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Lydia Gaston and Jo Koy observe a Filipino feast for "Easter Sunday." Photo by Ed Araquel

OPENING

 

Ali & Ava (NR) Clio Barnard’s drama is about a romance between two tortured people (Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook) in working-class England. Also with Ellora Torchia, Shaun Thomas, Natalie Gavin, Mona Goodwin, Tasha O’Connor, and Krupa Pattani. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Bimbisara (NR) This Indian fantasy film stars Nandamuri Kalyan Ram as the 5th-century B.C. king who lands in modern-day India. Also with Catherine Tresa, Samyuktha Menon, Warina Hussain, Srinivas Reddy, Prakash Raj, and Vennela Kishore. (Opens Friday)

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Cave Rescue (PG-13) Tom Waller’s film dramatizes the 2018 Chiang Rai cave rescue of a youth soccer team in Thailand. Starring Jim Warny, Eoin O’Brien, Lawrence de Stefano, Erik Brown, Ekawat Niratvorapanya, and Ben Thomson. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Collide (R) Mukunda Michael Dewil’s drama is about a group of strangers whose lives intersect at a restaurant in L.A. Starring Ryan Phillippe, Kat Graham, Paul Ben-Victor, David James Elliott, Drea de Matteo, and Jim Gaffigan. (Opens Friday at Movie Tavern Hulen)

Easter Sunday (PG-13) Jo Koy stars in and writes this comedy about a Hollywood actor who has a holiday gathering with his extended Filipino family. Also with Tiffany Haddish, Tia Carrere, Eva Noblezada, Lydia Gaston, Brandon Wardell, Melody Butiu, Joey Gulla, Rodney To, Jimmy O. Yang, Jay Chandrasekhar, Carly Pope, and Lou Diamond Phillips. (Opens Friday)

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (PG-13) Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine direct this documentary about the life of the singer-songwriter. Starring Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor, Brandi Carlile, Eric Church, Clive Davis, and the late Hal Willner. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

I Love My Dad (R) James Morosini writes, directs, and stars in this comedy as a young man who is catfished by his own father (Patton Oswalt) in a desperate attempt to heal the rift between them. Also with Lil Rel Howery, Claudia Sulewski, Amy Landecker, Sarah Helbringer, and Rachel Dratch. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Luck (G) This animated film is about a girl (voiced by Eva Noblezada) who takes extreme measures to end her run of bad luck. Additional voices by Simon Pegg, Lil Rel Howery, John Ratzenberger, Jane Fonda, and Whoopi Goldberg. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Most Dangerous Game (NR) Based on Richard Connell’s short story, this thriller stars Chris “C.T.” Tamburello as a man being hunted for sport on a deserted island by an evil baron (Casper Van Dien). Also with Judd Nelson, Tom Berenger, Elissa Dowling, Edward Finlay, and Bruce Dern. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Paappan (NR) Suresh Gopi stars in this Indian crime thriller as a homicide detective brought out of retirement to work on a cold case. Also with Neeta Pillai, Gokul Suresh, Asha Sharath, Nyla Usha, Vijayaraghavan, Kaniha, Nandhu, Ajmal Ameer, and Tini Tom. (Opens Friday)

Raado (NR) This Indian political thriller stars Hitu Kanodia, Yash Soni, Tarjanee Bhadla, Nikita Sharma, Bharat Chawda, and Devershi Shah. (Opens Friday at AMC Parks at Arlington)

Sharp Stick (R) Lena Dunham directs, writes, and co-stars in her second film, which stars Kristine Froseth as a young woman who uses her sexuality in an attempt to become famous. Also with Jon Bernthal, Scott Speedman, Taylour Paige, Janicza Bravo, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (Opens Friday in Dallas) 

Sita Ramam (NR) This Telugu-language film stars Dulquer Salmaan, Mrunal Thakur, Rashmika Mandanna, Sumanth, Tharun Bhascker, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Prakash Raj, and Vennela Kishore. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

