Alone (R) Bear with us here: This is not the horror movie by the same title that came out five weeks ago, but a different horror film starring Tyler Posey as a survivalist who barricades himself in his apartment when a zombie outbreak hits. Also with Donald Sutherland, Robert Ri’chard, John Posey, Summer Spiro, and Eric Etebari. (Opens Friday at Studio Movie Grill Arlington Highlands)
The Devil Has a Name (R) Edward James Olmos directs and co-stars in this drama about an oil executive (Kate Bosworth) who’s determined to protect her family business from a persistent farmer. Also with David Strathairn, Haley Joel Osment, Pablo Schreiber, Katie Aselton, Tahmoh Penikett, Alfred Molina, and Martin Sheen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Don’t Look Back (NR) Kourtney Bell stars in this horror film about a group of bystanders who are hunted by sinister forces after they fail to intervene in a stranger’s murder. Also with Will Stout, Skyler Hart, Jaqueline Fleming, Amanda Grace Benitez, Han Soto, Damon Lipari, Jeremy Holm, and Bryan Batt. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Escape From Extinction (NR) Matthew R. Brady’s documentary about conservation experts trying to keep species alive in various places. Narrated by Helen Mirren. (Opens Friday)
Honest Thief (PG-13) Liam Neeson stars in this thriller as a former safecracker whose efforts to atone for his misdeeds go awry. Also with Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Anthony Ramos, Jeffrey Donovan, and Robert Patrick. (Opens Friday)
The Kid Detective (R) Adam Brody stars in this dramedy as an alcoholic, formerly famous child sleuth who is handed his very first adult case by a client (Sophie Nélisse). Also with Sarah Sutherland, Peter MacNeill, Isaac Kragten, Jesse Noah Gruman, Wendy Crewson, and Tzi Ma. (Opens Friday)
Love and Monsters (PG-13) Dylan O’Brien stars in this comedy as a man who must navigate a world full of monsters to rescue his girlfriend (Jessica Henwick). Also with Michael Rooker, Ellen Holman, Melanie Zanetti, and Arianna Greenblatt. (Opens Friday at Premiere CInemas Burleson)
Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton (PG) Jonathan Cipiti’s documentary profiles the Irish Catholic priest who used emerging communications technology to spread the word of God. (Opens Friday at Movie Tavern Hulen)
Rebecca (PG-13) Adapted from Daphne du Maurier’s novel, this suspense film stars Lily James as a woman who discovers that her mysterious new husband (Armie Hammer) is harboring dangerous secrets. Also with Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Mark Lewis-Jones, Sam Riley, Bill Paterson, Lucy Russell, and Ann Dowd. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Shithouse (R) The first part of this movie’s title is accurate. Dallas native Cooper Raiff writes, directs, and stars in this comedy as a wet blanket of a college student in L.A. who spends a magical night with a sophomore RA (Dylan Gelula) and then can’t take it when she acts distant the next morning. Raiff is pretty, but this movie is a collection of scenes where everybody stands around waiting for something interesting or funny to happen, only nothing does. The film has the germ of an interesting idea with a protagonist who’s creepy and emotionally fragile because of events in his family. Even so, the proceedings aren’t near entertaining enough to make the point effectively. Also with Logan Miller, Olivia Welch, Abby Quinn, Joy Sunday, Chinedu Unaka, and Amy Landecker. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)
2 Hearts (PG-13) Lance Hool directs this romantic drama about two couples in different places and times whose fates are mysteriously tied together. Starring Jacob Elordi, Radha Mitchell, Tiera Skovbye, Adan Canto, Tahmoh Penikett, and Kari Matchett. (Opens Friday)
Ava (R) Tate Taylor tries to do a character-driven action thriller, and the fusion of the two elements is where it goes wrong. Jessica Chastain plays an ex-Army soldier, recovering drug addict, and contract killer whose recent erratic behavior draws the wrong kind of attention from her bosses. Chastain can handle both the action sequences and the scene where she relapses and considers killing herself, but the drama side of this is so much hackery, with a great deal of time wasted on the protagonist’s ex-fiancé (Common) who’s now engaged to her estranged sister (Jess Weixler). Taylor films the action legibly, but with a distinct lack of energy. Considering how many actors in this have Oscar nominations, you’d expect a little more from this. Also with Colin Farrell, John Malkovich, Ioan Gruffudd, Diana Silvers, Joan Chen, and Geena Davis.
