All Is True (PG-13) Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in this film that imagines Shakespeare’s last days of life back in Stratford. Also with Judi Dench, Gerard Horan, Jimmy Yuill, Jack Colgrave Hirst, Kathryn Wilder, Lydia Wilson, and Ian McKellen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Assimilate (NR) John Murlowski’s horror film is about a group of teenagers who make a web series about their small town and find the citizens being killed and replaced by exact copies. Starring Joel Courtney, Katherine McNamara, Cam Gigandet, Calum Worthy, Andi Matichak, Mason McNulty, and Terry Dale Parks. (Opens Friday at América Cinemas Fort Worth)
Brightburn (R) This riff on the Superman story stars Jackson A. Dunn as an alien child who falls to Earth in Kansas and starts to demonstrate superpowers. Also with Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jennifer Holland, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, and Becky Wahlstrom. (Opens Friday)
Carmine Street Guitars (NR) Ron Mann’s documentary profiles a guitar store in Greenwich Village whose customers have gone on to fame. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Isabelle (NR) Adam Brody and Amanda Crew star in this horror film as a young couple preyed on by evil forces when they try to start a family. Also with Zoë Belkin, Sheila McCarthy, Booth Savage, and Dayo Ade. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Non-Fiction (R) The latest film by Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper) is about two couples (Juliette Binoche, Guillaume Canet, Vincent Macaigne, and Christa Théret) who cheat relentlessly on one another as they cope with the changes in the publishing world. Also with Nora Hamzawi, Pascal Greggory, Laurent Poitrenaux, and Nicolas Bouchaud. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Photograph (PG-13) The latest film by Ritesh Batra (The Lunch Box) stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a Mumbai street photographer who convinces a stranger (Sanya Malhotra) to pose as his fiancée for the benefit of his family. Also with Sachin Khedekar, Denzil Smith, Jim Sarbh, and Vijay Raaz. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The Poison Rose (R) John Travolta stars in this film-noir thriller as a private detective trying to solve a murder case. Also with Brendan Fraser, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Claudia Gerini, Ella Bleu Travolta, Robert Patrick, Kat Graham, and Morgan Freeman. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The White Crow (R) Ralph Fiennes directs and co-stars in this historical drama about ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev (Oleg Ivenko) and his defection to the West. Also with Adèle Exarchopoulos, Louis Hofmann, Olivier Rabourdin, Raphaël Personnaz, and Sergei Polunin. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Avengers: Endgame (PG-13) Pays off in spades. Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, our heroes travel through time to try to avert the mass death that occurred when Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped his fingers. The time-travel gambit is cleverly done, filling in backstory and making some of Marvel’s less essential previous films more important in retrospect. The film hits home emotionally, too, when you least expect it, as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) carry more emotional weight here than in other installments. Even if the massive climactic battle sequence is calculated to make you cheer when various superheroes enter the fray, it also brings an uncommon unity to the 21 movies that preceded it. Given what a heavy task this movie had to accomplish, it succeeds better than it had any right to. Also with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Brie Larson, Tessa Thompson, Danai Gurira, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Rene Russo, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Wong, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Winston Duke, Letitia Wright, Cobie Smulders, Linda Cardellini, Ty Simpkins, Ken Jeong, Frank Grillo, Maximiliano Hernández, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Marisa Tomei, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Natalie Portman, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson. Voices by Kerry Condon, Taika Waititi, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper.
Breakthrough (PG) Up until the kid’s near-death experience, this Christian drama isn’t too bad. Chrissy Metz stars as Joyce Smith, the real-life mother whose adopted son (Marcel Ruiz) miraculously recovered after falling through an icy river and being in a coma. The film’s portrayal of small-town life in Missouri is finely executed, and Topher Grace is terrific as a newly arrived pastor from California whose self-consciously cool manner causes friction with some of the locals. The domestic stuff is handled well, too, but once the kid falls into the ice, this degenerates into another well-intentioned hospital drama with Jesus being more powerful than any medicine. Also with Josh Lucas, Sam Trammell, Mike Colter, Rebecca Staab, Ali Skovbye, and Dennis Haysbert.
