Anything (R) John Carroll Lynch stars in this dramedy as a widower from Mississippi who moves in with his sister in L.A. Also with Matt Bomer, Maura Tierney, Melora Hardin, and Michael Boatman. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Beast (R) This British thriller stars Jessie Buckley as a girl in an isolated community who falls for a mysterious stranger (Johnny Flynn) who may be a serial killer. Also with Geraldine James, Trystan Gravelle, Shannon Tarbet, and Emily Taaffe. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Book Club (PG-13) The elderly crowd deserves better than this toothless comedy about four college friends (Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen) who have held a monthly book club for 40 years and are inspired to change their lives by Fifty Shades of Grey. The casting throws up some intriguing romantic pairings (Andy Garcia with Keaton, Don Johnson with Fonda), but the script by director Bill Holderman and his writing partner Erin Simms isn’t funny enough to give this affair something worthy of the star-studded cast here. This movie takes place in the same cocoon of wealthy straight white people that better, funnier films have already mined. Also with Richard Dreyfuss, Craig T. Nelson, Ed Begley Jr., Wallace Shawn, Katie Aselton, Mircea Monroe, and Alicia Silverstone. (Opens Friday)
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (NR) Sara Driver’s documentary profile of the short-lived artist. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Champion (NR) An arm-wrestling movie! Ma Dong-seok stars as an American-raised wrestler whose trip to South Korea for a tournament brings him in contact with his biological family. Also with Yul Kwon, Han Ye-ri, Choi Seung-hoon, Ok Ye-rin, Yang Hyun-min, and Kim Dong-hyun. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Dark Crimes (R) Based on a real-life murder case, this detective thriller stars Jim Carrey as a Polish homicide cop who finds the clues to a heinous case in a crime novel written by a suspect. Also with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marton Csokas, Kati Outinen, Agata Kulesza, Piotr Glowacki, and Vlad Ivanov. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The Escape (NR) Gemma Arterton stars in this British drama as an unappreciated wife who walks out on her husband (Dominic Cooper). Also with Frances Barber and Jalil Lespert. (Opens Friday at Premiere Cinema Burleson)
Show Dogs (PG) This family film is about a Rottweiler (voiced by Ludacris) who goes undercover at a dog show to bust a crime ring. Also with Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne, Omar Chaparro, and RuPaul. Additional voices by Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, Gabriel Iglesias, and Shaquille O’Neal. (Opens Friday)
Stronger (PG-13) Not to be confused with the movie by the same title from last year, this Christian drama is about a wounded soldier (Ulises Larramendi) trying to cope with his PTSD. Also with Angela Sweet, Justina Page, Don Ortolano, and Bryce C. Miller. (Opens Friday at Harkins Southlake)
Avengers: Infinity War (PG-13) A mess, but perhaps inevitably given how many characters are stuffed in here. Unlike its predecessors, this omnibus superhero movie takes the necessary step of creating a single villain (Josh Brolin) so powerful that it takes everyone’s combined might to fight him. Not only do we get 22 superheroes, but also various members of their supporting casts, so this story gets even more gridlocked. It’s something of a miracle that the film works as well as it does, with most of the individual scenes accomplishing what they set out to do. Almost half the cast dies at the end, but we can expect at least some of it to be undone in next year’s Avengers movie. How it changes the game won’t be known until then. Also with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Don Cheadle, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Anthony Mackie, Tom Hiddleston, Sebastian Stan, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Wong, Idris Elba, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Benicio Del Toro, William Hurt, Carrie Coon, Terry Notary, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Michael Shaw, Gwyneth Paltrow, Peter Dinklage, and uncredited cameos by Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson. Voices by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.
Bad Samaritan (R) The director of last year’s Geostorm returns with another movie that’s just as ridiculous without the special effects. Robert Sheehan and Carlito Olivero play two valet parking attendants with a side scheme of robbing the homes of the customers at the restaurant where they work, only to stumble on evidence that the rich douche (David Tennant) who hands them the keys to his Maserati is a serial killer. Director Dean Devlin comes up with one effective moment when the burglar finds the woman (Kerry Condon) chained up in the bad guy’s office, but elsewhere he doesn’t seem to realize how bad Brandon Boyce’s script is, from the misguided attempts to generate sympathy for the killer to the omniscient way in which he rains havoc on the heroes’ personal lives. The Irish lead actor Sheehan’s also a weak presence. Also with Jacqueline Byers, Lisa Brennan, Hannah Barefoot, Rob Nagle, and Dana Millican.
