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Movie Previews by Diana Beechener

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New for the week of July 11, 2019

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable
    Thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton’s arm was bitten by a tiger shark. Many people would have quit surfing; Bethany viewed it as a minor setback. She learned how to surf without an arm to balance her and became a pro.
    In this documentary, the surfer, mother and advocate for cleaning the oceans shares her secrets for a happy, productive life.
    It should be an inspiring flick. If you’ve got kids with big dreams, this might be the movie to convince them to follow them.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 98 mins.

    Haley (Kaya Scodelario) searches for her father as a hurricane floods her town. She finds him trapped and injured in their house. Fearing they’ll drown before help arrives, Haley seeks a way out.
    What she finds is a giant alligator.
    Fans of schlock horror and goofy CGI effects may find entertainment in one woman’s battle with an alligator.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 87 mins.

    Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is an Uber driver hoping to earn quick cash and a five-star rating. He’s expecting rides to the mall or the movies when Vic (Dave Bautista) jumps in his car.
    A cop obsessed with catching a killer, Vic is a bit of a loose cannon, offering Stu a gun and trying to rope him into his investigation. What will Stu do to avoid a one-star rating?
    Both Nanjiani and Bautista have proven themselves excellent comic talents. They can make almost anything funny, which is lucky, as this script lacks that quality and many others.
Prospects: Dim • R • 105 mins.

New for the week of August 11

Annabelle: Creation
    Samuel and Esther Mullins ­(Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) are despondent with grief at losing their daughter in a tragic accident. A doll-maker by trade, Samuel is haunted by her spirit, which asks to possess a doll so that she may live again.
    Of course, the spirit that enters the doll is a malevolent entity. Samuel thinks locking up the doll will relieve them of the evil.
    When they open their home as an orphanage, the curious girls discover the evil doll.
    The origin story for the creepy doll that has starred in three movies, Annabelle: Creation is one more serving of typical horror shenanigans.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 109 mins.

The Glass Castle
    Rex Walls (Woody Harrelson) raises his family unconventionally. He moves a lot and teaches them philosophy.
    As the children mature, they realize that Rex is alcoholic as well as eccentric, and that their unconventional life was due to his inability to cope with adult responsibilities. All flee the home but are drawn back when Dad becomes sick.
    Can the family reconcile the beauty and pain of their upbringing?
    Jeanette Walls’ autobiography of the same name was a conflicted tale about finding peace with her father. The movie seems to shift to romanticizing Rex and his dangerous parenting skills.
    Fans of Harrelson should enjoy his performance, but fans of Walls might resent the lack of nuance.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 127 mins.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
    When Surly (Will Arnett) learns his forest home will be bulldozed for an amusement park, he rallies the wildlife to stop the construction.
    Late summer is typically a time when studios release lackluster movies likely to turn a buck. That’s what’s delivered in this inane cartoon.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 91 mins.

New for the week of August 4

The Dark Tower
    Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) is the last of a breed. A gunslinger, Roland has vowed to fight for good and protect the world from the evil of The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey).
    Roland lost the battle in his world, but he gets a chance to save a new one. When a portal opens to our dimension, both Roland and the Man in Black see opportunity.
    Based on the wildly popular Stephen King fantasy series, The Dark Tower introduces a world of magical triggermen who can send bullets over field and dale as well as supreme evil that can shatter buildings at a touch. Elba and McConaughey are well able to add both hammy performances and gravitas.
    Fans of Elba will see him in one of his first major leading roles for a studio.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 95 mins.

    In 1967, Detroit is burning. Tired of racial profiling and unfair living conditions, black communities riot, and soon the city becomes a war zone. When the National Guard is called in, violence escalates.
    A group of black men and two white women seek refuge from the violence in the Algiers Hotel. A police raid turns into a nightmare of brutal interrogations, beatings and shootings.
    Based on the true story of the Algiers Incident, Detroit is one of the most profoundly disturbing — and important — films of the year. Director Kathryn Bigelow crafts a masterpiece, combining documentary footage with brilliant performances.
Great Drama • R • 143 mins.

An Inconvenient Sequel
    Al Gore is back begging humanity to save the environment. Join this world tour to see climate change at work.
    If you still think climate change is balderdash, this movie isn’t likely to convince you otherwise. But if you’re a believer seeking a glimpse of hope, this movie offers sustainable solutions from around the world.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 98 mins.

New for the week of July 28

Atomic Blonde
    In this bloody Cold War action flick, American and English agents are dying, and neither the CIA nor MI-6 knows why. Top operative Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) goes in to retrieve a valuable dossier.
    As every person she meets may be out to kill her, she needs to be good as she beats her way through Berlin.
    Essentially John Wick with a female lead, Atomic Blonde is filled with gleeful violence and sass, thus might be upsetting for viewers sensitive to bloody action.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.

The Emoji Movie
    As the Meh emoji on a young boy’s phone, Gene (TJ Miller) is supposed to be nothing but an unimpressed face. But Gene feels a wide range of emotion, which means he’s not always ready when called upon.
    Wearing the wrong expression in a text, Gene ruins his user’s social life. Banished to the bowels of the phone, he meets other emojis who want more than one emotion out of life.
    This kids movie tarnishes the great cinematic possibilities of animation and holds little appeal for adults.
Prospects: Rage Emoji • PG • 82 mins.

New for the week of July 21

Girls Trip
    As their lives separate, four best friends take a trip to reconnect. In New Orleans to celebrate the Essence Festival, each woman finds that she’s been missing true friendship.
    Expect crude humor, silly circumstances and lots of talk of the power of friendship in this story about wild nights, romances and sustaining relationships.
    Girls Trip won’t revolutionize the genre, but it might be fun to see on a girls’ night out.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 122 mins.

Valerian and the City of a ­Thousand Planets
    In the 28th century, humanity has expanded to the far corners of the universe. Operatives bounce throughout space to maintain law and order.
    New operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are sent to Alpha, a vast city that encompasses a thousand planets. Their job is to find out what’s destroying communities before it spreads.
    A sci-fi adventure based on a popular comic series, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will likely be hit-or-miss for most viewers. Director Luc Besson is a visual genius who has created fantastic science fiction universes on the silver screen for decades. But he often sacrifices coherent storytelling for action, and he has chosen lead actors with limited skills. Cinematography will need to be dazzling.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 137 mins.

New for the week of July 14

War for the Planet of the Apes
    Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his army of apes are preparing for the final battle against humanity. He had hoped to broker peace with humans, but the appearance of bloodthirsty Colonel (Woody Harrelson), who likes to slaughter apes, dashes those hopes.
    This continuation of the classic sci-fi series reboot should be fun for fans. However, the movies tend to be overacted and underwritten. The bloated running time will keep you in your seat for well over two hours. So consider how long you’re willing to sit through the eradication of humanity.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 140 mins.

Wish Upon
    Clare (Joey King) is a bullied girl who wants to change her fate. Will a magical jewelry box do the trick?
    The box seems like a godsend, until she reads the fine print, specifying the blood price for every wish she made.
    Expect plenty of jump scares, little tension and silly plotting in this typical PG-13 horror movie.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 90 mins.

New for the week of June 30

Baby Driver
    Baby (Ansel Elgort) copes with an inner ear disorder by listening to music — constantly. He’s used the beat to become one of the best getaway drivers in the business. Able to turn on a dime and leave the cops in the dust, he is a hot commodity in the business of crime.
    Crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) forces him into an impossible heist to save his girlfriend.
    Director Edgar Wright has made a career of crafting visually stunning action and savvy, amusing characters. I expect him to put this movie into gear.
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.

The Beguiled
    When an injured Union soldier shows up at a girls’ boarding school in Virginia, the women take him in to save his life. With little exposure to men, they find Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell) fascinating. Meddling with this group of women may turn more dangerous for McBurney than taking on the Confederacy.
    Director Sofia Coppola won the top prize at Cannes for this feminist slant on a Clint Eastwood remake. In a beautifully rendered Southern gothic tale, she follows shifting power dynamics in a tense situation.
Prospects: Bright • R • 93 mins.

Despicable Me 3
    The saga of Gru (Steve Carell) and his ramshackle family of minions and orphaned children continues. Fired from his crime-fighting gig at the Anti-Villain League, he is in a tailspin.
    When he discovers his long-lost twin, Dru (also Carell), Gru learns that being bad is his family’s proud tradition. Lured back into villainy, Gru is enjoying himself. But are his wife and children?
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 90 mins.

The House
    Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) have screwed up and lost their daughter’s college savings. Loathe to tell her that her education dreams are shattered, they concoct a plan to earn back the money — quick.
    The Johansens turn their basement into a makeshift casino. Dough is rolling in, but so is trouble. Can they navigate around law enforcement and local crime bosses?
Prospects: Dim • R • 88 mins.

New for the week of June 23

Beatriz at Dinner
    Invited to dinner by a wealthy client, holistic wellness practitioner Beatriz (Salma Hayek) finds herself among a party of over-privileged white people. Guest of honor Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), an ultra-conservative mouthpiece, turns the party hostile.
    In this political satire for the Trump era, Hayek and Lithgow battle it out in an allegory for our painfully divided nation. It’s fairly clear which side of the divide the movie falls on, so beware if you want to Make America Great Again.
Prospects: Politically Divisive • R • 83 mins.

Transformers: The Last Knight
    Discovering that he’s the cause of his home planet Cybertron’s obliteration, Optimus Prime vows to save it. To do so, he must procure an artifact from Earth, potentially obliterating our planet.
    Can Prime destroy humanity after he’s come to love us? Will he succeed with the help of Arthurian legend and the Knights of the Roundtable? What are robots that turn into trucks and metal dragons doing in the age of King Arthur?
    There are great action films, fascinating science fiction movies, even decent Mark Wahlberg films. But there has never been a good Transformers movie. This is not the exception.
Prospects: Apocalyptic • PG-13 • 149 mins.

New for the week of Jume 16

47 Meters Down
    To cap off their Mexican vacation, sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) book an excursion in a shark cage. At first they marvel at the beauty and the power of the deadly great whites that surround them. Then the chain to the cage snaps.
    The women plummet 47 meters to the ocean floor. Their air is running out, and aggressive sharks swim between them and the boat.
    Many movies force their characters into increasingly ridiculous situations to prolong the drama. Moore and Holt are both capable performers, but will they be up to screaming for 80 minutes?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 89 mins.

All Eyez On Me
    This film follows the rise and fall of the poetic and profound rapper Tupac Shakur. To explain his brief life and impact, it chronicles his journey from New York City street kid to king of the West Coast rap game.
    Biopics often distort or omit facts that don’t jibe with the story they want to tell, so don’t expect a documentary. At nearly two and a half hours, it is probably not for the casual fan.
Prospects: Bright • R • 140 mins.

Cars 3
    Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is a racing legend. But he’s not as fast as newer models coming up through the ranks. Instead of retiring, Lightning trains to prove he’s still the greatest.
    Essentially Rocky IV with cars, Cars 3 is yet another children’s film to keep the younger ones clamoring for toys. The Cars series remains the most heartless of the Pixar films.
Prospects: Dim • G • 109 mins.

The Book of Henry
    Susan (Naomi Watts) is a single mother working as a waitress to support her two boys. Her life is less stressful because the older boy, Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), is a genius. At 11, he balances the household budget, pays bills and takes care of his younger brother as part of his daily routine.
    When Henry tells Susan that a new friend’s stepfather — the town sheriff — is abusive, she hesitates.
    Luckily, Henry has a plan.
    Susan finds the plan detailed in a notebook and decides to execute it to save her son and his friend. But is Henry’s book the way to disaster?
    Henry’s genius makes him almost omniscient, which puts us in Twilight Zone territory. Watts is a wonderful actress, but there’s only so much she can do for this story.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins.

Rough Night
    Sorority sisters get together for a wild bachelorette weekend in honor of Jess (Scarlett Johansson). The women have grown apart over a decade, but they think a few nights of binge drinking and clubbing will renew their bond.
    The weekend gets off to a rough start when, in a bizarre accident, the girls kill the male stripper they’ve hired. Terrified that his death will upend their lives, the girls hide the body and try to forget the horrors of their weekend.
    The female version of the 1990s’ comedy Very Bad Things, Rough Night could be hilarious. Johansson is surrounded by fine comic actresses such as Jillian Bell, Kate McKinnon and Ilana Glazer. But with forced punch lines and physical comedy, it’s more likely to disappoint
Prospects: Flickering • R • 101 mins.

New for the week of June 9

It Comes at Night
    Paul (Joel Edgerton) is obsessed with keeping his family safe from a mysterious illness ravaging the world. They live in an isolated cabin, eating rationed food and praying the threat away. Then a stranger attempts to break in.
    A study of humanity’s contagious worst, this tense thriller is not a traditional horror film. Director Trey Edward Shults, the man behind last year’s excellent dramatic nail-biter Krisha, gives us real scares, not fabricated monsters.
Prospects: Bright • R • 97 mins.

Megan Leavey
    Marine corporal Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) rescues Rex, an aggressive dog scheduled to be put down, for her K9 unit. Together they save many soldiers.
    When an IED explosion puts Leavey in the hospital, Rex faces an uncertain fate. Leavey begins a legal journey to have her dog returned, even if she’s unable to go back to combat with him.
    Based on a true story, this film promises to tug at heartstrings.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 116 mins.

The Mummy
    Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) unearths an ancient tomb whose elaborate carvings and statues suggest a sinister meaning. Unwittingly, he’s unleashed Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an evil sorceress who plotted to end the world.
    Now she has a second chance.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 110 mins.

My Cousin Rachel
    Philip (Sam Claflin) suspects foul play in his guardian’s death after a series of increasingly paranoid letters hint that a new wife may be responsible for his declining health.
    Philip plans to lure the mysterious “cousin Rachel” of the letters to his estate to expose her. His plans change, when Rachel (Rachel Weisz) arrives. She’s beautiful, charming and seemingly guile-less. Philip is falling in love, but he’s also feeling rather ill.
    Based on the classic Daphne Du Maurier novel, My Cousin Rachel is both parlor drama and thriller.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 106 mins.

New for the week of June 1

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
    When their nasty principal (Ed Helms) threatens to place them in separate classes, George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) hypnotize him. They convince the principal that he is, in fact, Captain Underpants, a superhero the boys created in their spare time. The ploy works, and the world’s meanest principal transforms into the world’s silliest superhero — running around the city fighting imaginary crime.
    Things take a serious turn, however, when their new professor appears to be a real supervillain. Can the boys and their goofy hero defeat a real threat?
    Based on the beloved children’s books, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie should be highly entertaining for the younger crowd. Adults can expect silly slapstick humor and a lot of bodily function jokes.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 84 mins.

Wonder Woman
    Diana (Gal Gadot) is the princess of the Amazons, a group of women who rule over an island paradise. Raised to be a fierce warrior and protector of her people, Diana’s world is shaken when an American pilot crashes into the ocean. She saves the man and learns that not only is the world outside the Amazon domain dominated by men, but it is in utter chaos because of World War I.
    Since she has sworn to keep the earth safe from strife, Diana leaves her home to join the pilot, believing she can end the war. Among humans, Diana realizes that she has powers most others don’t. Can she use her abilities to bring peace to the world? Or is the world too far gone for even an Amazon princess?
    The next film in Warner Brothers’ Justice League series, Wonder Woman introduces audiences to one of the greatest female superheroes of all time. Hopefully, this film can shake the trend of dark, poorly plotted films in the DC comics universe. Gadot seems up to the task of bringing humor and fighting skills to this film, which is also the first female-led superhero movie to be released by a major studio.
    It would be wonderful if Wonder Woman ushered in an era of strong female leads, ready to save the world.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 141 mins.

New for the week of May 25

    Veteran lifeguard Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is serious about protecting the beaches of California. He’s annoyed when recruit Matt (Zac Efron), a former Olympic swimmer and media bad boy, tries to take over the station.
    But when a drug dealer starts moving product through the beach, Mitch and Matt start their own investigation.
    21 Jump Street started a trend by reimagining a cult-favorite television show as an R-rated comedy. Can Baywatch become the next improbably hilarious retro flick? The former wrestler has impressive muscles, natural charm and comic timing. Efron not so much.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 116 mins.

New for the week of May 19

    A boxer with a receding hairline and lots of stories about his glory days, Chuck Wepner (Live Schreiber) catches the attention of Sylvester Stallone (Morgan Spector), who writes a screenplay about the down-on-his-luck boxer. The movie becomes Rocky. But Chuck gets none of the attention.
    Seeking his due, “the real Rocky” fights for fame. For that, he’s willing to punch bears, throw wild parties and endure beatings by every up-and-coming boxer.
    I’m betting the true story of the man who inspired Rocky will be a quirky look at the fate of obscurity. Schreiber is a wonderful performer with both Elizabeth Moss and Naomi Watts to help carry the day.
Prospects: Bright • R • 98 mins.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
    Wimpy kid Greg (Jason Drucker III) isn’t thrilled about the road trip planned for his grandmother’s 90th birthday. Trapped in a car with his goon of an older brother and uncool parents, Greg schemes to get some fun and messes with the GPS to send the family to a comic convention instead of to grandmother’s house.
    The latest in the popular Wimpy Kid franchise, this film continues the fare of simple stories and slapstick humor about growing up. Pre-teens and younger teens may love it; their chaperons probably won’t.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 90 mins.

Everything, Everything
    Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) watches life through her window. She suffers from autoimmune disease so severe that any non-sterilized object or person could convey a deadly infection. Her world is her mother, her nurse and the inside of her home.
    Until she sees Olly (Nick Robinson) through the window. Texting and messaging, they grow close, though they can’t be in the same room. Until Maddy plans a daring escape with Olly.
    Based on a bestselling novel and filled to the brim with teen stereotypes, this melodrama will appeal to high schoolers who believe their parents just don’t get them. Stenberg is a capable actress, but can she charm older viewers?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 96 mins.

The Lovers
    Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) are trapped in a dying marriage, both having affairs to recapture the excitement they’ve lost.
    They’re on the verge of a breakup, when, inexplicably, the attraction returns. Talks turn to laughs, laughs to love-making and soon they are as enamored as they were as a young couple. Now they must sneak out on their lovers to spend time together.
    A comedy of sexual mores, aging dilemmas and marital strife, The Lovers will live or die on character development. I expect both Winger and Letts are up able to handling this odd subject with humor and aplomb.
Prospects: Bright • R • 94 mins.

New for the week of May 12

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
    Cheated out of his crown, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) grew up on the mean streets of London instead of in the palace. While Arthur lived the rough-and-tumble life of a peasant, an evil warlock (Jude Law) stole the crown. But when Arthur pulls a legendary sword from a stone, his identity as the true king is revealed.
    Guy Ritchie’s campy take onthe Arthurian tale features bare-knuckle boxing, fantastical monsters and goofy dialog. Ritchie adores frenetic action, quick-cut sequences and quippy dialog, but if you’re hoping to pass an English lit class without reading the book, this isn’t the movie for you.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 126 mins.

    Norman (Richard Gere) longs to be a wheeler-dealer. When he accidentally befriends a politician who becomes a world leader, the bit-part political player gets his chance at the big time. Can he succeed?
    Gere is having a career resurgence, picking quirky dramatic roles that give him room to act. In this oddball dramedy, he becomes a lighter version of Willy Loman, treading frantically to keep his head above water.
Prospects: Bright • R • 118 mins.

The Wall
    A sniper team is pinned down. One wounded soldier is exposed, while his buddy, hiding behind a flimsy wall, seeks a way to save him.
    Director Doug Liman is known for more bombastic action, like The Edge of Tomorrow. Here he scales back in favor of a two-man drama with minimal setting and props. It’s a bold move that can either pay off or make a dull film.
    Success depends on how John Cena and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play soldiers in peril. Cena had a surprisingly good comic turn in Trainwreck last year. Taylor-Johnson is proving a reliable character actor.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 81 mins.

New for the week of May 5

3 Generations
    A three-generational New York family dynamic is thrown for a loop when the youngest (Elle Fanning) comes out as trans. Her transformation to Ray is halted by a father who doesn’t understand.
    Can grandmother Dolly (Susan Sarandon) and daughter Maggie (Naomi Watts) be the support Ray needs?
    Instead of portraying gender transition as a highly emotional and often traumatic journey, the film goes for laughs. Will the light touch make it easier for people to understand and talk about this hot topic? That’s the big question.
Prospects: Flickering • NR • 92 mins.

The Dinner
    History teacher Paul (Steve Coogan) and wife Claire (Laura Linney) are summoned to dinner by Paul’s politician brother Stan (Richard Gere). On the menu is a violent crime committed by their sons.
    The boys have not been identified, but the crime was caught on tape. Stan is so wracked with guilt that he wants to suspend his campaign and turn the boys in. Paul, who considers himself morally superior to his politician brother, is horrified by the prospect of ruining his son’s life.
    Over dinner the family must decide.
    Expect tense drama from this trio of powerful actors.
Prospects: Bright • R • 120 mins.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
    After saving the galaxy from doom, a motley group of outlaws continues to traverse the cosmos looking for trouble and their origins. Led by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the self-proclaimed Guardians of the Galaxy experience the squabbles and problems of all families while trying to keep the universe together.
    This is the sequel to the Marvel movie so wildly entertaining that it seems to belong to a different cinematic universe than the often-gloomy Avengers movies. Director/writer James Gunn has a knack for telling unusual stories with biting humor and visual elegance. His affection for societal misfits makes the ragtag heroes seem both human and likeable.
    This most original and stylish of the Marvel franchises is a reminder that big studios can make good movies.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 136 mins.

New for the week of April 29

The Circle
    Mae (Emma Watson) lands her dream job at a cutting-edge tech company. As she climbs the corporate ladder, though, she discovers that the founders have more in mind than helping people tweet and share pictures. The plan is global surveillance to police the world.
    Is destroying privacy the only way to achieve peace on earth? Is that sacrifice worth the price?
    Watson is joined by Tom Hanks and John Boyega, making a strong cast for this eerie tech thriller based on Dave Eggers’ bestseller of the same title.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 110 mins.

How to Be a Latin Lover
    Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) seduces rich women before finally marrying to enjoy a posh lifestyle. But when that marriage crumbles, he is too old to seduce a successor, so he moves in with his sister Sara (Salma Hayek) and her son.
    Unskilled and unsuited to any job but seduction, he teaches his nephew, a grade-schooler, how to seduce like a proper Latin Lover.
    A comedy with lots of stereotypes and silly humor, How to Be a Latin Lover is likely to amuse but not amaze. Don’t expect deep character work or thoughtful laughs. But if you enjoy pratfalls, inappropriate jokes and hackneyed situations, it should be worth the ticket.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 115 mins.

    Poor, parentless and in need of cash, street magician Bo (Jacob Latimore) takes a job working with drug dealer Angelo (Dulé Hill) in order to care for his younger sister. As the jobs turn violent, the magician needs to extricate himself and his sister.
    Bo has one card up his sleeve. His powers go beyond a fancy shuffle and guessing a card. Can he hone them to fight Angelo?
    A hybrid of urban black dramas and modern superhero movies, Sleight has potential. It all depends on whether director J.D. Dillard can make the most of his screen debut by marrying the gritty realism of Bo’s life with the fantastical elements of his powers.
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.

New for the week of April 21

    Former social butterfly Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is broke, unemployed and having a bit of a breakdown. It all gets much worse when she realizes that she is inadvertently controlling a monster destroying Korea.
    A black comedy about harm we inflict on ourselves and others, Colossal could be an entertaining romp. Hathaway is always game to sell whacky roles, so it should be fun to watch her chew scenery as her monster counterpart destroys Seoul. If you’re in the mood for a comedy with teeth, this should be worth the price of admission.
Prospects: Bright • R • 110 mins.

Disneynature Born in China
    Disney’s documentary department treks into the wilds of China to show glimpses of three animal clans: Pandas, snow leopards and golden snub-nosed monkeys. Families grow, and babies learn to navigate their habitat.
    This is a wonderful way for kids to see exotic creatures. But calling this a documentary stretches the term. Disney meticulously curates the content, keeping it G-rated, making up cute stories and cutting out the reality of blood and violence.
    Until your child is ready for the more realistic National Geographic version of the wild, Disneynature films are a decent way to see cool creatures through rose-colored glasses.
Prospects: Flickering • G • 76 mins.

Free Fire
    When an arms deal goes wrong, IRA radicals and gunrunners dodge bullets and insults in an epic battle in an abandoned warehouse. Everyone is armed, but no one is a good shot. The result is a cacophonous blend of male bravado and gunpowder.
    Can a winner emerge from this group of misfits?
    Free Fire is cliched, violent and totally entertaining. The film’s cast wrings laughs and even a few moments of genuine sentiment from the locked-room situation.
    If you’re a fan of shoot-’em-ups, outrageous quips and inventive camera work, this film is worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.

