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Jared Leto vamps out in "Morbius." Courtesy of Sony Pictures

OPENING

 

Attack Part 1 (NR) John Abraham stars in this Indian action film as a soldier who volunteers to be turned into a cybernetically enhanced super-soldier. Also with Jacqueline Fernandez, Rakul Preet Singh, Prakash Raj, and Ratna Pathak Shah. (Opens Friday)

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Bull (R) Paul Andrew Williams’ thriller stars Neil Maskell as a criminal who returns home after 10 years to revenge himself on the people who wronged him. Also with Laura McAlpine, David Hayman, Tamzin Outhwaite, David Nellist, and Lois Brabin-Platt. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Contractor (R) Chris Pine stars in this thriller as a U.S. Special Forces soldier who joins a private contracting firm. Also with GIllian Jacobs, Ben Foster, Eddie Marsan, Florian Munteanu, Fares Fares, Nina Hoss, Amira Casar, and Kiefer Sutherland. (Opens Friday)

The Devil You Know (R) This thriller stars Omar Epps as a man whose attempts to go straight threaten to pull him back toward his shady past. Also with Michael Ealy, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Michael Beach, Theo Rossi, and Glynn Turman. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Mishan Impossible (NR) This Telugu-language comedy is about three boys who conspire to capture India’s most wanted fugitive. Starring Taapsee Pannu, Rishab Shetty, Hareesh Peradi, Satyam Rajesh, Ravindra Vijay, Harsh Roshan, and Bhannu Prakshan. (Opens Friday)

Morbius (PG-13) Jared Leto stars in this supervillain film as a doctor whose attempts to cure himself of a blood disorder turn him into a vampire. Also with Adria Arjona, Tyrese Gibson, Matt Smith, Jared Harris, and Michael Keaton. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Asking for It (R) Kiersey Clemons stars in this thriller as a rape victim who discovers an all-female gang of vigilantes who hunt down sexual predators. Also with Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp, Ezra Miller, Gabourey Sidibe, Radha Mitchell, Casey Cott, and Luke Hemsworth.

The Batman (PG-13) This reboot’s biggest achievement might just be forcing us to take the Riddler (Paul Dano) seriously as a villain. Robert Pattinson takes over the role of Bruce Wayne as he deals with a villain who murders Gotham’s fantastically corrupt city officials and leaves behind clues and severed body parts. Director/co-writer Matt Reeves does his finest work to date, especially with a great car chase when the Penguin (Colin Farrell, unrecognizable under a prosthetic fat suit) causes a chain-reaction pileup to deter the pursuing Batman. The film has terrific supporting turns from Farrell, John Turturro as an icy mob boss, and Zoë Kravitz as a slinky bisexual Catwoman pursuing a grudge. Still, it’s the Riddler who captures your attention as an incel torturer with a gruesome sense of humor who undermines faith in Gotham’s institutions that makes this a Batman movie for our time. Also with Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis, Jayme Lawson, Peter McDonald, Con O’Neill, Alex Ferns, Rupert Penry-Jones, Charlie Carver, Max Carver, Barry Keoghan, and Peter Sarsgaard.

CODA (PG-13) Aside from the casting, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about this Oscar-winning drama, but it sure is charming. Emilia Jones stars as a teenage Child of Deaf Adults (Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin) whose talent as a singer gives her a chance to study at the Berklee College of Music. If the irony that our protagonist’s parents will never hear her sing is a bit too easy, writer-director Siân Heder goes easy on the soap, and there’s a great scene when her father places his hands on her neck to feel the vibrations while she sings. Kotsur deserves his Oscar nod as a peppery New England fisherman who swears a lot in sign language, and Jones (a British newcomer who is, in real life, the daughter of a recording star) makes a bright impression as the one hearing member of her family, and her singing voice is worth the hype. This is a remake of the French film La famille belier. Also with Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Durant, John Fiore, Lonnie Farmer, Kevin Chapman, Amy Forsyth, and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. 

