Akelli (NR) This Indian thriller stars Nushrratt Bharuccha as an ordinary woman who becomes trapped in a foreign war zone. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Blippi’s Big Dino Adventure (NR) A big-screen adaptation of the kids’ TV show, this film stars Clayton Grimm and Cashae Monya as adventurers trying to bring back missing dinosaur eggs before they hatch. (Opens Friday)
Dream Girl 2 (NR) This romantic comedy stars Ayushmann Khurrana as a debt-ridden young Indian man who impersonates someone else to marry the woman he loves (Ananya Panday). Also with Annu Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Vijay Raaz, Rajpal Yadav, Asrani, and Manoj Joshi. (Opens Friday)
The Elephant 6 Recording Co. (NR) Chad Stockfleth’s documentary profiles the 1990s rock collective behind Neutral Milk Hotel and The Apples in Stereo. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Gaandeevadhari Arjuna (NR) Varun Tej stars in this Indian action-thriller. Also with Sakshi Vaidya, Vinay Rai, Nassar, Manish Chaudhari, Lavanya Tripathi, and Vimala Raman. (Opens Friday)
Golda (PG-13) This historical drama stars Helen Mirren as Golda Meir as she leads Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Also with Liev Schreiber, Lior Ashkenazi, Camille Cottin, Emma Davies, and Ohad Knoller. (Opens Friday)
Gran Turismo (PG-13) Rather than a straight adaptation of the auto racing video game, this sports drama is based on the true story of Jann Mardenberger (Archie Madekwe), a soccer player’s son from Cardiff whose skill at the game translated into a career driving race cars for real. The movie hammers home its emotional beats with less subtlety than most video games, and the acting isn’t good enough to carry this. Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) shoots the racing sequences to resemble the game as closely as possible, and the American chief engineer is an embarrassing character, even though David Harbour plays the hell out of the part. This is a glorified commercial for the video game, and you’d get more drama out of playing the game for two hours than this. Also with Orlando Bloom, Takehiro Hira, Darren Barnet, Josha Stradowski, Maeve Courtier-Lilley, Daniel Puig, Pepe Barroso, Thomas Kretschmann, Geri Halliwell Horner, and Djimon Hounsou. (Opens Friday)
The Hill (PG) Hate to bash a movie with Fort Worth ties, but this baseball drama isn’t good. Colin Ford stars as Rickey Hill, a Texas preacher’s kid who overcame weak leg bones and a degenerative spinal condition in the 1970s to become a professional baseball player. Rickey’s father (Dennis Quaid) is the main obstacle, forbidding his son from playing out of a desire to protect him. The preacher being overly sure that he knows God’s plan sounds like it should be an interesting note in this Christian drama, but director Jeff Celentano takes this at a sleep-inducing pace and spends way too much time with the childhood of little Rickey (Jesse Berry). The baseball sequences would have been old hat 50 years ago, too. The real Hill, who’s now a golf instructor in Fort Worth, appears as a coach who tries to squelch Rickey’s career. Also with Joelle Carter, Siena Bjornerud, Ryan Dinning, Randy Houser, James Devoti, Mason Gillett, Bonnie Bedelia, and Scott Glenn. (Opens Friday)
MR-9: Do or Die (NR) A film from Bangladesh! This spy thriller stars ABM Sumon as his country’s top agent. Also with Jessia Islam, Sakshi Pradhan, Tariq Anam Khan, Omi Vaidya, Michael Jai White, and Frank Grillo. (Opens Friday)
Retribution (R) Liam Neeson stars in this thriller as a banker who receives a bomb threat against his family while driving his kids to school. Also with Embeth Davidtz, Jack Champion, Noma Dumezweni, Arian Moayed, Lilly Aspell, and Matthew Modine. (Opens Friday)
The Unknown Country (NR) Lily Gladstone stars in this drama as an Oglala Lakota native who travels from the Midwest to Texas after a death in her estranged family. Also with Raymond Lee, Lainey Bearkiller Shangreaux, Devin Shangreaux, Pam Richter, and Richard Ray Whitman. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Warrior King (PG-13) This Chinese animated film is about a young man (voiced by Brandon Hunt) living in exile in a world overrun by monsters. Additional voices by Katie Leigh, Marisa Blake, Blake Talley, Olivia Springer, and Ron Whittemore. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Barbie (PG-13) This philosophical statement about being a woman in present-day society is likely the strangest Hollywood blockbuster you’ll see all year, and much more than the crass corporate product it could have been. A perfectly pitched Margot Robbie plays a Barbie doll who has to travel from Barbie Land to our reality to discover why she’s having random thoughts about death. When Ken (Ryan Gosling) follows her into our reality, he likes the sight of men running everything and tries to turn Barbie Land into another patriarchy. All this takes place against a backdrop that’s wholly committed to Barbie-ness, with streets lined with life-size Barbie Dream Houses and more pink than you’ve ever seen in your life. If the storytelling loses a bit in its last third, the loose ends fit a story about the messiness of being a woman (or a man). This girly film is also thoughtful, complex, and funny, and will ensure that you never look at a Barbie doll the same way again. Also with America Ferrera, Arianna Greenblatt, Emma Mackey, Issa Rae, Beanie Feldstein, Simu Liu, Michael Cera, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, Hari Nef, Sharon Rooney, Ritu Arya, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ncuti Gatwa, Nicola Coughlan, Emerald Fennell, Scott Evans, Scott Evans, Sharon Rooney, Ana Cruz Kayne, Rhea Perlman, and John Cena. Narrated by Helen Mirren.