The Lost City of Z
    Explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is obsessed with the possibility that ancient civilizations predated European culture. He leaves his family and his comfortable life in England to search for a lost city in the Amazon.
    Trekking along a dangerous river, he combats racism, mental fatigue and the very real possibility that these ancient peoples don’t want to be found.
    Based on the true story of Fawcett, who disappeared while hunting for lost worlds, this adventure drama about the British empire’s heyday of exploration promises excitement, interesting visuals and a fascinating story of how colonial impulses shaped the modern world.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 140 mins.

New for the week of Apri 14

The Fate of the Furious
    Just when the Toretto Gang has quit the criminal life, disaster strikes. Leader Dom (Vin Diesel) leaves his wife (Michelle Rodriguez) to join cyber terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) in her plans for world domination.
    Can anyone get through to Dom? Or is he lost to the bad guys forever?
    Filled with enough fast cars and scantily clad women to distract from the poor acting and soap opera plot twists, The Fate of the Furious won’t be a surprise to fans of the series. At this point, eight films in, you know that men will flex absurd biceps, women wearing tiny skirts will bend over and cars will go fast.
    As distraction, the film has picked up a few charismatic performers, including The Rock, Jason Statham and, bafflingly, Helen Mirren.
Prospects: Over-revved • PG-13 • 136 mins.

Their Finest
    Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) takes a job in the secretarial pool at the British ministry of propaganda as Britain seeks to entice the Americans to enter World War II.
    She falls in with a theater company planning to use the Battle of Dunkirk to lift spirits and inspire American hearts and minds. With so few men left to work, Cole gets to write scripts. She struggles with her career boon, which she knows she has only because men and boys are dying overseas. It’s an interesting and very powerful dichotomy.
    This story about the power of filmmaking and how it can change audiences promises stirring drama.
Prospects: Bright • R • 110 mins.

New for the week of April 7

The Case for Christ
    As a journalist, Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel) is dedicated to facts. A committed atheist, he believes in science and pities those who cling to faith. When wife (Erika Christensen) admits believe in God, Lee’s faith in atheism is tested. To prove her wrong, Lee sets out to prove that God doesn’t exist. But science fails to help him make his case.
    Another in a long line of faith-reaffirming movies, The Case for Christ is made for Christians by Christians.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 112 mins.

    Former social butterfly, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is broke, unemployed and having a bit of a breakdown. It all gets much worse when she realizes that she is inadvertently controlling a monster destroying Korea.
    A black comedy about harm we inflict on ourselves and others, Colossal could be an entertaining romp. Hathaway is always game to sell whacky roles, so it should be fun to watch her chew scenery as her monster counterpart destroys Seoul.
Prospects: Bright • R • 110 mins.

    Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) is a genius who lives with her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) in a small Florida town. Life is good until Frank’s mother moves for recognition of Mary’s mathematical skills. Frank promised his sister he would give Mary a normal life, so he’s obstinate about keeping her out of gifted programs.
    A heartfelt indie drama about family bonds and doing the right thing for a child, Gifted looks well meaning and probably hackneyed. Evans is usually wonderful outside his Captain America persona, so he could elevate the material.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 104 mins.

Going in Style
    Tired of scraping by on Social Security, Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin) decide to rob a bank. The formerly law-abiding seniors bumble along while learning a bit about embracing life.
    Director Zach Braff has long subjected audiences to ponderous and boring films about men who aren’t recognized for their genius. This reboot of the original George Burns film adds nothing new save an updated cast of actors.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 96 mins.

Smurfs: The Lost Village
    Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato) and Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi) find evidence that they may not be alone. Legend tells of a lost Smurf village of mystical creatures and magic, so the duo recruits their friends to go on the hunt in a movie sure to bore parents and entertain kids.
Prospects: Bad • PG • 89 mins.

New for the week of March 31

The Boss Baby
    Seven-year-old Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi) doesn’t like his new baby brother. The baby (Alec Baldwin) wears suits, talks lickety-split and shouts authoritarian orders. The brothers match wits as they fight for attention — until they uncover a nefarious plot.
    This lazy money-grab promises to bore anyone of driving age.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 97 mins.

Ghost in the Shell
    Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a cyber-enhanced soldier designed to stop international terrorism. Beyond waking up as a mechanized hybrid, she remembers nothing of her human past but constantly wonders about the person she used to be.
    Her latest assignment brings her closer than ever to her past. The terrorists she tracks claim to know her — and to know that she was forced into a life of mechanical servitude.
    Based on an extremely popular anime series, Ghost in the Shell should be a fascinating sci-fi romp exploring themes of identity and humanity. Should be, were it not for the controversial casting of Johansson instead of an Asian actor. Set in Japan, the whole film seems to have been whitewashed by producers.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 106 mins.

The Zookeeper’s Wife
    Antonia and Jan Zabinski (Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh) own a popular zoo in Warsaw. When World War II breaks out and neighbors are rounded up, the Zabinskis rebel against Nazi domination, working with the resistance to smuggle people to freedom.
    Reich chief zoologist Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl) suspects animals might not be the only things life in the Zabinski zoo.
    Based on a bestselling novel and a true story, The Zookeeper’s Wife is a tale of bravery in the face of terrifying odds. The Zabinskis and Polish resistance fighters saved hundreds of lives.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 124 mins.

New for the week of March 24

    The California Highway Patrol has two new members: cocky former motorbiker Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) and Frank Poncherello (Michael Peña). Baker took the job hoping to relive his pro-motorbiking glory days and patch things up with his estranged wife. Poncherello is an undercover Fed who sees the Highway Patrol’s hand in heists he’s investigating.
    Naturally the two butt heads, then learn to work together.
    Based on the popular television series, CHiPS is an R-rated nostalgia comedy. Expect crude humor, references to the television show and ridiculous plotting. If you’re looking for comedy with substance, keep moving down the highway.
Prospects: Dim • R • 100 mins.

    Six astronauts on the International Space Station make the discovery of a lifetime: proof of life on Mars. As they study the lifeform, it changes from a single-celled organism into something far more complex and dangerous.
    Can the astronauts contain the rapidly evolving creature? Or will it make it to Earth?
    This Alien-like thriller deals with questions of scientific discovery, morality and life. What happens if we find alien life that isn’t awed by us?
    Space thrillers have an inherent tension. Add to that a great cast featuring Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal for a fantastic thriller.
Prospects: Bright • R • 103 mins.

Personal Shopper
    Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart) travels to Paris not for the haute couture but to discover what happened to her twin brother who died there.
    If you enjoy smart thrillers with a hint of style and emotionally powerful writing, Personal Shopper should be a Hitchcockian thriller.
Prospects: Bright • R • 105 mins.

Power Rangers
    A group of misfits find an alien ship and earn super powers enabling them as martial arts fighters and pilots of dinosaur robot vessels. They must use their new skills to fight an intergalactic threat.
    An adaptation of one of the worst fad shows of the 1990s, Power Rangers looks exactly as bad as the original.
Prospects: Pitch Black • PG-13 • 124 mins.

Song to Song
    Songwriters Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling) are struggling lovers. Seeking musical success in Austin, they fall in with a sketchy music producer (Michael Fassbender) and his girlfriend (Natalie Portman).
    This love story from iconic director Terrance Malick should feature gorgeous cinematography and a pensive take on relationships. He is the king of complicated love stories, but his style can be slow.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 129 mins.

    Misanthropic Wilson (Woody Harrelson) learns late in life that he has a teenaged daughter (Isabella Amara). Building a father-daughter relationship is easier said than done for the angry, honest-to-a-fault Wilson.
    Harrelson is often a delight on screen. If you’re a fan of his brand of humor, you should find Wilson fun. Expect outrageous comedy and a heartwarming message.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 94 mins.

New for the week of March 17

Beauty and the Beast
    Same old story: Disney remakes popular animated movies as live action extravaganzas to make money. Now, it’s Beauty and the Beast’s turn.
    As in the 1991 animation, brilliant Belle (Emma Watson) is stuck in provincial France where villagers don’t understand her intelligence, the local bully wants to marry her and her father is regarded as a lunatic. Lucky for Belle, she’s soon kidnapped by a terrifying beast who lives in an enchanted castle.
    As beauty and beast (Dan Stevens) get to know one another, she finds the man beneath the brute. Can her love break the curse that holds Beast captive?
    This meager recreation adds little to the original. A few new songs are sung by the woefully autotuned cast, and the enchanted creatures are depicted in CGI. A singing cartoon candlestick is whimsical; most of the realistic transformations take some of the magic out of the tale.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 129 mins.

The Last Word
    Nearing the end of her life, Harriet (Shirley MacLaine) hires struggling journalist Anne (Amanda Seyfried) to write her obituary, and eventually the two bond.
    MacLaine is fantastic playing a waspish older woman. She can spit out barbs and loft an eyebrow with the best of them. But even she can’t save this hackneyed script.
Prospects: Dim • R • 108 mins.

The Sense of an Ending
    When the mother of an ex-girlfriend dies, Tony (Jim Broadbent) inherits a diary and a mysterious note. Reading the diary, he finds that a pivotal moment from his youth may not have happened as he remembers it. Digging deeper into his past, he questiosn the very nature of memory.
    Based on an acclaimed novel and featuring an excellent cast, The Sense of an Ending should be a stirring drama about the lies we tell ourselves.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 108 mins.

New for the week of March 10

Kong: Skull Island
    In 1971, explorers hire soldiers to help investigate Skull Island, rumored to contain the greatest mythical beasts on earth. Villagers worship Kong, a massive gorilla. Creatures fear him. Now, soldiers are trying to capture him.
    Warner Brothers is hoping that Kong: Skull Island will be a second monster revival hit, joining Godzilla in ushering in the new era of man-versus-monster films based on classics like Mothra and Rodan that dominated the 1950s and ’60s.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 120 mins.

The Ottoman Lieutenant
    Tired of an unsatisfying life in the states, Lillie (Hera Hilmar) finds work at a mission in the Ottoman Empire.
    As World War I threatens to tear apart the empire and her new home, Lillie must choose between two loves: her work and an Ottoman Imperial Army soldier.
    A melodrama about grand passion in the face of historic disaster, The Ottoman Lieutenant threatens lots of overwrought music and sweeping gestures.
Prospects: Dim • R • 106 mins.

New for the week of March 3

Before I Fall
    Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) knows she’s going to die on February 12. She knows because she’s done it dozens of times. Every night, she and her friends are hit by a truck, and every morning Sam wakes up to relive the fateful day.
    The teen version of Groundhog Day, Before I Fall drains the clever comedy concept of its humor and substitutes teen angst.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 99 mins.

The Shack
    Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington) loses his faith when his daughter is murdered until he receives a letter he believes is from God, asking him to visit the shack where the girl was killed. There three strangers help him learn the truth and move on.
    Based on a bestselling novel, The Shack is a faith-based film with an exceptional cast, including Oscar winner Octavia Spencer.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 132 mins.

Table 19
    Eloise (Anna Kendrick) goes from maid of honor to persona non-grata when the bride’s brother dumps her, relegated to table 19, reserved for the random people who mean little to either bride or the groom.
    With Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson and Stephen Merchant, there’s no shortage of comedic chops in this film. Expect a quirky comedy with deadpan delivery and awkward humor.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 87 mins.

A United Kingdom
    While on holiday in 1940s’ London, African prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) falls in love with Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). His proposal to the white clerk causes international scandal. The Bechuanaland Protectorate (modern day Botswana), its British colonial masters and British-controlled South African government all disapprove.
    Based on a true story, Khama and Ruth hold fast to their love while trying to change the opinion of his nation and the world.
    Both Oyelowo and Pike are phenomenal performers; expect powerful portrayals of this historical couple.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 111 mins.

New for the week of February 24

    For love, Casey Stein (Nicholas Hoult) left a life of crime. But when his girlfriend is kidnapped by a mob boss (Anthony Hopkins), he must return to running drugs to get her back.
    Mindless action movies can be entertaining, but this one seems to have forgotten to add wit. Dialog is stilted and performances — especially from Hopkins and an embarrassed looking Ben Kingsley — are flat. The action looks rote with no real stakes.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 99 mins.

Get Out
    Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) have reached a relational milestone. It’s time to meet the parents. Rose hasn’t told her wealthy parents that he’s black, but she assures him it will be fine.
    At first, Chris believes that Missy and Dean (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) are simply unsure how to welcome him into their overwhelmingly white community. But as the weekend progresses, Chris suspects that the seemingly sweet couple has nefarious plans for him.
    Written and directed by comedian and satirist Jordan Peele, Get Out is a horror comedy about the most common and insidious forms of racism. No stranger to adding twists to genres, Peele focuses on ways black people are menaced in a horror flick that will make you laugh and spark a discussion.
Prospects: Bright • R • 103 mins.

Rock Dog
    Tibetan mastiffs have a proud history of guarding a small village of sheep that make wool for the country. But pup Bodi (Luke Wilson) has a different dream when he finds a radio and falls in love with guitar music. He sets out in search of a reclusive rock legend to help him realize his dream of becoming a star. Can Bodi live his dreams? Or is he meant to be a guard dog?
    If you have little ones, hope the music will be enough to keep you amused, because you won’t find much else for adults in the way of plot or characters.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 80 mins.

New for the week of February 17

A Cure for Wellness
    Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) volunteers to retrieve a CEO who fails to return from a wellness center. But this free trip to a ritzy locale in the Swiss Alps is not what Lockhart hoped as he is subjected to treatments that are eroding his sanity.
    A Cure for Wellness hopes to terrify you into cancelling your next massage appointment. It features all the bells and whistles of a modern horror flick: jump scares, creepy characters and gore.
Prospects: Dim • R • 146 mins.

Fist Fight
    High school teacher Campbell (Charlie Day) wouldn’t hurt a fly. When fellow teacher Strickland (Ice Cube) is fired, rumor blames Campbell and Strickland challenges him to fight. Tired of being pushed around, Campbell agrees.
    This is the type of film that’s called a comedy not because it’s funny but because plot and acting are so ridiculous that it defies any other categorization. Both Day and Cube are capable, but this project won’t show off their talents.
Prospects: Dim • R • 91 mins.

The Great Wall
    William (Matt Damon) is a traveling mercenary. Captured in China, he discovers that the Great Wall is there to keep out massive beasts. Can he stop the monsters and save the world?
    Why Matt Damon agreed to a low-budget monster movie about a white man saving China may be this film’s most interesting question. Terrible graphics, awful dialog and a stupid story make for a film that should be fun to mock, but not at the price of a movie ticket. Wait four weeks, buy some snacks with the $12 you saved and invite friends over to watch this disaster on a streaming service.
Prospects: Pitch Black • PG-13 • 103 mins.

The Salesman
    Ranaa (Taraneh Alidoosti) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini) leave their dilapidated house for a cheap apartment that was once the home of a prostitute. When a former client comes by and corners Ranaa, the happy couple is thrown into chaos.
    Directed by Asghar Farhadi, the genius Iranian filmmaker behind A Separation, The Salesman should be a stirring drama with beautiful performances. Farhadi is a master of mining emotion from quiet moments. His ­dramas tend to be both affecting and depressing. You’ll be talking about this film for weeks after seeing it.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 125 mins.

New for the week of February 10

Fifty Shades Darker
    Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) dumps her controlling billionaire boyfriend Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) because of his sexual proclivities. Christian, however, can’t let Anastasia go, and she longs for him, too. Standing between them are Christian’s dark past and her jealousy.
    There is little to recommend this continuation of one of the worst films released in the past decade.
Prospects: Dark • R • 115 mins.

I Am Not Your Negro
    Writer and civil rights legend James Baldwin, a passionate observer of both systemic and geographic racism, delves into America’s history of racism in this documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. Featuring powerful and disturbing images of degradation and violence, expect it to spark debate.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 95 mins.

John Wick: Chapter 2
    Former hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is again dragged out of retirement, this time to survive an attempted takeover of the assassins’ guild. Now this killing machine must blast his way through New York. To get to the man who’s put a price on his head, however, he needs the help of old allies.
    The sequel to one of the most enjoyable action movies in recent memory, John Wick: Chapter 2 promises more blood and guts. Directed by famed stuntman Chad Stahelski, who helmed the original, it features breathtaking and brutal action. Stahelski makes great use of Reeves’ wooden screen persona, suiting his stilted delivery style to the character.
    If you like explosions, beautifully choreographed fights and cool cars, John Wick: Chapter 2 will be a hit.
Prospects: Bright • R • 122 mins.

The LEGO Batman Movie
    Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) is overwhelmed and a bit lonely as he deals with all the baddies trying to take over Gotham. He finds help in the form of Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson).
    Can Batman learn how to work in a group? Or will his lone wolf act doom Gotham?
    This animated entry looks like zany fun for kids. Fortunately, the LEGO series fills films with lots of pop culture references and clever writing that will keep adults entertained, too. If you or your little ones have a love for The Dark Knight or the interlocking bricks, this movie should be well worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 104 mins.

New for the week of February 3

The Comedian
    Insult comic Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) stared in a popular television show. But the show became a curse when audiences fixated on his character rather than his comedy. Washed up and frustrated, Jackie attacks a heckler in a club.
    On his sentence of 100 hours of community service, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), and sparks fly.
    The Comedian has been a passion project for De Niro for nearly a decade. He gathered an all-star cast, including Edie Falco, Danny DeVito, Patti Lupone and Harvey Keitel. But he didn’t infuse the movie with interesting or original thought. It’s yet another film about an older man needing a younger woman to inspire him to greatness. This time, the man is a sleaze-ball.
Prospects: Dim • R • 119 mins.

    Like most young people in horror movies, Julia (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) and Holt (Alex Roe) have no sense of self-preservation. Why else would they investigate an urban legend about a videotape that kills all viewers in seven days?
    As increasingly creepy things happen, Julia realizes that there is a movie inside the movie that may be her salvation. Can she unravel the mystery of the Rings before she’s killed by a ghostly little girl who lives in a well? Does anyone still remember this franchise?
    Expect a standard PG-13 horror movie with jump-scares, loud musical cues and pretty people running while looking mildly upset.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 102 mins.

The Space Between Us
    The first mission to colonize Mars has an unexpected passenger; one of the astronauts is pregnant. Forced to give birth on a barren planet with little medical aid, the astronaut dies in childbirth. Her son, Gardner (Asa Butterfield) lives.
    The first native Martian is raised on the red planet by the colonization team. But he wonders about life on Earth. At 16, Gardner visits the home planet to search for his father.
    The mission isn’t simple. Life on Mars has left his body ill-equipped for Earth’s gravity.
    A teen drama with a space veneer, The Space Between Us offers interstellar adolescent angst.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 121 mins.

New for the week of January 29

A Dog's Purpose
    Bailey (Josh Gad) is a puppy who adores his boy. A dog’s life is short, but Baily’s death doesn’t end his story. He is reincarnated, with a new set of humans. Lifetime after lifetime, Bailey learns new lessons on the purpose of dogs and their roles as companions.
    There’s nothing complicated about this story. It’s just a parade of cute dogs helping their humans live their lives. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you’re probably a cat person.
    Fair warning: Buying a ticket to see this movie means you’ll be watching dogs die several times. If you weep at the thought of Marley & Me, pack extra tissues.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 120 mins.

    A prospector on a seemingly never-ending losing streak, Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is close to rock bottom when he and geologist Micke Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) go to Indonesia for one last chance at fortune and glory. When they strike gold, no one is more surprised than Wells.
    Now, the darlings of Wall Street are getting money thrown at them for a piece of their gold mine. Will they figure out ways to invest before the bottom drops out? Or is this moneymaking mine another nugget of fool’s gold?
    Based on the true story of a gold mine that nearly brought down investors and the owners, Gold could be an entertaining romp. Except that McConaughey’s off-the-wall performance could make this quirky tale insufferable.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 121 mins.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
    To save the world from zombies, Alice (Milla Jovovich) must go back to the source of the outbreak and end both the undead uprising and the evil corporation behind it.
    Poorly shot, incoherently written and abysmally tedious, This chapter makes us hope it is the final film of the Resident Evil series.
Prospects: Dim • R • 106 mins.

New for the week of January 20

The Founder
    Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a salesman who can’t close a deal. Lightning strikes when he stops into a southern California restaurant for a burger. He’s impressed with how quickly and efficiently McDonald’s delivers food to the customer and seeks partnership with the McDonald brothers to franchise their restaurant.
    The story of how one man revolutionized how we eat, The Founder may have you contemplating your next order of fries. Keaton is earning raves for his turn as the ruthless visionary in a story about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of fast food.
    If you’re a fan of Big Macs or great performances, this film should be worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 115 mins.

    Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her friends have been abducted by a madman (James McAvoy) with 23 personalities. To escape, the girls must play each personality off the other.
    From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan (who wrote and directed), this thriller hinges on McAvoy’s ability to sell his character’s mental disorder. An experienced and talented performer, he should succeed. But Shyamalan is known for ruining his own movies by being too clever. If he can stick to the story, you’ll get a thriller.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 117 mins.

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage
    Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) had retired from his challenging career as an extreme-sports super-agent. When the government finds itself in need of a skateboarding badass who can punch while looking cool in a 1970s-throwback shearling coat, Xander selflessly steps up to save the world.
    How will he save the world? By punching things, objectifying every bikini-clad vixen and villain who challenges him and rambling about being hip. From what is he saving the world? Certainly not the writers of this drivel.
    For those who find the Fast & Furious franchise too intellectual, Hollywood has revived the XXX series. Mind-numbing action, unintelligible lines mumbled by Diesel and a plot so stupid that it may induce brain damage all conspire to make the year’s worst film.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 107 mins.

New for the week of January 13

The Bye Bye Man
    Three college students get more than they bargained for when they move into a home where a horrific murder was committed. With them lives a powerful demon responsible for every act of violence you see on the news.
    Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 96 mins.

Patriot’s Day
    When the Boston Marathon turned into a blood-soaked terrorist attack, the people of Boston showed their strength. This film follows the victims, police and emergency responders who capture the terrorists and help the city heal.
    Director Peter Berg has made a career of dramatizing disasters. Though his self-appointed job may seem opportunistic, he is largely successful in capturing the humanity behind the headlines, as he did with Lone Survivor.
    Prospects: Flickering • R • 133 mins.

    Following the Shimabara Rebellion in 17th century Japan, all preaching or practicing Christians are tortured or killed. Against that backdrop, two priests set off on a dangerous mission to find their missing mentor.
    Director Martin Scorsese spent decades bringing this book by Japanese author Shusaku Endo to the screen. Expect a reflection on the nature of faith and the impulses of humanity. At nearly three hours, it may be a bit too meticulous for viewers who tire quickly of philosophical discourse. If, however, you’re a fan of Scorsese, Silence should be spellbinding.
    Prospects: Bright • R • 161 mins.

    Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) is a cop with a tarnished shield. Trying to get out of underworld debt, he and his partner (T.I.) attempt a robbery. When it goes wrong, a group of killers comes after Downs.
    They find his son instead.
    His child kidnapped and his wife frantic, Downs fights the whole of the Las Vegas crime world — while dodging Internal Affairs.
    An action movie that promises lots of cool shooting and punching, Sleepless should sate bloodlust.
    Prospects: Flickering • R • 95 mins.

New for the week of January 6, 2017

A Monster Calls
    Conor (Lewis MacDougall) is furious with the world. He’s bullied at school and languishing in classes while his mother’s health fails. The pained boy summons forth a monster (Liam Neeson) that creates destruction and catharsis.
    Can Conor come to terms with what’s going on in his life? Or is he doomed to become a monster himself?
    A fairytale about coping with bitter truths and disappointments, A Monster Calls will be thought-provoking. With all this plus spectacular CGI and Neeson’s persuasive vocal performance, it is winning fans in early reviews and audiences.
    The previews might make it look kid friendly. Beware. Smaller children will be upset. Take your teens to this deftly told tale of love and loss.
    Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 108 mins.

Underworld: Blood Wars
    Vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a death dealer, used to brutal battles and blood. But even she has a challenge as she battles to bring peace to both vampire and werewolf communities.
    Can Selene restore order to the supernatural world? Is anyone still watching these movies?
    The fifth in the Underworld series, this plodding paranormal soap opera will make you wonder how anybody could be fool enough to pay for these movies. Don’t answer your own question.
    Prospects: Flickering • R • 91 mins.

New for the week of December 30, 2016

    Paterson (Adam Driver) drives a bus in Paterson, New Jersey. A deeply philosophical man, he follows a strict routine of daily uniformity. A more complex emotional life finds expression in his notebook, which he fills with poems.
    Paterson’s wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) is more openly artistic and fills her days with ideas and adventures.
    This movie asks a lot of questions. One is, how can two people so outwardly different make a life together. Don’t expect answers.
    Movies by director Jim Jarmusch are introspective. He revels in banalities that can have big consequences, but he’s not big on plot.
    Patterson is for fans of philosophical debates, not hot action.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 118 mins.

