Berk, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. You stood up for yourself, but you paid the price. For almost ten years, you were hardly offered any roles . The establishment proved too powerful. And when you could no longer pay the high child support imposed on you years ago, no judge would believe you. It drove you to the brink of financial ruin. There was no way out...until Darren Aronofsky offered you the lead role in The Whale. It was a chance. Perhaps your very last.
And boy, did you use it. When your movie premiered in Venice, you got a six-minute standing ovation. Your speech at the Critics Choice Awards still shakes me to my core. And as for your Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, no actor ever deserved it more than you did at that moment. So, I repeat: welcome back, Brendan Fraser. We’ve missed you.
Release date: 2 December
The crazy thing is: Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus in The Walking Dead, shouldn’t even exist. The zombie apocalypse drama is based on the eponymous comic published by Image Comics – the third-largest player behind Marvel and DC. In the comic, rowdy biker and redneck Daryl doesn’t even exist. In fact, Reedus never actually auditioned for Daryl – instead, he tried out for the role of Merle, his older brother. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Reedus said:
«I’d already been told that Michael Rooker was playing that part. But then I got a call to audition again. I came in and read different Merle lines. I thought maybe Rooker was not going to be doing it When I left the offices in New York, I was walking home through Chinatown and got a call saying Frank (editor’s note: Darabont, show runner on season 1) created a new part – Daryl – for me.»
The rest is TV history. Reedus’ Daryl became one of the show’s most popular characters. And since actor Andrew Lincoln left the show, taking «his» Rick Grimes with him, Daryl has become the face of the series. Now, he’s even getting a spin-off named after him.
Release date: 8 December
Where: Sky Show (with Entertainment Pass)
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but Aardman Animations, the legendary studio behind Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, is running out of clay. The modelling clay, known as Lewis Newplast, is only produced in one factory in the world – and it closed down in March 2023.
Now, Aardman Animations has to find a replacement. Until then, the studio’s supply just about has them covered for next year’s Wallace and Gromit movie. As well as a very special sequel – Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. The first movie, released in 2000, was a roaring success. The greatest success in the studio’s history, in fact. To this day, Chicken Run is considered the most successful stop-motion film of all time. It’s just a shame Mel Gibson won’t be returning as the swashbuckling American rooster who, after winding up with the British «chicks» by accident, is supposed to teach the flock to fly. Unfortunately, I’m not quite as convinced by Shazam star Zachary Levi as Gibson’s voice replacement. At least not in the trailer.
Release date: 15 December
I make no secret of the fact that the conclusion of the Indiana Jones series was a big disappointment for me. I had high expectations. After all, Steven Spielberg had passed the torch to director James Mangold. Someone who not only writes his own screenplays, but also demonstrated his craftsmanship early on in films such as 3:10 to Yuma, Logan and Ford v. Ferrari.
But the sobering realisation that hit me upon leaving the cinema is that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a flop. The 30-minute prologue does nothing to change this, even if it is really good. Outstanding even. This is because digital rejuvenation hasn’t yet turned Indy, the once invincible hero of my childhood, into an old man drowning in self-pity.
So it’s not surprising that the film failed to pull in the cinema-going crowds. With worldwide box office takings of 384 million dollars, the film is considered a true flop. Plenty of people probably thought, «I’ll watch it when it comes out on Disney+.» So for one day only, I’ve included something on this list that’s not a recommendation. Instead, it’s a simple reminder that the movie is now on Disney+.
Release date: 15 December
What Avatar is for James Cameron, Rebel Moon should be for Justice League director Zack Snyder. It’s his passion project. The creative baby he was expecting for 20 years. The worlds, characters and plot originate solely from him, not from existing literary works. Even if you can feel a lot of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai in there.
Rebel Moon also tells the story of an oppressed colony fighting for its freedom. And just like in the legendary samurai masterpiece, rebel leader Kora (The Kingsman star Sofia Boutella) rallies an illustrious crew to oppose the all-powerful warriors of the so-called Motherworld. For a fee. Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam is also on the cast list.
Snyder promises a gargantuan project. An epic that will combine action, fantasy and science fiction in a way we could never have imagined in our wildest dreams. In a good way? Well, I really have no idea what to expect. Zack Snyder isn’t necessarily a guarantee of quality. But he’s sure to deliver bombast and breathtaking action.
Release date: 22 December
Before the first season came out two years ago, I though, «meh, looks decent enough, but ... not what I’m most looking forward to.» When I got to see it, however, I was forced to backtrack completely.
Why? Because contrary to what was announced in advance, the anthology series didn’t just tell a few separate what-if stories from the Marvel Multiverse. Stories like Prince T’Challa becoming Star-Lord instead of the Black Panther. Instead, all the stories were connected in a way that went beyond imagination – and were told by the Watcher. I didn’t see that one coming. Let’s see if the creators can top it in the second season.
Release date: 22 December
The documentary tells the story of stuntman David Holmes, whose talent as an especially daring gymnastic was spotted early in childhood. Instead of becoming a gymnast, however, he becomes Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in Harry Potter. At the time, Radcliffe is just 11 years old. Through almost ten years of filming, the pair grow up together. Until a tragic accident on the set of the penultimate film leaves David paralysed, turning his world upside down.
As a big Harry Potter fan, I already knew the story. But reliving it in an up-close HBO documentary sounds hard to stomach. Nevertheless, I’m still going to watch it. The main thing, after all, isn’t to pity David. It’s to celebrate the way he’s – thanks to his friends and family – put the tragedy behind him and become a source of inspiration, courage, hope and strength for people who’ve suffered similar misfortune.
Release date: 24 December
Where: Sky Show (with Entertainment Pass)
Ah, «La Casa De Papel» (English trailer here). The Spanish studio has produced five seasons of the show, making Money Heist, as it’s called in the English-speaking world, one of the most successful Netflix series ever. There’s already been a South Korean adaptation. Mind you, it bears zero relation to the original story or characters. With this making Berlin the first real spin-off, the plot revolves around charismatic fan favourite Andrés de Fonollosa, better known by his code name «Berlín».
This time he wants to pull off a heist in Paris, but falls in love with the wife of the guy he actually wants to rob. Got a bit of an Ocean’s 11 feel to it, right? And yes, Berlin is a prequel. After all, our man’s killed off pretty early in the original. However, since his character was such a hit with fans, Berlín was brought back for numerous flashback scenes in later seasons – and now even for his own spin-off. I’m excited.
Release date: 29 December
I'm an outdoorsy guy and enjoy sports that push me to the limit – now that’s what I call comfort zone! But I'm also about curling up in an armchair with books about ugly intrigue and sinister kingkillers. Being an avid cinema-goer, I’ve been known to rave about film scores for hours on end. I’ve always wanted to say: «I am Groot.»