Break the Silence: The Movie (NR) Not to be confused with last year’s Bring the Soul or 2018’s Burn the Stage, this documentary follows K-pop boy band BTS on their 2019 Love Yourself: Speak Yourself tour.
The Call (NR) This horror film is about a group of teens who suffer a road accident only to encounter greater danger in the home of an older couple (Tobin Bell and Lin Shaye). Also with Chester Rushing, Erin Sanders, Mike Manning, Sloane Morgan Siegel, and Judd Lormand.
Coco (PG) Pixar finds new life in its first musical. This Mexican-set animated film is about a 12-year-old boy (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) who becomes trapped in the land of the dead during Día de los Muertos and has to get a blessing from a great musician ancestor (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) to return to the world of the living. Like 2014’s The Book of Life, this movie depicts the afterlife as a lit-up version of Mexico City, with the houses stacked on the steep sides of the surrounding mountains, but this film expands on the earlier work with some breathtaking visuals, including a bridge to the next world that’s a giant structure made of glowing marigold petals. The adult actors, not known as singers, make a good fist of the music, but Gonzalez steals away the show with his renditions of “The World Es Mi Familia” and “Proud Corazón.” Immersed in the culture of Mexico, this is a unique Pixar triumph. Additional voices by Gael García Bernal, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau, Alanna Ubach, Cheech Marin, James Edward Olmos, Gabriel Iglesias, and John Ratzenberger.
The Doorman (R) Really dumb. Ruby Rose stars in this action-thriller as a PTSD-suffering ex-soldier who takes a job as a doorman in a nearly empty New York City apartment building that’s being renovated, only for a gang of thieves to hit the place and take her sister’s family hostage as they look for treasure squirreled away in the walls. The villains take turns acting stupid so that the heroine can keep picking them off one by one, and she’s saddled with an insufferable cute niece (Kila Lord Cassidy) through too much of the proceedings. The movie was shot in Bucharest, which explains the NYPD officers and NYFD firefighters who don’t sound remotely like New Yorkers. Act like a doorman and show this movie the door. Also with Jean Reno, Aksel Hennie, Rupert Evans, Philip Whitchurch, Julian Feder, David Sakurai, Hideaki Itô, and Louis Mandylor.
Fatima (PG-13) Marco Pontecorvo’s Christian drama is about the three 19th century Portuguese children (Stephanie Gil, Jorge Lamelas, and Alejandra Howard) who see a vision of the Virgin Mary. Also with Harvey Keitel, Goran Visnjic, Joaquim de Almeida, Joana Ribeiro, and Sônia Braga.
Heaven (NR) Angus Benfield stars in his own Christian drama as a man who dies and goes to the afterlife. Also with Eric Roberts, Michael Maclane, Michelle Fozounmayeh, Scott King, Ben Kientz, Juliet Rusche, Aaron Groben, and Brittany Mann.
Infidel (R) Jim Caviezel stars in this thriller as an American journalist kidnapped by Iranian extremists during a trip to Cairo. Also with Claudia Karvan, Hal Ozsan, Aly Kassem, Bijan Daneshmand, Isabelle Adriani, Stelio Savante, and J.R. Cacia.
