Adopt a Highway (NR) Actor Logan Marshall-Green makes his directing debut with this drama about an ex-convict (Ethan Hawke) who finds a live baby in a dumpster. Also with Elaine Hendrix, Chris Sullivan, Christopher Heyerdahl, Anne-Marie Johnson, and Betty Gabriel. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Arctic Dogs (PG) This animated film is about a dog (voiced by Jeremy Renner) who dreams of becoming the top sled dog at his polar delivery service. Additional voices by Alec Baldwin, James Franco, Anjelica Huston, Laurie Holden, Omar Sy, Heidi Klum, Michael Madsen, and John Cleese. (Opens Friday)
Badland (NR) Kevin Makely stars in this Western as a detective who hunts down ex-Confederate war criminals. Also with Mira Sorvino, Wes Studi, Trace Adkins, Jeff Fahey, Tony Todd, James Russo, and Bruce Dern. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
By the Grace of God (NR) The latest film by François Ozon is this drama about three Frenchmen (Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet, and Swann Ariaud) who seek closure decades after being molested by the same Catholic priest. Also with Éric Caravaca, François Marthuret, Bernard Verley, Josiane Balasko, and Frédéric Pierrot. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Inside Game (R) Eric Mabius stars in this drama based on the real-life story of Tim Donaghy, the NBA referee convicted of gambling on basketball. Also with Will Sasso, Scott Wolf, Piper Watts, Nick Cordero, and Arthur J. Nascarella. (Opens Friday)
Jojo Rabbit (PG-13) Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) directs and co-stars in this comedy about an obedient boy in Nazi Germany (Roman Griffin Davis) who discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their house. Also with Sam Rockwell, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Archie Yates, and Rebel Wilson. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Motherless Brooklyn (R) Edward Norton writes, directs, and stars in this film based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel about a gangster with Tourette’s syndrome who must solve the murder of his boss (Bruce Willis). Also with Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Leslie Mann, Bobby Cannavale, Fisher Stevens, Ethan Suplee, Michael Kenneth Williams, Cherry Jones, and Alec Baldwin. (Opens Friday)
Terminator: Dark Fate (R) Tim Miller (Deadpool) takes over the latest installment in the series, with an aged Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and a human-cyborg hybrid (Mackenzie Davis) trying to protect a little girl (Natalia Reyes) from future Terminators. Also with Diego Boneta, Tristán Ulloa, Enrique Arce, Tom Hopper, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Opens Friday)
Wrinkles the Clown (NR) Michael Beach Nichols’ documentary about a mysterious Florida man who hires himself out as a scary clown to parents of misbehaving children. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)
Abominable (PG) For what it’s worth, a better animated movie about a yeti than Smallfoot. Chloe Bennett provides the voice of a Chinese teenager who discovers one of the legendary snowmen living on her roof and resolves to take him back to the Himalayas before he’s located by the rich captors whom he escaped from. The film does go all dopey when it reveals the yeti’s magical powers, but there are still moments of wit as the heroine and her two friends (Tenzing Norgay Trainor and Albert Tsai) crisscross the country. The film is also available in Mandarin, with different actors providing the voices. Additional voices by Eddie Izzard, Tsai Chin, Michelle Wong, James Hong, and Sarah Paulson.
Ad Astra (PG-13) Can someone tell me what’s so great about James Gray’s films, because I’m at a loss. His latest is not a gritty New York drama but a space opera, and more watchable than those others tend to be. Brad Pitt portrays an astronaut whose father (Tommy Lee Jones) has gone insane on a mission to Neptune and is threatening to destroy the entire solar system. This is in the vein of stately, philosophical space movies, and Gray (without the benefit of experience) does reasonably well with sequences in zero-gravity, including a rover chase on the surface of the Moon. Some of the visuals are intensely beautiful, but Gray can’t impart any visceral excitement to the story of a man who travels 2.7 billion miles to discover that he doesn’t want to be alone. It’s supposed to be a movie about how we all need other people, and there isn’t a single memorable person in it. Also with Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, Kimberly Elise, Loren Dean, Bobby Nish, LisaGay Hamilton, John Ortiz, John Finn, and Natasha Lyonne.
