Apollo 11 (G) Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary chronicles the first space mission to land people on the Moon. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Beers of Joy (NR) David Swift and Scott Owen’s documentary profiles four individuals in the world of craft brewing. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Birds of Passage (NR) This Colombian crime drama stars José Acosta as the patriarch of an indigenous family that is caught up in the drug boom of the 1980s. Also with Carmiña Martínez, Natalia Reyes, Jhon Narváez, Greider Meza, and José Vicente. (Opens Friday at América Cinemas Fort Worth)
Everybody Knows (R) This film from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) stars Penélope Cruz as a Spanish expat who revisits her homeland from Argentina, only for her teenage daughter (Carla Campra) to be kidnapped during a wedding party. Also with Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín, Eduard Fernández, Bárbara Lennie, Inma Cuesta, Ramón Barea, and Elvira Mínguez. (Opens Friday at America Cinemas Fort Worth)
Furie (NR) This Vietnamese thriller stars Veronica Ngô as a former gangster who must confront her violent past while rescuing her kidnapped daughter. Also with Thanh Nhiên Phan, Hoa Tran, and Cát Vy. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Heiresses (NR) This Paraguayan drama stars Ana Brun and Margarita Irun as lifelong best friends who cope differently when their family wealth starts to dry up. Also with Ana Ivanova, Nilda Gonzalez, María Martins, and Alicia Guerra. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Hole in the Ground (R) This Irish horror film stars Seána Kerslake as a mother who discovers disturbing behavior changes in her son (James Quinn Markey) when she moves to the countryside. Also with Simone Kirby, Steve Wall, Eoin Macken, Sarah Hanly, Kati Outinen, and James Cosmo. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Luka Chuppi (NR) This comedy stars Kartik Aaryan as an Indian TV reporter who falls for an opinionated woman (Kriti Sanon). Also with Vinay Pathak, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, and Vishwanath Chatterjee. (Opens Friday)
A Madea Family Funeral (PG-13) Tyler Perry stars in what he says will be his last performance as the old lady. Also with Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Ciera Payton, KJ Smith, Quin Walters, and Mike Tyson. (Opens Friday)
Saint Judy (PG-13) Michelle Monaghan stars in this biography of immigration attorney Judy Wood and her efforts to save women’s lives by changing immigration law. Also with Leem Lubany, Common, Alfred Molina, Mykelti Williamson, Peter Krause, Aimee Garcia, Ben Schnetzer, Kevin Chapman, Gil Birmingham, and Alfre Woodard. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Sonchiriya (NR) This Indian crime thriller stars Sushant Singh Rajput as an outlaw belonging to a gang in the countryside who starts to have religious doubts over his path in life. Also with Ranvir Shorey, Ashutosh Rana, Mahesh Bhalraj, Harish Khanna, and Manoj Bajpayee. (Opens Friday)
Stray (NR) This supernatural thriller stars Karen Fukuhara as an orphaned teen who teams with a detective (Christine Woods) to investigate her mother’s murder. Also with Miyavi, Ross Partridge, Takayo Fischer, and Saki Miata. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
To Dust (R) This drama stars Géza Röhrig as an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who befriends a biology professor (Matthew Broderick) after his wife’s death. Also with Sammy Volt, Marceline Hugot, Leo Heller, and Isabelle Phillips. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
We Die Young (R) Elijah Rodriguez stars in this drama as a 14-year-old gangster who tries to steer his little brother into a better life. Also with Jean Claude Van Damme, Kerry Bennett, David Castaneda, and Uriel Emil. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Alita: Battle Angel (PG-13) It was inevitable that Hollywood would eventually do right by an anime adaptation, and Robert Rodriguez takes the prize. Adapted from a series of graphic novels from the 1980s, this live-action-plus-CGI film stars Rosa Salazar as a cyborg revived in the middle of the 26th century, when Earth is the dystopian home of a permanent underclass and the only way to move up to the utopian city in the sky is to win a sport combining roller derby and the Hunger Games. Working from a script by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis, Rodriguez makes this future world into a sun-streaked, ruined world unlike so many previous science-fiction movies that have ripped off Blade Runner. The 3D version isn’t worth the upcharge, but it’s still worth seeing the work of a flawed visionary who succeeds in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in cinema. Also with Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Eiza Gonzalez, Jeff Fahey, Idara Victor, Casper Van Dien, Lana Condor, Rick Yune, and an uncredited Michelle Rodriguez and Edward Norton.