Jiang Ziya (NR) Chinese animated movies have now reached the point where we can say that they look great, but the story is weak. That’s the case with this film about a legendary warrior god (voiced by Zheng Xi) who’s exiled from heaven after he refuses to kill a demon (voiced by Ji Guanlin) because doing so would result in the death of a little girl (voiced by Yang Ning). This is intended to be contiguous with last year’s animated film Ne Zha, as part of the studio’s effort to build up a Marvel-style cinematic universe based on Chinese mythology, but despite some spectacular visuals by directors Cheng Teng and Li Wei, this doesn’t have the strong characters or the humor that Ne Zha had. The film just sort of washes over you without leaving an impact. It was supposed to be released during Chinese New Year, but was delayed until now by the pandemic. Additional voices by Tutehameng, Yan Meme, and Jiang Guangtao.
Kajillionaire (R) Miranda July is an unlikely filmmaker to do a caper movie, and she puts her own distinctive spin on this one. Evan Rachel Wood plays a young con artist who lives and works with her parents (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger) at a family crime business and is put out when they invite a grifter from outside the family (Gina Rodriguez) into their fold. Wood gives undoubtedly her strangest performance to date as a poorly socialized case, speaking in an unnaturally deep voice, mumbling and stumbling over her words, and looking lost when she has to say anything that isn’t part of a con. It’s a wondrous tonic to the delicate-flower roles that this actress has played throughout her career. July’s comic instincts remain sharp as ever, and her persistent concern with our yearning for human connection leads this film to an unexpectedly moving ending, as the protagonist is conned herself but finds a love that’s worth a million petty insurance scams. Also with Mark Ivanir, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Rachel Redleaf, Michael Twaine, and Diana Maria Riva.
The Last Shift (R) The wrong person is the main character in this fiction debut from documentarian Andrew Cohn (Night School). Richard Jenkins stars as an assistant manager at a fast food place in Michigan who confronts the smallness of his life while spending his last week on the job training a Black juvenile offender (Shane Paul McGhie) to replace him. Our protagonist is a guy who’s incapable of making life happen for him, and his encounter with this young Black man is meant to give him some perspective on the exploitative nature of his work and his long-ago failure to intervene in a hate crime. Neither of those things comes off, and he ends up where he started while his trainee is the one who makes some much-needed changes in his life. Cohn doesn’t seem to realize where the focus of his drama should be. What should have been a small-scale gem is fatally undermined. Also with Allison Tolman, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, and Ed O’Neill.
My People, My Homeland (NR) This anthology of short films pays tribute to the heroic spirit of the Chinese people. Starring Huang Bo, Ge You, Fan Wei, Deng Chao, Shen Teng, Wang Baoqiang, Xu Zheng, Yan Ni, Liu Haoran, and Celina Jade.
The New Mutants (PG-13) It really exists! It’s also the gayest X-Men film ever, which is saying something. Even so, it’s still kinda meh. Blu Hunt plays a teen of Cheyenne extraction whose discovery of her powers destroys her reservation. She’s brought to a facility for other mutant kids controlled by a sinister doctor (Alice Braga), where she falls for a gay Scottish girl (Maisie Williams). Director/co-writer Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) tries to play this for horror, but neither the hallucinations that the kids have nor the discovery that our protagonist is causing them manages to raise the hair on the back of one’s neck. The romance gets lost amid all the substandard CGI, and the finale with a demon bear is too dopey to work. Anya Taylor-Joy walks off with the acting honors as a Russian mean girl who bullies the new arrival. Also with Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, and Adam Beach.
On the Rocks (R) Perhaps the most purely enjoyable of Sofia Coppola’s films, this comedy stars Rashida Jones as a Manhattan author who suspects her husband (Marlon Wayans) is cheating on her and receives unexpected help from her father (Bill Murray), a Paris-based art dealer and serial adulterer who knows the ways of unfaithful men. Coppola directs this farce with the assurance of a comedy veteran and knows the well-heeled New York territory that this film takes place in. Jones is a canny foil for Murray, who revels in his character’s glee over the chance to help his daughter. The father-daughter issues between keep the film grounded without taking away from the sheer, uncomplicated pleasure of the laughs. Also with Jenny Slate, Jessica Henwick, Liyanna Muscat, Nadia Dajani, Jules Willcox, Kelly Lynch, and Barbara Bain.
