The Aftermath (R) Keira Knightley stars in this post-World War II drama as a British colonel’s wife who falls for the German (Alexander Skarsgård) whose house she is living in during the reconstruction. Also with Jason Clarke, Martin Compston, Flora Thiemann, Pip Torrens, Alexander Scheer, and Tom Bell. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Ash Is Purest White (NR) The latest film by Jia Zhangke (Mountains May Depart) stars Zhao Tao as a Chinese woman whose love for a mobster results in violent deaths throughout the 21st century. Also with Liao Fan, Diao Yi’nan, Casper Liang, Xu Zheng, and Feng Xiaogang. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Beach Bum (R) Matthew McConaughey stars in Harmony Korine’s film about an aimless hedonistic writer who spends all his time on the Florida beach. Also with Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, Martin Lawrence, Stefanie LaVie Owen, and Jonah Hill. (Opens Friday)
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (NR) Pamela B. Green’s documentary about the director with a claim to be the first woman filmmaker in history. Narrated by Jodie Foster. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Dumbo (PG) Yet another Disney animated film turned into a middling live-action movie, this one is directed by Tim Burton, with Danny DeVito as the circus troupe ringmaster and Colin Farrell as the trick rider who comes home from World War I having lost his left arm and his wife. The big-eared flying elephant is all CGI, and if it’s too cute by half, you can say the same about its hand-drawn counterpart. The bigger issue here is the cardboard villains (especially Michael Keaton as a rich financier) and the lack of any humor to cut the sentimentality. DeVito and Farrell both do fine work here, but they can’t save this. This story was done better when it was called The Shape of Water. Also with Eva Green, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Roshan Seth, Lars Eidinger, Deobia Oparei, and Michael Buffer. (Opens Friday)
The Field Guide to Evil (R) This New Zealand-made anthology horror film features segments directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska, Can Evrenol, Calvin Reeder, Yannis Veslemes, Peter Strickland, Ashim Ahluwalia, and Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
¡He Matado a Mi Marido! (NR) Maria Conchita Alonso stars in this comedy as a woman who accidentally kills her famous unfaithful husband the day he’s supposed to receive an architecture prize. Also with Rafael de la Fuente, Fernanda Romero, Assumpta Serna, Gaby Espino, Eduardo Yáñez, and Alicia Machado. (Opens Friday)
Hotel Mumbai (R) Dev Patel and Armie Hammer star in this dramatization of the 2008 Taj Hotel terrorist attack. Also with Anupam Kher, Nazanin Boniadi, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Alex Pinder, Amandeep Singh, and Jason Isaacs. (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)
Palau the Movie (NR) Gastón Pauls stars in this biography of the Portland-based evangelist. Also with Darren Dowler, Manuel Espinosa, Scott Reeves, Richard Shelton, Alexandra Bard, and Darren Dowler. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Unplanned (R) This Christian film stars Ashley Bratcher as a Planned Parenthood clinic director who comes to see the error of her ways. Also with Brooks Ryan, Robia Scott, Jared Lotz, Emma Elle Roberts, and Robin DeMarco. (Opens Friday)
A Vigilante (R) Olivia Wilde stars in this thriller as a woman who specializes in rescuing battered women from their abusive husbands. Also with Olivia Gilliatt, Cheryse Dyllan, Betsy Aidem, and Morgan Spector. (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gloria Bell (R) Julianne Moore provides yet another example of her greatness in Sebastián Lelio’s remake of his own Chilean film Gloria. Moore plays the title character, a bespectacled insurance agent in L.A. who is still looking for love (or at least sex) in late middle-age. Unlike so many other Hollywood comedies, this one doesn’t treat the woman as an object of pathos or comedy, and it presents the characters living in realistic houses rather than mansions that look torn from the pages of interior design magazines. As always, Lelio displays a high degree of craftsmanship as she takes in this woman’s rather ordinary life, but he and Moore (giving one of her career-best performances) bring home the emotions when Gloria is overtaken by grief when her daughter leaves for Europe and becomes a moving testament to this woman’s unquenched lust for life in all its messy forms. Also with John Turturro, Michael Cera, Caren Pistorius, Sean Astin, Alanna Ubach, Rita Wilson, Holland Taylor, Barbara Sukowa, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Brad Garrett.
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.
Greta (R) Isabelle Huppert goes crazy in this English-language thriller where she plays a polite but lonely Frenchwoman in New York who starts stalking the recent college grad (Chloë Grace Moretz) who returns the bag she lost on a subway train. Irish director Neil Jordan is also listed as a co-writer, but he doesn’t seem to have the instincts for this sort of trashy potboiler. He can put together harrowing sequences like the one in which Greta texts a series of photographs to her victim to make it clear that she’s coming after her best friend (Maika Monroe), but he can’t build up a sense of dread throughout the picture, and Huppert is muted as she so often is when she acts in English. Moretz walks off with the acting honors here, and there’s a devilishly clever twist near the end, but the elements here don’t come together. Also with Colm Feore, Zawe Ashton, and Stephen Rea.
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.
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.
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.
The Kid (R) Vincent D’Onofrio directs and co-stars in this Western about a boy who witnesses the deadly encounter between Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan) and Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke). Also with Chris Pratt, Adam Baldwin, Leila George, Tait Fletcher, Jenny Gabrielle, and Ben Dickey.
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.
A Madea Family Funeral (PG-13) The series ends the way it began: with cheap jokes, amateur theatrics, and Sunday-school sermonizing. Tyler Perry puts on the dress and the granny wig one last time to portray the old lady, as she attends a family reunion that turns into a funeral when a relative (Derek Morgan) suffers a fatal heart attack while having sex with a woman other than his wife. The old lady promptly takes charge of funeral preparations, resulting in a nine-hour service, even though she cuts off everyone’s speeches and kicks them offstage. Buried family secrets come to light, tears are shed, everyone shuttles back and forth between the hospital, the funeral home, and various houses. The film drags somewhat less than Perry’s others, but this series should have died 15 years ago. Also with Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Ciera Payton, KJ Smith, Quin Walters, and Mike Tyson.
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.
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.
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.
Us (R) Jordan Peele’s second horror film isn’t as good as Get Out, but it shows his talent as a director. Lupita Nyong’o stars as a woman who goes with her husband and children on a beach vacation, only for them to be hunted by murderous demons who look like them. The metaphors in this script don’t track so well, but Peele’s rigor and virtuosity are evident in many places, whether the son (Evan Alex) is investigating a scarecrow-like man standing and bleeding on a crowded beach or whether he’s cutting the horror with humor, as when the husband (Winston Duke) tries to sound “ghetto” when he’s trying to intimidate the monsters. Nyong’o gives a great performance here, utterly terrifying as the evil version of her character and excelling as the mother forced to confront her childhood demons. It’s not fair that Peele has to make all the horror films from a black point of view, but it’s well that he’s as good at it as he is. Also with Shahadi Wright Joseph, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Anna Diop, Madison Curry, Tim Heidecker, and Elisabeth Moss.
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.
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.
La Boda de Mi Mejor Amigo (NR) This Spanish-language adaptation of My Best Friend’s Wedding stars Ana Serradilla as the lovelorn journalist who tries to break up a wedding. Also with Carlos Ferro, Natasha Dupeyron, and Miguel Ángel Silvestre.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Transit (NR) The latest film by Christian Petzold (Phoenix) stars Franz Rogowski as a German who impersonates a dead man to flee the Nazi invasion of France. Also with Paula Beer, Godehard Giese, Lilien Batman, Maryam Zaree, Álex Brendemühl, Matthias Brandt, and Sebastian Hülk.