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Jason Schwartzman and Tom Hanks have a deadpan phone conversation in "Asteroid City." Courtesy Focus Features

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Asteroid City (R) For the first time in a long time, Wes Anderson is too dry and cute for his own good in this movie set during the early 1960s in a small town on the California-Arizona border. A grieving father (Jason Schwartzman) and a fading movie actress (Scarlett Johansson) make a distant connection while their teenage children (Jake Ryan and Grace Edwards) carry on a stronger romance. Then a space alien invades the town and everybody loses their minds, or as close to that as ever happens in an Anderson movie. The story is meant to be a disquisition on grief and loss, but the deadpan style muffles the emotions instead of accentuating them. The entire framing device about a playwright (Edward Norton) writing this as a stage play could have been lost, too. Also with Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Bryan Cranston, Jeffrey Wright, Liev Schreiber, Tony Revolori, Hope Davis, Steve Park, Rupert Friend, Bob Balaban, Jarvis Cocker, Seu Jorge, Maya Hawke, Sophia Lillis, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon, Steve Carell, and Margot Robbie. (Opens Friday)

Dhoomam (NR) This Indian thriller stars Fahadh Faasil, Aparna Balamurali, Vineeth, Roshan Mathew, Achyuth Kumar, and Mable Thomas. (Opens Friday)

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God Is a Bullet (NR) This horror film stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a detective who goes undercover to infiltrate the satanic cult that kidnapped his daughter. Also with Jamie Foxx, Maika Monroe, Ethan Suplee, Jonathan Tucker, David Thornton, Karl Glusman, Brendan Sexton III, and January Jones. (Opens Friday)

The Last Rider (PG-13) Perico Delgado stars in this drama about Greg LeMond’s win in the 1989 Tour de France. Also with Laurent Fignon and Cyrille Guimard. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

1920: Horrors of the Heart (NR) The fifth film in this Indian period drama series is this revenge thriller starring Avika Gor, Rahul Dev, Barkha Bisht, Randheer Rai, Danish Pandor, and Naveen Singh. (Opens Friday)

The Procurator (NR) This Chinese police procedural is about a scandal that results after a businessman’s mysterious death. Starring Bai Baihe, Johnny Huang, Wang Likun, Wang Qianyuan, Feng Shaofeng, and Bao Bei’er. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Raveland (NR) Rebecca Ugo’s horror movie is about a group of teens trying to find someone on a supernatural island. Starring Rachel Ihim, Charlotte Rose, River Perkins, Adrienne Laurén, Arianna Jones, and Lizandra Parra. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Wonderwell (PG-13) This fantasy film stars Kiera Milward as a 12-year-old girl who must undertake a mystical quest to come of age. Also with Rita Ora, Nell Tiger Free, Vincent Spano, Megan Dodds, and the late Carrie Fisher. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

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Adipurush (NR) Based on the Ramayana, this Indian epic stars Prabhas as a mythical warrior who goes on a quest to rescue his wife from a kidnapping demon. Also with Kriti Sanon, Saif Ali Khan, Sunny Singh, Devdatta Nage, and Vatsal Sheeth. 

The Blackening (R) If this Juneteenth-themed horror-comedy isn’t as worked-out as Jordan Peele’s best movies, it is just as funny. A group of college friends reunite 10 years after graduation at a cabin in the woods, only to be hunted down by a hideously racist board game and a masked creep with a crossbow. The movie guys the tropes of slasher movies, but it’s better when it aims for more culturally specific humor, as these Black characters dismiss the idea of calling the police and try to prove how un-Black they are when they’re challenged to sacrifice the person they decide is the Blackest. The villain doesn’t make sense, but director Tim Story (Barbershop) never strikes a false note. If this plays like a comedy sketch writ large, it does have enough material to work at feature length. Starring Grace Byers, Dewayne Perkins, Sinqua Walls, Antoinette Robertson, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Jermaine Fowler, Yvonne Orji, Jay Pharoah, and Diedrich Bader.

