New Delhi: The absence of a big Bollywood release this last week of the year leaves it to Hollywood and a couple of regional offerings to fight it out at the movies.

American action adventure Assassin’s Creed, based on a video game franchise of the same name, directed by Justin Kurzel starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and Brendan Gleeson comes to India this week and will be available in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu apart from English. Variety magazine emphasizes it’s no different from any other video game movie and is the same old sludge, even though it’s got classier stars. The film’s plot is a shambles and the material is derivative in the extreme. You’re basically watching The Matrix and The Da Vinci Code get Cuisinarted into weaponized action sequences that look like they came off of old heavy-metal album covers. There’s an aura of cult doom hanging over the action, but that just makes everything on-screen feel glumly ritualized and abstracted.

Screen Rant agrees the film is a messy combination of pros and cons: slick action, intriguing sci-fi concepts, and rich cinematography are undercut by flat drama, convoluted world-building, and considering its heady premise, a surprisingly uninspired character journey. The balance between fan service, creator control, and pandering to casual moviegoers, results in an unruly mix—a final product that isn’t likely to please any one slice of the audience entirely.

Animation musical comedy Sing directed by Garth Jennings featuring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane and Scarlett Johansson aims for cute but lands on irritating, says A.V. Club. Most of the time, the movie rejects real gags, whether verbal or visual, in favour of juxtapositions designed to fool undiscerning audiences into thinking they’ve experienced an actual joke. It’s the cues they love, not the songs or performances, as the movie repeatedly chases the ephemeral flash of recognition that occurs when listeners hear songs they know before moving on to the next familiar riff. It’s like cycling through an extremely basic iPod on shuffle with an itchy trigger finger.

The film produces pure, sappy joy with a string of air-punching, applause-coaxing performances for about 20 minutes, says The Hollywood Reporter, but it’s a bit of a shame that the rest of it doesn’t achieve that same high standard. Illumination’s latest plays to the company’s strengths, with inventive character and background design, hyper-rendered animation that pushes the technology envelope, especially in the realm of lighting and cute sight gags. But just as with, for example, The Secret Life of Pets or Minions, storytelling remains the outfit’s weak spot.

In the south, Tamil thriller Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru directed by Karthick Naren starring Rahman is a well-executed whodunit murder mystery that throws surprises till the very end, says sify.com. The story may not be entirely new but Naren makes it work with his execution, non-linear screenplay and slick production values make it a compelling watch.

Telugu film Appatlo Okadundevadu directed by Sagar K. Chandra starring Nara Rohit , Sri Vishnu and Tanya Hope is straightforward, fair and immensely watchable, says tollytrendz.in. The performances are convincing and the film is technically sound as well.

Several releases this week haven’t elicited any reviews yet. These include Tamil horror comedy Mo, Tamil thriller Achamindri, Tamil comedy Kattappava Kanom, Telugu romantic thriller Nenostha, Kannada movies Kirik Party and Pataki, Punjabi film Motor Mitraan Di and Gujarati film Kookh.

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