Peninsula (NR) This sequel to the Korean zombie film Train to Busan winds up as a pallid knockoff of Mad Max: Fury Road. Gang Dong-won stars as an ex-soldier who returns to the zombie-ravaged Korean peninsula with some other mercenaries to recover a stash of unguarded cash without alerting the revenants. There’s a well-executed climactic car chase and some interesting business with a colony of survivors staging gladiator matches between their prisoners and captured zombies, but returning director Yeon Sang-ho remains clumsy with the human emotions in the story and can’t find any new notes in the zombie saga. This series probably should have died after the first film. Also with Lee Jung-hyun, Kim Min-jae, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Koo Kyo-hwan, and Bella Rahim.
Possessor Uncut (NR) Brandon Cronenberg makes movies much like his father David, it turns out. Andrea Riseborough stars in this science-fiction horror film as a specialist who takes control of the minds of pre-selected people and turns them into assassins for clients who can pay. Something goes wrong with a mark (Christopher Abbott) that causes a higher body count than called for. Her imperfect melding with her mark’s brain occasions some scenes of great convulsive power, such as him peeling her face off and wearing it over his own. The events are staged with enough blood and gore to make David Cronenberg proud. The film lacks a certain amount of follow-through, inadequately prepping us for some of the later plot developments. However, there’s more than enough here to make us keep an eye on the relatively new Brandon Cronenberg and see what he does next. Also with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuppence Middleton, Rossif Sutherland, Gage Graham-Arbuthnot, Raoul Bhaneja, Tiio Horn, and Sean Bean.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (PG) Steven Spielberg and George Lucas took their shared love of the 1950s TV adventure serials that they grew up on and turned them into this rip-snorting 1981 adventure film that was easily the biggest box-office hit of its year. Harrison Ford’s natural swagger goes well with his fedora and bullwhip as he plays the world’s most dashing archeology professor trying to prevent the Ark of the Covenant from falling into Nazi hands. The casting of John Rhys-Davies as an Egyptian guide is a piece of whitewashing that wouldn’t fly today, but the film remains a masterclass in action sequences. Also with Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, Wolf Kahler, Denholm Elliott, George Harris, and Alfred Molina.
Save Yourselves! (R) A great premise yields indifferent results in this comedy about a loser Brooklyn hipster couple (John Reynolds and Sunita Mani) who spend at a week at a friend’s cabin upstate to disconnect from the internet, only to discover while they’re there that the Earth has been invaded by space aliens that look like Tribbles and kill people. The comic chemistry between the two leads is impeccable and the slow burn from banal normality to the apocalypse is reasonably well-done, but the writing-directing team of Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson can’t find that much comedy in either the couple’s relationship issues or their complete unsuitability for having to survive in the wilderness. The collision of genres doesn’t give the uproarious results you might expect, either. Edgar Wright would have done this better. Also with Ben Sinclair and Johanna Day. Voices by Zenobia Shroff and Amy Sedaris.
Tenet (PG-13) Either Christopher Nolan has gone up his own ass, or he’s made an avant-garde masterpiece too intelligent and sophisticated for my puny little brain to comprehend. John David Washington stars as a nameless CIA agent who is assigned to trace objects moving backwards through time to their source before they cause a time crunch that destroys the universe. This movie exists in the future perfect tense; everywhere our protagonist and his investigating partner (Robert Pattinson) look, they find evidence of things that will have happened. The film is structured as a palindrome, with the hero going through the looking glass and moving backwards through the story he just experienced. This leads to some cool action sequences, but there are a suspicious number of loose ends hanging, and the actors are swallowed up by the conceit except for a terrifying Kenneth Branagh as a wife-beating Russian arms dealer. Without the element of human emotion, this thing just sows confusion. Also with Elizabeth Debicki, Himesh Patel, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, and Michael Caine.
