Cruel intentions (R) I have seen Heathers, and you, sir, are no Heathers. Roger Kumble’s 1999 teen film re-opens this weekend as part of its 20th anniversary, and its shocking effect seems as strained as it did back then. Remaking the story of Dangerous Liaisons, Sarah Michelle Gellar portrays a manipulative seducer at an elite high-school who manipulates her male lover and stepbrother (Ryan Phillippe) into seducing a virginal new student (Reese Witherspoon) and then breaking her heart. The central premise isn’t a bad one on its face, but writer-director Kumble doesn’t have near the verbal wit nor the visual imagination to put this conceit across. If you’re looking for a trashy teen flick based on classic literature from that era, try Crime + Punishment in Suburbia instead. Also with Selma Blair, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius, Sean Patrick Thomas, Swoosie Kurtz, Louise Fletcher, and Christine Baranski. (Re-opens Friday)
Dragged Across Concrete (R) Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn star in this thriller by S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) as two suspended crooked cops who look to make up their lost salary by shaking down criminals. Also with Jennifer Carpenter, Michael Jai White, Laurie Holden, Thomas Kretschmann, Fred Melamed, Udo Kier, and Don Johnson. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Hummingbird Project (R) Jesse EIsenberg and Alexander Skarsgård star in this thriller as brothers and high-frequency traders who try to defraud their former boss (Salma Hayek) out of the proceeds of a fiber-optic cable deal. Also with Michael Mando, Johan Heldenbergh, Ayisha Issa, Wyatt Bowen, and Sarah Goldberg. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Kesari (NR) This Indian historical epic stars Akshay Kumar as one of 12 Sikh soldiers charged with repelling 10,000 Pashtun tribesmen at the Battle of Saragarhi. Also with Parineeti Chopra, Edward Sonnenblick, R. Bhakti Klein, Toranj Kayvon, Rimple Dhindsa, and Mark Bennington. (Opens Friday)
The Mustang (R) Matthias Schoenaerts stars in this drama as a convicted felon who is given a chance to participate in a prison rehab program training wild horses. Also with Jason Mitchell, Connie Britton, Gideon Adlon, Josh Stewart, Noel Guglielmi, and Bruce Dern. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
96 Souls (NR) This science-fiction thriller stars Grinnell Morris as a scientist whose lab accident makes him able to hear other people’s thoughts. Also with Sridhar Maruvada, Paul Statman, Toyin Moses, Kevin Rock, J. Michael Silver, and Jewel Greenberg. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Trading Paint (R) John Travolta stars in this auto-racing drama as a retired driver trying to resolve his issues with his son (Toby Sebastian). Also with Michael Madsen, Barry Corbin, Kevin Dunn, Buck Taylor, and Shania Twain. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Us (R) The second horror film by Jordan Peele is about an African-American family who are haunted by their doppelgängers during a beach vacation. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Anna Diop, Kara Hayward, Tim Heidecker, and Elisabeth Moss. (Opens Friday)
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.
Apollo 11 (G) A handy companion piece to First Man. Todd Douglas Miller’s documentary tells the story of the space program that put astronauts on the Moon, using only audio footage of interviews conducted at the time and extensive video footage shot inside NASA, some of it by the astronauts themselves. Miller may not be able to provide the uplift that Damien Chazelle did, but he dives into the technical details and limits his focus to the eight days between the mission’s launch and the safe return of Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins. The film gives you a sense of the sheer scale of the achievement and the number of logistical and engineering problems that had to be solved to put men on the Moon’s surface.
Captain Marvel (PG-13) Brie Larson is everything you’d want in this first Marvel superhero movie with a woman at the center. She portrays Carol Danvers, a U.S. Air Force pilot who loses her memory, becomes caught up in an intergalactic racial war, crash-lands in L.A. in 1995, and tries to recover her past. Where other Marvel movies give us cool, futuristic tech, this one sticks to its time period and gives us superheroes working with dial-up internet and public pay phones. Larson looks capable of taking down a bunch of soldiers by herself and also looks convincingly shaken when she finds out her alien brethren have been lying to her. She also makes a neat comic duo with Samuel L. Jackson as a younger Nick Fury, who is better used here than in any previous Marvel films. Leading into Avengers: Endgame, this introduces a heroine who looks ready to pound Thanos into the ground. Also with Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Djimon Hounsou, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Rune Tente, Algenis Perez Soto, Akira Akbar, Lee Pace, McKenna Grace, and uncredited cameos by Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson.