Beirut (PG-13) This sluggish political thriller stars Jon Hamm as an alcoholic, burned-out diplomat who’s brought into war-torn Lebanon in 1982 to negotiate the release of his kidnapped former friend (Mark Pellegrino) who works for the CIA, only to discover that both the Americans and the Israelis are happy to let the hostage die for shady reasons. There’s a neat script by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), but Brad Anderson’s direction is lacking in distinction, and Hamm only comes to life when his character snaps to and turns back into the ace negotiator that he once was. Better casting and more flair behind the camera could have turned this into something special. Also with Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Idir Chender, Kate Fleetwood, Leila Bekhti, Douglas Hodge, Jonny Coyne, and Larry Pine.
Black Panther (PG-13) Not just a movie about a black superhero, but a superhero movie whose blackness is central to all its accomplishments. Chadwick Boseman stars as the king of a fictitious African nation that is secretly the richest and most technologically advanced in the world, though he faces a challenge in an African-American (Michael B. Jordan) who thinks the country has failed oppressed black people around the world. Purely from a design standpoint, this is miraculous to look at, as the architecture, production design, and costumes all reflect an Afrofuturism that we haven’t seen on such a scale. In addition, the movie has more and higher-quality female representation than all of Marvel’s other superhero movies combined, as well as the best villain, a sumptuous cast, a soundtrack curated by Kendrick Lamar, and thoughtful ideas about what a powerful country owes the rest of the world. Simply by shifting from a white male point of view, this opens up the superhero genre in radical and exhilarating new directions. Also with Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Winston Duke, John Kani, Sterling K. Brown, Denzel Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and an uncredited Sebastian Stan.
Blockers (R) The movie that Neighbors 2 was trying to be. This raunchy sex comedy stars John Cena and Leslie Mann as parents who freak the hell out when they discover that their teenage daughters have a pact to lose their virginities on prom night and resolve to stop them, while Ike Barinholtz is a fellow parent whose daughter is in on the pact who tags along on the quest trying to convince the others that they’re acting like crazy people. Thankfully, director Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect 3) is with that guy and projects a healthy attitude toward the girls’ sexuality while getting terribly funny performances out of her leads and Geraldine Viswanathan, who’s the funniest of the girls here. Watch for Gary Cole and Gina Gershon as a married couple playing weird sex games with each other. Also with Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Miles Robbins, Graham Phillips, Colton Dunn, and Ramona Young.
Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (PG-13) The famed horror studio chooses one of its worst films to start putting its name in the title. Lucy Hale stars as a teenager who travels to Mexico on spring break and stumbles into a game of truth or dare in which supernatural forces kill everybody who refuses to do either of those things. Casual racism aside, this movie feels like it went from pitch meeting to final cut in three days, so little does the story respect its own internal logic, and so shoddy are the production values and the quality of the acting. When you dip into the same barrel over and over, you’re bound to scrape bottom. The scraping sound is deafening here. Also with Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sophia Ali, Landon Liboiron, Nolan Gerard Funk, and Hayden Szeto.
Breaking In (PG-13) No reason we can’t have a black Panic Room, and this one isn’t too bad until the last 15 minutes or so. Gabrielle Union plays a mother who takes her two children (Ajiona Alexus and Seth Carr) with her to her late father’s heavily fortified home in the country, only to have a gang of armed burglars take the kids hostage inside the house while she’s trapped outside. Director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) manages all the mechanics of the plot reasonably well, but the plausibility of the setup falls apart near the end in a most gruesome way. Also with Billy Burke, Jason George, Richard Cabral, Levi Meaden, Mark Furze, and Christa Miller.
I Can Only Imagine (PG) I’m torn on this one: Would a biography of a better Christian band have made a better movie, or would this still have been dull and thus unworthy of a better band? There’s a workable story in here about how MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley) stood up to his abusive dad (Dennis Quaid) to become a successful musician, but newcomer Finley has the liveliness of a damp sponge in the role, and the scenes with him playing a teenage Bart do him no favors. This might have worked better as a jukebox stage musical that could have covered MercyMe’s changing sound over time. There is a good performance by Trace Adkins as the band’s manager. Also with Cloris Leachman, Madeline Carroll, Jake B. Miller, and Nicole DuPort.
