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Short takes: This week’s movie listings and reviews

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Jackie.
Josh Bell, Mike D'Angelo, Jeffrey M. Anderson

Special screenings

Date Skate

Mon, ice skating plus movie double feature, 6 & 9 p.m., $10-$20. 12/26, A Christmas Story, Elf. Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7000.

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

12/27, 12/29, Doctor Who episode plus bonus features, 7 p.m., $13-$15. Theaters: COL, ORL, SF, SP, ST, VS. Info: fathomevents.com.

It’s a Wonderful Life

12/24, noon & 7 p.m., $5. Theaters: BS, COL, DTS, FH, GVR, RR, SHO, SS, TX, VS

Sci Fi Center

Mon, Cinemondays, 8 p.m., free. 5077 Arville St., 855-501-4335, thescificenter.com.

New this week

Assassin’s Creed One and a half stars

Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons. Directed by Justin Kurzel. 108 minutes. Rated PG-13. The convoluted plot of this disastrous video-game adaptation involves two organizations fighting to possess an ancient device that controls free will, with both modern-day and historical sequences (each starring Fassbender). The plot is incoherent, the tone is ridiculously self-serious and the dialogue is laughable. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, FH, GVL, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Dangal (Not reviewed)

Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra. Directed by Nitesh Tiwari. 150 minutes. Not rated. In Hindi with English subtitles. Biopic about Indian wrestling champion Mahavir Singh Phogat and his two daughters, whom he coached to championships of their own.

Theaters: ST, VS

Fences Two and a half stars

Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson. Directed by Denzel Washington. 138 minutes. Rated PG-13. Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a working-class African-American family in 1950s Pittsburgh feels entirely stage-bound and artificial, with set design and performances that might make sense for live theater, but which come across as stilted and ineffective onscreen. —JB

Theaters: AL, CAN, CH, GVL, GVR, ORL, PAL, RP, SF, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Jackie Three and a half stars

Natalie Portman, Billy Crudup, Peter Sarsgaard. Directed by Pablo Larrain. 100 minutes. Rated R. This biopic of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy (Portman) takes place in the days following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The arch style may put off viewers looking for a conventional tribute, but director Larrain offers something more meaningful and lasting, an impressionistic portrait that says more in images than in words. —JB

Theaters: COL, DTS, ET, SC, TS

Lion Three stars

Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman. Directed by Garth Davis. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13. Based on a true story, Lion stars Patel as a young man who was raised in Australia (Kidman plays his mom) after getting hopelessly lost at age 5, but who uses Google Earth in an effort to locate the tiny village in India where he was born. Sluggish at the start, moving by the end. —MD

Theaters: GVR, RR, ST, TS

Passengers Two stars

Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen. Directed by Morten Tyldum. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13. Pratt and Lawrence are passengers on an interstellar voyage who come out of suspended animation 90 years too early in this muddled sci-fi misfire. Neither the romance nor the action is particularly convincing; the stars have minimal chemistry, and the sci-fi plotting of the climax is rushed and full of holes. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, DI, ET, FH, GVL, GVR, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, TS, TX

Sing Two stars

Voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Garth Jennings. 110 minutes. Rated PG. In a city full of anthropomorphic animals, a koala stage impresario (McConaughey) mounts a singing competition to save his failing theater. The story evokes the “let’s put on a show” narratives of classic musicals, but the style is all crass 2016 Hollywood, with a soundtrack full of squeaky-clean, soulless versions of pop songs. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, FH, GVL, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Why Him? Two and a half stars

Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zoey Deutch. Directed by Jon Hamburg. 111 minutes. Rated R. With Why Him? director John Hamburg repeats an old and odious formula, the “uptight square versus aggravating free spirit.” The movie contains the usual bits of forced, stupid humor, and it will be quickly forgotten, but, thanks to stars Cranston and Franco, unexpectedly, the occasional moment of genuine, human humor sometimes slips through. —JMA

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, ET, FH, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Now playing

The Accountant Two stars

Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. 128 minutes. Rated R. Affleck plays an autistic accountant and combat expert in this ludicrous thriller that grossly mischaracterizes autism. The sometimes solid action is surrounded by increasingly far-fetched and clumsily delivered exposition. The movie piles on silly plot twists and reveals in service of a story that’s not even particularly interesting. —JB

Theaters: ST, TC, VS

Allied Three stars

Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. 124 minutes. Rated R. Zemeckis’ gratifyingly old-school WWII drama stars Pitt and Cotillard as spies who accidentally fall in love while pretending to be married as part of an operation. If nothing else, the film’s elegance makes for a welcome respite from endless CGI pyrotechnics aimed at bored teenagers. —MD

Theaters: COL, FH, PAL, SC, TS, VS

Almost Christmas (Not reviewed)

Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Danny Glover. Directed by David E. Talbert. 112 minutes. Rated PG-13. A dysfunctional family gets together for Thanksgiving following the death of the family matriarch.