The Addams Family (PG) With the cartoon family created by Charles Addams returning to its roots, and with Oscar Isaac voicing Gomez and Charlize Theron as Morticia, you’d think this would come to more. The Addamses deal with a gentrifying neighborhood and an evil home makeover TV host (voiced by Allison Janney) who’s bent on tearing down their eyesore of a house. The animation doesn’t match the weirdness of the subject matter. The only thing that does is the subplot in which Wednesday (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz) starts attending public school. She’s the serene Goth heart of this thing, and there’s a nice Eighth Grade callback in the casting of Elsie Fisher as a girl at school who goes Goth with her. Additional voices by Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Tituss Burgess, Jenifer Lewis, Aimee Garcia, Pom Klementieff, Bette Midler, and Snoop Dogg.
Bigil (NR) Joseph Vijay stars in this Indian film as a women’s soccer coach who faces the biggest game of his career and the chance to avenge the murder of his best friend. Also with Jackie Shroff, Nayanthara, Yogi Babu, Indhuja, and Varsha Bollamma.
Black and Blue (R) The premise of this cop thriller is creative. Too bad the creativity stops there. Naomie Harris plays an Army vet-turned-rookie New Orleans cop whose bodycam catches a bunch of crooked cops executing a bunch of unarmed drug dealers whom they’re working with. Her colleagues realize what’s up and frame her, so she spends a day being hunted down by the cops and criminals. Harris’ crisp presence is nice to have here and Deon Taylor (who did The Intruder earlier this year) makes this watchable without providing anything memorable. Perhaps we shouldn’t fault the movie for failing to comment on police shootings (then again, perhaps we should). Regardless, this film makes hackwork out of material that could have amounted to more. Also with Tyrese Gibson, Mike Colter, Reid Scott, Nafeesa Williams, James Moses Black, Beau Knapp, and Frank Grillo.
Countdown (PG-13) This horror film is about a smartphone app that tells people when they will die and a nurse (Elizabeth Lail) who tries to evade her scheduled death in three days. Also with Anne Winters, Charlie McDermott, Tabitha Eliana Bateman, Tichina Arnold, and Peter Facinelli.
The Current War: Director’s Cut (PG-13) More compelling than a story about warring 19th-century business interests should be. This film pits Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) against each other in a battle to provide electricity to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, with Edison stooping to underhanded methods and going against his humanitarian principles to try to win. It’s all smart and engaging, and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) keeps the film light on its feet. Still, it’s hard to invest much in the story of two rich guys who are fighting to become richer, especially when we know that the loser will go on to invent the motion picture camera and be just fine. The acting here is strong, particularly by Shannon, and the photography is gorgeous. The movie was supposed to be released in fall 2017, but was delayed by the breakup of the Weinstein Company. Also with Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult, Katherine Waterston, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Macfadyen, and Louis Ashbourne Serkis.
Downton Abbey (PG) A classic example of a big-screen version of a TV show that tries to squeeze a season of plot developments into a movie’s paltry length. Set in 1927, the film concerns a visit by the king and queen of England (Simon Jones and Geraldine James) to Downton, where the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and Lady Mary Talbot (Michelle Dockery) are expected to play host. Everything looks good, the acting is solid, and the one-liners are polished to a sharp edge, but if you’re not already a fan of the show, this won’t mean very much to you. Despite the occasional nod to the fact that Edwardian England isn’t great for people who are gay or Irish or women with unconventional ideas, this is an exercise in nostalgia for the feudal system. Also with Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Imelda Staunton, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Joanne Froggatt, Robert James-Collier, Kate Phillips, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Brendan Coyle, Stephen Campbell Moore, David Haig, Susan Lynch, Tuppence Middleton, and Penelope Wilton.