I Feel Pretty (PG-13) It may be disappointingly light on subversive material, but this comedy is still pretty funny. Amy Schumer plays a woman with body-image issues who hits her head in exercise class and wakes up thinking that she’s a supermodel. This movie tells us nothing that other body-positive comedies (going back to the 1996 The Nutty Professor) haven’t already told us, and it’s hard to ignore the fact that Schumer has done sharper-edged work on her own TV show. Yet the laughs come from numerous sources in the movie, and Schumer shows her strengths with both verbal and physical humor, especially in an early and painful mishap with her bike at SoulCycle. Michelle Williams gives a baby-voiced performance that needs to be seen as a cosmetics company heiress, CEO, and modeling face. It’s worth it just to hear her mispronounce “Kohl’s.” Also with Rory Scovel, Aidy Bryant, Busy Philipps, Tom Hopper, Adrian Martinez, Sasheer Zamata, Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell, and Lauren Hutton.
Isle of Dogs (PG-13) The best movie about what it is to love a dog. Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated film is set on a future Japanese island where the dogs have been exiled from human society out of fear of disease. Some of the story’s parallels with our own political situation are easy to spot, but Anderson’s sense of humor is often on a smaller scale, such as having Tilda Swinton’s voice emanate from a pug who’s revered for being able to foretell the future. Anderson treats the Japanese setting as an aesthetic, much as he has done in the past and with more sensitivity than he did in The Darjeeling Limited. Bryan Cranston gives perhaps his greatest film performance as a hard-bitten stray dog whose hatred of humans melts away under the attention of a 12-year-old boy (voiced by Koyu Rankin) who comes to the island to look for his own dog. Additional voices by Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Akira Ito, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Greta Gerwig, and Scarlett Johansson.
Life of the Party (PG-13) More watchable than Identity Thief or Tammy, though that isn’t saying much. Melissa McCarthy’s latest comedy vehicle has her playing a mom who’s unceremoniously ditched by her husband and decides to go back to school at the same university where her teenager daughter (Molly Gordon) just started. The star’s charm can’t convince us that this suburban mother’s cultural cluelessness is cool enough to win over her daughter’s classmates, nor can a few stray lines make up for the general lack of inventiveness with which this premise is treated. McCarthy did this whole character much more effectively in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch. It’s only five minutes or so, and it’s free to watch. Also with Gillian Jacobs, Adria Arjona, Sarah Baker, Chris Parnell, Jimmy O. Yang, Julie Bowen, Stephen Root, and Jacki Weaver.
The Miracle Season (PG) The best volleyball movie ever made, which unfortunately doesn’t say very much. This tells the true story about a high-school volleyball team in Iowa that has to defend their state title after their star player (Danika Yarosh) is killed in a road accident. Helen Hunt cuts an authoritative figure as the team’s coach who can only think to push the team harder in the wake of its grief, but the rest of the acting is nondescript and director Sean McNamara (Bratz) can’t give the volleyball sequences the excitement that they deserve. There isn’t a single emotional beat here that feels like it wasn’t taken from a thousand other sports dramas just like it. Also with Erin Moriarty, Tiera Skovbye, Jason Gray-Stanford, Rebecca Staab, Nesta Cooper, and William Hurt.
Nothing to Lose (PG) This biography of Brazilian bishop Edir Macedo is financed entirely by Edir Macedo, and stars Petrônio Gontijo as the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Also with Day Mesquita, Beth Goulart, Dalton Vigh, André Gonçalves, and Enzo Barone.
Overboard (PG-13) Some expert performances by Eugenio Derbez and Anna Faris carry this thing for a while. This gender-flipped remake of the 1978 Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy stars Faris as an overburdened single mom who gets mistreated by a spoiled Mexican playboy (Derbez) and then gets back at him by claiming to be his wife after he falls off his yacht and loses his memory. These actors’ skills are impossible not to admire, but throwing a rich guy into the life of a construction worker doesn’t yield as much comic material as it should, and the plot gets sticky with the machinations of his family back in Mexico. Derbez’ ongoing attempt to make himself a star on our side of the border needs better material. Also with Eva Longoria, John Hannah, Emily Maddison, Cecilia Suárez, Mariana Treviño, Omar Chaparro, Mel Rodriguez, and Swoosie Kurtz.
Pacific Rim: Uprising (PG-13) John Boyega’s star power carries this thing along for a while, until the monsters and robots start smashing each other into buildings again. The sequel takes place 10 years after the events of Guillermo Del Toro’s 2013 movie, as the kaiju manage to infiltrate the rebuilding human world and build even bigger monsters. Boyega’s a petty outlaw who has to straighten himself out and team up with a mechanically inclined girl (Cailee Spaeny) to save the world again. Longtime TV writer Steven S. DeKnight takes up this sequel as his filmmaking debut, and doesn’t bring a fresh outlook on the mix even though he turns Charlie Day’s scientist into a villain. This movie is made for Chinese audiences more than it is for ours. Also with Scott Eastwood, Max Zhang, Adria Arjona, Tian Jing, Burn Gorman, Karan Brar, Wesley Wong, Lily Ji, Ivanna Sakhno, and Rinko Kikuchi.
