By Joey Nolfi
December 16, 2016 at 12:35 AM EST
Barry Wetcher; Lucasfilm

One year after the last entry in the Star Wars cinematic universe, fans are ready to board Gareth Edwards’ first foray into a galaxy far, far away — but are critics ready to do the same? Reviews for the week’s biggest new release, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, have been solid thus far. The same can’t be said for Will Smith’s latest, Collateral Beauty, which falters among critics despite a stellar cast (Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Naomie Harris, and Keira Knightley, to name a few) supporting Smith’s latest leading role. Read on for EW’s Critical Mass, our weekly collection of mainstream movie reviews that will help you decide what to should see (and what you should steer clear of) this weekend at the multiplex.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Opens Dec. 16.

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: 66

Collateral Beauty

Opens Dec. 16.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

It’s not hard to see the big reveal coming, heralded as it is by all the red neon arrows and ah-ooo-gah horns. These actors are too good to be entirely sunk by the sheer silliness of the material (with the exception of Smith, who seems fully committed to playing the role of a human frown-face emoji). But for all good intentions, they can’t save a movie that so clearly wants to be something greater – It’s a Will-derful Life? Grief, Actually?—but mostly ends up a Collateral mess. C–

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 14%

Metacritic: 24

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

Office Christmas Party

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Aniston has a great time as the vampy, Krav Maga-ing Bitch Who Stole Christmas, and Miller’s willful idiocy is weirdly endearing. Once he decides to double down and deck the halls with bad decisions, his party feels pretty much like a real one does when it goes off the rails: rowdy, random, a little bit gross. But like most movies that supposedly aim to pee in Santa’s cornflakes, Office isn’t nearly as nihilistic as its veneer; beneath all the criminal mischief and baby-Jesus jokes, there’s still heart of gold, or at least a big ball of tinsel. B

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%

Metacritic: 42

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

The film, directed by seasoned Potter pro David Yates, unspools like a kiddie version of the X-Men flicks. The xenophobic Muggle population (or No-Majs, as they’re called Stateside) live in rabid suspicion of the hidden world of hocus-pocus. And like those films, its phantasmagorical special effects are easy on the eyes. So why does Fantastic Beasts feel so oddly lifeless? Why doesn’t it cast more of a spell? First, there are the performances, which aside from Redmayne’s are surprisingly flat. And second, the thinness of the source material gives the whole film a slightly padded feeling. Rowling, who also wrote the script, nimbly lays out her world, but that world isn’t nearly as rich as the world of Hogwarts. And the villains (chief among them Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves) are stock cinematic baddies. Fantastic Beasts is two-plus hours of meandering eye candy that feels numbingly inconsequential. Maybe this is all necessary table-setting that will lead to bigger payoffs in chapters 2 through 5. I hope so. Because for a movie stuffed with so many weird and wondrous creatures, there isn’t nearly enough magic. B-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Metacritic: 66

Arrival

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Arrival’s endgame can seem obtuse and its emotions submerged, suggesting a film as chilly as its palette of Pantone blues and grays. But it’s all in the service of building to its final revelation — and also of conveying Louise’s enormous loss. She’s her own kind of lonely astronaut, set adrift from everything that once defined her: parent, partner, teacher. With these creatures at least she’s needed; in fact, the fate of the world may rest on it. That’s the movie’s greatest feint, though: Ultimately, it’s far less interested in galactic destiny than the infinite, uncharted landscape of the human heart. A-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Metacritic: 81

Doctor Strange

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

When you strip away the Secrets of the East mumbo jumbo and psychedelic special effects, Doctor Strange is a formulaic Marvel origin story, but it’s done with high-IQ wit, all but name-checking the myth of Sisyphus and the kaleidoscopic architectural origami of M.C. Escher. (We’re a long way from the blunt-force shenanigans of HYDRA here.) Doctor Strange is thrilling in the way a lot of other Marvel movies are. But what makes it unique is that it’s also heady in a way most Marvel movies don’t dare to be. It’s eye candy and brain candy. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Metacritic: 72

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