Alone/Together (NR) This Filipino romantic comedy stars Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil as former college sweethearts who meet again and rekindle their romance at an awards ceremony. Also with Sylvia Sanchez, Nonie Buencamino, Luis Alandy, Mary Joy Apostol, Xia Vigor, and Jasmine Curtis.
Aquaman (PG-13) James Wan does great with the action and bad with everything else in this comic-book adaptation. Flashing a nice deadpan sense of humor, Jason Momoa plays the half-human, water-breathing superhero who visits Atlantis, the undersea kingdom of his ancestors, to prevent them from waging war against the unsuspecting land dwellers who have polluted the oceans. The director manages two nice one-take shots, one of Atlantis’ queen (Nicole Kidman) fighting off a strike team single-handedly and the other of Aquaman and an Atlantean princess (Amber Heard) being chased over the rooftops of Sicily. However, Wan also mishandles all the emotional beats in this story, and every time two characters stop to have a quiet conversation, they’re interrupted by an explosion. Wonder and beauty are beyond Wan’s capabilities. He’s been miscast as a horror director, and he should stick to action. Also with Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Michael Beach, Randall Park, Graham McTavish, and Dolph Lundgren. Voices by Djimon Hounsou, John Rhys-Davies, and Julie Andrews.
Arctic (PG-13) This nearly dialogue-free thriller stars Mads Mikkelsen as a scientist trying to keep both himself and his gravely injured pilot (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) alive after their plane crashes in the polar north. Joe Penna makes his feature filmmaking debut and shows some talent here, yet the whole exercise comes across as dour and more than a bit grim. Some of the tedium is baked into the setup here, as Penna concentrates on the minute details of how this man stays alive as he leaves the shelter of the downed plane to try to reach a place where he can be rescued. While this thing is watchable, the whole “lone survivor” genre of adventure filmmaking has been done with more flair and personality.
Bohemian Rhapsody (PG-13) That PG-13 rating is the first sign that something is wrong with this Queen biopic. Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury, who rebels against his Parsi family by embracing rock and roll. The story has all the continuity of a playlist on shuffle, as success seems to come out of nowhere for the band and hit follows hit with little insight into the odd creative process that the band went through. The project appeals to none of the strengths of X-Men director Bryan Singer. This bad movie is almost redeemed by a blazing performance by Malek, who plays the piano and struts around on the stage with Mercury’s particular swagger that’s manly and queeny at the same time. This actor deserves to headline better movies than this one. Also with Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Joseph Mazzello, Ben Hardy, Allen Leech, Aidan Gillen, Aaron McCusker, Tom Hollander, and Mike Myers.
Cold Pursuit (R) This English-language remake of the Norwegian thriller In Order of Disappearance is supposed to be funny, but someone forgot to tell Liam Neeson. He portrays a Colorado snowplow driver who investigates the death of his teenage son (Micheál Richardson) and starts killing his way up the food chain until he reaches the yuppie drug kingpin (Tom Bateman) responsible. Each character death is rung up like it’s on a cash register and director Hans Petter Molland inserts some piquant little jokes for the new setting such as a rival Native American drug cartel whose ranks include an actual Indian. Yet Molland strikes the wrong tone here (as he didn’t with the original film) and Neeson’s presence only weighs down what should be fleet and darkly amusing. Also with Emmy Rossum, Michael Eklund, Bradley Stryker, Wesley MacInnes, Michael Adamthwaite, Elizabeth Thai, David O’Hara, Tom Jackson, William Forsythe, and Laura Dern.
A Dog’s Way Home (PG) The sequel to A Dog’s Purpose tells the story of a dog (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) who travels 400 miles to find her owner. Also with Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Barry Watson, Wes Studi, and Edward James Olmos.
Escape Room (PG-13) The production design upstages everything else in this stupidly watchable thriller that’s a mash-up of Cube, Saw, and The Da Vinci Code. Taylor Russell is one of seven seemingly random people who gather in a Chicago building to escape a deadly series of rooms for a $10,000 prize and, more importantly, the chance to keep breathing. It is fun watching the survivors enter a library that turns into a giant trash compactor or an upside-down bar with all the furniture on the ceiling. Alas, director Adam Robitel (who also plays one of the shorter-lived contestants) can’t keep the thing turning fast enough. Also with Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Logan Miller, Nik Dodani, Jay Ellis, and Yorick van Wageningen.
