Alice Through the Looking Glass (PG) Tim Burton has been replaced as director, but this Disney-meets-Lewis Carroll adaptation remains loud, incoherent, garish, and stubbornly unmagical. Mia Wasikowska returns as the heroine who returns to Wonderland to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) by traveling back through time. New director James Bobin (from the Muppets movies) engineers an ingenious opening sequence with Alice captaining a warship through a narrow strait, but he fails to find any resonance in either her relationship with the Hatter or the maudlin subplot with the Queen of Hearts (Helena Bonham Carter) making up with her sister (Anne Hathaway). Sacha Baron Cohen pilfers a few meager laughs as Time himself, but this is a CGI bore. Also with Rhys Ifans, Matt Lucas, Lindsay Duncan, Andrew Scott, and Richard Armitage. Voices by Timothy Spall, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Matt Vogel, and the late Alan Rickman. (Opens Friday)
A Bigger Splash (R) This remake of Jacques Deray’s 1969 French erotic thriller La piscine stars Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts as a couple whose relationship turns explosive when they get an unexpected visit from her ex (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). Also with Aurore Clément and Lily McMenamy. (Opens Friday)
The Lobster (R) Colin Farrell stars in this dystopian comedy as a man who must find true love in 45 days or be permanently turned into an animal. Also with Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed, Jessica Barden, Ben Whishaw, and Léa Seydoux. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
AmeriGeddon (PG-13) This thriller is about a group of gun-loving patriots who stop a global terror organization and the U.N. from taking over America. Starring Dina Meyer, India Eisley, Marshall K. Teague, Jonny Cruz, and Diane Ladd.
The Angry Birds Movie (PG) A cynical, sloppy cash-in on the video game’s popularity. Jason Sudeikis stars in this animated movie as a red bird with anger management issues who correctly suspects that the green pigs who’ve come to visit his island are really just a bunch of filthy immigrants who’ve come to steal their stuff. The action sequences are forgettable and the filmmakers don’t bother to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy anger, but the worst offense this movie makes is being unfunny, despite the wealth of comic talent in its voice cast. It’s all enough to make you want to fling missiles at some pig’s house. Additional voices by Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, Keegan-Michael Key, Tony Hale, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, Jillian Bell, Peter Dinklage, and Sean Penn.
Captain America: Civil War (PG-13) People are saying this is the best of Marvel’s Avengers series, and they’re pretty much right. The group splits when Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) disagree over the need for U.N. oversight of the Avengers. Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) do incredible work just to fit 12 superheroes into this piece without losing track of anyone, and they introduce both Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) into the proceedings in ways that pop. The action sequences are well-managed, too, even if the 12-superhero smackdown feels as obligatory as the orgy that concludes a porno movie. The balance of action, humor, character, emotion, and intellectual debate make this a compendium of the best the Marvel movies have had to offer. Also with Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Emily VanCamp, Frank Grillo, Daniel Brühl, Marisa Tomei, Martin Freeman, Hope Davis, John Slattery, Alfre Woodard, and William Hurt.
The Darkness (PG-13) After a halfway decent start, this horror flick turns into a shambles. When an autistic boy (David Mazouz) takes home some mysterious rocks from an Anasazi burial ground in the Grand Canyon, his family members soon start experiencing some supernatural visions that are supposed to be terrifying, although they’re closer to hilarious, especially when a rattlesnake materializes on Grandma’s kitchen counter. The movie implies that both autistic kids and people of color are closer to the demons and gods of the afterlife, and I’m not sure which to be more offended by. Hard to believe this is from Wolf Creek director Greg McLean. Also with Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Lucy Fry, Jennifer Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, and Paul Reiser.
The Jungle Book (PG) This live-action film of Rudyard Kipling’s stories looks nice, but it doesn’t uncover anything new. Neel Sethi plays the boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle when a man-hating tiger (voiced by Idris Elba) vows to kill him. This Disney movie incorporates two of the numbers from the 1967 animated musical version, but director Jon Favreau doesn’t have a flair for the genre, and his film relentlessly cutesifies the animals much like the older incarnation did. The movie does have a superb voice cast, especially a fairly terrifying Elba as the snarling villain. I suspect that in 50 years, though, this will look as dated as the 1967 Jungle Book does now. Additional voices by Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Sam Raimi, and the late Garry Shandling.
