Big Stone Gap (PG-13) Ashley Judd stars in this drama as an Appalachian eccentric who discovers a secret in her past. Also with Patrick Wilson, Chris Sarandon, Jane Krakowski, Dagmara Dominczyk, Jenna Elfman, Jasmine Guy, Anthony LaPaglia, Judith Ivey, John Benjamin Hickey, and Whoopi Goldberg. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Everyday I Love You (NR) Liza Soberano stars in this Filipino movie as a woman who falls for another man (Enrique Gil) while waiting for her boyfriend (Gerald Anderson) to emerge from his coma. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Heneral Luna (NR) The title is not a misprint. John Arcilla stars in this war film as a Filipino general who faces treachery from his own men during the 19th-century war with America. Also with Mon Confillado, Aron Villaflor, Jeffrey Quizon, Paulo Avelino, Joem Bascon, Archie Alemania, Arthur Acuña, and Alex Vincent Medina. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Lost in the Sun (NR) Josh Duhamel stars in this coming-of-age drama as a small-time criminal who befriends an orphaned teenager (Josh Wiggins). Also with Lynn Collins, Emma Fuhrmann, and Louis Olmeda. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Love (NR) Last week we had Truth, now we have Love. The latest film by Gaspar Noé (Irreversible) stars Karl Glusman as a self-absorbed man whose girlfriend (Aomi Muyock) disappears after a three-way with another woman (Klara Kristin). Also with Ugo Fox, Juan Saavedra, Aaron Pages, Isabelle Nicou, and Benoît Debie. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Miss You Already (PG-13) Drew Barrymore stars in this dramedy as an American expat in London who starts a family just as her best friend (Toni Collette) is found to be gravely ill. Also with Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Tyson Ritter, Mem Ferda, Noah Huntley, and Jacqueline Bisset. (Opens Friday)
Suffragette (PG-13) Carey Mulligan plays an English laundry worker who gets swept up in the women’s suffrage movement of the 1910s. Also with Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Romola Garai, Anne-Marie Duff, Samuel West, Natalie Press, and Meryl Streep. (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.
Burnt (R) A crackling recipe turns into an unsatisfactory meal. Bradley Cooper portrays a starred Michelin chef who tries to restart his career in London after flaming out in Paris. John Wells directs this like it’s an episode of his TV show ER, which isn’t a bad idea on paper, but he keeps cutting away from the food (created by Marcus Wareing and Mario Batali) before we can get a good look at it. Cooper specializes in charismatic guys driven by their demons, and a deglammed Sienna Miller reminds us that she can act as a saucier with her own troubled past. Still, the filmmakers feel like they have to redeem their hero all the way, and that winds up watering down this dish. Also with Daniel Brühl, Omar Sy, Matthew Rhys, Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Riccardo Scamarcio, Sam Keeley, Uma Thurman, and Emma Thompson.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Once I Was a Beehive (PG) This Mormon dramedy is so poorly made that even evangelical Christian filmmakers might dismiss this as amateurish. Paris Warner stars as a 16-year-old girl who’s packed off to a Mormon summer camp following her father’s death and her mother’s marriage to a Mormon. The movie does sympathetically depict its heroine’s left-leaning Christian background and doesn’t end with her converting, but the use of voiceover to explain every joke and every dramatic development ruins things. The heroine might need her hand held, but we certainly don’t. Also with Lisa Clark, Hailey Smith, Claire Niederpruem, Barta Heiner, Amy Biedel, and Adam Johnson.
Our Brand Is Crisis (R) A breezy political satire that’s a bit too facile for its own good. Sandra Bullock plays an American campaign consultant who travels to Bolivia to win a presidential campaign for a struggling candidate (Joaquim de Almeida) and, more importantly, beat a rival consultant (Billy Bob Thornton) who has always bested her. Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) is best when he’s focusing on the dirty tricks that the campaigns play on each other and the pitfalls of American managers overseeing Spanish-speaking locals, but Peter Straughan’s script lets the white Americans off too easily for meddling in the affairs of a fragile Third World democracy. It’s not bad, but better stuff is out there. Also with Anthony Mackie, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Dominic Flores, Reynaldo Pacheco, Louis Arcella, and Zoe Kazan.
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.
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.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (R) The director of several Paranormal Activity movies, Christopher Landon, tries his hand at a comedy, with results that are gruesome in every sense. Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, and Joey Morgan star as three scouts who have to save their hometown from a zombie outbreak. The jokes about horny teenage boys and rotting zombies are wearisomely predictable and done with no wit. The only player who emerges from this with any credit is Sarah Dumont as a damsel in distress who’s six inches taller and proportionally tougher than any of the boys. Also with David Koechner, Halston Sage, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Niki Koss, Blake Anderson, and Cloris Leachman.
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.
Truth (PG-13) Fun if you like watching Cate Blanchett get beaten with sticks for two hours. She portrays Mary Mapes, the CBS producer who ran a story before the 2004 election about President Bush not fulfilling his National Guard duties during the Vietnam War, only to watch the network (in this retelling) cave in to rival press outlets, the White House, and conservative rabble-rousers by disowning the story and ending both her career and that of Dan Rather (Robert Redford). An expensive supporting cast gets brought in just to say how awesome Mary is, and so many bad things happen to Mary that it becomes numbing. This self-righteous film has nothing to say to today’s journalistic or political landscape. Also with Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Dennis Quaid, Bruce Greenwood, John Benjamin Hickey, Dermot Mulroney, and Stacy Keach.
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.
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.