Breaker (NR) Chantz Marcus stars in this drama as a haunted war veteran who forms a friendship with an older neighbor (Peter O’Brien). Also with Alice Barrett, Richard Brevard, Eddie Baacus, Jonathan Galetto, and William Bloomfield. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Cold Blood (NR) Jean Reno stars in this thriller as a hit man who must risk his life to help an injured woman (Sarah Lind) who shows up at his secluded cabin in the winter. Also with Joe Anderson, François Guétary, Samantha Bond, and David Gyasi. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
My Days of Mercy (R) This lesbian romance stars Ellen Page as an anti-capital punishment activist who falls in love with a woman (Kate Mara) whose family was murdered by a death-row inmate. Also with Elias Koteas, Brian Geraghty, Amy Seimetz, Beau Knapp, and Tonya Pinkins. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Wild Rose (R) Jessie Buckley (Beast) stars in this drama as a Glasgow single mother and ex-convict who dreams of moving to Nashville to become a country music star. Also with Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo, James Harkness, Craig Parkinson, and Kacey Musgraves. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Aladdin (PG) At last, a Hollywood movie where the Middle Eastern characters are the good guys. This live-action remake of the 1992 animated Disney musical fixes a good number (though not all) of the racial and class issues from the original. The decor helps differentiate the film from Disney’s other live-action remakes and forces Guy Ritchie out of his comfort zone to good effect. It isn’t all good, though, because Ritchie is rarely comfortable staging musical numbers and can’t match the wit of the animation in the original movie. (The new songs don’t add much, either.) However, the movie gives good roles to a cast full of Middle Eastern actors (Mena Massoud as Aladdin sings well and has the dance moves), and Will Smith avoids embarrassing himself as the genie and makes the part his own. We’ll take that much. Also with Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Numan Acar, and Billy Magnussen.
Anna (R) The work of a filmmaker stuck in the 1980s. This might seem to help for a movie largely set in 1990, but it doesn’t. Sasha Luss plays a Russian fashion model who is first recruited by the KGB to infiltrate the West, then by the CIA to become a double agent. Director Luc Besson jumps around in time to create the illusion that some narrative jiu-jitsu is being executed on us, but it’s all just window dressing. The latest in a long line of tall women in short skirts who headline Besson’s action-thrillers, Luss is pretty much a zero in the personality department. Some of the action sequences are done all right, but Besson is a filmmaker badly in need of a restart. Also with Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Lera Abova, Alexander Petrov, Adrian Can, and Cillian Murphy.
Annabelle Comes Home (R) At this point, it’s basically a draw between these movies and the Goosebumps movies as to which is scarier. The Warrens (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) are out of town for most of the film, and their young daughter (McKenna Grace) carries most of the acting load as she and her teenage babysitters (Madison Iseman and Katie Sarife) try to cope on their own when they accidentally unleash the evil doll being kept in the basement. This film winds up aiming for a supernatural version of Adventures in Babysitting, and some of the jokes early on do indeed work, but eventually the need to conjure all the evil spirits from the previous movies drowns out the wit. Grace is an agreeable presence at the center. Also with Samara Lee, Michael Cimino, and Steve Coulter.
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.
Bharat (NR) Salman Khan stars in this Indian epic as an old man whose life spans the partition of India and Pakistan and the country’s history of religious and political violence as he enjoys careers as a motorcycle daredevil, a ship’s mechanic, and an oil wildcatter from Malta to the Arabian Peninsula, all in the name of keeping his family in Mumbai together. The film is a remake of the Korean drama An Ode to My Father, but the acting here doesn’t rise to the level of the earlier film’s, and there’s a fatally misbegotten sequence when the hero disarms a group of Somali pirates by showing them how to do Amitabh Bachchan’s dance moves. Better Indian epics will come by. Also with Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani, Varun Dhawan, Jackie Shroff, Nora Fatehi, Shashank Arora, and Tabu.
Booksmart (R) Olivia Wilde proves a major comic talent in her directing debut, an instant classic of a teen comedy. A high-school valedictorian (Beanie Feldstein) and her openly gay best friend (Kaitlyn Dever) grow tired of being wallflowers and decide to cram four years’ worth of partying into the night before graduation. The story veers between episodes as the girls are repeatedly sidetracked on their way to a party, but Wilde sustains the anarchic energy as the movie barrels through one hectic, surreal night. Dever’s springiness contrasts well with Feldstein’s bulldozer-like force, and the script is chockablock with vivid supporting characters and funny lines. Billie Lourd steals all her scenes as an indestructible classmate who keeps improbably popping up along the girls’ journey and spends the entire film stoned. Also with Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Mason Gooding, Diana Silvers, Victoria Ruesga, Skyler Gisondo, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin, Austin Crute, Eduardo Franco, Nico Hiraga, Mike O’Brien, Will Forte, and Lisa Kudrow.