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.
The Curse of La Llorona (R) Underneath all the ethnic trappings, this is just the same old third-rate horror flick with the same old conjuring tricks. Linda Cardellini stars as a widowed Los Angeles social worker in 1973 who inadvertently causes the deaths of two Mexican boys, and their mother (Patricia Velasquez) calls down the child-snatching Mexican spirit to take revenge by taking the social worker’s two kids. There are other versions of the story of La Llorona that the movie could have used more profitably, and while first-time director Michael Chaves shows some talent, he doesn’t display any more invention or wit than a thousand other hack horror filmmakers. Cardellini gives everything she has to this performance, which is the best reason to watch. Also with Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Tony Amendola, and Sean Patrick Thomas.
De De Pyaar De (NR) This Indian comedy stars Ajay Devgn as a 50-year-old venture capitalist in London who falls for a 26-year-old woman (Rakul Preet Singh) and causes an uproar among his ex-wife (Tabu) and grown children back in India. This leads to predictable farce and moony romanticizing of a May-December romance, and the musical numbers don’t add much. The one thing that does is the main character’s weird relationship with his psychiatrist (Jimmy Sheirgill), who comes to his London apartment, insults him personally, drinks his Scotch, borrows his money, and keeps insisting that his psychology degree isn’t fake. Also with Javed Jaferi, Alok Nath, Bhavin Bhanushali, Inayat Sood, and Madhumalti Kapoor.
Detective Pikachu (PG) If you or your kids are already knee-deep in Pokémon knowledge, this movie is for you. Otherwise, it’s got nothing. Justice Smith stars as an insurance investigator in a metropolis filled with the magical creatures who runs into his father’s Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) and reluctantly teams up with him to solve his father’s disappearance. The CGI effects team does excellent work to create a world where humans interact with the mystical warriors of various stripes. However, the film-noir plot is weak stuff and the filmmakers clearly think that they can evoke the style of those old thrillers by putting characters in trench coats. Smith (Paper Towns) does creditable work to hold up his end of things. He deserves better material than this. Also with Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Rita Ora, Karan Soni, Chris Geere, Diplo, Omar Chaparro, Bill Nighy, and Ken Watanabe.
A Dog’s Journey (PG) At this point, even the jokes about these movies being doggie snuff films have gone stale. The same dog (voiced by Josh Gad) keeps dying a thousand deaths and being reborn as other dogs so he can find his way back to Dennis Quaid. Marg Helgenberger is here to replace the late Peggy Lipton, which is more noteworthy than anything that happens in the plot. Also with Kathryn Prescott, Betty Gilpin, Ian Chen, Henry Lau, and Abby Ryder Fortson.
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.
The Hustle (PG-13) In this trifling, inoffensive remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a posh British con artist (Anne Hathaway) meets a working-class Australian grifter (Rebel Wilson) in a resort town on the French Riviera, and the two go back and forth between being allies and enemies. The two actresses are game, but the various characters they pretend to be aren’t funny (with the possible exception of Hathaway as a German psychiatrist), and first-time director Chris Addison has little sense of how to build a scene. This would have been better had it been a film version of the Broadway musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Hathaway and Wilson singing and dancing. Watch for Dean Norris as a Fort Worth oilman who becomes a mark for the con artists. Also with Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Casper Christensen, and Nicholas Woodeson.
The Intruder (PG-13) There’s a surprising number of home-invasion thrillers about black families, and this one is nowhere near as inventive as Us. Michael Ealy and Meagan Good are a well-to-do San Francisco married couple who buy a house in Napa Valley from a friendly old guy (Dennis Quaid) who starts stalking them obsessively and acts as if the house is still his. Director Deon Taylor (Traffik) hammers home every action sequence without an ounce of cleverness or subtlety, and neither the racial angle nor the villain driving an emotional wedge between the husband and the wife generates anything interesting. The bad guy is a leering psychopath played clumsily by Quaid, and the other characters all act like idiots so that the plot can keep going. Also with Joseph Sikora, Alvina August, and Lili Sepe.
