The rating system: ☆☆☆☆, excellent; ☆☆☆, good; ☆☆, so-so; ☆, poor; zero stars, terrible. Unless noted otherwise, reviews are by Bee critic Rick Bentley. Check movie times: http://calendar.fresnobee.com/
Collateral Beauty Man seeks answers from the universe after a great tragedy.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story A ragtag team goes on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Felicity Jones stars.
The Accountant (☆) Ben Affleck plays a math savant who gets involved with a criminal element. Rated R (language, violence). 128 minutes.
Allied (☆☆☆) Love affair between World War II spies becomes complicated. Brad Pitt stars. “Allied” has a beautiful look, with director Robert Zemeckis using modern technology to make the war period look stunningly real. He doesn’t miss a visual cue, from the quiet moments between his stars to a dazzling bombing attack. The script has problems. Rated R (sexuality, violence, language, drug use). 121 minutes.
Arrival (☆☆☆) Scientists and military scramble to unravel mystery behind alien crafts. The film builds its mystery scene by scene. Rated PG-13 (language). 116 minutes. (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune).
Bad Santa 2 (☆☆☆ 1/2) The team gets back together to rob a charity. The script by Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross will make you uncomfortable and embarrassed at your laughter. It’s OK. Think of it as just being pulled into the impressive acting abilities that are getting better and better for Billy Bob Thornton. Rated (language, sexual situations, drug use). 92 minutes.
Deepwater Horizon (☆☆☆) Disaster on an oil rig puts crew in a fight for survival. Kurt Russell stars. Director Peter Berg gets past the familiarity problem of the film being based on a real story by playing up the human element of the major players. By the time the explosion on the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico unfolds in massively grand style, there is real reason to be concerned about the people facing a hell on Earth. Rated PG-13 (thematic material, danger). 99 minutes.
Doctor Strange (☆☆☆☆) Egotistical surgeon finds new mystical powers. Benedict Cumberbatch stars. Cumberbatch brings a seriousness to the role that helps bridge the skepticism gap created with any feature film based on a comic book. His reverent approach to playing the role makes it easy to accept the character, both as a self-centered man of medicine and as a manipulator of magic. It takes a confident actor to be able to slip into a superhero costume and make it look serious. Cumberbatch embraces the look as if he were starring in “Hamlet.” Rated PG-13 (comic book violence). 130 minutes.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (☆☆☆☆) Eddie Redmayne stars in this story based on the Hogwarts textbook. If you are looking for a fantastic movie and don’t know where to find one, look no further than “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” This new offering from the creative mind of J.K. Rowling is as fun and entertaining as it is visually stunning. Rated PG-13 (fantasy action and violence). 132 minutes.
Hacksaw Ridge (☆☆☆ 1/2) Man who refuses to carry a gun into one of the bloodiest battles of World War II becomes a hero. Andrew Garfield stars. Playing a pacifist in such a deadly war zone is a tricky proposition. Garfield shows just the right of commitment to make the hardline stand feel real while allowing his emotions to occasionally bubble to the surface. Playing the role with too little commitment would have turned the character into a World War II version of Gomer Pyle. Rated R (violence, language). 139 minutes.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Tom Cruise reprises his role as the problem solver. This time, it’s Reacher accused of murder. Not reviewed.
Manchester by the Sea A teenage boy moves in with his uncle after his father dies. Casey Affleck stars.
Miss Sloane Powerful lobbyist shakes up Washington, D.C. Jessica Chastain stars.
Moana (☆☆ 1/2) Future island queen goes on a quest across the ocean to save her people. The problem is the story is nowhere near as interesting as the animation. It’s slow-paced and the multiple attempts to explain the Polynesian tales that serve as the fabric of the story never make the plot clear. Rated PG (peril). 103 minutes.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (☆☆) Young boy discovers a refuge for children with special abilities. The first half of the film is fun because of director Tim Burton’s whimsical style of making movies. Rated PG-13 (intense scenes of fantasy). 127 minutes. (Katie Walsh, TNS)
Nocturnal Animals (☆☆☆) Tom Ford sprinkles in some commentary about life and art using nudity to show the starkness of beauty and the beauty of starkness. He uses nudity in various ways, not as a sexual element, but as an exclamation point for pivotal moments in the story. He can do this because Jake Gyllenhaal is so compelling to watch as a wounded author and broken husband/father, and Amy Adams can sell sadness with a simple look. Michael Shannon turns in yet another brilliant performance as the one person who thinks revenge is overrated. Rated R (violence, sexuality, graphic nudity, language). 115 minutes.
Office Christmas Party What happens at an office Christmas party doesn’t often stay at the party.
Sausage Party (☆☆☆): Wieners try to make their escape in this mature animated offering. The most adult animated film to come along since the 1972 release “Fritz the Cat.” Instead of a barrage of sexual and racial jokes told through a tale of a lecherous feline, this cursing cartoon caper examines what happens when foodstuffs learn what really happens when they leave the supermarket. It’s the struggle that provides food for thought (sorry). Rated R (language, sexual material). 89 minutes.
The Secret Life of Pets (☆☆): The way your pet acts when you are away is very different than when you are home. Rated PG (rude humor, action). 95 minutes.
Storks (☆☆☆☆): After years of being out of the baby-delivery business, one stork must make a very important delivery. The film manages to deliver on many levels, from broad comedy to a sweet family story. There’s a lot going on in this tale of a world where storks have been made to deliver packages from a superstore. But directors Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland layer the elements in such a way that one just makes the other stronger. Rated PG (mild violence). 92 minutes.
Suicide Squad (☆☆) A group of villains that include the Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) go on a mission. “Suicide Squad,” the latest fumbled movie offering based on a DC Comics franchise, has only two things going for it. The most noteworthy is Robbie, who brings a wonderful crazy energy to her role. The character has been immensely popular since debuting in “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992, and Robbie is flawless. Rated PG-13 (violence, sexual situations). 126 minutes.
Trolls (☆☆ 1/2) Two trolls go on an adventure into new lands. The juvenile humor and dazzling use of color in “Trolls” makes it fancifully designed to entertain the young. There are a few elements – from the trippy psychedelic look to retro selection of music – that may lure adults, but those are not plentiful enough to give the film a broad, all-ages appeal. Rated PG (rude humor). 85 minutes.
Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween: Madea spends the holiday battling killers and ghosts. Not reviewed.
OPENING NEXT WEEK
Assassin’s Creed Search for meaning in memories of ancestors leads to special skills. Based on the popular video game. Opens Wednesday.
Jackie Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) deals with events after the assassination of her husband. Opens Wednesday.
Passengers Two space travelers face 90 years alone in space. Jennifer Lawrence stars. Opens Wednesday.
Sing Musical competition held to save a theater. Opens Wednesday.
Why Him? Father is upset his daughter wants to marry an outlandish billionaire. Opens Friday, Dec. 23.
Fences Father deals with race relations in the ’50s while trying to raise his family. Denzel Washington stars. Opens Sunday, Dec. 25.
La La Land Actress, jazz musician find music in their lives. Emma Stone stars. Opens Sunday, Dec. 25.