Star Wars: The Force Awakens leads our packed Christmas preview

Christmas is nearly upon on us and we have a packed slate of awesome movies headed your way this winter. Of course, there's one that we absolutely must tell you about first – prepare to head to a galaxy far, far away again this Christmas...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The enduringly popular phenomenon returns to our screens and threatens to make all other movies extinct. Here are 5 reasons why we're beyond excited...

1) It's got a proper director

J.J. Abrams (pictured above) reinvigorated Star Trek with panache, adding much-need humour and thrilling fun to the stalled franchise. All indications are he will do the same with Star Wars. He's great with characters (1970s-set sci-fi Super 8), a dab hand with action (the bridge scene in Mission: Impossible III) and has a tendency to play with an audience's expectations (he was one of the figureheads behind TV sensation Lost).

2) The band are back together

Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher all return to the franchise as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia, respectively (yes, she's not a Princess any more). Not only that: we've got Peter Mayhew back as Chewbacca, plus Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker as C-3PO and R2-D2. It's a veritable Star Wars reunion that you seriously don't want to miss on the big screen.

3) There's an exciting cast of fresh faces

Backing up the veterans are hot young Brits Daisy Ridley and John Boyega who play scavenger Rey and stormtrooper Finn, respectively. Whilst speculation continues to rage as to whether the former is Han Solo's daughter, we're also looking forward to seeing the other cast members in action: Oscar Isaac as X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, Domhnall Gleeson as the ruthless General Hux and Adam Driver as the villainous Kylo Ren.

On a somewhat more established note: we also have acting legend Max Von Sydow in a currently undisclosed role, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata and motion capture king Andy Serkis as the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke. Now that's what you call a cast.

4) John Williams is back on the podium

The Star Wars movies wouldn't be what they are without the multi-faceted, unforgettable injection of emotion from legendary film composer Williams (pictured above). His remarkably rich tapestry of musical ideas have helped weave the preceding six movies together, taking us on a rollercoaster ride of thrills, tears, shocks and more.

With the veteran composer back scoring the franchise that won him an Oscar, plus two additional nominations, we just know that this soundtrack will be note-perfect.

5) The love of the series

Not a fan of George Lucas' CGI-slathered, critically derided prequels? We hear you. That's why we're confident that Abrams' deep-seated love of the franchise will put the movies back where they belong. Whether it's the awesome lightsaber action teased in the trailer, the tantalising voiceover from Luke Skywalker or the shots of the iconic Millennium Falcon soaring above the landscape, this is set to be one heck of a nostalgia fest.

Enough reasons for you? Then click here to book your tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens on 17th December.

Also out this December...

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

What's the story? Charlie Brown and his beagle Snoopy return to charm a new generation in this delightful animated adventure.

To mark the 65th anniversary of  Charles Schulz's much-loved 'Peanuts' cartoon strip, lovable loser Charlie Brown and his imaginative dog Snoopy make their CGI animated feature debut.

Blockheads around the world are set to be delighted as Charlie, Snoopy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, Lucy and more all feature in this charming and nostalgic family treat from the makers of Ice Age.

And more amazing news for 'Peanuts' fans: this new film is co-written by Charles Schulz's son Craig and grandson Bryan, guaranteeing a heartwarmingly authentic Charlie Brown experience for fans and newcomers alike.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie is released on 21st December.

The Night Before

What's the story? Three lifelong friends embark on the Christmas party to end them all in this debauched festive comedy.

Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Chris (Anthony Mackie) and Isaac (Seth Rogen) have been best buds since childhood. When Ethan lost his parents 14 years ago, they made a pact to spend every Christmas together.

But times change and lives move on. Chris is becoming mega-famous and Isaac is about to have a baby with his wife Betsy (Jillian Bell). So the guys decide to call a halt to their festive tradition. But not before only final outrageous Christmas Eve blowout in New York. Clad in hideous Christmas jumpers, they set off on an epic quest in search of the Holy Grail of Yuletide parties - The 'Nutcracka' Ball.

The 50/50 team of director Jonathan Levine and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen reunite for the ultimate festive party movie. Watch out for the cameo by Miley Cyrus!

The Night Before is released on 4th December.

Christmas with the Coopers

What's the story? A retired couple invite their entire family to theirs for Christmas, little knowing what they've let themselves in for...

Sam (John Goodman) and Charlotte Cooper (Diane Keaton) have a large family, made up of lots of children and grandchildren. But when all of them descend on the couple's home for Christmas, it soon becomes apparent that it won't be the joyful, chilled out time they were planning...

This toasty-hearted comedy boasts an all-star cast, including The Hangover's Ed Helms, Tron: Legacy's Olivia Wilde, Captain America: The Winter Soldier's Anthony Mackie, Ted 2's Amanda Seyfried, The Wrestler's Marisa Tomei, Little Miss Sunshine's Alan Arkin and – as the narrator – the great Steve Martin. The movie marks the directorial debut from Danny Collins writer Jessie Nelson and is written by Kate & Leopold scribe Steven Rogers.

Christmas with the Coopers is released on 4th December.

Which of these amazing movies is set to get you in the festive mood this December? Tweet us @Cineworld and let us know.