SHARE
Rebecca Hall has horrific visions in her lake house in "The Night House." Courtesy Searchlight Studios

OPENING

 

Bellbottom (NR) Akshay Kumar stars in this Indian thriller as a spy leading a team to rescue 210 hostages from an airplane hijacking in Amritsar. Also with Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta, Denzil Smith, Kavi Raz, and Amit Kumar Vashisth. (Opens Friday)

McFlys 300x250 (1)

Demonic (R) This horror film by Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is about a case of demonic possession involving a young woman (Nathalie Boltt) and her estranged mother (Carly Pope). Also with Terry Chen and Chris William Martin. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)

Ema (R) Pablo Larraín (Jackie) directs this film about a Chilean dancer (Mariana di Girólamo) who wanders the streets of Valparaíso searching for purpose after a family trauma. Also with Gael García Bernal, Santiago Cabrera, Paola Giannini, Cristián Suárez, Giannina Fruttero, Amparo Noguera, and Catalina Saavedra. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Flag Day (R) Sean Penn directs and stars in this drama as a father living a double life as a criminal to provide for his family. Also with Dylan Penn, Josh Brolin, Katheryn Winnick, Eddie Marsan, Dale Dickey, James Russo, Norbert Leo Butz, and Regina King. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Habit (R) Bella Thorne stars in this thriller as a party girl who hides out after a drug deal gone bad by disguising herself as a nun. Also with Gavin Rossdale, Paris Jackson, Josie Ho, Hana Mae Lee, and Alison Mosshart. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Night House (R) The protagonist of this horror film sees a space between a wooden frame and a column that is shaped like a person. Then the negative space turns its head. Rebecca Hall portrays a schoolteacher whose architect husband (Evan Jonigkeit) has recently committed suicide. Alone in the lake house that he designed and built, she starts to hear strange noises and discover evidence that he was working on a whole other house that is the mirror image of the one she lives in. Director David Bruckner conjures up some effectively ooky scares and Hall is magnificent as a depressive who copes with her loss by cracking disturbingly dark jokes. The story works splendidly on a metaphorical level (with themes of mirrors, doubles, and empty spaces), but needs to be more believable when incorporating supernatural elements into a realistic story. Also with Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Christina Jackson, David Abelas, and Vondie Curtis-Hall. (Opens Friday)

No Ordinary Man (NR) Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s documentary chronicles the life of Billy Tipton, the jazz bandleader and biological woman who passed for male his entire life. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Paw Patrol: The Movie (G) The animated TV series moves to the big screen, as the dogs try to prevent the mayor (voiced by Ron Pardo) from outlawing dogs. Additional voices by Iain Armitage, Marsai Martin, Yara Shahidi, Randall Park, Dax Shepard, Jimmy Kimmel, Kim Kardashian West, and Tyler Perry. (Opens Friday)

The Protégé (R) There should be an extra “e” in that title. Maggie Q stars in this thriller as a contract killer who seeks revenge when her adoptive father (Samuel L. Jackson) is killed. Also with Michael Keaton, Patrick Malahide, David Rintoul, and Robert Patrick. (Opens Friday)

Raja Raja Chora (NR) Sree Vishnu stars in this Telugu-language comedy for a family audience. Also with Megha Akash, Sunaina, Ravi Babu, Tanikella Bharani, and Srikanth Iyyengar. (Opens Friday at Cinemark North East Mall)

Reminiscence (PG-13) Hugh Jackman stars in this science-fiction thriller as a private detective in the future who becomes obsessed when his beautiful client (Rebecca Ferguson) disappears. Also with Thandiwe Newton, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan, Brett Cullen, Daniel Wu, and Cliff Curtis. (Opens Friday) 