Keanu (R) A disappointing film debut from the comedy team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. They portray buppie cousins who pretend to be hardcore gangstas to recover an adorable kitten of theirs (named Keanu, and voiced in a dream sequence by Keanu Reeves) after it’s kidnapped by drug dealers. Key and Peele are too good not to score some laughs, but their subject is the specific pressures that African-American men feel to act tougher than they are, and they don’t go into it in near the same depths as they did with white racism on their brilliant TV sketch show. This script feels hastily tossed off. Watch for Anna Faris’ uncredited cameo, portraying herself as a coked-up party monster buying drugs. Also with Tiffany Haddish, Nia Long, Will Forte, Luis Guzmán, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jamar Malachi Neighbors, Rob Huebel, and Method Man.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (PG-13) Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) stars in this biography of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Also with Jeremy Irons, Malcolm Sinclair, Toby Jones, Jeremy Northam, Raghuvir Joshi, Dhritiman Chatterjee, and Stephen Fry.
The Meddler (PG-13) Susan Sarandon stars in this charming comedy as a widowed Brooklyn housewife who moves out to Los Angeles and incessantly pesters her only child (Rose Byrne) with text messages and phone messages because she’s hiding from her own issues. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria bases this on her own life, and she’s clearly still learning her craft as a director. She can’t seem to make the parts of this movie fit together, but she does find some gratifying comic business when the main character becomes unmoored and starts dispensing advice to relative strangers as well as fall in love with a retired cop (J.K. Simmons). This vision of an elderly woman finding new purpose in life is never less than pleasant. Also with Jerrod Carmichael, Cecily Strong, Lucy Punch, Jason Ritter, Sarah Baker, Amy Landecker, and Michael McKean.
Money Monster (R) Jodie Foster gets the little details right in this thriller, but the big things seem to escape her. George Clooney stars as a Jim Cramer-like TV financial guru who gets taken hostage on the air by a disgruntled, bankrupt investor (Jack O’Connell). The way the TV show shills for the companies it reports on, the way New York City copes with the crisis, and the way the show’s producer (Julia Roberts) and her staff are forced to do actual journalism all seem real enough, but the working-class gunman never comes to life as a character. He’s supposed to be a tragic figure who anchors this thriller, but you’re left unmoved. Also with Caitriona Balfe, Dominic West, Lenny Venito, Christopher Denham, Condola Rashad, Aaron Yoo, Dennis Boutsikaris, Emily Meade, and Giancarlo Esposito.
Mother’s Day (PG-13) Wow, the wheels just fly off this thing. Garry Marshall’s latest holiday-themed omnibus movie picks up the threads of a home-shopping guru (Julia Roberts), a divorced mom (Jennifer Aniston), a widower (Jason Sudeikis), a young mother (Britt Robertson), and two sisters (Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke) hiding their marriages and children from their intolerant red-state parents. This last plotline is the most insulting, with the parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine) turning into redneck caricatures and the movie treating the family dynamic for breezy farce instead of acknowledging how truly messed-up it is. In this starry cast, Sudeikis is the only one who manages not to be excrucatingly boring. Also with Timothy Olyphant, Aasif Mandvi, Cameron Esposito, Jon Lovitz, Jessi Case, Ella Anderson, Hector Elizondo, and Jennifer Garner.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (PG-13) It took 14 years for this sequel to hit the screen, which is less remarkable than the fact that the edgeless original was a big hit in the first place. Nia Vardalos reprises her role, her frumpy single gal now a mother dealing with separation anxiety as her teenage daughter (Elena Kampouris) considers going away for college, along with about a zillion other plotlines and characters that aren’t given enough attention. Vardalos’ jokes about how Greek people are hearty and have huge families were old hat back in 2002, and now they’re even more so. This a big hunk of pastitsio that’s been sitting around for too long. Also with John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Louis Mandylor, Ian Gomez, Andrea Martin, Rob Riggle, Mark Margolis, Rita Wilson, and John Stamos.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (R) A bunch of male writers try to make this sequel more feminist, with partial success. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne return as the suburban couple trying to sell their house when a new hard-partying sorority moves in next door. The filmmakers try to deal with the darker side of frat life and the gender inequities of college life, but the sorority girls feel synthetic, and as their leader, Chloë Grace Moretz doesn’t fit the role of a pot-loving party girl. The movie still has its share of funny lines, and Zac Efron steals this away as a frat boy trying to cope with the real world. Also with Ike Barinholtz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Dave Franco, Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Hannibal Buress, Carla Gallo, Lisa Kudrow, Liz Cackowski, Selena Gomez, and Kelsey Grammer.
