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Those Who Wish Me Dead. Photo courtesy of YouTube.com

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Army of the Dead (R) The latest film by Zack Snyder is about a group of mercenaries who decide to rob a Las Vegas casino after the city is overrun by zombies. Starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Garret Dillahunt, Nora Arnezeder, Ana de la Reguera, Hiroyuki Sanada, Omari Hardwick, Raúl Castillo, and Tig Notaro. (Opens Friday)

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The Djinn (R) This horror film stars Ezra Dewey as a mute boy trapped in an apartment with a sinister spirit after he makes a wish. Also with Rob Brownstein, Tevy Poe, John Erickson, and Donald Pitts. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Finding You (PG) This romance stars Rose Reid as an American violin student who falls for a young Irish movie star (Jedidiah Goodacre) while studying abroad. Also with Katherine McNamara, Tom Everett Scott, Judith Hoag, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Fiona Bell, Patrick Bergin, and Vanessa Redgrave. (Opens Friday)

Georgetown (R) Christoph Waltz stars in his first theatrical film as a director, playing a Washington social climber who marries a wealthy widow to gain access to the city’s elite. Also with Annette Bening, Corey Hawkins, Laura de Carteret, Dan Lett, and Vanessa Redgrave. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Human Factor (PG-13) Dror Moreh’s documentary examines America’s 30-year effort to bring about peace in the Middle East. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)

The Killing of Two Lovers (R) Clayne Crawford stars in this drama as a man trying to keep his family together while separating from his wife (Sepideh Moafi). Also with Avery Pizzuto, Chris Coy, and Barbara Whinnery. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Profile (R) This thriller by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) stars Valene Kane as a British journalist who attempts to infiltrate a ring of Islamic terrorists by posing as a convert. Also with Shazad Latif, Christine Adams, Amir Rahimzadeh, Morgan Watkins, and Emma Cater. (Opens Friday)

Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai (NR) Salman Khan stars in this Indian thriller as a cop who suspects his city’s wealthiest citizen is secretly running a crime ring. Also with Disha Patani, Randeep Hooda, Jackie Shroff, Sudhanshu Pandey, Govind Namdev, and Jacqueline Fernandez. (Opens Friday)

Those Who Wish Me Dead (R) Fort Worth product Taylor Sheridan turns Michael Koryta’s potboiler of a novel into this indifferent thriller about a traumatized ex-firefighter (Angelina Jolie) who encounters a boy (Finn Little) on the run from hired killers in the Montana wilderness. Sheridan knows how to navigate America’s rural areas, but he loses track of the various plotlines and characters, and the actors here give pallid performances. The plot of the book has been changed considerably and not for the better. Though the movie maintains the element of the bad guys setting the forest on fire to smoke out their target, the drama against that fire still feels curiously inert. Tyler Perry shows up here, and I can’t figure out what his role is in the story. Also with Jon Bernthal, Nicholas Hoult, Aidan Gillen, Medina Singhore, and Jake Weber. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

The Courier (PG-13) Benedict Cumberbatch is magnificent in this British spy thriller based on real-life events. He portrays Greville Wynne, the London-based industrial machinery salesman sent by MI6 to contact a high-level Soviet official (Merab Ninidze) who wants to pass classified information to the West. Director Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach) does well as long as he sticks to the thriller element, but when Greville is thrown into a Soviet gulag, the movie becomes a prison drama and loses its effectiveness. Cumberbatch dazzles as an irreducibly ordinary man who is turned on and stressed out by the dangerous nature of the job that he isn’t trained for. The rest of the cast is great, too, with Rachel Brosnahan as a CIA agent, Jessie Buckley as Greville’s wife, and Ninidze as the crafty operator who bonds with the amateur who is his contact. Also with Angus Wright, Keir Hills, James Schofield, Vladimir Chuprikov, Maria Mironova, Petr Klimes, Anton Lesser, and an uncredited Željko Ivanek.

Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (R) The newly crowned all-time box-office champion in Japan is this anime film that plays in Japanese- and English-language versions here. If you’re not familiar with the series of manga comics that this is based on, you may be confused by the lack of backstory and the weird continuity hiccups with extended flashbacks and dream sequences. However, the story still comes through about a young demon hunter (voiced by Natsuki Hanae in Japanese and Zach Aguilar in English) who is called on a mission with two other hunters and a mentor (voiced by Satoshi Hino and Mark Whitten) to catch an evil spirit preying on the passengers of a train out of Tokyo. If the dramatics are too lachrymose for you, the action sequences and the repulsively imagined demons are enough to give this movie traction. Additional voices by Akari Kitô, Abby Trott, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Bryce Papenbrook, Hiro Shimono, Aleks Le, Daisuke Hirakawa, Landon McDonald, Akira Ishida, and Lucien Dodge. 

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. 

Four Good Days (R) Rodrigo Garcia delivers yet another dull, earnest drama about white people living on the West Coast. Glenn Close stars as a mother who takes in her estranged, opioid-addicted daughter (Mila Kunis, looking emaciated with bleached-blonde hair and blackened teeth) to help her stay clean for four days prior to receiving a shot of naltrexone that will prevent her from getting high. The film doesn’t drag, but every argument in this movie feels like something you’ve heard from a thousand other movies about drug addiction. The performances here aren’t enough to lift the film above those, and the direction by Garcia (Albert Nobbs, Mother and Child) is unimaginative as usual. The film is based on a Washington Post article by Eli Saslow. You’re better off reading that than watching this. Also with Stephen Root, Joshua Leonard, Michael Hyatt, Rebecca Field, and Carla Gallo. 

The Girl Who Believes in Miracles (PG) This Christian drama stars Austyn Johnson as a girl who takes a sermon literally and starts praying to move a mountain. Also with Mira Sorvino, Kevin Sorbo, Tommi Rose, Darryl Cox, Burgess Jenkins, and Peter Coyote. 

Godzilla vs. Kong (PG-13) If you come to this movie for the monster-on-monster fights, this movie delivers on that. Three movies into the series, though, you’d think they’d be trying for more. This installment has a group of idiot scientists trying to lead King Kong to the hollow space at the Earth’s core to stop Godzilla after the big lizard starts attacking cities again. Adam Wingard takes over the helm of the series, and he stages the fights between Godzilla and Kong with a clarity that you don’t always have with kaiju fights. There are some humans in this thing, but they’re stupid and nobody cares about them. They’re played by A-listers, but Wingard could have cast the workers at his local Wal-Mart in these roles, and it would have had the same effect. This is the wrong kind of throwback, reminiscent of the bad old days of Michael Bay’s Transformers films. At least we’re spared Bay’s slavering over his actress’ asses. Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Demián Bichir, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Eiza González, Lance Reddick, Shun Oguri, Kaylee Hottle, Julian Dennison, and Kyle Chandler. 

Here Today (PG-13) Billy Crystal’s comedy bites off way more than it can chew. The main plot has Crystal portraying a longtime comedy writer on a Saturday Night Live-like TV show who lives a lonely life until he befriends a jazz singer (Tiffany Haddish). That would have been enough story for a movie, but this one also delves into the workings of the TV show, his attempts to write about his deceased wife and re-connect with his estranged children, and cope with the onset of dementia. It’s way too much, and there’s not enough difference between the jokes that are meant to be unfunny and the jokes that are supposed to be funny. Haddish tries her best, but she can’t shake the framework of this formulaic piece of work. Possibly this is interesting if you want to know more about the evolution of a comedy sketch, but otherwise, this fails. Also with Penn Badgley, Laura Benanti, Anna Deavere Smith, Alex Brightman, Susan Pourfar, Nyambi Nyambi, Audrey Hsieh, Kevin Kline, and Sharon Stone.