New for the week of December 23

Assassin’s Creed
    Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is the last of a long line of assassins. His family has killed many of history’s famous figures. Now he’s conscripted by a mysterious company that has the technology to transfer the thoughts and skills of his ancestor Aguilar into his brain to prepare him to fight modern day Templars.
    The Da Vinci Code for gamers, Assassin’s Creed is an adaptation of an extremely popular video game series. Expect loads of action and references that only those who have played the game will understand.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 115 mins.

    Five thousand people have been chosen for a 120-year journey across the galaxy to a new colony on an Earth-like planet. When the sleep chambers malfunction, Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and Jim (Chris Pratt) wake up early.
    Unless they can reenter suspended animation, Jim and Aurora will live and die on a craft hurtling to a destination they’ll never see.
    A sci-fi adventure for the holiday season, Passengers has plotting problems and a female lead written as a love interest instead of a person. But it offers breathtaking cinematography and an interesting take on the future of space travel.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 116 mins.

Why Him?
    Ned (Bryan Cranston) is excited that his daughter is coming home for the holidays. She’s been away at college, and he feels his little girl slipping away. The overbearing dad isn’t ready for Laird (James Franco), an internet billionaire who’s wooing his daughter.
    Ned hates him on sight. The relationship devolves into a petty rivalry that threatens to ruin the holidays.
    Treating women as objects to be fought over, Why Him? is an old-fashioned comedy in the worst sense.
    Expect slapstick humor, sex jokes and lots of light misogyny.
Prospects: Dim • R • 111 mins.

New for the week of December 16

Collateral Beauty
    After losing his child, Howard (Will Smith) withdraws from family and friends, spending his time writing angry letters to the universe, addressing them to Time, Love and Death.
    He can’t stop writing, but he is surprised at getting a response. Death (Helen Mirren) shows up to answer a few of his pressing questions. He’s skeptical, and a little terrified — until he meets Love (Kiera Knightly) and Time (Jacob Latimore).
    Is he healing? Or going to a dark and terrible place?
    Smith is a fine actor, and the concept is interesting. But films this emotionally manipulative can either move you — or move you out. If you roll your eyes when a soundtrack swells, this may not be the movie for you.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 97 mins.

La La Land
    It’s a pretty common LA story: Mia (Emma Stone) is a waitress who wants to be an actress. When she meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician forced to play piano in clubs and bars, Mia thinks she’s found her creative equal. Their romance is swift, musical and glitzy.
    Can Mia and Sebastian stay together? Or will the curtain fall?
    A modern musical by one of the most exciting new writer/directors in Hollywood (Damien Chazelle), La La Land is about the pain and joy of being creative. Stone and Gosling are charming leads, but Chazelle’s creative deconstruction of the musical genre is really what’s drawing acclaim.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 128 mins.

New for the week of December 9

Collateral Beauty
    After losing his child, Howard (Will Smith) withdraws from family and friends, spending his time writing angry letters to the universe, addressing them to Time, Love and Death.
    He can’t stop writing, but he is surprised at getting a response. Death (Helen Mirren) shows up to answer a few of his pressing questions. He’s skeptical, and a little terrified — until he meets Love (Kiera Knightly) and Time (Jacob Latimore).
    Is he healing? Or going to a dark and terrible place?
    Smith is a fine actor, and the concept is interesting. But films this emotionally manipulative can either move you — or move you out. If you roll your eyes when a soundtrack swells, this may not be the movie for you.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 97 mins.

La La Land
    It’s a pretty common LA story: Mia (Emma Stone) is a waitress who wants to be an actress. When she meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician forced to play piano in clubs and bars, Mia thinks she’s found her creative equal. Their romance is swift, musical and glitzy.
    Can Mia and Sebastian stay together? Or will the curtain fall?
    A modern musical by one of the most exciting new writer/directors in Hollywood (Damien Chazelle), La La Land is about the pain and joy of being creative. Stone and Gosling are charming leads, but Chazelle’s creative deconstruction of the musical genre is really what’s drawing acclaim.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 128 mins.

New for the week of December 9

Miss Sloane
    Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a powerful lobbyist who’s never cared who her clients are as long as their checks cleared.
    But when a gun lobby group approaches Sloane, she realizes that her principles won’t let her take the job. Instead, she begins a campaign against them, using all the tricks she’s learned over years of Washington backroom dealing.
    Can Miss Sloane alone defeat one of the biggest and most influential groups in America?
    A showcase for Chastain’s talent, Miss Sloane should be a great political thriller with a lot to say about lobbying and the powerful interest groups that pour money into the government in exchange for favors.
Prospects: Bright • R • 132 mins.

Nocturnal Animals
    Susan (Amy Adams) has everything she wanted in life: handsome husband, glamorous career running an art gallery, material comfort. Yet she longs, sleeplessly, for a life she gave up decades ago. Did she make a mistake leaving the sensitive writer who offered her devotion?
    Then a package arrives.
    Susan’s ex has written a book and dedicated it to her. Intrigued, she finds a dark tale concerning the foibles of masculinity. Each chapter brings out new insecurities in her life.
    The gorgeous, flashy noir cuts between the book narrative and Susan’s daily life, sometimes with more style than substance. Director Tom Ford, a prominent American fashion designer, meticulously cultivates each frame, offering impeccable visuals even when the story lags. Some of these images are meant to be stunning, some to stun. There is, for example, a lengthy opening montage of naked obese women performing burlesque dances.
    Be forewarned: This entertaining story of the consequences of our actions will be shocking.
Good Drama • R • 116 mins.

Office Christmas Party
    When a stuffy CEO (Jennifer Aniston) decides to close her loser brother’s branch of the company, he (T.J. Miller) panics. Hoping to win an important client, he throws the holiday bash to end all holiday bashes.
    Think of The Hangover wrapped in tinsel: gross-out humor, sexual innuendo and jokes that may be hilarious to a teen boy. It doesn’t even have an original title.
Prospects: Dim • R • 105 mins.

New for the week of December 2

Manchester by the Sea
    Separated from his wife and working as a janitor in Boston, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is the picture of underachievement.
    When his big brother Joe dies, Lee is the designated guardian of his only child, 16-year-old Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee must move back to his hometown to raise a teenager grieving the loss of his father. As the bond grows, Lee deals with the fallout from his marriage in the small seaside community of Manchester-by-the-Sea.
    Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea should be a deeply moving character study enriched with humor and insights into small town life. As in his stunning debut, You Can Count on Me, there are deeply flawed yet loveable characters who are trying to do the right thing even as they stumble and fall.
    Expect one of the year’s best character-rich films.
Prospects: Bright • R • 137 mins.

    Dr. Seth Ember (Aaron Eckhart) isn’t a typical exorcist. The scientist enters the subconscious and tells the victim to expel the demon.
    But fancy mental tricks are not going to budge the latest demon. Can Ember save an 11-year-old boy from the worst demon he’s ever encountered? Or will Ember’s tragic past interfere with his ability to help the boy?
    With hackneyed writing and cheap special effects, Incarnate looks like it was cobbled together from other low-budget horror clips.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 91 mins.

Rules Don’t Apply
    Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) signs a beautiful and devout actress to his production company. Marla (Lily Collins) wants to become a star while staying true to her strict faith. She’s tested when Hughes assigns her a driver, the equally religious and attractive Frank (Alden Ehrenreich).
    As Frank and Marla are drawn toward each other and sin, Hughes becomes an increasingly erratic and troubling presence in their lives.
    Beatty is an interesting actor and does a great interpretation of Hughes. But the young love story flops, as neither Collins nor Ehrenreich can command the screen with this weak material.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 126 mins. 

New for the week of November 25

    British Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) spends three weeks in the heart of World War II in Casablanca plotting the death of a German ambassador. His partner, former French Resistance fighter Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) becomes his lover. After a whirlwind romance, they marry.
    In London two years later, Max, Marianne and their small daughter seem to be living happily ever after, despite the blitz. Until Marianne is flagged as a possible German spy. Now Max must prove her innocent — or execute her.
     How well do we really know the person we sleep with?
    Allied is a beautiful disaster of a film. Director Robert Zemeckis shoots a gorgeous spy thriller that manages to be dull, oddly unsexy and silly. The stars share no chemistry, which means no sexual tension — in fact, no tension.
    If you’re a fan of WWII era clothes and music, Allied might be worth the ticket. But if you need more than pretty people in well-appointed clothes, let this pair of spies slip away.
Fair Spy Thriller • R • 124 mins.

Bad Santa 2
    Career hood Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thorton) uses his Santa experience to rob a charity on Christmas Eve, with some help from his felonious elf sidekick Marcus (Tony Cox).
    Clearly, Soke didn’t learn much from his last experience in a Santa suit.
    The small robbery plan grows when Willie’s mother Sunny Soke (Kathy Bates) joins the gang. She wants Willie and Marcus to take all the money from the charity.
    The original Bad Santa was crude and stupid, but it had a semi-original idea. This sequel is only the former.
    I’d rather be trampled by a Black Friday crowd than endure a second Bad Santa.
Prospects: Dim • R • 92 mins.

New for the week of November 18

Bleed for This
    Vinny ‘The Pazmanian Devil’ Pazienza (Miles Teller) claimed two world titles and became a boxing sensation. At the top of the world, his biggest concern was how to spend all his money.
    A car crash changes all that. With his neck broken, Vinny is told he’ll be lucky to walk again. Every movement is a risk, as the slightest jar could fully sever his spinal cord. But Vinny won’t accept that his career is over.
    Trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckart) offers him a comeback. Disregarding doctors’ orders and family pleas, he keeps his promise to have the boxer back in fighting shape in a year. But is Vinny’s body ready for him to step back in the ring?
    Based on the true story of a Providence boxer who defied medical science to reclaim his glory, Bleed for This promises the inspirational sports story. Both Teller and Eckart are fine actors who should be able to sell the central relationship. Still, a movie like this is certain to have its fair share of clichés, so be prepared for montage after montage about overcoming the odds. If you like Rocky but wish the titular slugger had larger problems, this film is for you.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 116 mins.

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them
    Long before Harry Potter or He Who Cannot Be Named shook the world of magic, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) caused wizards their biggest problem.
    In 1926, Scamander ended his global trip to document the fantastical beasts of the magic world. But lost luggage in New York holds him over to recapture the rare and mythic beasts accidentally released into the city.
    Will the New Yorkers notice anything amiss if they see a griffon on their daily commute?
    The first in the newest series in the Harry Potter universe combines the wonder of the magical world with the fun of a period setting. The New York setting invites American audiences to build on a familiar world, exploring how their magical community differs from the English community so familiar to Potter fans. In American English, for example, Muggles are No-Maj.
    If you’re a fan of the Potter films or like whimsy and period costuming, get your tickets early. Theaters will be packed.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 133 mins.

    Mildred and Richard Loving (Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton) are a fairly standard blue-collar couple raising a small family. Except that the state of Virginia declares their marriage ­illegal and jails them.
    Why? Because Virginia voters have decided that it should be against the law for a white man and a black woman to be married.
    It doesn’t matter that the Lovings were legally married in Washington, D.C., that they have children or that their marriage affects no one else. They must be punished.
    The Loving case becomes famous as the embattled couple fights all the way to the Supreme Court to prove that love has no color nor creed.
    The true story of the case that forced the Supreme Court to end racism in marriage laws, Loving should be a powerful reminder of the strength of love and the pettiness of bias.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 123 mins.

New for the week of November 11

Almost Christmas
    When Walter’s (Danny Glover) wife dies, his family falls into disarray. Hoping he can recapture some of the magic his wife brought to the holidays, Walter asks his kids to come home for five days at Thanksgiving.
    What he gets is a dysfunctional bunch whose baggage is heavy with booze and personal problems.
    A light comedy about the reason so many people drink at family holiday parties, Almost Christmas could be a light diversion from your own family issues.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 120 mins.

    When 12 spaceships land on Earth, the U.S. calls on preeminent linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams). As she seeks to unravel the language of the aliens, world governments threaten nuclear action against the UFOs.
    Can Banks find a way to communicate before the human race does something drastic?
Good Sci-Fi • PG-13 • 116 mins.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
    Survivor of a brutal battle in Iraq, 19-year-old Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) becomes a national hero, forced to endure a victory tour that culminates in a Super Bowl halftime show.
    As he walks in front of millions, his private battles rage in his mind. He doesn’t feel like a hero, and the truth about what happened haunts him.
    Director Ang Lee contrasts the way we fetishize war with how war actually affects those in it. The danger is that the plot could be as meandering as the title.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 110 mins.

A Man Called Ove
    Ove (Rolf Lassgård) is the bane of his small neighborhood. The pedantic retiree occupies himself seeking small infractions of the condominium association’s bylaws and reporting violators.
    He meets his match when a large family moves in next door. They’re loud. They break all the rules. And they don’t seem to be bothered by Ove’s constant tattling. There’s only one thing for Ove to do: Befriend them.
    This could be an enjoyable comedy of generational misunderstandings. Scandinavian films tend to a dark sense of humor, so this may not be a lighthearted romp.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 116 mins.

Shut In
    Mary (Naomi Watts) is a child psychologist in a remote area whose young patient goes missing as winter settles in.
    Home with her bed-ridden son, Mary feels someone or something is in the house. Is it the ghost of the missing patient?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 91 mins.

New for the week of November 4

Certain Women
    The lives of three women intersect in small-town Montana in this reflective piece. Navigating daily sexism is exhausting and discouraging, but having their opinions dismissed is what they are used to.
    Directed by Kelly Reichardt, who’s made a career out of telling women’s stories from women’s perspectives, Certain Women should be narratively rich and interesting. Leads Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart are indie darlings who thrive on understated material.
Prospects: Bright • R • 107 mins.

Doctor Strange
    An accident costs surgeon Jonathan Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) the use of his hands. Despondent, Strange embarks on a journey to find new purpose in life. He discovers how to meld the fabric of reality.
    When one of the mystics (Mads Mikkelsen) seeks to shape reality to suit himself, thereby destroying the world as we know it, Strange resolves to stop him. But can Doctor Strange protect reality as the Avengers protect New York?
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 115 mins.

Hacksaw Ridge
    Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) abhors violence. A conscientious objector, he satisfied his duty to serve his country in World War II as an unarmed medic.
    When he drags dozens from an active battlefield, he earns national attention. Can he accept being a war hero?
    The true story of the first conscientious objector to win a Medal of Honor, Hacksaw Ridge is a study of what it means to live up to your principles. Director by Mel Gibson thrives on persecution narratives — and on overstating his point, which means this film could be a bloated ramble on patriotism and being true to oneself.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 131 mins.

The Handmaiden
    Japanese heiress Lady Hideko’s (Min-hee Kim) new maid seems obedient and sweet, but she plots to have Hideko institutionalized and enjoy her wealth.
    The plan goes awry when Hideko charms her new maid, making the girl consider stopping the plot.
    Korean director Chan-wook Park is known for bold filmmaking and outlandish stories. Expect violence, sex and gorgeous camera angles.
    Park is a great place to start Asian cinema. His thrillers always amaze. But they pull no punches.
Prospects: Bright • NR • 145 mins.

    Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) is a troll outlier. Sarcastic, pessimistic and apathetic, he does not fit in with his happy-go-lucky kind. His arch nemesis is Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the cheerful leader of the trolls.
    When the evil Bergens steal the trolls away, only Poppy and Branch are left to save them. Can this unlikely duo work together to save their village?
    A movie based on a popular toy, Trolls is a cash grab. This glitter bomb is not written for adults, but small children will think it fantastic. Will you pay for their pleasure?
Prospects: Dim for all over 15 • PG • 100 mins.

New for the week of October 28

    Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in an Italian hospital with a new mystery to solve: determining his own identity. Langdon has amnesia but knows he was on the trail of something big.
    Eventually he realizes that he was searching for Inferno, a virus created by a lunatic billionaire to wipe out half earth’s population, allowing humanity to start again in a world that’s not overcrowded.
    He seeks to find the man and the virus by deciphering clues in Dante’s Inferno.
    Can Langdon decipher the codes in time to stop a global pandemic? Will he regain his memory? Does anyone see these movies in the theater?
    Another lazy thriller from director Ron Howard and Hanks, Inferno is almost insulting in its unoriginality. Aping the success of the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, it promises another chase across Europe plus ridiculous art history puzzles, middling action and bizarre religious undertones.
    Hanks is phoning it in here, and you should, too. Don’t let Robert Langdon convince you to spend $12 on a movie that’s barely worth your time on Netflix.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 121 mins.

New for the week of October 21

American Pastoral
    Envied and revered Swede (Ewan McGregor) and Dawn (Jennifer Connelly) are pillars of their community, successful in business and doting parents.
    Until daughter Merry (Dakota Fanning) blows up a post office to protest the Vietnam War.
    Based on Philip Roth’s classic novel, American Pastoral is about the lies we accept for respectability. It promises high drama and — social commentary — except that in his directorial debut McGregor has perhaps lost the bite of Roth’s story.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 126 mins.

Boo! A Madea Halloween
    Oh, good lord! Madea (Tyler Perry) is back.
    This time the irascible granny is in charge of a group of teens. All is going well until ghouls, zombies and slashers attack. It’s up to Madea to save the kids and herself — in the most hilarious way possible.
    There are two types of people in the world: Those who find Tyler Perry’s Madea an outrageously funny character and those who would pay to have her eliminated from the cultural lexicon.
Prospects: Dark • PG-13 • 103 mins.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
    Drawn into a government conspiracy, investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is framed for murder and must clear his name as he is hunted by shadowy government bodies and assassins.
    He also fears he may be a father.
    The first Jack Reacher film was surprisingly well crafted. Cruise always commits 110 percent to his action roles, but the story, based on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher graphic novels, was unique. Prospects are bright if this sequel picks up Child’s inventive plots.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 118 mins.

Keeping Up with the Joneses
    Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) are a boring suburban couple with boring suburban problems.
    Until the Joneses (Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm) move in next door.
    Beautiful, stylish and sexy, the Joneses represent all that Karen feels her marriage is missing. She becomes obsessed with the couple, believing them to be spies. Jeff is skeptical, until he’s drawn into the Jones’ world of intrigue.
    You’ve seen this movie a dozen times. Schlubby husband and unreasonably attractive wife discover through a number of slapstick incidents they that they love each other again.
Prospects: Dark • PG-13 • 101 mins.

Miss Hokusai
    Daughter O-Ei is the real talent behind her father’s fame, producing the paintings he signs. Art is O-Ei’s only freedom; outside the studio she must act like a proper lady in thrall to her overbearing father.
    This animated anime biopic from Production I.G. should feature stunning art and an interesting story as O-Ei struggles with traditional feminine limitations.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 93 mins.

Ouija: Origin Of Evil
    Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) makes her living scamming the gullible with fake séances. When she brings home a Ouija board, however, her phony performances take on a terrifyingly real aspect.
    Youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson) has violent outbursts, speaks in tongues, levitates — none of it behavior you want from a young child.
    This sequel is the type of horror movie that’s made in a month for a low budget. Expect poor writing, disinterested acting and plenty of jump scares.
Prospects: Dark • PG-13 • 99 mins.

New for the week of October 14

The Accountant
    Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a savant with a brain for numbers. While sums and figures come easily to him, human interaction doesn’t. As a math genius who won’t talk, he’s ideally placed working for criminal organizations that need their books cooked.
    Recruited by the Treasury Department, Wolff could take down all the crime families in the Western Hemisphere. But will he talk?
    A thriller with a math component, The Accountant could be the first great film of the fall. Affleck is a capable performer, and the story gives him good material. Can director Gavin O’Connor — who crafted a thrilling drama about MMA fighting with Warrior — make accounting as interesting?
Prospects: Bright • R • 128 mins.

American Honey
    Star (Sasha Lane) goes on a journey of sex, drugs and magazine sales in this tale of Midwest malaise. Exploring the many methods of whiling away her life, she falls in love.
    A cinematic version of Catcher in the Rye for a modern audience, American Honey explores what it means to be young in today’s America. Director Andrea Arnold mixes evocative images and unusual storytelling techniques to challenge the audience as the characters explore the center of the country.
    Take a detour from this road trip unless you like long artistic films that meander through concepts rather than tell a story.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 162 mins.

    Reporter Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is sued for libel by David Irving (Timothy Spall), who she labels a Holocaust denier. Irving’s complaint isn’t that Lipstadt smeared his good name but that there is no proof of the Holocaust.
    Based on the bestselling book, this true story examines both the lengths to which people will go — to ignore uncomfortable history on the one hand, and to shine a light on the darkest of times on the other.
    Both Weisz and Spall are fine performers, so it should be a treat to watch them battle in and out of court. The film also offers an interesting glimpse into Holocaust deniers, examining why anyone would believe such outrageous falsehoods.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 110 mins.

Kevin Hart: What Now?
    Kevin Hart brings his loud and hilarious comedy to a sold-out football stadium, cracking up with friends including Halle Berry and Don Cheadle.
    Comedy concert films can be hit-or-miss, revolving around your fondness for the comedian. If you like Hart’s shouty jokes about his life and friends, this film should crack you up.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.

Max Steel
    Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) is a teen with a secret: He can manifest the strongest energy in the universe. It’s a largely useless talent until he meets an alien who gets the value of super-human energy. The alien’s tech and Max’s energy join in the combined hero Max Steel.
    This teen superhero movie is short on the powers of storytelling and money that can create mass appeal.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

New for the week of October 7

The Birth of a Nation
    Nat Turner (Nate Parker) has a better life than most enslaved people. His master allows him to read and preach to his fellows. Then owner Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer) lends Nat out in hopes that his preaching will quell rising slave rebellions.
    Nat’s new position enables him to see how violently oppressed his people are. Believing God wouldn’t stand for such evil, he organizes a rebellion that will change history.
    The Birth of a Nation seems to be the right film at the right time. Parker, who also directed, takes a fearless look at race and how the color of one’s skin affects life then and now. It won’t be comfortable, but it could change history in its own way.
Prospects: Bright • R • 120 mins.

The Girl on the Train
    The only witness to Megan Hipwell’s (Haley Bennett) disappearance is Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt). There are complications. Megan works as a nanny for Rachel’s ex-husband. Rachel is an alcoholic, and Megan may be her obsession.
    Is Rachel just a troubled woman trying to do the right thing? Or are her motivations sinister?
    Based on a bestselling novel, this thriller doesn’t allow you to trust anyone. Suspicion can be fun, but without proper character development, viewers can get caught up waiting for the twist instead of enjoying the story.
    Expect a solid leading performance from Blunt to make the best of a plot heavy on mystery clichés and narrative tricks.
Prospects: Bright • R • 112 mins.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
    Rafe (Griffin Gluck) is a dreamer in a school filled with sticklers and an administration that crushes creativity. To break the monotony, Rafe and his friends stage a rebellion, soon inspiring the student body to fight the powers that be through creative pranks and tricks.
    Middle School could be a great flick — or the movie that gets your kid suspended. Parental guidance is more than a rating here. If your kids are going, you’d better see it yourself — and talk about it together.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 92 mins.

    Jesse Dean (Rusty Joiner) returns from war to find himself rudderless in a world that has grown unfamiliar. Finally taking a job as an inner-city outreach leader at a Philadelphia church, he seems to have found his place.
    Conflict returns when he’s challenged by his conscience to take on an abortion clinic near his church.
    Voiceless is a Christian film meant to reaffirm the faith of believers.
Prospects: Preachy • PG-13 • 107 mins.

New for the week of September 30

Deepwater Horizon
    In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig exploded into an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This film follows the stories of the men and women fighting for survival as flames engulfed the drilling platform.
    Director Peter Berg has made some great films (Lone Survivor) and some truly terrible films (Battleship), so the fate of Deepwater Horizon hangs in the balance.
    Even at his best, Berg tends to oversimplify. With his real-life subjects, he succumbs to hero worship. Don’t expect a detached examination; this will be an action-sequenced story about bravery and the American way. That can be entertaining, but I’m bothered by glorifying a disaster that is still devastating the coast.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 107 mins.

The Dressmaker
    Run out of her backwater Australian town by gossips, Myrtle Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns as a fashion bombshell.
    As the rumor mill swirls again, the expert dressmaker has a plan to win over the town: give it a makeover. She begins changing people one outfit at a time.
    A dramedy about overcoming the past with a fashionable foot forward, The Dressmaker is the sort of innocuous film to which you can take older relatives with confidence. Expect light humor, drama and quirky behavior in place of character development.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 119 mins.

    Armored truck driver David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) has a dead-end job and a huge crush on co-worker Kelly (Kristen Wiig). When she offers him the chance to win her over and score a windfall, he agrees and robs an armored truck with the help of a crew of nitwits.
    But once David gets the cash, they all turn on him, leaving him alone against a world of cops, robbers and ex-girlfriends.
    This zany comedy based on true events relies on discomfort and absurdity, Galifianakis’s hallmark.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 90 mins.

Queen of Katwe
    Ten-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) sells corn to help her mother (Lupita Nyong’o) support the family. Phiona doesn’t see much of a future but tries to be content with her lot in life.
    Opportunity rises when Phiona comes upon Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) teaching local children to play chess. She proves to have a naturally strategic mind and becomes the chess champion of Uganda.
    Phiona has a chance to go to school and travel the world — if she can she leave her mother and family behind.
    This movie about finding your purpose in life and embracing your community should be inspiring. Director Mira Nair’s insistence on authenticity — shooting in Ugandan neighborhoods and casting newcomer Nalwanga — should add beautiful cinematography and a more developed sense of place.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 124 mins.

ew for the week of September 23

Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years
    Between 1963 and 1966, The Beatles played 250 concerts. They caused a cultural revolution, influencing musical styles, haircuts and fashion but also values and mores.
    In this documentary, you’ll see rare interviews with The Beatles and behind-the-scenes footage, meet their fans and hear from experts analyzing the lasting effect of those short three years. Plus, the soundtrack is unbeatable.
Prospects: Bright • NR • 137 mins.

The Magnificent Seven
    Industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) owns the town of Rose Creek, taking what he wants and killing who he wants. Desperate, the townspeople hire seven men to protect them from his well-funded wrath.
    The seven are not knights in shining armor. They’re bounty hunters, thieves and gamblers, all seeking quick cash by shooting easy targets. But the seven outlaws become invested in the townspeople’s plight. Can seven bad men do a good thing?
    This story has already created two classic films, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven. Director Antoine Fuqua has a reputation for gritty action epics, so it should be interesting to see how he takes on this legendary plot.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 132 mins.

    Storks are getting out of the baby business. They’ll be delivering packages, which is much more lucrative. When the best delivery stork finds himself with a human baby, he must make the delivery before his boss finds out.
    Storks is geared toward kids, so don’t be surprised if older audiences are left cold.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 89 mins.

New for the week of September 16

Blair Witch
    James’ (James Allen McCune) sister followed a witch into the Maryland woods and disappeared. Now a hiker in the same woods has turned up a video with a blurry image of what could be her.
    Following up the lead, James leads his tag-along friends deeper into the woods, where strange things happen. They become believers in the Blair Witch, but will they survive their discovery?
    A sequel to the movie that started the found-footage horror craze, Blair Witch relies on shaky camera work, jump scares and lots of actors screaming did you see that while pointing at nothing.
Prospects: Dim • R • 89 mins.

Bridget Jones’s Baby
    Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is still searching for her perfect happy ending. Entering her 40s, she discovers she’s pregnant. The father could be Mark Darcy (Colin Firth, the ex with whom she shared a drunken one-night stand, or Jack (Patrick Dempsey), an interested American.
    Bridget’s antics and her perpetual adolescent behavior have become less charming over the years, but Emma Thompson scripted this third film, which offers a glimmer of hope — if Zellweger and Firth can capitalize on the chemistry that made the first film a smash.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 122 mins.

Mr. Church
    Charlotte’s (Brit Robinson) father leaves her and his dying wife with a six-month lease on a cook. Charlotte resents the odd Mr. Church (Eddie Murphy) — until she can’t live without him.
    Mr. Church steadfastly cares for Charlotte after her mother’s death, and with love, books and great food they form a family.
    The heartwarming tale has a problem: Murphy plays a black servant who dedicates his life to the happiness of his white employers. By giving him no other life, the film implies that he was meant to serve. Popular in the Driving Ms. Daisy era, this convention now seems outdated.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 104 mins.

    By exposing the NSA’s illegal surveillance, Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) becomes a controversial figures in modern American history. The information he leaked helped Americans understand the liberties their government was jeopardizing, but it also cost lives.
    Is Snowden a hero or a traitor? Don’t expect a balanced look at the issues. Director Oliver Stone loves a good conspiracy. He thrives on condemning the government and promoting paranoia.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 138 mins.

New for the week of September 9

The Disappointments Room
    A New York couple buys an isolated mansion in the Deep South. They have apparently never seen a horror movie, as they don’t wonder at their mansion’s bargain price. Scary things happen, and they find a secret basement room that hints at their home’s horrifying past.
    Billed as a psychological thriller, The Disappointments Room must convince you to believe — or disappoint.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 92 mins.

    Losing both engines just after takeoff, Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) knows he can’t return to the airport. With no other option, he splashes down in the Hudson River, and, miraculously, no lives are lost.
    Sullenberger is hailed a hero, but the FAA is investigating his actions. Did Sully make the right choice? Or was there a way to bring the plane down without risking the lives of all aboard?
    Directed by Clint Eastwood, this exploration of the real-life Miracle on the Hudson should feature fine performances and steady narrative. But be prepared to give up flying after watching.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 96 mins.

When the Bough Breaks
    John and Laura (Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall) have everything but a baby. Plagued with infertility, the couple hires surrogate Anna (Jaz Sinclair), who moves into their home.
    Anna, of course, fixates on John. Torn between defending her marriage and losing her baby, Laura fails to realize how dangerous Anna is.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 107 mins.

The Wild Life
    This reimagining takes Robinson Crusoe (voiced by Matthias Schweighöfer) and adds a menagerie of talking animals that help him and his loyal dog build a shelter and survive on a deserted island.
    Talking animals are sure to entertain the smaller moviegoers. Adults will have to settle for a lazy revamp, stupid jokes and unenthusiastic voice work.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 90 mins.

New for the week of September 2

The Light Between Oceans
    Veteran Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) is looking for a place to hide from the world after the trauma of the Great War. He takes a job as far from society as he can get, manning an isolated lighthouse on an island off the coast of Australia.
    The only man on the island, Tom is content until he meets Isabel (Alicia Vikander) on one of his rare trips to town. He marries her and they create a perfect world far away from anyone else. Though they can’t have children, the couple’s prayers for a family are answered when a baby washes ashore on their tiny paradise. Tom wants to take the baby to town, but Isabel believes that the child was meant for them.
    Their decisions surrounding the child will set into motion a series of events that will have consequences far beyond the little world Tom and Isabel have created.
    Based on a bestselling novel, The Light Between Oceans is an awards season drama. That means pack some tissues, and be prepared for a host of pretty people looking tortured and tragic. Fassbender is a capable actor and Vikander is an Oscar winner, so performances should be on point, but the subject matter could easily become an overwrought melodrama. Director Derek Cianfrance is a fan of taut emotional dramas that revolve around imperiled marriages, so hopefully he can mine the material to find the emotional depth of the book.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 132 mins.
    Corporate fixer Lee (Kate Mara) is brought in when a top-secret lab has an incident. Her job is to evaluate the cause of the incident and determine whether the project should be terminated. The problem is the incident was caused by Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), a genetically altered human.
    As with most top-secret genome projects in movies, scientists altered DNA without first considering what it would do. Now, they have on their hands a rapidly growing child with super strength and telekinesis who is prone to violent tantrums. Really, page one in the scientist handbook should read: DO NOT MAKE A SUPER MUTANT.
    Similar in concept to 2009’s brilliant and under-seen Splice, Morgan is a film about the moral quandaries that science faces and the horrors that they can foster. Is it really the monster’s fault that Dr. Frankenstein created him?
    A locked-house thriller that examines the moral complexities of genetic engineering and offers the viewer a cool monster, Morgan could be a fascinating horror movie.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 92 mins.

A Tale of Love and Darkness
    Fania (Natalie Portman) moves her family to Palestine to avoid the Nazi party. Though her family is now safe, Fania is stifled in her new environment. To stave off boredom, she invents fanciful stories to tell to her son Amos.
    The story of one family’s struggle through racism and oppression, A Tale of Love and Darkness is based on the bestselling novel by Amos Oz. The film chronicles the period of time leading to the birth of Israel and explores the lives of many Jewish families who were searching for a haven.
    Portman not only stars in the film, she wrote and directed the piece. While this shows passion, it could be worrisome. Hopefully Portman can keep the film from becoming overly indulgent, focusing on the historic struggles instead of trying to craft a film around a starring role.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 95 mins.

New for the week of August 26

Don’t Breathe
    Rocky (Jane Levy) needs money so she and her little sister can escape their old neighborhood and lives. You can see she’s in bad company when her boyfriend plans to burglarize a wealthy blind man’s home and she agrees to help.
    The robbery does not go as planned. Rocky is stuck in the house, hunted by a man who is anything but helpless. Their victim turns out to be a serial killer used to tracking prey sightless.
    Quite a set-up. The trapped-in-a-house trope is always exciting, so Don’t Breathe could be entertaining.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 88 mins.

Hands of Stone
    A professional boxer since the age of 16, Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) finally becomes a contender. He has hands of stone, but is he ready to take on the champ, Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond IV)?
    Told from the prospective of Roberto’s longtime manager Ray Arcel (Robert DeNiro), this true underdog boxing story should pack quite the wallop. Ramirez and DeNiro are both great performers, and Duran’s boxing career is storied and odd.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 105 mins.

Mechanic: Resurrection
    When the world’s greatest hitman (Jason Statham) retires, a baddie kidnaps his girlfriend, ransoming her for three hits. Each is seemingly impossible and must look like an accident.
    The sequel to the surprisingly good The Mechanic, this film promises all of the action and none of the charm of its predecessor.
Prospects: Dim • R • 99 mins.

Southside with You
    Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) agrees to a community meeting with the newest associate at her law firm, but tells him she isn’t interested in romance. The afternoon changes her mind as she learns about young Barack Obama’s (Parker Sawyers) commitment to Chicago and his plans for the future.
    This story of a presidential first date is a romantic comedy with a historic twist. You’ll find out how the president wooed the first lady on a whirlwind date around Southside Chicago. Performances are charming, the plot inventive and the conceit — that this young man and woman are destined to become the most powerful couple in the free world — is certainly promising.
    If you’re a fan of the Obamas or of summer romances, this could be the movie for you.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 84 mins.

New for the week of August 19

    Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) was a prince before his treacherous adopted brother accused him of treason. Now he is a slave who gains fame as a chariot racer. He lives for revenge until the plights of the slave makes him decide what is worth fighting for.
    The original Ben-Hur is rated as one of the great filmmaking achievements of its time. Which gives the remake an uphill road to climb.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 124 mins.

Hell or High Water
    When the bank threatens their family’s land, estranged brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) resolve to pay back the debt in an inventive way, robbing branches of the foreclosing bank. They become minor folk heroes as they steal from the rich, who take advantage of the poor.
    The James Brothers act hits a snag when the robberies draw the attention of Texas Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges), who wants to retire with a bang. As Marcus and the brothers travel on a collision course, all expect this story will not have a happy ending.
    With excellent performances and a story that is both classic and timely, Hell or High Water makes going to the movies worthwhile. Bridges, who can often go a little hammy in roles, seems wonderfully restrained as a world-weary ranger. Foster is always a safe bet for an intense, interesting performance. This Western tale of bullets, blood and tragedy should be worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • R • 102 mins.

Kubo and the Two Strings
    Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) is a lonely troubadour who earns a small living in rural Japan singing songs about local legends. When one of his songs summons an ancient spirit, Kubo learns that he is the child of a famous samurai and a magician. Only he can stop the spirit’s destructive plans — but only if he finds his father’s enchanted armor.
    A monkey (Charlize Theron) and a warrior (Matthew McConaughey) swear to protect the boy.
    LAIKA studios produces wonderful, under-seen animation. The films are narratively complex, visually stunning and utterly enjoyable. This take on a Japanese legend promises to be one of the better animated offerings of the year. Be forewarned that LAIKA animation tends to be for older audiences, with scary creatures and plots that may be too complex for little viewers.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 101 mins.

War Dogs
    Two high-school buddies underbid major military contractors to become the main arms supplier in the Iraq War. While they rake in the dough, they dodge bullets and outwit shady characters.
    Can they handle the pressure?
    The true story of how two 20-something bros in Miami became multi-million dollar U.S. gunrunners, War Dogs is about how profitable government initiatives can be. As it’s directed by Todd Phillips of the Hangover franchise, expect naked women, crude humor and lots of male bonding.
    A modern-day Scarface, this tale of manly excess will probably be diverting and shallow.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 114 mins.

New for the week of August 12

Florence Foster Jenkins
    Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) dreams of singing at Carnegie Hall. An heiress who can afford the best teachers, recording studio time and performance halls, yet she can’t sing. Still, she becomes a bit of a sensation when her recordings are leaked. As inspiration or amusing buffoon, Florence achieves the spotlight of her dreams.
    A biopic about the privileges of being a rich white woman in the 1940s and America’s love of laughing at the absurd, Florence Foster Jenkins will no doubt earn critical acclaim and another Oscar nomination for Streep. It no longer matters if her performances are good; Streep must merely show up to earn praise.
    If you’re looking for a story about triumph over adversity, this will not hit the right notes.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 110 mins.

Pete’s Dragon
    Forest Ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) has never believed her father’s (Robert Redford) stories about a dragon that lurks in the woods. She reevaluates when Pete (Oakes Fegley) pops out of the tree line. The 10-year-old appears to have no family or connections. He says that Elliott, a green dragon, has cared for him as long as he can remember.
    A rebooting of Disney’s classic about a boy and his invisible dragon, Pete’s Dragon seems to take a literal approach to the familiar story. There seems to be no question that there is in fact a dragon, and that he will be hunted.
    If you have fond memories of the original film, or have a kid who will love a giant furry green dragon, this is the movie for you.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 90 mins.

Sausage Party
    Sausage (Seth Rogen) dreams of being taken home by a shopper. It’s the goal of all the food at the store. Little do they know that all those lovely shoppers eat the food they take home.
    Can the sausage save himself and his friends?
    Kids should skip this animated film. These digital foodstuffs have earned an R rating for sexual content and explicit language, so unless you’re hoping to expand your small child’s vocabulary, stay away.
    If you’re a kid at heart and love crude humor, you might get a few laughs from Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 89 mins.

New for the week of August 5

Don’t Think Twice
    Popularity doesn’t translate to money or fame for The Commune, an improv group on the New York comedy circuit. So an audition for the popular comedy show Weekend Live is huge for the struggling comics.
    Problem is there’s only one slot open.
    Don’t Think Twice promises a poignant and hilarious look at one’s failures versus the successes of others. With a cast of today’s brightest comedians, including Mike Birbiglia (who wrote and directed), Gillian Jacobs, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard, there should be no shortage of laughs.
Prospects: Bright • R • 92 mins.

Nine Lives
    Finishing construction on the biggest skyscraper in the northern hemisphere, billionaire Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is at the top of his game. Success in his personal life is a different story as he neglects his wife (Jenifer Garner) and daughter (Malina Weissman).
    From the only store still open when he remembers his daughter’s birthday, he buys a cat. In a twist, Brandt finds himself trapped in the cat’s body. As Mr. Fuzzypants, Brandt seeks a way back to his body. Perhaps he learns a lesson about family.
    Sound like a 1960s’ Disney TV movie? Nine Lives is a house-payment movie for Spacey and Garner, who phone in some hack work for quick cash. Performances look embarrassed, and the graphics on the Kevin Spacey cat are terrible. Don’t waste your money.
Prospects: Pitch Black • PG • 87 mins.

Suicide Squad
    Sometimes it takes a villain to catch a villain.
    Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) proposes the government send a team of captured super villains against super threats. If the team prevails, the government takes the credit. If the team fails, the government denies all.
    But it’s pretty difficult to control a team of psychopaths.
    Based on the DC comic books, Suicide Squad adds much-needed levity to DC’s somber roster. The team looks delightfully unhinged. If director David Ayer keeps from veering into the ridiculous, this film could compete with Marvel for blockbuster profits.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 130 mins.

New for the week of July 29

Bad Moms
    A working mom juggling the household, her career and the many commitments of her kids, Amy (Mila Kunis) is hanging on by a thread.
    Her feelings of inadequacy are exacerbated by the PTA, run by a former mean girl, and her band of obsessive moms. As the pressure to be good rises, Amy decides to be bad.
    She and two misfit mom friends wage war against expectations and the PTA.
    With Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell and Christina Applegate, this raunchy comedy could be a feminist answer to The Hangover. Or it could be a mashup of stereotypes and silliness.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 101 mins.

Jason Bourne
    The CIA is still trying to bring in rogue assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). Now Bourne teams with a former CIA pursuer, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), to bring down all who have wronged him.
    Along the way, Bourne learns the truth about his family, his past and the CIA program that created him.
    On the plus side are Damon’s reliable presence and plenty of explosions and punching. On the minus side, director Paul Greengrass’ famed shaky cam technique can make you queasy.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 123 mins.

    Vee Delmonico (Emma Roberts) is a staid high schooler with no impulse toward rebellion.
    Until friends convince her to join Nerve, an online game offering escalating dares. From harmless fun — running around in your underwear in public or kissing a stranger — the dares get darker and more dangerous.
    Dave Franco, the stranger who becomes Vee’s partner, is a hit-or-miss actor, and Roberts has yet to impress. Will they be able to eke out enough chemistry to make this film tolerable? If you’re no longer a teen, don’t imagine you’ll think so.
Prospects: Bleak • PG-13 • 96 mins.

New for the week of July 22

Absolutely Fabulous
    Boozing socialite wannabes Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and Edina (Jennifer Saunders) fall out of the spotlight because of bad behavior at an Uber launch party. Broke and without prospects, the social climbers flee to a glamorous hotspot to begin again.
    Based off the wildly popular and hilarious TV show, Absolutely Fabulous should be one of the funniest films of the summer. Saunders and Lumley are a dynamic comedy team, while Patsy and Edina are wretched constructs of flaws and brash behavior.
    If you love anti-heroes, British wit with lots of venom and strong leading ladies, this should be well worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.

Captain Fantastic
    Hoping to create a new generation of philosophers, Ben (Viggo Mortensen) raises his six kids in the woods, under strict regimens of reading and physical education.
    When his wife dies, Ben takes his brood back to the city, where his father-in-law files for custody of the kids. Though loyal at first, Ben’s children are wooed by the comforts of modern technology.
    Can Ben keep his philosopher’s guild together?
    A film about what makes a meaningful childhood, Captain Fantastic should afford some laughs and some tears.
Prospects: Bright • R • 118 mins.

Ice Age: Collision Course
    Loveable rodent Scrat is so fixated on capturing his wayward acorn that he doesn’t notice he’s left Earth’s atmosphere. In space, he causes a series of disasters that endanger every creature on the planet.
    Diverse herd Manny the Mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), saber-tooth tiger Diego (Dennis Leary) and sloth Sid (John Leguizamo) try to save the world and their love interests.
    Ice Age movies started cute and have gotten progressively dumber. At this point, there’s precious little plot left to mine, and all the characters have become tired stereotypes.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 94 mins.

Lights Out
    As a child, Rebecca Martin (Teresa Palmer) went nearly crazy. Whenever she turned out the lights, she saw an apparition coming to kill her. The thing could only be driven away by light.
    Grown up, Rebecca must revisit that painful time when similar visions haunt her brother Martin. The apparition seems drawn to her family, whose long-held secret could save their lives.
    Based on a brilliant short horror film that’s available on YouTube, Lights Out probably won’t work in longer form.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 81 mins.

Star Trek Beyond
    While boldly going where no man has gone before, the USS Enterprise wrecks on a remote planet, where a threat stalks the scattered crew. Can Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) reunite his crew and get his ship back to Earth?
    Star Trek Beyond looks to be yet another pale imitation in the formulaic series. The crew is in peril, a talented British actor (in this case Idris Elba) is the villain and the film spends its running time recreating scenes from the original series.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 120 mins.

New for the week of July 15

    Weird things are happening in New York City. Apparitions are haunting residents, causing havoc and endangering lives. Scientists Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) want to study these ghosts. Together, they invent technology to capture and examine the paranormal creatures.
    With the help of New York insider Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), the team discovers the existence of a machine that is strengthening the apparitions.
    When something goes bump in the night, who you going to call?
    One of the most controversial reboots of the summer, Ghostbusters, which features all-female leads, has been called both a feminist milestone and an example of misandry. The jury is out on whether the remake will strike a blow for women — or ruin a great memory.
    Still, director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy have proven themselves a winning team, giving this film potential to be a comedy classic for a new generation.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 116 mins.

How He Fell In Love
    Musician Travis (Matt McGorry) has lost his band and his focus. Yoga instructor Ellen (Amy Hargreaves) is half of a stale marriage. When the two meet at a wedding, they spark.
    A passionate affair begins. Travis wants Ellen to himself, but she’s not ready to leave her husband.
    Can they find happiness together? Or are they using each other as analgesics?
    Expect no easy solutions.
Prospects: Bright • NR • 107 mins.

The Infiltrator
    Customs agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) is assigned to bring down the drug trade in America. To succeed, he must get close to notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar.
    Deep undercover as a money launderer, Bob befriends Escobar lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt).
    Based on a true story, The Infiltrator documents one of the largest undercover operations in U.S. history. Mazur was constantly in danger and grew more paranoid as he built his case.
    It should be interesting to see stellar performer Cranston play a role on the law enforcement side of the drug trade. The rest of the cast — which includes Diane Kruger and Amy Ryan as well as Bratt — should be able contributors.
    A drama to ratchet up tension, The Infiltrator is a film for history buffs and those looking for a good thriller.
Prospects: Bright • R • 127 mins.

New for the week of July 8

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
    Brothers Mike and Dave (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) have a reputation for destroying pretty much every family gathering. For their sister’s wedding, both get strict instructions: Bring nice girls, and do not cause a scene. They take their search on television, asking for nice girls available for a wedding party in Hawaii.
    Tatiana and Alice (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick) are not nice girls. They drink, smoke and do copious drugs. But they can play it clean long enough to get a ticket to Hawaii.
    Filled with boobs, booze and blows, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a film you will either love — if you enjoy crude comedy — or hate — if you’re looking for wit.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 98 mins.

The Secret Life of Pets
    Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) is happy as an only dog. When his human brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a big, dumb, messy dog, Max is horrified.
    Despite their dislike, the duo must work together to stop Snowball (Kevin Hart), a psychotic white bunny seeking to build an army of lost pets.
    Can Duke and Max save the day? Or will they be chasing their tails?
    This animated kids’ comedy about what pets do all day on their own should be zany fun. I’m looking forward to clues on how mine can knock over every item of furniture in the house. If you’re a fan of cute critters and silly jokes, this film will be worth the ticket. But don’t expect the character development of a Pixar film.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 90 mins.

New for the week of July 1

The Legend of Tarzan
    Years after leaving the jungle, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård: War on Everyone) has become quite the gentleman. Living in London and married to a beautiful woman, Tarzan has forgotten what it meant to be the wild man in the jungle.
    But when a mining company threatens the gorillas who saved him, Tarzan knows he must return home.
    Will the King of the Apes reclaim his title? Can he save the jungle from nefarious miners? Will this be the movie that makes us care about Tarzan?
    Though the film has a great cast — including Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson — it also has a problematic concept. A white man is held up as the king of not only the animals but also African tribes. It may be time to retire this storyline.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 109 mins.

The Purge: Election Year
    In a not too distant future, the American government legalizes all crimes, including murder, for one day a year. Wanton slaughter ensues, usually targeting people who cannot pay to defend themselves.
    Though the Purge is waning in popularity, the government insists it’s an essential part of American culture. Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is gaining popularity as an opponent. To silence her, the powers set her up for the upcoming Purge.
    Charlie’s only hope is her head of security, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), who has felt the temptation to purge. Looking for redemption, Barnes swears to keep Charlie safe.
    Will they make it through the night?
    The first Purge film was philosophic hokum and gore. The sequel, however, transformed the series from amateurish political satire to a gritty B-movie in the vein of Escape from New York. If it maintains the action and jettisons some of the philosophy, it might be fun.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 105 mins.

New for the week of June 24

Free State of Jones
    Rather than joining with the Confederacy, Newt Knight (Matthew McConaughey) followed his conscience, rebelling against his home state. Jones County seceded from Mississippi, becoming a Civil War haven for slaves and resisters.
    This inspiring true-life story is unfortunately too poorly cobbled together to make a stirring cinematic experience. It looks made for television, which is where it belongs.
Prospects: Dim • R • 139 mins.

Independence Day: Resurgence
    Twenty years after humanity sent aliens back to a galaxy far far away, they are back and looking for blood. Meanwhile, the nations of Earth have created a worldwide defense system against just such an invasion.
    Will it work?
    The latest entry in Hollywood’s attempt to capture ’90s’ nostalgia, Independence Day: Resurgence promises to be a hollow reminder of the schlocky original.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 120 mins.

The Neon Demon
    Jesse (Elle Fanning) is a hopeful model in Los Angeles. Can she market youth and vitality without losing her soul — and before losing her face?
    Director Nicolas Winding Refn is a master of startling and beautiful visuals. Be prepared to see shocking and astounding images. He isn’t as good at telling a story or developing characters.
    If you are a fan of experimental filmmaking, try it. If you prefer traditional storytelling, skip this movie.
Prospects: Bright • R • 117 mins.