Theaters: TC, TX

Arrival Three and a half stars

Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13. Hard sci-fi that’s easy to enjoy, Arrival stars Adams as a linguist who’s drafted by the U.S. military to help translate an alien language—by “talking” to the bizarre creatures face to face. Here, for the first time in ages, is proof that “thrilling” and “analytical” aren’t mutually exclusive. —MD

Theaters: FH, GVR, PAL, RR, SC, SF, SP, ST, TS, VS

Bad Santa 2 Two stars

Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Kathy Bates. Directed by Mark Waters. 92 minutes. Rated R. This belated sequel featuring alcoholic degenerate Willie Soke (Thornton) and his partner in crime Marcus (Cox) once again posing as Santa and his elf in order to pull off a heist captures very little of the wit or surprising likability of the original, instead going right for easy vulgarity and grossness. —JB

Theaters: ST

Boo! A Madea Halloween (Not reviewed)

Tyler Perry, Diamond White, Bella Thorne. Directed by Tyler Perry. 103 minutes. Rated PG-13. Simmons family matriarch Madea spends Halloween watching unruly teenagers and fending off supernatural threats.

Theaters: TC

Collateral Beauty Two stars

Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet. Directed by David Frankel. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13. Smith plays a grieving ad executive whose business partners essentially con him into thinking he’s gone crazy in this bizarre, pseudo-uplifting drama. Despite the cruel premise, the movie is full of greeting-card platitudes, expecting the audience to be moved by its manipulative nonsense. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, ET, FH, GVL, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, TS, TX

Doctor Strange Three stars

Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams. Directed by Scott Derrickson. 115 minutes. Rated PG-13. Marvel’s latest superhero movie follows a familiar template in telling the origin story of mystical hero Doctor Strange (Cumberbatch). While the story isn’t groundbreaking, the characters are engaging, the dialogue is snappy, the performances are lively and the special effects are dazzling, making for some astonishing action set pieces. —JB

Theaters: AL, ORL, RR, SS, TS, TX

The Eagle Huntress Three stars

Directed by Otto Bell. 87 minutes. Rated G. In Kazakh with English subtitles. This crowd-pleasing documentary about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl breaking into the all-male world of training eagles for hunting follows such an audience-friendly, cliché-filled narrative, and is delivered with such slick visuals, that it more resembles an empowering advertisement than a document of real life—even if it’s still entertaining to watch. –JB

Theaters: SC

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Three stars

Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler. Directed by David Yates. 133 minutes. Rated PG-13. This Harry Potter spinoff set in 1926 NYC is an entertaining ride, even if it doesn’t make a case for itself as essential. Wizard Newt Scamander’s quest to recapture his weird, cute and creatively designed beasts is light and fun, but the darker storylines, mostly setting up future installments, are less thrilling. —JB

Theaters: AL, COL, DI, FH, RP, RR, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Hacksaw Ridge Two stars

Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn. Directed by Mel Gibson. 131 minutes. Rated R. The first half of this biopic about nonviolent WWII hero Desmond Doss (Garfield) is an ultra-corny small-town family drama and romance, while the second half has excessively violent and gory battlefield action. The movie lays on the sentiment and the blood and guts in equal measure, and both drown out the genuine heroism. —JB

Theaters: ST, TS, VS

Incarnate (Not reviewed)

Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, David Mazouz. Directed by Brad Peyton. 91 minutes. Rated PG-13. An exorcist with psychic powers attempts to save a young boy from a demon.