Minari (PG-13) The great boom in Korean filmmaking is joined by a great movie about Korean immigrants in America. Veteran director Lee Isaac Chung draws on his own childhood for this story about a Korean farmer (Steven Yeun) who buys up 50 acres in northwest Arkansas in the 1980s to grow Asian vegetables for the other immigrants coming after him. The workload on him and his wife (Han Ye-ri) is too much to allow them to look after their kids (Noel Cho and Alan Kim), so her mother (Youn Yuh-jung) comes there from South Korea to look after the children. The hard-swearing, chain-smoking grandma is a presence as hot as gochujang, and much of the comedy comes from the unlikely friendship she forms with her 6-year-old grandson. Chung devotes a great deal of attention to the practical struggles of farming, and in so doing demonstrates how an immigrant takes root in American soil. The movie’s title comes from a parsley-like herb that the old woman plants, a symbol of the legacy she leaves in a short time. Also with Will Patton, Darryl Cox, Esther Moon, Ben Hall, and Eric Starkey.

Mortal Kombat (R) A second film adaptation of the 1990s arcade video game, this movie has two very good martial-arts sequences, one at the start with a samurai (Hiroyuki Sanada) defending his home in feudal Japan from Chinese invaders and the other at the end with him joining with an American MMA fighter (Lewis Tan) against a ninja with freezing superpowers (Joe Taslim). Josh Lawson contributes some comic relief as a misogynistic Australian mercenary, but the movie is packed with too many characters and too much fanservice to the gamers who played the video game. The movie has the same gory deaths that made the game so notorious in its day, and the stakes about an evil overlord (Chin Han) from an alternate universe destroying ours never hits home. The movie has two very good martial-arts sequences, but it could have used three. Also with Jessica McNamee, Tadanobu Asano, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Sisi Stringer, Laura Brent, Nathan Jones, and Mehcad Brooks. 

Nobody (R) Wonderful as it is to see Bob Odenkirk star in an action thriller, the film doesn’t have much besides its novelty value. The comedy writer and star of Better Call Saul plays an anonymous suburban father of two who’s hiding a past as a government-licensed killer. When his past comes to light, he falls afoul of the Russian mob. The best scene here is a fight on a bus when he takes down five knife-wielding thugs, as director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) makes good use of the setting and Odenkirk conveys the difficulty his character has in defending himself against all these bad guys. The other action set pieces don’t measure up to that one, though, and the script fails to do justice to the concept of a regular guy who tries to manage his family life while his past catches up with him. The humor is heavy-footed, too. The 58-year-old star fully merits his action vehicle, and could have used a better one. Also with Connie Nielsen, Alexey Serebryakov, Michael Ironside, Colin Salmon, Gage Munroe, Paisley Cadorath, Christopher Lloyd, and RZA. 

Raya and the Last Dragon (PG) This Disney animated film is savvy enough to be set in Southeast Asia, which has a rich vein of folklore. If the results are somewhat underwhelming, the fact that the film is still watchable means something. Set in an ancient dragon-shaped kingdom that has broken off into five warring territories, the movie is about a teenage girl (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) who sees an opportunity to unite the land in peace by reviving the last dragon (voiced by Awkwafina). The film’s points about learning to get along were made by Zootopia with much greater wit and cogency, and Raya herself is so bland that the film surrounds her with six cute sidekicks. The movie badly needs Awkwafina, whose humor cuts through the movie’s reverence and pictorial beauty like a Thai chile through coconut milk. The picture serves an underserved audience and is better than last year’s live-action Mulan remake. Additional voices by Sandra Oh, Gemma Chan, Izaac Wang, Benedict Wong, Sung Kang, François Chau, Ross Butler, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, and Daniel Dae Kim.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (PG-13) Edgar Wright’s brilliant, exhausting adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels stars Michael Cera as a Toronto bass player who finds that to win his new girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he must defeat her seven evil exes in combat, all of whom have superpowers. Wright loses the comic books’ easygoing rhythm, botches the ending, and flattens out many of the supporting characters. Yet the fight sequences are spectacular (featuring actors not known for martial arts), Wright’s flair for action and comedy are everywhere in evidence, and the ridiculously cool cast overacts to great comic effect. Bonus points for original songs by Beck and for the dance-off with flying demon hipster chicks. Also with Ellen Wong, Mark Webber, Alison Pill, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Aubrey Plaza, Johnny Simmons, Brie Larson, Mae Whitman, Satya Bhabha, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, and uncredited cameos by Thomas Jane and Clifton Collins Jr.