Child’s Play (R) You know exactly where this is going 45 seconds in, when the movie sets up Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill) as a home assistant à la Siri or Alexa, but as a doll that murders people. That’s not a bad idea, but unfortunately, that’s all the filmmakers think they need. Gabriel Bateman is the boy whose overworked single mother (Aubrey Plaza) brings home a returned doll from the big-box retailer where she works, and realizes that the doll is killing people by accessing the wi-fi in phones, computers, and cars. Director Lars Klevberg and writer Tyler Burton Smith seem to be going for some satire on late capitalism, but they’re not near sharp enough to pull this off, and the Donald Trump-looking doll isn’t scary enough to compensate for it. Also with Brian Tyree Henry, David Lewis, Beatrice Kitsos, Carlease Burke, Marlon Kazadi, and Tim Matheson.
Dark Phoenix (PG-13) Parts of this movie are not terrible. That’s the best I can say for Fox’s disappointing final installment to its X-Men series, in which Charles Xavier and Magneto (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) are forced to team up to stop Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) from destroying the world with her repressed childhood traumas and teenage angst. Turner is capable of carrying a big vehicle like this, but first-time director Simon Kinberg doesn’t know how to generate suspense or emotional weight when a major character dies. The villainous race of space aliens that wants Jean’s gifts are just so much waste as well. Had the series ended with Logan, it would have been a much more satisfying end to things. Disney’s people can’t get on this soon enough. Also with Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Brian D’Arcy James, Ato Essandoh, Halston Sage, and Jennifer Lawrence.
The Dead Don’t Die (R) Good for some chuckles here and there. Jim Jarmusch’s latest film is about a small-town police department that has to cope with a zombie outbreak when polar fracking throws the Earth off its axis. Jarmusch aims for political satire, and his obviousness is less damaging than all the loose ends in his script, with whole subplots going to waste. The movie does work better as an environmental allegory, and there’s no better visual joke than when one tall cop (Adam Driver) grimly rolls up to a murder scene in a bright red SmartCar. As zombie comedies go, this is better than Dead Snow, but not as good as Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, or Anna and the Apocalypse. Also with Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat, Eszter Balint, Maya Delmont, Taliyah Whitaker, Jahi Winston, Iggy Pop, RZA, Larry Fessenden, Carol Kane, and Rosie Perez.
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.
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir (PG-13) Though a native-born Indian is at the center of this story, this is a Canadian film, so instead of trafficking in sentimental Indian crap, it trafficks in sentimental Western crap. Dhanush stars as a good-hearted con artist from Mumbai who journeys to Paris to find his biological father and winds up helping a French movie star (Bérénice Bejo) fall in love, finds true love on his own, makes and loses a ton of money, goes on a hot-air balloon ride, gets captured by Libyan pirates, and discovers his purpose in life. Quebecois director Ken Scott (Delivery Man) adapts this from a French novel by Romain Puertolas, but something must have been lost in the translation, because he doesn’t have the sense of timing that the material requires. Also with Erin Moriarty, Gérard Jugnot, Amrutha Sant, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, Ben Miller, Abel Jafri, and Barkhad Abdi.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (PG-13) Michael Dougherty and his co-writers try to make the humans more interesting in this installment of the series. Big mistake. While Godzilla battles a bestiary’s worth of giant creatures rising up from the depths of the Earth, there’s all manner of cringe-worthy dialogue (“Oh my God!” “Zilla.”) and even more intolerable family drama between two estranged scientists (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga) and their teenage daughter (Millie Bobby Brown). Dougherty graduated from low-budget subversive horror flicks like Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus, but a big epic like this blunts everything interesting about him. It’s a bridge too far. Also with Zhang Ziyi, Sally Hawkins, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds, Anthony Ramos, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton, David Strathairn, and Ken Watanabe.
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
Kabir Singh (NR) This Indian film stars Shahid Kapoor as a man who tries to cope when his girlfriend (Kiara Advani) is forced to marry another man. Also with Arjan Bajwa, Adil Hussain, Suresh Oberoi, and Nikita Dutta.
