Goodnight Mommy (R) This Austrian horror film stars Elias and Lukas Schwarz as twin brothers who no longer recognize their mother (Susanne Wuest) after she gets cosmetic surgery. Also with Hans Escher. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
A Brilliant Young Mind (PG-13) Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) stars in this drama as a socially awkward math genius who joins Great Britain’s team at the International Mathematics Olympiad. Also with Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Jo Yang, Martin McCann, and Eddie Marsan. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
A Christmas Horror Story (NR) There’s something to be said for a movie that starts with a battle-scarred Santa Claus (George Buza) fighting off a giant horned demon with an axe, but the rest of the movie isn’t nearly as much fun as that promises. It takes place on a single Christmas Eve night when said demon terrorizes a right-wing radio DJ (William Shatner), two dysfunctional families, a bunch of high-school kids making a documentary, and Santa’s elves. Directors Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban, and Brett Sullivan make the mistake of cutting among the segments when they should have kept those chapters discrete, but there’s no wit or genuine scares in this thing anyway. Also with Percy Hyde-White, Amy Forsyth, Michelle Nolden, Jeff Clarke, Jessica Clement, Oluniké Adeliyi, Debra McCabe, and Zoé de Grand Maison. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Etiquette for Mistresses (NR) This Filipino comedy is about five women (Kim Chiu, Kris Aquino, Iza Calzado, Claudine Barreto, and Cheena Crab) who are all having affairs with married men. Also with Zoren Legaspi, Helen Gamboa, Tirso Cruz III, Eddie Gutierrez, and Cherry Pie Picache. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Finders Keepers (R) Bryan Carberry and J. Clay Tweel’s documentary is about the protracted legal dispute that arose in 2007 when a North Carolina man bought a barbecue grill containing a severed human foot. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Garm Wars: The Last Druid (PG-13) The latest animated film by Mamoru Oshii (the Ghost in the Shell movies) is about a group of clone soldiers who take refuge from a war between military tribes. Voices by Kevin Durand, Lance Henriksen, Mélanie St. Pierre, Summer Howell, and Dawn Ford. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Hell and Back (R) Tom Gianas and Mark Schuman’s animated comedy is about two friends (voiced by Mila Kunis and Nick Swardson) who try to rescue their friend after he’s dragged to Hell. Additional voices by Bob Odenkirk, T.J. Miller, Rob Riggle, Danny McBride, Maria Bamford, Lance Bass, Jennifer Coolidge, and Susan Sarandon. (Opens Friday)
Mississippi Grind (R) The directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar) make this drama about two professional gamblers (Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds) who try to win back what they’ve lost in the casinos of the South. Also with Alfre Woodard, Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Susan McPhail, James Toback, and Robin Weigert. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Northern Soul (NR) Elliot James Langridge and Josh Whitehead play two teenagers in 1970s northern England whose lives are changed by the discovery of African-American soul music. Also with Antonia Thomas, Jack Gordon, James Lance, Ricky Tomlinson, Christian McKay, Lisa Stansfield, and Steve Coogan. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Saving Mr. Wu (NR) This Chinese thriller based on real events stars Andy Lau as a Hong Kong movie star who is kidnapped for ransom by a gang of criminals. Also with Liu Ye, Wang Qianyuan, Wu Ruofu, Suet Lam, and Zhao Xiaoyue. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Shanghai (R) Released in China five years ago, this film stars John Cusack as an American who returns to China for a friend’s funeral shortly before World War II breaks out in the Pacific. Also with Gong Li, Chow Yun-Fat, David Morse, Franka Potente, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Wong, Gemma Chan, and Ken Watanabe. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Sleeping With Other People (R) A better romantic comedy than The Intern. Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie star as a serial cheater and a commitmentphobe who try to be platonic friends after hooking up in college and reuniting years later at a sex addicts’ support group. Writer-director Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) steers this clear of the traps of other romances and into some terribly funny set pieces, especially one where he teaches her how to masturbate herself using an empty Snapple bottle. Despite the raunchiness of the material, the two stars give this a twisted innocence that’s quite endearing. Also with Natasha Lyonne, Adam Scott, Andrea Savage, Jason Mantzoukas, Margarita Levieva, Adam Brody, Amanda Peet, and Katherine Waterston. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The Walk (PG) Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Robert Zemeckis’ dramatization of Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Also with Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Steve Valentine, and Ben Kingsley. (Opens Wednesday)