The Shallows
    Nancy (Blake Lively) wants to catch some waves on a private beach. But her day of surf and sun turns to blood when a shark joins her. Wounded, trapped on a rock and rapidly weakening, she’s on her own in getting out of the shallows to safety.
    Basically Jaws with a twist, The Shallows promises spine-tingling thrills. But Lively is all alone on the screen, too. A charming actress, she is not adept at emotional work. The movie’s success depends on how she stacks up against her aquatic foe.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 87 mins.

New for the week of June 17

Central Intelligence
    In high school, Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) was a loser. Fat, bullied and unable to fit in, he lived a hellish life. Only popular kid Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), treated him well, even protected him.
    Bob grows from loser to looker. Calvin goes from popular jock to mild-mannered accountant. When the pair reconnect on Facebook, Calvin is astounded at Bob’s transformation.
    More astounding however, is Bob’s claim to work for the CIA. Yet when Bob conscripts Calvin for a mission, Calvin takes his old school chum seriously.
    An odd-couple comedy with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart should be good for laughs. Unfortunately, the screenwriters have relied on their leading men for all the entertainment. Jokes are shoddy and plot points ridiculous in this lazy film.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 114 mins.

    Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth) was a man of taste. A discerning book editor, Perkins introduced F. Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway. But his tempestuous relationship with Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) influenced his decisions as he read manuscripts.
    A historical drama with a literary edge, Genius is one of those sad films that looks amazing — until you see it. Ironically, it could have used an editor of Perkins’ talents.
    If you’re a literary buff or fan of Firth or Law, this film might be worth the ticket. As parlor drama, Genius will disappoint.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 104 mins.

New for the week of June 10

The Conjuring 2
    Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are back to rid the world of ghosts, one haunting at a time. This time, they travel to England where a malevolent domestic presence is terrorizing a single mother and her girls.
    These films are all about atmosphere. Director James Wan is a master of setting the scene, so expect tension to build before all hell breaks loose — literally. Wan also loves a good jump scare, so be prepared to see lots of things that go bump in the night.
Prospects: Bright • R • 133 mins.

Maggie’s Plan
    Maggie (Greta Gerwig) is swept off her feet by married poet John (Ethan Hawke). Enmeshed in their passionate affair, John ends his marriage to propose to Maggie.
    Three years later, Maggie longs to be rid of him. Her plan: Make John fall back in love with his ex-wife (Julianne Moore).
    Can Maggie convince her husband to leave her? Or will her Machiavellian scheme unravel?
    A screwball comedy about marriage, love and other disasters of the heart, Maggie’s Plan is the sort of daffy parlor drama you either love or loathe. Featuring a wonderful cast and the rapier wit of writer-director Rebecca Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur), it should be funny.
Prospects: Bright • R • 98 mins.
Now You See Me 2
    After outwitting the FBI, imprisoning a crooked magician and impoverishing an unscrupulous magnate, The Four Horsemen return to take on the tech world.
    The magicians are lured into a scheme to expose a tech company’s illegal practices — or so they think. It turns out that tech up-and-comer Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) wants to eliminate some competition.
    Do the magicians have one last trick up their sleeve?
    The sequel no one wanted to a middling success, Now You See Me 2 seems wholly unnecessary. Magical heists are no longer a novelty, leaving nothing but self-referential jokes and celebrity cameos to keep the audience entertained.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 129 mins.

    The peaceful kingdom of Azeroth is rocked when a portal opens, allowing a group of Orcs to leave their barren land. The warlike Orcs are ready to eliminate humanity to ensure the survival of their people.
    Can leaders of both races reach a truce and avoid the slaughter?
    Based on the popular World of Warcraft computer games, Warcraft will satisfy people invested in the mythos of the game. To the rest of us, it plays like a shoddy rip-off of Lord of the Rings.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 123 mins.

New for the week of June 3

Me Before You
    Lou (Emilia Clarke) is a directionless woman who needs a job. She chances into working as a caregiver for Will (Sam Claflin), a handsome young man paralyzed in an accident.
    At first, Will makes Lou’s work a nightmare. But her sweet personality breaks down his defenses, and their bond turns to love.
    The only hitch in their happily ever after: Will wants to die. Can Lou convince him to give life and love a second chance?
    Me Before You is designed to make you weep. Its cloying emotional manipulation are so extreme that each ticket should come with a pack of tissues.
    Expect grand musical swells and close-ups of pretty people staring at each other through tear-filled eyes.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 110 mins.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
Out of the Shadows
    When Shredder (Brian Tee) escapes the police, only the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can stop him. The four brothers — all mutated giant talking turtles — are ninjas who spend their free time saving the city from certain peril. Reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox), helps the turtles track down leads on Shredder’s whereabouts.
    But Shredder has found a mad scientist who creates new mutant animals to fight the turtles. Who will win this battle of the mutants?
    This big-budget blockbuster is mindless nonsense made to go with popcorn. The plot is thin and characters barely discernable, but lots of rockin’ pop songs and explosions might distract you.
    Beyond that, the only thing to be admired in this movie is the patience of an effects team who lovingly render every explosion and turtle, putting more effort into the film than the actors, director and writers combined.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 97 mins.

New for the week of May 27

Alice Through the Looking Glass
    When Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland, she finds the landscape much altered. The Queen of Hearts has been dethroned, though a plot is underway to reinstate her. Meanwhile, The Lord of Time has used his magical scepter to devastate Wonderland.
    Can Alice build an army of whacky friends and neighbors? Or is she as mad as a hatter?
    This sequel to director Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland continues the fantastical Lewis Carroll tale. Burton adds his own spin with creepy creatures and a frenetic rather disjointed plot. Art direction and creature design are fantastic.
    If you’re a fan of Carroll, Burton or Johnny Depp, this film is worth the price of admission. But it’s no faithful adaptation.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 108 mins.

New for the week of May 20

The Angry Birds Movie
    Red (Jason Sudeikis) is an angry bird, ostracized as weird. When a group of green pigs turns up on Bird Island, Red suspects they are up to no good.
    Can he and his outcast buddies figure out the pigs’ nefarious plans and save the island?
    A movie based on a cellphone app popular five years ago, Angry Birds is a cynical money grab made to cash in on waning name recognition. Plot is an excuse, the dialog is horrendous.
    Don’t encourage this scheme with your money. If Angry Birds is a hit, Words with Friends will be next, with many more app movies to follow.
Prospects: Bleak • PG • 97 mins.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
    Finally embracing adulthood, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) have become responsible members of society who are trying to forget the nightmare war they waged with the fraternity next door.
    Then history repeats itself: the new neighbors are a hard-partying sorority.
    To get rid of the sorority, Mac and Kelly enlist the frat guy who made their life hell. Teddy (Zac Efron) and the Radners now take on sisters prepared to fight for their right to party.
    Rogen can play a bumbling comic lead in his sleep, and Byrne is a wonderfully funny foil. But Efron has yet to develop a personality to match his abs. Jokes that revolve around him fall flat. Rogen and Byrne must work harder whenever he’s in the scene.
    A sequel repeating the plot of the first, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising isn’t going to offer a lot of new laughs. But if you enjoyed the first’s gleefully crude sense of humor, you may be amused again.
 Prospects: Flickering • R • 92 mins.

The Nice Guys
    Is the death of a Hollywood adult film actor part of a conspiracy? Teamed up to find out are Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), a bruiser who beats out intel, and Holland March (Ryan Gosling), who uses finesse.
    As they get closer to the truth, bodies pile up. Can they discover what happened before they join the pile?
    Written and directed by Shane Black, the man behind Lethal Weapon and Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys promises to be funny, bloody and brutally clever.
    Casting is the gamble. Neither Crowe nor Gosling is known as a comedian. Can they get their timing right? If so — and if you appreciate Black’s special combination of the daffy with the grotesque — prepare to laugh.
Prospects: Bright • R • 116 mins.

New for the week of May 13

The Darkness
    On a trip to the Grand Canyon, Mikey (David Mazouz) steals a ceremonial rock from a secret Native American holy site. Were he familiar with horror stories, he’d know this is a bad idea.
    Back home, Mikey’s odd behavior alarms his parents. Strange signs appear.
    As if Hollywood’s old haunted Indian burial ground trope were not bad enough, writing and acting are lazy. You’ve seen each jump scare and child possession before. Don’t waste your money on this repetition.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 92 mins.

The Man Who Knew Infinity
    Indian street urchin Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) taught himself mathematics, which earned him a spot at Cambridge, where he was mentored by G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons). Amid the turmoil of WWI, the mathematicians changed the way we view the world.
    The latest true tale of mathematical geniuses makes the odd choice of telling Ramanujan’s remarkable life story through the eyes of Hardy, the less interesting character. There’s a danger it will leave you feeling like you’re taking a math quiz.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 108 mins.

Money Monster
    Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a brash and colorful financial adviser via television. Things get serious when a man bankrupt, thanks to Gates’ advice, takes over the television studio, threatens to blow it up and shoot Gates.
    Gates and producer Patty (Julia Roberts) must figure out, on live TV, what happened to their captor’s money.
    Set in real time to up the urgency, Money Monster offers grand conspiracy theories that are both horrifying and somewhat true.
Prospects: Bright • R • 98 mins.

New for the week of April 29

    Pals team up to retrieve their kitten Keanu, who has been stolen by a street gang. Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) and Rell (Jordan Peele) aren’t tough guys. To counteract that deficit, they invent alter egos Smoke and Oil, who they claim are drug dealers looking to move some product.
    Can two suburban buffoons trick dealers and criminals and rescue their cat?
    The premise seems thin, but it comes from the minds of a great sketch comedy duo. Key and Peele had a subversive and downright hilarious show for years. Peele’s hand in writing the script just might stretch it into gonzo comedy.
Prospects: Bright • R • 98 mins.

Mother’s Day
    Three generations celebrate Mother’s Day in this family comedy.
    Director Garry Marshall has long abandoned any semblance of storytelling. He now pieces together hackneyed films dedicated to holidays imaginable. If you’ve seen Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, you’ve had a taste of the flimsy plots, bored acting and uninspired writing that await the unlucky few who buy tickets to see such tripe.
Prospects: Poor • PG-13 • 118 mins.
Ratchet & Clank
    Can a critter and his robot pal keep the galaxy safe?
    Based on a video game, this animated film offers kids a distraction and parents a respite. The writing and story won’t offer much to parents who haven’t played the game. Still, the simplistic story and colorful characters should enthrall younger viewers.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 94 mins.

    To impress a girl, 14-year-old Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) decides to start a band. As he rehearses and plans for a music video, Cosmo finds music a wonderful distraction from his parents’ crumbling marriage, bullies at school and the malaise of puberty.
    Will the band change his life and get him the girl?
    Director/writer John Carney created this coming-of age story as a love letter to his past as an ’80s scene kid, so as well as poignancy, be prepared for lots of black eyeliner, teased hair and tortured lyrics set to synth-pop beats.
    If you ever cried yourself to sleep listening to The Cure, this film should speak to you.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 106 mins.

New for the week of April 22

Elvis and Nixon
    In 1970, the Leader of the Free World (Kevin Spacey) met The King (Michael Shannon). The brief, spontaneous encounter between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon leads to a story that beggars belief. The King sought to go undercover as a federal officer. President Nixon wanted a photo op.
    A historical comedy featuring two of the most famous figures of the 20th century, Elvis and Nixon will live or die on the performances of its leads.
Prospects: Bright • R • 86 mins.

A Hologram for the King
    Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) is going through a rough patch. His business is failing, his personal life is in shambles and he’s lost as to what to do with himself. Then comes the opportunity of a lifetime: Sell a holographic conferencing system to the king of Saudi Arabia.
    But Alan goes to Saudi Arabia unprepared, clueless as to customs and frustrated by red tape. To make the deal, he relies on the help of his cab driver and a charming doctor. Improbable as it is, it gives the film a story.
    The success of a culture-clash movie, like a business deal, depends on how it’s done. A Hologram for the King seems to depend on the low-hanging fruit of derision, giving people of one culture opportunity to laugh at the strangeness of another. Having sleepwalked through the last decade of work, Hanks seems to be phoning in another affable but trivial performance.
Prospects: Dim • R • 97 mins.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
    Long before Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) plotted to kill Snow White and seize the kingdom, the evil queen turned on her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) to kill her baby. The grieving mother swears revenge and takes the children of the kingdom to the far north for training as an ice army. Among them is the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), who must decide which sister to support.
    The sequel to a mediocre movie, Winter’s War promises a worse story by bored actors. Can even Theron save this one?
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 123 mins.

Miles Ahead
    Written, directed and acted by Don Cheadle, this is a passion project about jazz great Miles Davis. Biopics tend to portray their subjects as saints, so it should be interesting to see how Cheadle — an actor of impressive range — tackles Davis’ infamous temper and substance abuse.
Prospects: Bright • R • 100 mins.

New for the week of April 15

Barbershop: The Next Cut
    Since Calvin bought the barbershop, the neighborhood has gone downhill. Faced with slowing business and a crumbling community, Calvin and his crew of stylists take action.
    Will the latest in the comedy franchise offer insight into one of the last community gathering spots in many neighborhoods?
    What the movies lack in original plot and nuanced humor is balanced by the fun of watching comedians like Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer play off each other.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 112 mins.

    After a top CIA agent is killed in a critical mission, the government takes a gamble to preserve his mind. His memories are injected into a violent convict in hopes that a man who has killed and stolen his way through life will want to keep the world safe.
    As memories of the agent’s life recur, a barely conscious Kevin Costner tries to connect with the agent’s wife and family.
    If it all sounds ridiculous to you, you’re not alone. Currently rating an astounding zero at Rotten Tomatoes, Criminal may be the worst reviewed film of the year.
Prospects: Dim • R • 113 mins.

New for the week of April 8

The Boss
    Ruthless and outrageous, Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) ranks among the world’s most feared businesswomen until she is sent to jail for insider trading.
    Out of prison and reduced to living with her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), Darnell lives to find a way back to the top. She sees an opportunity in Claire’s daughter, who sells cookies as part of a scout troop.
    This loopy comedy from the mind of McCarthy and her husband (director Ben Falcone) promises to be outrageous with lots of physical humor.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 99 mins.

    After the sudden death of his wife, investment banker Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) is floundering.
    To let out his frustrations, he writes complaint letters to a vending machine company. His epistolary therapy draws the attention of a customer service representative (Naomi Watts).
    Can Davis find a way forward with help from the customer service desk?
Prospects: Bright • R • 100 mins.

Everybody Wants Some
    When a group of freshmen join a college baseball team, they’re challenged on and off the field. Navigating this new world of sex, drugs and male bonding, the men learn how to swing for the fences.
    Director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) has proven himself a master storyteller who can transform even the most banal topics. If you’re a fan of Linklater, baseball or Southern boys doing stupid things, Everybody Wants Some should be worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • R • 117 mins.

Hardcore Henry
    Henry is dead. Or he was, until his scientist wife resurrects him. Though technically alive, he has no memories and must rebuild his mind while coming to terms with a bionic body.
    Adaptation isn’t helped when Henry’s wife, his only friend in the world, is kidnapped. Now a man on a mission, he will smash through any obstacle.
    Pay no attention to the story; the draw of this film is the way it’s shot. Hardcore Henry is a first-person action film, meaning the camera acts as Henry’s eyes, making you feel as though you’re performing the stunts and fighting off baddies.
    Whether the film is a breakthrough in the genre or a cheap and easily forgotten gimmick remains to be seen. But if you enjoy gonzo action, this movie should be massively entertaining.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.

New for the week of April 1

God’s Not Dead 2
    When a public school teacher mentions scripture in classes, she is put on trial for allegedly preaching to students, and the school board threatens to fire her and strip her teaching license. Do this teacher and Christianity still have a place in society? God’s intervention was needed to make a better film.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 121 mins.

I Saw the Light
    Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston) lives for music. His unique voice and relatable lyrics make him a country sensation. But with fame come drugs and alcohol, which threaten him and his family.
    Can Williams overcome his vices?
    A biography of one of the most famous voices in country music, I Saw the Light is a missed opportunity. Hiddelston has a decent singing voice, but it is not Williams’ distinctive twang. It’s also a fairly rote biography with plenty of questionable southern accents and not enough to say.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 123 mins.
Meet the Blacks
    The Blacks, an African American family, integrate a Beverly Hills neighborhood. Their move falls on the day of the Purge, a 12-hour period where all crime is legal. With their home being stormed by racists, gangsters and lunatics, the Blacks must fight to survive the night.
    This parody of the Purge series appeals to the limited demographic into slapstick humor and sex jokes.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 90 mins.

New for the week of March 25

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
    Superman’s (Henry Cavill) epic fight against General Zod saved humanity, but it destroyed Metropolis. Buildings collapsed, streets crumbled and lives were lost. Could the Man of Steel end humanity on a whim?
    Among the newly nervous is Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who comes out of retirement to don his bat costume and battle Superman.
    As the two gear up for a fight, a larger threat descends upon the ruins of Metropolis. Can the two heroes put aside their grievances to fight for the people?
    Man of Steel was a boring, overlong, silly movie. This film takes everything that was wrong with Man of Steel and adds a Batman plot. Thus, the action will be longer, the speeches more exaggerated and the plot more convoluted. The studio couldn’t even decide on a version to release. Audiences will be able to choose from a 21⁄2-hour PG-13 version or a three-hour R version. Check ratings before taking kids to the theater.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 or R •153 mins.

New for the week of March 18

The Bronze
    Hope Ann Greggory (Melissa Rauch) performed an amazing gymnastics routine on a ruptured Achilles tendon to win a bronze medal for the U.S.
    Years later, Hope hasn’t moved on from that moment of glory. She still walks around town in her Team USA outfit, hoping to be recognized. Offered the opportunity to coach a rising gymnastics star, she’s torn. By helping this up-and-comer succeed, she jeopardizes her status as hometown hero.
    This raunchy comedy about a loser who wants to remain semi-famous gets by on foul-mouthed humor and sex jokes.
Prospects: Dim • R • 108 mins.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant
    Tris (Shailene Woodley) is readying for the battle she believes will bring down the evil faction that waged war on her family. To find reinforcements, Tris and her team of rebels go recruiting in the wasteland.
    A typical post-apocalyptic teen drama, this is a film that will appeal to the young and make parents’ eyes roll. The final installment of the Divergent series isn’t a film you should watch unless you’ve seen the others.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 121 mins.

Midnight Special
    When his son displays mysterious powers, Roy (Michael Shannon) must protect him from government forces. But can he control his son’s powers? Or is the boy a danger to himself and others?
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 115 mins.

Miracles from Heaven
    Ten-year-old Anna (Kylie Rogers) has an incurable disease, but her mother (Jennifer Garner) refuses to give up.
    When Anna’s cure comes by accident, she calls it a miracle. The community joins around the family as they celebrate their faith and hope for more miracles.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 109 mins.

New for the week of March 11

10 Cloverfield Lane
    When a monster lands in New York, the panicked government releases a nuke. As the nation deals with the fallout, two young people find shelter with Howard (John Goodman), who has his own bunker. The world outside is scary, but Howard might be even more frightening. He’s obsessive, controlling and violent.
    A sequel of sorts to Cloverfield, this is a monster movie of a different sort. Instead of a marauding alien through New York, you have John Goodman.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins.
The Brothers Grimsby
    Sebastian (Mark Strong) is a suave assassin for MI6. His brother Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) is not. While Sebastian is busy with international intrigue and women, Nobby raises nine kids with his girlfriend and worships his football team.
    After long separation, Nobby tracks down Sebastian just in time to cause an international incident. To save the mission and the world, Sebastian will need the help of his brother.
    Don’t expect much from the latest comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen aside from lazy stereotypes and even lazier physical comedy. The interesting political commentary of Baron’s debut, Borat, has devolved into the lowest common denominator. Strong is a fine actor and deserves more than this paycheck dreck.
Prospects: Dim • R • 83 mins.
The Young Messiah
    The untold story of Jesus’ life as a young man offers insight into he experiences that formed him as a leader.
    Jesus knows he’s different, but Mary and Joseph keep his identity a secret to protect him.
    This could be a great family film for deepening religious knowledge.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 115 mins.

New for the week of March 4

The Boy and The Beast
    Orphan Kyuta (Luci Christian) is struggling with life on the streets when he finds a fantasy world filled with beasts. Adopted by a warrior beast who offers him an apprenticeship, Kyuta thrives. Then an evil entity threatens.
    Can Kyuta save his adopted family?
    A beautifully animated film about finding family and fighting for what’s right, The Boy and The Beast is created by Marmoru Hosoda, who directed Summer Wars and Wolf Children. His films tend to deal with adult themes, however, so this may not be the animated film for little ones.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 119 mins.

London Has Fallen
    World leaders gathered for the state funeral of the British prime minister find themselves the subject of a terrorist plot.
    President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his trusted secret service agent (Gerard Butler) have been through this before, fighting their way out of a hostage situation in the White House.
    Can these Americans play London and save the world?
    A macho film about explosions and manly fights, London Has Fallen is a popcorn flick for action fans. Expect a lot of clichés about the American Way followed by gunfire in this sequel to the bombastically uninspired Olympus Has Fallen.
Prospects: Dim • R • 99 mins.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
    Newscaster Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is in a rut reporting uninspired stories. So she jumps at the chance to report from the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    Gunfire, cultural rules and military regulations cause her to reevaluate her rash decision. Can she learn to adapt to the harsh and dangerous environment around her? Or should she hop the first flight home?
    Based on Baker’s biography, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot offers insight on both gender politics and global conflicts. Fey is always a likable performer, especially when playing a fish out of water as she does here.
Prospects: Bright • R • 112 mins.

    Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the first bunny ever on the police force. Big and strong, the other cops mock tiny Judy mercilessly.
    To crack a case that’s stumped all her colleagues, Judy partners with a fox con artist. Can they work together? Or is Judy bound for disaster?
    Disney’s latest foray into animation, Zootopia is another ambitious project that hopes to teach children tolerance and teamwork via cute little animals.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 108 mins.

New for the week of February 26

Eddie the Eagle
    Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) dreams of being an Olympian. The trouble is, he is awkward and not particularly good at sports. Rejected by the Olympic committee as a slalom skier, he sees a future in ski jumping and moves to Germany to achieve his goal of making the Montreal Olympics.
    An underdog sports story with plenty of charm, Eddie the Eagle is a crowd-pleaser. Egerton is fast becoming one of England’s go-to leads, and this film cements him as a likeable, capable actor. Hugh Jackman supports in a surprisingly toned-down performance.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 105 mins.

Gods of Egypt
    Clash of the Titans goes to Egypt as Set, god of darkness (Gerard Butler), usurps divine power and steals a man’s love. The mortal declares war. White actors portray Africans. Brits ham it up. Mythology is butchered.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 127 mins.

Triple 9
    The Russian mob tasks a bank robbery to dirty cops on its payroll. When the heist goes awry, the desperate cops lie, cheat and steal.
    The crackerjack cast of Aaron Paul, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie and Woody Harrelson could spin gold from any script.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.

Touched with Fire
    Two poets (Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby) with bipolar disorder meet in a mental hospital and fall in love, but their connection feeds into the intense highs and lows of their illness.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 110 mins.

New for the week of February 19

    Jesse Owens (Stephan James) can run like the wind. The Ohio track star fights prejudice to compete with white men he can outrun. When he earns a spot on America’s 1936 Olympic team, the nation is shocked. That success brings him the second challenge of proving himself in Nazi-occupied Berlin.
    The true story of the man who swept past racial barriers at home and abroad, Race is potentially a stirring tale of determination. Let’s hope it avoids a common failing of movies that seek to inspire: racing past truth to idolatry.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 134 mins.

The Witch
    At the turn of the 17th century in a farm on the edge of a dense forest, devout Christians William and Katherine believe that God will provide. But when their newborn son goes missing and the crops die, their faith waivers. Thus begins a search for other explanations for their misfortunes.
    A moody horror film that’s more about atmosphere than thrills, The Witch explores both disturbing aspects of humanity and the influence of supernatural forces. Rich with allegories about faith and family, the film is already a critical darling.
Prospects: Bright • R • 92 mins.

New for the week of February 12

How to Be Single
    Single friends in New York City learn about love, relationships and what they want from the world as they navigate the city’s treacherous dating world.
    Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, this ensemble comedy about the foibles of dating breaks no new ground.
    It’s a Valentine’s Day excuse to watch pretty people fall in love. But the R rating indicates it isn’t family friendly.
Prospects: Flickering • R •110 mins.

Where to Invade Next
    Documentarian Michael Moore’s trademark is his dissatisfaction with the direction and leadership in our country. In this experiment in the form, he invades countries around the world in the name of globalization. From his playfully staged invasions, Moore finds customs in every culture that would improve our own.
    What lessons on laws, healthcare and military action will he bring for our improvement?
    If you’re not a fan of Moore’s confrontational style, this film could give you more headaches than enlightenment. On the other hand, it could be a fascinating look into our potential and what other nations have to teach us.
Prospects: Flickering • R •119 mins.

