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Roland (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures’ THE DARK TOWER.

OPENING

Armed Response (R) This horror film is about a team of operatives that experiences terrifying hallucinations while they’re inside a military training compound that breaks down. Starring Wesley Snipes, Anne Heche, Dave Annable, Mo Gallini, Anthony Azizi, John West Jr., Chelle Ramos, Cailey Fleming, and Gene Simmons. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Battleship Island (NR) This Korean thriller by Ryoo Seung-wan (Veteran) dramatizes a real-life incident during the country’s Japanese occupation, when some 400 forced Korean laborers tried to escape from the island where they were being held. Starring Hwang Jung-min, Kim Su-an, Lee Jeong-hyun, So Ji-seob, Song Joong-ki, and Yoon Dae-eul. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

FW Axe Factory Rectangle

The Dark Tower (PG-13) This adaptation of Stephen King’s novel stars Idris Elba as a legendary gunfighter who must save the universe from a Satanic overlord (Matthew McConaughey). Also with Tom Taylor, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick, Fran Kranz, José Zúñiga, and Dennis Haysbert. (Opens Friday)

Finally Found Someone (NR) Sarah Geronimo stars in this Filipino romantic comedy as a woman who is left at the altar by her groom and consults a therapist (John Lloyd Cruz) to help her move on. Also with Joey Marquez, Christian Bables, Yayo Aguila, Tetchie Agbayani, and Dennis Padilla. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Fun Mom Dinner (R) Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, Katie Aselton, and Bridget Everett star in this comedy as a group of preschool moms whose girls’ night out spins out of control. Also with Adam Scott, Adam Levine, Rob Huebel, Paul Rust, David Wain, Jaz Sinclair, and Paul Rudd. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (PG) Former Vice President and Al Gore returns in his follow-up documentary to An Inconvenient Truth. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Jab Harry Met Sejal (NR) Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma star in this Hindi musical remake of When Harry Met Sally…, set in various European cities. Also with Evelyn Sharma, Aru Krishansh Verma, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sayani Gupta, and Diljit Dosanjh. (Opens Friday)

Kidnap (R) Halle Berry stars in this thriller as a woman who furiously chases after her son’s kidnappers. Also with Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, and Jason George. (Opens Friday)

The Midwife (NR) Catherine Frot stars in this French drama as a midwife who receives unexpected news from her father’s mistress (Catherine Deneuve). Also with Olivier Gourmet, Quentin Dolmaire, Mylène Demongeot, Karidja Touré, and Pauline Etienne. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

NOW PLAYING

Atomic Blonde (R) A deadly stylish showcase for Charlize Theron. She plays an undercover MI6 agent who is sent into Berlin just before the end of the Cold War to retrieve a list of British agents and operations. As a spy thriller, this is riddled with holes and inconsistencies, as director David Leitch can evoke neither the atmosphere of 1980s Germany nor the paranoid sense of the best spy movies, and the final revelation makes no sense at all. Fortunately, Theron is in top form as this bisexual operative who’ll happily seduce women for the mission. The action sequences are stellar, and the brutal fight against a KGB sniper team on the stairs of an East Berlin apartment is destined to become a classic. Also with James McAvoy, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella, Eddie Marsan, Bill Skarsgård, Roland Møller, Til Schweiger, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, James Faulkner, Sam Hargrave, Barbara Sukowa, and John Goodman. 

Baby Driver (R) A car-chase movie that’s also a musical. Ansel Elgort plays a youthful-looking getaway driver with a passion for music who works off a debt to an Atlanta crime boss (Kevin Spacey) by driving armed robbers away from the police. In his first American movie, writer-director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) uses his trademark repeated lines and skillfully set-up gags, but also stages car stunts that are all the sicker because you know they’re being performed for real. The supporting cast is terrific, but Elgort owns the show completely as he rocks out behind the wheel to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms” and dances to Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle.” The movie’s match of music, editing, and performances makes for a delirious experience. Also with Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jon Bernthal, CJ Jones, Flea, Big Boi, Killer Mike, and Paul Williams.