Death on the Nile (PG-13) Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as Hercule Poirot in this slower and somberer follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express. The great detective is on a Nile River cruise trying to solve the murder of a wealthy socialite (Gal Gadot) where the most obvious suspect has an ironclad alibi. The events play out differently than in the Agatha Christie novel, with both the detective and the killer making mistakes that cause more people to die. The director still has trouble accommodating his actors while capturing the story’s compressed time frame, though the deluxe cast still has a number of nice turns. The case winds up having personal stakes for Poirot, and while the conception of him as a traumatized war veteran on the autism spectrum isn’t what Christie wrote, it is undeniably interesting. Also with Armie Hammer, Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Rose Leslie, Ali Fazal, Russell Brand, and Annette Bening.

Dog (PG-13) We should give Channing Tatum credit for trying to make a comedy that’s more than just him and a cute dog. At the same time, he’s taken on more than he can handle. The star makes his directing debut (with Reid Carolin as co-director), portraying a traumatized Army Ranger veteran who’s tasked with transporting an even more traumatized war dog from the Pacific Northwest to its handler’s funeral in Arizona. The film wants to be a serious look at PTSD amid its hijinks with the animal tearing up furniture and chasing people. The writers aren’t afraid to portray the soldiers as less than saintly, which leads to the funniest set piece when the main character pretends to be a blind veteran to score himself a nice hotel room. The film also has a fine performance by former pro wrestler Kevin Nash as a veteran who takes care of animals. The material presents tonal challenges that are too much for these filmmakers, but there’s something here. Also with Q’orianka Kilcher, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Nicole LaLiberté, Aqueela Zoll, Ronnie Gene Blevins, and Jane Adams. 

Gangubai Kathiawadi (NR) Alia Bhatt’s performance is the best thing about this Indian film about a woman who is sold into prostitution in Bombay by her new husband and makes a name for herself by protecting her fellow prostitutes against violent men and eventually winning political office as an advocate for sex workers’ rights. I don’t know about the main character’s stance that prostitution prevents adultery and rape, but this film takes on risky subject matter for Indian audiences, and veteran director Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Padmavaat) packages it smartly for both domestic and foreign crowds. A stately performance by Bhatt as someone who goes from sexual assault victim to community leader anchors this. She also says this to a crooked policeman: “Last time I checked, you were a cop. When did you become a delivery boy?” Also with Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Jahangir Khan, Anmol Kajani, Indira Tiwari, Seema Pahwa, Huma Qureshi, and Ajay Devgn. 

The Greatest Inheritance (NR) This comedy is about a group of estranged siblings who come together for their mother’s funeral only to find that it comes with a scavenger hunt. Starring Mena Suvari, Cameron Kelly, Jeff Schroeder, Leticia Jimenez, Meredith Riley Stewart, Miles Mussenden, and Jaleel White.

Infinite Storm (R) In 2010, Pam Bales was a search-and-rescue worker in New Hampshire when she rescued a suicidal man from a blizzard on Mt. Washington. This film stars Naomi Watts as Pam and Billy Howle as her rescuee. Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska (The Other Lamb) has some serious talent and does well re-creating Pam’s arduous 16-hour trek down the mountain. (The movie was actually shot in Slovenia.) She trips headlong into sentimental excess with the flashbacks depicting the trauma that led Pam to her solitary life of climbing mountains. It’s Watts who carries this thing while rocking a deep-dish New England accent. Her films of late haven’t been up to snuff, but this is a step in the right direction. Also with Denis O’Hare, Parker Sawyers, Joshua Rollins, and Eliot Sumner. 

Jackass Forever (R) These films are becoming more watchable. Is it because the guys are getting older, or because I am? Or maybe their stupid pranks are just what we need to break the ice after two years of pandemic hell? Johnny Knoxville and his crew find new ways to traumatize their brains and their testicles with high explosives, wild animals, mopeds, pig semen, electric stun devices, and basic physics. Some of their students are so disgusting that the cameraman vomits into his face mask. (At last, a solid argument for not masking up.) No meditation on men getting older is likely to be more fun than this. Also with Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Jeff Tremaine, Ehren McGhehey, Dave England, Preston Lacy, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Eric André, Francis Ngannou, Tyler the Creator, and Machine Gun Kelly. 

Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie (PG-13) The “0” in the title indicates that this is a prequel to the story outlined in the manga series and its film adaptations. The film is about a boy (voiced by Megumi Ogata) who attends a special school for kids with superpowers, along with the spirit of a girl he loved (voiced by Kana Hanazawa), who haunts and protects him after being killed in a car accident. Some of the flashbacks are too sentimental for the movie’s good (a common failing in these Japanese anime films), but the film makes a good introduction to the environment and the characters that our hero works alongside. Additional voices by Koki Uchiyama, Tomokazu Seki, Yȗichi Nakamura, Marina Inoue, Shin’ichirô Miki, Aya Endô, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takahiro Sakurai, and Satoshi Hino.

The Kashmir Files (NR) A subject of controversy in India, this film based on interviews with survivors of the 1990s exodus of Kashmiri Hindus stars Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Chinmay Mandlekar, Atul Srivastra, and Anupam Kher. 

The Lost City (PG-13) The stars are upstaged by the supporting players in this comic adventure-romance that has too little comedy. Sandra Bullock plays a best-selling romance novelist who is kidnapped by a bratty British billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) because he thinks she knows the location of a buried treasure on an island in the Atlantic that looks like a generic jungle set. The man who poses as a model on the cover of her books (Channing Tatum) pursues them in a mostly ineffectual attempt to rescue her. Radcliffe makes a funny, sputtering villain and Brad Pitt has a great time in a brief cameo as the ultra-manly operative who accompanies the cover model. A comedy about these two going up against each other would have been better than this one that spends too much time going into the characters’ backstories and has too few funny bits from the leads. The film runs out of power way before its ending. Also with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, Héctor Anibal, Thomas Forbes Johnson, Oscar Nuñez, Bowen Yang, and Stephen Lang. 

Marry Me (PG-13) The hell is this? Jennifer Lopez stars in this romantic comedy as a pop star who is publicly cheated on by her pop-star boyfriend (Maluma), so she gets back at him by marrying a random dude (Owen Wilson) whom she meets at one of her concerts. ‘Cause that happens all the time. The movie has no insight on managing a sham relationship in the glare of social media or how that impacts his life as a math teacher. The only truly surprising thing here is that the movie ends with her helping his students win a math contest. Kat Coiro directs this listlessly. If this is the movie that’s meant to save the romantic comedy, the genre can stay dead. Also with Sarah Silverman, Utkarsh Ambudkar, John Bradley, Chloe Coleman, and Michelle Buteau. 

RRR (NR) Released in Hindi- and Telugu-language versions, this Indian historical thriller is about a village vigilante (N.T. Rama Rao) and a soldier working for the British (Ram Charan) in 1920. The soldier takes up the task of catching the vigilante, but they eventually team up and fight the British Raj together. They aim to distribute British weapons to the Indian people, but why would they need weapons when these two guys slaughter about half the British Army by themselves? Director/co-writer S.S. Rajamouli tries to make every scene into some iconic badass moment for one or both of the heroes, and that’s just not how action thrillers are supposed to work. The laughable CGI doesn’t help, either. Also with Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Samuthirakani, Shriya Saran, Chatrapathi Sekhar, Makkarand Deshpande, Rahul Ramakrishna, Edward Sonnenblick, Olivia Morris, Ray Stevenson, and Alison Doody. 

Scream (R) One of the characters here says she prefers elevated horror movies like The Babadook to slasher flicks, and this first installment of the series without Wes Craven will make you share her preference. Melissa Barrera plays a reformed drug addict and daughter of one of the killers from the original film, who returns to Woodsboro after her sister (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by another Ghostface. She recruits the survivors from the series (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette) to help her live through the experience. The filmmaking team calling themselves Radio Silence take over this, and they’re funnier when they’re doing their own material like they did in Ready or Not. The film is plagued by the same flaws of its predecessors: pseudo-cleverness, long-winded dialogue, and snark without wit. Also with Dylan Minnette, Jack Quaid, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Sonia Ammar, Kyle Gallner, Marley Shelton, Heather Matarazzo, and Skeet Ulrich. 

