Catch These December Movies Outside of the MMFF

If you love to watch movies during the December holiday season, but you’re not much of a fan for the Metro Manila Film Festival movies, then your luck is about to change because December will be featuring not just one but three science fiction films, one fantasy gaming film, and one suspense thriller. For the sci-fi flicks, two of these are already earmarked to be possible classics while all five are set to break box office records. So, bring the whole family, get that bag of popcorn or take-out sandwich, sit back, and unfortunately you’ll never get to relax with the almost non-stop action and mind-bending twists in the story.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)

For the Star Wars followers, this is one of the most awaited movies in the Star Wars universe. For those not familiar with the Star Wars storyline, this film is not the continuation to the recent Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens. It is a standalone film and is one of two standalone films for Star Wars, the other one being the origins of Han Solo.

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Rogue One is directed by Gareth Edwards, best known for his direction of the 2014 Godzilla. It is the first Star Wars film with a truly international mix of races for the protagonists in the persons of Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, and Forest Whitaker.

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The story takes place after Star Wars Episode III and before Episode IV. The rebel alliance learns that the Empire is building a new superweapon called the Death Star. They form a rebel team to attempt to steal the schematic plans to the Death Star. And as Star Wars fans know, if it wasn’t for this team, ah, but no spoilers here for you. As Mon Mothma said in Episode IV, “many Bothan spies died to bring us these plans.” Well, we’ll be on the lookout for these Bothans.

Arrival (December 21)

This sci-fi film is now being touted as a possible classic because of its numerous story twists that will keep people on the edge of their seats just straining to listen to the dialogue. It’s not just your common alien-invades-earth fare.

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In fact, when stood beside other classics like The Martian, Interstellar, and Gravity, it’s a combination of all three with a little horror and action thrown in. Arrival is directed by Denis Villeneuve whose film credits include the controversial Sicario and the upcoming reboot of Blade Runner.

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The film stars Amy Adams as a doctoral linguist, Jeremy Renner as a military physicist, and Forest Whitaker (yes, him again) as a senior US military officer. Amy Adams is tasked by the US government to try to communicate with aliens that have landed in a large spacecraft, and 11 other spacecraft have landed around the world. The alien’s language turns out to be complicated and many mistranslations and miscommunications may eventually lead to war against the aliens.

Assassin’s Creed (December 25)

This action-adventure film is based on the video game franchise of the same name. The film is directed by Australian director Justin Kurzel, who also directed Snowtown and Macbeth.

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If you’re fond of Michael Fassbender of X-Men and Prometheus fame, then you’re in luck because he plays, well, of course, the assassin Callum Lynch. It also stars Marion Cotillard as Sophia, Jeremy Irons as Alan Rikkin, and Brendan Gleeson as Callum’s father.

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The story revolves around Callum and how he was “rescued” from a life of being a criminal and is trained in the Animus Project to relive the memories of his ancestor, the assassin Aguilar de Nerha, and himself train to become an assassin. With his newfound knowledge and skills he will then confront their enemies coming from the Church.

Passengers (December 21)

Coming off their respective film successes, Jennifer Lawrence from Hunger Games and X-Men and Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic Park, Passengers is directed by Norwegian Morten Tyldum who also directed Headhunters and The Imitation Game.

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Lawrence is writer Aurora Lane and Pratt is mechanical engineer Jim Preston aboard the spaceship Starship Avalon on a 120-year voyage to the distant colony planet called “Homestead II.”

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The spaceship is carrying 5,259 people all on suspended animation hibernation. However, 90 years short of its destination, two hibernation chambers malfunction, and thus, Lane and Preston emerge on the ship and find themselves trapped with no way to return to their suspended cosmic travel. Slowly, the two fall in love, but in the process also discover other problems afflicting the huge spaceship aside from their premature awakening, and attempt to find a way out.

Solace (December 16)

FBI Special Agent Joe Merriwether (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is unable to solve a series of homicides, so he decides to enlist the help of his former colleague Dr. John Clancy (played by Anthony Hopkins), a retired physician with psychic powers.

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However, the reclusive Clancy, who shut down his practice and retreated from the world following the death of his daughter and subsequent break-up of his marriage, wants nothing to do with the case. He soon changes his mind after seeing disturbingly violent visions of Joe’s partner, FBI Special Agent Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) and her ultimate violent death.

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When Clancy’s exceptional intuitive powers put him on the trail of a suspect, serial killer Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell), the doctor soon realizes his abilities are no match against the extraordinary powers of this vicious murderer on a mission. This suspense thriller is directed by Brazilian director Afonso Poyart on his first English-language and Hollywood directorial debut. On the outer layer it may look as if it is a serial killer film, but in truth it may be a combination of Silence of the Lambs and Se7en due to its interesting moral dilemmas.

(Note: Final show schedules of these films may be subject to change without notice due to the erratic schedules and possible outcomes of the Metro Manila Film Festival.)

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