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Black Widow (PG-13) The film doesn’t bring much closure to the story of Scarlett Johansson’s character, and it feels like Marvel never appreciated her. Even so, this thriller works well on its own. The film delves into Natasha Romanoff’s backstory and sees her reunite the members of her fake family of Soviet agents (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour) to liberate an army of brainwashed assassins from the control of a Russian general (Ray Winstone). The idea of a male villain who can rob women of their ability to consent is a tantalizing idea that goes unexplored, as does Natasha’s past as a minion of evil. The better parts of the film are the ones dealing with the family getting back together, with a scene-stealing and hilarious turn by Pugh. Australian director Cate Shortland (Lore) assimilates well into the Marvel house style, too. If this doesn’t fit well into the Marvel canon, it’s still proudly female and the best blockbuster of the summer. That’s not nothing. Also with Olga Kurylenko, O-T Fagbenle, Ever Anderson, Violet McGraw, William Hurt, and an uncredited Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The Boss Baby: Family Business (PG) This is seriously just insulting. The filmmakers acknowledge that the original 2017 animated film didn’t make any sense and wasn’t funny, then they throw the exact same lazy crap at us as the last time. The Templeton brothers (voiced by Alec Baldwin and James Marsden) are now grown-up and estranged from each other when Tim’s kids inform them that they need to take a magic potion so they can temporarily turn back into babies and infiltrate an evil corporation run by a bad baby (voiced by Jeff Goldblum). Plot developments and action sequences are thrown at us with zero regard for logic or continuity. Additional voices by Eva Longoria, Amy Sedaris, Ariana Greenblatt, James McGrath, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow.

Don’t Breathe 2 (R) The blind villain from the original film raped and forcibly impregnated one woman and tried to do the same to another, in addition to murdering several people. To make him palatable as a protagonist, the sequel pits him against people who are somehow even worse. The man has set up another secluded home outside Detroit with his young daughter (Madelyn Grace) when she’s targeted by a group of dishonorably discharged soldiers who are now working for a child organ trafficking ring. The premise’s novelty has worn off, but new director Rodo Sayagues does well staging the action scenes as this survivalist deals with a home invasion, and the script acknowledges that the little girl is traumatized by seeing her dad gruesomely kill the bad guys. Hard to see where a third movie would pick up, so this is a good place to end the series. Also with Brendan Sexton III, Rocci Williams, Stephanie Arcila, Adam Young, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, and Bobby Schofield. 

Escape From Mogadishu (NR) The title doesn’t sound like it belongs to a Korean film, but the movie dramatizes the real-life ordeal over two weeks of 1991 and 1992, when the country of Somalia collapsed into civil war and South Korean diplomats not only had to extract themselves from the war-torn nation but also North Korean embassy workers who had taken refuge with them. Director Ryoo Seung-wan (The Berlin File, Veteran) is an experienced hand with action thrillers, and he executes a dazzling tracking shot through four cars containing diplomats as they make a climactic dash through gunfire toward the Italian embassy. The message about the brotherhood between the two Koreas in the worst of times will necessarily mean more to audiences from there, but the director turns this into an effective thriller. Starring Kim Yoon-seok, Jo In-sung, Huh Joon-ho, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim So-jin, Jung Man–shik, and Kim Jae-hwa. 

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (PG-13) The best thing about this series continues to be the production design, as the characters are placed in killer environments that look nothing like the settings of other horror movies. Alas, when a movie’s best element is its set design, that’s always a bad sign. Taylor Russell and Logan Miller reprise their roles from the first film, as their characters go to New York to take revenge on the designers of the lethal escape rooms that they extricated themselves from. The Big Apple turns out to have more escape rooms waiting for them, in the forms of a subway car, a seaside crab shack, and an Art Deco bank lobby, among others. Watching these characters try to do math and solve word puzzles or be scalded to death with acid is quite a bit less thrilling than it sounds, and we come no closer to discovering the people behind the curtain. This entire story is a labyrinth that only leads to dead ends. Also with Thomas Cocquerel, Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Carlito Olivero, and Deborah Ann Woll. 

F9 (PG-13) Better late than never that the series goes all the way silly. Dom (Vin Diesel) has to go up against the younger brother (John Cena) he disowned who’s now an international superspy aiming to take over the world. Also, Han (Sung Kang) is brought back from the dead and Roman and Tej (Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris) go into outer space in a Pontiac Fiero. Both of those developments are ridiculous, and one of them is so in a pleasing way. The drama is soft-boiled, and Cena is wasted in a role that doesn’t let him be funny. Then again, the car chases — one involves cars with superpowered magnets that turn other cars into projectiles — are enough to keep the movie fresh for its fans. Also with Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Lucas Black, Vinnie Bennett, Finn Cole, Thue Ersted Rasmussen, Shea Whigham, Michael Rooker, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Helen Mirren, Cardi B, and an uncredited Jason Statham.

The Forever Purge (R) White supremacists in Texas start a violent revolution declaring that the Purge is now every day. It makes for the most watchable of the films in the series, mostly because a descent into total anarchy always made more sense than a system that includes just one Purge day. Director Everardo Gout focuses on one rich white family and the undocumented Mexican couple working for them as they flee the chaos by making a run for the Mexican border. Gout executes a nice one-take tracking shot as the main characters dash across the streets of El Paso with murder and carnage happening around them. The series should have done this sooner, as the ending sets up an interesting situation going forward. Starring Josh Lucas, Will Patton, Ana de la Reguera, Leven Rambin, Cassidy Freeman, Tenoch Huerta, Susie Abromeit, Alejandro Edda, Sammi Rotibi, Will Brittain, and Veronica Falcón. 

Free Guy (PG-13) It’s like The Truman Show, but for video games. Ryan Reynolds stars as a bank teller inside an ultraviolent video game who discovers that he is just a non-playable character in a game and starts deviating from his programming. This movie is more attuned to gaming culture than most, with real-life YouTube and Twitch gamers making cameo appearances to comment on an NPC suddenly acting on his own. Neither of the movie’s romantic plots works, but the actors bring great energy, with Taika Waititi nailing the part of a T-shirt-wearing corporate tyrant, Jodie Comer switching gleefully between a blonde American gamer and her brunette British alter ego, and Reynolds doing well as a man who’s so square that he’s hip. Movies adapted from video games suck, but movies about video games and why people play them have better luck. Also with Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Channing Tatum, and Chris Evans. Voices by Dwayne Johnson, Tina Fey, John Krasinski, and Hugh Jackman.

The Green Knight (R) David Lowery’s most complete film yet is this strange, mystical adaptation of the 14th-century poem about Sir Gawain. Dev Patel portrays the medieval knight, who beheads a knight (Ralph Ineson) who challenges him and then has to keep an appointment the next year to receive a return blow from the victim, who’s very much alive despite being decapitated. Lowery’s customary brand of mythic fantasy fits this story better than any of his previous ones, and he has a flair for the unexpected visual, like the Green Knight laying his axe down on a stone castle floor and grass immediately sprouting from the cracks. The borderline-abstract interiors and the blasted heaths and moors make for spectacular backdrops. At times Lowery needs to crack on with the story, but the overly long fake ending serves a purpose in tying the poem to the director’s ongoing concerns with human beings’ purpose on Earth. For a movie adapted from a 600-year-old poem, its weirdness is entirely appropriate. Also with Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Sarita Choudhury, Barry Keoghan, Erin Kellyman, and Kate Dickie. 

Jungle Cruise (PG-13) Thuddingly mediocre Disney entry has none of the technical dazzle of Raiders of the Lost Ark nor any of the bracing weirdness of the better Pirates of the Caribbean films. This adventure film based on one of the Disneyland rides is set in 1916 and features Emily Blunt as a British archeologist who travels to Brazil and engages a rough riverboat captain (Dwayne Johnson) to take her on an Amazon expedition to find a lost treasure. The filmmakers are aiming for something like the Bogart-Hepburn chemistry from The African Queen, but it never materializes, and the only actor here who comes correct is Jesse Plemons as a German military officer who serves as a comic villain. This isn’t bad, necessarily. It’s just overwhelmingly Disney. Also with Edgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Veronica Falcón, Andy Nyman, and Paul Giamatti. 

Old (PG-13) M. Night Shyamalan remains great at putting the camera in the right place and moving it around, and also remains terrible at writing. Adapting Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters’ French graphic novel, the film stars Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps as parents of young children who take a vacation on a secluded beach and discover along with a few other groups of vacationers that the place is causing them to age rapidly. As always, Shyamalan creates enviable shots and goes easy on the sentimentality that has marred some of his previous work, but the film goes on too long and the trademark plot twist here (different from the one in the graphic novel) doesn’t pay off well enough. Ranking in the middle of the pack of Shyamalan’s films, this keeps you interested but no more. Also with Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Embeth Davidtz, Aaron Pierre, Emun Elliott, Kathleen Chalfant, Gustaf Hammarsten, Francesca Eastwood, and Rufus Sewell. 

A Quiet Place Part II (PG-13) A worthy successor to the 2018 horror hit, this sequel expands the world of the original, with the surviving family members (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe) abandoning their family farm to shelter with a neighbor (Cillian Murphy) and find a sanctuary on an island untouched by the alien invasion. Murphy’s presence is a nice touch, as he recalls his starring role in 28 Days Later and gives a nice performance as a survivor of the apocalypse who’s haunted by his lost loved ones. Besides telling us some things about our core characters that we didn’t know, writer-director John Krasinski also delivers on a couple of bravura sequences, one with a pre-credit extended flashback and another involving a pack of rapist-cannibals. The series continues to build character and suspense with a minimum of dialogue. Also with Djimon Hounsou, Dean Woodward, Scoot McNairy, and John Krasinski.

Raging Fire (NR) This is the last film from director Benny Chan before his death from cancer, and it’ll satisfy your fix for a Hong Kong cop thriller. Donnie Yen plays a police detective whose former protégé (Nicholas Tse) is leading a group of ex-cops-turned-ex-cons who are killing off both the city’s gangsters and police. Yen is in a role that spotlights his dramatic acting more than his martial-arts skills, and while he’s credible enough as a man with divided loyalties, he’s too stolid as a guy who’s reckless enough to fire shots at his own bomb squad to keep them back. Tse does better as a villain nursing a grudge underneath his cool exterior. Despite some hokey bits, the film’s action sequences tend to be well-executed, particularly a climactic showdown between hero and villain in a church that’s being renovated. The movie is a throwback to the glory days of the 1990s, and that’s mostly a good thing. Also with Qin Lan, Angus Cheung, Patrick Tam, Ben Lam, Deep Ng, Henry Prince Mak, Wong Tak-Bun, Jeana Ho, Ray Lui, Kwok Fung, and Simon Yam.

Respect (PG-13) If you’re going to make a biopic of Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson is the best you can do to cast as the Queen of Soul. Too bad this movie isn’t the best that can be done. Franklin’s eventful life is reduced to a series of episodes strung together indifferently and interspersed with Hudson’s cover versions of Franklin’s best-known hits, plus some from her abortive earlier career as a lounge jazz singer. The film has some great supporting work from Forest Whitaker as Franklin’s father and Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, but these aren’t enough to knit this bloated exercise into a cohesive statement about its subject’s life and career, or even reveal much that’s new to casual fans. Also with Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Brenda Nicole Moorer, Hailey Kilgore, Kimberly Scott, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Tate Donovan, and Mary J. Blige. 

Snake Eyes (PG-13) For once, one of these G.I. Joe movies has an interesting story to tell. Too bad it’s let down by the action sequences. Henry Golding portrays a fighter who is taken in and trained by a clan of Japanese ninjas, only he intends to betray his benefactors to the yakuza in order to further his own personal agenda of avenging his murdered father. The fight sequences are ruined by choppy editing and director Robert Schwentke. The real shame is that Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) looks like he’s in proper fighting shape, so much that you can overlook his wobbly American accent. The ingredients were all here for something special, but the chefs in the kitchen turned them into hash. Also with Samara Weaving, Andrew Koji, Úrsula Corberó, Peter Mensah, Haruka Abe, Eri Ishida, Takehiro Hira, and Iko Uwais. 

Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG) A worthy successor to the 1996 movie, which is to say it’s just as loud, stupid, cynical, and bereft of any value (entertainment or otherwise) as the original. LeBron James portrays himself as a crappy dad who pushes his teenage son (Cedric Joe) to play basketball when the kid would rather be designing video games. They both get digitized and forced to suit up against an evil basketball team made up of real-life NBA and WNBA stars as well as a whole bunch of characters from Warner Bros.’ intellectual property ranks. The movie’s too busy name-checking characters from Looney Tunes and the DC Comics universe to attempt a coherent story or even fire off any stray jokes that hit. The only way this could be a bigger disgrace to everyone involved is if it had a soaring ballad by R. Kelly over the end credits. Also with Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, Khris Davis, Wood Harris, Lil Rel Howery, Sarah Silverman, Steven Yeun, and Michael B. Jordan. Voices by Zendaya, Rosario Dawson, Gabriel Iglesias, Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis. 

Stillwater (R) Matt Damon plays an Oklahoma roughneck whose college-student daughter (Abigail Breslin) is caught up in a murder heavily reminiscent of the Amanda Knox case in Marseille. When he finds a lead toward clearing his daughter’s name, he resolves to stay in France and have her freed from prison. Director/co-writer Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) is best when he focuses on the main character’s efforts to adjust to a new country and become a father figure in a new French family. However, the story takes an unforgivably melodramatic and sensationalistic turn about 45 minutes from the end, one which seems to come from a different film altogether. The film is supposed to be about how living in a new place changes you. Had it stuck to that, it might have been really good. Also with Camille Cottin, Lilou Siauvaud, Idir Azougli, Anne Le Ny, and Deanna Dunagan.

The Suicide Squad (R) Let’s all just pretend that the original Suicide Squad movie never happened, okay? A whole new squad of villains is sent to rescue the original squad’s commander (Joel Kinnaman) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in a fictitious Caribbean island nation where the new anti-American government is threatening to take possession of an American secret weapon. James Gunn’s madcap sense of humor is a vast improvement over the original’s complete humorlessness, with Harley’s scatterbrainedness reaching Brick Tamland levels and a funny pissing match ongoing between the squad’s two alpha males (Idris Elba and John Cena). Gunn knows how to play the gory deaths for both laughs and pathos as needed, and the team winds up facing a kaiju that’s mightily impressive. If this and Birds of Prey are indications of a raunchy direction for the DC movies, I’m all for it. Also with Viola Davis, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Jai Courtney, Pete Davidson, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, Storm Reid, Alice Braga, Juan Diego Botto, Joaquín Cosio, Flula Borg, Sean Gunn, Steve Agee, Jennifer Holland, Peter Capaldi, and Taika Waititi. Voice by Sylvester Stallone.

12 Mighty Orphans (PG-13) A real-life Fort Worth story becomes a movie made in our own town. Luke Wilson plays “Rusty” Russell, the legendary football coach who arrives to teach math and take over the team at the Fort Worth Masonic Home for Orphans in the late 1920s. Director Ty Roberts and co-writers Lane Garrison and Kevin Meyer labor mightily to avoid the usual clichés of sports dramas with mixed results. The narrative suffers from too much voiceover narration from a doctor and assistant coach (Martin Sheen) explaining how the team became an inspiration to America during the Great Depression, but the hardscrabble setting of Fort Worth a century ago is well-evoked and the football games look ragged the way you’d expect a high-school game from that era to look. Watch for Wayne Knight, cast well against type and making a big impression as a sadistic school dean who believes in corporal punishment. Also with Robert Duvall, Vinessa Shaw, Lane Garrison, Jacob Lofland, Scott Haze, Ron White, Rooster McConaughey, Jake Austin Walker, Larry Pine, and Treat Williams.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

Buckley’s Chance (NR) This drama stars Milan Burch as a kid from New York who’s forced to move in with his estranged grandfather (Bill Nighy) in Western Australia. Also with Victoria Hill and Martin Sacks.

CODA (PG-13) This drama stars Emilia Jones as a Child of Deaf Adults who has to decide whether to pursue a career or stay with her family. Also with Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, John Fiore, Lonnie Farmer, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, and Eugenio Derbez. 

Crime Story (R) Richard Dreyfuss stars in this thriller as an aged cancer patient who seeks revenge on the felons who have wreaked havoc on his life. Also with Mira Sorvino, Pruitt Taylor Vince, James Hammond, Cress Williams, and Derek Russo. 

Eyimofe (NR) Also called This Is My Desire, this Nigerian drama is about two people (Jude Akuwudike and Temiloluwa Ami-Williams) who leave Africa in hopes of improving their families’ lives. Also with Cynthia Ebijie, Tomiwa Edun, Jacob Alexander, Chioma Omeruah, and Sadiq Daba. 

Naked Singularity (R) This thriller stars John Boyega as a burned-out New York public defense lawyer who decides to rob his wealthy drug-dealer client. Also with Olivia Cooke, Bill Skarsgård, Ed Skrein, Tim Blake Nelson, Kyle Mooney, and Linda Lavin. 

 

LEAVE A REPLY