Blue Beetle (PG-13) The Mexican family at the center of this is enough to make this DC superhero movie feel different. Xolo Maridueña portrays a young man on a U.S. territory in the Caribbean who stumbles onto a suit of armor that gives him superhuman powers and also makes him a target of the evil tech firm that wants it. The movie does drag towards the end when the bad guys square off with the good guy and his familia, but director Angel Manuel Soto does not look overmatched by the scale and special effects, and the humor among the hero’s tightly knit family is both funny and culturally specific, especially with his crackpot uncle (George Lopez) and his abuelita (Adriana Barraza) who mysteriously knows how to handle an automatic firearm. Also with Elpidia Carrillo, Bruna Marquezine, Raoul Max Trujillo, Damián Alcázar, Belissa Escobedo, Harvey Guillén, and Susan Sarandon.
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.
Gadar 2 (NR) The sequel to the 2001 film Gadar: Ek Prem Katha stars Sunny Deol as a man who sneaks into Pakistan in 1971 to save his son. Also with Ameesha Patel, Utkarsh Sharma, Manish Wadhwa, Gaurav Chopra, and Simrat Kaur.
Haunted Mansion (PG-13) Another corporate conglomerate turns over a beloved property to a smart and inventive independent filmmaker, and if this isn’t as good as Barbie, at least it’s better than the 2003 movie from the Disney ride. Rosario Dawson plays a single mother who buys a New Orleans mansion, finds out that it’s haunted, and hires a tour guide (LaKeith Stanfield), a priest (Owen Wilson), a medium (Tiffany Haddish), and a history professor (Danny DeVito) to exorcise her house. The Big Easy setting offers up some promise, and the cast and director Justin Simien are well suited to the comedy elements in this movie. The horror elements, on the other hand, don’t work at all, and the ending is a complete botch job. The tone of this thing is all over the place, and the enticing talent here deserves better than this mess. Also with Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Chase W. Dillon, J.R. Adduci, Charity Jordan, Hasan Minhaj, Dan Levy, and an uncredited Winona Ryder.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (PG-13) The CGI magic that makes Harrison Ford look like he’s in his late 30s in this film’s extended prologue is as good as it gets, unfortunately. After that, this last installment in the series fails to recapture the magic, with Indy and his British goddaughter (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) trying to prevent some unreconstructed Nazis from obtaining a time-travel device in 1969. James Mangold takes over the director’s chair from Steven Spielberg, and it’s nowhere near the job he did on Logan, another last ride for a movie hero that was far more moving. The picture is full of empty fanservice, saddles Indy with another cute-kid sidekick, and sands away everything that makes Waller-Bridge interesting or funny. The climactic time-travel sequence feels like it was much crazier on the page than it is on the screen, too. Also with Karen Allen, Toby Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Kretschmann, Ethann Isidore, Nasser Memarzia, Shaunette Reneé Wilson, John Rhys-Davies, and Antonio Banderas.
Jailer (NR) Rajinikanth stars as a retired prison warden who starts killing his way through the mob hierarchy in Chennai after a crime boss (Vinayakan) murders his police detective son (Vasanth Ravi). There are some memorable action sequences like the one with our antihero sitting still as snipers take out the death squad that has come to his house. Still, the plot makes a bizarre detour into Bollywood satire as the revenge quest scoops up a fat, ugly movie star (Suhil), and some musical numbers get shoehorned into the business. More grievously, the movie glosses over the hero’s past brutalizing the inmates in his prison. Also with Ramya Krishnan, Yogi Babu, VTV Ganesh, Mirnaa Manon, Mohanlal, Shiva Rajkumar, Tamannaah, Nagendra Babu, and Jackie Shroff.
