Annabelle: Creation (R) A prequel to the 2014 horror film, this stars Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto as bereaved parents who welcome a group of orphan girls into their home, only to find a demon trapped in a doll preying on them. Also with Stephanie Sigman, Lulu Wilson, Talitha Bateman, Kerry O’Malley, Philippa Coulthard, and Alicia Vela-Bailey. (Opens Friday)
Brigsby Bear (PG-13) Kyle Mooney stars in and co-writes this comedy about a stunted young man who can’t cope when his favorite kids’ TV show goes off the air and determines to finish its story himself. Also with Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Claire Danes, Beck Bennett, Jane Adams, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Kate Lyn Sheil, Ryan Simpkins, and Andy Samberg. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Girl Without Hands (NR) This French animated film tells the story of a young girl (voiced by Anaïs Demoustier) who goes on a fantastical journey after she loses her hands to the Devil. Additional voices by Jérémie Elkaïm, Philippe Laudenbach, Olivier Broche, Françoise Lebrun, and Elina Löwensohn. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Glass Castle (PG-13) Brie Larson stars in this film adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ memoir about growing up in various locations across the Southwest with an alcoholic father and an eccentric mother. Also with Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Ella Anderson, Chandler Head, Max Greenfield, Sarah Snook, and Robin Bartlett. (Opens Friday)
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (PG) Former Vice President Al Gore returns in his follow-up documentary to An Inconvenient Truth. (Opens Friday)
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (PG) Will Arnett reprises his role as an antisocial squirrel who must stop his city’s mayor (voiced by Bobby Moynihan) from paving over the park to make room for an amusement park. Additional voices by Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Peter Stormare, Bobby Cannavale, Isabela Moner, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias, and Jackie Chan. (Opens Friday)
Once Upon a Time (NR) The sets and costumes are jaw-dropping, while the CGI is jaw-droppingly bad in this Chinese fairy tale epic about an immortal empress (Crystal Liu) who is sent to the mortal realms to undergo a trial that will make her into a full-blown goddess, though she spends much of her time fretting about the 90,000-year age difference between her and the sea emperor (Yang Yang) who’s interested in her, a relative youngster at 50,000. Cinematographer Zhao Xiaoding (House of Flying Daggers) makes his debut as a director with Anthony LaMolinara, and this epic comes out like a school play envisioned by a 6-year-old on hallucinogenics and an unlimited budget. Gawk at an early scene’s re-creation of a coral reef on a soundstage. Groan at the swordfight that erupts there out of nowhere and looks like it was choreographed 10 minutes before it was shot. It’s really remarkable how a movie can look so lavish and yet so cheap at the same time. Also with Luo Jin, Yan Yikuan, Li Chun, Gu Xuan, and Peng Zisu. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The Only Living Boy in New York (R) The latest drama by Marc Webb (Gifted) stars Callum Turner as a New York teenager who discovers that his father has a mistress (Kate Beckinsale) and tries to seduce her himself. Also with Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kiersey Clemons, Tate Donovan, Wallace Shawn, Debi Mazar, Bill Camp, and Cynthia Nixon. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Open Water 3: Cage Dive (R) This found-footage thriller stars Joel Hogan, Josh Potthoff, and Megan Peta Hill as three friends who go shark cage diving to audition for a reality show, only to be stranded in the ocean. Also with Pete Valley. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Pilgrimage (NR) Tom Holland stars in this thriller as one of a group of 13th-century Irish monks trying to transport a holy relic across dangerous territory. Also with Richard Armitage, Jon Bernthal, John Lynch, Tristan McConnell, David O’Reilly, Hugh O’Conor, and Donncha Crowley. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Step (PG) Winner of awards at Sundance and elsewhere, Amanda Lipitz’s documentary is about a high-school girls’ step dance team trying to compete while the city of Baltimore is in racial turmoil. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Toilet (NR) Akshay Kumar stars in this Indian comedy as a man from a rural village whose new wife (Bhumi Pednekar) refuses to live with him when she discovers that his house does not have a toilet. Also with Rajesh Sharma, Mukesh Bhatt, Sudhir Pandey, Sana Khaan, and Anupam Kher. (Opens Friday at Cinemark North East Mall)
Wind River (R) The directing debut by screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario) stars Jeremy Renner as a U.S. Fish & Wildlife ranger who must team up with an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) to solve a murder on an Indian reservation in Wyoming. Also with Graham Greene, Kelsey Asbille, Gil Birmingham, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, James Jordan, and Jon Bernthal. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
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 Battleship Island (NR) Director Ryoo Seung-wan (Veteran, The Berlin File) knows his way around an action thriller, and he delivers another good one with this World War II film starring Hwang Jung-min as a Korean jazz bandleader who is forced by the Japanese to work as slave labor in a coal mine off the coast of Japan, while his 10-year-old daughter (Kim Su-an) is forced to work as one of the “comfort women” for the soldiers guarding the place. The story of the island and its forced labor is true; the story of the attempt at a mass escape from the island prison is not. Still, Ryoo does it all up in absorbing fashion, especially depicting the infighting among both the Koreans and the Japanese. The emotional moments are maudlin as they are in so many Korean movies, but this doesn’t drag, and the huge climactic prison break is impressive as hell. Also with Lee Jeong-hyun, So Ji-seob, Song Joong-ki, Lee Geung-young, Lee Jung-eun, Yoon Kyung-ho, Bae Seung-cheol, and Yoon Dae-eul.
