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Movie Tavern 916 W. University Drive. 940-566-FILM (3456).

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Assassin’s Creed Michael Fassbender plays a man who accesses his genetic memories via a new technology, learns he is descended from a secret society, the Assassins, and must battle their centuries-long adversaries, the Templar organization. Based on the game series. With Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael K. Williams and Khalid Abdalla. Directed by Justin Kurzel. Rated PG-13, 108 minutes. — Los Angeles Times

Collateral Beauty (1.5 stars) With its cast of Oscar-caliber actors and pervasive theme of loss, Collateral Beauty should have been a deeply moving tear-jerker. Instead, it comes off as a melodramatic contrivance. Will Smith is Howard, the once-gregarious leader of a big, successful advertising firm who withdraws into depression and isolation after his young daughter dies. Howard’s closest colleagues (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena) decide to spy on their boss and prey on his grief-ridden instability. They hire a detective, who finds that Howard has been sending letters addressed to Love, Time and Death. So his colleagues trick him by hiring actors to play human apparitions of those concepts who will respond to Howard in person. Director David Frankel and his all-star cast miss the mark. With Helen Mirren, Jacob Latimore, Kiera Knightley and Naomie Harris. Rated PG-13, 97 minutes. — The Associated Press

Doctor Strange (3.5 stars) As conventional as Marvel Studios films have become, they can still deliver thoroughly exciting big screen entertainment, and Doctor Strange continues Marvel’s victorious streak with wondrous central character and top-tier visuals. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) sports a fancy red cape (a character of its own) and garners skills too incredible to fully comprehend. In Strange’s origin story, director Scott Derrickson (Sinister) explores the genesis of the titular former neurosurgeon and how he grows to bend time and space. What elevates Doctor Strange above the norm is its stunning visuals. With Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelsen. Rated PG-13, 115 minutes. — Preston Barta

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (4 stars) In Fantastic Beasts, the politics of Harry Potter’s wizarding world come more into play. Don’t fret, however, as this more-talk-and-less-action tale doesn’t give you a case of the ZZZs like the politically driven Star Wars prequels. There’s something more tangible and rewarding to this new series that’s quite relevant to the times we live in. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magical creature zoologist who’s expelled from Hogwarts, arrives in 1926 New York for personal business and research for his book. Newt finds himself wrapped up in a tangled plot, involving loose critters from his own briefcase, witch hunts and an immense threat to the magical community. Directed by David Yates, from J.K. Rowling’s screenplay. Rated PG-13, 133 minutes. — P.B.

Fences (3.5 stars) Thunderous performances and a sharply adapted screenplay give third-time director Denzel Washington’s Fences some real bravado. But because its story of a pre-civil rights working-class black family is based on August Wilson’s award-winning stage play, Washington doesn’t broaden the scope of the movie to a cinematic level. Rated PG-13, 138 minutes. — P.B.

Hacksaw Ridge (3.5 stars) In Hacksaw Ridge, Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) plays American Army medic Desmond T. Doss, a man of God who refused to carry a weapon while he made his way into one of World War II’s bloodiest battles. Much of Mel Gibson’s film falls into sap-filled land of Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) — most notably the film’s first quarter — but once the story takes to boot camp and the ridge itself, Gibson shows us the directing skills we’ve been missing in his 10-year absence. Co-stars Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey and a scene-stealing Vince Vaughn. Rated R, 131 minutes. — P.B.

Manchester by the Sea (4.5 stars) The film’s beautifully wrought story begins in Quincy, Massachusetts, where we find Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler, a man with a great deal of pain behind his eyes. The death of his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), sends Lee up the coast to face further news of his brother making him the sole guardian of his teenage son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Manchester by the Sea does a remarkable job of accurately portraying grief. Filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan gives us subtle hints throughout before unveiling the truth of his character at the most opportune time. Lonergan knows when audiences need to laugh and lament. With Michelle Williams. Rated R, 137 minutes. — P.B.

Moana (4 stars) Just when you thought you finally got the songs from Frozen out of your head, another collection of catchy and thoughtful tunes arrive for your children to belt out. Disney’s Moana shares the story of a young Polynesian woman (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) who uses her navigational strengths to save her homeland by sailing to a fabled island, with the help of a legendary demigod named Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). With its pitch-perfect casting and grand story of self-discovery, Moana is the family-fun, lesson-filled adventure to enjoy over the holiday weekend. Rated PG, 113 minutes. — P.B.

Office Christmas Party (3 stars) Office Christmas Party covers its territory in a rather canny and humorous way. Jennifer Aniston plays Carol Vanstone, the CEO of a data storage company called Zenotek. Her hard-partying brother, Clay (a very funny T.J. Miller), runs a branch in Chicago. But because their annual numbers are down, Carol is threatening to shut down the branch, unless Clay and his chief technical officer (Jason Bateman) impress a potential client (Courtney B. Vance) with an office party and close the sale to save all of their butts. Thankfully, Office Christmas Party finds a nice middle ground between holiday nostalgia and bleakness. Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Rated R, 105 minutes. — P.B.

Passengers (1.5 stars) The trailer for this outer-space adventure fools audiences into believing two passengers — a mechanic named Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and a high-class journalist, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) — are waking up from an induced hibernation 90 years too early while aboard a spaceship bound for a new planet. However, what the trailer doesn’t tell you — and this could be considered a spoiler, but it shouldn’t — initially only Pratt’s character awakens early. After flying solo through space over the course of a year, Jim takes it upon himself to wake up the prettiest female passenger to keep him company until the end of their days. Striking production sets, charismatic talent and the potential for a juicy horror movie may keep our attention, but rather than diving into the deeper, darker conversation at hand, the film instead distracts us with a Titanic-esque action tale that deserves to be lost in space. Rated PG-13, 116 minutes. — P.B.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (4 stars) Director Gareth Edwards (2014’s Godzilla) proves to be a suitable leader to carry the torch of the beloved franchise with its first standalone feature. In Rogue One — set just before the events of 1977’s Star Wars (A New Hope) — we follow a wayward band of Rebel fighters (Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang) who convene to carry out a daring mission: to steal the plans for the Death Star before it is used to enforce the Imperial reign and destroy all that is good in the galaxy. There’s something magnetizing about seeing regular Joes doing extraordinary things. The pace may be more slow-cooked and its tone may be bleaker than we’re used to, but the film’s nostalgic images, Michael Giacchino’s vigorous musical score and Edwards’ impressive action set-pieces make the force strong with this one. Rated PG-13, 133 minutes. — P.B.

Sing (2 stars) In the latest entry from Illumination Entertainment (The Secret Life of Pets, Minions), Sing’s contrived story follows an optimistic koala bear by the name of Buster Moon (voiced by a lively Matthew McConaughey) who gets the idea of holding a singing competition to grab the public eye and restore his fading theater to its former glory. Five contestants emerge: a dapper mouse (Seth MacFarlane), a divided gorilla (Taron Egerton), a timid elephant (Reese Witherspoon), an exuberant pig (Nick Kroll) and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson). Rated PG, 108 minutes. — P.B.

Why Him? A vigilant father visits his daughter at Stanford and clashes with her tech mogul boyfriend. With James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Zoey Deutch, Cedric the Entertainer, Griffin Gluck and Keegan-Michael Key. Directed by John Hamburg. Rated R, 111 minutes. — LAT