Ant-Man (PG-13) The weakest Marvel movie since The Incredible Hulk. The film stars Michael Douglas as a scientist who secretly invents a suit that shrinks its wearer to insect size while keeping his or her strength, and Paul Rudd as a cat burglar he recruits to help him keep his former protégé (Corey Stoll) from weaponizing the technology. The movie isn’t funny, and Rudd’s performance is atypically off; he seems too nice to be a criminal. The villain is uninteresting, the shrinking is done without any sense of wonder, and the subplot involving the burglar’s young daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson) is sloppy sentimentalism. There are moments of visual wit here, but the storytelling and characterization aren’t up to the standards that Marvel has set for its comic book movies. Also with Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Mackie, Judy Greer, Michael Peña, T.I., David Dastmalchian, Martin Donovan, Hayley Attwell, John Slattery, and uncredited cameos by Sebastian Stan and Chris Evans.
Black Mass (R) Deeply ordinary, though it tries so hard to be very serious and important. Johnny Depp plays notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who bands together with his politician brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) and their childhood friend-turned-FBI agent (Joel Edgerton) to make Whitey a bureau informant. Depp is a sleek, vampiric killer here, but the rest of the high-powered cast has little to do besides try on their Boston accents. Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) directs this thing tediously, cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi seems allergic to anything that looks good, and composer Junkie XL scores this like a Wagner opera. This thing aims for epic tragedy, yet its hero comes off looking like a deluded ninny for trusting in this group of gangsters. Also with Peter Sarsgaard, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, Julianne Nicholson, David Harbour, Corey Stoll, W. Earl Brown, Bill Camp, Juno Temple, and Adam Scott.
Captive (PG-13) Kate Mara stars in this drama based on the true story of a single mother taken hostage by an escaped convicted killer (David Oyelowo). Also with Michael Kenneth Williams, Mimi Rogers, Leonor Varela, and Jessica Oyelowo.
Everest (R) Not worth the IMAX upcharge, or even the regular admission price. This movie tells the story of the 1996 climbing disaster that killed six climbers on Mt. Everest, with Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal playing the heads of competing climbing parties that team up to get to the top. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur made his bones with smaller action thrillers (2 Guns), but the larger canvas for this movie defeats him. The climbers look too similar to one another bundled into their parkas, and the director gives no sense of the unique dangers of Everest. Meanwhile, the relationships between climbers and wives back home (Robin Wright and Keira Knightley getting thankless roles) are straight soap opera. For a movie about the world’s biggest mountain, this feels small. Also with Josh Brolin, Sam Worthington, John Hawkes, Martin Henderson, Michael Kelly, Naoko Mori, and Emily Watson.
Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos (NR) Animated films in Spanish have a long way to go before they catch up to the ones made in America or Japan. This Mexican production is about a young rooster (voiced by Bruno Bichir) who has to win a prizefight to save his farm from being bought up by a soulless rich land baron. This sports movie is essentially about cockfighting, which may give you pause. What should give you pause are the lame jokes, stale cultural references, and rudimentary drawing style. The movie is based on the TV series Huevo Cartoon. This stuff probably plays better on the small screen, to kids who are very small. Additional voices by Carlos Espejel, Angélica Vale, Omar Chaparro, Maite Perroni, and Ninel Conde.