The Big Sick (R) The romantic comedy of the summer is this one based on the autobiography of Kumail Nanjiani, the Pakistani-American stand-up comic and actor who fell for a white American woman and was wondering how to tell his parents when she became desperately ill and was placed in a coma. The film bolts out of the gate thanks to a script by Nanjiani and his real-life wife Emily Gordon, with jokes coming from all directions, including Emily’s fictional alter ego (Zoe Kazan), the Chicago stand-up scene where this is set, and Kumail’s Muslim family. The movie loses some of its surefootedness in the second half, as the filmmakers have trouble keeping the laughs going while Emily continues to lie in a hospital. Still, this is likely the first comedy from a Muslim perspective that most Americans have seen, and the more charming because of its real-life story. Also, Kumail’s joke about 9/11 is the most outrageous one I’ve heard all year. Also with Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, David Alan Grier, Linda Emond, and Anupam Kher.

Cars 3 (PG) Basically, this is like Creed with talking cars. In this latest Pixar installment, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) faces his sporting mortality after a bad run of results and makes drastic changes to his training regimen thanks to a new billionaire sponsor (voiced by Nathan Fillion) who’s so nice that he can’t possibly be a good guy. Once Lightning’s new young trainer (voiced by Cristela Alonzo) is shown topping out over 200 on a racing simulator, we know where this is going. Even so, the base material has a power of its own as the old veteran finds he has to dig into a bag of tricks to stay competitive with the younger racers, and Pixar’s customary in-jokes and throwaway gags help it all go down easy. Check for F1 champion Lewis Hamilton as an electronic assistant named Hamilton. Additional voices by Larry the Cable Guy, Chris Cooper, Bonnie Hunt, Armie Hammer, Tony Shalhoub, Lea DeLaria, Margo Martindale, Kerry Washington, Bob Costas, Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger, and the late Paul Newman.  

Despicable Me 3 (PG) There’s all sorts of things going on in this third installment, what with Gru meeting his long-lost twin brother (both voiced by Steve Carell), Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig) learning to be a mom, the minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin) exiled to their own subplot doing God knows what, and a 1980s kid actor-turned-supervillain (voiced by Trey Parker) trying to destroy Hollywood. All of it fails because the filmmakers behind this seem to have run out of ideas sometime during the last movie. It’s time for Gru to retire and spend more time with his family, away from our screens. Additional voices by Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate, and Julie Andrews. 

Dunkirk (PG-13) Not a masterpiece, but it gets the job done. Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic tells the story of British civilians rescuing more than 300,000 soldiers from the French beach where they were trapped by the Nazis. Nolan tells the story in three overlapping timelines, from the viewpoints of an RAF pilot (Tom Hardy), a private (Fionn Whitehead), a boat owner (Mark Rylance) and others. Nolan probably should have gone with a more straightforward approach; the temporal dislocation doesn’t increase the chaos of the battle or the story’s forward drive. Luckily, this movie does much better at the small-picture level, conveying the analog nature of aerial combat back then and the private’s series of brushes with death as he tries to flee. This movie may not have the emotional impact that it’s looking for, but it succeeds thanks to Nolan’s assiduous application of his craft. Also with Cillian Murphy, Jack Lowden, Aneurin Barnard, Tom Glynn-Carney, Barry Keoghan, Tom Nolan, Harry Styles, and Kenneth Branagh. 

The Emoji Movie (PG) Crying face emoji. Angry face emoji. Poop emoji. Nauseated face emoji. Skull and crossbones emoji. Bomb emoji. Wastebasket emoji. Dagger emoji. Anger symbol emoji. Radioactive sign emoji. Biohazard emoji. Thumbs-down emoji. Exclamation question mark emoji. Stop button emoji. Voices by T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara, Sean Hayes, Rachael Ray, Patrick Stewart, and the late Steven Wright. 

