Distorted (R) Christina Ricci stars in this thriller as a bipolar patient who suspects her new landlord (John Cusack) of secretly conducting psychological experiments on the building’s tenants. Also with Brendan Fletcher, VIcellous Shannon, Nicole Anthony, Oliver Rice, and Gigi Jackman. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (PG-13) Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to the series, as their characters reunite to save the island’s dinosaurs from a volcano eruption. Also with Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, Geraldine Chaplin, Toby Jones, BD Wong, and Jeff Goldblum. (Opens Friday)
1945 (NR) This Hungarian drama is atbout two Orthodox Jews (Iván Angelusz and Marcell Nagy) who return home to their village on the last day of World War II to find themselves unwelcomed by both their fellow Hungarians and the town’s Soviet occupiers. Also with Péter Rudolf, Bence Tasnádi, Tamás Szabó Kimmel, Dóra Sztarenki, and Eszter Nagy-Kálózy. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Adrift (PG-13) Shailene Woodley is pretty much the sole reason to see this survival story based on the real-life adventure of Tami Oldham, the 24-year-old American who was shipwrecked in the Pacific in 1983 and survived 41 days of drifting on the open water. Her dynamic physicality as an inexperienced sailor forced to repair her boat by herself and keep herself sane through the hours of solitude is always watchable. Too bad director Baltasar Kormákur (Everest) films the thing in such an unimaginative way and performs some cheap gimmickry with the story’s timeline. Also with Sam Claflin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deadpool 2 (R) Still funny, but not as good as the original. Ryan Reynolds returns as the fourth-wall-breaking Canadian for the sequel to his 2016 hit, this time trying to protect an angry superpowered teen (Julian Dennison) from a time traveler (Josh Brolin) seeking to kill the boy before he grows up to kill his family. This sequel goes overboard on the self-aware asides and pop culture references, and new director David Leitch (or, as the James Bond-parodying opening credits identifies him, “one of the guys who kills the dog in John Wick”) doesn’t do as good a job balancing the action with the comedy, nor does he come up with an action sequence as memorable as the stairway fight from Atomic Blonde. The movie gets a boost from Zazie Beetz as a girl whose superpower is incredible good luck, and the post-credits sequence alone is worth the admission price. Also with Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, T.J. Miller, Karan Soni, Leslie Uggams, Terry Crews, Bill Skarsgård, Rob Delaney, Lewis Tan, and uncredited cameos by Nicholas Hoult, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt.
Gotti (R) The story of the real-life flamboyant Mafia don gets turned into a movie that’s a mash-up of Goodfellas, The Godfather, The Departed, Donnie Brasco, and every other mob movie you can think of. John Travolta overacts as usual in the title role, but that isn’t as serious a problem as the fact that this movie appears to have been edited by a chimpanzee after a few hits of strong weed. Director Kevin Connolly (that’s right, the guy who played Eric on Entourage) keeps taking us up narrative blind alleys, and the voiceover narration by different characters bears no relationship to what is going on on the screen. There’s no energy in this thing, either. Also with Kelly Preston, Spencer Rocco Lofranco, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Stacy Keach.
Hereditary (R) The movie of your nightmares, especially if you have a kid with a nut allergy. Ari Aster’s hella impressive feature film debut stars Toni Collette as a mother whose family is upended by multiple tragedies and buried secrets lurking in her family’s past. Aster borrows M. Night Shyamalan’s trick of having the characters stare at something that’s out of camera range, leaving us to guess what it might be, and plays off the mother’s occupation of constructing miniatures by making the family house look like a dollhouse. There are great contributions from Alex Wolff as the stoner teenage son who can’t face what he’s done, Milly Shapiro as a creepy-ass 12-year-old girl, and Ann Dowd as a cheery neighbor who’s into spiritualism, but no one outdoes Collette’s terrifying turn as a woman driven hellishly forward to investigate her past and possibly on the verge of snapping. Also with Gabriel Byrne and Mallory Bechtel.
