USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - LIFE - Cor­rec­tions & Clar­i­fi­ca­tions

‘Wid­ows’ (Nov. 16)

Stars: Vi­ola Davis, Michelle Ro­driguez, Liam Nee­son

Di­rec­tor: Steve McQueen

The skinny: Al­most five years af­ter grab­bing the best pic­ture Os­car for “12 Years A Slave,” McQueen re­turns with his twisty take on the heist film genre, fea­tur­ing a group of wives who plan an am­bi­tious job to pay off their dead spouses’ debts. “How do I make a car chase or ac­tion se­quence ex­cit­ing for peo­ple who’ve seen these things 1,010 times?” the di­rec­tor says. “It’s what Stan­ley Kubrick said: Ev­ery­thing has been done. Our job is to try to make it bet­ter.” Key to the story is the gang’s leader Veron­ica (Davis), who’s ex­tremely con­fi­dent and strong but has “depth of vul­ner­a­bil­ity,” McQueen says.

‘Creed II’ (Nov. 21)

Stars: Michael B. Jor­dan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thomp­son

Di­rec­tor: Steven Caple Jr.

The skinny: Again un­der the tute­lage of Rocky Bal­boa (Stallone), box­ing champ Ado­nis Creed (Jor­dan) is get­ting his big­gest test yet: Vik­tor Drago (Flo­rian Mun­teanu), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lund­gren) – the same guy who killed Ado­nis’ dad, Apollo (see: 1986’s “Rocky IV”). “The stakes are much higher within the fight and even out­side of the ring,” Caple says. While young Drago is a heavy­weight brawler, “Creed is all about tech­nique and speed, ev­ery­thing that Rocky taught him.” And when Rocky sees Ivan, his old Rus­sian neme­sis? “It’s kind of like, ‘I don’t want this to hap­pen. I don’t want to see a flash­back of ’86.’ He has his doubts about this fight, for sure.”

‘Ralph Breaks the In­ter­net’ (Nov. 21)

Stars: John C. Reilly, Sarah Sil­ver­man, Taraji P. Hen­son

Di­rec­tors: Phil John­ston and Rich Moore

The skinny: Video-game bad­di­eturned-hero Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by Reilly) and his best pal Vanel­lope (Sil­ver­man) go from the ar­cade to cy­berspace in the an­i­mated se­quel. And while’s she’s gung-ho on go­ing on­line, he’s a lot more wary, which causes some fric­tion. “Ralph loves her so much. He’s so grate­ful to have a friend af­ter all those years of be­ing an out­cast that he’s kind of hold­ing on a lit­tle too tight,” Reilly says. “The chal­lenge for him is how to be­come a real friend: What does a real friend do when their friend wants to grow? And in clas­sic Wreck-It Ralph fash­ion, he makes some colos­sal blun­ders along the way, al­most de­stroy­ing the world, lit­er­ally, by stupid ideas.”

‘Spi­der-Man: Into the Spi­der-Verse’ (Dec. 14)

Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake John­son, Hailee Ste­in­feld

Di­rec­tors: Bob Per­sichetti, Peter Ram­sey and Rod­ney Roth­man

The skinny: What’s bet­ter than one Spi­der-Man? Two Spideys, as “Spi­der­Verse” brings to­gether the clas­sic hero Peter Parker (voiced by John­son) with newer half-black, half-His­panic kid Miles Mo­rales (Moore). When jaded Peter in­ex­pli­ca­bly shows up in spunky Miles’ New York City, they be­come friends when Peter be­grudg­ingly ac­cepts the teen’s help to get home. “Peter buoys Miles and ab­so­lutely vice versa,” Per­sichetti says. “Miles’ dis­cov­ery of his pow­ers and his en­thu­si­asm for be­ing sort of a self­less hero ... helps re-in­spire Peter to be­come a bet­ter ver­sion of what his best self once was as Spi­der-Man.”

‘Mary Pop­pins Re­turns’ (Dec. 19)

Stars: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Mi­randa, Ben Whishaw

Di­rec­tor: Rob Mar­shall

The skinny: The prac­ti­cally per­fect nanny (Blunt) re­turns in a mu­si­cal se­quel to again help the Banks fam­ily in 1930s Lon­don af­ter a tragedy. One guy happy she’s back is friendly lamp­lighter Jack (Mi­randa), who ap­pren­ticed un­der Bert (Dick Van Dyke from the 1964 “Pop­pins”) and re­calls her ap­pear­ance from 25 years ear­lier. “The Banks kids have grown up and think they made up their ad­ven­tures with Pop­pins,” Mi­randa says. “They’ve con­vinced them­selves those were just fan­tasies we had as chil­dren. But Jack’s never for­got­ten.” And with Mi­randa a hard­core fan of the orig­i­nal film, “it is not the tough­est, from an act­ing per­spec­tive, to be pinch­ing my­self that I was go­ing on ad­ven­tures with Mary Pop­pins.”

‘Aqua­man’ (Dec. 21)

Stars: Ja­son Mo­moa, Am­ber Heard, Pa­trick Wil­son

Di­rec­tor: James Wan

The skinny: Un­der­wa­ter despot King Orm (Wil­son), aka Ocean Mas­ter, isn’t the nicest guy but he’s got a cool trusty steed: a ty­losaur, “which is a pre­his­toric crocodile,” Wil­son says. The ruler of At­lantis – and half-brother to su­per­hero Arthur Curry (Mo­moa) – is the main an­tag­o­nist of “Aqua­man,” who plans an as­sault on the sur­face world af­ter mankind has pol­luted his oceans.

Aqua­man is “re­ally easy­go­ing and the life of the party and dead set on not be­ing a leader at the be­gin­ning,” Wil­son says. “I just want to act as a foil to that.”

‘Bum­ble­bee’ (Dec. 21)

Stars: Hailee Ste­in­feld, John Cena, Jorge Len­de­borg Jr.

Di­rec­tor: Travis Knight

The skinny: The 1980s-set “Trans­form­ers” spinoff pre­quel is the comin­gof-age tale of teen girl Char­lie (Ste­in­feld) and her robot buddy who shape shifts into a Volk­swa­gen Beetle. Knight’s mis­sion was “try to show that rock-’em, sock-’em ro­bots can ac­tu­ally have a heart and soul,” says the di­rec­tor.

‘Vice’ (Dec. 25)

Stars: Chris­tian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rock­well

Di­rec­tor: Adam McKay

The skinny: “If you look at the great fig­ures in Amer­i­can his­tory, I don’t think there’s ever been any­one with such quiet fo­cus who changed the course of his­tory like this guy did,” McKay says of Dick Cheney (Bale), for­mer vice pres­i­dent to Ge­orge W. Bush (Rock­well) and sub­ject of the com­edy/drama. “Vice” tracks Cheney’s po­lit­i­cal rise over five decades: “He’s a lit­tle bit like a zelig fig­ure who’s just there when stuff’s hap­pen­ing, and then other times, he’s cen­tral to what’s hap­pen­ing.” McKay’s in­ten­tion was to cre­ate “a por­trait of a man and a por­trait of what power does to a man, but it was also a por­trait of the coun­try. De­pend­ing on your per­spec­tive on the world, ei­ther sadly or in a great way, it fit like a puz­zle piece.”


Emily Blunt is the per­fect nanny in “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns.”

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