Late Night (PG-13) The best of the recent comedies about women at the top of their profession, which doesn’t make it good, exactly. Emma Thompson plays the only woman late-night TV talk show host in America, who gets called out for having a writing staff of all white guys and responds by hiring the first woman of color (Mindy Kaling) who walks in the door. The film makes a rocky start, with the insults by Kaling (who doubles as screenwriter here) not pointed or funny enough and director Nisha Ganatra failing to capture the atmosphere of a flailing old show. The comedy does turn for the better after the host starts embracing the new writer and saying what’s really on her mind. The film is a nice re-introduction to Thompson’s considerable comic skills. If it had more edge, it would have been great. Also with John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, Max Casella, Paul Walter Hauser, Annaleigh Ashford, Ike Barinholtz, and Amy Ryan.
Ma (R) Octavia Spencer has a grand old time playing her matronly image for scares in this horror film. Diana Silvers (from Booksmart) stars as a teenager who moves back to her mother’s hometown, falls in with a group of partying teens, and runs into a middle-aged woman who opens up her basement as a party venue for them. Messy as this is, it’s also the best film ever directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, The GIrl on the Train). He and Spencer create a pitiable monster out for revenge on the kids’ parents who tormented her when she was a teen. Spencer’s unhinged turn is the best reason to see this, and proof that she can do more than just the roles she’s been given so far. Also with Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Missi Pyle, Luke Evans, and Allison Janney.
Men in Black: International (PG-13) If you thought that a mostly new cast would energize this science fiction-comedy series, think again. Tessa Thompson plays a civilian who tracks down MIB so she can join the agency and is immediately teamed with a troubled veteran agent (Chris Hemsworth) to ferret out a mole in the organization. The plush Thompson acquits herself better than any of her famous co-stars and looks ready to star in her own films, but director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) has no aptitude for the whimsy and humor that leavened the original film. The action sequences are put together with a modicum of professionalism and a much larger dose of meh. Kumail Nanjiani as a two-inch-tall alien who embraces the new agent as his queen can’t liven things. Also with Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, and Emma Thompson.
The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith (PG-13) Christopher Gorham reprises his role as a Mormon missionary who returns to Tonga in the 1960s. Also with Natalie Medlock, Russell Dixon, Joe Falau, Alex Tarrant, and Matt Young.
Pavarotti (PG-13) Ron Howard’s name nets some big stars (opera and otherwise) as interview subjects for this documentary, but it’s still a sleepy affair. The legendary Italian singer and his career that grew bigger than opera is profiled in this film, which interviews his wife and three daughters. The film does not gloss over Pavarotti’s numerous extramarital affairs, but it does gloss over his artistic decline, testified to by his prodigious weight gain and numerous late concerts where he sang with all the urgency of a nursing-home bingo caller on Xanax. The movie’s one big achievement is to remind us of what a force he was in his early days, when his crystallized-honey voice pinged, his musical intelligence was fully engaged, and his interpretations brought tears to your eyes. Also with Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Zubin Mehta, Anne Midgette, Carol Vaness, Vittorio Grigolo, Angela Gheorghiu, and Bono.
Rocketman (R) Better than Bohemian Rhapsody. This other musical biopic of a shy, gay, working-class British pianist who becomes a debauched rock star features Taron Egerton as Elton John. Though it’s officially sanctioned by Elton John, it doesn’t gloss over or glamorize Sir Elton’s drug- and sex-fueled excesses. Director Dexter Fletcher (who also did uncredited work on Bohemian Rhapsody) can’t escape the confines of the musical bio genre, but he does pull off some nice full-scale dance numbers, and Egerton (despite being too tall and good-looking for the part) holds up his end by doing his own singing and dancing. The further this movie dives into fantasy, the better it is. Also with Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Tom Bennett, Steven Mackintosh, Matthew Illesley, Kit Connor, Ophelia Lovibond, Tate Donovan, and Gemma Jones.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (PG) Not unendurable, but it does make you wonder why they bothered. The sequel to the 2016 hit has Max and Duke (voiced by Patton Oswalt and Eric Stonestreet) being taken to a farm in the countryside and trying to adjust to rustic life. The new movie brings in Tiffany Haddish as a terrier seeking help and Harrison Ford as a country dog who’s not having it with Max’s city-bred neuroses, but the various plotlines (many of them involving the dogs’ city friends having their own adventures) aren’t written with enough distinction to make the movie stick. Even Kevin Hart’s bunny rabbit and his megalomaniac delusions have been effectively neutered here. Additional voices by Jenny Slate, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Bobby Moynihan, and Lake Bell.