Extreme Job (NR) If you like fried chicken, this is the cop thriller for you. This Korean comedy stars Ryu Seung-ryong as the leader of an incredibly unlucky unit of narcotics detectives who rent out a failing fried chicken joint in Seoul to spy on a Chinese meth importer (Shin Ha-kyun) whose headquarters are across the street. Unluckily and luckily, the cop assigned to do the cooking puts rib sauce on the chicken instead of the traditional sticky sweet sauce, and it makes the restaurant so popular that it jeopardizes the police operation. Besides lots of mouth-watering shots of fried chicken, this movie also has some pretty funny business with the bungling cops in the early going before giving way to a more action-oriented finale. Also with Lee Ha-nee, Jin Seon-kyu, Lee Dong-hwi, Gong Myung, Kim Eui-sung, Song Young-kyu, Kim Ji-young, and Oh Jung-se.
The Favourite (R) A delectable English trifle with enough liquor to knock you down. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne of England as a paranoid, gout-ridden, vain, emotionally unstable monarch having a lesbian affair with a duchess (Rachel Weisz) before a fallen aristocrat’s daughter (Emma Stone) starts dangling herself in front of her. Many of the crazy historical details here are true, but wacky Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos throws in his own absurdist touches anyway, like the court dance with some defiantly 20th-century moves. The actors here make delicious stuff out of the catty script — Stone is revelatory as a conniving character, and Colman gives a performance that’s as close as you’ll see to a woman playing King Lear. This cold-eyed study of royalpolitik at a time when women wield unusual power also doubles as a lesbian sex farce full of sinister slapstick. Also with Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, and Mark Gatiss.
Fighting With My Family (PG-13) Given that this is basically a movie-length recruiting commercial for the WWE, it’s actually pretty good. Based on the story of real-life wrestler Paige, this stars Florence Pugh (from TV’s The LIttle Drummer Girl) as the daughter of a wrestling family in Norwich, England who snags a coveted spot in the organization’s training camp in Orlando and tries to work her way up to the big time. First-time writer-director Stephen Merchant (who has a small role in the film as well) makes an assured debut behind the camera, giving time to the mechanics of choreographing wrestling bouts and to Paige’s brother (Jack Lowden) who struggles with his disappointment after he’s left behind in Norwich. The comedy and the performances make this all go down smoothly. Also with Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Kim Matula, Ellie Gonsalves, Aqueela Zoll, Thea Trinidad, Julia Davis, and Dwayne Johnson.
Glass (PG-13) Not as bad as you’ve heard, though a long way from being good. The final installment of M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy brings together the protagonists of Unbreakable and Split in a psychiatric ward, where Elijah Price a.k.a. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) engineers a public showdown between David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and The Beast (James McAvoy). The director puts in two plot revelations too many and too often stops to dissect the tropes of comic-book storytelling when he should be moving the plot along — it’s as if he wrote the script after a night of trawling Tvtropes.com. Still, his immense visual skills are everywhere in evidence, he stages the superhero fights as well as anyone, and he cleverly casts Sarah Paulson as a compassionate psychotherapist with a hidden agenda. Also with Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, and Charlayne Woodard.
Green Book (PG-13) Peter Farrelly takes an inspiring real-life story and turns it into a white version of Driving Miss Daisy. I didn’t need that in my life. Viggo Mortensen plays an Italian-American nightclub bouncer who takes a job driving an African-American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour of the Deep South in 1962. And they both learn something from each other. There are some honest observations about the differences between racial experiences, but these are drowned out amid the canned morality and simplistic contrasts between the characters. Mortensen manages some funny moments but his performance is like the rest of the movie, about as authentic as a supermarket jar of spaghetti sauce. Also with Linda Cardellini, Don Stark, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jenna Laurenzo, Dimiter Marinov, Mike Hatton, and Iqbal Theba.