Hotel Artemis (R) I love the self-assuredness of this stylized thriller and the way it casts actors effectively to or against type. I don’t love writer-director Drew Pearce’s occasional sub-Tarantino flourishes in the dialogue or the way he loses track of his characters. With gray hair and a limp, Jodie Foster plays a hard-drinking, agoraphobic nurse who runs a medical facility for wounded criminals in near-future Los Angeles. The house rules she sets for the place are tested when the owner (Jeff Goldblum) comes in wounded and looking to kill one of the other patients. Also with Sterling K. Brown, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Brian Tyree Henry, Kenneth Choi, Charlie Day, and Father John Misty.
The Incredibles 2 (PG) Lives up to the original. Brad Bird returns for this Pixar animated film, in which brother-and-sister telecom moguls (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) try to legalize superheroes by making Helen (voiced by Holly Hunter) the face of the movement. The movie doesn’t significantly advance the ideas and characters who we met in the first movie, but Bird works a number of crackerjack action sequences, including Helen having to fight the supervillain blind in a room full of hypnotizing TV monitors and another with Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell) facing off with a zombified superheroine who can throw punches at her from other dimensions. An astonishing amount of this movie works, from Bob (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) trying to adjust to life as a househusband to Violet’s courtship of a boy at school. The thing zips along quite well. Additional voices by Samuel L. Jackson, Huck Milner, Sophia Bush, Brad Bird, Phil LaMarr, Jonathan Banks, Barry Bostwick, Isabella Rossellini, and John Ratzenberger.
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.
Ocean’s 8 (PG-13) If this pleasant but wifty caper comedy had been just a little cleverer, it might have merited the deluxe cast adorning it. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett headline this sequel to Ocean’s 11 as partners in crime who head up an all-female group of thieves to steal a diamond necklace from a bitchy movie star (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Gala. Director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) will never be mistaken for an imaginative filmmaker, but he keeps the thing moving along well enough. Unexpected notes come from the sexual tension between the two lead actresses and a funny turn from Helena Bonham Carter as a down-on-her-luck fashion designer who thinks her acting’s better than it is. A bevy of celebrity cameos (including Anna Wintour and members of her staff) help make the film seem like it’s really at the Met Gala. Also with Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Awkwafina, James Corden, Richard Armitage, Dakota Fanning, Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, Elizabeth Ashley, Mary Louise Wilson, Shaobo Qin, and Elliott Gould.
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.
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (PG) If this is a Sunday sermon disguised as a movie, it should be said that this pope knows how to give a good one. Wim Wenders directs this documentary profile of the pontiff, who gives extensive interviews in his heavily Argentinian-accented Spanish. Francis speaks powerfully on the Christian need to do things about climate change and the refugee crisis as well as connect with adherents of other religions, but the film’s narrow scope limits its power. It would be nice to see his words translated into tangible benefits for the people he ministers to, who need it the most. Still, the man’s eloquence and wisdom are more than enough to get even a nonbeliever to buy into his message of humility and charity.
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.
Race 3 (NR) The third film in this saga stars Anil Kapoor as the patriarch of an Indian crime family. Also with Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah, and Saqib Saleem.
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.
The Seagull (PG-13) This adaptation of Chekhov’s play about an aging stage actress visiting her family stars Annette Bening, Elisabeth Moss, Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, Corey Stoll, and Brian Dennehy.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (PG-13) This just, uh, okay. The prequel bears no signs of its reported production troubles, and stars Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo, escaping his home planet and joining a band of thieves with an eye toward springing his girlfriend (Emilia Clarke) from prison. The movie gives us a glimpse of the Empire’s seedy underbelly (it runs on slave labor), but we know that Han’s going to meet Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and win the Millennium Falcon off Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Ultimately, this is held back by the same constraints as Rogue One, and director Ron Howard doesn’t give us any highlights or surprises. This is never less than watchable and efficient entertainment, but it’s never any more, either. Also with Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Warwick Davis, Ray Park, and Thandie Newton. Voices by Jon Favreau, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Linda Hunt.
