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Film Picks: Lion and more

PHOTOS: WALT DISNEY PICTURES, GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES, THE PROJECTOR

MOANA (PG)

115 minutes/3.5 stars

This Disney princess has no prince and the film is better because of it.

The island of Motonui is starting to rot, but its people are afraid to venture out. Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) is eager to find a mythical island to save hers from destruction. Along the way, she befriends demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson).

Her new friend aids her a little, but this is still Moana's solo journey of self-discovery, one rendered in stunning detail. What she is not is a damsel in distress. This one braves stormy oceans and battles scary monsters on her own.

Yip Wai Yee

BAD SANTA 2 (R21)

92 minutes/3.5 stars

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton, above) is at a dead end. When Marcus (Tony Cox) turns up with a proposition for a crime, he reluctantly goes along with it. How will Willie cope with hated mother Sunny (Kathy Bates) and the loyalty of the simple-minded Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly)?

In the 2003 film, Willie was a department-store Saint Nick, a cover for his mall thief. Fans will be relieved that he remains incorrigible in the sequel.

Mark Waters (Mean Girls, 2004), taking over directorial duty from Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, 1994), maintains the tone of a black comedy topped with swearing and boozing.

Boon Chan

LION (PG)

129 minutes/4 stars

Saroo (played by Sunny Pawar, right, as a child and Dev Patel as an adult) is scavenging in the train yards with brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) when he falls asleep in a carriage. The boy is taken far away to the megapolis of Kolkata. Saroo is adopted by couple Sue and John Brierly (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), who take him to Hobart, Tasmania.

The pre-Australia section of this biopic has the exhilarating, jittery energy of Brazilian gangster movie City Of God (2002). Kolkata is as much a character in this movie as Rio de Janeiro was in the Brazilian film.

Australian director Garth Davis, making his feature debut, depicts the city in the abstract, a place of shadows ready to make a meal of a small boy.

John Lui

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (PG13)

101 minutes/4 stars

In this comedy-drama from New Zealand, Hec (Sam Neill) and foster child Ricky (Julian Dennison, right) are thrown together by Hec's partner, the warm and loving farmer Bella (Rima Te Wiata). Ricky is a soft city kid, while Neill once again plays the taciturn introvert who becomes the father figure against his will (see Jurassic Park, 1993).

After Bella dies, a series of mishaps causes the two males to flee into the bush, with the authorities in pursuit. Director and co-writer Taika Waititi gives the relationship between Hec and Ricky plenty of space to breathe and grow. By the end, viewers just want the pair - who have dubbed themselves the Wilderpeople - to go on the run forever.

WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway ADMISSION: $13.50 INFO: theprojector.sg

John Lui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Film Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe