SHARE
Gigi Saul Guerrero fights for her life in "Funhouse." Courtesy Magnolia Pictures.

OPENING

 

American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally (R) This drama is based on the real-life trial of the radio broadcaster (Meadow Williams) who broadcast Nazi propaganda to American soldiers during World War II. Also with Al Pacino, Thomas Kretschmann, Lala Kent, Jasper Polish, Carsten Norgaard, and Mitch Pileggi. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

City-of-Bedford-300x250

Funhouse (NR) Jason William Lee’s horror film is about a group of eight celebrities forced to fight for their lives while competing on what they believe to be a reality show. Starring Valter Skarsgård, Khamisa Wilshere, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Christopher Gerard, Karolina Benefield, Amanda Howells, Matthias Retamal, Dayleigh Nelson, Jerome Velinsky, and Kylee Bush. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)

Moby Doc (NR) Rob Gordon Bralver’s documentary profiles the techno musician and animal rights activist Moby. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)

Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog (NR) This family film is about a German shepherd taken from his Jewish family and trained by Nazis to attack Jews during the Holocaust. Starring August Maturo, Ken Duken, Ayelet Zurer, Ádám Porogi, Viktóriz Stefanovszky, and Lois Robbins. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

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. 

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. 

Dream Horse (PG) Too much like other sports movies. This might be because the racehorse that this movie is based on had a movie-like career, but even so, the filmmakers don’t do enough with it. The story picks up in the late 1990s, when a bored supermarket clerk (Toni Collette) and an accountant with experience owning thoroughbreds (Damian Lewis) put together a group of investors in their small town in Wales to contribute £10 a week for two years towards breeding a racehorse. The inspirational speeches arrive just when you think they will and the supporting characters come off like the same lovable village eccentrics you’ve seen in a thousand other cozy British comedies. The movie will provide a shot of Welsh pride, and Collette proves she can slot into any setting with any accent. Still, the uplift here is purely theoretical. Also with Owen Teale, Nicholas Farrell, Joanna Page, Karl Johnson, Anthony O’Donnell, Steffan Rhodri, Peter Davison, and Siân Phillips.

Final Account (PG-13) Luke Holland’s documentary interviews the last generation of Germans who lived through the Nazi regime about their own role in its atrocities.

Finding You (PG) That title is ironic, because the movie never decides what it’s about. Rose Reid plays an American violin student who travels to Ireland for a semester abroad and falls for a Hollywood movie star (Jedidiah Goodacre) who’s shooting a swords-and-sorcery film there. The CGI dragons in the movie-within-the-movie are more believable than the Irish atmosphere — if there were any more stereotypes about Ireland in here, we’d be seeing leprechauns dancing around pots of gold. The film might have gotten away with that if it had focused on one thing, but since it’s adapted from Jenny B. Jones’ novel, it insists on cramming in subplots about the star’s career and the protagonist’s attempt to reconcile a nursing home patient (Vanessa Redgrave) with her family. This is a comprehensive failure. Also with Katherine McNamara, Tom Everett Scott, Judith Hoag, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Fiona Bell, and Patrick Bergin. 

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.

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. 

New Order (R) This Mexican thriller has some striking visuals and talent behind the camera without saying much. The film takes place during a high-society wedding that becomes caught up in a violent revolution, with the bride-to-be (Naian González Norvind) taken prisoner by the revolutionaries. Writer-director Michel Franco creates a striking color palette, with the revolutionaries staining everything green as their signature. He’s also good at showing innocent casualties among the rich and poor as both the rebels and the government commit atrocities in the name of their causes. Yet other films like the Guatemalan horror movie La Llorona have painted a more complete picture of life inside a plutocratic dictatorship. The story is underbaked, but Franco is a talent to watch for. Also with Fernando Cuautle, Diego Boneta, Roberto Medina, Mónica del Carmen, Ximena Garcia, Claudia Lobo, Dario Yazbek Bernal, and Lisa Owen.

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

Spiral (R) This spinoff from the Saw series has more sophisticated ideas in its head than its predecessors, but still needed more. Chris Rock plays a homicide cop dealing with a Jigsaw copycat who is targeting police officers for his sadistic murders. The fact that it’s bad cops in the new killer’s torture devices doesn’t do all that much. The script does have an intriguing idea in making the Black protagonist a pariah inside his department for his honesty about police brutality, but this isn’t followed up on like you’d want. Rock does have loads more personality than any actor we’ve previously seen in the series, and his presence alone makes this into a flawed but unique presence in the burgeoning canon of Black horror movies. A sequel will need a lot more thought, though. Also with Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Dan Petronijevic, Richard Zeppieri, Patrick McManus, and Samuel L. Jackson.

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. 

Together Together (R) The curdled whimsy is just about enough to kill you in this comedy 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.

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. 

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

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. 

The Dry (R) Eric Bana stars in this thriller as a federal agent who returns to his drought-stricken hometown for a funeral and has to reckon with a decades-old unsolved murder. Also with Genevieve O’Reilly, Keir O’Donnell, John Polson, Julia Blake, Bruce Spence, and William Zappa.

The Perfect Candidate (NR) The latest film by Haifaa al-Mansour (Wadjda) is about a Saudi doctor (Mila al-Zahrani) who creates controversy in her hometown by running for political office. Also with Dhay, Nora al-Awad, Khalid Abdulraheem, Shafi Alharthy, Tareq al-Khaldi, and Khadeeja Mu’ath.

When Hitler Stole PInk Rabbit (NR) Not a sequel to Jojo Rabbit, this German drama is about a Jewish family forced to flee across Europe from the Nazi regime. Starring Riva Krymalowski, Marinus Hohmann, Carla Juri, Oliver Masucci, Justus von Dohnanyi, and Ursula Werner. 

 

LEAVE A REPLY