Sing 2 (PG) An improvement on the original, in the sense that drilling a hole in a tooth is an improvement on a root canal. Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) takes the gang to the big-time, playing the biggest theater in the entertainment capital of this animal world that we’re in. Only problem is, he promises to coax a bitter, reclusive former music star (voiced by Bono) out of retirement for the show without knowing whether it’s possible. The characters from the original all have their own subplots, and the sequel introduces a thuggish entertainment mogul (voiced by Bobby Cannavale) and his spoiled daughter (voiced by Halsey) who horns her way into the show. These have potential, but they all play out in disappointing ways, and there aren’t any memorable musical performances like the first movie had. Additional voices by Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Garth Jennings, Jennifer Saunders, Chelsea Peretti, Nick Offerman, Eric André, Letitia Wright, Pharrell Williams, Edgar Wright, and Wes Anderson. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home (PG-13) Fanservice done more or less right, this movie has Peter Parker (Tom Holland) trying to reverse time and instead creating portals to parallel universes where villains from other Spider-Man movies (Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Thomas Haden Church, Rhys Ifans, and Jamie Foxx) line up to fight him before realizing that he’s not the same Spider-Man that they faced earlier. The real reason they’re all brought together is so that all these great actors can get in the same room and bitch at each other, which they do to great comic effect. Peter does indeed pay a heavy price for messing with the time-space continuum, and if the storytelling only occasionally reaches the heights of Into the Spider-Verse, it does retcon some fixes for the previous movies about the web-slinger. Not a bad trick to make its predecessors seem worthier in retrospect. Also with Marisa Tomei, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Tony Revolori, Hannibal Buress, J.B. Smoove, Martin Starr, Angourie Rice, Benedict Wong, Charlie Cox, J.K. Simmons, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, and an uncredited Tom Hardy.

Umma (PG-13) If you have a passing knowledge of Korean, you know that the title is the word for “mother.” Sandra Oh plays a beekeeper in rural California who lives off the grid in an attempt to flee her abusive past. When she receives the personal possessions of her abusive and recently deceased mother, she and her teenage daughter (Fivel Stewart) start to experience horrors on their farm. The setup is promising, but writer-director Iris K. Shim doesn’t have the instincts to incorporate that story with the demands of the genre. The performances are all off, too. There’s a place for Korean-American horror, but this movie is too inept to inaugurate the new twist on the formula that it wants to be. Also with Odeya Rush, MeeWha Alana Lee, Tom Yi, and Dermot Mulroney. 

Uncharted (PG-13) Tom Holland’s lightness is about the only thing that keeps this action-adventure film watchable. He portrays a bartender and amateur treasure hunter who is recruited by an older man (Mark Wahlberg) who believes he possesses the key to finding a lost Spanish treasure. Based on the video game series of the same name, the film feels like it was cobbled together from rejected bits of the National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean films. Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) can at least cobble with some skill, but the whole affair feels half-assed. The only bit that brings a smile to your face is Holland showing off some flair tricks behind the bar. Also with Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Steven Waddington, Tiernan Jones, Rudy Pankow, and Pilou Asbæk. 

X (R) Ti West does some of his best work in this trashy horror film about a Houston strip club owner (Martin Henderson) who takes a crew of actors and filmmakers to rural south Texas in 1979 to make their own porn film. They rent a boarding house at a ranch without telling the elderly owners (Stephen Ure and Mia Goth, both under heavy old-age makeup) what they’re doing, which turns out to be a big mistake. West indulges in some horror-movie tropes so old that you think he’s trolling us, as well as some ostentatious displays of technique. Still, he delivers some great slow-burn thrills like one where one of the young actresses (Goth again) is stalked by an alligator while skinny dipping in a pond. Goth does tremendous work in her double role as well. See this film in some low-rent theater with sticky floors to fully appreciate its disreputable thrills. Also with Kid Cudi, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, James Gaylyn, Simon Prast, and Jenna Ortega.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

After Yang (PG) The YouTube vlogger known only as Kogonada directs his second film about a future family trying to cope with the sudden loss of their AI helper. Starring Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson, Ritchie Coster, Sarita Choudhury, and Clifton Collins Jr. 

So Cold the River (R) Paul Shoulberg’s thriller stars Bethany Joy Lenz as a documentary filmmaker whose attempts to track down a local resort’s mysterious benefactor land her in danger. Also with Alysia Reiner, Deanna Dunagan, Andrew J. West, Katie Sarife, and Lucas Bentley. 

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