The Nice Guys (R) Ryan Gosling gives the funniest performance of his career as a bumbling weenie of a private eye in 1977 Los Angeles who teams up with a thug-for-hire (Russell Crowe) to solve a string of murders connected to a porn film. Director/co-writer Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) is at his best making shaggy comedic crime thrillers like this one, and he engineers all manner of delightful gags as well as conceiving a complex character in the detective’s 13-year-old daughter (Angourie Rice) who’s easily the best detective of the three of them. Still, your eyes gravitate to Gosling, who seizes the role’s doofiness and pulls off one virtuoso comedy bit after another in a tour de force. Also with Kim Basinger, Margaret Qualley, Matt Bomer, Yaya DaCosta, Keith David, Ty Simpkins, and Hannibal Buress.
Sing Street (PG-13) John Carney is now making the best movie musicals in the world. The director of Once and Begin Again makes this autobiographical story starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as a 14-year-old Dublin boy in 1985 who starts a band to impress a girl (Lucy Boynton). Walsh-Peelo is a hell of a find, singing with devastating confidence and acting out the moments when he’s beaten down by the local bullies or his school’s administrators. The fictional band kicks actual ass, with songs by Carney and Gary Clark. There’s a playful homage to 1980s music videos with “The Riddle of the Model,” but the carpe diem anthem “Drive It like You Stole It” is just glorious, with a Back to the Future-inspired sock hop to go with it. This is for anyone who loves music, Ireland, or the ‘80s. Also with Jack Reynor, Mark McKenna, Ben Carolan, Percy Chamburuka, Ian Kenny, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Aidan Gillen.
This TIme (NR) This Filipino romantic comedy stars James Reid and Nadine Lustre as lifelong friends whose romance blooms while they’re physically separated. Also with Nova Villa, Freddie Webb, Al Tantay, John Lapus, and Yam Concepcion.
Zootopia (PG) A Disney animated movie about a cuddly bunny rabbit that’s so relevant to our current political situation, it’ll give you chills. In a world where predators and prey co-exist peacefully in an urban environment, Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is the first rabbit on the big city’s police force, an affirmative-action hire who tries to distinguish herself by teaming up with a fox con artist (voiced by Jason Bateman) to crack a string of animal disappearances. This is no canned morality tale, but a layered look at how prejudice seeps into everyone’s thinking, including Judy’s. Amid some delightful gags (including a DMV staffed by sloths that must have been fun to animate) and atmosphere that evokes film noir thrillers, there’s a powerfully slippery parable about discrimination and the politics of fear. Additional voices by Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Alan Tudyk, Tommy Chong, Kristen Bell, Shakira, Octavia Spencer, and J.K. Simmons.
Dark Horse (PG) Louise Osmond’s documentary about a Welsh coal-mining village that decided to breed themselves a champion racehorse.
Manhattan Night (R) Adapted from Colin Harrison’s Manhattan Nocturne, this thriller stars Adrien Brody as a tabloid journalist who gets drawn into a murder case. Also with Yvonne Strahovski, Jennifer Beals, Linda Lavin, Steven Berkoff, and Campbell Scott.