Separation (R) This combines a custody drama with a horror film, and neither of them works. Violet McGraw plays an 8-year-old girl whose parents (Rupert Friend and Mamie Gummer) are going through an acrimonious divorce. The parents created a comic book series together, and the scary characters from books start coming to life from the little girl’s emotional tumult. Except that those characters aren’t that scary. Truly nothing works here, not the domestic strife and certainly not Friend’s weak performance as a father under strain. Also with Madeline Brewer, Troy James, Simon Quaterman, and Brian Cox. 

Together Together (R) The curdled whimsy is just about enough to kill you in this comedy is about a single middle-aged man (Ed Helms) who hires a surrogate (Patti Harrison) to have his baby, only to become entangled in his feelings for her. Nikole Beckwith’s script is full of aimless conversations and random observations that aren’t pleasurable enough to stick with, and Helms’ charisma once again fails to carry a vehicle. It’s as if the filmmaker showed up without a script and expected something funny to happen. It didn’t. Also with Rosalind Chao, Nora Dunn, Fred Melamed, Julio Torres, Evan Jonigkeit, and Tig Notaro.

Tom and Jerry (PG) I get the feeling that a better movie could have been made about Itchy and Scratchy from The Simpsons. The cartoon cat and mouse remain animated as they take their rivalry into a live-action fancy New York hotel, where an unemployed millennial (Chloë Grace Moretz) cons her way into a job as a temporary event planner. Tom and Jerry’s mostly one-way slapstick violence against each other feels like it was taken straight from the 1940s cartoons, and the human characters around them have nothing to add to the proceedings. I’d blame the script for the lack of funny business, but I’m not sure there ever was one. When Michael Peña can’t inject anything into the comedy, you know things are dire. Also with Ken Jeong, Pallavi Sharda, Rob Delaney, Patsy Ferran, and Colin Jost. Voices by Bobby Cannavale, Lil Rel Howery, and Utkarsh Ambudkar.

Triumph (PG-13) Based on a real-life story, this drama stars RJ Mitte as a cerebral palsy-suffering high-school student who tries to overcome the odds to compete on his school’s wrestling team. Also with Johnathon Schaech, Colton Haynes, Grace Victoria Cox, Michael D. Coffey, and Terrence Howard.

The Unholy (PG-13) They’re running out of titles for religious horror films, aren’t they? This one is about a deaf teenage girl (Cricket Brown) in Massachusetts in the present day who miraculously recovers her hearing and speech at the site of a 19th-century witch burning, claiming to have visions of the Virgin Mary. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays a disgraced journalist who covers the events and starts to suspect that something other than the blessed virgin gave her back her senses. First-time director Evan Spilitopoulos (who was a screenwriter on the Beauty and the Beast remake) has some sharp things to say about people’s need to believe in miracles and how that can be corrupted, but this movie fails utterly as a horror film. The newcomer Brown gives an impressive performance amid the wreckage. It’s not enough to recommend this movie that lands on “dopey” rather than “scary.” Also with Cary Elwes, Katie Aselton, Diogo Morgado, and William Sadler. 

