Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? (PG-13) Does anyone still care at this point? Starring Kristoffer Polaha, Laura Regan, Peter Mackenzie, Larry Cedar, Joaquim de Almeida, Rob Morrow, and Greg Germann. (Opens Friday)
Dolphin Tale 2 (PG) The sequel to the 2011 film reunites biology experts and determined kids to provide a marine companion for a water park’s tailless dolphin. Starring Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Harry Connick Jr., and Kris Kristofferson. (Opens Friday)
A Five Star Life (NR) Margherita Buy stars in this comedy as an Italian hotel reviewer who reckons with being single and childless at middle age while traveling to luxury hotels across Europe. Also with Stefano Accorsi, Fabrizia Sacchi, Alessia Barela, Gianmarco Tognazzi, and Lesley Manville. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Frontera (PG-13) Michael Berry’s drama is about an undocumented Mexican immigrant (Michael Peña) who becomes a suspect in the murder of the wife of a former Arizona sheriff (Ed Harris). Also with Eva Longoria, Amy Madigan, Aden Young, Michael Ray Escamilla, Daniel Zacapa, Tenaya Torres, and Julio Cedillo. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
God Help the Girl (NR) Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch writes and directs this drama about a musician (Emily Browning) who meets two other musically talented patients (Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray) in a mental hospital in Scotland. Also with Pierre Boulanger, Cora Bisset, Stuart Maconie, and Mark Radcliffe. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
No Good Deed (PG-13) Taraji P. Henson stars in this thriller as a suburban mother terrorized by an escaped convict (Idris Elba) on a rainy night. Also with Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, Mirage Moonschein, and Henry Simmons. (Opens Friday)
The Remaining (PG-13) Casey La Scala’s thriller is set at a wedding party when a Rapture-like event suddenly occurs. Starring Johnny Pacar, Shaun Sipos, Bryan Dechart, Italia Ricci, and Alexa Vega. (Opens Friday)
Wetlands (NR) Carla Juri stars as an 18-year-old German girl who acts out sexually in response to her parents’ divorce. Also with Marlen Kruse, Christoph Letkowski, Meret Becker, Axel Milberg, Peri Baumeister, and Edgar Selge. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Admiral: Roaring Currents (NR) This historical epic is the most financially successful South Korean film of all time, and you can easily see why. Choi Min-sik stars as Admiral Yi Sun-shin, the Korean naval hero who came back from disgrace in 1597 to repel an invasion fleet of 300 Japanese ships with only 12 ships of his own. Director Kim Han-min spares no expense in re-creating period detail, but he also delivers some terrific combat sequences. The deep-voiced Ryu Seung-ryong makes a formidable nemesis as a Japanese pirate and mercenary, and he’s a great foil to Choi, who gets to do everything he does best here, radiating steely authority while also indulging in Lear-like raving at his colleagues’ ghosts. It adds up to a rousing war movie, whether you’re Korean or not. Also with Lee Jeong-hyong, Cho Jin-woong, Jin Gu, Kwon Yeol, Kim Myung-gon, No Min-woo, Kim Tae-hoon, Park Bo-gyeom, and Ryohei Otani.
As Above, So Below (R) John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine) directs this found-footage horror film about a team of archeologists who encounter bad things in the catacombs below the city of Paris. Starring Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar, and Hamid Djavadan.
Begin Again (R) Like his previous movie Once, John Carney’s new film pulsates with music and unrequited love, and it’s awfully hard to resist. Keira Knightley plays a British musician recently dumped by her rock-star boyfriend (Adam Levine). Her songs inspire a burned-out record producer (Mark Ruffalo) to produce her first album. The larger scale of the story doesn’t suit Carney, and the songs (most of them by Gregg Alexander) include too much filler. Still, the filmmaker has a finely honed sense of comedy, and the actors are pleasingly uncorked here. Knightley has never been more charming or relatable as she sings “Lost Stars,” a ballad that also gets a more anguished and piercingly beautiful take by Levine. Unabashedly romantic and full of belief in the power of music, this is a great summer treat. Also with Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, James Corden, CeeLo Green, and Mos Def a.k.a. Yasiin Bey.
Boyhood (R) Richard Linklater’s most radical experiment yet stars Ellar Coltrane as a boy who experiences life between the ages of 6 and 18. The director filmed the same group of actors for a few days each year over the course of 12 years to tell his story, and the passage of time proves to be a dazzling special effect. Instead of focusing on the usual tropes of coming-of-age films, Linklater finds resonance in the boy’s smaller moments. The performances by Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, and Patricia Arquette (as the boy’s parents) are remarkably consistent over time. Despite its small scale and clearly marked time periods, this movie still manages to feel epic and infinite. The movie was filmed throughout Texas, so watch for familiar locations. Also with Marco Perella, Lorelei Linklater, Zoe Graham, Brad Hawkins, Jenni Tooley, and Steven Prince.