The Boogeyman (PG-13) This is based on a Stephen King short story, and it’s exactly like too many other horror movies at the multiplex. Chris Messina plays a psychiatrist who’s just coping with the loss of his wife when a patient (David Dastmalchian) who comes to see him at his home commits suicide there. Soon the doctor’s kids (Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair) are seeing the monster that the dead man described preying on his own family. The stuff about a bereaved father who can’t deal with tragedy in his own life is inadequately dealt with, and the monster neither chimes with the themes nor is memorable in its own right. This could have been so much better than it is. Also with Marin Ireland, Madison Hu, and LisaGay Hamilton. 

Elemental (PG) The latest Pixar movie looks and sounds like other Pixar movies, but is missing that ineffable spark that we recognize. The story is set in a city populated by air, earth, water, and fire elementals, and revolves around a forbidden romance between a water particle (voiced by Mamadou Athie) and a fire particle (voiced by Leah Lewis). The fire elementals are treated as second-class citizens by the others, and the whole conceit was done much more cleverly in Zootopia. The largely unknown voice cast doesn’t provide much distinctiveness, and the entire affair washes over you without leaving much of a mark. The feature is accompanied by Carl’s Date, a short sequel to Up that is unworthy of the movie that spawned it. Additional voices by Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ronnie Del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Mason Wertheimer, and Catherine O’Hara.

Fast X (PG-13) They’s too many people in this movie. In the tenth installment of the franchise, Dominic (Vin Diesel) has to ride to the rescue when a mission in Rome goes south. The new baddie is Jason Momoa, who seems to be having more fun than the rest of the cast put together as he pulls dance moves while wearing highlights in his hair and polish on his nails. Still, he can’t make up for the movie stuffing in so many extra characters (some of whom have come back from the dead) that it loses track of the plotlines happening in the far corners of the world. The last movie had better do a really good job of tying up all the loose ends. Also with Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Pete Davidson, Scott Eastwood, Daniela Melchior, Alan Ritchson, Luis da Silva Jr., Leo Abelo Perry, Cardi B, John Cena, Jason Statham, Brie Larson, Charlize Theron, Rita Moreno, Helen Mirren, and uncredited cameos by Michael Rooker, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot. 

The Flash (PG-13) Hollywood’s first-ever blockbuster movie with an openly gender-fluid lead should be a cause for celebration. It isn’t, partly because Ezra Miller has a record of such terrifying off-screen behavior. Beyond that, it’s easily the weakest of the recent movies about multiple universes. The best stuff comes before The Flash creates the multiverse, with some trippy visuals and a witty sequence with our superhero saving a maternity ward full of babies from falling off a hospital. After the first half hour, though, the movie drowns in fanservice without the absurdist glee of the Spider-Verse movies or even Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The different versions of Superman and Batman who pop up will warm some fans’ hearts, but this movie comes late to the latest trend. Also with Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Maribel Verdú, Ron Livingston, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue, Ian Loh, Temuera Morrison, Jeremy Irons, and uncredited cameos by Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Nicolas Cage, and George Clooney.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (PG-13) This Marvel movie draws out the backstory of Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), which makes it uniquely harrowing and one of Marvel’s best in recent years. A gold-skinned super-alien (Will Poulter) attacks our crew of outlaws and maims Rocket badly, so the others have to save his life by stealing his medical records from the sadistic scientist (Chukwudi Iwuji) who created him. The movie has a ton of animal torture, and even though many of the creatures here don’t belong to any existent species, seeing them tortured may hit you harder than a documentary about actual animals being tortured. The villain and his fascist god complex makes for one of the scariest and most despicable bad guys in the Marvel canon, and Rocket’s story is inspiring like few other ones. Also with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debicki, Nico Santos, Miriam Shor, Sarah Alami, Nathan Fillion, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rosenbaum, and Sylvester Stallone. Additional voices by Vin Diesel, Maria Bakalova, Judy Greer, Mikaela Hoover, Asim Chaudhry, Seth Green, and Linda Cardellini.