The Gift (R) The Australian actor Joel Edgerton makes an impressive debut as a writer-director in this Hollywood thriller. At first it seems like the story of a well-to-do Los Angeleno (Jason Bateman) and his wife (Rebecca Hall) being stalked by his former high-school classmate (played by Edgerton himself) after returning to SoCal, but then the filmmaker pulls a nicely executed bait-and-switch on us and reverses our sympathies. It’s hard to discuss this further without giving too much away, but Bateman and Hall are close to their best here. This feels like one of those French chillers that packs a nasty sting at the very end. Also with Allison Tolman, David Denman, Busy Philipps, Katie Aselton, Susan May Pratt, Beau Knapp, Wendell Pierce, and Nash Edgerton.
Grandma (R) Playing a lesbian character for the first time at age 76, Lily Tomlin is the reason to see this shaggy little comedy about a marginally famous California hippie poet who takes her granddaughter (Julia Garner) on a road trip to get an abortion. Writer-director Paul Weitz collects a terrific cast here, and some of the actors are frankly shoehorned in, but others do excellent work, like Sam Elliott as the old lady’s ex-husband and Judy Greer as her ex-girlfriend. Tomlin’s peppery performance as a misanthropic crank who finds a degree of closure in her life falling into her life on this one trip is what centers this modestly enjoyable film. Also with Marcia Gay Harden, Laverne Cox, Nat Wolff, Sarah Burns, John Cho, and the late Elizabeth Peña.
The Green Inferno (R) Look past all the graphic dismemberments and mutilations in Eli Roth’s latest horror film (a tall order, yes) and you’ll find a nifty satire lurking here. Lorenza Izzo stars as a New York City college student who travels with a bunch of fellow activists to save the Amazon rainforest, only to fall into the hands of a tribe of cannibals. Roth pays much more attention to character than other horror filmmakers, and relies much less on tired cinematic devices. This ranks with Cabin Fever and Hostel as his best works. Also with Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Daryl Sabara, and Sky Ferreira.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (PG) Adam Sandler and crew return for this animated sequel, and the novelty has largely worn off. He voices Dracula, who frets over whether his mixed-blood grandson will turn out a vampire before he turns 5 and tries to ensure that this happens while his daughter and son-in-law (voiced by Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg) are in California. The animators come up with a few gags that raise a laugh, but the thing overall is dispensable. I shudder to think how tired this setup will be when Hotel Transylvania 3 rolls around. Additional voices by Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Fran Drescher, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Dana Carvey, Chris Kattan, Jon Lovitz, and Mel Brooks.
The Intern (PG-13) This instantly forgettable comedy returns to the land of Nancy Meyers, where the punchlines never land as smartly as they should, no one under 30 knows anything worth knowing, and everyone does everything in attractive rooms that give no sign of ever having been inhabited by people before. Robert De Niro plays a 70-year-old retiree who takes an entry-level job working for the founder of a thriving online fashion startup (Anne Hathaway) and winds up teaching her how to relax once in a while and be okay with her success. De Niro does fine understated work here, but Meyers’ material doesn’t repay his efforts onscreen or your efforts watching it. Also with Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Andrew Rannells, Nat Wolff, Christine Scherer, Linda Lavin, and Rene Russo.
Jurassic World (PG-13) The dinosaurs are fascinating and the people are boring, but then, why should this be any different from the 1993 original? In this fourth film, the dinosaurs are housed at a well-established theme park that turns to genetically engineering new dinosaurs to keep attracting customers, and it’s up to a raptor handler (Chris Pratt) and a scientist (Bryce Dallas Howard) with two so-cute-you’ll-barf nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) visiting the park to save everyone. Director/co-writer Colin Trevorrow is so busy shoehorning in references to Steven Spielberg’s original that he ignores how sexist this thing is. There’s no shame in Trevorrow’s inability to equal Spielberg’s flair, but the sense of wonder that pervaded his Safety Not Guaranteed is nowhere in evidence here. I was bored. Also with Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Greer, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Lauren Lapkus, and B.D. Wong.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (PG-13) James Dashner’s dystopian YA novel would have been better if it had been adapted into a video game instead of a movie. If you were controlling the hero, you’d probably make smarter decisions than him, and a pixelated version of him would show more personality than the relentlessly uninteresting Dylan O’Brien. This sequel to last year’s hit continues the adventures of the teens who survived the maze. Director Wes Ball engineers a nice sequence when O’Brien and Rosa Salazar (a ghostly new presence here) flee the zombies up a half-toppled skyscraper, but this still comes off as a half-assed Hunger Games rip-off. Also with Kaya Scodelario, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Alexander Flores, Jacob Lofland, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Lili Taylor, and Patricia Clarkson.
Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (PG-13) In its fifth installment, the spy series is as implausible and as gripping as ever. Tom Cruise returns as superagent Ethan Hunt, who discovers the existence of a rival spy agency just as IMF is being dismantled. Director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) is the latest to take over the series, and he engineers terrific action sequences involving a backstage assassination plot at an opera performance and a motorcycle chase down the highways of Morocco. As a British agent who has an in with the rival agency, Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson is a blazing addition to the series as well. It’s a fine piece of summer escapism. Also with Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Sean Harris, Tom Hollander, Jens Hultén, Simon McBurney, and Alec Baldwin.
Pawn Sacrifice (PG-13) Yet another weak chess movie, despite being based on the real-life story of Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and his attempts to be crowned world chess champion in 1972 while battling the mental illness that would take over his life. Maguire’s performance is disjointed — one minute he’s a trash-talking chess jock, and the next he’s a recluse cowering in the corner of his room, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. The movie succumbs to the rotten notion that chess geniuses are always crazy, and even the chess action is so fleeting glimpsed that we have to take Fischer’s artistry on faith. This is just another shallow, self-important biopic. Also with Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lily Rabe, Robin Weigert, and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick.
The Perfect Guy (PG-13) Michael Ealy is well-cast in this thriller as a charming heartthrob who’s actually a murderous psychopath in disguise. Other than that, there’s little to recommend this buppie Fatal Attraction knockoff that stars Sanaa Lathan as a woman who ditches her commitment-phobic boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) for Ealy’s more assertive but crazy-ass lover. The movie sets the villain up as a security expert and hacker extraordinaire before letting that point go to waste. Lugubriously directed by David M. Rosenthal, this is about as disturbing as a yogurt that’s one day past its expiration date. Also with John Getz, Tess Harper, Kathryn Morris, Rutina Wesley, Holt McCallany, L. Scott Caldwell, and Charles S. Dutton.
Southpaw (R) Jake Gyllenhaal is fantastic, but this boxing drama is far less than that. He plays Billy Hope, an orphaned kid-turned-boxing champion who loses everything after his uncontrolled temper results in his wife (Rachel McAdams) being killed. Director Antoine Fuqua’s simplistic sense of drama is about as subtle as a right cross to the jaw, and about as much fun. Screenwriter Kurt Sutter gives us cliché after cliché, from the wise old trainer (Forest Whitaker) in a dingy gym to the cute kid (Oona Laurence) who needs to be saved to the redemptive title fight against the mouthy rival boxer (Miguel Gomez) who started it all. Gyllenhaal proves his range by playing this boiling rage case, but both he and we deserved a better vehicle than this movie that could have been made in 1935. Also with 50 Cent, Skylan Brooks, Victor Ortiz, Beau Knapp, Rita Ora, and Naomie Harris.
Straight Outta Compton (R) Musical thrills and good timing carry this rickety biopic over its many rough patches. F. Gary Gray’s bio details how Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), and Ice Cube (played by the rapper’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.) came together to form N.W.A. in the 1980s. The movie glosses over the group’s casual misogyny and homophobia, and the latter half sags as the music stops and the rappers’ life stories get turned into soap opera. Still, the young cast perform thrilling cover versions of N.W.A.’s greatest hits, and the recent wave of police shootings of unarmed black men have put the country in just the mood to hear “Fuck Tha Police” right now. Also with Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr., R. Marcos Taylor, Keith Stanfield, and Paul Giamatti.