The Black Phone (R) Adapted from Joe Hill’s short story, this horror film has some of the chills and most of the sentimental excesses of his dad’s work. Set in 1978 in Denver when the city is terrorized by a masked serial killer (Ethan Hawke), the film stars Mason Thames as a 13-year-old boy who falls into the killer’s clutches. Locked in his dungeon, he starts mysteriously receiving calls from the killer’s previous victims on a phone that doesn’t work. Hawke gives a properly grotesque performance as a predator who presents himself to kids as a funny party magician, but director/co-writer Scott Derrickson (Sinister) doesn’t have the finesse to smooth over the predictable story beats. Also with Madeleine McGraw, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, Miguel Cazarez Mora, Tristan Pravong, Brady Hepner, Jacob Moran, Jeremy Davies, and James Ransone. 

DC League of Super-Pets (PG) Aside from introducing the smallest kids to the DC superhero universe, I’m not sure what this inoffensive animated film is for. Superman’s dog (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) sees his master (voiced by John Krasinski) and all the other superheroes kidnapped by a supervillain guinea pig (voiced by Kate McKinnon) and has to lead a group of shelter pets who’ve conveniently acquired their own superpowers to save them. It all goes by without dragging too much, but neither the jokes nor the animated set pieces stick in the mind. The Lego movies made better use of the DC characters than this does. Additional voices by Kevin Hart, Diego Luna, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Marc Maron, Olivia Wilde, Jemaine Clement, Daveed Diggs, Thomas Middleditch, Ben Schwartz, Maya Erskine, John Early, Dascha Polanco, Jameela Jamil, Lena Headey, Keith David, Dan Fogler, Busy Phillipps, and Keanu Reeves. 

Detective vs. Sleuths (NR) When a group of anonymous vigilantes start killing off suspected murderers from long-ago cold cases, Hong Kong’s elite police unit turns to a homicide cop-turned-crazy homeless guy (Lau Ching Wan) to take them down. Not helping is the fact that a number of active-duty cops are members of the vigilante squad, who have no compunction about killing their own to keep their operation going. This movie doesn’t seem to realize that the real hero is the detective (Charlene Choi) who is eight months pregnant, who falls off a three-story building, survives a rollover bus crash, gets shot, falls down a staircase, gives birth, and still manages to kill the mastermind to save her newborn baby. This cop thriller expends a lot of effort, and only really succeeds in showing how much effort it’s expending. Also with Raymond Lam, Carmen Lee, Jeana Ho, Tan Kai, Stephanie Che, Timmy Hung, Tony Tsz-Tung Wu, Zi Bin, Deep Ng, Carlos Chan, and Tong Yee. 

Ek Villain Returns (NR) This movie aims to be a critique of Indian male hero worship and winds up being an example of the thing it’s trying to critique. When a pop music star (Tara Sutaria) disappears and a house full of her party guests are murdered, the suspicion falls on her spoiled rich kid boyfriend (Arjun Kapoor) with a history of violence against women as well as cops. We’re actually supposed to be rooting for this guy, because he’s been framed by a serial killer taxi driver (John Abraham) who murders abused women and frames their abusive men for his own crimes. The police profiler who’s trying to sort this out (J.D. Chakravarthy) is another bastard who indiscriminately calls the beat cops morons and idiots. The whole thing is a celebration of misogynistic violence like you seldom see at the multiplex. Also with Disha Patani, Elena Roxana Maria Fernandes, Karishma Sharma, Bharat Dabholkar, Digvijay Rohildas, Ivan Rodrigues, and Riteish Deshmukh.

