The Way, Way Back (PG-13) Writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) make their directing debut with this comedy about a teenage boy (Liam James) who comes of age by befriending a water park manager (Sam Rockwell). Also with Steve Carell, Toni Collette, AnnaSophia Robb, Amanda Peet, Allison Janney, Rob Corddry, Robert Capron, and Maya Rudolph. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Attack (R) Ziad Doueiri’s drama stars Ali Suliman as a prosperous Arab doctor in Tel Aviv who searches for answers after his wife (Reymond Amsalem) carries out a suicide bombing. Also with Evgenia Dodena, Dvir Benedek, Uri Gavriel, and Karim Saleh. (Opens Wednesday in Dallas)
A Band Called Death (NR) Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett’s documentary about a short-lived 1970s punk rock band that found fame decades after it disbanded. Also with Alice Cooper. (Opens Wednesday in Dallas)
Blancanieves (PG-13) Pablo Berger’s black-and-white silent film transplants the story of Snow White to Seville in the 1920s. Starring Maribel Verdú, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Ángela Molina, Pere Ponce, Macarena García, and José María Pou. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Just Like a Woman (R) Rachid Bouchareb (Days of Glory) directs this drama about a Chicago housewife (Sienna Miller) who runs off to Santa Fe to take part in a bellydancing competition. Also with Golshifteh Farahani, Bahar Soomekh, Roschdy Zem, Sayed Badreya, and Tim Guinee. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (R) Leslie Small and Tim Story’s concert film documents the standup comic’s performance at Madison Square Garden in 2012. (Opens Wednesday)
After Earth (PG-13) Slight but tolerable, this only stinks if you go in expecting a good movie. Will Smith and Jaden Smith star as a human warrior and his son who crash-land on a post-apocalyptic Earth that’s now covered in jungle and filled with predators. With the father immobilized, the son has to negotiate hostile terrain to bring back their spaceship’s homing beacon. The movie has terrible dialogue, but it moves along with a video game’s single-minded pace, as the boy fights off dangerously evolved creatures against gorgeous backdrops. If director M. Night Shyamalan wants to take up B movies, this is a way to do it. Also with Sophie Okonedo, David Denman, Glenn Morshower, and Zoë Kravitz. — Steve Steward
The Bling Ring (R) Decadent and problematic, Sofia Coppola’s latest film is based on the real-life exploits of a group of SoCal high school kids who broke into celebrities’ houses and stole clothes, jewelry, and accessories. Aiming for a single, unbroken mood in this 87-minute jaunt, Coppola films the thefts in a detached way that captures the celebrity lifestyle’s seductiveness but threatens to tip over into label worship. The real problem is the lack of penetrating insight into these pathologically narcissistic teens who’ve been taught to value all the wrong things. As an amoral clotheshorse who spouts platitudes from The Secret, Emma Watson is lethally funny and makes her soulless character into the soul of this movie, for better and worse. Also with Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Carlos Miranda, Gavin Rossdale, Stacy Edwards, Marc Coppola, Paris Hilton, and Kirsten Dunst.
Epic (PG) This animated movie’s renderings of forest greenery are simply glorious. Too bad it trips over pesky minor elements like story and character. Adapted from William Joyce’s The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, this movie is about a teenage girl (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) who’s magically shrunken down to a couple of inches tall and introduced to a world of tiny people and talking animals protecting the forest. The movie is overloaded with expositional dialogue and characters who are poorly introduced. You can’t even figure out why the bad guys are trying to reduce the forest to rot. A witless script wastes an enviable voice cast, and any sense of wonder here is broken every time somebody starts to speak. Additional voices by Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Sudeikis, Pitbull, Steven Tyler, and Beyoncé Knowles.
Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13) The latest and most enjoyable in the series has Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, and the rest of the gang convening in London to stop a British baddie (Luke Evans) who has the resurrected-from-the-dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in his clutches and working for him. Director Justin Lin gives up the pretense that any of this is to be taken seriously and orchestrates two impressive large-scale action sequences: the climax on a military airbase and a knock-down, drag-out brawl between Rodriguez and Gina Carano that’s intercut with a slapstickier fight between Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, and Joe Taslim. The comedy is still cringe-inducing and the dialogue is still bad enough to kill plants and small animals, yet there’s still some gas left in the tank. Also with Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, Elsa Pataky, Clara Paget, Kim Kold, and Ludacris.
The Heat (R) The chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy sustains this action-comedy through its many wobbly bits. They play an uptight FBI agent and a foul-mouthed Boston cop, respectively, who have to team up to take down a drug lord. Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) has a lot of trouble switching between the comedy set pieces and the detective plot (which makes no sense anyway), but McCarthy’s toughness and brassy shtick has a salutary effect on Bullock, who responds in kind with a spunk we haven’t seen from her in a while. Get these two a sequel or at least a better vehicle. Also with Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Dan Bakkedahl, Tom Wilson, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, Kaitlin Olson, Tony Hale, Joey McIntyre, Spoken Reasons, Nate Corddry, and Jane Curtin.
The Internship (PG-13) Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson re-team eight years after Wedding Crashers, and like most comebacks, this one falls short of the glory days. They play ace salesmen who are fired from their jobs and take internships at Google with a chance to land a permanent job with the tech giant. The rapport between the lead actors remains smooth, but the material just isn’t there, with too many scenes devolving into so much babbling. The romance between Wilson and a poorly served Rose Byrne comes out soggy, and the older guys are portrayed as so out-of-touch that they don’t understand their younger fellow interns’ references to Harry Potter and the X-Men. It’s time for these comic actors to start looking outside their familiar circle for new collaborators. Also with Aasif Mandvi, Max Minghella, Josh Brener, Tiya Sircar, Tobit Raphael, Jessica Szohr, Rob Riggle, Josh Gad, B.J. Novak, and an uncredited Will Ferrell.
Iron Man 3 (PG-13) An excellent finish to the series. Suffering crippling anxiety attacks, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) must deal with a terrorist bomber (Ben Kingsley) who leaves him without power for his suit. New director/co-writer Shane Black likes staging low-fi action sequences that force Tony to rely on his unaided wits and limbs. The banter between Tony and Rhodey (Don Cheadle) may be a bit worn, but robbing Tony of his armor re-establishes the character’s humanity in his love for his girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his best friend (Jon Favreau). We wouldn’t mind seeing this Tony every couple of summers. Also with Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, Ty Simpkins, and an uncredited Mark Ruffalo. — Steve Steward