Movie reviews: Last Christmas, Downton Abbey
LAST CHRISTMAS (NC16)
Your tolerance for Paul Feig's twee British rom-com inspired by the music of George Michael depends highly on how much you adore Emilia Clarke, because the first half of the film is shockingly awkward, cheesy and cringe-worthy.
As Kate, whose life is on a downward spiral ever since she survived a health scare, the Game Of Thrones star acts her little elf boots off - even though she appears to be playing a version of her goofy real-life self.
Thankfully, the character's annoying quirks give way to a rather poignant arc.
While the Mother of Dragons is immensely watchable, Henry Golding is a bland love interest (it doesn't help that the couple don't spark at all), Michelle Yeoh embarrasses herself and pretty much her entire race, and one cannot believe Emma Thompson - who stars as Kate's mum, complete with a dodgy Eastern European accent - wrote this schlockfest.
And once you get to the big twist practically everyone's guessed after watching the trailers, the filmmakers top it off by literally basing it on the lyrics of Wham!'s Last Christmas. You will never listen to that song the same way again.
DOWNTON ABBEY (M18)
The aristocratic Crawley family (led by Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery) and their domestic servants prepare for the most important moment of their lives - a royal visit from the King and Queen of England.
I'm not sure why a big-screen spin-off was necessary when it would've worked just as well as the usual Christmas special.
Still, for those who followed the British period TV series which ended in 2015, there is plenty of nostalgia and fan service.
The film is a warm homecoming and pleasant diversion, and expect hit-and-miss soapy elements like scandal, romance and intrigue.
The Downton staff's scheme to outwit their pompous royal counterparts is a nice bit of comedy, while Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess of Grantham continues to have a zinger for just about everyone.
Her delightful back-and-forth with frenemy Isobel (Penelope Wilton) and new addition Imelda Staunton is worth the ticket price, as is a late-stage revelation about the matriarch that closes the film on a bittersweet note. -