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The Nutcracker And The Four Realms
Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is struggling to find her Christmas spirit after her mother’s death but when the practical young girl is transported to another world her priorities begin to change. The film feels like a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker ballet and the Narnia chronicles. Paying homage to the ballet, some classical dance is included but it feels out of place. Keira Knightley’s performance as the whiny Sugar Plum grates on the nerves while the talents of Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger and Richard E. Grant as Shiver are underutilised. There are moments of colourful fun but a lot more are needed. Rated PG. Annelies Gartner
With 2015’s Creed, writer-director Ryan Coogler created a secondgeneration Rocky franchise by introducing Apollo Creed’s wannabe-champ son, Adonis. Coogler, of course, went on to other projects, helming a little something called Black Panther. For the sequel, he cedes to a new corner man in the relatively unknown Steven Caple Jr, whose job is easy: Don’t mess things up. Caple doesn’t always connect, but he does have Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan packing a one-two punch as Rocky Balboa and Adonis Creed. As before, the two actors share an easy chemistry and their scenes together are the film’s strongest, even when the melodrama sets in. When the script separates them, the movie suffers and you’re forced to slog through a bloated middle. Bring the smelling salts. Rated M. TNS
The new animated version of the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a welcome, if early, Christmas gift. You’d have to be a Scrooge to resist it. The Grinch (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) lives in a spacious mountaintop lair, high above the town of Whoville, with his faithful mutt, Max. When we meet him, five days before Christmas, he’s bitter and alone, a grumpy fur ball who just doesn’t feel the holiday spirit. What’s worse, he doesn’t want anybody else to feel it. Yet no matter what mischief he throws at the Whovillians — everything from refusing to accept their cheery wishes to knocking over their groceries — they take it in stride. With its charming character animation and inventive art direction, The Grinch is a vast improvement over Ron Howard’s 2000 live-action adaptation of the same story which starred Jim Carrey. Rated G. TNS
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.