Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in a scene from the movie Passengers.
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in a scene from the movie Passengers. Contributed

What's on the big screen this week

STAR Wars spin-off Rogue One has done well to fend off the onslaught of Boxing Day releases to retain the top spot at the Australian box office.

Today two more films enter the fray, although neither is likely to pose much of a threat to Disney's juggernaut.

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence star in the space drama Passengers, while Michael Fassbender stars in and produces the video game adaptation Assassin's Creed.

Here are this week's highlights of the cinema and why you should see them:

 

Assassin's Creed (M)

Ariane Labed and Michael Fassbender play master assassins in the movie Assassin's Creed.
Ariane Labed and Michael Fassbender play master assassins in the movie Assassin's Creed. Contributed

When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.

Why you should see it: This is certainly a well-made film in comparison to a lot of recent video game adaptations. But there is so much information to absorb in Assassin's Creed that it's easy to get lost along the way. Fans of the video games will no doubt lap this up but this overly stuff world is likely to leave many other cinema-goers' heads spinning. Read the interview with the director.

 

Passengers (M)

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in a scene from the movie Passengers.
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in a scene from the movie Passengers. Contributed

A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 60 years early.

Why you should see it: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are both big drawcards. They're two of Hollywood's most bankable stars at the moment, but unfortunately there isn't enough chemistry between Passengers' two stars to overcome a fatally flawed script.

 

Continuing:

Allied (M)

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in a scene from the movie Allied.
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in a scene from the movie Allied. Daniel Smith

Max, a French-Canadian spy, falls in love and marries French agent Marianne, after a mission in Casablanca. Max is notified that Marianne is likely a Nazi spy and begins to investigate her.

Why you should see it: This is a beautifully filmed, old-fashioned wartime romance that will evoke memories of a bygone era of cinema. But where Allied falls down is the chemistry, or lack of it, between its two A-list stars; unfortunately this is a case of style over substance.

 

La La Land (M)

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in a scene from the movie La La Land.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in a scene from the movie La La Land. Dale Robinette

Mia, an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and Sebastian, a jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair.

Why you should see it: This film is a homage to 1940s musical melodramas and it's hard not to fall for its charm and romantic tone. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are terrific. Read the review.

 

Moana (PG)

Maui ( Dwayne Johnson) and Moana (Aulii Cravalho) in a scene from the movie Moana.
Maui ( Dwayne Johnson) and Moana (Aulii Cravalho) in a scene from the movie Moana. Disney

A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui.

Why you should see it: Packed with catchy music and mesmerising visuals, Moana has a heart as big as the Pacific Ocean. This is a welcomed change from Disney's traditional princess movies. Read the review.

 

Sing (G)

The characters Gunter and Rosita in a scene from the movie Sing.
The characters Gunter and Rosita in a scene from the movie Sing. Contributed

A koala named Buster recruits his best friend to help him drum up business for his theatre by hosting a singing competition.

Why you should see it: This animated film, from the creators of Despicable Me and Minions, hits all the right notes when it comes to family entertainment. Sing has some great takeaway messages for younger cinema-goers, too. Most importantly, it celebrates talent in all shapes and sizes. Read the review.

 

Red Dog: True Blue (PG)

Levi Miller and the dog Phoenix in a scene from the movie Red Dog: True Blue.
Levi Miller and the dog Phoenix in a scene from the movie Red Dog: True Blue. Contributed

Explores the early events leading up to Red Dog's discovery on the road to Dampier, and his ultimate rise from ordinary dog to Australian legend.

Why you should see it: This prequel doesn't quite stack up to the beloved original and is more likely to appeal to younger cinema-goers than their parents. It's beautifully filmed, though, and the ending will still have you reaching for the tissues. Read the interview.

 

Why Him? (MA 15+)

Bryan Cranston and James Franco in a scene from the movie Why Him?
Bryan Cranston and James Franco in a scene from the movie Why Him? Scott Garfield

Ned, 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. The straight-laced Ned thinks Laird, who has absolutely no filter, is a wildly inappropriate match for his daughter.

Why you should see it: The premise of an overprotective father becoming horrified after meeting his adoring daughter's new boyfriend has surely been explored enough already. This film gives absolutely no reason to become engaged with its story of paper-thin characters. Read the review.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (M)

Felicity Jones and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) in a scene from the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Felicity Jones and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) in a scene from the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Jonathan Olley

The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic Star Wars saga to follow.

Why you should see it: This spin-off has been given the seal of approval by Star Wars creator George Lucas and it's easy to see why. Rogue One has an infectious, rebellious spirit and well-developed characters despite the fact that their fate has already been determined. To top it off, the new droid K-2SO is a delight. Read the review.


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