Zoolander 2
    Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and his best buddy Hansel (Owen Wilson) are still two of the world’s top models. As the slightly dim duo work to build a fashion empire, they discover that beautiful people are being killed off.
    Can Derek and Hansel stop the carnage? Or are they too pretty to get their hands dirty?
    Stiller’s manic energy allows him to exploit the ridiculous. He typically works well with Wilson, whose laid-back style modulates his intensity.
    Expect lots of light laughs from this sequel to the delightfully daffy modeling satire Zoolander.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 •102 mins.

New for the week of February 5

45 Years
    For nearly 45 years, Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) have had the ideal marriage. Weeks before their anniversary comes tragic news: the body of Geoff’s first love has been found frozen in a glacier.
    The news of the discovery brings up uncomfortable questions about love, loyalty and marriage. Can they survive another week as husband and wife?
    This beautifully acted drama will not be uplifting. Anchored by a powerful — and Oscar-nominated — performance by Rampling, the film delves deep into what keeps us together and how easily we can be torn apart.
Excellent Drama • R • 95 mins.

The Choice
    Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer) must be the only woman to resist Travis (Benjamin Walker). The rules of romantic fiction dictate that he must therefore fall hopelessly in love with her.
    When Travis finally gets the girl, he’s prepared for happily ever after. What he gets is a life-threatening blow that could tear her away.
    A film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Choice is guaranteed to offer overwrought love, dramatic death and dialogue so saccharine that diabetics should consider their sugar levels before watching.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 111 mins.

Hail, Caesar!
    In Hollywood’s 1950s’ blacklisting era, one of Capital Pictures’ biggest stars is kidnapped from the studio lot. Studio fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is tasked with quietly resolving the crime. To help solve the mystery, he employs some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
    Hail, Caesar! is the Coen brothers’ latest comedy. They have a mixed comedy record, veering from brilliant satire to lazy slapstick. Hail, Caesar! has been dumped in the movie-going-to-wasteland of February, but its parody of classic Hollywood and all-star cast (including George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton) are appealing
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune is in want of a zombie-slaying wife. That is the claim of this twisted take on the Jane Austen classic.
    Along with her four fierce sisters, Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) has been in lifelong training to kill zombies. Lizzy is considered one of the best zombie slayers in England.
    Can she stop stabbing brains long enough to find true love?
    Connived so women can trick their male partners into going to a Jane Austen movie, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will likely appeal to no one. Austenites will cringe at the careless adaptation of a classic. Zombie aficionados will wonder why they’re sitting through Regency parlor drama when there are undead to kill.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 108 mins.

New for the week of January 29

Fifty Shades of Black
    Inexperienced college student Hannah (Kali Hawk) is swept off of her feet by sexy business mogul Christian Black (Marlon Wayans). She is enthralled by the man but distanced by his unusual sexual proclivities.
    A parody of Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades of Black rises from the mind of a Wayans brother, so expect bodily humor, broad jokes and pop culture references.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 92 mins.

Jane Got a Gun
    Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) thought she had escaped the ruthless gang that tortured her. She’s moved on, married and started a family on the ­frontier with a nice man.
    Her peace doesn’t last.
    The Bishop Boys track her down and pump her husband full of lead. Tired of running, Jane refuses to flee her homestead. Recruiting a former fiancé and gunslinger (Joel Edgerton), she prepares to make her stand.
    A feminist western is unusual but not unheard of. George Miller’s feminist spin on action storytelling made Mad Max: Fury Road one of the most popular films of 2015. Portman is a capable lead who should have the grit to lead the film. It’s up to director Gavin O’Connor to keep the plot from veering into melodrama or camp.
Prospects: Bright • R • 98mins.

Kung Fu Panda 3
    Now a respected Kung Fu master, panda Po (Jack Black) still feels out of place. When his father offers a trip to panda paradise, the martial artist can’t resist. Po learns about his people and place as he explores his natural habitat.
    Unfortunately, the evil Kai (JK Simmons) threatens to wipe out the village of Po’s newfound clan. Can he teach the pandas to defend themselves in time?
    An all-star cast including Angelina Jolie, Bryan Cranston, Jackie Chan and Dustin Hoffman put plenty of vocal power into these furry fighters in a sweet animated film likely to please kids and parents.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 95 mins.

New for the week of January 22

The 5th Wave
    Aliens take over the Earth in four waves, taking out most of humanity, crippling electronics, ruining infrastructure and spreading disease. The fifth wave, an invasion force that looks human, is tasked with finishing off the survivors.
    Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) has survived and kept her baby brother Sammy (Zackary Arthur) alive. When he is abducted, she battles man and alien to rescue him.
    Another teen versus-the-apocalypse film, The 5th Wave offers nothing particularly interesting or new. There will be a romance, lots of indignant hair-flipping and a half-baked plot about how people are the real threat.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 112 mins.

The Boy
    Nanny Greta (Lauren Cohan) is shocked that her charge, Brahms, is a doll about the size of a small child. The parents assure her that Brahms needs a nanny, and that for her safety, Greta should follow a strict set of rules in ­caring for him.
    Instead of running for the hills like a sane person, Greta stays all by herself in a creepy, cavernous mansion to care for the world’s most unsettling doll. To the surprise of absolutely no one who’s ever seen a movie before, bizarre and vaguely threatening things begin to happen. When she breaks Brahms’ rules, she finds the doll is alive and vicious.
    What did you expect?
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 98 mins.
Dirty Grandpa
    Jason (Zac Efron) is a straight arrow poised to marry the daughter of his boss and earn a partnership in the family law firm. He has no interest in sowing wild oats, but he is roped into taking his hard-living grandfather Dick (Robert De Niro) to Daytona over spring break. Crude humor and terrible plot lines follow.
    Drinks, women and male bonding collude to bring Jason and Dick together. Can this dynamic duo become spring break kings? Or is this trip going to ruin Jason’s career?
    Efron has long been one of the most disappointing actors of his generation, so pairing him with an American acting legend is a sad lesson in how far Robert De Niro will debase himself for cash.
Prospects: Dim • R • 102 mins.

New for the week of January 15

13 Hours:
The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

    Did hours of news coverage and a Senate hearing not sate your appetite for Benghazi news? Then allow Michael Bay, auteur of meat-head action movies, to explain what really happened.
    Dedicated to men who predicted the tragic attack and sacrificed their lives to save others, the film follows the security force in the 13-hour Libyan siege on the U.S. Embassy. The story of these brave men is no doubt worthy of the silver screen. Should their story be entrusted to Bay, who cares more about the perfect cleavage shot than developing a plot? Expect lots of explosions, shouting men with big biceps and many shots of artfully draped tattered American flags.
Prospects: Dim • R • 144 mins.

Norm of the North
    Norm (Rob Schneider) is a pretty cool polar bear. When developers threaten to erect luxury condos in his Arctic backyard, Norm heads to New York City.
    Expect a lazy animated comedy with a hackneyed plot and jokes only a kid will love.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 86 mins.

Ride Along 2
    Cops and soon to be brothers-in-law James (Ice Cube) and Ben (Kevin Hart) travel to Miami — not for Ben’s bachelor party but to stop a Miami drug dealer from sending his supplies to Atlanta.
    The sequel to last year’s popular action comedy, Ride Along 2 promises the same laughs. With his loud, abrasive humor, Hart inspires either guffaws or eye rolls. Cube is always a reliably glaring straight man.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 101 mins.

    Roman Military Tribute Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) is assigned to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the empire: What happened to the body of Jesus Christ? Weeks after his crucifixion, the body cannot be found, and Christians are speaking of the resurrection of their lord.
    Can this non-believer solve the mystery? Will he find faith along the way?
    Risen offers an interesting take on a well-known tale. With a promising plot and a credible cast, this may be the film that can connect with agnostic audiences as well as the faithful.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 107 mins.

New for the week of January 8, 2016

The Forest
    Sara Price’s (Natalie Dormer) sister was last seen entering Japan’s infamous Aokigahara forest. Convinced her sister has fallen prey to this forest with a sinister reputation, Sara journeys to Japan.
    Can she enter the forest without putting her own life in danger? Or is she doomed to the same fate as her sister?
    Based on a sad landmark in Japan, this sensationalist horror movie exploits the pain of depressed people to sell movie tickets. Adding insult to injury is the whitewashing of the story. Both Sara and the so-called expert on Aokigahara are whites who treat Japanese culture and people as alien.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 95 mins.

The Revenant
    Mauled by a bear, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is left for dead by his fur trapping party. But he crawls from his shallow grave into the harsh wilderness, which he must traverse if he wants to live — and seek retribution.
    Visually stunning and breathtakingly violent, The Revenant is a gritty survivor’s tale spelled out in blood. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won an Oscar last year for Birdman, thrives on using unique visual styles to create interesting stories. His films are kinetic and intense.
    The film hinges upon DiCaprio’s performance, and he may well be on the way to earning his sixth Oscar nomination. If you’re a fan of DiCaprio and survival tales — and are prepared for vicious violence — this film is worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • R • 156 mins.

New for the week of December 25, 2015

Daddy’s Home
    Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) does his best to be a good father to his stepchildren. He’s mild-mannered, fair and kind. Then his wife’s ex-husband (Mark Wahlberg) returns from prison and wants his family back.
    Who will win this battle of the dads?
    Are you a middle-aged man-child slightly too sophisticated to enjoy an Adam Sandler movie? Will Ferrell has you covered. He’s cornered the market on humor based on loud noises, awkward situations and bodily functions.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 96 mins.

The Hateful Eight
    Bounty-hunter John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Kurt Russell) is taking murderess Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to trial when a winter storm forces them to seek shelter in a stagecoach station. There, an odd assortment of men wait out the weather. Each has a secret, and one has murderous intent.
    Can Ruth survive the snowstorm?
    The latest from violent auteur Quentin Tarantino, this Western send-up should be filled with bullets, blood and dialog that can’t be beat.
    Shot in 70 millimeter and thus allowing for a wide-open frame, Hateful Eight promises to be visually stunning. It also offers a great cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir and Bruce Dern.
Prospects: Blood-soaked and bright • R • 168 mins.

    Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) was not likely to amount to much. But hardship forces strength on the young wife and mother. While working to put food on the table, she invents The Miracle Mop and creates a business dynasty.
    In this twisted take on the true story of the Miracle Mop inventor, director David O. Russell and Lawrence team up for a third time. Lawrence has earned Oscar gold plus a nomination for previous installments, proving she and Russell make an effective team.
    Despite the casting, Joy suffers from an unfocused story spanning four generations and too many dramatic themes. See if Russell’s metaphor works for you: he compares Joy’s rise to power to a mobster taking control of a city.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 124 mins.

Point Break
    Young FBI agent Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) goes undercover to thwart a cadre of too-cool-for-school bank robbers headed by Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez). As Utah edges in, he finds himself drawn to their extreme sports lifestyle and Robin Hood ethos.
    Can Utah turn in his new friends?
    This edition of Point Break is a rehash of a 1991 cult classic, substituting extreme sports for surfing to trick a younger generation into spending their money. Better idea: Netflix the Patrick Swayze/Keanu Reeves original.
Prospects: Bleak action movie • PG-13 • 113 mins.

New for the week of December 18

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
    Singing chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore live with their friend and father figure Dave (Jason Lee). Misconstruing Dave’s plans to surprise his girlfriend in Miami, they fear he’s heading there to dump them. To convince Dave to continue as their roommate/keeper, Alvin, Simon and Theodore go on their own road trip. Can the vermin make it to Miami? What pop songs will they mutilate along the way?
    Mindless, high-pitched and poorly made, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is the type of children’s movie parents hate. It combines stupid humor with just enough bright colors to keep kids enthralled.
Prospects: Abysmal • PG • 86 mins.

New for the week of December 11

    In the 1960s, the Kray twins (Tom Hardy) ran London’s underworld. Charming, intelligent Reggie supplied the brains, while brutal paranoid schizophrenic Ron terrified all who resisted. The partnership was lucrative until Reggie expands out of the familiar neighborhoods, hoping to go legitimate.
    Ron takes Reggie’s new interests as a personal attack.
    Hardy is in top form in twin performances as the volatile Krays. But director Brian Helgeland muddles the story. Appointing Reggie’s wife to narrate distances the action. This true story of two notorious gangsters should be a better movie than it is.
Fair Crime Drama • R • 131 mins.

New for the week of December 4

    When a child is murdered by a stray bullet in Chicago’s south side, a group of women questions America’s relationship with violence, race and sex.
    A modernization of Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, this Spike Lee film is timely and challenging.
    Lee is best when he’s a provocateur, so don’t expect Chi-Raq to gently approach hot button issues. If you’re interested in a new perspective on what’s going wrong in America, this may be the film for you. If you’re easily offended or uncomfortable with frank discussions of race and violence, you may want to skip this movie.
Prospects: Bright • R • 118 mins.

    If you’ve been naughty this year, coal in your stocking is the least of your worries.
    With family bickering ruining the spirit of the season Max (Emjay Anthony) decides to ignore Christmas this year. His crisis of Christmas faith draws out a long forgotten holiday tradition: Krampus. This demonic counterpart to Santa is sent to punish non-believers. Max and his family will have to find the Christmas spirit — or die trying.
    A comedy based on the folk legend, Krampus could be zany fun or a complete bore. It’s up to the cast, which includes skilled comedians Toni Collette and Adam Scott, to elevate this schlocky horror setup into gold.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 98 mins.
The Letters
    Before Mother Teresa (Juliet Stevenson) became a saint, she was a nun trying to make a difference. Serving the desperately poor and sick, she sought guidance and comfort from Father Celeste van Exem (Max von Sydow). For nearly 50 years, the friends corresponded about the trials and rewards of a life of service.
    Based on the true story, The Letters chooses a worthy subject but falters by deifying rather than humanizing her.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 114 mins.

    An ambitious Thane of Scotland, Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), is pushed by his wife (Marion Cotillard) to murder the king. Though their plot goes well, guilt and fear begin to plague the couple as all their machinations begin to unravel.
    This latest adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth features beautiful cinematography, impressive actors and a fantastic story. If you’re looking for a moody adaptation of a literary classic, Macbeth is a sure bet. If you’re looking for a way to get out of reading for high school English, you could do worse than this, too.
Prospects: Bright • Unrated • 113 mins.

New for the week of November 26

The Danish Girl
    Einar and Gerda Wegner (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander) are married painters seeking inspiration. When Gerda convinces Einar to pose for her as a woman, Einar finally feels like himself. Gerda’s paintings gain popularity, and Einar takes up dressing as a woman.
    Einar becomes Lili, admitting to himself and Gerda that he is a woman in a male body. As the couple struggle with their relationship, Lili finds a doctor to perform the world’s first sex reassignment surgery.
    Based on the true story, The Danish Girl is a topical historic drama as transgender rights become recognized in America.
    The film features a stellar cast, including Redmayne, who will likely pick up another Oscar nomination for this performance. Vikander is a rising star who brings emotional resonance to her roles.
Prospects: Bright • R • 120 mins.

Good Dinosaur
    Dinosaurs still rule the Earth when Apatosaurus Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) runs across a feral human. Nowhere near as sophisticated and verbal as dinosaurs, the human follows Arlo like a loyal dog. Soon, the two have teamed up to traverse the dangerous landscape together.
    A charming tale of a dinosaur and his boy, The Good Dinosaur is Pixar’s latest offering. Pixar has set the high-water mark for emotional animation tales; let’s hope this one continues the trend. With gorgeous, ultra-real backgrounds and fun loopy-looking characters, this movie should charm adults and little ones.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 100 mins.

Victor Frankenstein
    Scientist Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) is obsessed with defeating death. He dreams of granting immortality to the world. His assistant Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) is committed to Victor’s vision but wonders if his methods aren’t a little faulty.
    When Victor’s experiments go horribly wrong, it’s up to Igor to make things right.
    Poor put-upon Igor — brilliant but doomed to clean up after a thoughtless genius — controls this comedic retelling of the classic story.
    McAvoy and Radcliffe have chemistry that’s fun, which should help them pull off this fractured fairytale.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 109 mins.

New for the week of November 20

    Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) emigrates from Ireland to make her fortune in the 1950s’ New World. She is desperately lonely in her American dream until she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian boy with a big family.
    But tragedy forces Eilis to return to Ireland, leaving Tony and her new life behind. Soon old ways and familiar faces woo her.
    Brooklyn is quietly becoming one of the year’s success stories. Ronan shines in this immigrant tale, fully exploring what it means to leave your life behind for a new beginning.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 111 mins.

By the Sea
    Vanessa (Angelina Jolie) and Roland (Brad Pitt) are vacationing in France. Their stay in a seaside town devolves from carefree escape to dramatic showdown as the couple sort out a dark secret in their relationship.
    Written and directed by Jolie, By the Sea revives the two-person relationship melodrama popular in the 1970s. Making a movie with her real-life husband adds a layer of intrigue. Jolie has said her recent evasive actions against cancer inspired the script.
    Still, By the Sea seems more melodramatic than dramatic, with scenes of overwrought screaming and tears. Pitt and Jolie seem to be on the cusp of so-serious-they’re-funny performances.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 132 mins.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
    With rebellion against the capital in full swing, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) must lead the rebels in one final push to win freedom.
    Filled with excellent actors, The Hunger Games series proves that a good movie-going experience is about more than acting. Lawrence is an Oscar winner, but as Katniss, she’s limited to screeching, worrying about boyfriends and pouting when the bad guys win. It’s maddening to watch such a talented actress waste her time in movies with increasingly ludicrous plots.
    Still, if you’ve sat though the other films, no doubt the final entry in the series will be of interest.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 137 mins.

The Night Before
    For nearly a decade, Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have met on Christmas Eve for a night of partying. Now Isaac is an expectant father, and Chris is a famous rapper. The group agrees to enjoy one last night of shenanigans before giving up their debaucherous ways and embracing adulthood.
    A night of drugs, lunacy and life lessons awaits these three not-so-wise men.
    The Night Before is a comedy for adult audiences. Though the story is trite and the humor puerile, Rogen has proven that he can sell even the most juvenile premise. Backed up by Gordon-Levitt and Mackie, The Night Before should offer some good, if scandalous, laughs.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 101 mins.

Secret in Their Eyes
    Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts) haven’t met a crime they ­couldn’t solve. The investigators are becoming a dynamic duo under the supervision of Claire (Nicole Kidman). But the team’s perfect record is shattered when they come across an unthinkable crime: Jess’ teenage daughter is murdered.
    Thirteen years later, Jess believes she’s finally tracked down the killer. Can Ray and Claire keep her from taking the law into her own hands?
    A remake of a remarkable Argentinian thriller, El Secreto de Sus Ojo, this is a story about revenge and what it does to the human spirit. Though filled with big stars, can the remake (which was edited from R to an audience-friendly PG-13) pack the same punch?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 111 mins.

    When the Boston Globe’s team of Spotlight journalists pokes into claims that the Catholic Church has hidden sexual abuse cases for decades, they discover a story that’s more than angry former altar boys. The Globe’s Pulitzer-winning piece shakes the Church and the faith to its core.
    Based on the true story of the cover-up and the reporters who would not let the story rest, Spotlight is a star-studded historical drama, featuring Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark ­Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci. It’s paced and formatted as a thriller, so there’s plenty of tension in the newsroom to keep you interested.
    But if you’re sensitive to films about abuse, stay away from this harrowing tale.
Prospects: Bright • R • 128 mins.

New for the week of November 13

Love the Coopers
    As four generations of the Cooper family gather for the holidays at her house, ­Charlotte (Diane Keaton) wants the perfect Christmas. As the holiday approaches, the family goes from eccentric to disaster.
    Keaton has devoted the last decade to shrill meddling characters constantly being caught by surprise. If you’ve seen Keaton throw her hands up and scream once, there’s no need to pay to watch her do it again.
    Love the Coopers is devoid of originality and interest.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 118 mins.

My All American
    Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) is too small for football, but he refuses to give up. Working with his father to become a skilled player, he eventually earns a scholarship to play for the Texas Longhorns.
    Just as Freddie finds his rhythm with his new team, he is injured. The injury reveals an illness that will demand a new fight.
    Can Freddie beat the diagnosis? Will his team help?
    From the writers of Hoosiers and Rudy, My All American will be an uplifting sports film that will make your father cry. November is the perfect season for a football movie. If you love the game or the idea of team spirit conquering all, try it.
Prospects: Weepy • PG • 118 mins.

    Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has only known room his whole life. His mother (Brie Larson) has raised him to be a happy, healthy kid within the confines.
    What Jack doesn’t know is that his mother is a prisoner, abducted at a young age and locked in a room. Jack is the product of her abduction. When mom and son finally escape, Jack finds himself missing the room and their old life.
    Based on the bestselling novel, Room is a tragic drama about the innocence of a child even when facing great evil. You won’t get happy endings or light storylines in this stirring drama, but you will be rewarded with some of the year’s best performances. You’ll have to travel to Baltimore or Washington to experience this film, but it’s worth the trip if you want to be in the know during awards season.
Prospects: Bright • R • 118 mins.

New for the week of November 6

Miss You Already
    Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore) have been buddies since childhood, remaining the best of friends through adolescence, men and very different lifestyles.
    Now, Milly is a mother, businesswoman and wife. Bohemian Jess lives with her boyfriend on a boat. Cracks begin when Milly discovers she has breast cancer and Jess learns that she may be infertile. Can the women find a way to support each other through the toughest times in their lives?
    A dramedy about the power of female friendship, Miss You Already is a great showcase for Collette, one of the best actresses of her generation. The two women forge a bond that should carry some slightly silly material. Pack some tissues when you go.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 112 mins.

The Peanuts Movie
    Snoopy breaks out his flight gear to put an old rivalry to rest by finding and capturing The Red Baron. Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) is on a quest of his own as his beloved dog defends the skies,
    Charles Schultz’s timeless characters get a modern update in this 3D animated film, while the stories continue the famous, familiar thread.
Prospects: Bright • G • 93 mins.

    James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) past comes back again to haunt him. This installment’s villain is connected to both an evil syndicate called Spectre and Bond’s family. As Bond chases phantoms through Mexico City, the British government fears its top agent has cracked.
    For over half a century, we’ve paid the Bond price to see martinis, gorgeous women and action. A convoluted plot about family secrets and yet another secret organization may complicate what should be a simple pleasure. Still, Craig’s Bond has been able to attract immensely talented supporting actors, including Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci and Naomi Harris.
    This Bond will require brains and patience, as its running time is well over two hours.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 148 mins.

    In a time when women were still legal chattel, the founders of the feminist movement refused to bend to the wills of men. To earn equality and the right to vote, these women waged a war against their country, winning victories in blood.
    The price for rebellion was steep. Many Suffragettes lost their jobs, families and freedom as they fought for women everywhere.
    A stirring drama about the determination of an oppressed group, Suffragette highlights the dangers of inequality and the bloody reckoning that can come. It’s a good way to start a conversation about rights and how to fight for them.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 106 mins.

New for the week of October 30

Our Brand Is Crisis
    It’s been years since Jane (Sandra Bullock) has been trusted to head a political campaign. She’s responsible for one of the biggest political upsets in American history, followed by years of poor choices and terrible campaigns. Her last shot at the big time takes her to South America to run a campaign in a country on the brink of revolution.
    Badly behind in the polls, Jane’s campaign takes another hit when she finds her coworker and rival (Billy Bob Thorton) is working for the opposition. She finds motivation in her slow realization that the election could make a difference in people’s lives.
    Our Brand Is Crisis wants to be a sharp satire about worship of the political machine. The satire is dulled by a heartwarming message about personal responsibility. It’s a difficult mix, so expect muddle.
    Watching the presidential debates is cheaper with better fodder for satire.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 107 mins.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
    Right before their last campout, three scouts find themselves in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. Armed with their scouts training, the boys try to take back their town from the undead. Here’s hoping there’s a merit badge for headshots.
    Zombies are still the monster du jour, so it’s hardly a surprise to see another undead comedy shuffle its way into theaters. The idea of scouts using their camping skills to thwart the undead could make this one as funny and odd as Zombieland. Tone is the key.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 93 mins.

New for the week of October 23

Jem and the Holograms
    Singer Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples) is a shy girl who wants to share her music. Clowning around with friends, she records and uploads a music video as Jem.
    The video is a smash, throwing Jerrica and her friends into a world of fortune and fame they aren’t prepared to navigate.
    Jem and the Holograms is based on the neon-pink 1980s’ Saturday morning cartoon, but it has little in common with its animated inspiration. The plot seems more like a lost episode of Hannah Montana. It may appeal to teens, but its target audience has aged out.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 118 mins.