47 Meters Down (PG-13) Since The Shallows became a hit last summer, everybody else has to have a shark flick. This one can’t hold a candle or even a shaky flashlight to that film from last year. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt star as two sisters who are trapped in a shark cage that comes loose from the boat and hits the ocean floor. English director Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door) can’t think of anything inventive to do with the situation or with the open ocean and limited visibility that the setting offers. The acting from the two actresses is undistinguished at best as well. Look elsewhere for your B-grade thrills. Also with Matthew Modine, Yani Gellman, Chris Johnson, and Santiago Segura.

A Ghost Story (R) Unique is one of the few things it’s safe to say about this one. David Lowery’s latest film stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as a nameless couple who are split when he’s killed in a car accident, though his ghost (clad in a bedsheet with two eyeholes like a kid’s Halloween costume) continues to inhabit their house and eventually becomes unstuck in time. Lowery tries to free us from time like the ghost, and occasionally his go-slow approach results in transcendental, timeless ecstasy. More often, though, it results in long, static shots of the couple sleeping together or the bereaved woman sitting on her kitchen floor and eating a pie. Daniel Hart’s score is terrific and there’s a lovely moment at the end when the ghost finds rest, but this is an ambitious failure. Also with Liz Franke, Barlow Jacobs, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Brea Grant, and Kesha.

Girls Trip (R) In the “raunchy summer female comedy” tournament, this one defeats Snatched and Rough Night. Regina Hall stars as an Oprah Winfrey-like lifestyle guru who invites her college friends (Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish) for a weekend of partying at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. The raunchy summer female comedies tend to be for the white women, so it’s gratifying to see the black women get in on the action, and do it to hilarious effect. Some of the subplots play out predictably, but who cares when you’ve got set pieces like a zipline ride across Bourbon Street that goes wrong? Haddish winds up upstaging her more famous co-stars repeatedly, especially during a sex demonstration with a grapefruit and a banana. Also with Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Mike Epps, Lara Grice, and Kate Walsh. 

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (PG-13) More goes right than wrong in this sequel, in which our band of ragtag space rogues crash-lands on a distant planet that’s sentient, can take human form (Kurt Russell), and happens to be the long-lost father of Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt). There’s tons more funny business, some involving baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) dancing and bringing the wrong items to Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Yondu (Michael Rooker) as they’re trying to break out of prison. I just wish the sequel had retained more of the original’s caper feel instead of making all its characters go through some hackneyed emotional arc — our Star-Lord was more fun as a common thief than as a guy with superpowers and daddy issues. Still, enough of the original’s jokey spirit remains to prime you for the third mix. Also with Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen GIllan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Gunn, Chris Sullivan, Ving Rhames, Michelle Yeoh, Sylvester Stallone, and an uncredited David Hasselhoff.

The House (R) Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are both well off their game in this comedy about parents who open an illegal casino in the home of their gambling-addicted neighbor (Jason Mantzoukas) because they can’t pay for college tuition for their teenage daughter (Ryan Simpkins). Having a Vegas-type casino open in suburbia and having suburban types go crazy for the action seems like a fantastic idea, and yet the proceedings stubbornly fail to spark even with the wealth of comic talent in the supporting cast. The film bogs down in a fraud conspiracy at city hall and Ferrell’s character being pathologically afraid of numbers. You’ll lose your money for sure at this place. Also with Nick Kroll, Allison Tollman, Rob Huebel, Randall Park, Andrea Savage, Lennon Parham, Jessica St. Clair, Michaela Watkins, Alexandra Daddario, and Jeremy Renner. 

Maudie (PG-13) A near-unwatchable exercise in overacting, this biopic stars Sally Hawkins as Maud Lewis, an orphaned live-in housekeeper for a lonely fisherman (Ethan Hawke) on the coast of Nova Scotia who would later become one of Canada’s most celebrated folk artists. Writer-director Aisling Walsh doesn’t give insight into Lewis’ work, nor does she tell a coherent story about Lewis’ life — one moment the two characters are making careful arrangements for living separately in the same house, the next they’re getting married. The actors play the same notes over and over, with Hawkins stooped over and speaking in a tiny voice, while Hawke is gruff and abusive in every scene. This movie is bad art. Also with Kari Matchett, Zachary Bennett, Billy MacLellan, and Gabrielle Rose. 

