Brad’s Status (R) Ben Stiller stars in this comedy as a father who takes his son on a tour of colleges and meets an old friend (Michael Sheen) whose life seems better than his in every way. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Friend Request (R) Alycia Debnam-Carey (TV’s Fear the Walking Dead) stars in this horror film as a college student who finds her friends being killed after she accepts a friend request from a social outcast. Also with William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, and Sean Marquette. (Opens Friday)
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (R) Taron Egerton returns for this sequel, in which the British agents must seek help from a similar American organization. Also with Julianne Moore, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Poppy Delevingne, and Elton John. (Opens Friday)
The Lego Ninjago Movie (PG) The new animated film is about a Lego ninja (voiced by Dave Franco) who must defend his island against an evil overlord (voiced by Justin Theroux) who happens to be his father. Additional voices by Jackie Chan, Olivia Munn, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Ali Wong, Randall Park, Charlyne Yi, and Constance Wu. (Opens Friday)
Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (NR) Michael Roberts’ documentary profile of Manolo Blahnik. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Rebel in the Rye (PG-13) Nicholas Hoult stars in this biography of J.D. Salinger. Also with Kevin Spacey, Hope Davis, Victor Garber, Zoey Deutch, Lucy Boynton, Brian d’Arcy James, Eric Bogosian, and Sarah Paulson. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Stronger (R) Jake Gyllenhaal stars in David Gordon Green’s biography of Jeff Bauman, a man who lost his legs during the Boston Marathon bombing and became a symbol of hope to the city. Also with Tatiana Maslany, Miranda Richardson, Richard Lane Jr., Nate Richman, Lenny Clarke, and Clancy Brown. (Opens Friday)
The Tiger Hunter (NR) This comedy stars Danny Pudi as an Indian-American in the 1970s who has his friends pull off an elaborate charade so he can woo a girl (Karen David). Also with Rizwan Manji, Jon Heder, Kevin Pollak, Sam Page, Anand Desai-Barochia, Parvesh Cheena, and Iqbal Theba. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
All Saints (PG) John Corbett stars as Rev. Michael Spurlock, the real-life Anglican minister in Tennessee who saved his financially failing church by taking in a few hundred Karen refugees from civil war-torn Myanmar. Perhaps this film glosses over the racial difficulties involved here, but it does show the pressures that a church takes on providing for immigrants who have lost everything, as well as a grasp of the ethical pitfalls — it’s an old white guy (Barry Corbin) who accuses the preacher of wanting to run a plantation. A nicely understated and conflicted turn by Corbett does much to keep this from lapsing into sanctimony. Here’s another one to show people who think Christian movies are always bad. Also with Cara Buono, Nelson Lee, Myles Moore, David Keith, Patrick Johnson, and Gregory Alan Williams.
American Assassin (R) Dylan O’Brien continues to bore me to tears in this thriller about an American tourist who turns himself into a vigilante and gets scooped up by the CIA after his fiancée is murdered by Arab terrorists while they’re on vacation. We keep getting told that our hero is dangerously reckless and making his spy missions about himself, and yet nothing bad ever happens to him as a result. O’Brien is out-acted by just about everyone on the screen, including Michael Keaton as his sadistic instructor, Shiva Negar as the beautiful Iranian spy who works with him, and Taylor Kitsch as the rogue American who’s the alpha villain. This movie has an antihero and doesn’t seem to know it, and add that it’s not-so-casually racist into the bargain. Also with Sanaa Lathan, Charlotte Vega, Shahid Ahmed, Scott Adkins, Navid Negahban, and David Suchet.
Annabelle: Creation (R) Director David Sandberg’s disappointing follow-up to Lights Out is this horror prequel showing how a bereaved couple (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) created the evil doll to deal with their grief, then opened up an orphanage for young girls, unwittingly giving the doll what it wants. Whatever creep factor the doll had in the first movie, it’s lost it by now, and Sandberg’s go-slow approach doesn’t pay off here like it has done for others. This movie makes me yearn for the charisma of Chucky. Also with Stephanie Sigman, Lulu Wilson, Talitha Bateman, Grace Fulton, Kerry O’Malley, Philippa Coulthard, and Alicia Vela-Bailey.
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.
