Ailey (PG-13) Jamila Wignot’s documentary profiles the great African-American choreographer. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)
Cinderella (PG) Camila Cabello stars in this musical based on the fairy tale. Also with Billy Porter, Idina Menzel, Nicholas Galitzine, James Corden, Minnie Driver, and Pierce Brosnan. (Opens Friday at Movie Tavern Hulen)
The Gateway (R) Shea Whigham stars in this thriller as a social worker trying to protect a single mother (Olivia Munn) from her violent ex-husband (Frank Grillo) after he’s released from prison. Also with Keith David, Taryn Manning, Mark Boone Junior, Taegen Burns, and Bruce Dern. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Ma Belle, My Beauty (R) Idella Johnson and Hannah Pepper portray former polyamorous lovers who meet again by chance in the south of France. Also with Lucien Guignard and Sivan Noam Shimon. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
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. (Re-opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)
We Need to Do Something (NR) Sean King O’Grady’s horror film is about a lesbian couple (Sierra McCormick and Lisette Alexis) and their son (John James Cronin) who are haunted by supernatural forces while trapped by a storm. Also with Vinessa Shaw and Pat Healy. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Wild Indian (NR) Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer star in this thriller as two Native Americans bound together by the secret of a murder committed years before. Also with Kate Bosworth, Colton Knaus, Scott Haze, and Jesse Eisenberg. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Yakuza Princess (R) This Japanese thriller stars MASUMI as a crime family heiress who enlists an amnesiac stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) to help defend her against a faction of the family that wants her dead. Also with Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kenny Leu, Eijiro Ozaki, Toshiji Takeshima, and Lucas Oranmian. (Opens Friday)
Zone 414 (R) Guy Pearce stars in this science-fiction thriller as a private detective trying to solve a missing persons case in a colony of future humanoid robots. Also with Travis Fimmel, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Colin Salmon, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, and Ned Dennehy. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Bellbottom (NR) This Indian thriller is based on a real-life airplane hijacking in 1984, and it would have been better if it had stuck to that story like a Western film. Akshay Kumar plays an intelligence agent who takes charge when a commercial flight is taken over by terrorists and flown to the United Arab Emirates. We Westerners are interested in how he and his team take down the hijackers while sidestepping their Pakistani counterparts and the Emirati government, but the film insists on padding out its 141 minutes with musical numbers, flashbacks about the main character’s mother (Dolly Ahluwalia) dying in a hijacking, and heroic speeches given to the star. This is India’s first major film release since the COVID epidemic, and it’s typical of that country’s cinema in good and bad ways. Also with Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta, Denzil Smith, Zain Khan Durrani, Kavi Raz, and Amit Kumar Vashisth.
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.
Candyman (R) The sequel to the 1992 horror film is dense with ideas and a pleasure to look at. Taking place in a now-gentrified Cabrini Green neighborhood, an artist (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) finds out about the urban legend and becomes obsessed, making Candyman-inspired art and bringing back the hook-handed undead man who hacks people to death if they say his name into a mirror five times. The script co-written by Jordan Peele expertly skewers the academic jargon of pretentious artists and cuts it with poisonous barbs about race relations. The Candyman goes from boogeyman of the hood to symbol of the Black community’s anger at generations of victims of white brutality. Mateen gives a great performance as a man unraveling physically and mentally, and director/co-writer Nia DaCosta gives the whole thing a lush look appropriate to the art-world setting. Also with Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Kyle Kaminsky, Brian King, Miriam Moss, Rebecca Spence, Michael Hargrove, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Heidi Grace Engerman, and Vanessa Williams.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Protégé (R) That title should be spelled “protégée,” but this movie has bigger problems than mixing up its French noun genders. Maggie Q stars in this thriller as a contract killer who seeks revenge when her adoptive father and mentor in the trade (Samuel L. Jackson) is murdered in his home on his 70th birthday. Her quest leads her to Vietnam, the country where she was orphaned as a girl. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) executes the fight sequences reasonably well, but the script is way less clever than it thinks it is. Maggie Q can certainly deliver a roundhouse kick, and it would have helped if she could deliver a threat with any sort of aplomb. The only actor who shows what he can do is Michael Keaton as an enemy who is as skilled and resourceful as the antiheroine. You’re better off staying home and catching the movie streaming, or simply looking up the fight scenes on YouTube. Also with Patrick Malahide, Ray Fearon, Ori Pfeffer, David Rintoul, and Robert Patrick.
Reminiscence (PG-13) The plot of this science-fiction thriller is actually a fairly neat piece of work. Problem is, it’s buried under loads of bad, solipsistic, sub-Raymond Chandler dialogue. Hugh Jackman plays a contractor in a post-apocalyptic, half-flooded future Miami who extracts people’s memories and saves them as holographic films on hard drives. He falls for a beautiful nightclub singer (Rebecca Ferguson) who employs him for a job and then disappears. Ferguson is achingly beautiful, and you can believe that a man might be obsessed with finding her. Still, writer-director Lisa Joy (a co-creator of TV’s Westworld) spends too much time going around in miserable circles like her protagonist and has little idea how to pace this thing. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner did a better job of balancing a science-fiction setting with a hard-boiled private detective story. Also with Thandiwe Newton, Mariana de Tavira, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan, Brett Cullen, Daniel Wu, and Cliff Curtis.
Un rescate de huevitos (PG) If you’ve never seen a Mexican animated movie for kids, you’ll be happy to know that this isn’t too shabby. The story begins on a farm where a rooster and hen (voiced by Bruno Bichir and Maite Perroni) have laid two golden eggs, which unfortunately attracts the attention of some Russian egg hunters who are searching for rare eggs to serve at a banquet in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The concept of eggs that walk and talk to one another may be too weird for you, but the computer animation is at an acceptable level, the plot has enough twists to keep the kids engaged, and the throwaway gags in the background might raise a chuckle or two from the grown-ups. This is the fourth film in a series, but the first one to make it to our theaters. Additional voices by Carlos Espejel, Mauricio Barrientos, Angélica Vale, Freddy Ortega, Germán Ortega, Miguel Rodarte, and Jesús Ochoa.
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.
Together (R) Set during the coronavirus lockdown, this movie traps you with a married couple who actively detest each other, and it’s exactly as appealing as it sounds. James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan play the battling couple in 2020 who have sheltered in place in London with their young son (Samuel Logan), for whose sake they’ve stayed together. Hard to imagine how hearing his parents hurl vitriol at each other is good for the kid. It certainly isn’t good for us, as the parents address the camera with their various grievances. The script by Dennis Kelly isn’t funny enough to carry a premise like this. The actors are good in some of the quieter moments in the film, but who wants to stick around for those? I’d take my chances with the plague rather than be stuck in a room with these two.
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.
The Colony (R) Nora Arnezeder stars in this science-fiction thriller as an astronaut on a post-apocalyptic Earth who must decide the fate of the remnants of human civilization. Also with Iain Glen, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Sope Dirisu, Joel Basman, and Sebastian Roché.
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.
The Lost Leonardo (PG-13) Andreas Koefoed’s documentary is about the fate of “Salvator Mundi,” a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci whose whereabouts have been unknown since its 2017 sale in New York.