Mubarakan (PG-13) Your taste in comedy will have to be as broad as the Indus River to appreciate this Indian farce about identical twins (Arjun Kapoor) — one rebellious, long-haired party boy raised in London, the other a dutiful, solid, turbaned Sikh raised in Punjab — whose bachelor uncle (played by the actor’s real-life uncle, Anil Kapoor) keeps trying to set them up with brides, even though they both secretly have girlfriends. The farcical complications only get knottier from there, and they wind up playing out in tedious scenes with people standing still in beautifully decorated modern apartments or Punjabi wedding halls. The energetic musical numbers are the only oases of relief. Also with Ileana D’Cruz, Neha Sharma, Athiya Shetty, Vineet Kumar Singh, Pavan Malhotra, Ratna Pathak, Gurpal Singh, and Rahul Dev.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (PG-13) The same goes for dead franchises. Much like its three predecessors, the fifth film in the series goes madly in circles as it brings on a new pair of young lovers (Kaya Scodelario and the flavorless Brenton Thwaites) to join Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he’s pursued by an undead Spanish captain (Javier Bardem) seeking revenge on Jack for his death. The story is powered by rote action sequences and so much mumbo-jumbo about a magical gadget that controls the seas. It’s harder to laugh at Depp’s comic drunk act now, when you’re wondering whether it’s really an act. The Norwegian directing team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) fail to bring anything in the way of originality to this. Also with Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Golshifteh Farahani, Paul McCartney, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley.

Rough Night (R) This raunchy comedy is agreeable enough, but given the talent onscreen and off, it should have come to more. Scarlett Johansson stars as a state-level politician who gets away for her bachelorette party in Miami with her friends when they accidentally kill the male stripper (Ryan Cooper) whom they’ve hired. TV’s Broad City contributes director Lucia Aniello and co-writer Paul W. Downs (who also plays Johansson’s fiancé), and there are scene-stealing bits from Jillian Bell as the needy best friend and Kate McKinnon as a New Agey Australian. As many funny bits as there are, the filmmakers can’t generate any momentum to give us the sense that these women are careening into further comic peril. The movie winds up going in frantic circles. Also with Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Ty Burrell, Enrique Murciano, Dean Winters, Karan Soni, and Demi Moore. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13) The best high-school movie so far this year. After a bunch of angst-ridden Spider-Men, Tom Holland headlines this relatively and invigoratingly carefree outing. Director/co-writer Jon Watts (Cop Car) keeps the whole thing from Peter Parker’s teenage perspective, where participating in the academic decathlon looms as large as battling the villain (Michael Keaton), a screwed-over salvage worker now making weapons for the supervillain. The supporting cast is subtly loaded, but the best parts go to Peter’s school friends, and the most rewarding scenes are him interacting with his Star Wars geek pal (Jacob Batalon), the pretty girl he wants to ask out (Laura Harrier), the cool loser chick (Zendaya), and the nerd bully (Tony Revolori). A predictable third-act twist notwithstanding, the web-slinger’s latest reboot is well worthy of him. Also with Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr, Hannibal Buress, Kenneth Choi, Garcelle Beauvais, Michael Chernus, Selenis Leyva, Abraham Attah, Angourie Rice, Tyne Daly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Evans, and Jennifer Connelly.