Baadshaho (NR) Set in 1975 during India’s state of emergency, this heist film is about a wrongly imprisoned Rajasthani queen (Ileana D’Cruz) who tries to keep her family gold from being seized by the government by sending her loyal bodyguard (Ajay Devgn) to steal the treasure as it’s transported, though he and his gang of thieves must face a particularly dogged military officer (Vidyut Jamwal) acting as a cop. The movie gets points for some ingeniously plotted accidents and double-crosses, but director Milan Luthria doesn’t bring enough energy to this affair. This 136-minute affair is watchable, but it needed to be leaner and quicker. Also with Emraan Hashmi, Esha Gupta, Sanjay Mishra, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Gulshan Pandey, and Sunny Leone.
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.
Birth of the Dragon (PG-13) This formulaic but watchable martial-arts film is set in San Francisco in the 1960s and dramatizes the real-life fight between a young Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and a Chinese kung fu master (Xia Yu) who disapproves of the way Lee is propagating kung fu in America. The romantic subplot between an angry American student of Lee’s (Billy Magnussen) and a Chinese girl (Qu Jingjing) whose fate is owned by the triads is a losing gambit, but the film does reasonably well at portraying Lee as a brilliant, arrogant jerk in need of a lesson in the humility and discipline at the heart of kung fu. The martial-arts sequences by longtime Hong Kong fight director Cory Yuen make the whole thing worthwhile. Also with Simon Yin, Jin Xing, Terry Chen, Wu Yue, Vanness Wu, Vincent Cheng, Yee Jee Tso, Ron Yuan, and Simon Chin.
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.
Do It Like an Hombre (R) This Spanish-language comedy stars Alfonso Dosal as a Chilean man who upsets his friends by coming out as gay. Also with Aislinn Derbez, Mauricio Ochmann, Humberto Busto, Ignacio Allemand, and Ariel Levy.
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.
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.
The Glass Castle (PG-13) Woody Harrelson steals the show in this film adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ memoir as the author’s damaged, drunken, abusive dad who’s always planning to build his children a glass house when he’s not picking up the family and running from the law. Walls’ life story is packed with incredible incidents, so much that the movie even leaves out the one where she was thrown from her parents’ moving car and her parents didn’t notice, but director/co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) has trouble wrangling all of it into proper shape. Brie Larson does all right by the lead role, but it’s Harrelson, brimming with shame, regret, and an anger that he’s powerless to control, that you’ll remember more than anything. Also with Naomi Watts, Ella Anderson, Chandler Head, Max Greenfield, Josh Caras, Sarah Snook, and Robin Bartlett.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (R) Theoretically, this is a comic thriller. In practice, this is really just Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson sitting in cars for long periods, being snarky, and hoping that something funny will happen. Jackson plays a contract killer about to turn state’s evidence against an Eastern European dictator (Gary Oldman) when his security is compromised and he’s forced to turn to a disgraced former bodyguard (Reynolds) with whom he has an unfriendly past. The action sequences make no sense, the stars have no chemistry, and there’s no comic material for them to work with anyway. Also with Elodie Yung, Richard E. Grant, Rod Hallett, Sam Hazeldine, Joaquim de Almeida, and Salma Hayek.
Home Again (PG-13) Reese Witherspoon starring in a romantic comedy directed by the daughter of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer should be terrific, and yet this sleepy affair seems to distill the worst aspects of Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s parents films. Witherspoon plays a newly separated mother who moves back to her hometown of L.A. and rents out her house to three struggling young filmmakers, falling in love with the handsome director (Pico Alexander) of those three. Comic subplots with a flaky socialite (Lake Bell) and a movie producer who’s a thinly disguised satire of Jason Blum (Reid Scott) don’t lead anywhere, and the heroine’s two meant-to-be-adorably neurotic daughters (Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield) are simply intolerable. At least Shyer and Meyers’ films were funny; this isn’t. Also with Michael Sheen, Nat Wolff, Josh Stamberg, Jon Rudnitsky, and Candice Bergen.
It (R) A horror movie that’s everything you’d want, except scary. Based on Stephen King’s novel, this movie is about a group of kids in Maine (where else?) in the 1980s who band together against the scary clown (Bill Skarsgård) who has been murdering kids in their small town for decades. Argentinian director Andrés Muschietti (Mama) pulls off some sequences with great flair and gets some terrific performances from Jaeden Lieberher as the ringleader with a speech impediment and Sophia Lillis as the lone girl in the group. He also elicits commendable cinematography by Chung Chung-hoon and music by Benjamin Wallfisch, and the comic relief here is actually funny. Still, the clown’s antics don’t crawl under your skin like they should, and the whole affair lapses into regrettable sentimentality near the end. If you can’t wait for Season 2 of Stranger Things, this will tide you over nicely. Also with Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Rae Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Finn Wolfhard.