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.
The Dark Tower (PG-13) Like a fever dream — an exceptionally boring fever dream. Tom Taylor stars in this Stephen King adaptation as a New York boy whose nightmares about a gunslinger (Idris Elba) battling a Satanic overlord (Matthew McConaughey) in a barren wasteland turn out to be real. The plot is squashed down from various books in King’s epic series, which is probably why events unfold with no discernible logic or cause. Everything looks gray because director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) can’t think of another way to portray dystopia, and the actors are restricted to a single note for their characters. This isn’t as bad a King adaptation as Dreamcatcher, but it’s not far off. Also with Jackie Earle Haley, Claudia Kim, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick, Fran Kranz, José Zúñiga, and Dennis Haysbert.
Despicable Me 3 (PG) There are 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.
Detroit (R) Flawed and powerful. Kathryn Bigelow does this dramatization of the 1967 Detroit race riots and the resulting police brutality incident at the Algiers Motel that year, when city cops tortured guests and eventually murdered three while searching for a gun that they never found. As usual, Bigelow excels at depicting the chaos in the streets and evoking slowly unfolding dread, and while the first half of the movie depicting the riots unbalances the film, it also provides valuable context. However, while her approach has value, it also has limitations. All the suffering she depicts here requires an equally great catharsis, and the bit with the soul singer (Algee Smith) leaving his band and joining a church choir isn’t enough of a counterweight to all the white mendacity here. The film will still be timely as long as white cops kill unarmed black men and get away with it. Also with John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever, Ben O’Toole, Jack Reynor, Nathan Davis Jr., Malcolm David Kelley, Jeremy Strong, Samira Wiley, Laz Alonso, Anthony Mackie, and John Krasinski.
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 Steven Wright.
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.
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. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt star as 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.
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.
Jab Harry Met Sejal (NR) Supposedly this is an Indian remake of When Harry Met Sally…, but the resemblances are slight. Writer-director Imtiaz Ali certainly isn’t Nora Ephron. Shah Rukh Khan stars as a grumpy bachelor European tour guide for Indian tourists who’s saddled with one of his clients (Anushka Sharma), a ditzy engaged lawyer who insists on retracing the tour’s steps through Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, and Lisbon to find her lost engagement ring. This is yet another Indian film that serves as a travelogue for fans who can’t afford to travel to these locations, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, Harry and Sejal’s character quirks become grating really quick. Both stars have been better elsewhere, too. This one’s strictly for the Indian cinema fans. Also with Evelyn Sharma, Aru Krishansh Verma, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Sayani Gupta, and Diljit Dosanjh.
Kidnap (R) Laughably bad. Halle Berry stars in this thriller as a single mother whose 9-year-old son (Sage Correa) is forcibly kidnapped from the park, and who chases after the kidnapper in her car after she loses her phone. Nothing that happens here is remotely believable, not the police ignoring the high-speed chase through the city, not the mechanics of the chase itself, not the way the kidnappers work, and certainly not the mother’s lengthy monologues to herself while she’s driving. This is so actively terrible, you’ll wonder how it got into the movie theaters at all. Also with Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, Dana Gourrier, and Jason George.
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.
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.
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.
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.