Transformers: The Last Knight (PG-13) Having the robots in disguise interact with King Arthur and his knights should have been the touch of insanity that the series needed, but then we’re underestimating the ability of Michael Bay to suck the fun out of everything he does. Even though there’s constant gunfire and explosions in this thing, the pace still manages to seem somehow glacial as Bay keeps cutting away to shots of Mark Wahlberg with his hair flapping in the wind in front of American flags as he fights off a planet-devouring entity and its henchrobots with a sword that belonged to Merlin. Too bad I don’t have some of whatever substance the filmmakers were clearly high on during the whole of this movie. It might make this easier to sit through. Also with Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Isabella Moner, Santiago Cabrera, Stanley Tucci, and John Turturro. Voices by Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Jim Carter, Omar Sy, Ken Watanabe, Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (PG-13) Stupid fun. Luc Besson adapts this space opera from the beloved series of French comic books from the 1960s, starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as undercover government agents trying to rescue their commander (Clive Owen) from a terrorist plot in a giant floating world that’s home to aliens of all races. Besson’s sexual politics are stuck in the 1990s, and his script’s moral message basically boils down to “genocide is bad.” Still, he does tremendous work evoking the dozens of sub-worlds that exist inside this space and the nonlethal weapons used by the characters, and the statuesque Delevingne looks like a future star, able to deliver a spinning roundhouse kick and a sarcastic joke with equal ease. Also with Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Sam Spruell, Kris Wu, Herbie Hancock, Alain Chabat, Ola Rapace, and Rutger Hauer. Voices by Elizabeth Debicki and John Goodman.

War for the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) These movies continue to wash over me without making much of an impact. Andy Serkis reprises his role as Caesar in this third installment that’s also a retelling of the Book of Exodus, as Caesar has to lead his apes from their jungle home to a new place in the desert when they start being terrorized by a ruthless military colonel (Woody Harrelson). The Biblical parallels are pretty exact — we get a mountain avalanche instead of a parting of the Red Sea — and they’re filled out with Holocaust parallels, as the colonel winds up imprisoning the apes in a concentration camp. The CGI effects are done well enough, but they can’t quite cover up how run-of-the-mill this story is. Also with Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Michael Adamthwaite, Gabriel Chavarria, Terry Notary, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, and Ty Olsson.

Wolf Warrior II (NR) Wu Jing stars in and directs this thriller sequel about a former special-ops agent who must come out of retirement when mercenaries start killing civilians on the Chinese coast. Also with Celina Jade, Zhang Han, Shi Zhaoqi, Heidi Moneymaker, and Frank Grillo. 

Wonder Woman (PG-13) Not all that good, but still yards better than the other DC Comics movies. Gal Gadot plays the warrior princess who gives up her birthright and leaves her island to help an American spy (Chris Pine) bring a successful end to World War I. The origin story means that the other superheroes don’t get awkwardly shoehorned in for cameos, Wonder Woman has a character arc (wobbly though it is) that’s more satisfying than any of those superheroes have had, and the film owes a great deal to Pine and his comic instincts to keep the story grounded. The movie does leave all sorts of things on the table and doesn’t appear to leave the heroine with much place to go as a character, but the good outweighs the bad, on balance. Never send a Man of Steel to do a Wonder Woman’s job. Also with Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Ewen Bremner, Eugene Brave Rock, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Danny Huston. 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

Lady Macbeth (R) This thriller is based not on Shakespeare but on Nikolai Leskov’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, starring Florence Pugh as a 19th-century English housewife who turns to adultery and murder out of boredom with her life. Also with Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, and Golda Rosheuvel. 

Landline (R) Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child) directs this comedy about the romantic travails of a Manhattan family in 1995. Starring Jenny Slate, Edie Falco, Jay Duplass, Abby Quinn, Finn Wittrock, and John Turturro. 

The Last Face (R) This drama directed by Sean Penn is about an aid agency worker (Charlize Theron) and a doctor (Javier Bardem) who are caught up in a revolution in Africa. Also with Adèle Exarchopoulos, Merrit Wever, Jared Harris, and Jean Reno. 

The Little Hours (R) This comedy set in 14th-century Italy stars Dave Franco as an escaped servant who takes refuge at a convent full of sex-starved nuns by pretending to be deaf and mute. Also with Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci, Molly Shannon, Jemima Kirke, Paul Reiser, Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen, and John C. Reilly.

1 COMMENT

  1. I love WJLF in this one! He is my fav! By the way, i have seen him promoting this brand before ( Agm phones) , a friend of mine have one and it looks amazing but i am too embarassed to ask him to let me toss his phone like in the movie xD

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