Café Society (PG-13) Woody Allen’s latest comedy stars Jesse Eisenberg as a New Yorker in the 1930s whose life changes when he travels to Hollywood. Also with Kristen Stewart, Blake LIvely, Parker Posey, Corey Stoll, Anna Camp, Paul Schneider, and Steve Carell. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Les Cowboys (R) This French thriller stars François Damiens as a man who goes searching for his daughter, whom he believes to have been kidnapped by Islamic extremists. Also with Finnegan Oldfield, Agathe Dronne, Ellora Torchia, Antoine Chappey, Louis Coulloc’h, and Antonia Campbell Hughes. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Equals (PG-13) This dystopian science-fiction romance by Drake Doremus (Spooner) stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult as two people who fall in love in an emotionless society. Also with Guy Pearce, Bel Powley, Kate Lyn Sheil, Scott Lawrence, and Jacki Weaver. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
HIllary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (PG-13) Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary explores the Democrats’ tendencies toward slavery, genocide, and evil. (Opens Friday)
Ice Age: Collision Course (PG) The prehistorical animals go into space! Well, one of them, anyway. You may be surprised by that, but you won’t be surprised by the desperation that drives the makers of this fifth installment in the series to such a plot twist. Manny, Sid, and Diego (voiced by Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, and Denis Leary) have to save the entire world this time by locating a meteor crash site while Manny also deals with his daughter (voiced by Keke Palmer) getting married. The movie ventures into musical numbers, a cameo by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and a utopian society with eternal youth. Nothing works. Additional voices by Queen Latifah, Simon Pegg, Adam Devine, Nick Offerman, Max Greenfield, Josh Peck, Seann WIlliam Scott, Wanda Sykes, Jennifer Lopez, Jessie J, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. (Opens Friday)
Life, Animated (PG) Roger Ross WIlliams’ documentary profile of Ron Suskind, an autistic child who learned to express himself to the world by watching Disney animated movies. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Lights Out (PG-13) Teresa Palmer stars in this horror film about a monster that lurks wherever there is darkness. Also with Gabriel Bateman, Billy Burke, Maria Bello, Alexander DiPersia, and Emily Alyn Lind. (Opens Friday)
Men Go to Battle (NR) David Maloney and Timothy Morton star in this drama as two brothers trying to keep their crumbling family farm together in Kentucky in 1861. Also with Rachel Korine, Charlotte Arnold, Steve Coulter, Annaleese Poorman, and Kate Lyn Sheil. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Star Trek Beyond (PG-13) Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6) takes over the series, as the crew of the Enterprise encounter a race that sees the Federation as evil. Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, John Cho, SImon Pegg, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Greg Grunberg, and the late Anton Yelchin. (Opens Friday)
Train to Busan (NR) Yeon Sang-ho’s thriller stars Gong Yoo as a father who tries to save his daughter (Ma Dong-seok) when a zombie virus breaks out on the train that they’re riding on. Also with Jeong Yoo-mi, Choi Woo-sik, Ahn Soo-hee, and Kim Soo-ahn. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The BFG (PG) A Hook-level disaster from Steven Spielberg. This fantasy film based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book stars Ruby Barnhill as a London orphan who’s whisked away by a big friendly giant (Mark Rylance) and helps him keep his fellow giants from eating children. Like too many other cinematic Dahl adaptations, this one becomes bloated and lumbering, missing the small-scale, homespun charm of the original. The giant’s home is rendered without any sense of wonder, as is Dream Country where he goes to catch dreams to give to children, and the proceedings really go downhill when the giant comes out of hiding and visits the Queen of England (Penelope Wilton). You expect better from Spielberg. Also with Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Jemaine Clement, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and Bill Hader.
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.