Gully Boy (NR) Bollywood goes hip-hop with this musical based on the lives of rappers Naezy and Divine. Ranveer Singh plays a dorky Muslim engineering student from the Mumbai ghetto who finds an outlet for his anger and frustration by spitting Hindi rhymes about the class, caste, and religious prejudice that he encounters on the streets, in his home, and at his job chauffeuring rich people around. None of the plot developments here will surprise anybody who has seen 8 Mile, but there is something to seeing those old plot developments applied to a specific, whole other setting. Singh performs cover versions of the original songs by the real-life rappers, and they’re catchy enough to make you want to hear more Indian rap. Also with Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Kalki Koechlin, Amruta Subhash, Ikhlaque Khan, Sheeba Chaddha, Vijay Maurya, and Vijay Raaz.
Happy Death Day 2U (PG-13) The sequel to the 2017 meta-slasher flick keeps staleness from setting in by blowing up its original setup. Jessica Rothe returns as the college student who is knocked into what initially appears to be her old time loop but in fact is a different one in a parallel universe where a different masked killer is stalking the campus. Writer-director Christopher Landon pushes the thing further into the realm of comedy, as our plucky heroine repeatedly kills herself Phil Connors-style to reset the loop while turning herself into a quantum physics geek. The hijinks reach new levels of absurdity, and Rothe turns her eminently killable protagonist into a female version of Deadpool, except she works better at a PG-13 rating. Also with Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, and Steve Zissis.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (PG) I was never a fan of this series, but I must say its final installment winds things up quite gracefully. Jay Baruchel plays the young chief of his Viking tribe whose island has become overcrowded with dragons, so when an evil overlord (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) targets them, he sets off for a hidden dragon utopia that has been rumored to exist off the edge of the world. The action sequences flow smoother than in either of the previous two installments. The jokes still aren’t funny, but the glimpse of the underworld where the dragons live is appropriately wondrous, and the way the humans say goodbye to their dragon pets is beautifully managed. Additional voices by America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Kit Harington, and Gerard Butler.
The Iron Orchard (R) This film is based on a 1960s novel by Edmund Van Zandt under the pen name of “Tom Pendleton.” The book gained a cult following among the very oil people it aimed to satirize, but the movie seems unlikely to, despite flaunting its Texas credentials. Lane Garrison plays a wildcatter in West Texas who strikes it rich until he can live it up in Fort Worth (which is portrayed by Austin). It is undeniably fascinating to see the film re-create our city as it existed in the 1930s, but the script is full of dull moralizing, and too much of the cast isn’t up to the job of livening it up. Midland native director Ty Roberts is so busy trying to be historically accurate that he forgets to conjure the heady atmosphere of an oil boom. There Will Be Blood, this isn’t. Also with Ali Cobrin, Austin Nichols, Hassie Harrison, Lew Temple, Allan McLeod, Temple Baker, and Ned Van Zandt.
Isn’t It Romantic (PG-13) This is like the romantic-comedy version of Scream: not as subversive as it thinks it is, but still enjoyable. Rebel Wilson stars as a romcom-hating single Australian expat in New York who hits her head and is magically transported inside such a movie, where musical numbers spontaneously break out, her apartment is suddenly much bigger and more stylishly decorated, and all manner of handsome men look her in the eye when they talk to her. Maybe this movie’s message is every bit as canned as the romantic comedies it’s supposedly lampooning, but director Todd Strauss-Schulson keeps things moving and the star’s charisma keeps this watchable. It helps that Liam Hemsworth has some of his brother’s flair for physical comedy. Also with Adam Devine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin, Brandon Scott Jones, and Jennifer Saunders.
The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story (PG-13) This Christian film stars Sharman Joshi as an Indian journalist investigating the real-life Australian evangelist (Stephen Baldwin) for possible charlatanism. Also with Shari Rigby, Manoj Mishra, Prakash Belawadi, Aditi Chengappa, and Aneesh Daniel.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (PG) The sequel has everything the original had except for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s frenetic energy. That quality makes a difference that’s not fatal but noticeable. When his friends are kidnapped by mysterious alien invaders, Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) has to plumb his own resources to rescue them. The jokes are still funny, the new characters are integrated well, the framing story is ingenious and possibly even better than the original’s. It’s new director Mike Mitchell who can’t keep up the pace set by the first movie. The film has enough out-loud laughs to recommend it; I just wish it had a little more chaos. The mesmerizingly terrible “Catchy Song” is a worthy heir to “Everything Is Awesome.” Additional voices by Elizabeth Banks, Tiffany Haddish, Will Arnett, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Jimmy O. Yang, Will Forte, Jorma Taccone, Ike Barinholtz, Cobie Smulders, Jason Momoa, Will Ferrell, and Bruce Willis.