Gemini Man (PG-13) Not as bad as its press. Will Smith stars as a retired government black ops operative who finds himself being hunted by a clone of himself that’s 25 years younger. The digital de-aging of Smith is just sort of there, and you wind up accepting it as part of the story. Too bad the story is so weak, as the main character’s reckoning with his younger self is too sketchily written to provide the drama. This plush, globe-trotting spy thriller feels like a paycheck job for director Ang Lee, though a few fluid action sequences (like a shootout and motorcycle chase in Cartagena and a Smith-on-Smith fight in Budapest) remind us that this is the guy who directed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s far from a great action movie, but it has a few things worth watching. Also with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Douglas Hodge, Benedict Wong, Ilia Volok, Ralph Brown, and Linda Emond.
The Great Alaskan Race (PG) Vanity project! Everyone take cover! Brian Presley writes, directs, and stars in this film about the real-life 1925 race to deliver a diphtheria antitoxin over 700 miles of frozen country to Nome, Alaska, to stop an epidemic from killing the town’s children. He portrays a hard-bitten dog sledder who takes part in the delivery and gives himself numerous opportunities to shed virtuous tears over his character’s dead wife and their young daughter (played by his real-life daughter, Emma Presley). That might be tolerable if Presley filmed the dog sled journey with any sort of dramatic excitement, but the first-time director is too busy painting his own character as a brave suffering hero. Also with Treat Williams, Brad Leland, Henry Thomas, Brea Bee, James Russo, and Bruce Davison.
Housefull 4 (NR) As its title implies, this is the fourth film in a series. As its title does not imply, it reunites all the principal actors from the previous three Indian comic horror films. If you haven’t seen those other three, I’m not sure what you’ll get out of this. Three male friends (Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, and Bobby Deol) are about to marry three wealthy sisters (Kriti Sanon, Pooja Hedge, and Kriti Kharbanda), but when the wedding party travels to India, one of the men has a flashback to the 16th century and realizes that fate has decreed that all of them marry different sisters. There’s also a servant named Pasta (Chunkey Pandey) in the mix who dresses in Italian clothes because of his name, I guess. There is an opening musical number in London containing just about every British signifier possible, but the comic bits aren’t enough to justify your 145 minutes. Also with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Boman Irani, Rana Daggubati, and Sharad Kelkar.
Hustlers (R) See, I told you Jennifer Lopez can act! This film based on a real-life story stars Constance Wu as a novice stripper who is taken under the wing of Lopez’ aging dancer who ropes her and other dancers into a credit card fraud scheme to keep themselves afloat after the 2008 financial crisis. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria drills deep into the specifics of the job that these women do, but she doesn’t forget to infuse this with a palpable, Scorsesean sense of glee as the strippers rip off Wall Street douches who can afford to lose the money. Wu and Lopez make an infectious comedy team, and they both bring the dramatic fireworks later on when their friendship is sundered by the crime ring unraveling. More than just a comedy featuring women wearing very little clothing, this is a crime saga that indicts the capitalist system in the starkest terms. That’s a nice trick. Also with Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Julia Stiles, Mercedes Ruehl, Madeline Brewer, Mette Towley, Wai Ching Ho, Trace Lysette, Devin Ratray, Frank Whaley, Steven Boyer, G-Eazy, Usher, Cardi B, and Lizzo.
It Chapter Two (R) This overlong, bombastic sequel to the 2017 film (both adapted from Stephen King’s novel) has all the original’s flaws and screws up almost everything it got right. Picking up 27 years after the original, this film has the grown-up version of the Losers (Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Bill Hader) reuniting in their Maine hometown after Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns and kills again. The filmmakers here seem to think that all the wrong things are scary, paying too much attention to the creatures that chase our heroes to bring all the stray subplots to any sort of conclusion or keep from losing track of these characters for huge chunks of the movie. All the flashbacks to the Losers as kids could have been lost, too. The movie acknowledges that King has trouble ending his books, and yet this one can’t come up with an ending that works. That’s damning. Also with Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Jaeden Martell, Jack Dylan Grazer, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Andy Bean, Teach Grant, Nicholas Hamilton, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Jess Weixler, Jake Weary, Xavier Dolan, Peter Bogdanovich, and an uncredited Stephen King.