Landscape With Invisible Hand (R) The second half of this science-fiction satire is much better than the first. Asante Blackk and Kylie Rogers play teenagers in a 2030s Earth that has been bloodlessly taken over by space aliens. With the invaders starved for entertainment, our financially struggling protagonists make their romance into a show for the overlords that will make them money. Writer-director Cory FInley’s deadpan humor doesn’t land, and neither does his commentary on social media. Things pick up after the teens break up, and the guy becomes famous on his own by painting a huge mural about the aliens. The stuff about why human beings make art and how the art gets appropriated provides much sharper stuff. If you can take the off-the-charts levels of quirk, it’s worth the journey. Also with Tiffany Haddish, John Newberg, Josh Hamilton, Brooklyn MacKinzie, Christian Adam, William Jackson Harper, and Michael Gandolfini.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter (R) Adapted from a specific part of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this quickly turns into Alien on a 19th-century boat, and not in a good way. Corey Hawkins portrays a Black Cambridge-educated doctor who takes a job on a ship’s crew to get back home to London from Bulgaria, only to discover that the cargo is that creepy count himself (Javier Botet). The introduction of a Black character is handled conscientiously but also without much that gives a different angle on Stoker’s narrative. Director André Øvredal (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark) and his writers seem hemmed in by the source material, scared to reimagine it. Also with Liam Cunningham, Aisling Franciosi, Chris Walley, Jon Jon Briones, Stefan Kapicic, Martin Furulund, Nikolai Nikolaeff, Woody Norman, and David Dastmalchian.
Meg 2: The Trench (PG-13) Everything’s bigger and badder in this sequel, and yet it all feels stubbornly unexciting. Jason Statham reprises his role as an environmental activist who goes back up against a pod of colossal sharks after a deep-sea mining operation goes wrong. Statham is saddled with a cute kid (Shuya Sophia Cai) and a part that doesn’t allow him to be funny. Director Ben Wheatley takes over this sequel and fails to bring any of the twisted humor or visual pyrotechnics that distinguished his previous films (Sightseers, Free Fire). This is adapted from Steve Alten’s novel The Trench, so this may well be the worst and most profitable literary adaptation of the year. Also with Wu Jing, Cliff Curtis, Skyler Samuels, Page Kennedy, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Felix Mayr, Melissanthi Mahut, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, and Sienna Guillory.
Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One (PG-13) A thrilling burst of relevance hits this series just as it’s winding down. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team try to track down a sentient AI that can corrupt any online data, meaning that neither they nor the people chasing them can trust anything they see or hear on the internet. Hayley Atwell joins the series as a high-class pickpocket who unwittingly works her way into the spy plot, and she’s a great pickup for the franchise, as she gets to play a devious character who’s living high off her ill-gotten gains. The action set pieces remain strong, with an extended chase through the airport in Abu Dhabi and a car chase in Rome that strikes a new and welcome note of farce. The series’ escapism has just enough real-world issues here to become newly bracing. Also with Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Henry Czerny, Shea Whigham, Pom Klementieff, Greg Tarzan Davis, Mark Gatiss, Indira Varma, Rob Delaney, and Cary Elwes.
The Moon (NR) The domestically executed special effects upstage the story in this South Korean space opera. Do Kyung-soo stars as an astronaut who must defy the odds to survive after a catastrophic accident makes him the only survivor of a manned mission to the Moon. The movie’s obvious debts to Gravity and The Martian matter less than the soap opera contrivances linking the flight director (Sol Kyung-gu) and a Korean official at NASA (Kim Hee-ae). We get too many shots of the control-room technicians cringing at the hero’s latest setback. Still director Kim Yong-hwa does know his special effects from his Along With the Gods movies, and he stages an impressive sequence as the astronaut is caught on the Moon’s surface during a meteor shower. This movie will pave the way for better blockbusters from South Korea. Also with Jo Han-chul, Choi Byung-mo, Park Byeong-eun, Jo Seung-yeon, and Daniel C. Kennedy.
OMG 2 (NR) The sequel to the 2012 comedy stars Akshay Kumar as a messenger of Lord Shiva who sues everybody in his small town over his son’s expulsion from school. Also with Pankaj Tripathi, Yami Gautam, Pavan Malhotra, Govind Namdev, and Arun Govil.
Oppenheimer (R) This three-hour biographical epic aims to evoke a single mood of guilt-wracked despair, and darned if Christopher Nolan doesn’t almost pull it off. Around the story of how J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) takes charge of the Manhattan project and builds the atomic bomb that ends the war, there are two interlocking framing stories about him trying to renew his security clearance while his former boss Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to be confirmed as the U.S. Commerce Secretary. Nolan gives us precious little time to catch our breath from the start as he toggles between timelines while the supporting characters around Oppenheimer largely get lost. Still, the framing stories snap together in a marvelous way, and the successful atomic bomb test is a splendid set piece. Inside this movie is a better, smaller film that’s trying to get out. Also with Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, Alden Ehrenreich, Josh Hartnett, Jason Clarke, Tony Goldwyn, Benny Safdie, James D’Arcy, Harry Groener, Tom Conti, David Krumholtz, Matthias Schweighöfer, Alex Wolff, Michael Angarano, David Dastmalchian, Dane DeHaan, Josh Peck, Jack Quaid, Gustaf Skarsgård, James Remar, Olivia Thirlby, Matthew Modine, Kenneth Branagh, Casey Affleck, and Gary Oldman.
Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani (NR) This Indian romantic comedy takes on some subjects that most other Bollywood movies won’t. Ranveer Singh plays a flashy Punjabi snack-conglomerate heir who falls for an intellectual Bengali TV journalist (Alia Bhatt). Their cultural differences provide some comedy that runs out of steam before the intermission, at which time things pick up again when the two lovers defy social convention and go to live with each other’s families to see if they are compatible. There’s still too many supporting characters and subplots to tie up, but the movie manages to have our two protagonists question mores about marriage and their own prejudices in an even-handed way. Much of the humor, too, comes from the characters’ shaky handle of English — one person mistakes the word “orgasm” for “organize.” Also with Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Aamir Bashir, Churni Ganguly, Namit Das, Janhvi Kapoor, and Varun Dhawan.
Sound of Freedom (PG-13) This thriller probably works best for those people who see pedophiles lurking around every corner. For the rest of us, it’s somehow overheated and too slow at the same time. Jim Caviezel plays a heroic Homeland Security agent who quits his job and sets up a full-time operation in Colombia to bust a child sex trafficking operation. He’s flat as usual in the role, and the movie is stolen away by Bill Camp as an American who pretends to be a pedophile so he can buy children from the traffickers and then set them free. He’s the only person who feels like he’s inhabiting a character instead of acting as a mouthpiece for some seriously paranoid filmmakers. Also with Mira Sorvino, Scott Haze, José Zúñiga, Eduardo Verástegui, Gary Basaraba, Manny Perez, and Kurt Fuller.
Strays (R) This comedy’s germ of an interesting idea doesn’t have enough comic material to sustain it. The main character is a mutt (voiced by Will Ferrell) whose abusive, unemployed loser of an owner (Will Forte) abandons him in a city three hours away. The dog falls in with a pack of strays (voiced by Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, and Randall Park) who take him in and then go with him back to his old home to take revenge on the man. The film has the bright idea of making the dog into a codependent victim in the relationship, and there are some welcome jabs at movies like A Dog’s Purpose and Marley & Me. Unfortunately, the comic talent in the voice cast never brings this anywhere near critical mass and the set pieces only catch once, when the dogs eat psychedelic mushrooms and start to freak out. The profanity and sexual humor in this film shot to look like a kid-friendly movie seems to have been the only stroke of inspiration. Additional voices by Rob Riggle, Josh Gad, Jamie Demetriou, Jimmy Tatro, Harvey Guillén, and Sofía Vergara. Also with Greta Lee, Brett Gelman, and Dennis Quaid.
Talk to Me (R) Like Haunted Mansion, this Australian film is about a Black protagonist who’s coping with grief and vulnerable to spirits from the next world, but this is the much better film. Sophie Wilde plays a teen who goes to a suburban house party in Adelaide and takes up a dare to communicate with the next world by using a ceramic sculpture of a hand. The movie doesn’t engage race as a subject, but first-time filmmakers (and former YouTube pranksters) Danny and Michael Philippou show great talent for conjuring Hollywood-level special effects on a shoestring budget. The newcomer Wilde is superb both as a confused teen trying to deal with the family secrets hidden from her and the girl who’s possessed by something very bad. This feels like the scary campfire tale you need for the summer. Also with Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Zoe Terakes, Otis Dhanji, Marcus Johnson, Ari McCarthy, Chris Alosio, and Miranda Otto.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (PG) This animated reboot of the cartoon series scores its laughs, recasts its origin story, and then gets off the screen. Bless it for that. A mad scientist (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) loses his magic ooze down the city drain, which creates Splinter (voiced by Jackie Chan), our mutant heroes (voiced by Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, and Brady Noon), and the gang of criminal half-humans whom they’re trying to foil. The turtles are voiced by actual kid actors, some of whose voices haven’t changed yet, and they’re very funny, particularly in the frequent spots when all of them are talking at once. Co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg make sure that a good share of the humor appeals to the adults in the audience as well. This isn’t as deep as the other Hollywood blockbusters, but it’s enjoyable. Additional voices by Ayo Edebiri, Ice Cube, Post Malone, Hannibal Buress, Rose Byrne, Maya Rudolph, Seth Rogen, John Cena, and Paul Rudd.
Oldboy (R) The 20th anniversary re-release of Park Chan-wook’s thriller stars Choi Min-sik as a man seeking to learn who imprisoned him for 15 years. Also with Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong, Kim Byeong-ok, Ji Dae-han, Lee Seung-shin, and Oh Dal-su.