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.
Leap! (PG) This wildly misconceived animated film is supposed to take place in 19th-century France, but the characters wisecrack like contemporary American kids. Elle Fanning is the voice of an orphaned girl from Brittany who escapes from her orphanage with a friend (voiced by Nat Wolff), and they make their way to Paris, where she cottons on at a prestigious ballet school and fulfills her dream of becoming a dancer. This film was originally done in French, and maybe it was better in that language, but the American dub is so lame that you won’t be curious to find out. Additional voices by Kate McKinnon, Carly Rae Jepsen, Maddie Ziegler, and Mel Brooks.
Logan Lucky (PG-13) Steven Soderbergh returns to filmmaking and reminds us what a nifty flair he has for light entertainment. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver star as two brothers in West Virginia who’ve fallen on hard times and decide to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the running of the Coca-Cola 600. Soderbergh delights in these uneducated folks’ ingenuity when it comes to pulling off a big heist on a limited budget, using Gummi Bears and cockroaches painted with nail polish as part of their intricate plan. Yet the most fun comes from his offbeat casting, including Seth MacFarlane as a boorish British racing sponsor and Daniel Craig giving his funniest ever performance as a platinum-haired safecracker, delivering his lines in a high-pitched redneck twang. It’s good to have this filmmaker back. Also with Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Farrah Mackenzie, David Denman, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Dwight Yoakam, Jon Eyez, Macon Blair, and Hilary Swank.
mother! (R) Ranks higher on the WTF meter than any of Darren Aronofsky’s other films, and that’s saying a mouthful. Jennifer Lawrence stars as a nameless woman married to a famous writer (Javier Bardem) and living in their secluded mansion until some mysterious houseguests (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) show up and start the process of her life unraveling into a nightmare. On one level, this is a parable about the tragic costs of living with an artist who loves his own creative genius more than he can ever love anyone else, but the movie’s Biblical parallels also make it into an obscene and horrifying parody of the stories of the creation of man and Jesus. Lawrence is too imprecise here to give this the tragic import that it’s looking for, but Aronofsky’s craftsmanship makes this an effective haunted house film. The late sequences with the writer’s fans mobbing the house are as convincing a depiction of hell as anything. Also with Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Stephen McHattie, Jovan Adepo, and Kristen Wiig.
9/11 (R) It would be in poor taste for me to call this movie a disaster, but when has that ever stopped me? The terrorist attacks are the backdrop to a tepid chamber drama about five strangers (Charlie Sheen, Gina Gershon, Wood Harris, Olga Fonda, and Luis Guzmán) who are trapped in an elevator at the World Trade Center. What starts out as a somber and meaning-stuffed meditation on the attacks that changed the world quickly takes a detour and turns into these characters hashing out their boring domestic troubles and their hackneyed prejudices. It’s like the movie didn’t even need the 9/11 attacks to drive the plot, just like we don’t need this movie. Also with Whoopi Goldberg, Bruce Davison, and Jacqueline Bisset.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (PG) Less interesting than the original, maybe because it has the same plot. Will Arnett reprises his role as the antisocial squirrel named Surly who has to learn once again to work with the other animals in order to survive after a greedy mayor (voiced by Bobby Moynihan) decides to pave over the city park where they all live. The whole enterprise seems to lack inventiveness and even energy. Additional voices by Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Peter Stormare, Bobby Cannavale, Isabela Moner, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias, and Jackie Chan.
The Show (R) Giancarlo Esposito directs and co-stars in this satirical thriller about a reality TV show in which contestants kill themselves for entertainment purposes. Also with Josh Duhamel, Famke Janssen, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Caitlin FitzGerald.
Simran (NR) Kangana Ranaut stars in this Indian comedy as a housekeeper in America who makes extra money by getting involved with organized crime. Also with Catherine Dyer, Jeff Rose, Sohum Shah, Robin Dyke, and Rupinder Nagra.
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.