Central Intelligence (PG-13) They had all the right ingredients in this comedy except a script. A high school loser-turned-CIA agent (Dwayne Johnson) has to team up with his school’s BMOC-turned-accountant (Kevin Hart) to foil an espionage plot. The casting works well and Johnson creates a funny character as an ass-kicker who’s into unicorn T-shirts and Twilight movies and is completely oblivious to the accountant’s objections to being dragged into danger. If only there had been some actual material instead of director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) staging action sequences while winking at the audience. Also with Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Ryan Hansen, Danielle Nicolet, Thomas Kretschmann, and an uncredited Melissa McCarthy.
The Conjuring 2 (R) James Wan directs this sequel to his 2013 horror film with more flair than you usually find in the genre, but underneath the trappings this is really just the same crappy scare-free flick as the others. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson portray the spiritualist who travel to London in 1978 when an 11-year-old girl (Madison Wolfe) starts making bad things happen to her family. Wan executes some dexterous tracking shots inside their house (unusually large for a working-class family’s), yet he doesn’t have the knack for inventing demons that haunt your soul. He should do more action movies. Also with Frances O’Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Franka Potente, and Simon McBurney.
Finding Dory (PG) The advance hype has been adulatory for Pixar’s latest, and I just can’t join in, much as I’d like. In this sequel to Finding Nemo, sweetly forgetful blue tang Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) remembers something about her family and dashes across the Pacific with Marlin and Nemo (voiced by Albert Brooks and Hayden Rolence) in tow to make sure she doesn’t get lost. There’s a nicely ambivalent depiction of the California aquarium that they all become trapped in, but the plot machinery creaks audibly as it strives to separate Dory from everyone else who wants to help her. The story is supposed to be about Dory learning to survive on her own, and this isn’t accomplished in any convincing way. There’s much that’s genuinely entertaining here, but the slippage from Finding Nemo and other Pixar greats is noticeable. Additional voices by Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, John Ratzenberger, and Sigourney Weaver.
Free State of Jones (R) Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) spent years on this passion project telling the true story of a disenchanted Confederate soldier who banded with slaves to organize an anti-Confederate rebellion in 1860s Mississippi, so it probably would break his heart to learn that this has come out a lifeless, rhythmless, relentlessly gray historical diorama. Matthew McConaughey stars as Newton Knight, the leader of the uprising. The story of the poor farmers rising up against wealthy slaveowners should strike a chord in today’s environment, but the battle sequences amount to no more than a dry recitation of facts. This could have been a stimulating addition to the slavery movies of recent years, but it falls way short. Also with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Sean Bridgers, Jacob Lofland, Christopher Berry, and Keri Russell.
Ghostbusters (PG-13) Paul Feig’s reboot of the 1985 comedyisn’t as funny as Bridesmaids or Spy, but it’s still quite a bit of fun.Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy play the leaders of this group of paranormal investigators who go into business just as a bullied bellhop (Neil Casey) tries to take over New York City at the head of a ghost army. Wiig and McCarthy seem hamstrung by their straitlaced characters and the PG-13 rating, so the hijinks fall to the other two Ghostbusters: Leslie Jones gets some good lines as an MTA worker who joins up, but Kate McKinnon walks away with the movie as a tech genius who takes a psychopath’s joy in causing spirit-world havoc and is scarier than some of the evil spirits that the group faces. Chris Hemsworth scores, too, as the Ghostbusters’ dim-bulb receptionist. The main actors from the original Ghostbusters all show up here in different roles from the ones they played. Also with Andy Garcia, Ed Begley Jr., Cecily Strong, Charles Dance, Matt Walsh, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nate Corddry, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, and Bill Murray.
