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  • Justice League

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- When it comes to repetitiously threatening the world with annihilation, Hollywood is almost as persistent as North Korean state media. So the global danger looming over "Justice League" (Warner Bros.) feels all-too-familiar, a case of Yogi Berra's famous deja vu all over again.

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  • Wonder

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Wonder" (Lionsgate) is a beautiful film about ugliness. Its protagonist is August "Auggie" Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a 10-year-old boy born with facial deformities whose misshapen visage becomes a moral Rorschach test for the people around him.

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  • The Star

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A holiday treat suitable for all but the tiniest, "The Star" (Sony) is a delightful animated version of the Christmas story told from the perspective of some of the animals present in the manger.

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  • Let There Be Light

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Let There Be Light" (Atlas) is an evangelical Christian drama with a familiar plot: A wayward sinner, in this case a famous atheist, experiences a change of heart. The film is being marketed as a family-friendly event for church groups. The promotion tools include not only a teaching guide with Scripture references but also suggested outlines for sermons. And, in truth, the movie feels as if it had more to do with a religious studies curriculum than with entertainment.

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  • No Greater Love

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 13:15). That biblical truth is vividly reinforced in "No Greater Love" (Atlas), a compelling documentary about the experiences of U.S. combat soldiers in Afghanistan and their postwar struggles to resume their lives back home.

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  • Daddy's Home 2

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Silly slapstick predominates in "Daddy's Home 2" (Paramount). Though this follow-up to the 2015 comedy about the blending pains of a post-divorce family is mostly harmless, late scenes mix lame holiday-themed sentimentality with weirdly uncomfortable humor concerning a preteen boy's emerging sexuality.

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  • Murder on the Orient Express

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A formidable list of actors, including Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and David Suchet, have taken on the role of Agatha Christie's famed Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Now Kenneth Branagh makes the possessor of the celebrated "little gray cells" his own in the sleek ensemble whodunit "Murder on the Orient Express" (Fox). He also helms the project as director.

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  • Novitiate

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Writer-director Margaret Betts takes a stab at a genre that always seems to fascinate people, even those with no religious affiliation: nun movies. Unfortunately, "Novitiate" (Sony Classics) falls short of presenting a well-rounded picture of what it is -- or, in this case, was -- like for a young woman to enter religious life and discern whether it's right for her.

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  • Thor: Ragnarok

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- There's plenty of combat but relatively little bloodletting in the sweeping Marvel Comics adaptation "Thor: Ragnarok" (Disney). So at least some parents may deem this second sequel to the 2011 original acceptable for older teens.

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  • A Bad Moms Christmas

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Aggressive vulgarity is the incongruous hallmark of the holiday-themed sequel "A Bad Moms Christmas" (STX). Like a stocking stuffed full of nasty surprises, the script, as penned by returning screenwriters and directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, is a grab-bag of low-minded jokes and sight gags.

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  • Jigsaw

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Butchery accompanied by siren-wail screaming, franchise shock value that has long since played out and a rapid descent into self-parody, this is "Jigsaw" (Lionsgate). The eighth, uh, film in the "Saw" series -- which is now about seven and a half movies too long -- has nothing new to say and far too much about it that's familiar -- most prominently, scenes of intricately choreographed torture and murder.

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  • Suburbicon

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Corruption lurking under the placid surface of life in the suburbs is hardly a new theme. But the image of universal middle-class depravity presented in the failed black comedy "Suburbicon" (Paramount) is so lurid as to render the movie fundamentally unbelievable. While the filmmakers' artistic intent is clear, moreover, this nihilistic outlook may make the picture offensive to many viewers of faith.

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  • Victoria and Abdul

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Judi Dench is no stranger to playing royalty, and she shines once again as the titular queen in "Victoria and Abdul" (Focus). Beginning in 1887, director Stephen Frears' historical drama, adapted from the book by Shrabani Basu, follows the unlikely adventures of Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a lowly clerk at the local prison in Agra, India. He's a tall and handsome 24-year-old, and it's these traits that cause him to be selected to present a mohur, a ceremonial gold coin, to Victoria during her golden jubilee.

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  • Thank You for Your Service

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- For many soldiers returning from war, a brand-new battle for survival begins at home. That struggle is depicted in "Thank You for Your Service" (Universal), a powerful drama about the devastating impact of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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  • Geostorm

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Mostly murky with a strong chance of boredom is the forecast for "Geostorm" (Warner Bros.). Never, perhaps, has the potential wiping out of life on Earth seemed so ho-hum. In between the catastrophes that are the real business of the day here, director and co-writer (with Paul Guyot) Dean Devlin tries to engage the audience by having a little girl named Hannah (Talitha Bateman) narrate the backstory and by setting up a sibling rivalry between Hannah's dad, Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler), and his younger brother, Max (Jim Sturgess).

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  • Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- There's a brief moment in "Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween" (Lionsgate) in which one desperately hopes that the plot has flickered to life. On a dark road near an allegedly haunted campground, writer-director Perry's long-running muumuu-draped moral force -- played by Perry himself in drag, of course -- encounters the Grim Reaper, complete with scythe. Finally, she either ponders her own mortality, or "conquers" death with a well-placed punch, right?

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  • Same Kind of Different as Me

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Viewers committed to scriptural values will be inclined to cut the good-hearted but uneven drama "Same Kind of Different as Me" (Paramount) some slack. Based on real-life events, the film recounts how wealthy art dealer Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear) came to form a seemingly unlikely friendship with Denver Moore (Djimon Hounsou), a volatile but fundamentally decent homeless man.

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  • The Snowman

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Though it presents itself as a complex, thinking person's thriller, "The Snowman" (Universal), director Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of Jo Nesbo's best-selling crime novel, is not above dabbling in penny-dreadful sensationalism.

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  • Only the Brave

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The heartbreaking true story of an elite Arizona firefighting team comes to the big screen in "Only the Brave" (Columbia). In 2013, the Granite Mountain Hotshots -- as the group was known -- risked their lives and raced into a raging inferno to save a neighboring town from destruction. Given more recent fire calamities, their striking example of heroism, brotherhood and self-sacrifice is both timely and inspiring.

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  • The Foreigner

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Jackie Chan takes a sharp turn from his typically genial screen personality to become the vengeful father of a London terrorist victim in "The Foreigner" (STX). In this efficiently suspenseful adaptation of Stephen Leather's pulp thriller "The Chinaman," director Martin Campbell and screenwriter David Marconi have produced an unembroidered drama about resurgent Irish Republican Army violence and bureaucratic treachery.

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  • Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Fans of the comic book superheroine Wonder Woman (and of the recent blockbuster film) are advised to steer well clear of "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women" (Annapurna). The sheer escapist pleasure of watching the wholesome feminist icon fight for truth and justice is downright spoiled on learning the sordid story of the comic's creator, William Moulton Marston (1893-1947).

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  • Happy Death Day

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- With a name like "Happy Death Day" (Universal), a sweet, wholesome story is unlikely to unfold. You can say that again. Rather, "Happy Death Day," directed by Christopher Landon ("Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse") is an uneasy mix of horror and humor, a slasher movie with a message of self-improvement that doesn't go far enough.

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