Movies Not to Miss: December 2016

Movies Not to Miss: December 2016

Which of these are you going to watch?

2016 has been a year with ups and downs for movies, but this December is letting us end the year on a high note. While there's barely any Oscar contenders coming our way, but that is not one less reason to be going to the cinema. This December is probably one of the few months throughout the year that is packed with some of the most anticipated releases, whether from franchise blockbusters, animation, sci-fi, comedies (with a little Christmas cheer), and good old fashioned action entertainment from Hollywood, and Asia.

'Tis the season to be jolly indeed, and you couldn't ask for a better gift of sending out 2016 with a bundle of entertainment and joy at the cinemas. So, these are the releases you shouldn't miss this December!

Sword Master

An elite swordsman who is haunted by his skills and abilities is challenged by a challenger who wants to take over his place. 2016 has seen some hard-hitting martial arts flicks, but the year will not end without another potential masterpiece from two of the biggest names in the Wu Xia and action genre of Hong Kong; Tsui Hark and Derek Yee, who produced and directed this remake of 1977's "Death Duel" respectively. Adapted once again from the short story by Wu Xia novelist Gu Long, Yee had made his acting debut in the original "Death Duel", but will be having Lin Gengxin swinging swords against Peter Ho as the main rivals in this glossier 3D remake. While there is an unapologetic use of CG-effects over the traditional wire-fu, it hasn't shown that it has traded the traditional tropes and tone of what made the Wu Xia genre fascinating with a mind-numbing script or fanciful pandering to a younger audience.

General Release Date: 1 December

Underworld: Blood Wars

After saving her daughter Eve from being used to develop the Super-Lycans, Death Dealer Selene and new allies try to end the endless conflict between the Lycans and Vampires, as both sides are out for her blood as the key to superiority. With the Milla Jovovich's "Resident Evil" series coming to an end with its last installment, the world needs another action heroine to give the world its dosage of unending action wrapped in a badass woman. With "Underworld: Blood War" being the 5th installment in the series to remind us that the "Underworld" franchise is alive and well, we will see how director Anne Foerster will be able to expand the series' stretched premise, and how long they would be able to get Kate Beckinsale to reprise in the role that made her known.

General Release Date: 1 December


As forensic photographer Adam is dragged into an investigation of ritualistic murders, Adam befriends a woman who is trying to save the souls of her tribe trapped in a glass plate negative. While still editing "Bunohan", director Dain Said had already started drafting his next outing and so came "Interchange", which makes 2016 another great year for Malaysian films. Coming so closely after the long anticipated release with "Hanyut", Dain Said revisits an old subject matter that didn't make any uncomfortable shifts in anyone who disliked the idea of portraying shamanic practices the first time around for "Dukun". Starred by local favourites Shaheizy Sam and Iedil Putra, with neighbouring talents Prisia Nasution and Nicholas Saputra, "Interchange" is also backed by practically the same crew of "Bunohan" from editing to visual effects, and has cemented that worthy working relationship; attracting attention at the Marche Du Film in Cannes and with its premiere at the Locarno Film Festival. If you haven't seen a Malaysian movie throughout the year, here's your last chance to make it this one.

General Release Date: 1 December


When the fishes and coconuts on the island of Te Fiti are gone and spoiled, Moana discovers that the island has been cursed and sets out to find the demigod Maui, who had stolen the heart of the island, but lost it in the ocean. Walt Disney Animation Studios have already brought cheers to this year's animation with the subtly socially charged "Zootopia", but they are not going to let us end the year without a traditional story. Adding into their list of strong Disney 'princesses' is Moana, voiced by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho, who is accompanied by Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, in a Polynesian inspired adventure across open oceans. Directed by the directing duo best known for their pre-CG Disney works of the seminal "The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin" and most recently "The Princess and the Frog", this will be the first 3D work for directors John Musker and Ron Clements. Adding a new twist to the musical formula of a Disney Princess movie, the songs will be also be sung in the Tokelauan language.

General Release Date: 1 December

Death Note: Light Up the New World

A decade after the final confrontation between Kira and L, the world is once again thrown into chaos as six new Death Notes descend on the world. When a cyber hacker named Yuki Shien unleashes a virus to claim all six Death Notes, a Death Note Task Force led by investigator Tsukuru Mishima sets out to stop Yuki, while a successor to L, Ryuzaki, also conducts his own investigation. It has been 10 years since we last heard of Death Note, and it has even managed to up the stakes of its deadly premise to throw us back into the intriguing game of cat and mouse, between the forces who would use the powers of the Death Note and to stop it. This sequel is directed by Shinsuke Sato, who has done considerable manga adaptations for "Library Wars", "Gantz", "I Am a Hero" and will be directing the live action version of "Bleach".