Superfly (R) This new hip-hop version of the 1972 blaxploitation classic is better than the Shaft remake. Trevor Jackson stars as Youngblood Priest, an Atlanta cocaine magnate who wants to leave the life while he has his youth and his millions, only to find his attempts resulting in pressure from rival gangs, dirty cops, and his Mexican suppliers. Music-video director Director X is occasionally guilty of glorifying the bling-and-ho’s life of a kingpin, but he keeps things moving along and looking good. Screenwriter Alex Tse introduces a few new twists to the intricate plot and Jackson holds the center well as the soft-spoken, violence-averse drug lord. Disreputable though this is, it’s also quite enjoyable. Also with Jason Mitchell, Michael Kenneth Williams, Esai Morales, Jennifer Morrison, Lex Scott Davis, Andrea Londo, Jacob Ming-Trent, Brian Durkin, Big Bank Black, KR, and Big Boi. (Opens Wednesday)
Tag (R) This unintentionally depressing comedy is based on a Wall Street Journal story about a group of adult male friends who get together for one month a year to play tag. Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress, and Jake Johnson play the members, who are hellbent on tagging their friend (Jeremy Renner) who has never been tagged in 30 years of the game. First-time director Jeff Tomsic wants to be funny while at the same time depicting how the group’s obsession with tagging one guy has turned them into paranoid, stunted headcases, and he can’t strike the proper balance. Renner walks off with the film, turning in his funniest performance ever as a guy who excels at the game because he’s a psychopath. Stay for the closing credit sequence, a soulful black-and-white music video with Renner overemoting as he leads the cast in a rendition of Crash Test Dummies’ “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.” Also with Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Nora Dunn, and Brian Dennehy.
Upgrade (R) Logan Marshall-Green gets a well-deserved showcase in this blackly funny science-fiction film about a quadriplegic in the near future who gets a chip implant in his body so he can walk again, only to find that the chip (voiced by Simon Maiden) is talking to him like an evil version of Siri. The futuristic gadgets are somehow more convincing when they’re filmed in the same crappy visual style that distinguishes so many other Blumhouse horror films, and writer-director Leigh Whannell gets some piquant comedy out of the fact that the police are ineffective at stopping crime even though they have all manner of invasive personal data about ordinary people. Marshall-Green is great, too, as a man gradually losing control of his body to the chip. This isn’t great art, but it will give you a chill that’s spiked with laughter. Also with Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie, and Betty Gabriel.
Always at the Carlyle (PG-13) Matthew Miele’s documentary about a well-established hotel in New York City. Starring George Clooney, Tommy Lee Jones, Jon Hamm, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Sofia Coppola, Regis Philbin, Lenny Kravitz, Paul Shaffer, Vera Wang, Rita Wilson, Alan Cumming, Kelli O’Hara, Anthony Bourdain, Fran Lebowitz, Piers Morgan, Graydon Carter, Naomi Campbell, and the late Elaine Stritch.
First Reformed (R) The latest film by Paul Schrader (American Gigolo) stars Ethan Hawke as a Presbyterian minister who’s led to a spiritual crisis by his son’s death and a parishioner’s suicide. Also with Amanda Seyfried, Philip Ettinger, Michael Gaston, and Cedric the Entertainer.
Hearts Beat Loud (PG-13) Brett Haley (I’ll See You in My Dreams) directs this film about a high-school graduate (Kiersey Clemons) who forms a songwriting duo with her dad (Nick Offerman) before going off to college. Also with Toni Collette, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, and Blythe Danner.
Mountain (PG) Willem Dafoe narrates Jennifer Peedom’s documentary about scaling the world’s highest mountains.
The Yellow Birds (R) Adapted from Kevin Powers’ novel, this drama stars Alden Ehrenreich and Tye Sheridan as two soldiers trying to stay alive in Iraq. Also with Jennifer Aniston, Jack Huston, Jason Patric, Lee Tergesen, Olivia Crocicchia, and Toni Collette.