Joker (R) What could have been a dark satire on society and its cruelty instead exploits mental illness. Joaquin Phoenix stars as an aspiring comedian with a socially inconvenient mental condition that makes him a target for bullies, which in turn makes him turn into the clown makeup-wearing supervillain. The film is angry, mean-spirited, plodding, joyless, depressing, and entirely derivative of Taxi Driver. Worse, it stigmatizes mental illness by taking one such character and raising him up as an antihero for killing rich people. Phoenix does give one of the best performances of his career, but everything else is just background noise. Also with Robert De Niro, Frances Conroy, Zazie Beetz, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Marc Maron, Josh Pais, Douglas Hodge, April Grace, and Brian Tyree Henry. — Chase Whale
Judy (R) Looking bleary, alcohol-soaked, and prematurely aged, Renée Zellweger does an uncannily precise imitation of Judy Garland in this biopic that takes in the singer as she plays five weeks in a London nightclub in the winter of 1968. The part shows off her gift for mimicry, and she’s probably a better singer than Garland was at the sadly diminished late-career stage that’s portrayed here. The film is based on Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow, and it doesn’t have much to say about the traumas of child stardom lingering into adulthood. Beyond the lead performance, the film is rather indifferently cast. Zellweger’s performance deserves better than this lukewarm show business tragedy. Also with Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Bella Ramsey, Royce Pierreson, Phil Dunster, Darci Shaw, Andy Nyman, and Michael Gambon.
The Lighthouse (R) A trip. Robert Eggers follows up The Witch with this altogether stranger film about two 19th-century New England lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) who start to lose track of reality when a nor’easter traps them on their island. The virtuoso black-and-white cinematography by Jarin Blaschke, the outdated language, and the squarish frame all combine to make us less sure of what’s real in this fictional world. The script is based on the writings of Sarah Orne Jewett, but it feels more like one of Guy Maddin’s ferociously obscure retro exercises. Eggers cuts the pagan imagery and mental instability with more fart jokes than you’d expect. Pattinson is quite good in the latter scenes when the madness takes hold, and Dafoe is both hilarious and terrifying as the older seaman who may be an impostor, a Lovecraftian monster of the deep, or a malefactor trying to drive the younger man crazy. Do not miss his Tim the Enchanter-style curse after his cooking is insulted. Also with Valeriia Karaman.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (PG) The storylines are at least clearer in this sequel. Angelina Jolie returns as the dark fairy queen who has to deal with a warmongering, secretly evil human queen (Michelle Pfeiffer) after their respective children (Elle Fanning and Harris Dickinson) want to get married to unite the human and fairy kingdoms. The filmmakers give us one good scene with Jolie and Pfeiffer locking horns over a family dinner where the tension boils over into outright hostility. Other than that, there’s too much CGI, too many moving parts, and too many action sequences muddling this film’s message about dealing with the politics of fear. Also with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, Jenn Murray, David Gyasi, and Robert Lindsay.
Promare (PG-13) Hiroyuki Imaishi’s anime film is about a force of pilots operating giant robots to protect the Earth from threats. Voices by John Eric Bentley, Steve Blum, Johnny Yong Bosch, Melissa Fahn, Crispin Freeman, and Billy Kametz.
Rambo: Last Blood (R) The Vietnam veteran is in Mexico trying to go out the same way as Logan did, but it doesn’t work nearly as well. Sylvester Stallone stars as the grizzled veteran who is in retirement near the border when his niece (Yvette Monreal) is kidnapped by Mexican sex traffickers. Age has brought neither wisdom nor self-awareness to John Rambo, just a lot of aches and pains. The series ends as it began, with Rambo killing off a ton of guys with darker colored skin. The old soldier should have been put out to pasture decades ago. Also with Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Louis Mandylor, Joaquín Cosio, Sheila Shah, Óscar Jaenada, and Adriana Barraza.
Saand Ki Aankh (NR) This Indian film tells the true story of Prakashi and Chandro Tomar, two real-life sisters-in-law from a repressive Hindu village who discovered a talent for target shooting in their 60s and won numerous prizes for it. The film has received flak in its native country for casting two actresses in their 30s (Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar) as the elderly Tomars, and yeah, it’s more than a bit weird. That’s not as big a drag on this sports film as the lethargic direction by Tushar Hiranandani, which takes entirely too long to get to the part where the women take up their new sport after initially only accompanying their daughters to the firing range. Also with Prakash Jha, Vineet Kumar Singh, Shaad Randwa, Pawan Chopra, Vicky Kadian, and Navneet Srivastava.