Voyagers (PG-13) This science-fiction film is a bunch of horny teenagers acting out Lord of the Flies in space, and it’s way less interesting than that sounds. Neil Burger’s movie is set in the 2080s, when a group of Earth colonists who have been in space since childhood are in the middle of an 86-year journey to a colonizable planet. The teens are drugged with a potion that turns off their emotions and sex drive, but when their adult supervisor (Colin Farrell) is killed in an accident and the truth comes out, a demagogue (Fionn Whitehead) stages a coup to overthrow the democratically elected new chief (Tye Sheridan). This is an allegory for the Trump era, and the issue is less the conceit’s lack of subtlety than the lack of wit that Burger brings to the story, not to mention the young cast not being up to what’s required of them here. When it comes to the dangers of mob rule, cinema can do better than this arid parable. Also with Lily-Rose Depp, Chanté Adams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Archie Madekwe, Viveik Kalra, and April Grace.

Walking With Herb (PG) Edward James Olmos stars in this Christian drama as a man who struggles with his faith after a tragedy. Also with George Lopez, Kathleen Quinlan, Jessica Medoff, Johnathan McClain, Billy Boyd, and Christopher McDonald.

The Water Man (PG) David Oyelowo clearly has some talent behind the camera in his debut as a director, but this fantasy-adventure film is missing some magic. He plays a Navy officer who has newly transferred to the Oregon woods with his ailing wife (Rosario Dawson) and their pre-teen son (Lonnie Chavis), who runs away from home in the belief that tracking down a legendary forest dweller will cure his mother’s illness. The different pieces of the film fit together pretty well and there’s a nice point in here about how faith can lead to delusions. Still, the parts of the movie that depict the boy’s fanciful visions in the forest don’t spark, perhaps because of budget limitations. The movie features animated interludes depicting the plot of a graphic novel that the boy is working on, and that seems more interesting than the movie we’re watching. Also with Maria Bello, Amiah Miller, Jessica Oyelowo, John Henry Whitaker, Ted Rooney, and Alfred Molina. 

Wrath of Man (R) If you want the familiar comforts of Jason Statham shooting people, this movie delivers. Considering it’s his reunion with Guy Ritchie, though, it’s a bit underwhelming. Statham plays an Englishman in L.A. who takes a job as a security guard for an armored truck company, only to prove to his colleagues that he’s not an ordinary working stiff. This remake of the 2004 French thriller Cash Truck sports an ingenious flashback structure that reveals why the protagonist is out for revenge and who he is seeking it from. The movie could have done without Christopher Benstead’s bombastic score and Ritchie’s Biblical imagery. Despite a nifty one-take opening shot depicting two guards being held up by armed robbers, the movie isn’t as thoughtful or skillful as Heat or The Limey. I like Statham better, too, when he’s allowed to display a sense of humor. Also with Jeffrey Donovan, Holt McCallany, Josh Hartnett, Deobia Oparei, Scott Eastwood, Laz Alonso, Raúl Castillo, Rocci Williams, Niamh Algar, Eddie Marsan, and Andy Garcia.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

Gunda (G) This documentary by Viktor Kossakovsky (Aquarela) examines the lives of animals on various farms in Spain, Latvia, and America. 

Paper Spiders (NR) This drama stars Stefania LaVie Owen as a teenager who’s preparing to leave for college when her mother (Lili Taylor) starts to suffer paranoid delusions. Also with Peyton List, Max Casella, Ian Nelson, Jennifer Cody, Michael Cyril Creigton, and David Rasche. 

The Paper Tigers (PG-13) This martial-arts comedy is about three middle-aged former kung fu prodigies (Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, and Mykel Shannon Jenkins) who are forced to revive their talents to solve the murder of their master. Also with Yuji Okumoto, Jae Suh Park, Roger Yuan, Peter Adrian Sudarso, Yoshi Sudarso, and Matthew Page.

White People Money (NR) Barton Fitzpatrick and Drew Sidora star in this comedy as two people caught in the chase when a wealthy widow announces she’s giving away $1 billion to each of 15 Americans selected for their good works. Also with Damon Williams, Dawn Noel, Bobby Reed, Jenicia Garcia, Tommy Corts, J. Adrienne, and Nicole Arbour. 

 

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