General Release Date: 8 December

Your Name

Two high school students, Taki and Mitsuha, find themselves swapping consciousness in their bodies on various occasions, unknowing that their body switch is setting them up for a life-changing reason. Leaving us speechless without words but mellow emotions after "Garden of Words", animation artist Makoto Shinkai is back with another feature that has become his most commercially successful piece of work with "Your Name". Those who are already familiar with Shinkai's previous works from "Voices of a Distant Star" to "5 cm per second" have been waiting for this to arrive to our screens since it has been making box office records in Japan to stand amongst the glorious works of Ghibli, while readying pack of tissues before entering the theater. If anyone cannot imagine an age of Japanese animation after Ghibli, a new age starts with "Your Name".

General Release Date: 8 December

Office Christmas Party

When branch manager Clay's branch is about to be shut down by the company CEO and his uptight sister Carol, Clay and his chief technical officer arrange for one last epic Christmas party to impress a client that would secure them a sales deal that will save the branch and the jobs of everyone working in it. It's time to put away the safe and fuzzy Christmas movies, and rock out the celebrations with a hard R-rated comedy by the directors that brought you the vulgar "Blades of Glory". This is one party you wouldn't want to miss with Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn and Jamie Chung, that we all wished we had a wild Christmas party with them at the office.

General Release Date: 8 December


Troubled artist Aiman gets his wish for the world to have no more troubles when he wakes up to find that there no one left in the world except for him. At first panicked by the prospect before realising how he would enjoy himself in the lonely world, Aiman meets a mysterious woman who shows him the reason for the sudden desolation. Already gaining notoriety for being able to vacate the crowded parts of Petaling Jaya, and the downtown city center of Bukit Bintang, the effects team behind "Desolasi" has once again outdone itself to provide for a premise that would otherwise be physically impossible to pull off. All that remains is to see how director Syafiq Yusof makes use of it to tell a compelling story, with Syamsul Yusof and Bella Dally in the lead, supported by Pekin Ibrahim and veteran star Jalaluddin Hassan.

General Release Date: 8 December


When rundown theater owner Buster Moon opens the world's greatest singing competition to revive his theater, 5 animals with different stories come out from the woodwork to sing their souls out. In a year that has been filled with talking animals, Illumination Entertainment puts the finale to the year with not just talking animals, but also singing animals that would be belting out your favourite hits from ballads, raps, to Broadway numbers. Not only are Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, Tori Kelly and Taron Egerton going to be the voice cast for the characters, but they would actually be performing the songs themselves in this animated musical.

General Release Date: 8 December

Show Me Your Love

Growing up without his mother around, Daren had left Malaysia after he came of age. 20 years later when returning for a funeral, Daren finds that his mother has suffered from Sundown syndrome and no longer recognises her own son. To spend her last moments with her, Daren decides to fulfill 10 wishes for his mother that he wrote when he was 10-years-old. Ryon Lee may be best known as the screenwriter for "The Journey" and "Great Day", but this would be his fifth outing as a director. Bucking against the trend of making another movie for the Chinese New Year occasion, "Show Me Your Love" wants to drive home a tear-jerker and remind us of the sacrifices made by our mothers which could be more than we imagined.

General Release Date: 8 December

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

As the Empire rises to take over the Galaxy, a group of Rebellion fighters are sent to discover the plans of a destructive weapon that will be known as the Death Star, and deliver its weakness to the Rebellion. A year ago "Star Wars" made its return to the cinematic universe with one of the most anticipated sequels to the official canon. This year, a new tradition begins for the franchise. "Rogue One" is not strictly part of the official sequels, but is the start of a series of spin-offs that will be filling in the gap years in between each new episode of the running series. Even so, LucasFilms and Disney are sparing no expense to make these smaller stories, starting off with a tremendous cast of Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen, and then having Asian starts Donnie Yen, and Jiang Wen to carrying supporting roles in the galaxy far far away. We already have high hopes that director Gareth Edwards will make a worthy addition to the "Star Wars" canon.

General Release Date: 15 December

Collateral Beauty

After a personal tragedy that cost his daughter's life, New York advertising executive Howard Inlet begins writing letters to Love, Time and Death. While his friends are trying to get him back on his feet, Howard is visited by the personification his letters are addressed to. Despite not attaining any Oscar nod for his dramatic role in "Concussion" last year, Will Smith is still taking on dramatic roles that are more demanding than being a supervillain good with guns and working in teams. Will Smith is not the only standout in this ensemble cast directed by David Frankel, as Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore, and Helen Mirren will be coming to visit the lost soul, while Smith will be supported by Edward Norton, Naomi Harris and Kate Winslet.