Theaters: BS, TX

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Two stars

Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh. Directed by Edward Zwick. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13. The sequel to 2012’s Jack Reacher finds the title character (Cruise) determined to clear the name of his longtime military contact (Smulders), who’s been arrested and accused of espionage. He’s also saddled with a spunky teenage sidekick (Yarosh), and the generic plot and mediocre action scenes don’t help. —JB

Theaters: TC

La La Land Three and a half stars

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend. Directed by Damien Chazelle. 128 minutes. Rated PG-13. Stone and Gosling are so terrific together, as an aspiring actress and a jazz pianist struggling to realize their respective dreams in cutthroat Los Angeles, that one can sort of forgive this being a throwback musical in which neither lead is a first-rate singer or dancer. ­—MD

Theaters: DTS, GVR

Loving Three stars

Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Alano Miller. Directed by Jeff Nichols. 123 minutes. Rated PG-13. Nichols’ film dramatizes the events that led to the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage in the U.S. While the film preaches to the converted, there seem to be fewer of the converted than many of us had hoped. —MD

Theaters: COL, SC

Manchester by the Sea Four stars

Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan. 137 minutes. Rated R. Lonergan’s superb third feature (following the equally terrific You Can Count on Me and Margaret) stars Affleck—now a Best Actor frontrunner—as a janitor with a tragic past who unexpectedly finds himself tasked with caring for his teenage nephew (Hedges). Funny and heartbreaking. —MD

Theaters: AL, BS, COL, SC, SP, TS

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Two stars

Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Eva Green. Directed by Tim Burton. 127 minutes. Rated PG-13. Based on a popular series of young-adult novels, Peculiar Children is a tedious mash-up of familiar teen-fantasy tropes, starting with the ordinary kid who learns that he’s part of a secret, magical world. Burton displays none of his trademark dark creativity, and even the special effects are lackluster. —JB

Theaters: TC

Miss Sloane Three stars

Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Directed by John Madden. 132 minutes. Rated R. Chastain plays a ruthless but crusading lobbyist in this political drama that attempts, with varying success, to have it both ways. Chastain is fiercely compelling as the title character, but the movie is so focused on blowing the audience’s mind that it eventually loses credibility. —JB

Theaters: SC

Moana Three stars

Voices of Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. 113 minutes. Rated PG. Influenced by Polynesian mythology, Moana is a pleasant but not particularly distinctive addition to the Disney animated princess canon, with the title character (Cravalho) seeking out a buffoonish demigod (Johnson) in order to save her island home. The animation is lovely, but the songs and the plot are mediocre. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, COL, DI, FH, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SP, SS, TS, TX

Moonlight Three and a half stars

Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes. Directed by Barry Jenkins. 110 minutes. Rated R. Divided into three segments, Moonlight follows the introverted, gay Chiron as a kid, a teenager and a young man, coming to terms with his identity growing up in one of Miami’s poorest African-American neighborhoods. It’s rooted in real details, and each segment (even the slow-moving final third) achieves its own grace. —JB

Theaters: COL, SC

Nocturnal Animals Three and a half stars

Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon. Directed by Tom Ford. 116 minutes. Rated R. Fashion designer Ford (A Single Man) adapts Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan for his second feature, which tells two pointedly related stories. One involves Adams as a rich but lonely art gallery owner; the other is her imagining of a violent novel written by her estranged ex-husband (Gyllenhaal). —MD

Theaters: COL, FH, PAL, ST, VS

Office Christmas Party Two stars

Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston. Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. 105 minutes. Rated R. The employees of a Chicago tech company throw a huge holiday party to land a big client and save their jobs. Naturally, things get out of hand, in a predictable and tiresome fashion. Even the talented cast’s comedic skills aren’t enough to overcome the poorly structured plot and formulaic lessons. —JB

Theaters: AL, BS, CAN, CH, DI, ET, FH, GVL, GVR, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SC, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

Ouija: Origin of Evil Three stars

Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson. Directed by Mike Flanagan. 99 minutes. Rated PG-13. Director Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) scraps the previous, terrible Ouija (2014) and starts fresh with this sequel. It’s full of the usual white eyes and stretchy mouths, but its weird, deliberately off-putting compositions and morbidly funny twists turn it into an unexpectedly good chiller. —JMA

Theaters: TC

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Three and a half stars

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn. Directed by Gareth Edwards. 133 minutes. Rated PG-13. This Star Wars prequel/spinoff, set just before the events of the original 1977 movie, struggles between fan-pleasing callbacks and telling its own story, about a group of Rebels stealing the plans to the Death Star. Although the individual elements are uneven, they come together in an entertaining and satisfying way. —JB

