The Funhouse Massacre (NR) Robert Englund stars in this horror movie about six psychopaths who escape from an insane asylum and kill the people in a haunted house. Also with Scottie Thompson, Chasty Ballesteros, Courtney Gains, Clint Howard, Jere Burns, and Erick Chavarria. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Heart of a Dog (NR) Laurie Anderson directs this documentary about her dog Archie and our relationship with pets. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Heist (R) Robert De Niro stars in this thriller as a man whose attempt to rob a casino goes awry. Also with Dave Bautista, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gina Carano, Kate Bosworth, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, D.B. Sweeney, and Morris Chestnut. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Kilo Two Bravo (R) David Elliot, Mark Stanley, and Benjamin O’Mahony star in this thriller about real-life British soldiers who get trapped in a minefield while battling the Taliban. Also with Scott Kyle, Brian Parry, Liam Ainsworth, Andy Gibbins, and John Doughty. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Love the Coopers (PG-13) Every year there’s a horrible Christmas movie, and this year’s just came early! John Goodman and Diane Keaton play a longtime married couple who decide to hide their impending divorce from their extended family when they pay a visit for the holidays. None of the characters here seem capable of making a mature adult decision, and we’re supposed to find them all lovable because of it. Two Oscar winners and three more nominees are packed into this cast, but only Alan Arkin manages to fend off the cutesiness here, and only for a while. This is the directing debut of screenwriter Jessie Nelson (Stepmom), and while we need more women directors, we need fewer films like this Love Actually wannabe. Also with Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, Ed Helms, Alex Borstein, Jake Lacy, Timothée Chalamet, Blake Baumgartner, and June Squibb. (Opens Friday)
My All American (PG) I’ve seen Brian’s Song, and you, sir, are no Brian’s Song. This football weeper partially filmed at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Stadium stars Finn Wittrock as Freddie Steinmark, a safety who played one stellar season at UT in the 1970s, helping them to a national championship before dying of bone cancer. Both Freddie and Coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart) are presented as plaster saints, and everything is so sanded over that nothing remotely dramatic has a chance of happening. This sleep-inducing flick is recommended only for die-hard UT football fans. Also with Robin Tunney, Sarah Bolger, Richard Kohnke, Michael Reilly Burke, Marco Perella, Juston Street, and Todd Allen. (Opens Friday)
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (NR) Salman Khan stars in this Indian film as a king and a commoner who look exactly alike and decide to switch jobs for a while. Also with Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Arman Kohli, Deepak Dobriyal, and Anupam Kher. (Opens Friday at Cinemark North East Mall)
Spotlight (R) The latest film by Tom McCarthy (The Visitor, Win Win) stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams as part of the team of Boston Globe reporters who exposed the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal in 2002. Also with Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian D’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Doug Murray, Jamey Sheridan, Len Cariou, and Billy Crudup. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
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)
The 33 (PG-13) Antonio Banderas stars in this film based on the Chilean miners who became trapped by a cave-in in 2010. Also with Juliette Binoche, Rodrigo Santoro, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jacob Vargas, Kate del Castillo, Cote de Pablo, Bob Gunton, Gabriel Byrne, James Brolin, and Adriana Barraza. (Opens Friday)
Akhil (NR) Akhil Akkineni stars in this Indian comedy as a man who happens by a village that possesses a magic stone. Also with Sayyeshaa Saigal, Rajendraprasad, Brahmanandam, Mahesh Majrekar, and Byron Gibson.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Peanuts Movie (PG) Better than it should have been, and essentially faithful to Charles M. Schulz’ vision. This computer-animated 3D adaptation of the beloved comic strip has Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schapp) trying to impress the little red-haired girl (voiced by Francesca Capaldi) after she moves into the neighborhood. The film smartly doesn’t try to update the strip to contemporary times, and this 3D rendering makes the characters look recognizably like their 2D forebears while allowing Snoopy’s aerial battles against the Red Baron pop into relief. If you’re lucky enough to be a kid who hasn’t been exposed to Peanuts or the parent of such a kid, you’re in for a treat. Additional voices by Alexander Garfin, Hadley Belle Miller, Venus Schultheis, Rebecca Bloom, Mariel Sheets, Noah Johnston, Kristin Chenoweth, and the late Bill Melendez.
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.
Spectre (PG-13) This feels like a satisfying end for Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. The British agent here battles a secret international terrorist organization that links all the Bond baddies dating back to Casino Royale. Christoph Waltz, who would seem born to play a Bond villain, is rather underwhelming here, but director Sam Mendes dials up even better action set pieces than he managed in Skyfall (including a spectacular opening in Mexico City) and the story manages to bring this damaged and emotionally remote Bond to a point where he finds something that’s worth walking away from the spy trade for. Also with Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Rory Kinnear, Stephanie Sigman, Jesper Christensen, and Judi Dench.
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.
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.
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.