Independence Day: Resurgence (PG-13) Are you the kind of person who scoffs at plot holes? Then steer clear of this movie, lest you ruin it for someone looking for a brainless, unnecessary sequel. Picking up 20 years after Roland Emmerich’s original, Resurgence finds the people of Earth having since unlocked the secrets of alien technology and united as one people. Everything is great until an even bigger alien ship — the original’s were city-sized, and this one is 3,000 miles across — appears to cast gigantic, ominous shadows and destroy famous landmarks. The children of the first movie’s heroes are themselves heroic fighter pilots (of course!), and Brent Spiner is back as a weirdo Area 51 scientist. The story and characters roughly translate into “who cares?,” but Emmerich’s fetish for epic disasters is in top form here. His occasional peeks into outer space make you wish Cosmos had the budget to hire him. Also with Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, Bill Pullman, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Vivica A. Fox, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Angelababy, Joey King, and Judd Hirsch. — Steve Steward
The Infiltrator (R) Underneath all the seriousness, this is just like a hundred other better movies about undercover agents who get in too deep. Bryan Cranston stars as Bob Mazur, the real-life U.S. Customs agent who managed to get inside Pablo Escobar’s drug operations out of Colombia during the 1980s.. All the familiar signposts are here: the partner who breaks all the rules (John Leguizamo), the neglected wife at home (Juliet Aubrey), the pretty fellow agent whom the hero is attracted to (Diane Kruger), and the higher-up whom he gets close to (Benjamin Bratt). Yet director Brad Furman (Runner Runner) never seems to settle on how we should applaud the hero’s work or judge it. Also with Amy Ryan, Elena Anaya, Yul Vazquez, Rubén Ochandiano, Simón Andreu, Art Malik, Saïd Taghmaoui, Michael Paré, and Olympia Dukakis.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (PG-13) Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) writes, directs, and co-stars in this comedy about a national manhunt when a rebellious boy (Julian Dennison) and his foster uncle (Sam Neill) disappear together in the New Zealand bush. Also with Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Oscar Kightley, and Rhys Darby.
The Legend of Tarzan (PG-13) Alexander Skarsgård stars in this adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories as the now-civilized man who’s called back to his jungle home when a mining company starts doing bad things there. Also with Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou, Rory J. Saper, Sidney Ralitsoele, Osy Ikhile, Antony Acheampong, Ben Chaplin, Jim Broadbent, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Me Before You (PG-13) Emilia Clarke overacts ferociously in this leaden adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ novel about a klutzy, quirky, small-town girl who gets a job taking care of a young man (Sam Claflin) from a rich family who’s been rendered quadriplegic by a spinal cord injury. The controversy around this tearjerker has been about the guy’s determination to undergo an assisted suicide, but this issue is tastefully handled with a modicum of psychological realism. No, what ruins this is Clarke’s “look at me, I’m so adorable” act that proves as grating as her character’s loud wardrobe. Also with Janet McTeer, Matthew Lewis, Vanessa Kirby, Jenna Coleman, Joanna Lumley, and Charles Dance.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (R) Four terribly attractive actors who are also excellent comic ad-libbers make this hilarious. Zac Efron and Adam Devine play hellraising brothers who advertise for respectable wedding dates on Craigslist, drawing two party-girl best friends (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) who pretend to be sensible professional women so they can get the free trip to Hawaii that comes with the date. Devine is a bit too cartoonish, but he and everyone else fire off terrific lines and riffs while writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (Neighbors) give their characters enough emotional underpinnings for this to stick. As the bride and the sister of the brothers, Sugar Lyn Beard steals a number of scenes, including a tantric massage you won’t soon forget. Also with Stephen Root, Sam Richardson, Alice Wetterlund, Kumail Nanjiani, Marc Maron, and Jake Johnson.