Theaters: AL, CAN, CH, DI, DTS, ET, FH, GVL, GVR, ORL, PAL, RP, RR, SF, SHO, SP, SS, ST, TS, TX, VS

The Secret Life of Pets Three stars

Voices of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate. Directed by Chris Renaud. 90 minutes. Rated PG. The hyperactive animated story, with loyal dog Max (C.K.) and his dog frenemy Duke (Stonestreet) lost in New York City, isn’t nearly as sophisticated as something from Pixar or even DreamWorks Animation, but it’s good for a few laughs and is entirely kid-friendly, with plenty of cute characters and madcap set pieces. —JB

Theaters: TC

Storks Two and a half stars

Voices of Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Anton Starkman. Directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland. 89 minutes. Rated PG. Set in a world where storks magically create and deliver actual babies, Storks gets points for weirdness, but writer and co-director Stoller mostly glosses over it in favor of kid-friendly animal antics. There are some vague lessons about family and togetherness, but the plot is too incoherent to make any of them stick. —JB

Theaters: TC

The Super Parental Guardians (Not reviewed)

Vice Ganda, Coco Martin, Awra Briguela, Onyok Pineda. Directed by Joyce Bernal. 115 minutes. Not rated. In Filipino with English subtitles. Two very different people attempt to get along when left to take care of two children following the death of their parents.

Theaters: ORL, VS

Trolls Two and a half stars

Voices of Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel. Directed by Mike Mitchell. 92 minutes. Rated PG. This animated adventure based on the tiny, colorful, tall-haired dolls manages to avoid being crass, showcasing some cute characters and amusing situations in the process. It’s mostly forgettable and sloppily plotted, but for kids entertained by bright colors and catchy music, it will be a great time-passer. —JB

Theaters: COL, TC

JMA Jeffrey M. Anderson; JB Josh Bell; MD Mike D’Angelo

Theaters

(AL) Regal Aliante

7300 Aliante Parkway, North Las Vegas, 844-462-7342 ext. 4011

(BS) Regal Boulder Station

4111 Boulder Highway, 844-462-7342 ext. 269

(CAN) Galaxy Cannery

2121 E. Craig Road, North Las Vegas, 702-639-9779

(CH) Cinedome Henderson

851 S. Boulder Highway, Henderson, 702-566-1570

(COL) Regal Colonnade

8880 S. Eastern Ave., 844-462-7342 ext. 270

(DI) Las Vegas Drive-In

4150 W. Carey Ave., North Las Vegas, 702-646-3565

(DTS) Regal Downtown Summerlin

2070 Park Center Drive, 844-462-7342 ext. 4063

(ET) Eclipse Theaters

814 S. Third St., 702-816-4300

(FH) Regal Fiesta Henderson

777 W. Lake Mead Parkway, Henderson, 844-462-7342 ext. 1772

(GVR) Regal Green Valley Ranch

2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, Henderson, 844-462-7342 ext. 267

(GVL) Galaxy Green Valley Luxury+

4500 E. Sunset Road, Henderson, 702-442-0244

(ORL) Century Orleans

4500 W. Tropicana Ave., 702-889-1220

(PAL) Brenden Theatres at the Palms

4321 W. Flamingo Road, 702-507-4849

(RP) AMC Rainbow Promenade

2321 N. Rainbow Blvd., 888-262-4386

(RR) Regal Red Rock

11011 W. Charleston Blvd., 844-462-7342 ext. 1756

(ST) Century Sam’s Town

5111 Boulder Highway, 702-547-1732

(SF) Century Santa Fe Station

4949 N. Rancho Drive, 702-655-8178

(SHO) United Artists Showcase

3769 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 844-462-7342 ext. 522

(SP) Century South Point

9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-260-4061

(SC) Century Suncoast

9090 Alta Drive, 702-869-1880

(SS) Regal Sunset Station

1301-A W. Sunset Road, Henderson, 844-462-7342 ext. 268

(TX) Regal Texas Station

2101 Texas Star Lane, North Las Vegas, 844-462-7342 ext. 271

(TS) AMC Town Square

6587 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-362-7283

(TC) Regency Tropicana Cinemas

3330 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-438-3456

(VS) Regal Village Square

9400 W. Sahara Ave., 844-462-7342 ext. 272

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