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Sunny Tse
Sunny Tse |

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This year's silver screen Christmas offerings may not be particularly adventurous, but there's something for everyone - and even a few surprises - writes Sunny Tse

This year's Christmas movie releases are, unfortunately, a reminder of just how unadventurous the industry has become amid a flagging economy. Mostly adaptations of best-selling books or sequels to hit originals (or both), many of the movies already have a solid fan base, ensuring success at the box office.

Yet, breaking out of the play-safe trend comes one of the most daring offerings in movie history. James Cameron's Avatar - rumoured to be one of the most expensive Hollywood productions ever - is based on an idea he came up with nearly 15 years ago. It is one of the most anticipated movies of the year.

The sci-fi epic tells the story of a former Marine who infiltrates the native inhabitants of a distant moon on a quest for precious resources. He falls in love with a native and has to decide which side to take when war breaks out. It will be showing here in regular theatres, 3D and IMAX 3D from December 17.

Opening the same day is New Moon, the second instalment of the Twilight saga. The romance between mortal Bella and 'veggie' vampire, all girls' dream guy Edward, is put to the test. Deserted by Edward, devastated Bella has no one to cling to except her best friend, Jacob the werewolf. A human-vampire-werewolf love triangle soon emerges. Starring the hottest young actors in showbiz - Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner - New Moon will no doubt set teenage girls at odds over which side to take - team Edward or team Jacob.

If you are not a fan of cheesy love stories, director Guy Ritchie's reinvention of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective tales, Sherlock Holmes, might be more welcome. The British director mixes suspense, action and humour to make the brainy detective an action hero for our time. Set in 19th century England, Holmes (Robert Downy Jr) and his trusted doctor companion, Watson (Jude Law), fight a villain who is planning to destroy the country. It opens Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, the musical chipmunks are back in their second movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel, which also opens December 24. The animated superstars return to school and try to save the school music programme by winning a singing contest. But, standing in their way is a chipmunk girl trio called The Chipettes. In between school, celebrity and romance, the three best friends all learn something along the way.

New Year's Eve promises to be a food fest - and in 3D. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs tells the story of an underachieving scientist who accidentally invents a machine that can solve global hunger by raining food. Of course, it is an invention that ends up wreaking havoc.

Hong Kong steps into the Christmas movie fray with The Storm Warriors, which opens on Wednesday. Directed by the Pang Brothers, the action fantasy stars pop idols Aaron Kwok Fu-shing and Ekin Cheng, who return to the screen as Cloud and Wind and once again save their homeland from baddies.

Ambitious computer-generated visuals and special effects promise to take Hong Kong cinema to a new level.

Other hot picks include Jim Carrey's 3D adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol; a feature version of the Oscar-nominated short animation 9; and the live-action Mulan directed by Jingle Bell Ma Cho-shing.

Bodyguards and Assassins - opening December 18 - is a historical drama about a near revolution in Hong Kong, while Jay Chou and Lin Chi-ling's adventure movie The Treasure Hunter opens December 31.

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