Jem and the Holograms (PG) Based on the 1980s animated TV series, this live-action musical stars Aubrey Peeples as a small-town girl who unexpectedly vaults to stardom as a singer. Also with Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Ryan Guzman, Hana Mae Lee, Britta Phillips, Kesha, Molly Ringwald, and Juliette Lewis. (Opens Friday)
Bone Tomahawk (NR) Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, and Matthew Fox star in this Western about a posse trying to save hostages from being eaten by cannibals. Also with Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig, Kathryn Morris, Michael Paré, and Sean Young. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Forbidden Room (NR) The latest film by Guy Maddin (The Saddest Music in the World) is a series of remakes of imaginary films by great filmmakers from the past. Starring Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Louis Negin, Udo Kier, Mathieu Amalric, Geraldine Chaplin, Caroline Dhavernas, Ariane Labed, Maria de Medeiros, and Charlotte Rampling. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Labyrinth of Lies (R) Giulio Ricciarelli’s drama stars André Szymanski and Alexander Fehling as the real-life journalist and prosecutor who uncovered a widespread conspiracy to cover up West Germany’s Nazi past in 1958. Also with Friederike Becht, Johannes Krisch, Johann von Bülow, Robert Hunger-Bühler, and Hansi Jochmann. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Last Witch Hunter (PG-13) Vin Diesel stars in this supernatural thriller as an immortal warrior who must singlehandedly prevent the world from being taken over by witches. Also with Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Rena Owen, Isaach de Bankolé, Rena Owen, and Michael Caine. (Opens Friday)
Meadowland (R) Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson star as a New York City couple who spiral downward after their young son (Ty Simpkins) mysteriously disappears. Also with Elisabeth Moss, Juno Temple, Giovanni Ribisi, Kevin Corrigan, Merritt Wever, Mark Feuerstein, Nick Sandow, Skipp Sudduth, and John Leguizamo. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Must Date the Playboy (NR) Kim Chiu stars in this comedy as a Filipino woman who seeks love from a man (Xian Lim) whom she only knows from a sketch she drew of him years ago. Also with Matt Evans and Jessy Mendiola. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (R) The latest installment of the found-footage horror series is about a family that finds a video camera that can see spirits. Starring Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Chloe Csengery, and Olivia Taylor Dudley. (Opens Friday)
Rock the Kasbah (R) Bill Murray stars in Barry Levinson’s comedy about a burned-out music manager who’s stranded in Afghanistan when he discovers a teenage girl (Leem Lubany) with an incredible voice. Also with Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Taylor Kinney, Kelly Lynch, Scott Caan, Danny McBride, and Bruce Willis. (Opens Friday)
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.
Bridge of Spies (PG-13) This collaboration between Steven Spielberg and the Coen brothers left me unmoved somehow. Tom Hanks stars in this Cold War spy thriller as Jim Donovan, the real-life lawyer who first defends a Soviet spy (Mark Rylance) in court and then brokers a trade after the USSR shoots down U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell). The parts of this movie don’t fit together, with the Powers material being uncompelling and Jim being set up as a firebrand who challenges the system only to suddenly become a pragmatist who works within the system. Despite a thrillerish last third that takes place in Communist East Berlin, Spielberg gets lost amid the bureaucratic details, much as he did with Lincoln. The best thing here is Rylance’s self-contained turn as an unflappable, tight-lipped agent who silently comes to appreciate his lawyer’s efforts. Also with Amy Ryan, Will Rogers, Jesse Plemons, Peter McRobbie, Sebastian Koch, Mikhail Gorevoy, Burghart Klaussner, Billy Magnussen, and Alan Alda.
Crimson Peak (R) Guillermo Del Toro’s most gorgeous movie to date, which is saying a lot. This Gothic horror romance stars Mia Wasikowska as an American heiress who marries a shady English baronet (Tom Hiddleston) and moves in with him and his icy sister (Jessica Chastain) at their remote, crumbling estate. The movie doesn’t work so well as a horror movie, and sharp viewers might guess at the baronet’s dark family secret. Yet Del Toro’s opulent steampunk Victorian aesthetic is never less than absorbing, and cinematographer Dan Laustsen photographs in supersaturated colors, especially during the climactic sequence where a mix of snow and red clay make the entire landscape look like it’s bleeding. The trump card is Chastain, who makes a harrowing villain, both pitiable and terrifying as she comes unglued. Also with Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, Leslie Hope, Bruce Gray, and Doug Jones.
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.
Goosebumps (PG) A lot of effort comes to very little in this movie based on R.L. Stine’s horror books for children that stars Jack Black as R.L. Stine, who has to team up with the teenage boy who moves in next door (Dylan Minnette) when the monsters in his books all come to life. Black overplays Stine, who’s funnily conceived as a fussy misanthrope who’s obsessed with Stephen King’s book sales. The supporting cast contributes the odd funny ad-lib, but they can’t overcome the flaccid direction of Rob Letterman (Gulliver’s Travels) and scares that have been watered down for the kiddie crowd. The real R.L. Stine has a cameo here as a schoolteacher named Mr. Black. Also with Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Jillian Bell, Ken Marino, Halston Sage, and Amy Ryan.
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.
Ladrones (PG-13) Fernando Colunga reprises his role as a Colombian master thief in this sequel to the heist comedy Ladrón que roba a ladrón, here teaming up with a Mexican pal (Eduardo Yáñez) and a mostly new crew of thieves to keep a bunch of poor South Texas families from having their family farms seized by an opera-singing land baron (Jessica Lindsey). The movie has its odd bits of inspiration like its reference to the Texas Rangers, but overall, the inspiration level doesn’t match the 2007 original either in the comedy or in the execution of the robbery. Too bad; the premise of Latin thieves working in America could have supported a better sequel. Also with Oscar Torre, Frank Perozo, Nashla Bogaert, Evelyna Rodriguez, Cristina Rodlo, Carmen Beato, Jon Molerio, and Miguel Varoni.