John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum (R) 55-year-old Keanu Reeves moves and fights like he’s 22 in this third installment of the martial-arts series. His hit man is now wounded and on the run after breaking the rules of his society of contract killers, so now his colleagues are all after him for the money and the notoriety. Director Chad Stahelski keeps up the accumulation of detail in this fictional universe full of colorful decor and sleek clothing. Also with Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos, Jason Mantzoukas, Asia Kate Dillon, Saïd Taghmaoui, Randall Duk Kim, Boban Marjanovic, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian, Tobias Segal, and Laurence Fishburne. — Chase Whale
Little (PG-13) Good acting can’t save this woeful comedy that makes very little out of a promising setup. Regina Hall stars as a bullying tech executive who wakes up one morning to find herself magically transformed into her 12-year-old self (Marsai Martin). Issa Rae contributes a keen supporting turn as the office assistant who becomes the only person to find out about the transformation, and Martin is a particularly bright newcomer. Still, there’s no ignoring how scene after scene here misfires. Not only does the comic potential here go untapped, the movie gets its messages about gender roles and women having power in the workplace hopelessly snarled. If you’re going to see one movie that’s a patch on Big, go with Shazam! Also with Justin Hartley, Mikey Day, Rachel Dratch, and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Long Shot (R) For a comedy that aims to address politics and sexism today, this feels awfully beside the point. Charlize Theron stars as a U.S. Secretary of State who runs for president and hires a new speechwriter (Seth Rogen) who used to be her neighbor when she was a girl. The biggest problem here is that the script simply isn’t funny, concentrating too much on the guy’s stumblebum antics in the national spotlight. The movie doesn’t know how to confront Donald Trump and the virulent sexism that his presidency has unleashed, so it presents us with a fictional world without those things. That’s nice for the characters who live in that world, but it doesn’t do much for us. The wonkish heroine catches up on her pop culture by binging the Marvel movies and Game of Thrones. We’d rather be watching those, too. Also with June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Randall Park, Lisa Kudrow, Andy Serkis, and Alexander Skarsgård.
Maharshi (NR) Mahesh Babu stars in this Indian action-thriller Also with Pooja Hegde, Allari Naresh, Meenakshi Dixit, and Prakash Raj.
Poms (PG-13) The seed of something more interesting can be detected at the center of this underwhelming senior comedy. Diane Keaton plays a woman who is secretly dying of brain cancer when she decides to start up a cheerleading squad for the women at her retirement home. Director Zara Hayes (a documentarian making her first fiction film) makes the mistake of telling us that these old ladies are cool instead of just showing them doing cool things, and she does too much to gloss over the edges promised by the plot. Keaton is understatedly fine here, but she and a nice supporting cast can’t prop up this script. Also with Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman, Celia Weston, Phyllis Somerville, Alisha Boe, Charlie Tahan, and Bruce McGill.
Shazam! (PG-13) The decision makers at Warner Bros. and DC Comics finally lighten up, to the relief of all of us. Asher Angel stars as a 14-year-old foster kid who gains powers that allow him to transform into a flying, bulletproof superhero (Zachary Levi) when he says the magic word. The movie has issues with pacing and a dull supervillain (Mark Strong), but horror-film director David F. Sandberg doesn’t screw up the comic material. All the other kids in the foster home have their distinct personalities, and Jack Dylan Grazer is a standout as a handicapped friend and comic-book nerd who helps the hero navigate his new life. The tone of this retro exercise is on a par with Marvel’s enjoyably dizzy exercises. This breath of fresh, lightning-singed air is the first DC movie I want to see again. Also with Djimon Hounsou, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Faithe Herman, John Glover, Meagan Good, Michelle Borth, Ross Butler, D.J. Cotrona, and Adam Brody.
Student of the Year 2 (NR) This Indian comedy stars Tiger Shroff as a college student who’s caught between two love interests while competing for the title of his school’s best student. Also with Tara Sutaria, Ananya Panday, Aditya Seal, and Alia Bhatt.