Captive State (PG-13) This tepid postapocalyptic film is set in Chicago 10 years in the future and an equal distance from an alien takeover of the Earth, in which a teen anti-alien resistance fighter (Ashton Sanders) tries to carry out his activities while he’s being monitored by a police commander (John Goodman) who’s working for the aliens. Director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) shows some talent when it comes to the covert spy ops that the resistance people carry out in a surveillance state, but the material here simply isn’t up to snuff, and Wyatt’s approach devolves into something too low-key. A bit more pyrotechnics from the script and flair from the director wouldn’t have gone amiss in this watchable thriller. Weird to see two actors from Barry Jenkins movies in this science-fiction setting. Also with Vera Farmiga, KiKi Layne, Jonathan Majors, Alan Ruck, D.B. Sweeney, Kevin J. O’Connor, James Ransone, Kevin Dunn, Madeline Brewer, and Machine Gun Kelly.
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.
Five Feet Apart (PG-13) Haley Lu Richardson’s great, anguished performance is the main reason to see this teen weeper. She plays a girl with cystic fibrosis and control issues whose life is spent in and out of hospitals, and when she falls in love with a fellow CF patient (Cole Sprouse), their shared disorder keeps them from touching each other or standing within six feet of each other. The script is full of canned wisdom and cornball plot developments, but the performances of the two leads keep the film grounded. Richardson particularly lends a leavening sense of humor and a firm resolve to the proceedings. She should be starring in bigger and better movies than this one. Also with Claire Forlani, Moises Arias, Cynthia Evans, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Sophia Bernard, and Parminder Nagra.
Furie (NR) Vietnamese martial-arts movies are officially a thing now. Former pop singer Veronica Ngô stars as a former big-city gangster whose attempt to live quietly in the countryside are interrupted when organ traffickers kidnap her young daughter (Cát Vy). The martial-arts discipline being showcased here is the Vietnamese fighting style of Vovinam, and while Arab-French fight choreographer Kefi Abrikh (who has done stunts in numerous big-budget Hollywood films) can’t bring out the form’s distinctive features, he orchestrates some difficult stuff that’s performed with aplomb by the cast here. Director Lê Van Kiêt films the action with the requisite smoothness and clarity. It’s good to have another player in Asian martial-arts cinema. Also with Thanh Nhiên Phan, Tran Thanh Hoa, and Pham Anh Khoa.
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.
Nancy Drew and the HIdden Staircase (PG) Katt Shea has been directing movies since the 1980s, so I can’t fathom why she makes this latest adventure of the girl detective look like something that two 10-year-old girls threw together. Sophia Lillis takes over the role, regrettably showing little of the vulnerability and dexterity that she displayed in It, as she moves to a small Illinois town and tries to make friends and figure out what’s inside the haunted house next door. The characters use smartphones and social media, and yet all of this feels like it was trapped in amber from the 1960s as Nancy’s case is regrettably denatured and her relationships with her new acquaintances don’t make any sense. This makes the programming on the Disney Channel look like hard-boiled fiction. Also with Sam Trammell, Andrea Anders, Laura Wiggins, Jesse C. Boyd, Mackenzie Graham, Zoe Renee, and Linda Lavin.
No Manches Frida 2 (NR) The 2016 Mexican comedy hit spawns a formulaic sequel, as Omar Chaparro’s ex-convict-turned-teacher tries to make things up with his fellow-teacher fiancée (Martha Higareda) after he shows up to their wedding wasted and vomits all over the priest. At the same time, he takes his class beach volleyball team to a regional competition by the sea to win a dance contest, because somehow that’ll save their school back in Mexico City. You can see all the jokes coming, and whatever novelty the original movie had is lost in this high-school movie that imitates all its American forebears to dreary effect. Also with Aarón Diaz, Mario Morán, Regina Pavón, Memo Dorantes, Karen Furlong, and Andrea Noli.
Wonder Park (PG) Yet another animated kids’ movie that assumes that the kids in the audience are brain-damaged. A young girl (voiced by Brianna Denski) abandons the amusement park she’s been designing after her mother (voiced by Jennifer Garner) becomes gravely ill, only to stumble into a magical forest where her amusement park is real and all the talking animals who populate it have come to life. The writers are all from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, and they conspicuously fail to create any interesting character developments or generate a sense of wonder in the setting of an amusement park where the laws of physics only spottily apply. The script isn’t funny and the atmosphere is oppressively cheerful. Additional voices by Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Norbert Leo Butz, and Matthew Broderick.