Now You See Me 2 (PG-13) A vast improvement on the first movie. The magicians from the first movie (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco) plus one newcomer (Lizzy Caplan, subbing in for Isla Fisher) get into trouble as they try to take on the system, personified by a tech magnate (Daniel Radcliffe) peddling user info. Having the heroes expose corporate mischief is a far better plot than the original’s confusing one, the movie is much funnier, and Eisenberg’s character is made quite a bit less douchier. Don’t miss the slide show that introduces the villain. Also with Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, David Warshofsky, Tsai Chin, and Morgan Freeman. — Cole Williams
The Purge: Election Year (PG-13) Not terrible! The third sequel in the horror/action movie franchise sees Frank Grillo back as Leo Barnes, an ex-cop-turned-bodyguard in the employ of Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell of ABC’s Lost), who saw her entire family murdered 18 years prior during the annual American Purge Night, the federally permitted violence holiday designed to eliminate crime by allowing people to enact their basest urges for 12 hours every March. Roan’s election platform is built on eliminating the Purge, thereby setting herself up for the pro-purge party’s kidnapping/assassination attempt. As they flee, she and Barnes join forces with a deli owner (Mykelti Williamson) and his friends as they try to survive attacks from both “the crazies” and a white supremacist mercenary team contracted by the ruling elite. Plotwise, the movie feels a lot like John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, and its social commentary is mostly on point, though the next time James DeMonaco writes some minority characters, he should first run his dialogue past some black and Hispanic people. But for a moderately engaging action movie, its narrative beats are suitable enough to include in the ongoing conversation about America and its co-dependent relationship with violence. Also with Frank Grillo, Joseph Julian Soria, and Betty Gabriel. — S.S.
The Secret Life of Pets (PG) Not as deep as Zootopia, but better than Finding Dory.Louis C.K. voices a neat-freak terrier in Manhattan whose jealousy over his owner bringing home a sloppy mutt (voiced by Eric Stonestreet) leads both of them to become stranded in Brooklyn and forced to cooperate to get back home. The lead characters are boring; Louis C.K. doesn’t adjust well to the kiddie environment. Still, there’s a funny subplot where the dogs fall into the hands of an underground movement of stray animals whose bunny rabbit leader (voiced in manic, scene-stealing manner by Kevin Hart) dreams of overthrowing the human race. He and the other supporting characters are funnier than the leads. Additional voices by Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan, and Albert Brooks.
The Shallows (PG-13) Deserves to be known as the second-greatest shark attack movie ever. Blake Lively stars as a Baylor medical student who goes surfing at a secluded Mexican beach only to be attacked by a shark and stranded on a rock outcropping 200 yards from shore with no one to help. The main attraction here is seeing the delicate, glamorous Lively do reasonably well in a role that convincingly strips the gloss off her. Director Jaume Collet-Serra takes this thing off the rails near the end as he tries to out-Jaws Jaws, but it’s not enough to detract too much from this thing’s merits as a survival thriller. Also with Óscar Jaenada, Sedona Legge, and Brett Cullen.
X-Men: Apocalypse (PG-13) Bryan Singer finally loses the plot in this installment set in 1983 that features the mutants being forced to band together to fight an all-powerful villain (Oscar Isaac) bent on destroying the world, just like every other supervillain in these movies. This film has its share of incidental pleasures like Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) taking to a leadership role with the students and the relationship between Jean Grey and Scott Summers (Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan) being reimagined as a teen romance. Still, Singer’s action sequences are weak, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is reduced to a mere pawn, and the whole thing feels overstuffed. The series needs new blood behind the camera. Also with James McAvoy, Evan Peters, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Olivia Munn, Alexandra Shipp, Lana Condor, Lucas Till, and Josh Helman.
Captain Fantastic (R) Viggo Mortensen stars in this comedy as a hippie father of six in the rural Pacific Northwest whose unorthodox parenting style is forced to confront the outside world. Also with George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Steve Zahn, Kathryn Hahn, Missi Pyle, and Frank Langella..
The Innocents (PG-13) Anne Fontaine’s World War II drama is about a French nun (Lou de Laâge) who finds several pregnant nuns while ministering to Holocaust survivors in Poland. Also with Agata Kulesza, Agata Buzek, Vincent Macaigne, Katarzyna Dobrowska, Eliza Rycembel, and Joanna Kulig..