The Martian (PG-13) Very solid. Matt Damon stars in this science-fiction crowd-pleaser as an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars alone after his fellow crew members think he’s dead. While much of this movie (adapted from a novel by Andy Weir) focuses on his solitary efforts to keep himself alive and contact NASA, just as much is focused on the people back on Earth working to bring him home, which allows for many heroes instead of one. The weak character development largely wastes the talents of a deluxe supporting cast, but Damon is convincing as both a brilliant scientist and a guy who cracks jokes to deal with his predicament, and the movie has enough comic relief so that its 140 minutes pass smoothly. For director Ridley Scott, this is a badly needed jolt back to life and a heartening late-career triumph. Also with Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Aksel Hennie, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, Eddy Ko, Chen Shu, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
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.
99 Homes (R) Ramin Bahrani made his reputation with terrific micro-budget movies about immigrants in America, but then Hollywood stars started wanting to be in his movies, and it’s just not the same. Andrew Garfield stars in this overwrought drama as a Florida construction worker who goes to work for the real estate agent (Michael Shannon) who evicted his family from their home. Amid the histrionics and contrivances, Shannon strikes the sole note of authenticity as a villain who firmly grasps how screwed up the system is that gives him so much incentive to prey on the poor and unlucky. This tall, scowling actor brings off the bad guy’s humanity with ease. If only the filmmakers had been so adroit. Also with Laura Dern, Noah Lomax, Tim Guinee, J.D. Evermore, and Clancy Brown.
Pan (PG) The story of Peter Pan defeats yet another filmmaker, and this prequel is loud and cheesy enough to make Steven Spielberg’s Hook look good by comparison. Levi Miller stars as a 12-year-old war orphan who’s whisked away to a magical world where Blackbeard the pirate (Hugh Jackman) rules as a dictator and James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) is Peter’s friend who still has both his hands. Director Joe Wright (Hanna, Atonement) huffs and puffs, but this Peter Pan remains stubbornly earthbound and unimaginative, apart from the appalling missteps like Blackbeard’s followers serenading him with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and no, I’m not making that up. Also with Rooney Mara, Adeel Akhtar, Nonso Anozie, Cara Delevingne, and Amanda Seyfried.
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.
Sicario (R) This sweaty, intense action thriller stars Emily Blunt as an FBI agent who volunteers for a task force to take down a Mexican drug cartel, only to find things getting murky real fast. The script’s cynicism about the War on Drugs is cheap and the periodic cutaways to a Mexican cop (Maximiliano Hernández) caught up in the carnage fail to humanize the collateral damage. Still, this is a better movie about the border relations than most, with French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve conjuring up hard-hitting action sequences and Blunt layering her toughness with amusement and gathering outrage at the moral compromises involved. The uneasy thrills here are the movie’s proudest achievement. Also with Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, and Julio Cedillo.
Time Out of Mind (R) Richard Gere is too polished to play a homeless man, but the movie around him is still rather good. He plays a mentally ill man who spends his days trying to survive on the streets of New York while keeping tabs on his estranged daughter (Jena Malone). Writer-director Oren Moverman (The Messenger) has clearly been watching films by the Dardenne brothers, filming his protagonist from behind windows or across the street while the soundtrack fills with the unconcerned chatter of passersby. His approach and his balanced view of the characters around his hero gives this movie a realistic feel and avoids the pitfalls of Hollywood movies about homelessness. When the man finally confronts his daughter at the end, the pathos feels earned. Also with Steve Buscemi, Ben Vereen, Kyra Sedgwick, Danielle Brooks, Abigail Savage, Yul Vazquez, and Brian D’Arcy James.
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.
The Walk (PG) Never quite as mythical as it thinks it is. Robert Zemeckis’ film dramatizes Philippe Petit’s 1974 stunt when he strung a cable across the roofs of the World Trade Center towers and walked across it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays Petit, and while he shows off his acrobatic skills and his French, he never quite finds a way into the drive that made the wirewalker attempt such a dangerous trick. The visuals are nice and the movie pays tribute to the Twin Towers without turning mushy, but it’s too boilerplate to achieve the blinding power and beauty that it seeks. Also with Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Steve Valentine, and Ben Kingsley.
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.
Woodlawn (PG) Caleb Castille stars in this Christian drama as a football player who tries to keep his faith while racial strife threatens to tear his community apart. Also with Sean Astin, C. Thomas Howell, Brando Eaton, Nick Bishop, Virginia Williams, Sherri Shepherd, and Jon Voight.
Beasts of No Nation (R) Cary Joji Fukunaga (TV’s True Detective) adapts Uzodinma Iweala’s novel about a 14-year-old boy (Abraham Attah) who’s drafted into a civil war in an unnamed African country. Also with Idris Elba, Emmanuel Affadzi, Bernard Quaye, Zabon Gibson, and Annointed Wesseh.
The Final Girls (PG-13) Taissa Farmiga stars in this horror-comedy as a woman who reunites with her deceased actress mother (Malin Akerman) when she’s magically pulled into a slasher movie that her mother starred in. Also with Nina Dobrev, Alexander Ludwig, Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch, and Alia Shawkat.
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.
Tales of Halloween (R) This anthology horror film is made up of 10 segments about a town overrun by evil spirits. Starring Grace Phipps, Barry Bostwick, Booboo Stewart, Lin Shaye, Cerina Vincent, Greg Grunberg, Lisa Marie, Keir Gilchrist, Clare Kramer, Noah Segan, Adrienne Barbeau, Joe Dante, and John Landis.