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Critical Mass: Hidden Figures shines, Underworld sequel a bloody mess

Updated

Hopper Stone; Larry Horricks; Jose Haro

The ladies of Hidden Figures are finally stepping into the spotlight as their hotly anticipated film, about three African-American women who aided NASA’s predominantly white team throughout the Space Race in the 1960s, expands from the specialty market into theaters across the country this weekend. Joining the Oscar-bound film on the nationwide front is J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls, which stars Felicity Jones as a terminally ill mother whose son (Lewis MacDougall) grapples with the impact of her worsening condition through interactions with a giant monster (Liam Neeson). The week’s sole new wide release, Underworld: Blood Wars, marks the fifth entry in the 14-year-old vampire series — one that hasn’t aged well, according to mainstream movie critics.

With strong holiday holdovers also jockeying for audience attention, sifting through the pack to find the perfect title can be a daunting task. EW wants you to make good choices at the multiplex this weekend, so check out what film journalists are saying about all of this week’s wide releases in the review excerpts below before heading to the theater.

Hidden Figures

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Charged with streamlining Figures’ knotty real-life histories, director Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) tends to paint too much in the broad, amiable strokes of a triumph-of-the-week TV movie. But even his earthbound execution can’t dim the sheer magnetic pull of an extraordinary story. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Metacritic: 74

Underworld: Blood Wars

Now playing.

EW’s Clark Collis says:

In GoT terms, the movies are all duels and no Dinklage. Underworld: Blood Wars continues in that same vein. While the film may justify its title in terms of the viscera on display, it is badly in need of a funny bone. C-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 20%

Metacritic: 22

A Monster Calls

Now playing.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

The Monster’s lavish fantasy world serves as a stark contrast to Conor’s real life, and when he’s not by his mother’s side, he faces off against schoolyard bullies, retreats into his art, and struggles to connect with his cold, distant grandmother (Sigourney Weaver, who breathes life into an otherwise stock character). The lessons he learns about how to go on in the face of grief are a little simplistic, and the film never really makes up its mind about whether it’s for children or adults. But Bayona packs his tale with spellbinding visuals and honest emotion, and if the ending doesn’t reduce you to tears, you may be the real monster. B

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Metacritic: 77

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Rogue One would have been a very good stand-alone sci-fi movie if it came out under a different name. But what makes it especially exciting is how it perfectly snaps right into the Star Wars timeline and connects events we already know by heart with ones that we never even considered. It makes you wonder how many other untold stories are waiting in the shadowy corners of Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Metacritic: 65

Sing

Now playing.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

It’s hard not to compare Sing to another 2016 animated flick about animals learning life lessons in a multispecies metropolis, and the creatures of Sing never seem as introspective or innovative as their Disney cousins in Zootopia. But although the let’s-put-on-a-show story line feels familiar, there’s real heart to the critters’ desperate pursuit of their dreams. The eye-popping performances are meticulously animated, and a crowd-pleasing soundtrack helps keep this show on the road. Sing may be a melody we’ve heard before, but it still sounds sweet. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

Metacritic: 59

Passengers

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

To recap, 1.) Passengers is bad. 2.) Michael Sheen is great. 3.) As for the rest, save your money. D+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%

Metacritic: 41

Moana

Now playing.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

Moana has a lot of the hallmarks of your classic Disney adventure — the goofy animal sidekicks, the feel-good messages — but its heroine is something new, a smart and fiery deviation from your standard European lovestruck princesses. (Thankfully, Moana doesn’t have a love interest.) The result is a pitch-perfect addition to the animated Disney canon. A-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Metacritic: 81

Why Him?

Now playing.

EW’s Darren Franich says:

Like a lot of R-rated comedies, Why Him? lands on the most G-rated ideals. All family problems and economic struggles can be overcome: After all, it is Christmas. But Why Him? has no fun along the way solving its central conflict. It’s built on smoke and mirrors. Moose urine, too. C

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%

Metacritic: 38

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