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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

Creed II

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 Grinch

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.

Creed II.

The Grinch.

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