Paul, Apostle of Christ (PG-13) Because this is bankrolled by Sony, this looks better than other biblical epics. Unfortunately, that’s about all to recommend this Christian film that suffers from many of the same basic filmmaking flaws as its fellows. Jim Caviezel makes his return to the genre, this time portraying St. Luke, sneaking into Rome to visit its persecuted community of Christians and the apostle Paul (James Faulkner), who’s awaiting execution in prison. Once again, we get stilted dialogue, and director Andrew Hyatt can’t make anything interesting out of the lengthy conversations between Luke and Paul in that prison cell. As a Roman administrator, Olivier Martinez speaks barely intelligible English and is forced into an unflattering bowl cut. Also with Joanne Whalley and John Lynch.
A Quiet Place (PG-13) Other films need to be seen on the big screen, but this one needs to be heard on a theater’s speakers to get the full effect. John Krasinski directs, co-writes, and co-stars in this horror film as a parent along with real-life wife Emily Blunt, who live in complete silence with their two children on their corn farm after the world’s population is decimated by aliens with sharp teeth and hypersensitive hearing. Were there more dialogue than just a few lines, the domestic drama here might drown in sentimentality like it did in Krasinski’s insufferable The Hollars. Instead, the lack of speech forces the director to be economical and keep the action flowing. Maybe this thing is a bit literal-minded, and the music could be better, but Krasinski manages some hellacious silent action sequences and turns this into a piece of entertainment that rattles along well. Also with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe.
Rampage (PG-13) Dwayne Johnson reunites with his San Andreas director Brad Peyton, and the result makes San Andreas look like a Christopher Nolan movie. Yet another movie based on a video game, this stars Johnson as an animal trainer who sees biological samples from outer space turn his beloved rescue gorilla into a giant city-destroying beast. Everybody has massive chunks of dialogue to deliver and nobody is a shred of fun, not Johnson, not the CGI gorilla, not the corporate villains (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy), not Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a government agent with a huge belt buckle laying down orders to high-ranking officers in a thick Southern accent. I don’t mind so much if my movies are this stupid, but at the very least I expect them to entertain me. Also with Naomie Harris, Will Yun Lee, Breanne Hill, Marley Shelton, and Joe Manganiello.
Ready Player One (PG-13) Better than the book, I’ll say that. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 1980s geek explosion stars Tye Sheridan as a future teenager who has to team up with some gaming buddies to prevent a corporate behemoth from taking control of the virtual-reality cyberuniverse that most people escape into. This movie practically begs you to wind the DVD back and forth so you can catch all the 1980s references in the background, but for a film that wants to tell us to look up from our screens every once in a while, this makes virtual reality look way cooler than real life. Every fan of The Shining needs to see Spielberg’s extended homage to it in the middle of the film. Also with Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.
Sherlock Gnomes (PG) The sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet finds the titular couple (voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt) moving to London and having to team up with Sherlock Gnomes and Watson (voiced by Johnny Depp and Chiwetel Ejiofor) when their fellow gnomes are kidnapped by a mysterious serial gnome thief. The cast’s energy is undimmed (especially Blunt’s), and the script is still laden with Elton John references, but it’s lacking the cleverness of the 2011 original, and neither the London setting nor the plotline with both Gnomeo and Watson being taken for granted by their respective partners offers up much. Additional voices by Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Mary J. Blige, Matt Lucas, Julie Walters, James Hong, Dexter Fletcher, Jamie Demetriou, Stephen Merchant, and Ozzy Osbourne.
Super Troopers 2 (R) Get as high as possible before you see this 4/20 comedy, because if you don’t, you’ll probably spot just how feeble its jokes about women and Canadians are. The members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske) reunite for this sequel to their 2002 comedy, in which the lunkheaded former Vermont state troopers are rehired when a stretch of Canada suddenly becomes American territory. Cue tired gags about hockey, Mounties, poutine, and French accents. The lizard isn’t broken anymore, it’s just gone limp from age. Also with Brian Cox, Rob Lowe, Jim Gaffigan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Marisa Coughlan, Will Sasso, Paul Walter Hauser, Lynda Carter, Fred Savage, Damon Wayans Jr., and Seann William Scott.