The Last Witch Hunter
    Kaulder (Vin Diesel) is the last of the witch hunters. Cursed long ago to immortality by a vengeful witch, he roams the world to exterminate evil. His lonely existence is brightened by the resurrection of the Queen Witch, who vows to end humanity.
    As helpers, he recruits a rag-tag group of demon hunters.
    The Last Witch Hunter is gracious enough to let you know it’s terrible. From the trite dialog to silly acting to the appearance of Michael Caine, who undoubtedly needed a house payment, this film has paycheck stamped all over it. Diesel is tolerable only when voice acting or pretending to drive fast cars; he’s not up to a Dungeons and Dragons-type fantasy.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 106 mins.

Rock the Kasbah
    Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) used to rock — in the 1970s. The once-famed music manager hasn’t had a star on his docket in years. On a musical tour in Afghanistan, he discovers a voice that could make him rich again. For exposure, he takes his discovery to Kabul to compete in Afghan Star.
    Murray is always a solid comic presence, but Rock the Kasbah looks like one of his lesser works. The plot is silly, celebrity cameos seem intended to distract from a weak plot and even Murray seems less than enthused.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 100 mins.

New for the week of October 16

Bridge of Spies
    When an American pilot is shot down over Russia during the Cold War, the Kremlin agrees to return him in exchange for a KGB officer held on espionage charges. Attorney James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) enters to help strike the deal. Navigating the hostile waters of international diplomacy, Donovan has cause to fear that his involvement endangers both his family and his life.
    A cold war drama directed by Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies should be a crackling thriller. Spielberg has excelled in the spy genre before with the underrated Munich, and he has a talent for historical set pieces. With the help of Hanks, Bridge of Spies might be a contender in awards season.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 142 mins.

Crimson Peak
    Vulnerable after a tragedy, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is swept off her feet by the dark and sexy Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After a whirlwind romance, they marry and move to the Sharpe ancestral home.
    Though beautiful, the house is old and filled with oddities that set Edith’s nerves on edge. Soon, Edith realizes that the haunting isn’t in her head, and that ghosts must be appeased if she hopes to leave the Sharpe home alive.
    Is she doomed to join the spirits that dwell in these halls?
Prospects: Bright • R • 119 mins.

    Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) is bored in his new town until he spots Hanna (Odeya Rush), his beautiful neighbor.
    Zach’s sudden appearance displeases Hannah’s dad, R.L. Stine (Jack Black), an acclaimed author of the Goosebumps horror series. This overprotective father is a man with a secret.
    The creatures Stine writes about are real and safely housed in the original copies of his books, but Zach unwittingly unleashes the whole collection of monsters on his town.
    A fun parody of Stine’s beloved children’s spooky stories, Goosebumps is loaded with silly humor and age-appropriate thrills that make it the perfect movie for a not-so-scary family Halloween.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 103 mins.

    Newly integrated Woodlawn High School is in turmoil. When racial tensions boil over on the football field, coach Tandy Geralds (Nic Bishop) tries to unify the team to preserve the peace and his season. Bonds are made, magic happens and Woodlawn starts to win. The integrated team has a shot at the playoffs and at teaching Alabama how to thrive through teamwork instead of hate.
    With a timely message about racial tolerance and cooperation, Woodlawn hopes to inspire — though its dialog is a little hackneyed.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 123 mins.

New for the week of October 9

99 Homes
    Single father Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is kicked out of his home by unscrupulous real estate broker Rick Carver (Michael Shannon).
    Homeless and and out of a jobless, Dennis is desperate until he accepts Carve’ss offer of a job foreclosing homes.
    Think of this as Faust with a real estate twist. Garfield is a likeable actor, but the real show will belong to Shannon, who specializes in playing zealous sadists.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 112 mins.

He Named Me Malala
    Young Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for daring to seek an education. Rather than hide from violence, she spoke out.
    This documentary follows Malala’s journey from a girl seeking knowledge to the youngest Nobel Laureate in history.
    See it to learn how one voice can change the world.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 87 mins.

    Young orphan Peter (Levi Miller) dreams of a better life. One night he’s snatched from his bed by a band of pirates who sail him past the second star to the left and straight on to morning. Even in Neverland, evil forces seek to destroy him.
    Captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) has heard foretellings of an orphan boy destined to bring his reign to an end. He has reason to fear.
    To make a real home for himself on this magical island, Peter fights back. For the struggle, he recruits a young worker by the name of James T. Hook (Garrett Hedlund). Now it’s Peter and Hook against Blackbeard.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 111 mins.

New for the week of October 2

The Martian
    When a calamitous storm hits a NASA outpost on Mars, the crew is forced to flee back to Earth. Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead when his vital monitor cuts out.
    Watney isn’t dead; if he were, there’d be no movie. The storm incapacitated him and damaged his suit. This should be good news, except that Watney is now alone on the Red Planet with a broken suit, a temporary shelter and help that is months away — if it’s coming at all.
    Is the first Martian doomed?
    Despite a great cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Pena, Damon does most of the heavy lifting. As the last man on Mars, he has to carry scenes without interaction. He’s up to the challenge, leaping into the clever script and explaining science with aplomb.
    Based on the bestselling book of the same name, The Martian is a clever sci-fi concept that could revitalize moviegoers’ interest in space exploration.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 141 mins.

    Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) wants to make a difference. An FBI agent fighting the war on drugs at the border between the U.S. and Mexico, she is guided into this world of violence and corruption by Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), who may not have her best interests at heart.
    As she sinks deeper in the quagmire, Macer must come to terms with corruption on both sides of the drug war.
    Sicario is a political thriller with teeth. Blunt has been on a roll, choosing characters that show off her range; here she takes on a tough woman lost in a world she doesn’t understand. Del Toro, who has the showier roll, is always at his best playing a damaged character.
    Filled with violence and uncomfortable topics, Sicario isn’t a film for everyone. But if you’re a fan of dark thrillers that tackle real topics, it is well worth the ticket.
Prospects: Bright • R • 121 mins.

The Walk
    High-wire daredevil Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a dream. He wants to string a wire between the towers of New York’s World Trade Center and step into the void between them.
    In the 1970s, he seized the dream, recruiting a team of fellow risk-takers.
    Based on a true story, The Walk takes us on Petit’s death-defying challenge. Director Robert Zemeckis uses IMAX 3D and the latest digital effects to keep us on the edge of our seat while perched on a wire.
    This may be technically thrilling, but it’s not the real thing. To see Petit’s amazing feat for real, try the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, available on Netflix.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 123 mins.

New for the week of September 25

    As a storm crashes into the peak of Mount Everest, two climbing teams must try to descend the world’s highest peak in near impossible conditions.
    Based on a real blizzard, Everest is a harrowing survival movie. The star of the film is the mountain, as most characters are broadly drawn.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 121 mins.

The Green Inferno
    A group of students head to the Amazon with the best of intentions: They’re going to save the rain forest, discover native tribes and bring modern sensibilities to the Third World. These plans go spectacularly awry when the team encounters a tribe that doesn’t want to sing “Kumbaya” and discuss organic farming. Now fighting for their lives, the students will have to figure out how to save themselves before they can tackle the rain forest.
    Director Eli Roth is so obsessed with gore and sex-based torture that he invented his own genre of horror film, dubbed “torture-porn.” He thrills at the subjugation and bloody death of women, so don’t buy a ticket unless you have a strong stomach.
Prospects: Bleak • R • 100 mins.

The Intern
    Ben (Robert De Niro) is a widowed retiree in search of purpose. He’s sick of funerals, senior classes and isolation. To break the cycle, he signs up for a senior intern program and winds up working at a hot e-commerce startup led by the whimsical Jules (Anne Hathaway).
    At first, the hipster culture and technology are baffling to Ben, but soon he learns that his business skills are just as useful today as they were in the pre-iPhone age. As Ben flourishes, Jules is sinking. She can’t juggle family and business, making her husband unhappy and her investors wary.
    Can Ben and Jules help each other strike a balance?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 121 mins.

    In 1969, Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine) flees his homophobic family for a chance at life in New York. On Christopher Street, he finds an accepting community. But his LGBTQ friends are beset by police brutality.
    After years of beatings and unfair arrests, the gays fight back. The ensuing Stonewall Riots become a turning point in the fight for LGBTQ rights.
    Though the movie is about history, there’s not much accuracy. The original leaders of the riots were minorities and transgendered people, but filmmaker Roland Emmerich chooses a white man for his lead. This disregard for the actual events is causing its own controversy, with a movement to boycott the film.
Prospects: Bleak • R • 129 mins.

New for the week of September 18

Black Mass
    John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) grew up on the mean streets of South Boston. Against the odds, he goes straight and makes it all the way to the FBI. He offers a deal to old friend Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), who is the head of the relatively small Irish mob. If Bulger informs on the Italian mob, the FBI will focus its investigations away from Whitey and his crew.
    The deal is a dream for Whitey. As the Italians are taken out, his criminal empire expands. Soon the FBI’s biggest problem is their prized informant.
    Based on the true story of Bulger, who became a mob kingpin and the FBI’s most wanted for over a decade, Black Mass is a drama about the dangers of choosing the devil you know. The movie could be the return to form that Johnny Depp needs, who spent the last decade cultivating a persona that only works when he’s playing a pirate.
Prospects: Bright • R • 122 mins.

    Ashley Smith (Kate Mara) is a drug addict trying to go clean to regain custody of her daughter. When fugitive Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) breaks into her apartment, Ashley seems doomed.
    Based on the harrowing true story of the manhunt for Nichols, Captive examines how two people can touch each other’s lives in even the most extreme circumstances. In what’s basically a locked-room drama, success depends on the power of Mara and Oyelowo’s performances. Oyelowo, who dazzled last year as Martin Luther King, is a brilliant actor who can craft a compelling role out of nearly anything. Mara is a little less consistent but capable of excellence when her material is worthy.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 97 mins.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
    After Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends escape the mysterious maze, they are enlisted by WCKD as freedom fighters.
    Suspicious of the group, Thomas digs into the WCKD’s history, learning it may not be as benevolent as it appears. Once again, the boys choose the unknown, abandoning the relative safety of the WCKD stronghold to navigate a scorched wasteland in search of freedom.
    The second in the Maze Runner series of adaptations of popular young adult novels, the film is a continuation of a fairly complex narrative. It isn’t going to translate well if you haven’t seen the first film or read the books. Still, it will keep teens occupied for a few hours.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 131 mins.

New for the week of September 11

The Perfect Guy
    Leah (Sanaa Lathan) is tired of waiting for boyfriend Dave (Morris Chestnut) to propose. After years of heartbreak, Leah leaves him to seek out a man willing to commit. The man she finds, Carter (Michael Ealy), is a charmer who quickly wins over her family and friends. Leah is blissfully happy until she discovers Carter’s flaw.
    He goes psychotically violent at the drop of a hat.
    Afraid of Carter’s violent mood swings, Leah ends the relationship. He doesn’t take the news well, retaliating with a campaign to ruin her life.
    It’s always nice to see a female lead fight her own battles, but The Perfect Guy might be a war Lathan can’t win.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

The Visit
    Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) have been looking forward to visiting their grandparents’ house where their working mom sends them promises of old-fashioned fun and ­family bonding.
    At the remote farm, the children find it hard to connect with their grandparents. Something seems off. They’re not allowed out of their rooms after 9:30pm, and they’re pretty sure they’ve spotted grandma screaming through the house, clawing at doors. As their grandparents’ behavior becomes more unsettling, the kids realize they must get back home.
    A movie that could certainly make your next visit to grandma and grandpa a tense affair, The Visit is tantalizing as director M. Night Shyamalan’s return to form. Shyamalan was once an interesting craftsman of suspense yarns — until he fell for obvious twists and silly stories.
    If you like a slow-burn thriller and have no aversion to likely evil old people, this could be it. But I fear Shyamalan will give us at least one stupid twist.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 94 mins.


New for the week of September 4

The Transporter Refueled
    Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is adept at transporting. His skilled driving has made him a sought-after courier and getaway driver. When Anna hires him to help with a bank robbery, he agrees without blinking. But Anna doesn’t tell him the full scope of the job and Martin ends up facing the wrath of the Russian mob.
    Martin must figure out a way to survive the mob and save his family — all while driving cool cars really fast.
    The Transporter series helped make Jason Statham a star. Will it be able to do the same for Skrein, who replaces Statham in the Frank Martin role?
    Probably not.
    Statham has a fierce physicality that makes him perfect for gritty action. Skrein seems too sleek to be a brawler. While the script seems hackneyed, most fans of this franchise aren’t interested in character nuance. They want pretty cars driving at breakneck paces. That, you’ll be guaranteed to see, at least.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 96 mins.

New for the week of August 28

Mistress America
    Tracy (Lola Kirke) thought college in the big city would exciting. But New York feels boring and lonely. Until she meets Brooke (Greta Gerwig), an exciting New Yorker who is also her future stepsister.
    Brooke believes in chasing dreams and has the whole world figured out, or so it seems to Tracy. Can the girls take on the big city together?
    Director Noah Baumbach has made a career of writing and directing bitingly insightful movies about immature people facing adult problems. His films strike a chord with those who feel life is leaving them behind. Gerwig, who co-wrote the film, is an indie-film darling whose comic timing and fearless performances deserve mainstream success.
    Together, Baumbach and Gerwig should have plenty to say about dream chasers and people never content to settle down.
Prospects: Bright • R • 84 mins.

No Escape
    Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) moves his family to Southeast Asia in hopes of business opportunities. While the Dwyer family settles in, a coup erupts. Suddenly, their paradise home is a target for angry rebels murdering foreigners in the street.
    The genre of white people in peril is a throwback. Director John Erick Dowdle ought to know better. Yet his screenplay has Wilson fighting off faceless hoards of racial stereotypes as he runs.
Prospects: Dim • R • 103 mins.

War Room
    The Jordans seem like the perfect family. But behind the veneer, Tony (T.C. Stallings) and Elizabeth’s (Priscilla C. Shirer) marriage is falling apart. The couple fights constantly, dreads spending time together and makes their daughter miserable.
    Elizabeth is on the brink of divorce when she meets an elderly woman who teaches her the power of prayer. Elizabeth is to make a war room and fill it with hand-written prayers about everything she wants God to change in her life.
    Faith-based films tend to substitute message for plot, dialogue and acting. War Room does not seem to buck this trend.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 120 mins.

We Are Your Friends
    Cole (Zac Efron) is a wannabe DJ obsessed with the clubs and decadence of Hollywood. He works menial day job while dreaming that one of his mixes will make it big, bringing him the fame and fortune he deserves.
    Cole gets a break when he is befriended by James, an established DJ. The catch? Cole can’t resist his friend’s pretty girlfriend.
    A vapid summer drama filled with pretty people with vacant faces, We Are Your Friends almost guarantees a migraine for anyone over the age of 18.
    Efron’s biggest talent seems to be his ability to maintain a smug facial expression no matter what emotion a film calls for. Don’t expect him to save this story.
Prospects: Dim • R • 96 mins.

New for the week of August 21

Hitman: Agent 47
    Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) was built for killing. A genetically engineered assassin with a barcode tattooed on his neck, 47 is the best assassin the Agency has created. His superior physical and mental attributes empower him to take on the toughest assignments without a scratch.
    He’ll need all his skills for his latest mission: Taking out the CEO of a corporation that has unlocked the secret to genetic engineering and must be stopped before it unleashes a brutal force of super soldiers in the mold of 47.
    Is this Agent 47’s final assignment?
    The second attempt at adapting the wildly popular Hitman videogame series, Hitman: Agent 47 is made for action fans and gamers, who may find their fingers twitching as they watch elegant action sequences play out on the big screen.
    If you like impossible action, global conspiracies and a force that can kill entire city blocks without wrinkling its suit, this is the movie for you.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.

Sinister 2
    Before the boogeyman was the Bughuul. This ancient demon feeds on the souls of children. But first it manipulates the kids into killing their whole families.
    Sounds cheerful, doesn’t it?
    The Bughuul’s latest victims are the Collins family. Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) sees something off-kilter in her twin boys. Can she find a way to stop the Bughuul in time?
    The sequel to a genuinely excellent horror flick, Sinister 2 has big shoes to fill. Most horror sequels re-tread the original ground, with duller scares and rote characters. It doesn’t look like Sinister 2 will break the pattern.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 97 mins.

New for the week of August 14

The End of the Tour
    The novel Infinite Jest has gone platinum, making author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) an overnight sensation. To learn more about the new literary giant, Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) joins him on the last five days of a book tour.
    At first cordial, the relationship declines. Soon truth and lie meld to reveal the men’s insecurities and secrets.
    Based on the memoir of Lipsky, The End of the Tour is a battle turning on talent and emotional frailty. Segel is earning raves for his portrayal of the damaged, sensitive Wallace, who struggled for years with depression before his suicide. Eisenberg is an incisive foil, focused on picking apart Wallace’s defenses.
Prospects: Bright • R • 106 mins.

Irrational Man
    Once brilliant, philosophy professor Abe (Joaquin Phoenix) has lost his way to cynicism and alcohol. To turn his life around, he takes a job at a small college, where he’s still viewed as a legend. Romances follow with a fellow professor and with a student (Emma Stone).
    Yet again, director Woody Allen offers audiences a story about an older neurotic whose genius is recognized by a nubile young woman. It’s a fantasy that’s common enough to make it — and Allen — tedious.
    Both Stone and Phoenix are capable performers, but material so hackneyed gives them little to work with. This film is for Allen devotees only.
Prospects: Dim • R • 95 mins.

Straight Outta Compton
    In 1987, the most dangerous place in America was the southern Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton. Gangs, ­poverty and a brutal police force made life perilous. Out of the anger, violence and death came five men whose stories earned the attention of the nation.
    Calling themselves N.W.A., these controversial rappers were a voice for change. Declared violent inciters by the government, they were harassed at every turn.
    Straight Outta Compton tells the backstory of legendary rappers Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Easy E, DJ Yella and MC Ren. Made with the approval of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, it may well offer insight into the creativity that can spring from adversity. It skips, however, some violent parts of the story, including a vicious assault on a female journalist.
Prospects: Bright • R • 147 mins.

New for the week of August 4

Fantastic Four
    On a scientific expedition to an alternate dimension, four researchers find more than they bargained for. They return to the lab drastically altered. Team leader Reed (Miles Teller) can now stretch his body to astounding lengths. Sue (Kate Mara) is newly able to become invisible, while her brother Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) can turn his body into a ball of fire on a whim. Ben (Jamie Bell) has mutated into a rock creature with super strength.
    Those are all neat party tricks, but the government isn’t impressed and wants to contain the four and repress their abilities.
    But when an unprecedented evil emerges, the four are humanity’s hope for survival.
    Filled with wonderful young talent, Fantastic Four has the foundation of a great summer film. Jordan and Teller are quickly rising dramatic actors who should be able to sell even the preposterous dialog of comic book films.
    Superheroes are still big business, and Marvel certainly knows how to rake in the cash from moviegoers. But Fantastic Four has a bit of a hurdle: two equally horrible iterations in the past two decades. Can ticket buyers forget these films and embrace a new, grittier quartet? This may be Marvel’s toughest sell.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

The Gift
    Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are the picture of domestic bliss: in love, successful and living in their dream home. But when Simon’s old school mate Gordo (Joel Edgerton) appears, their foundation cracks.
    Gordo is awkward and clingy, lavishing the couple with gifts and talking about the good old days. When they try to release Gordo’s hold, he reminds Simon that they share a secret.
    Is Simon’s past catching up with him?
    Edgerton, who also writes and directs, makes what could have been a paint-by-numbers thriller deeper and more disturbing by fleshing out characters and motivations. The Gift is earning raves for its twisted take on the Fatal Attraction genre.
Prospects: Bright • R • 108 mins.

Ricki and the Flash
    Ricki (Meryl Streep) isn’t the maternal type. She left her kids and her husband Pete (Kevin Kline) for California and her dream of rock stardom. Now in her 60s, Ricki is still playing small clubs while supporting herself working in a grocery store, her husband and kids a distant memory.
    When Pete calls out of the blue with news that their daughter Julie (Streep’s real daughter Mamie Gummer) is in the middle of a mental breakdown, Ricki travels home. The brash rocker is not welcomed by her children, but she does her best to make a connection with each of them.
    Any movie starring Streep is going to get critical attention, but this one may be a bit of a misstep. Director Jonathan Demme seems to be making two films: the story of a failed rocker and the story of a family coming back together. But if anyone can pull a film together, it’s Streep.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 102 mins.

New for the week of July 31

    Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) gets no respect. Other pilots look down on him, his kids think he’s lame and his wife (Christina Applegate) seems disinterested. To shake things up, Rusty takes the family on a road trip to Wally World, just as his father did when he was a kid.
    Apparently Rusty has forgotten how that trip turned out.
    Fate remembers. As the family encounters one misfortune after another, it’s apparent that Rusty has his father’s luck.
    Vacation is a wholly unnecessary reboot of a series that had two mildly funny films and four dismal spin-offs. This update hits all the same notes, including gross-out humor and the father’s breakdown, without much of a spin on the original.
    And yet.
    As stupid and silly as most of the humor is, Vacation manages to land many of its jokes. You won’t like yourself for laughing, but laugh you will. The grosser and more outrageous the bit, the better it works. I’m ashamed to disclose that I guffawed at a sequence involving Rusty mowing down a cow.
    If you’re easily amused and not easily offended, you may want to join the Griswolds on their trip to Wally World.
Fair Comedy • R • 99 mins.

The Vatican Tapes
    Angela Holmes (Olivia Dudley) isn’t a typical woman. Anyone who gets close to her falls victim to horrible injuries or dies. The church suspects she is possessed and calls in Father Lozano (Michael Peña) and his team of exorcists.
    They battle a powerful possession, with the fate of both Angela and possibly the world in the balance.
    If you’ve seen The Exorcist, you have an idea of how this will play out. A bunch of bone-crunching possession deformities, a demonic voice or two, people flung around the room: That’s all in a day’s work for the devil. Though you have to wonder why the devil wastes his time on such parlor tricks.
    Peña is a talented performer, and it’s a shame he’s reduced to making movies like this or playing the dumb sidekick to Ant-Man. Still, with him as the anchor, The Vatican Tapes just might elevate itself from dismal to mediocre.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 91 mins.

New for the week of July 24

Paper Towns
    When Margo (Cara Delevingne) crawls into Quentin’s (Nat Wolff) room, she offers him adventure. Quentin hasn’t hung out with Margo since they were children, but tonight he follows her out the window. The high schoolers embark on an epic night of mischief, pranking and exacting revenge on those who wronged them.
    The next day, Margo is gone. No trace of the beautiful, charismatic girl remains. Quentin is devastated. But as he mourns the loss of the newfound friendship, he finds a clue.
    Did Margo leave a trail for Quentin to follow? He’s about to find out.
    Based on bestselling author John Green’s novel, Paper Towns is a movie about growing up and surviving high school. Be prepared for a gaggle of teen characters who utter metaphors about life and love in disaffected tones.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 109 mins.

    In the 1980s, a time capsule containing examples of life on Earth was fired into space with the hope that it would find alien life. Instead of inspiring alien lifeforms, it sets off a war, with aliens modeling their attack on the video games from the time capsule, sending Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and more to Earth.
    Earthly hope comes from Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Eddie ‘The Fire Blaster Plant (Peter Dinklage). Former arcade dwellers, these retro gamers have the knowledge to beat the video games.
    But can they do it before the Pac-Man Kill Screen emerges?
    Having Adam Sandler or Kevin James headline your movie is a sure sign that it will feature lazy humor, subpar acting and no plot. If you’re pinning your hopes of survival on Sandler and James, you might as well admit defeat now.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 105 mins.

    Boxer Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a heavyweight success. He has a big house, lots of money and a beautiful family. But violence leaves Billy widowed and devastated. Unable to cope without the love of his life, he turns to drugs.
    Soon the money is gone, the house is foreclosed and the state takes away his daughter. To get them back, Billy needs to fight. Enlisting trainer Titus ‘Tick’ Willis (Forest Whitaker), Billy starts the long, hard road back.
    Inspiring boxer movies are a dime a dozen, but Gyllenhaal is a fierce and committed actor whose performance may rise above clichés in the script.
Prospects: Bright • R • 123 mins.

New for the week of July 17

Mr. Holmes
    A once great detective, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) has retired to Sussex by 1947. His friend and partner Dr. Watson has lionized the detective by writing a series of books exaggerating the prowess of Holmes’ keen mind. All of England believes him to wear a deerstalker hat and smoke a pipe while solving mysteries in an instant.
    The truth is that some cases still haunt Holmes. As he nears the end of his life, he finds himself reflecting on a case of 50 years ago. Though his memory is starting to fail, Holmes is determined to solve this old case and bring himself peace.
    Mr. Holmes promises to be both an engrossing mystery and study of the frailty of our heroes. The cast is great, and director Bill Condon weaves together past and present in a twisting narrative that forces the audience to unravel the main mystery along with Holmes.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 104 mins.

