Scouts Guide to the Apocalypse (R) Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, and Joey Morgan star in this comedy as three scouts who try to save their town from a zombie outbreak. Also with Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Halston Sage, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Blake Anderson, and Cloris Leachman. (Opens Friday)
The Armor of Light (PG-13) Abigail Disney’s documentary follows Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical Christian and diehard Republican who is now a gun-control activist and has teamed up with Lucy McBath, whose son was killed under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Schenck receives firearms training and attends an NRA convention to understand what he’s up against. His logic is simple: Being pro-life means controlling guns, although that’s not how most of the white pastors of whom he’s in charge see it. It’s eye-opening to see just how differently white Christians and African-American Christians perceive the same issue. Too many Michael Moore-style documentaries preach to the already converted. This one challenges your assumptions, regardless of where you stand. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Carter High (PG-13) Vivica A. Fox and Charles S. Dutton star in this drama about the 1988 Dallas high-school football team that was stripped of its state title because of crimes committed by its players. Also with Pooch Hall, David Banner, Reginald C. Hayes, Aundre Dean, Robert Hayes, Lynn Andrews, and Orlando Valentino. (Opens Friday)
Dancin’ It’s On (PG) Witney Carson stars in this high-school dance musical. Also with Gary Daniels, Jordan Clark, Ava Fabian, and David Winters. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Felix Manalo (NR) Dennis Trillo stars in this three-hour biography of the founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo, which still exists today. Also with Bela Padilla, Mylene Dizon, Bobby Andrews, Regine Angeles, Antonio Aquitania, and Raymond Bagatsing. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Once I Was a Beehive (PG) Paris Warner stars in this drama as a teenager who goes to a Mormon summer camp after her father’s death and her mother’s remarriage. Also with Lisa Clark, Hailey Smith, Claire Niederpruem, Barta Heiner, Amy Biedel, and Adam Johnson. (Opens Friday at AMC Parks at Arlington)
Our Brand Is Crisis (R) Sandra Bullock stars in David Gordon Green’s dramedy as an American political consultant who travels to Bolivia to help a candidate win an election. Also with Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Dominic Flores, and Zoe Kazan. (Opens Friday)
Room (R) Based on Emma Donoghue’s novel, this film stars Jacob Tremblay as a 5-year-old boy who has spent his entire life in a gardening shed with his imprisoned mother (Brie Larson), not knowing that there’s a world outside. Also with Sean Bridgers, Cas Anvar, Tom McCamus, William H. Macy, and Joan Allen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Tab Hunter Confidential (NR) Jeffrey Schwarz (I Am Divine) directs this documentary profile of the 1950s movie star and teen idol who secretly hid his homosexuality from the world. Also with Clint Eastwood, John Waters, Robert Wagner, Connie Stevens, Portia de Rossi, Noah Wyle, George Takei, and Debbie Reynolds. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
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.
Jem and the Holograms (PG) Everything about this adaptation of the 1980s animated TV show is radically misconceived. Aubrey Peeples stars as a small-town California girl with chronic shyness who goes viral after she accidentally uploads a YouTube video of herself singing in disguise. Nothing about this premise, not the performance, not the song, not the production convinces you that America would embrace this unremarkable girl singing about how alone she feels. Director Jon M. Chu (from the Step Up series) puzzlingly eschews glamour in favor of a found-footage style, and at some point a magical talking robot gets involved. The failure here is comprehensive. Also with Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Ryan Guzman, Hana Mae Lee, Britta Phillips, Kesha, Molly Ringwald, and Juliette Lewis.
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 Last Witch Hunter (PG-13) A misfire. Vin Diesel plays an immortal slayer of evil magic practitioners who tries to prevent the resurrection of the witch queen who has supposedly been killed. The star slips more easily than you’d think into this supernatural milieu and Rose Leslie makes an intriguing sidekick as a witch who battles her own kind. Unfortunately, the story emerges as so much gobbledygook and director Breck Eisner (Sahara) piles on the special effects in a futile attempt to disguise the fact that there’s nothing scary here. This is a brooding, bombastic bore. Also with Elijah Wood, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Julie Engelbrecht, Isaach de Bankolé, Rena Owen, and Michael Caine.
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.
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.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (R) The series is now as played out as the VHS video format. The same thing happens in this fifth installment as happened in the other four: Idiots move into a haunted new house, ghosts get angry and kill everybody. The 3D format doesn’t fit this found-footage film, and it’s just the latest desperate ploy from filmmakers trying to hold your attention for one more chapter. Don’t fall for it. Starring Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Chloe Csengery, and Olivia Taylor Dudley.
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.
Rock the Kasbah (R) The best advertisement for ISIS that I’ve ever seen. Bill Murray plays a burned-out music manager who gets stranded in Afghanistan on a USO tour and discovers a Pashtun girl (Leem Lubany) with an amazing voice. All the American characters here are either trigger-happy greedheads or spoiled brats who are appalled that a war zone might be a violent place, and nobody (including director Barry Levinson) shows the slightest bit of interest in the dark-skinned people whose land is being fought over. It’s so, so horrible. Joe Strummer would not be pleased. Also with Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Arian Moayed, Taylor Kinney, Kelly Lynch, Scott Caan, Danny McBride, and Bruce Willis.
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.
Steve Jobs (R) Aaron Sorkin writes another tale of a brilliant, megalomaniacal white guy who knows what’s best for everybody. The late tech guru’s life fits him perfectly. Michael Fassbender stars as the Apple co-founder, and the movie is broken into three acts as Jobs prepares for the launches of three different products in his career. It takes all of director Danny Boyle’s talent to keep this from feeling stagey, and the torrent of verbiage can be draining to listen to. Yet Fassbender plays well with the plethora of terrific actors around him and captures the contradictions in this insecure, high-handed, egalitarian man with intimidating ease. Also with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Sarah Snook, Perla Haney-Jardine, Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Katherine Waterston.
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) Jesus Christ and Alabama football conquer racism. Hooray! Seriously, though, this comforting lie is what this Christian drama is selling. Based on the real-life story of a 1970s high-school football team, this stars Nic Bishop and Sean Astin as a head coach and local preacher who turn to the Lord as a cure for the racial strife that threatens to tear apart their community after the team is forced to integrate. Everything just comes too easily here, from the wins on the field to the religious conversions off it. For all the movie’s intended uplift, I stayed firmly on the ground. Also with Caleb Castille, C. Thomas Howell, Brando Eaton, Nick Bishop, Virginia Williams, Sherri Shepherd, and Jon Voight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.