Miss Bala (R) Quite dull. Gina Rodriguez stars in this thriller as a Hollywood makeup artist who goes to Tijuana to visit her childhood friend (Cristina Rodlo), only for both of them to be kidnapped by the local drug cartel and forced to participate in mob hits. This is a remake of a 2011 Mexican film by the same name which was much more exciting. Having the heroine caught between the cartel and the DEA should be a source of tension, but Catherine Hardwicke directs this so lugubriously that she leeches all the fun out of this. Rodriguez deserves a better break into action-thrillers than this. Also with Anthony Mackie, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Aislinn Derbez, Thomas Dekker, and Matt Lauria.
The Mule (R) People are talking this up as some sort of career resurgence for Clint Eastwood, but don’t believe the hype. The director stars in his own movie based on the true story of a 90-year-old man who went to work as a drug mule for the Sinaloa drug cartel, ferrying shipments of drugs across America and taking advantage of the fact that cops weren’t looking for an old white man. Eastwood does manage some nice self-critique by casting himself as that old dude in a world where Mexican drug lords and younger guys who are more technologically savvy have all the power, but he still gives us clunky staging and bad dialogue and the other faults that have plagued the worse movies he has made over the last decade. You’re better off seeing The Old Man & the Gun. Also with Bradley Cooper, Taissa Farmiga, Michael Peña, Alison Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr., Andy Garcia, Laurence Fishburne, and Dianne Wiest.
The Prodigy (R) Starts out promisingly, peters out disappointingly. This horror film stars Taylor Schilling as a mother who finds that her sweet 8-year-old genius son (Jackson Robert Scott) is in danger of being possessed by the spirit of a Hungarian serial killer who likes chopping off women’s hands. Through the first half of this thing, director Nicholas McCarthy effectively builds up creepy detail, while Scott is genuinely terrifying as a boy whose nature is at war with the spirit, and Schilling is quite effective as the distressed mother. The contraption tips over into self-parody in the second half, as the horrors become more over-the-top and the spirit becomes a bore to be around. Also with Brittany Allen, Colm Feore, Peter Mooney, Olunike Adeliyi, and Paula Boudreau.
Run the Race (PG) Tanner Stine and Evan Hofer star in this family drama as teenage brothers coming of age in a small Southern town. Also with Mykelti Williamson, Frances Fisher, Kristoffer Polaha, Kelsey Reinhardt, Eddie George, and Mario Van Peebles.
A Star Is Born (R) There’s stuff in this remake that the previous versions of this story don’t have. Bradley Cooper stars in this show-business tragedy as a country-rock star on his way down who falls in love with and marries a pop star (Lady Gaga) on her way up. Making his filmmaking debut, Cooper directs this with more competence than flair, but he’s quite good with atmosphere (whether he’s in a cramped drag bar or on a dusty ranch in Arizona) and he sings well enough to be credible as a music star who fills up arenas. The movie misses a chance to comment on how stardom is different now than in previous years, but Lady Gaga turns out to be a trump card. Casting a first-time movie actor as a character much like herself is no guarantee of a good performance, but she delivers both on the humor and the tragedy of the role here, as well as the character’s musical chops. Also with Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Ron Rifkin, Eddie Griffin, and Dave Chappelle.
They Shall Not Grow Old (R) Peter Jackson’s documentary about World War I features black-and-white film footage filled in with computerized color and overdubbed sound, which draws your attention to some details you might miss, like the rueful expression on a serviceman playing an empty bottle as a musical instrument or a wounded soldier trying to shoo away a pigeon that’s perching on him. Still, the real value is the voiceover narration taken from interviews with veterans conducted in the 1960s and ’70s, which give unvarnished accounts of the grossness of war: lice-infested clothes, freezing water in the trenches that caused gangrene, mud made more viscous by corpses both human and animal. The limited scope of the footage available to Jackson means he can’t capture the worst aspects that the soldiers faced, but the film does succeed on the terms the director lays out in his preface, as a film “by a non-historian for non-historians.”