War (NR) Hyped as a long-anticipated meeting between two of India’s biggest action stars, this film appears to have been suckered by its own hype. Tiger Shroff stars as a Muslim soldier and traitor’s son who enlists in Indian military intelligence and even seeks out training from his father’s killer (Hrithik Roshan) to help take down a business mogul (Sanjeev Vasta) who’s secretly funding ISIS terrorists in Iraq. It’d be much easier to live with the unbelievable plot twists and even the irrelevant musical numbers if the fight sequences were any good. Unfortunately, they go on for what seem like hours while the combatants punch through stone walls and absorb bullet and knife wounds until your belief is no longer suspended and instead goes into free fall. Also with Vaani Kapoor, Ashutosh Rana, Anupriya Goenka, Dipannita Sharma, Soni Razdan, and Keith Dallison.
Western Stars (PG) This documentary features live concert footage of Bruce Springsteen singing songs from his latest album.
Zombieland: Double Tap (R) Ten years after the first film, all four of the principal cast members return with their enthusiasm undimmed, a principal reason why this sequel is so watchable. The group holes up inside the remains of the White House, but Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) goes chasing after a boy her age, and Wichita (Emma Stone) runs after her in a panic after Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) proposes marriage to her. Eisenberg and Stone are the engines that drive this comedy, and the film adds a scene-stealing Zoey Deutch as a dumb blonde who joins the group and a delicious interlude with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and Columbus meeting copies of themselves (Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch). The original’s subtext might be lost, but who cares when returning director Ruben Fleischer is on hand to stage more inventive zombie kills? Also with Rosario Dawson, Avan Jogia, and Bill Murray.
Britt-Marie Was Here (NR) This Swedish comedy stars Pernilla August as a 63-year-old housewife who starts life fresh by becoming the coach of a small-town soccer team. Also with Vera Vitali, Peter Haber, Olle Sarri, Mahmut Suvakci, Malin Levanon, and Anders Mossling.
Full Count (NR) This drama is about a baseball prospect (John Paul Kakos) who returns home after suffering a career-ending injury in a war. Also with Natalia Livingston, E. Roger Mitchell, Rick Hearst, and Jason London.
The Gallows Act II (R) The sequel to the 2015 horror film stars Ema Horvath as an acting student who is haunted by an evil spirit at her new school. Also with Chris Milligan, Brittany Falardeau, Pfeifer Brown, Erika Miranda, and Dennis Hurley.
Girl on the Third Floor (NR) C.M. Punk stars in this horror film as a father whose attempts to renovate his house run into sinister opposition. Also with Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks, Elissa Dowling, Karen Woditsch, Marshall Bean, and Bishop Stevens.
Greener Grass (NR) Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe write, direct, and star in this comedy as two suburban housewives who become increasingly competitive with each other in all aspects of their lives. Also with Beck Bennett, Neil Casey, Jim Cummings, Mary Holland, and Dot-Marie Jones.
The King (R) The latest film by David Michôd (The Rover) stars Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V of England, assuming the throne at a young age. Also with Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Thomasin McKenzie, Lily-Rose Depp, Tara Fitzgerald, and Sean Harris.
Miss Virginia (NR) This drama stars Uzo Aduba as one of the mothers who looks to integrate Arkansas’ public schools in 1957. Also with Matthew Modine, Aunjanue Ellis, April Grace, Niles Fitch, Adina Porter, and Vanessa Williams.
Pain and Glory (R) The latest Pedro Almodóvar film stars Antonio Banderas as a world-famous Spanish filmmaker dealing with a litany of health problems and unresolved relationships in his past. Also with Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Julieta Serrano, Asier Flores, Cecilia Roth, Raúl Arévalo, César Vicente, Susi Sánchez, and Penélope Cruz.