General Release Date: 15 December

The Space Between Us

As the first human born on Mars, Gardner Elliot goes to Earth for the first time and is taken around its sights and sounds by a Colorado-native teenage girl whom he befriended via video chat while in Mars. As Gardner has many experiences with life on Earth, his life becomes endangered when his body is unable to adapt to Earth's environment and gravity. In this teen romance that goes beyond the stars, it examines a premise of the scientific possibility of humans born out of Earth's gravity to ever be able to live on the home planet. Young star Asa Butterfield is paired with upcoming actress Britt Robertson, as they take on a new perspective on this planet we call home by "Hector and the Search of Happiness" director Peter Chelsom.

General Release Date: 22 December

Assassin's Creed

After being declared dead, Callum Lynch is brought to a facility where he is connected to a machine called the Animus, to relive the memories of his genetic ancestors as an assassin during the Spanish Inquisition. 2016 was supposed to be the year of video game adaptations, but all the adaptations this year so far has not lived up to its expectations. Now stands the last bastion of a video game-based franchise to make video gamers and moviegoers happy, and based on its credentials, it might have the best chance of them all. Director Justin Kurzel reunites once again with his "Macbeth" stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, and is joined by respected actors such as Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlottle Rampling who may be able to bring some dramatic gravitas to make "Assassin's Creed" a video game movie to be taken seriously.

General Release Date: 22 December

See You Tomorrow

When a young woman falls in love with a married painter, whose wife is also cheating on him, their affair is helped by the 'ferrymen', who helps people to reach their desires. As the first production of Alibaba's movie division, it is already showing the massive financial muscle it has to make its presence known in the ever expanding Chinese movie industry. Although "See You Tomorrow" is directed by Zhang Jiajia off his own short story, it has managed to get Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai's name attached as the producer. That's not where the attraction ends, as it certainly has a delectable cast that money can buy. Led by Tony Leung, the cast also includes Takeshi Kaneshiro, Eason Chan, Angelababy, and numerous Chinese celebrities in this strange mix of romance, black comedy and technological innovations to the works.

General Release Date: 22 December


When Jim Preston is awoken from his hibernation pod due to a malfunction, he finds himself alone on the spacecraft in the midst of a 120 year journey. Unable to bear the loneliness, he wakes another passenger, Aurora, to spend time together, unknowing that neither of them will survive when they reach their destination. If "The Space Between Us" is a little out of reach of your age group to enjoy a little romance in space, then "Passengers" is there to pick up anyone left behind. Dolling out a favourably more attractive cast with Jennifer Lawrence, with a tender side of Chris Pratt, "Passengers" also has Michael Sheen as a robot bartender, Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia in tow. While we are not sure how serious "Passengers" wants to win an Oscar at the end, but it certainly benefits to have Oscar-nominee Morten Tlydum in the helm for this different kind of story in another galaxy far far away.

General Release Date: 29 December

Railroad Tigers

Set in 1941 in China, a railroad worker becomes the gang leader of a group of resistance fighters to rob a Japanese train carrying food to be distributed to the starving people of China. Trains have become a favourite setting as of late and not just China wants to be left behind. Newly minted Oscar honorary recipient Jackie Chan is back with more derring-dos in this new railroaded action comedy by director Ding Shen, who is in his third collaboration with Chan since "Little Big Soldier". Jackie won't be working alone this time, however, as it will be a team effort with Huang Zitao, Kai Wang, Darren Wang, Alan Ng, and Sang Ping to form the merry band for hi-jinx and high action.

General Release Date: 29 December

The Great Wall

A soldier in search for gunpowder finds himself at the Great Wall of China which is being built to not only fend off a Mongolian invasion, but something far scarier and supernatural. Despite the accusations of Matt Damon's casting as the white saviour, it is easy to forget that this will be Chinese director Zhang Yimou's first fully English language film that was made by Legendary East; the Asian division of Legendary Pictures, and the cast is well represented by Asians with Andy Lau, Jing Tian, Eddie Peng, Lu Han, and Jing Tian. As for Zhang's penchant for visual extravagance, the special effects will be provided by ILM and Weta Workshop, and having "Game of Thrones" composer Ramin Djawadi on the soundtrack sweetens the deal.

General Release Date: 29 December

Related Movies:
Moana (01 Dec 2016)
Sword Master (Mandarin) (01 Dec 2016)
Lulu The Movie (Mandarin) (01 Dec 2016)
Interchange (MIFFEST) (Malay) (28 Feb 2017)
Underworld: Blood Wars (01 Dec 2016)
Your Name (Japanese) (08 Dec 2016)
Show Me Your Love (Cantonese) (08 Dec 2016)
Office Christmas Party (08 Dec 2016)
Sing (08 Dec 2016)
Desolasi (Malay) (08 Dec 2016)
Death Note: Light Up The New World (Japanese) (08 Dec 2016)
Collateral Beauty (15 Dec 2016)
The Great Wall (29 Dec 2016)
PASSENGERS (16 Apr 2009)
The Space Between Us (02 Feb 2017)
See You Tomorrow (Mandarin) (23 Dec 2016)
Assassin's Creed (22 Dec 2016)

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