Movies out this festive season: what’s opening in cinemas over the next three weeks

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Another year is almost done and dusted. And can I just get a hallelujah? 2016 wasn’t the best year, but we had a lot of good movies at least. And there are still a few more to look forward to!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t include booking links as the majority of these movies aren’t open for booking yet, or available on the websites I usually link you to. You’ll just have to find your tickets the hard way, sorry about that.

Just a heads up, we’ll be dropping reviews for Assassin’s Creed, Sing and Passengers as and when the embargoes drop over December. Be sure to keep an eye out on our Twitter and Facebook for when they go live!

Here’s what’s opening on circuit in the next three weeks.

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15 December

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Age Restriction: 10–12PG V

In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

Star Wars fans are going to love Rogue One, and not just because it’s Star Wars. There’s a heck of a lot more going on than the marketing led you to believe, and it’s all excellent. Trust me, you don’t need me to tell you how great it is. Besides, Kervyn already did.

TheMovies review score: 4.5/5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Metacritic: 66

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  • Office Christmas Party

    Age Restriction: 16 D L N S

In OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, when the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close her hard-partying brother’s branch, he (T.J. Miller) and his Chief Technical Officer (Jason Bateman) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs. The latest comedy from directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (BLADES OF GLORY) co-stars Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Sam Richardson, Jamie Chung, and Courtney B. Vance in the funniest movie of the holiday season.

Well, the synopsis might claim that this is the funniest movie of the holiday season, but unfortunately the critics disagree. The mashed up ensemble cast do the best job they can, but their efforts are in vain. At best, Office Christmas Party is harmless, at worst, it’s tepid and joyless. Not the best movie to put you in the holiday mood.

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Metacritic: 42

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23 December

  • Assassin’s Creed

    Age Restriction: 10–12PG V

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

Damn embargoes, there are no reviews anywhere for Assassin’s Creed, and ours is only allowed to drop in the week before this movie comes out. So I can’t tell you anything about it, sadly. There’s a lot of hope riding on Assassin’s Creed to be the video game adaptation, we can only hope that it lives up to what we’ve seen in the trailers.

Rotten Tomatoes: no score yet
Metacritic: no score yet

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  • Sing

    Age Restriction: PG

SING stars Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a dapper Koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal optimist — okay, maybe a bit of a scoundrel — who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now facing the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

Another review embargoes movie. Sigh. We’ll have a full review of Sing just before it releases, but here’s what I can tell you so far (based on Rotten Tomatoes/Metacritic consensus): With a typical underdog narrative, Sing isn’t particularly original, but you really won’t mind. This is one of Illumination Entertainment’s best movies in ages. They might just make up for those godawful yellow jellybeans yet.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Metacritic: 67

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  • Jou Romeo

    Age Restriction: PG

JOU ROMEO is ’n romantiese tienerkomedie wat by Hoërskool Monument in Krugersdorp afspeel. Yvette en Tyler droom al van graad agt af om Shakespeare se ‘Romeo en Juliet’ in hulle matriekjaar op die planke te bring. Die hoof, Meneer Kirby Potgieter, het egter ander planne – deur die kuns- en kultuurbegroting te sny, kan hy die krieket-klubhuis opgradeer en gevolglik die skool se T20-kriekettoernooi ’n nuwe baadjie gee. In ’n poging om te verseker dat die produksie steeds plaasvind, vra Yvette en Tyler die gewildste ou in die skool – Marko Marais – om die rol van Romeo te vertolk. Maar die cool kinders frons wanneer Marko sy krieketkolf vir ’n paar sykouse verruil…

Hey look, an Afrikaans movie. Before you ask: yes, I did watch the trailer. I’ll be damned, it actually looks kind of… cute? I mean, it’s super obvious where it’s headed, we’ve seen this kind of narrative played out a million times before. But as far as teen rom-coms go, I’m sure it will still be light, fluffy, inoffensive and get a laugh or two here and there.

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30 December

  • Passengers

    Age Restriction: 13

Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and Jim (Chris Pratt) are two passengers onboard a spaceship transporting them to a new life on another planet. The trip takes a deadly turn when their hibernation pods mysteriously wake them 90 years before they reach their destination. As Aurora and Jim try to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction, they begin to fall for each other, unable to deny their intense attraction… only to be threatened by the imminent collapse of the ship and the discovery of the truth behind why they woke up.

There’s not much I can say about Passengers at the moment seeing as reviews are still embargoed. Actually, never mind “not much”, I’m literally not allowed to say anything or give any online reaction to it. At all. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to tell you that I’ve watched it. So, um… I guess forget everything you just read and keep an eye out for the review next week?

Rotten Tomatoes: no score yet
Metacritic: no score yet

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  • Why Him?

    Age Restriction: 16 L

Over the holidays, Ned (Bryan Cranston), an overprotective but loving dad and his family visit his daughter at Stanford, where he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird (James Franco). The straight-laced Ned thinks Laird, who has absolutely no filter, is a wildly inappropriate match for his daughter. The one-sided rivalry-and Ned’s panic level-escalate when he finds himself increasingly out of step in the glamorous high-tech hub, and learns that Laird is about to pop the question.

Just watching the trailer made me cringe, so I don’t even want to know what the rest of the movie is like. It’s like some bizarre, unfunny reversal of Meet the Parents. I guess Meet the Fiancé just didn’t have the same ring to it, so they went with Why Him? instead. They should have just left it at Why?

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Metacritic: 46

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  • Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

    Age Restriction: PG

Rafe has an epic imagination…and a slight problem with authority. Both collide when he transfers to an oppressive, rule-crazy middle school. Drowning in do’s and don’ts, Rafe and his scheming best friend Leo hatch a plan to break every rule in the school’s Code of Conduct. It’s Ferris Bueller meets Home Alone as their battle with Principal Dwight explodes into chaos both real and imagined. But Dwight displays his own fiendish creativity, striking back at the rule-breakers. Meanwhile, Rafe struggles to hide his misbehavior from Jeanne, the straight-A, overachieving girl of his dreams, and at home, his mother’s boyfriend — a moochy, jack-of-no-trades named Bear — threatens to become his stepfather.

There are mostly mixed reviews out for Middle School, and judging from the trailer, I can see why. It has some flashes of inspiration, but mostly it just looks lazy and far-fetched. While the trailer did manage to elicit a giggle from me (only one though, and it was more of a snort), I don’t think this one is going on my must-watch list.

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Metacritic: 51

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  • Hacksaw Ridge

    Age Restriction: 16 V

HACKSAW RIDGE is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

As exciting and dramatic as Hacksaw Ridge may be, it’s also extremely violent, sometimes to the point of extravagance. But despite that, it’s not a paint-by-numbers “war is hell” melodrama. With a surprisingly strong message of faith and hope, this might be one of Mel Gibson’s best directorial efforts so far.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Metacritic: 71

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  • Snaaks Genoeg

    Age Restriction: 13 L V

This dark comedy follows a down and out comedian who drifts from one small town to another, while real big name Comics are being murdered in bizarre ways.

Two Afrikaans movies in one article? It must be my lucky day. So, I watched this trailer as well and a line from Casper de Vries pretty much summed up my feelings about it: “Wat die hel gaan aan?” No, really, I have no idea…

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All Rotten Tomato / Metacritic scores taken as of 15 December 2016.

For more information about the age restrictions, click here.

Last Updated: December 15, 2016

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