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Iko Uwais is one of many new arrivals in the fourth Expendables movie. Photo by Yana Blajeva
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Antarjal (NR) This drama from Bangladesh is about a group of young people trying to keep social media from tearing the country apart. Starring Bidya Sinha Saha, Siam Ahmed, Abm Sumon, Atikur Rahman, and Sanj John. (Opens Friday)

Condition of Return (NR) AnnaLyne McCord stars in this thriller as a woman who makes a deal with Satan to save her soul. Also with Dean Cain, James Russo, Natasha Henstridge, Ryan Bates, Cami Storm, Zaina Juliette, Lametria Jackson, and James Ray. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

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Creation of the Gods: Kingdom of Storms (NR) This Chinese fantasy epic about a war between ancient humans, gods, and demons stars Huang Bo, Kris Phillips, Li Xuejian, Yu Xia, Kun Chen, Quan Yuan, Le Yang, Yosh Yu, and Terry Hou. (Opens Wednesday in Dallas)

Expend4bles (R) The fourth installment in the series stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Megan Fox, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Randy Couture, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. (Opens Friday)

Fremont (NR) This drama stars Anaita Wali Zada as an Afghan translator for the U.S. military who tries to adjust to her new life making Chinese fortune cookies in America. Also with Jeremy Allen White, Gregg Turkington, Hilda Schmelling, Siddique Ahmed, Avis See-tho, and Taban Ibraz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Great Indian Family (NR) This Indian comedy stars Vicky Kaushal, Manushi Chhillar, Kumud Mishra, Bhuvan Arora, Manoj Pahwa, and Aasif Khan. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

I Can (PG) This Christian drama stars Danner Brown as a teenager who pursues a softball career despite being born with only one arm. Also with Daniel Roebuck, Vernon Wells, John Wells, Cameron Arnett, Raphael Ruggero, Sarah Cleveland, and Travis Hancock. (Opens Friday)

La Marginale (PG-13) This French comedy stars Corinne Masiero as a homeless woman who tricks a mentally handicapped airport worker (Vincent Chalambert) into driving her from Paris to Lisbon. Also with Karina Marimon, Mickaël Launay, Sarah Perles, Eric da Costa, and Pierre Azéma. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Nango Gau (NR) This Nepalese comedy stars Dayahang Rai, Karma, Miruna Magar, Samragyi Ri Shah, Shishir Bangdel, and Buddhi Tamang. (Opens Friday at Cinépolis Euless)

The Origin of Evil (R) This French thriller stars Dominique Blanc as a bankrupt woman who attempts to reconnect with her estranged wealthy family. Also with Laure Calamy, Dora Tillier, Jacques Weber, Suzanne Clément, Céleste Brunnquell, and Véronique Ruggia. (Opens Friday at AMC Lake Worth)

Stop Making Sense (PG) Jonathan Demme’s acclaimed 1984 concert film of Talking Heads is re-released in theaters. (Opens Friday)

Sukhee (NR) Shilpa Shetty Kundra stars in this Indian comedy as a 38-year-old woman who goes to her school reunion. Also with Amit Sadh, Chaitannya Choudhry, Kusha Kapila, Koma Sachdeva, Vinod Nagpal, Sejal Gupta, Purnima Rathod, and Kiran Kumar. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

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, 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. 

Bottoms (R) Weirdly like Pitch Perfect with a lot less singing and a lot more face-punching. I’m down for that. Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott play openly gay high-schoolers who found a self-defense club, ostensibly to help girls defend themselves from predators but really to hook up with their respective girl crushes. The two lead actresses have a well-established chemistry, having roomed together in college and collaborated on numerous projects. If the script by Sennott and director/co-writer Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby) is a tad predictable, it leaves lots of room for funny business from the various actors portraying the students and teachers. Even former NFL star Marshawn Lynch contributes laughs as a teacher who reads porn magazines in class. If the right-wing demonization of gay kids leaves you wanting to hit back, here’s the violent knockabout comedy for you. Also with Ruby Cruz, Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, Nicholas Galitzine, Miles Fowler, Zamani Wilder, Summer Joy Campbell, Virginia Tucker, Wayne Pére, Dagmara Domińczyk, and Punkie Johnson.

Camp Hideout (PG) This kids’ movie stars Ethan Drew as a young man who hides out in a summer camp after stealing a valuable from criminals. Also with Corbin Bleu, Amanda Leighton, Tyler Kowalski, Zion Wyatt, Jenna Raine Simmons, Josh Inocalla, and Christopher Lloyd.

The Equalizer 3 (R) It’s unusual how slowly this movie goes about its business, and even more unusual that it works so well. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is wounded in action and has to heal up in a small town on the Italian coast. He does so just in time for the Neapolitan camorra to start throwing their weight around. Before McCall faces down the bad guys, director Antoine Fuqua stops to take a breath and take in the sights in the various towns in Campania that stand in for the setting. It feels appropriate for the story of an aging hit man who realizes that he needs to hang it up while he can. If this is the last movie in the series, it’s a worthy ending. Also with Gaia Scodellaro, Remo Girone, David Denman, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Andrea Scarduzio, Andrea Dodero, Daniele Perrone, Zakaria Hamza, Manuela Tasciotti, Dea Lanzaro, Sonia Ben Ammar, Adolfo Margiotta, and Dakota Fanning.