The Little Mermaid (PG) Halle Bailey is one of the highlights of this live-action Disney musical remake, so all the racist Ron DeSantis fanboys can suck it. She may not have the phrasing of Jodi Benson from the original 1989 movie, but her voice sports some otherworldly colors that make her credible as a creature of mythology. She’s joined by Melissa McCarthy, turning Ursula into a glorious high-camp villain, and Daveed Diggs, who provides the voice of Sebastian and manages some sly and ingratiating performances of the most familiar songs. If only director Rob Marshall (Chicago, but then again, Mary Poppins Returns) had matched their innovation. The numbers too often lack flair, and the changes to the story don’t amount to a reinvention. The new songs (by original composer Alan Menken and new lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda) don’t make much of an impression, either. See this for the performances. Also with Javier Bardem, Jonah Hauer-King, Noma Dumezweni, Art Malik, Jessica Alexander, and Jodi Benson. Additional voices by Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina.

The Roundup: No Way Out (NR) The sequel to last year’s Korean action-thriller stars Ma Dong-seok, Lee Joon-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki, Lee Beom-soo, Park Ji-hwan, and Ko Kyu-pil. 

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (PG-13) A treat for the eyes. The sequel to Into the Spider-Verse has three new directors, and has lost none of the innovation that made the first film such a delight. When Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) pays an unsanctioned visit to Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), it sets off a series of dominoes that threaten to unravel the multiverse and/or kill Miles’ dad (voiced by Brian Tyree Henry). This second film ends on a cliffhanger that sets up a third movie, so the story is incomplete. Never mind that, though. The movie gleefully drags Miles through universe after universe each with its different drawing style, and the animation allows for crazier hijinks than the live-action Spider-Man films can have. The inventiveness might be wearying if not for the movie stopping every so often for storylines that forebode tragedy. There’s also an argument between two characters about Jeff Koons’ art. I can’t wait to see what the third chapter brings. Additional voices by Oscar Isaac, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Luna Lauren Velez, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Andy Samberg, Jharrel Jerome, Jack Quaid, Jorma Taccone, Jack Quaid, Rachel Dratch, Ziggy Marley, Donald Glover, Kathryn Hahn, Amandla Stenberg, J.K. Simmons, Mahershala Ali, and Daniel Kaluuya.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (PG) The video game series depended heavily on its gameplay rather than its story for its success, and the animated movie version succeeds by letting the characters be themselves. Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) is sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom, but instead of rescuing Princess Peach (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy), he has to enlist her help to rescue his brother Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day). The star-studded voice cast rises to the challenge, and the action of the film imitates the gameplay without overexplaining things. Perhaps the characters could use a bit of fleshing out, but the movie doesn’t try to do too much. Additional voices by Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Armisen, Khary Payton, Juliet Jelenic, and Sebastian Maniscalco. — Cole Williams

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (PG-13) The franchise returns to its tedious roots with this installment set in 1994. The Autobots and a new race of transforming robots have to save the Earth from being swallowed up by a planet-eater (voiced by Colman Domingo), enlisting the help of an unemployed ex-soldier (Anthony Ramos) and a museum researcher (Dominique Fishback). The script has a few good lines related to the setting, which makes it an improvement on the old Michael Bay movies. It also depicts Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) as a big wet blanket, but it loses the playful spirit of Bumblebee. The story takes forever to get our heroes to recover the magic thingy that the plot revolves around, and everything feels labored. I was expecting so much more. Also with Luna Lauren Velez, Dean Scott Vazquez, and Tobe Nwigwe. Additional voices by Peter Dinklage, Pete Davidson, Ron Perlman, Cristo Fernández, Liza Koshy, MJ Rodriguez, and Michelle Yeoh. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

97 Minutes (NR) This thriller stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as an undercover agent who tries to save a hijacked airplane before it is shot down by the U.S. government. Also with MyAnna Buring, Jo Martin, Michael Sirow, Pavan Grover, Anjul Nigam, Davor Tomic, and Alec Baldwin.

Sanctuary (R) Christopher Abbott stars in this drama as an upcoming business executive who tries to end his longtime relationship with his dominatrix (Margaret Qualley). Also with Danita Battle. 

Simulant (R) This science-fiction film stars Robbie Amell as a humanoid who tries to win freedom of thought for his fellow artificial humans. Also with Simu Liu, Jordana Brewster, Alicia Sanz, Emmanuel Kabongo, Samantha Helt, Christine L. Nguyen, Mayko Nguyen, and Sam Worthington.

 

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