True to the Game (R) Columbus Short stars in this drama as a Philadelphia drug dealer trying to go straight. Also with Vivica A. Fox, Erika Peeples, Malcolm David Kelley, and the late Nelsan Ellis.
Tulip Fever (R) This bodice-ripping period drama wants badly to be Shakespeare in Love, to the point of engaging Judi Dench and screenwriter Tom Stoppard from that film, but it’s nowhere near as convincing. Alicia Vikander plays a 17th-century Dutch society wife caught between her older husband (Christoph Waltz) and a young painter (Dane DeHaan) who becomes a tulip speculator during the country’s mania for the flowers. Director Justin Chadwick (Assassin’s Creed) does pretty well with the economic hysteria here and the atmosphere of this setting that hasn’t been done to death in movies, but the proceedings turn baldly fake when Vikander and DeHaan have to fake uncontrollable passion for each other. If nothing else, this is worth seeing to watch Zach Galifianakis slot in perfectly as an alcoholic layabout. Also with Jack O’Connell, Holliday Grainger, Tom Hollander, Matthew Morrison, Kevin McKidd, Douglas Hodge, and Cara Delevingne.
Vengeance: A Love Story (NR) Nicolas Cage stars in this thriller based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel as a police officer who becomes a vigilante after a single mother (Anna Hutchison) is brutally gang raped. Also with Talitha Eliane Bateman, Deborah Kara Unger, Joshua Mikel, Charlene Tilton, Rocco Nugent, and Don Johnson.
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.
Wind River (R) Screenwriter and Fort Worth product Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) shows some promise in his directing debut. Jeremy Renner stars as a U.S. Fish & Wildlife ranger who finds a teenage girl’s frozen body on an Indian reservation and has to assist the FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) in charge of the murder case. Sheridan’s particularly strong on the script’s procedural elements, depicting the logistical challenges of investigating in such a remote and inhospitable place, and the performances are hard to fault. This movie could have been shorter, and the extended flashback placed just before the climax is a regrettably clumsy misstep. Still, this is a solid Western. Also with Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Asbille, Julia Jones, Teo Briones, Martin Sensmeier, Tantoo Cardinal, Apesanahkwat, and Graham Greene.
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.
Because of Grácia (PG-13) Moriah Peters stars in this Christian drama as a high-school student whose views make her enemies in her new school. Also with John Schneider, Chris Massoglia, Ben Davies, Masey McLain, Christa Beth Campbell.
Beach Rats (R) This coming-of-age drama by Eliza Hittman (It Felt Like Love) stars Harris Dickinson as a teenage boy torn between a heterosexual relationship and his desire for casual rough sex with older men. Also with Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff, Frank Hakaj, David Ivanov, Anton Selyaninov, and Nicole Flyus.
California Typewriter (NR) Doug Nichol’s documentary interviews famous men on their relationship with their typewriters. Starring Tom Hanks, John Mayer, David McCullough, and the late Sam Shepard.
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (NR) Angelina Jolie directs this film based on the memoirs of human rights activist Loung Ung (Sareum Srey Moch) as she grew up under the Khmer Rouge. Also with Phoeung Kompheak, Sveng Socheata, and Tharoth Sam.
Gook (NR) Justin Chon writes, directs, and co-stars in this drama as one of two Korean-American brothers who are forced to defend their store in South Central L.A. during the Rodney King riots. Also with David So, Simone Baker, and Curtiss Cook Jr.
Napping Princess (NR) Kenji Kamiyama’s animated film about a teenage Japanese girl (voiced by Mitsuki Takahata and Brina Palencia) in 1960 who dreams herself the princess of an enchanted world. Additional voices by Yôsuke Eguchi, Doug Erholtz, Arata Furuta, Lex Wutas, Wataru Takagi, Chris Niosi, Rie Kugimiya, and Colleen O’Shaughnessy.
Polina (NR) This Franco-Russian dance film stars Anastasia Shevtsova as a dancer who transitions from ballet to modern dance as she matures. Also with Veronika Zhovnytska, Alexei Guskov, Niels Schneider, Jeremie Belingard, and Juliette Binoche.
The Wilde Wedding (R) Glenn Close stars in this comedy as a Hollywood star whose fourth wedding turns into chaos. Also with John Malkovich, Patrick Stewart, Minnie Driver, Noah Emmerich, Yael Stone, Grace Van Patten, and Peter Facinelli.