Total Dhamaal (NR) In this rip-off of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, a bunch of Indians from different walks of life hear about buried treasure and race across the country to find it. Cue badly CGI-ed animals, vehicles falling off cliffs and being swept away by rivers, actors screaming in panic, GPS systems cursing at people, and other hijinks that looked old even 50 years ago. This bulky vehicle is laden with stars, but there are much better Indian films playing right now. Starring Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Javed Jaffrey, Riteish Deshmukh, Esha Gupta, Sanjay Mishra, and Boman Irani.
The Upside (PG-13) A movie made for backhanded compliments: This dramedy isn’t that bad. It’s not as pandering as Intouchables, the French comedy that it’s a remake of. It’s better than Green Book. Kevin Hart plays an unqualified ex-convict who’s hired to be a full-time caregiver to a wealthy quadriplegic (Bryan Cranston). Hart is deferential — probably too much so — to the high-powered cast around him, including Nicole Kidman as the boss’ Harvard-educated business manager. The film occasionally flirts with commenting meaningfully on the class and race differences in play, but too often it’s content to coast on its charm and likability. Also with Golshifteh Farahani, Tate Donovan, Aja Naomi King, and Julianna Margulies.
Vice (R) I like Adam McKay better when he’s making comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers. Not that this scabrous biography of Dick Cheney doesn’t have some laugh-out-loud funny moments, but McKay too often tips over into angry polemic and chastising his audience for watching reality TV while the world burns. Christian Bale gives a fairly miraculous performance as Cheney, disappearing underneath a ton of extra weight (both gained and prosthetic) and capturing both the man’s droning speaking voice and his insatiable lust for power, but it’s too bad that the movie gives us scene after scene of this heartless bastard shanking people around him, including members of his own family. The casting is remarkable; Steve Carell is so well-cast as Donald Rumsfeld that you just want to cry. Also with Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Jesse Plemons, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, Alison Pill, Bill Camp, LisaGay Hamilton, Don McManus, Lily Rabe, Shea Whigham, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Tyler Perry.
The Wandering Earth (NR) Chinese New Year is when the Chinese film industry puts out their giant blockbusters. This one is humongous, though it’s a pity the storytelling didn’t keep up with the special-effects. The story is set in a near-future Earth, where the scientists respond to news that the sun is about to go supernova by building 11,000 thrusters all over the planet’s surface and moving it to a nearby solar system on a journey that will take 3,000 years. As the citizens of one underground Chinese city work to keep the planet from falling into Jupiter, we have all the same sentimental interludes and heroic sacrifices that we’ve seen in a thousand similar Hollywood disaster movies. Starring Qu Jingjing, Li Guangjie, Qu Chuxiao, Zhao Jinmai, Li Hongchen, and Ng Man-Tat.
What Men Want (R) This remake of the 2000 Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want is better than the original, and better than I expected. Taraji P. Henson plays a sports agent at a sexist workplace who magically acquires the ability to hear men’s thoughts. She uses her newfound gift to try to romance a handsome bartender (Aldis Hodge) and sign an NBA prospect with a crazy Lavar Ball-like dad (Tracy Morgan). Director Adam Shankman can’t keep up the energy in the face of the familiar romantic comedy plot resolutions, but there’s some assured slapstick playing from Henson and a supporting cast full of current and former athletes. Most delightful and unexpected is a great comic turn by Erykah Badu as a kooky psychic with Uno cards in her tarot deck. Also with Josh Brener, Tamala Jones, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Phoebe Robinson, Max Greenfield, Pete Davidson, Jason Jones, Kellan Lutz, Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, Brian Bosworth, and Richard Roundtree.
The Changeover (NR) Based on Margaret Mahy’s novel, this supernatural thriller from New Zealand stars Erana James as a teenager who discovers a malign spirit haunting her new house outside Christchurch. Also with Timothy Spall, Melanie Lynskey, Lucy Lawless, Nicholas Galitzine, Kate Harcourt, and Thomasin McKenzie.
Never Look Away (R) Nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, this epic by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) tracks the progress of a young German artist (Tom Schilling) who comes of age during World War II and East Germany’s Communist aftermath. Also with Paula Beer, Sebastian Koch, Saskia Rosendahl, Oliver Masucci, Ina Weisse, and Lars Eidinger.
Roma (R) The latest film by Alfonso Cuarón chronicles one year in the life of a middle-class Mexican family in the 1970s. Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, and Nancy García García.