The Transporter Refueled (PG-13) Ed Skrein tries to be Jason Statham. It doesn’t go well. He slides behind the wheel of this franchise as a high-performance driver who gets caught up in some prostitutes’ attempts to avenge themselves on the Russian mob boss (Radivoje Bukvic) who made them sex slaves. The Monaco setting is nice to look at, but the car stunts are nothing special, the prostitutes are carbon copies of one another (the matching costumes they wear on the job don’t help), and Skrein himself demonstrates all the personality of his Audi’s dashboard. Ray Stevenson injects the only moments of humanity as the driver’s dad, who is also sucked into the plot. Also with Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Yu Wenxia, Yuri Kolkolnikov, Lenn Kudrjawizki, and Noémie Lenoir.
Veteran (NR) Hwang Jung-min stars in this Korean crime thriller as a seasoned Seoul police detective who tries to bring down a business conglomerate princeling (Yoo Ah-in) who preys on poor people and is, unfortunately, very good in a fight. Director Ryoo Seung-wan (The Berlin File) isn’t as famous as some of his compatriots, but he knows his way around thrillers like these, cutting the action sequences with effective slapstick comedy. Hwang negotiates the action and comedy equally well, and the brutal fistfight in a crowded Gangnam district is a satisfying end to this piece of entertainment. Also with Yoo Hae-jin, Jeong Man-shik, Jeong Woong-in, Jang Yoon-ju, and Oh Dal-su.
The Visit (PG-13) The best movie M. Night Shyamalan has made in years, and maybe his (intentionally) funniest one ever. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould play siblings whose weeklong visit to stay with their estranged grandparents (Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie) at their Pennsylvania farm turns more and more disturbing each night. The found-footage approach gives a peppier rhythm to Shyamalan’s stately filmmaking, enough of the gags land to sustain you during the non-scary parts, and even the trademark Shyamalan plot twist pays off satisfyingly. Hope for Shyamalan’s career lives again. Also with Kathryn Hahn and Celia Keenan-Bolger.
A Walk in the Woods (R) Bill Bryson’s memoir of trying to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail gets turned into a sitcom, but at least there’s a nice little comedy team at the center of it. Robert Redford plays the journalist and Nick Nolte plays his recovering-alcoholic buddy who agrees to accompany him so that he doesn’t die. The hike is divided into neat little episodes, and first-time screenwriters Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman make sure that you see every punchline coming. A late scene on a mountain ledge achieves the sort of serene wisdom and camaraderie that the movie is aiming for, but that’s it. The badly served supporting cast includes Emma Thompson, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal, Susan McPhail, and Mary Steenburgen.
War Room (PG) If your husband abuses you, lock yourself in a room and pray until God makes him stop. That’s the advice that this movie gives out, and it is so jaw-droppingly awful that I almost admire it. Priscilla C. Shirer plays a realtor who’s counseled by an all-wise elderly seller (Karen Abercrombie) about dealing with her cheating, possessive, wealthy husband (T.C. Stallings). Director/co-writer Alex Kendrick tells women in the audience to be good little submissive wives in such a patronizing way that he makes Tyler Perry look enlightened by comparison. For all its blather about God, this movie writes domestic abusers a blank check. I can’t think of anything worse that any recent movie has done. Also with Beth Moore, Alena Pitts, Tenae Dowling, Michael Jr., and Jadin Harris.
Ashby (R) Nat Wolff stars in this comedy as a high-school student who befriends his new next-door neighbor, a terminally ill former CIA assassin (Mickey Rourke). Also with Emma Roberts, Kevin Dunn, Zachary Knighton, Michael Lerner, and Sarah Silverman.
Coming Home (PG-13) Zhang Yimou’s latest film stars Chen Daoming as a political prisoner who returns home after the Cultural Revolution to find his wife (Gong Li) suffering from dementia. Also with Zhang Huiwen, Guo Tao, Yan Ni, Zhang Jiayi, and Liu Peiqi.
Meet the Patels (PG) Ravi Patel stars in his own documentary about his family’s efforts to arrange a traditional Indian marriage for him.
Stonewall (R) Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) directs this dramatization of the weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots. Starring Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ron Perlman, Caleb Landry Jones, Matt Craven, Jonny Beauchamp, and Joey King.