Elvis (PG-13) Baz Luhrmann dares to take on the entire peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwich of Elvis Presley’s life, but this grand opera comes and goes without leaving much of an impact. Tom Hanks stars as Col. Tom Parker, who narrates the story of how he discovered the young country-blues singer (Austin Butler) and made him a star while also suffocating him creatively and stealing his money. Seeing the film through the prism of this con artist’s self-justifications is an interesting idea that only serves to turn Hanks (under a mountain of prosthetic fat) into a puppet, lacking the grifter’s snaky charm. Opposite him, Butler does remarkable work capturing the King’s stage presence in his early, middle, and late years, and his performances of some songs blends seamlessly with the original Elvis songs on the soundtrack. Still, the movie too often resorts to music-biopic cliches, and all of Luhrmann’s skill can’t make it fresh. Also with Kelvin Harrison Jr., Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Luke Bracey, Dacre Montgomery, Yola, Alton Mason, Shonka Dukureh, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Everything Everywhere All at Once (R) The Being John Malkovich of our generation. Michelle Yeoh stars in this surreal martial-arts drama as the owner of a Southern California laundromat who discovers the existence of an infinite number of parallel universes and has to access the skills of her more accomplished alternate selves to stop them from being destroyed. This film has the wackiest fight sequences since Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, as all the different characters instantly acquire kung fu proficiency at one point or another. The filmmaking team The Daniels (Swiss Army Man) stages all these scenes fantastically, working endless variations inside an IRS office building. Much like Scott Pilgrim, the brilliance eventually becomes exhausting, but the film deserves all kinds of props for their ambition and expanding the philosophy of martial-arts movies beyond the traditional Buddhist koans. Also with Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Tallie Medel, Harry Shum Jr., Biff Wiff, Jenny Slate, Jamie Lee Curtis, and James Hong.

Gone in the Night (R) Winona Ryder stars in this thriller as a Sacramento greenhouse owner who books a vacation in a cabin in redwood country with her considerably younger boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.), only to find that there’s another couple staying at the cabin (Owen Teague and Brianne Tju). The next morning, her man and the other woman run off together, or so it seems. Ryder’s intensity and sense of humor are good to have here, and I like the way the script acknowledges how the star has grown older. However, director/co-writer Eli Horowitz takes too long to start unraveling the mystery, and the flashbacks that show what actually happened are much less clever than they probably seemed on paper. This could have made for a bracing thriller, but the mechanics get in the way. Also with Yvonne Senat Jones, Alain Uy, Dustin Ingram, and Dermot Mulroney. 

Hansan: Rising Dragon (NR) No one stages naval battles like Kim Han-min, who proves it in this prequel to his 2014 record-breaking hit The Admiral: Roaring Currents. Set in 1592, the film depicts the Battle of Hansan Island, where a superior Japanese fleet set up a defensive position in a strait while the Korean forces under Admiral Yi Sun-shin (Park Hae-il) try to lure them into open water. Unlike The Admiral, this one gives us a chance to see the famous Korean armored “turtle ships” in action, demonstrating their fearsome power as juggernauts and their vulnerabilities. Much of the film’s first hour is devoted to planning behind the scenes, and while it’s very old-school, it could have been dealt with more economically. The best stuff comes in the last 40 minutes, when Kim shows us the battle in startling clarity, with deceptive feints and both commanders changing tactics on the fly. This is the second film of a planned trilogy, so there’s more where this came from. Also with Byun Yo-han, Ahn Seong-gi, Son Hyun-joo, Kim Sung-kyu, Kim Sung-kyun, Kim Hyang-gi, Gong Myung, and Park Ji-hwan.

Jurassic World Dominion (PG-13) This franchise needs an asteroid. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles as scientists who have to team up with the heroes of the original Jurassic Park (Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern) when a plague of genetically engineered locusts threatens the world’s food supply. This plot doesn’t need dinosaurs at all, which is just one issue. Director Colin Trevorrow is so busy creating Easter eggs and callbacks to the previous movies that he forgets things like graceful scene transitions, interesting characters, and plot developments that make any sense. The ineptitude on display here would kill Steven Spielberg and then make him turn over in his grave. Also with Campbell Scott, Omar Sy, Justice Smith, Isabella Sermon, Mamadou Athie, DeWanda Wise, Kristoffer Polaha, Daniella Pineda, Scott Haze, Dichen Lachman, and BD Wong.

