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Holiday movie preview: Heroines, hobbits and dinosaurs

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14 2013 5:30 p.m. MST

Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayers fantasy adventure The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Mark Pokorny

For film lovers, the holiday movie season is the best time of the year. Along with a few large-scale tent-pole films that would be at home with the biggest summer releases, audiences are also treated to a huge variety of dramas, comedies, thrillers and animated films, giving people a perfect excuse to get out of the cold weather and into a movie theater.

Here’s a select look at the diverse lineup of movies coming out this holiday season.

Thor: The Dark World— Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the Norse god of thunder in this sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” which sees the Avenger battling an ancient evil so powerful that he must recruit his half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in a last-ditch effort to save the nine worlds. Bigger scope, bolder action sequences and a more detailed sci-fi/fantasy universe make this one a must-see for Marvel fans, especially leading into 2015’s “Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.” Another major selling point? Not one, but two post-credits sequences, so make sure to stick around until the bitter end.

Rating: PG-13

Release date: Nov. 8

The Book Thief— Based on the New York Times best-seller by Markus Zusak, “The Book Thief” follows a foster girl (Sophie Nélisse) in World War II-era Germany who steals the one thing she can’t resist — books — which she shares with those around her, including a Jewish fist-fighter hiding in her basement. Geoffrey Rush (“The King’s Speech”) and Emily Watson (“War Horse”) co-star in this adaptation from Emmy-winning director Brian Percival (“Downton Abbey”).

Rating: PG-13

Release date: Nov. 27

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire— The second installment in Suzanne Collins’ hugely popular young adult series about kids battling to the death. As rebellion threatens to break out in Panem, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are forced to compete yet again, this time to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the games, known as the Quarter Quell. The first Hunger Games movie was a hit with critics as well as with audiences, making this one of the most highly anticipated movies of the season. Due to the inherently violent nature of the subject matter, though, it might be too intense for many young audience members.

Rating: PG-13

Release date: Nov. 22

Frozen— A modern twist on a lesser-known Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale called “The Snow Queen,” “Frozen” marks the 53rd feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series that began with 1937’s “Snow White.” Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”) stars as Anna, one of two princesses in the Nordic land of Arendelle, which is magically plunged into an eternal winter by her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel). After a bit of a rough patch, “Tangled” proved that Disney still has that fairy dust when it comes to princess musicals. This should probably be at the top of the list of must-see movies for families with young kids.

Rating: PG

Release date: Nov. 27

Black Nativity— A loose adaptation of the Langston Hughes play, this contemporary Christmas-themed musical boasts an impressive cast, including Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson as well as Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett. Interwoven with a gospel-tinged retelling of the Nativity, the story follows a boy (Jacob Latimore) sent to spend Christmas with relatives in New York after he and his single-parent mother (Hudson) are evicted.

Rating: PG

Release date: Nov. 27

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