End the year with these 8 must-see movies in December

  • Movies
  • Thursday, 01 Dec 2016

Death Troopers: Stormtroopers on steriods. From Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Photo: Disney

It’s December already? Good grief, where has all the time gone?

While ‘tis usually the season to be merry, other than the rowdy-looking Office Christmas Party (Dec 8), there seems to be a distinct lack of Christmas cheer in the cinemas this year.

Well, Santa may be giving the cinemas a miss, but thankfully, there are still plenty of gifts from the silver screen fairy this month. There are big-budget actioners like Underworld: Blood Wars (Dec 1) and Assassin’s Creed (Dec 22); fun family animated features like Moana (Dec 1) and Sing (Dec 8); high-profile Asian flicks like Jackie Chan’s Railroad Tigers (Dec 29) and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai’s See You Tomorrow (Dec 22); and a couple of highly-anticipated local films: Dain Said’s Interchange (Dec 1) and Syafiq Yusof’s Desolasi (Dec 8).

And to top it all off, there is the greatest gift a geek could hope for (besides a lightsaber, of course): a new Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dec 15)!

Interchange (Dec 1)

Cast: Iedil Putra, Shaheizy Sam, Nicholas Saputra, Prisia Nasution, Nadiya Nissa, Alvin Wong, Chew Kin Wah

Director: Dain Said

Adam is a forensics photographer who is asked by a friend, Detective Man, to help investigate a series of ritualistic murders. He then meets Iva, a woman on a mission to save the souls of her tribe, and is helped by the tribe’s spirit, which has taken on human form.

Why you should watch it:

Dain Said’s latest movie finally makes its way to Malaysian screens after making the rounds in the international film festival circuit (it premiered at the Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland, in August). From the trailer, it looks like a cross between a crime thriller and a surreal fantasy, with Nicholas Saputra’s character undergoing a pretty trippy transformation that looks intriguing.

Underworld: Blood Wars (Dec 1)

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Trent Garrett, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver

Director: Anna Foerster

The fifth, yes, FIFTH instalment of the Underwold franchise sees vampire Death Dealer Selene continuing her fight against the Lycan clan and the vampire faction that is hunting her so they can use her and her daughter’s blood to become powerful Vampire-Corvinus hybrids. That’s all you really need to know, really.

Why you should watch it:

If you watched the previous Underworld movies, you should already know what to expect: a so-so plot padded by lots of cool action sequences featuring Kate Beckinsale in her sexy leather costume, dealing out death to everything that stands in her way.

Yup, that sounds good to us too.

Moana (Dec 1)

Voice cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk and Tommy Lee Jones

Director: John Musker, Ron Clements

The only daughter of the the island’s chief, 14-year-old Moana only wants to leave the island she grew up on. Upon learning that their island is cursed, she embarks on a quest to lift the curse, with the help of the demi-god Maui.

Why you should watch it:

Meet Disney’s new princess! Well, sort of. Disney continues its recent run of solid animated features with this beautifully animated tale of magic, adventure, and wonder, with great voice performances by Dwayne Johnson and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho (who voices the titular character).

Desolasi (Dec 8)

Cast: Syamsul Yusof, Bella Dally, Pekin Ibrahim and Jalaluddin Hassan

Director: Syafiq Yusof

Struggling artist Aiman makes a wish to live in a world with no problems, and the next day, wakes up in a world where he is the only human being around. No people, no problems then, eh?

After having fun doing whatever he wants for a while, he meets a mysterious woman who reveals the truth about his situation.

Why you should watch it:

To tell the truth, we still have no idea what it is about even after reading the synopsis, but the trailer looks crazy, with tanks, dinosaurs, trippy effects, and most amazingly, a completely deserted Kuala Lumpur. Should be worth a watch just to see what KL looks like when there are no people around.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dec 15)

Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen

Director: Gareth Edwards

Set before the events in Star Wars: A New Hope, this is the story of how the Rebellion got its hands on the plans of the Death Star, which eventually leads to Luke Skywalker blowing it up by firing his torpedoes down its exhaust vent. In Rogue One, the rebels recruit Jyn Erso to lead a group of fighters on a mission to steal the plans.

Disappointingly, there doesn’t seem to be a single Bothan in her little group.

Why you should watch it:

Come on, it’s Star Wars. Do you really need another reason to go watch it? Ok fine, there’s Donnie Yen, who probably takes on 10 Stormtroopers on his own, Ip Man-style. Plus it’s the first standalone Star Wars movie, so you could see history in the making here. Will this be the film that sees the Disney empire strike back and herald a new hope for the Star Wars franchise?

One thing is for sure, even if this doesn’t turn out well, we won’t have to wait long to see the return of the Jedi.

Assassin’s Creed (Dec 22)

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ariane Labed, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson

Director: Justin Kurzel

Based on the popular Assassin’s Creed video game franchise, the film revolves around Callum Lynch, who is recruited by the secret society of Assassins to enter the Animus, advanced technology that unlocks his genetic memories and allwos him to relive the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th-century Spain.

Why you should watch it:

The videogame was quite the immersive experience, full of cinemtically gorgeous scenes and gameplay that allowed you to parkour your way through the city and utilise different techniques to assassinate enemies along the way. It’s a visual experience that should translate well onto the big screen, and judging from the trailer, it looks like it does stay faithful to a lot of the game’s main elements. Also, we can’t wait to see how the iconic Leap Of Faith looks like on screen.

Railroad Tigers (Dec 29)

Starring: Jackie Chan

Director: Ding Sheng

A railroad worker in 1941 China leads a group of freedom fighters against the Japanese by using their knowledge of the railway network to ambush Japanese trains and steal supplies.

Why you should watch it:

Age may have slowed him down somewhat and he may have made a few questionable film choices in recent times (The Tuxedo, anyone?), but one thing is for sure: we’d still watch anything with Jackie Chan in it. Railroad Tigers gives Chan a chance to exercise those comedic action chops once again, and from the trailer, it seems like a lot of the action will be taking place on top of trains, so this will probably be one heck of a ride.

The Great Wall (Dec 29)

Cast: Matt Damon, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Lu Han, Jing Tian

Director: Zhang Yimou

Two white guys end up on the Great Wall of China, where they join up with the Chinese army to keep out a horde of giant monsters. From what we can gauge from the trailer, that’s pretty much the whole story.

Why you should watch it:

Yes, there’s been some controversy about a movie set in China starring another white actor, with a primarily Chinese cast speaking in English instead of Chinese, but since it’s by Zhang Yimou, we’re willing to give this the benefit of the doubt. Besides, judging from the trailer, this looks like a real visual masterpiece, with some suitably epic-looking action set-pieces to boot.

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