Shaft (R) The third film by this name brings in Richard Roundtree to reprise his role as the original John Shaft. He and Samuel L. Jackson might as well have stayed away rather than appear in this klutzy, unfunny buddy-cop comedy. Too much of this is devoted to Jackson’s Shaft critiquing his FBI analyst son (Jessie T. Usher) and his unmanly gentrified ways — the kid’s even philosophically opposed to handling guns, which to his dad is the same as going around in a miniskirt and stiletto heels. What was a genuinely subversive black-power statement 48 years ago has now become a totally retrograde thing that plays right into the hands of The Man. Also with Regina Hall, Luna Lauren Velez, Alexandra Shipp, Titus Welliver, Matt Lauria, Isaach de Bankolé, and Method Man.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG-13) Tom Holland reprises his role as the resurrected web-slinger taking a European vacation with his classmates. Also with Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Martin Starr, Numan Acar, J.B. Smoove, Cobie Smulders, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Toy Story 4 (PG) Pixar’s flagship series continues to be good and gets much weirder. The toys are ensconced with a new owner (voiced by Madeleine McGraw), and a now largely-ignored Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) decides to protect a toy created by the child named Forky (voiced by Tony Hale), who thinks his destiny is as a piece of trash. It all leads to a surreal adventure on a road trip, during which Woody encounters a doll with a broken talking mechanism (voiced by Christina Hendricks), a Canadian motorcycle daredevil action figure (voiced by Keanu Reeves), and a stuffed duck and bunny (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) with delusions of grandeur, all of them funny and creepy in distinctive ways. It ends with Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts) returning to convince Woody that he deserves a bit of time to himself, an ending that is wrenchingly perfect. Additional voices by Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Ally Maki, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Jeff Garlin, Bill Hader, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, John Ratzenberger, and Patricia Arquette.
Being Frank (NR) Jim Gaffigan stars in this comedy as a man whose adult son (Logan Miller) discovers that he has a secret family. Also with Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis, Danielle Campbell, and Alex Karpovsky.
Better Days (NR) This Chinese comedy is about a high-school student (Zhou Dongyu) who prepares to take the national exam that determines which university she will be admitted to. Also with Jackson Lee, Yin Fang, and Huang Jue.
Burn Your Maps (PG-13) This drama stars Jacob Tremblay as an 8-year-old American boy who becomes convinced that he is a Mongolian goat herder. Also with Vera Farmiga, Marton Csokas, Jason Scott Lee, Suraj Sharma, and Virginia Madsen.
Echo in the Canyon (PG-13) Andrew Slater’s documentary interviews many of the musicians involved in the Laurel Canyon music scene in Los Angeles. Starring Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Fiona Apple, Jackson Browne, Michelle Phillips, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Graham Nash, Jakob Dylan, Norah Jones, and the late Tom Petty.
Euphoria (R) Not to be confused with the HBO TV series of the same name, this period drama stars Alicia Vikander and Eva Green as sisters who travel through Europe towards a mysterious place. Also with Charles Dance, Adrian Lester, Mark Stanley, and Charlotte Rampling.
Killers Anonymous (R) Gary Oldman stars in this film as one of a circle of killers for hire who form a support group for themselves. Also with Jessica Alba, Suki Waterhouse, MyAnna Buring, Tim McInnerny, and Sadie Frost.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (R) Joe Talbot’s drama stars Jimmie Fails as a young man trying to reclaim possession of a magnificent house that his grandfather built 73 years ago. Also with Jonathan Majors, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps, Rob Morgan, Finn Wittrock, Jamal Trulove, Maximilienne Ewalt, Jello Biafra, Thora Birch, and Danny Glover.
The Last Whistle (PG) This Fort Worth-made drama is about a Texas high-school football coach (Brad Leland) who tries to hold his team together after a player dies at practice. Also with Jim O’Heir, Deanne Lauvin, Eric Nelsen, Fred Tolliver Jr., Tyler Perez, Sainty Nelsen, and Les Miles.
Lost and Found (NR) This Irish anthology plays out a series of seven stories connected by a train station. Starring Liam O’Mochain, Norma Shehan, Brendan Conroy, Aoibhin Garrihy, Liam Carney, Lynette Callaghan, Seamus Hughes, Barbara Adair, Donncha Crowley, Mary McEvoy, and Diarmuid Noytes.
The Souvenir (R) Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical film stars Honor Swinton Byrne as a film student in the 1980s who becomes romantically involved with a heroin addict (Tom Burke). Also with Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, and Lydia Fox.
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (PG-13) Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ documentary profile of the Nobel Prize-winning author. Also with Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Russell Banks, Walter Mosley, Robert Gottlieb, Fran Lebowitz, and Peter Sellars.