The Sun Is Also a Star (PG-13) The heroine of this film wears a jacket that reads “Deus Ex Machina,” and unfortunately, that’s about as subtle as this teen romance gets. Yara Shahidi plays a teenage girl in New York who’s about to be deported back to Jamaica when she meets a handsome, athletic Korean boy (Charles Melton) who’s about to go to his college interview for Dartmouth. The bulk of the film takes place over 24 hours as they wander about the city, him maundering about fate and romantic destiny and wanting to give up medical school to write poetry, while she responds with percentages and chaos theory and scientific principles about why things happen. The movie (based on Nicola Yoon’s novel) could have taken all of this if the two leads had chemistry, but such is not the case. Also with Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jake Choi, Camrus Johnson, Anais Lee, Miriam A. Hyman, Keong Sim, Cathy Shim, and John Leguizamo.
Tolkien (PG-13) The J.R.R. Tolkien estate doesn’t want you to see this biopic, and I’m finding no compelling reasons to defy them. Nicholas Hoult stars as the fantasy author in his younger days at Oxford and then serving in the British Army during World War I. Director Dome Karukoski (Tom of Finland) and his writers draw everything in straight lines pointing toward Tolkien’s creation of Middle Earth: his interest in medievalism and ancient languages, his close friendships with other male students at school, his scarring war experiences, his introduction to Wagner’s epic storytelling by his music-loving future wife (Lily Collins). Hoult does fine work and Derek Jacobi spikes the energy levels as Tolkien’s Oxford mentor, but they can’t make this into any more than some dully genteel drama that will only speak to Tolkien completists. Also with Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney, Harry Gilby, Colm Meaney, Craig Roberts, Genevieve O’Reilly, and Laura Donnelly.
UglyDolls (PG) About how you would expect an animated movie based on a line of toys to be. Kelly Clarkson is the voice of a malformed doll who believes that she and the other similar dolls in her magical land can find their way to “The Big World” and a child’s love. The proceedings do pick up in the middle when the dolls reach a place called The Institute of Perfection, a dehumanizing school where dolls are taught how to have no flaws. The place is funny, and so is the villain (voiced by Nick Jonas) running the place, who sings a Justin Bieber-style ode about how no other dolls can hope to be as beautiful or perfect as himself. This, though, can’t make up for the story or for the weak vocal acting by a cast full of singers rather than actors. Additional voices by Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton, Pitbull, Gabriel Iglesias, Wanda Sykes, Charli XCX, Wang Leehom, Bebe Rexha, Emma Roberts, and Lizzo.
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.
Amazing Grace (G) The late Sydney Pollack’s documentary chronicles a January 1972 performance in a Los Angeles church by the late Aretha Franklin.
The Biggest Little Farm (PG) John Chester’s documentary chronicles his own attempts to develop a sustainable farm outside Los Angeles, despite no experience in farming.
Meeting Gorbachev (NR) The latest documentary by Werner Herzog profiles the former Soviet leader.
The Professor (R) Not to be confused with The Professor and the Madman, this drama stars Johnny Depp as a repressed college professor who starts living recklessly after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Also with Zoey Deutch, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, Linda Emond, Justine Warrington, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, and Danny Huston.
The Professor and the Madman (NR) This historical drama stars Mel Gibson as the professor putting together the first-ever Oxford English dictionary, and his correspondence with a mental patient (Sean Penn) who sends him thousands of words. Also with Natalie Dormer, Stephen Dillane, Jeremy Irvine, Jennifer Ehle, Eddie Marsan, Ioan Gruffudd, and Steve Coogan.
A Violent Separation (NR) This thriller stars Brenton Thwaites as a sheriff’s deputy in a small Midwestern town in 1983 who discovers that his brother (Ben Robson) has committed a murder. Also with Alycia Debnam-Carey, Ted Levine, Claire Holt, Francesca Eastwood, and Gerald McRaney.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (NR) Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel, this thriller is about a family whose life in seclusion is threatened by the arrival of a cousin (Sebastian Stan). Also with Alexandra Daddario, Taissa Farmiga, Paula Malcomson, Anna Nugent, and Crispin Glover.