Cantinflas (PG) This watchable biopic stars Óscar Jaenada as the legendary comedian, giving a mostly straight retelling of his life story but also flashing forward to 1955, when desperate Hollywood producer Mike Todd (Michael Imperioli) tries to cast him in Around the World in 80 Days. The script has some illuminating stuff on Cantinflas cleaning up the corrupt unions in Mexico’s film industry and traces the roots of his comic persona to the fast-paced banter of working-class Mexicans. Still, the main reason to see this is Jaenada’s performance, mimicking the star’s onscreen antics and differentiating him from the offscreen man. Stay for the closing-credit sequence, with Jaenada in character dancing to Ravel’s Bolero. Also with Ilse Salas, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Gabriela de la Garza, Eduardo España, Bárbara Mori, Ana Layevska, Julian Sedgwick, and Joaquín Cosio.
Chef (R) In a not-so-veiled comment on his own filmmaking career, Jon Favreau stars as a star chef who restarts his career with a food truck after being fired from a job at an upscale L.A. restaurant. The filmmaker takes way too long to tell his story and doesn’t do well by the women, but he does capture the chaos and sweat and adrenaline of a high-end restaurant kitchen, and the subplot with him finally connecting with his young son (Emjay Anthony) is nicely done. The movie also boasts scrumptious food photography (the dishes were created by Roy Choi), and Favreau obviously holds great respect for the care and attention to detail that chefs give to their work. It’s how the movie’s hero finds himself again, and possibly the filmmaker does too. Also with John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Downey Jr.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) This science-fiction thriller is really a Western in disguise. Andy Serkis plays the leader of a community of super-intelligent apes who tries to make peace with a colony of humans who have survived the plague that created the apes. The coexistence is riven by cultural misunderstandings and troublemakers on both sides, and it’s awfully clever the way the apes and humans switch off the roles of the conquering cowboys and the oppressed natives. Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) brings a light virtuoso touch to this thing, but the film works only intellectually, not emotionally. This sequel points toward a smarter direction for the series. It just doesn’t get it there. Also with Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kirk Acevedo, Nick Thurston, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Judy Greer.
The Expendables 3 (PG-13) Sylvester Stallone’s all-star omnibus thrillers are like Valentine’s Day, except with a lot more explosions. He sends his gang into retirement, only to call on them again when his newer, younger crew is captured by his former partner-turned-bad guy (Mel Gibson). The villain casting is inspired, Wesley Snipes provides some of his old swagger, and Antonio Banderas drops in as an emotionally needy chatterbox of a killer. Despite their contributions, they can’t paper over how tired this whole gimmick has become. Also with Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz, Kelsey Grammer, Jet Li, and Harrison Ford.
The Giver (PG-13) Lois Lowry’s novel took 20 years to reach the big screen, and the result is a big fat “meh.” Brenton Thwaites stars as an 18-year-old in a highly regimented dystopian future society who’s called upon to receive the community’s memories of war, pain, disease, color, music, and love so that everybody else can go about their business without feeling anything. The Australian newcomer Thwaites isn’t up to the challenge of playing someone feeling everything for the first time, and the more seasoned actors around him aren’t much better. Director Phillip Noyce uses colors in cheesily metaphoric ways to depict the hero’s awakening emotions, and misses the horror and tragedy in the story. This is supposed to be a celebration of emotions, but it feels like a drone. Also with Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan, Emma Tremblay, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgård, and Taylor Swift.
Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13) The funniest Marvel Comics movie so far. Chris Pratt stars as an intergalactic thief who has to team up with a green-skinned assassin (Zoë Saldana), a revenge-minded alien (Dave Bautista), an insanely angry talking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and his walking tree sidekick (voiced by Vin Diesel) to stop a blue-skinned overlord (Lee Pace) from doing bad things to the universe. The five main characters make a terrific comedy team, with Pratt anchoring the proceedings well and the raccoon stealing lots of scenes. Director/co-writer James Gunn (Slither) festoons the soundtrack with splendidly cheesy 1970s and ’80s rock anthems. Most superhero movies treat their characters with earnest reverence, and Gunn gleefully throws a pie in the face of it all. Also with Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, John C. Reilly, Djimon Hounsou, Ophelia Lovibond, Wyatt Oleff, Benicio del Toro, and Glenn Close.