Trolls World Tour (PG) Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return to this animated sequel, as they try to save the other troll kingdoms from being taken over by a hard-rock troll (voiced by Rachel Bloom). Additional voices by James Corden, Ron Funches, Kelly Clarkson, Anderson .paak, Kenan Thompson, Mary J. Blige, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Ozzy Osbourne, Anthony Ramos, Karan Soni, Charlyne Yi, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zooey Deschanel, and Sam Rockwell.
Unhinged (R) Russell Crowe is really fat in this movie, and it’s hard to tell how much of it is padding, weight he gained for the role, or just the way his body is now. The extra pounds work to make him menacing as a murderous motorist who targets a divorcing mother (Caren Pistorius) after an altercation at an intersection. In a better version of this thriller, this would be terrific, but this one can’t overcome the weak performance by Pistorius or the uninventive direction by Derrick Borte (The Joneses). Don’t risk your health for this C-level trash. Also with Gabriel Bateman, Anne Leighton, Austin P. Mackenzie, and Jimmi Simpson.
Words on Bathroom Walls (PG-13) The acting saves this teen mental illness drama based on Julia Walton’s novel. Charlie Plummer plays a student transferring to a new Catholic high school after suffering a schizophrenic breakdown and runs into trouble after falling for the class valedictorian (Taylor Russell) and going off his meds. Director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) often renders the main character’s hallucinations in overly cutesy terms, and having three actors personify the voices in his head (AnnaSophia Robb, Devon Bostick, and Lobo Sebastian) is a mistake. Even so, the script holds occasional insights about mental illness, and Plummer is good whether he’s on the pills and suffering from the side effects or off them and raving at his family. His chemistry with Russell means this works better as romance than as drama.
The War With Grandpa (PG) This kids’ comedy is so toothless that it could have been made 30 years ago. I wish it had been; then I would have forgotten it by now. Oakes Fegley (from the recent Pete’s Dragon remake) plays a borderline sociopath of a boy who initiates a war of practical jokes when his grandfather (Robert De Niro) moves into his parents’ house and forces him out of his bedroom. The parents (Uma Thurman and Rob Riggle) look brain-damaged for not noticing all the broken furniture and wild animals suddenly appearing in their house. Haven’t the adult cast members done enough paycheck films among them to not have to participate in these fourth-rate hijinks? This is adapted from Robert Kimmel Smith’s children’s book, which I can only hope is better than the movie. Also with Christopher Walken, Laura Marano, Juliocesar Chavez, T.J. McGibbon, Isaac Kragten, Cheech Marin, and Jane Seymour.
Yellow Rose (PG-13) Filipino movies aren’t good enough at depicting their country’s culture, and unfortunately this American-made music drama misses its chance to improve on that record. Eva Noblezada stars as an undocumented immigrant in Bastrop who dreams of becoming a country singer. Based on a short film by the same name, Diane Paragas has little insight on the culture clash between these islanders and the Texas setting where they find themselves, and the protagonist’s love of country music unfortunately comes across as so much racial self-loathing. The saving grace here is Noblezada, a bright young light from Broadway making her film debut and singing some original country songs with a pleasant high soprano. She and the Filipino-American community deserved a better film. Also with Dale Watson, Princess Punzalan, Liam Booth, Gustavo Gomez, and Lea Salonga.
Over the Moon (PG) This animated musical is about a little girl (voiced by Philippa Soo) who builds a rocket ship in order to meet a mythical goddess of the moon. Additional voices by Ken Jeong, Margaret Cho, Kimiko Glenn, John Cho, and Sandra Oh.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow (R) Jim Cummings (Thunder Road) writes, directs, and stars in his own horror-comedy as a small-town sheriff who suspects werewolves after a series of killings during full moons. Also with Riki Lindhome, Chloe East, Jimmy Tatro, and the late Robert Forster.