Lightyear (PG) If you ignore its connection to the Toy Story series, the latest Disney/Pixar animated film is a surprisingly generic space adventure, though it’s done pretty crisply. Chris Evans provides the voice of the intrepid space explorer who undertakes adventures over the course of 84 years to try to get his crew home after he accidentally strands them on an alien planet. His travel at the speed of light allows him to maintain his age through those decades as his friends all live natural lives and die, and this Pixar film doesn’t shy away from the grim implications of that. Still, this film is missing the usual wit and cleverness that we expect from Pixar. It moves Buzz Lightyear and his fellow space travelers efficiently in and out of danger, but something has gotten lost. Additional voices by Uzo Aduba, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Dale Soules, Bill Hader, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Efren Ramirez, James Brolin, and Taika Waititi. 

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (PG) The movie of the year? Dean Fleischer-Camp’s series of YouTube shorts attains glory in this feature film about a down-and-out documentarian (portrayed by the director) who conducts a series of interviews with a shell (voiced by Jenny Slate) who has lost most of his family and decides to find them after he becomes famous via YouTube. Marcel’s childlike sense of wonder made the YouTube videos so charming, and it’s undiminished here. Meanwhile, the story around him is filled in to great effect, making the shell a moving figure as he grapples with the prospect of losing his only remaining family (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and experiences a mystical revelation about his place in the world. The movie turns into a grand philosophical statement without losing its fundamental decency. Also with Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, and Lesley Stahl. Additional voices by Andy Richter, Jessi Klein, Peter Bonerz, and Nathan Fielder.

Minions: The Rise of Gru (PG) Not sure why everyone’s flocking to this pleasantly forgettable latest installment of the Despicable Me series, where 11-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) tries to join a league of supervillains who have a vacancy after kicking out their founder. The Minions are fun characters, but once again, they’re not enough to carry the movie by themselves, and the subplot with them learning kung fu from a master in Chinatown (voiced by Michelle Yeoh) leads to disappointing stuff. The new supervillains don’t add much, either. There are some stray gags that raise a laugh, but the movie never builds its momentum. Additional voices by Russell Brand, Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Jimmy O. Yang, Lucy Lawless, RZA, Will Arnett, Steve Coogan, and Julie Andrews. 

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PG) The fourth film version of Paul Gallico’s comic novel is exactly what it sets out to be, for better or worse. Lesley Manville plays the London charwoman who comes into some money and decides to splurge on a trip to France to buy a Christian Dior dress. She winds up being responsible for saving the entire fashion house, and there’s likely too much of her being a ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone she meets in the City of Lights. Still, Manville well deserves a showcase like this, and the Dior gowns are lovingly photographed by Felix Wiedemann. If you’re looking for comfort fare with your haute couture, I guess this is it. Also with Isabelle Huppert, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Anna Chancellor, Roxane Durand, Christian McKay, Ellen Thomas, Rose Williams, and Jason Isaacs. 

Nope (R) Jordan Peele’s latest is a fable of exploitation made specifically for IMAX screens, and it’s something to see. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer portray a brother and sister who see a flying object in the sky over their horse ranch in the remote California desert and resolve to become rich and famous by taking film footage that proves the existence of extraterrestrial life. The cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is a marvel, capturing Black actors in the ranch’s poor light with enviable crispness and rendering the alien ship in terrifying and beautiful terms as it takes forms other than the disc we’re used to seeing from such movies. This odd and funny take on an alien-invasion film is a great canvas for a filmmaker whose capacious imagination demands it. Also with Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Donna Mills, Wrenn Schmidt, Osgood Perkins, Sophia Coto, Eddie Jemison, Keith David, and Terry Notary. 

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (PG) There are six credited writers on this animated movie, so it’s no wonder that the film seems confused about what it’s trying to be. Hank (voiced by Michael Cera) is a dog who washes up in a land like feudal Japan that’s inhabited entirely by cats, where he seeks to become a samurai and save a humble town from an evil warlord (voiced by Ricky Gervais). The movie can’t decide whether it’s a parable of tolerance or a self-aware satire of movie tropes or a simple yarn about fighting for justice, and too many of the jokes are just cringe-inducingly bad. (“There’s no business like shogun business!”) The animation does look sharp, but that can’t begin to make up for the flaws here. Additional voices by Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Yeoh, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Aasif Mandvi, Kylie Kuioka, and Mel Brooks. 