Tomb Raider (PG-13) In sick shape, Alicia Vikander is exactly the right actress to play Lara Croft. The trouble is, they forgot to make a movie around her. The British heiress and adventuress from the video games gets her latest incarnation, searching for her long-lost father (Dominic West) on a deserted island off Japan. Norwegian director Roar Uthaug (The Wave) re-creates some famous sequences from previous iterations of the game, but everything lands with a thud whenever the characters stop to deliver huge chunks of expositional dialogue. As the villain of the piece, Walton Goggins gives a dull performance, which I didn’t think was possible. Proper casting is half the battle won, but this movie only won half the battle. Also with Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, and an uncredited Nick Frost.
Traffik (R) A much worse film about sex trafficking than You Were Never Really Here. Omar Epps and Paula Patton star in this thriller as an educated black couple who get trapped in a vacation home in the California woods by a violent white biker gang that runs sex slaves across freeways. Writer-director Deon Taylor wants this to be a racially charged version of Straw Dogs, but his pea-brained script won’t allow for that. (He went over this same territory better in Meet the Blacks.) The main characters and the bad guys all act like idiots for the convenience of the plot, and the dialogue is downright gruesome. This is sure to be the first of many post-Get Out films about black people besieged by whites, and there are sure to be many better ones. Also with Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Missi Pyle, Dawn Olivieri, Luke Goss, and William Fichtner.
Tully (R) Jason Reitman reunites with Diablo Cody and gets back in form with this comedy starring Charlize Theron as a mother of three suffering from severe postpartum depression until she hires a “night nanny” (Mackenzie Davis) who not only takes impeccable care of her new baby so she can get some rest but also brings some sunshine into her life. Reitman’s direction is enviably sharp in some harrowing early montages of the mother’s lonely, sleep-deprived life before Tully comes along, and Cody pens one of the best defenses of boring suburban domestic life you’ll ever hear with Tully’s late monologue. Theron, weighing about 50 pounds more than usual, is customarily excellent as a mother on the brink, and she’s well-matched by the dazzling Davis. Even if you sniff out the climactic plot twist, its implications are still terrifying enough to make it effective. Also with Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass, Lia Frankland, Asher Miles Fallica, and Elaine Tan.
A Wrinkle in Time (PG) I hate to pronounce this a failure, especially since black women so seldom get to make ambitious science-fiction extravaganzas like this one, but this is a failure. Ava DuVernay adapts Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved children’s novel, with Storm Reid as the 13-year-old heroine who’s guided by three benevolent spirits (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling) to find her father (Chris Pine) millions of light-years away. Once the action leaves Earth, the movie takes off, as DuVernay and her production team create wondrous worlds full of Day-Glo foliage, creepy suburban neighborhoods, and forests that spring up instantaneously. However, the movie’s focus on defeating the darkness in the universe plays as naive in our modern context, and the narrative flow tends to stutter at the simplest of human interactions, despite a few successes on that front. For all its cool special effects, this plays like a secular sermon disguised as a film. Also with Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, André Holland, Michael Peña, and Zach Galifianakis.
Disobedience (R) The first English-language film by Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman) is this adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s novel about two Orthodox Jewish women (Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams) whose love is forbidden by their community. Also with Alessandro Nivola, Allan Corduner, Nicholas Woodeson, Steve Furst, Clara Francis, Cara Horgan, and Bernice Stegers.
The Endless (NR) Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Spring) co-direct and co-star in this horror film as two brothers who return to the apocalyptic religious cult they once left, only to find that the cult’s predictions may be coming true. Also with Callie Hernandez, Emily Montague, Tate Ellington, Lew Temple, David Lawson Jr., and James Jordan.
Let the Sunshine In (NR) Claire Denis’ latest film stars Juliette Binoche as a recently divorced woman getting back into dating. Also with Xavier Beauvois, Josiane Balasko, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Laurent Grévill, Denis Podalydès, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, and Gérard Depardieu.
RBG (PG) Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s documentary profile of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The Rider (R) Cast entirely with non-professional actors, Chloé Zhao’s Western stars Brady Jandreau as a rodeo cowboy who must look for another vocation after suffering a life-threatening head injury. Also with Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Lane Scott, and Cat Clifford.
Terminal (NR) Margot Robbie stars in this thriller as an undercover assassin working in a crime-ridden city. Also with Max Irons, Matthew Lewis, Dexter Fletcher, Katarina Cas, Thomas Turgoose, Mike Myers, and Simon Pegg.