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. 

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. 

A Haunting in Venice (PG-13) Death on the Nile left Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot at the end of a well-formed character arc, and this third Poirot adventure shows he should have quit while he was ahead. The story picks up in 1947, when a famous mystery novelist (Tina Fey) brings him out of retirement to help her debunk a psychic (Michelle Yeoh). Instead, somebody winds up dead at the end of her séance. The movie is actually based on Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party with the setting moved to Venice. The Venetian locations add nothing to the proceedings, the gallery of murder suspects yields little in the way of memorable performances, and Branagh and Fey have as much chemistry as oil and water. The filmmakers try to add supernatural doings to the mix, but the director doesn’t have the instincts for horror, and we know that a Christie adaptation isn’t going to give us actual ghosts. Also with Jamie Dornan, Camille Cottin, Jude Hill, Emma Laird, Ali Khan, Kyle Allen, Riccardo Scamarcio, Rowan Robinson, and Kelly Reilly.

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. 

Jawan (NR) This Indian action-thriller stars Shah Rukh Khan as both a soldier trying to call out corruption in India’s military-industrial complex and that man’s son, the warden of a women’s prison who uses his inmates to pull off heists and clear his father’s name. The film has a couple of nice set pieces, including a dance number inside that prison, but the thing seems to end five different times. The movie’s point about graft and embezzling in the system is a good one, but it’s made at laborious length with cardboard villains and kids in jeopardy. Also with Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi, Priyamani, Riddhi Dogra, Sanjay Dutt, Sanya Malhotra, Girija Oak, Lehar Khan, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Sunil Grover, Seeza Saroj Mehta, Yogi Babu, and Deepika Padukone.

Mark Antony (NR) This Indian action-comedy stars Vishal as the discoverer of a smartphone that lets its owner travel through time. Also with S.J. Suryah, Sunil, Ritu Varma, Redin Kingsley, Abhinaya, and Vishnupriya Gandhi.

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. 

Miss Shetty Mr. Polishetty (NR) This Indian romantic comedy is about a standup comic (Naveen Polishetty) wooing a London chef (Anushka Shetty). Also with Murali Sharma, Tulasi, Jayasudha, Nassar, and Abhinav Gomatam.

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.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (PG-13) About as deep as a picture postcard from some souvenir shop, this third installment of the series has the Portokalos family travel to Greece to track down the childhood friends of Toula’s late father. The Greek scenery is pretty, but you’d think that 20 years after the original film, writer-director Nia Vardalos would bother to throw the scenes together into some sort of order. There are altogether too many characters for the comic business to go around, and two tertiary characters marry each other for no reason other than so that the movie can have the word “wedding” in the title. This Greek family needed to retire gracefully in the early ’00s. Also with John Corbett, Andrea Martin, Louis Mandylor, Elena Kampouris, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides, Maria Vacratsis, Elias Kacavas, Melina Kotselou, Alexis Georgoulis, Stephanie Nur, and Joey Fatone.

The Nun II (R) What a mess this turned out to be. The sequel to the 2019 horror film is set in 1956 and has Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) traveling to a convent in Provence when she hears that Valak (Bonnie Aarons) isn’t dead after all and is murdering her way through Europe. The story winds up hopelessly scattered as characters run all over this church looking for one another and trying to put their hands on some mystical thingumabob that’s supposed to tip the balance between good and evil. I could live with that if the movie were scary, but the set piece at a magazine stand is outweighed by too much rote stuff, and the appearance of the werewolf demon is one of the more ridiculous things I’ve seen in a horror film. The tying of this series to the Conjuring movies isn’t enough to make it worth the trip. Also with Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell, Jonas Bloquet, Katelyn Rose Downey, Suzanne Bertish, Peter Hudson, Tamar Baruch, Natalia Safran, Patrick Wilson, and Vera Farmiga. 

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. 

The Retirement Plan (R) This painfully slapdash comic thriller stars Nicolas Cage as an ex-CIA assassin in the Cayman Islands whose estranged daughter and granddaughter (Ashley Greene and Thalia Campbell) are abducted by the Miami mob, which forces him to come out of retirement. Truly nothing works here, not the comedy, not the crime plot, not the domestic drama with the absentee grandfather connecting with his family, not the villains, and not the action sequences where the seemingly frail old man turns into a killing machine. Writer-director Tim J. Brown seems to have thrown this together over a weekend. Also with Ron Perlman, Jordan Johnson-Hinds, Joel David Moore, Grace Byers, Rick Fox, Lynn Whitfield, Ernie Hudson, and Jackie Earle Haley. 

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. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

Gold Run (NR) This Norwegian historical thriller stars Jon Øigarden as a man tasked with hiding his country’s gold reserves from the Nazis during World War II. Also with Thorbjørn Harr, Lars Berge, Anatole Taubman, Ida Elise Broch, Sven Nordin, Axel Bøyum, Gard B. Eidsvold, Karin Klouman, Terje Strømdahl, and Morten Svartveit.

 

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