Thor: Love and Thunder (PG-13) That Oscar win thankfully hasn’t ruined Taika Waititi’s sense of humor in this fourth superhero film. Chris Hemsworth returns as the Norse god, who faces down a god-killing warrior (Christian Bale) and discovers that his old ex (Natalie Portman) has suddenly acquired his superpowers and his hammer. Thor’s jealousy about the hammer makes for a delightful running gag, and the set piece with Thor and his party meeting Zeus (Russell Crowe, with a fruity Greek accent and a sense of humor we haven’t seen from him before) might just be the comic highlight of the entire Marvel saga. Waititi’s best films showcase a core of decency underneath the laughs, and as Thor deals with his romantic failings and tries to connect with the villain through those, this proves to be among them. Also with Tessa Thompson, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Simon Russell Beale, Stephen Curry, Elsa Pataky, Brett Goldstein, Idris Elba, and uncredited cameos by Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, and Melissa McCarthy. Voices by Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

Top Gun: Maverick (PG-13) The sequel improves on the 1986 original while removing the camp element, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. After spending his Navy career pissing off too many officers to be promoted, Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) returns to Top Gun in San Diego to teach a new generation of pilots to carry out a mission to bomb a nuclear plant somewhere. The younger pilots aren’t the most interesting bunch, but the training and combat sequences filmed in real F-18s are snazzy, and Jennifer Connelly makes an apt foil as an ex-girlfriend of Maverick’s who reunites with him in the present day. This may just be a nostalgia exercise, but it’s crisply done without overdosing on the past. Also with Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Bashir Salahuddin, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Lyliana Wray, Jean Louisa Kelly, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer. 

Vikrant Rona (NR) Putrid. Kiccha Sudeep stars in this Indian thriller as a police inspector who is posted to a village in the jungle where children have been murdered and the previous police chief was decapitated and thrown down the well. The villagers blame all this on evil spirits, so the cop acts as a law unto himself, murdering suspects rather than questioning them. The horror elements here don’t work because the protagonist is never scared of anything, the detective story is lame, and the psychological explanation for the hero’s behavior is in a backstory too convoluted to be worth sitting through. Also with Nirup Bhandari, Neetha Ashok, Ravishankar Gowda, Madhusudan Rao, V. Priya, Vasuki Vaibhav, Siddu Moolimani, Ramesh Kukkuvali, Varadheer Jain, Dushyant Rai, Karthik Rao Kordale, Samhitha, Milana Nagaraj, and Jacqueline Fernandez. 

Where the Crawdads Sing (PG-13) If you’re a fan of the Delia Owens novel that this is based on, the movie will give you exactly what you’re looking for. I, on the other hand, dared to hope for more. Daisy Edgar-Jones plays the heroine who grows up in the Carolina marshlands in the 1960s without her parents, educates herself, becomes a published nature writer, and then is arrested for the murder of the young man (Harris Dickinson) whom she had been romantically involved with. First-time director Olivia Newman manages the early bits efficiently as the story shifts between timelines, but eventually the film loses momentum. Everything looks too lit and clean for a movie that’s supposed to take place in rural poverty. Edgar-Jones slips into the role seamlessly enough, but the movie suffers from too much fidelity to the book. Also with Taylor John Smith, Sterling Macer Jr., Michael Hyatt, Bill Kelly, Logan Macrae, Ahna O’Reilly, Garret Dillahunt, Jojo Regina, and David Strathairn.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

Fire of Love (PG) Sara Dosa’s documentary profiles volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft and their work, which ultimately led to their deaths. Narrated by Miranda July. 

Paradise Highway (R) Juliette Binoche stars in this thriller as a truck driver transporting illegal goods to save her brother from a prison gang. Also with Morgan Freeman, Cameron Monaghan, Christiane Seidel, Veronica Ferres, Jackie Dallas, and Frank Grillo. 

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