    After her parents’ marriage ended in disaster, Amy (Amy Schumer) decided monogamy wasn’t for her. Content to party all night, sleep with whomever she wants and never call them back, Amy is living her ideal life. Then Aaron (Bill Hader), a doctor she’s profiling for a magazine story, causes her to reevaluate.
    The reigning queen of comedy, Schumer has made a name for herself with crass but socially relevant comedy on television. As her first big break into the movies, Trainwreck (which she also wrote) is poised to make her a superstar.
    With director Judd Apatow helming, Trainwreck is also sure to be filled with humor you wouldn’t want to explain to your grandmother.
    Still, Apatow has a knack for finding the heart in the crudest of comedy, so expect Trainwreck to hit your feelings and your funny bone. Helping Schumer in her quest for comedy domination is Hader, a Saturday Night Live alum and reliable straight man, and LeBron James. Yes, LeBron James the basketball player has a major role in a comedy.
    Expect a lot of laughs in this contender for the year’s most outrageous comedy.
Prospects: Bright • R • 125 mins.

New for the week of July 10

    Amy Winehouse had a talent for singing and songwriting. A sensitive soul, she succumbed to alcoholism and drug addiction at the height of her fame.
    Director Asif Kapadia examines the singer’s meteoric ascent and tragic collapse in this documentary. Interviewing friends, family and experts, Kapadia pieces together a picture of the woman behind the sandpaper voice and beehive hair. What Kapadia finds is a woman who was used by those she loved and hounded by her fame.
    There’s rare personal footage of Winehouse and a good look at the artistry behind her music.
Prospects: Bright • R • 128 mins.

The Gallows
    An accidental hanging during a school play sparks an urban legend about a vengeful spirit. Twenty years later, students celebrate the gruesome anniversary by breaking into the school to summon the ghost.
    As you might expect, this decision leads to lots of jump-scares and scores of dead teens.
    Why teens insist on pestering murderous spirits is a question for the ages, but their commitment to poor decision-making has fueled decades of horror movies. The Gallows doesn’t look like it has anything new or interesting to add.
Prospects: Dim • R • 81 mins.

    Before they were the helpers of super villain turned good guy Gru, the Minions had a long and storied history as henchmen. They eventually tired of working for T-Rexes, Napoleon and other power-hungry inventors.
    Kevin has a plan: He will find a new master not evil enough to mistreat him or his Minion family.
    Centered on the yellow, semi-verbal buffoons of the Despicable Me franchise, Minions promises to entertain smaller viewers with silly jokes and physical comedy.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 91 mins.

    Dying billionaire Damian (Ben Kingsley) would do anything for a few more years. Anything turns out to be an experimental surgery to transfer his mind into the body of a healthy young man.
    When Damian (now Ryan Reynolds) wakes, he’s young, fit, handsome and in the perfect position to enjoy his wealth. Until he experiences a flash memory of a family he doesn’t recognize. Slowly he realizes that the medical group offering the procedure to dying wealthy patrons is up to something nefarious.
    A thriller that comes from the Twilight Zone school of plot twists, Self/less depends on subtle, strong writing to keep from veering into ridiculousness. Kingsley and Reynolds are capable performers, but both have a history of choosing horrible projects.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 116 mins.

New for the week of July 3

Terminator Genisys
    After the rise of the machines, John Connor (Jason Clarke) rises as the savior of the human race. To stop him, the machines send a killer robot, a terminator, back in time to assassinate his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), before she gives birth to humanity’s last hope.
    John in turn sends his most trusted subordinate, Kyle (Jai Courtney) back to defend his helpless mother. Arriving in 1984, Kyle finds not a helpless woman but a warrior who’s trained for years to kill terminators. How has Sarah Connor gone from damsel to superhero? Turns out she was raised by a terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
    Can Kyle and Sarah stop the machines? Or are they pre-doomed?
    We’ll set aside the fact that a robot (Schwarzenegger) has aged and gained 30 pounds to examine the real problem with this film: It’s totally unnecessary. From the intentional misspelling of genesis to the stunt casting, it practically advertises it’s going to disappoint you. In fact, two major plot twists are spoiled in the previews.
    While Schwarzenegger always has a sense of humor about these sequels, this is otherwise the kind of big-budget film that features lots of computer graphics and no story, acting or logic. The series has also been demoted from an R rating to PG-13. This means the action will be cartoon-like and there will be no cursing.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 125 mins.

New for the week of June 26

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
    Greg (Thomas Mann) and Earl (RJ Cyler) are burgeoning filmmakers who skate through high school without making much of an impression. Content to spend time with Earl and his camera, Greg doesn’t think about his lack of social connection until his mother forces him to make a friend.
    Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is dying. After her leukemia diagnosis is made public, Greg’s mother sends him to her home with a mission: Make friends so that she doesn’t feel alone in her last months. Greg’s hesitance fades, and the two form a strong bond.
    The darling of the Sundance Film Festival, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a poignant teen drama that ­doesn’t get bogged down in a love story. Greg and Rachel won’t be crying and kissing in the rain. They’re friends who learn the importance of mutual support and kindness. Bring tissues, and be prepared to alternate between sobs and guffaws, as the film mixes humor and tragedy liberally.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 105 mins.

Ted 2
    Ted (Seth MacFarlane) is a talking teddy bear once owned by John (Mark Walhberg). The duo grew up and remained best buddies. Now Ted has married the woman of his dreams and seeks to raise a family.
    As teddy bears and people can’t mate, the couple needs to adopt. The courts, of course, don’t recognize a talking teddy bear as a person. John and Ted reunite to fight for Ted’s right to parenthood.
    Please don’t make the mistake of taking your children to see this talking bear movie unless you’re hoping to rapidly expand their vocabulary. This sequel to MacFarlane’s wildly successful Ted will polarize audiences. Viewers will either delight in a cursing, pot-smoking bear talking about sex — or be repulsed that MacFarlane got millions of dollars to make a sequel to this one-note joke. Expect celebrity cameos, silly songs and gross-out humor; Walhberg’s trip to a sperm bank has predictably messy results.
    If you like MacFarlane’s brand of lazy pop-culture reference humor, Ted 2 should make you laugh your stuffing out.
Prospects: Dim • R • 115 mins.

New for the week of June 19

    A bookish high schooler growing up in a tough Inglewood neighborhood, Malcolm (Shameik Moore) doesn’t fit in with students obsessed with drugs, gangs and danger. His dream is to cross the country to go to Harvard, and he works every day to accomplish it.
    In an invitation to a party, he sees a chance to go from loser to cool kid. But as the night spins into a calamitous trip through increasingly illegal situations, Malcolm must decide whether popularity is worth risking his dream. Can he be cool? Or is he on the road to ruin?
    Writer/Director Rick Famuyiwa has made a career out of quirky stories filled with heart. His take on a high school caper should offer great music, laughs and a group of nuanced, interesting characters. Malcolm’s world involves real struggles and dangers that Ferris Bueller never dreamed of.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.
Testament of Youth
    Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) is an extraordinary woman on the brink of an extraordinary career. Breaking gender barriers, she wins a spot at Oxford and prepares to join the class as the only woman. She is supported by her family and fiancé, Roland (Kit Harington).
    But when World War I tears England to pieces, Vera’s plans are put on hold. Her fiancé and brother are both sent to the front lines, and Vera wonders whether she’ll ever see them again. Filled with romantic notions of sacrifice, she leaves Oxford to become a nurse. As she tends to the broken bodies of young men, her notions about service, sacrifice and romance are challenged.
    Based on the beloved memoirs of Brittain, Testament of Youth is a true story about the horrors of war and the triumphs of humanity. Filled with grand romance, tragedy and excitement, the film promises an epic journey from the trenches to the home front. Bring tissues lest your popcorn get soggy.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 129 mins.

New for the week of June 12

Jurassic World
    Two decades after John Hammond’s disastrous preview of Jurassic Park, scientists have figured out how to make his prehistoric theme park work.
    Though the park is a hit, attendance has flagged after 10 years. Corporate wants to draw in more visitors, so they ask scientists to genetically engineer a dinosaur to pack in the people. The solution is Indominus Rex, larger than a T-Rex, smarter and with more teeth.
    Indominus escapes and wants to eat. Workers, dinosaurs, tourists: It’s all the same to Indominus as she munches her way through the island. Will everyone be an appetizer?
    Jurassic Park was a groundbreaking film with a great adventure story and amazing special effects. All of its sequels have suffered from silly effects, atrocious scripts and poor acting. If director Colin Trevorrow wants to break the sequel curse, he’ll need to get creative.
    Does he? I’ll report next week.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 124 mins.

New for the week of June 5

    Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) wants to direct. His choice is a risky movie that requires a lot of money and could bankrupt the studio. His former agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), now the head of the studio, must decide whether to risk big on his former client.
    HBO offers the entire original series on demand, so you don’t have to waste your money on this movie.
Prospects: Pitch Black • R • 104 mins.

I’ll See You in My Dreams
    Widowed and feeling hopeless, singer Carol (Blythe Danner) decides to start over. Best friends Sally (Rhea Perlman), Georgina (June Squibb) and Rona (Mary Kay Place) help her find a new lease on life and a new love interest (Sam Elliott).
    With a great cast and an interesting subject, Director Brett Haley’s feature debut looks like a drama with developed characters and solid writing.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 92 mins.

Insidious Chapter 3
    Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) dislikes being a psychic. It’s intrusive and dangerous. In childhood, she was nearly killed by something lurking in the fog between reality and the spirit world.
    So when Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney) asks her to help his haunted daughter, she refuses. But after a demon leaves Sean’s daughter in tatters, Elise relents.
    A prequel to the popular Insidious films, this horror movie relies on jump scares rather than rising tension.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 97 mins.

Love & Mercy
    Brian Wilson (Paul Dano) is a musical genius with a troubled mind. The driving songwriter behind The Beach Boys, Wilson created some of the most memorable music of the 1960s before succumbing to a psychotic break.
    By the 1980s Wilson (now John Cusack) was a shell of a man under constant psychiatric care and unable to leave home. But when a woman (Elizabeth Banks) enters his life, Wilson begins the arduous journey back.
    The true story of Wilson’s breakdown and recovery, Love & Mercy is earning raves for the performances of Dano and Cusack. It also features a soundtrack that can’t be beaten.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 120 mins.

    When undercover CIA operatives’ identities are compromised, the agency needs someone to stop the leak. The choice is untrained and untested Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), a desk analyst.
    Advised by an agent who believes she’s a disaster (Jason Statham), Cooper will have to improvise to stay alive during her deep cover mission.
    McCarthy has a bad habit of taking roles that are beneath her. Many of her comedies revolve around her weight, hence incompetence. So Spy is a refreshing change of pace with McCarthy as a smart capable woman who needed a chance.
    The real star of Spy, however, might be Statham, who is earning raves for his comedic performance. Whoever you favor expect crude comedy and silly situations.
Prospects: Bright • R • 120 mins.

New for the week of May 29

    A respected military contractor (Bradley Cooper) with a beautiful girlfriend had great prospects until a nervous breakdown derailed his life. Now stable and looking for a second chance, Brian revisits Hawaii, where he experienced some of his greatest moments.
    He seeks out his ex-girlfriend but also finds himself drawn to the young Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to keep an eye on him.
    Have you noticed how often the cinematic solution to men’s problems is a quirky younger woman? Writer/director Cameron Crowe has a knack for soul-searching dialog and complex men, but he too often relies on a pretty woman for an easy fix.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins.

San Andreas
    A massive earthquake along the San Andreas faultline splinters California. Buildings collapse, seas surge into cities and people are left to the mercy of Mother Nature.
    In the wake of the mayhem, rescue pilot Ray (Dwayne Johnson) must save those he can. One of the missing is his daughter.
    If you enjoy watching pretty people watch in awe as the world crumbles around them, San Andreas is the movie for you. Following the Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) school of disaster filmmaking, director Brad Peyton offers his audience epic scenes of destruction — without any emotional stakes. The people in the crumbling buildings are little more than ants, CGI-ed creations to fill out the scene, so it’s hard to care what happens to them. As for the main plot, we know Johnson will find his kid before she dies, so there’s little tension.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 114 mins.

New for the week of May 22

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
    After a lifetime of adventures, Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) isn’t ready for the quiet life. At 100, he absconds out the window of his nursing home with someone else’s money for a final journey.
    Adapted from Jonas Jonasson’s bestselling novel, this film is a quirky caper featuring a fast and loose grasp of history. Think Forrest Gump with more wrinkles.
    A movie like this works only if you have a high tolerance for the absurd. Still, based on a beloved book and featuring the travels of a centenarian, it should be fun.
Prospects: Bright • R • 114 mins.

    Something is wrong with the Bowen household. Eric (Sam Rockwell) and Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) try to ignore the strange occurrences and chalk up their children’s complaints to overactive imaginations. When their youngest daughter disappears into the house, however, the couple must admit that something is amiss.
    Desperate, the Bowens call in experts who explain that they have a poltergeist, a powerful supernatural force bent on destroying them.
    If this sounds familiar, that’s because it was made in 1982 by horror legend Tobe Hooper. This Gil Kenan-directed rehash seems a copy instead of a reinvention. All the famous elements are in place: An ominous static television, a menacing toy clown, even the disembodied voice of a little girl lost to the spirit world. While the original became a classic, this new version will scare only those who’ve never seen the first one.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 93 mins.

    Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) has a flare for science. So when she touches a pin that transports her to an alternate universe filled with innovation and technology, she must learn all she can about the new world. Her search for answers leads her to Frank (George Clooney), a genius inventor who’s become a hermit.
    Frank resists Casey’s curiosity, but soon the teen and the inventor are thrown together when she discovers that both her world and the parallel dimension are threatened.
    A movie about the beauty of science and our responsibility to act as stewards, Tomorrowland touches on topics from global warming to the benefits and drawbacks of technology.
    Can the chemistry between Clooney and Robertson keep audiences invested in a debate on preventing global collapse? Possibly. But director Brad Bird will have to work hard to keep this gorgeous fantasy production from failing under the weight of its subject.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 130 mins.

New for the week of May 15

Mad Max: Fury Road
    After his wife and daughter are killed, Max (Tom Hardy) wanders the post-apocalyptic desert. Roving gangs of mutilated men search for men to kill and women to steal as offerings to their leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).
    Max teams up with a fellow survivor, Furiosa (Charlize Theron), on a quest to reach her childhood home.
    Can they survive the desert and find peace? Or has the whole world gone mad?
    An orgy of insanity, from flame throwing guitars to mutants to women with shaved heads and robotic arms, Mad Max: Fury Road will either be a thrilling action film or a chaotic nightmare, depending on your taste. Directed by George Miller, the man behind the original Mad Max, this is a movie about excess and violence.
    If you were a fan of the Mel Gibson-era films, then Mad Max: Fury Road should be a welcome piece of nostalgia. But if you’re looking for character development and subtlety in between the explosions and rocket launcher guitars, then you’ll find yourself more bewildered than entertained.
Prospects: Bright • R • 120 mins.

Pitch Perfect 2
    Darlings of the à cappella scene, the Barton Bellas are enjoying a high after winning national championships. But their notoriety turns to infamy when a mishap during a performance causes one to inadvertently flash the president as well as a whole audience.
    To regain respect, the Bellas compete in the International À Cappella tournament, which no American group has ever won.
    The sequel to the delightfully daffy Pitch Perfect, director Elizabeth Banks must walk the line between silly and savvy to recapture the magic. With most of the cast returning and even more popular song mash-ups and goofy humor, I’m betting Pitch Perfect 2 will be a great second verse.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 115 mins.

New for the week of May 8

The D Train
    High school wasn’t a happy time for Dan Landsman (Jack Black). A bit of a loser, Dan dreamed of befriending Oliver Lawless (James Marsden), the most popular boy in school. It never worked out, and Dan still wants to prove his worth to those who shunned him.
    Dan plans to be the hero of the high school reunion by getting Oliver Lawless, now a model in LA, back to Pittsburgh. But Lawless may not be the ­golden boy Dan remembers.
    Black is a comedy staple, Marsden the wildcard. Typically a straight man, he is surprisingly adept at comedy. If directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul give him room, Marsden could be the breakout star of the movie.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 97 mins.

Far From the Madding Crowd
    When Bathsheba Everdeen inherits a small fortune, life changes. Instead of needing to marry, she has the luxury of waiting, growing her farm and reveling in her independence.
    Her wild spirit attracts three suitors: earnest sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), dashing soldier Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge) and wealthy landowner William Boldwood (Michael Sheen). If you’ve read a Victorian novel, you know which man is the right choice. Bathsheba must learn the hard way.
    One of the few Thomas Hardy novels that does not end in tragedy, Far From the Madding Crowd is a vaguely feminist oddity among Victorian literature. Director Thomas Vinterberg, one of the Dogma 95 founders, excels at creating complex characters. His natural aesthetic is also suited for Hardy’s pastoral sensibilities.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 119 mins.

Hot Pursuit
    Police officer Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) doesn’t believe in breaking the rules. Her by-the-book attitude has made her professional and personal life hell. When she’s tasked to protect Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara), a free-spirited, sexy witness, the two clash.
    With a drug cartel after Riva, the odd couple goes on the run through Texas. Can they make it to court? Or will they kill each other before the cartel has a chance?
    An unoriginal odd-couple comedy, Hot Pursuit rests on the performances of Witherspoon and Vergara. Both look bored.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 87 mins.

New for the week of May 1

Avengers: Age of Ultron
    Part-time superhero and full-time smart-aleck inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is working on an Artificial Intelligence project that could be used for world peace. When his AI, Ultron (James Spader) decides that world domination is more fun than singing Kumbaya, Tony realizes his mistake.
    To defeat Ultron and save the world, Stark will need to assemble his super hero friends, The Avengers. Tony dons his Iron Man suit to lead Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) on a globe-spanning quest to defeat Ultron.
    Big, loud, dumb and fun, Avengers: Age of Ultron defines excellence in a popcorn flick. But writer/director Joss Whedon is more than a big budget director, so expect dialog to be snappy, action sequences crisp and the plot at least mildly compelling.
    The only problem in the Avengers films is the characters. In a rapidly expanding universe, the cast grows with each film. Thus some characters get shortchanged.
    Already a blockbuster without premiering in North America, Avengers: Age of Ultron is worth the ticket for any fan of comics, action and attractive people in tight clothing.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 141 mins.

Clouds of Sils Maria
    Actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is in a career slump. To rejuvenate her fame, she agrees to join a revival of the play that made her famous — only to learn that she has aged out of the part she originated. Instead of ingénue Sigrid, she will instead be playing withered Helena.
    Stuck in a remote location for rehearsals, Maria faces her insecurities about career, age and relationships. Things get worse when the young American actress (Chloe Grace Moretz) turns out to be a shallow nightmare. With only her faithful assistant (Kristen Stewart) to help her, Maria falls apart.
    With excellent acting and dramatic plot, Clouds of Sils Maria explores the depths of a psyche. Binoche is a reliable actress who loves to peel back the layers to expose her character. And Stewart won a Cesar, the French equivalent of an Oscar, for her work in the film.
Prospects: Bright • R • 124 mins.

New for the week of April 24

The Age of Adaline
    A car accident rendered Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) 29 for life. Eternal youth seems a gift, but after 80 years Adaline finds it a curse. All of her loves die, her children are now older than she by decades and she can’t make new human connections without fear of exposing her secret.
    When Adaline meets Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman), sparks fly. Is this the real thing or another heartache?
Prospects: Dim • Pg-13 • 110 mins.

Ex Machina
    Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) thinks he’s hit the jackpot. The young coder won a trip to meet his company’s CEO and tech wunderkind Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Caleb hopes to pick the brain of an idol and perhaps win a promotion.
    Nathan, however, has other plans. He’s created an artificially intelligent robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) that he wants to test. Caleb is assigned to evaluate Ava and decide whether Nathan has created life or a lifelike machine.
    As Caleb and Ava interact, Caleb grows suspicious of Nathan. Ava tells him that bad things happen on the compound and asks his help to stop Nathan. Can Caleb trust a squirrely tech genius? Or should he trust the most advanced brain man can make?
    An examination of morals, sexism and humanity, Ex Machina is a sci-fi thriller with a brain. Featuring a star-making performance from Vikander as Ava, this film has been generating raves for its creepy acting and mind-bending plot.
Prospects: Bright • R • 108 mins.

Little Boy
    Pepper (Jakob Salvati) has always been small for his age. Teased by his brother and ostracized by the kids at school, Pepper relies on his father, James (Michael Rapaport). They spend hours playing pretend and saving the world.
    Then James is called to serve during WWII. Convinced that he can use his imagination to bring back his father, Pepper decides to prove his magical abilities by moving a mountain.
    Told from the eyes of an eight-year-old, Little Boy is a Christian film about family, love and the power of faith.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

The Water Diviner
    Connor (Russell Crowe) loses all three of his sons to the Battle of Gallipoli. Succumbing to grief, his wife drowns herself. Now alone, Connor leaves his farm to travel to Turkey, where his sons fell in battle.
    An expert water diviner, he hopes to use his skills to find the bodies of his boys to return them to the family farm. Fighting political red tape, the military and more, he discovers that only two of his boys died that fateful day in 1915. Hopeful that one son may still be alive, he undertakes desperate journeys across Turkey.
    The directorial debut of Crowe, The Water Diviner won three Australian Film Institute Awards (The Down Under Oscars), including best picture. A historic epic about faith, hope and the human spirit, this film looks like the R-rated version of Little Boy.
    Crowe can be a fine actor, but recent years have shown that he can’t pick a decent project. The film’s hope is that control returns him to form.
Prospects: Bright • R • 111 mins.

New for the week of April 17

Child 44
    Soviet Russia hasn’t been kind to Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy). When his wife is accused of being a traitor to the regime, Leo loses his position of power in the secret police. Kicked out of Moscow and sent to a small country post, he is in danger of being bored to death.
    Until the bodies start piling up. Children’s bodies.
    Leo finds evidence of a serial killer hunting along the train tracks. But his superiors tell him to drop an investigation that embarrasses the Soviet Union.
    Based on a notorious serial killer’s story, Child 44 is about the monsters who sit behind desks in government buildings. Think of it as a combination of Silence of the Lambs and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Hardy, a reliable leading man, is surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast including Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman and Vincent Cassel.
Prospects: Bright • R • 137 mins.

Monkey Kingdom
    In South Asia, a group of monkeys lives among the ancient ruins of a temple. When a newborn joins the fold, it must learn to adapt to complex social systems.
    A DisneyNature documentary, Monkey Kingdom is the perfect film for young animal lovers. Because Disney presents a sanitized version of nature, you won’t have to worry about scenes of violence or sex. Filtered through the Magic Kingdom, the Wild Kingdom is G-rated.
    If you go this weekend, part of your ticket price will be donated to conservation programs around the world.
Prospects: Flickering • G • 81 mins.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
    Security guard Paul Blart (Kevin James) takes a vacation to Las Vegas with his daughter. Though he’s there to relax, duty calls when a group of baddies tries to take over the hotel.
    A slapstick comedy that wasn’t funny the first time, this sequel is not going to improve. The basic premise is this: Blart is fat and falls down a lot. He also takes himself too seriously, pretending to be a cop, and that’s funny because no one respects security guards.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 94 mins.

True Story
    Disgraced ex-New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) is looking for a way back to respectability. He discovers his way when arrested multiple murderer Christian Longo (James Franco) claims to be Finkel. Intrigued, Finkel goes to see Longo.
    The two form a relationship that threatens Finkel’s marriage and possibly his life.
    True Story is a cat-and-mouse game between two actors, so your evaluation of them will probably color your enjoyment of the film. If you’re a fan, the movie should be a tense ride. If you enjoy twisting whodunits, True Story should be a thrill ride. But if you’re on the fence, True Story might resemble an acting class exercise.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 100 mins.

    During a Skype session, six high school friends get an odd message from a classmate. It’s odd because the classmate died by suicide a year ago. First comes a listing of the high schoolers’ secrets. Then embarrassment turns deadly as one by one the friends drop.
    A found-footage horror film told from the POV of a computer desktop, Unfriended is a new twist on an over-used format. The film is getting good reviews for some genuinely scary sequences, but keep in mind that older viewers might be lost as to just why Skyping is scary.
    If you want to scare a teen into putting down the phone for five minutes, or want to see the reinvention of the found-footage movie, this should be worth the ticket.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 82 mins.

New for the week of April 10

The Longest Ride
    Art student Sophia (Britt Robertson) catches the eye and the cowboy hat of bull rider Luke (Scott Eastwood) at a rodeo. Their chance encounter leads to a passionate affair. Despite their love, their ­divergent worlds strain the fledgling relationship.
    When the couple saves Ira (Alan Alda) from a car wreck, they are drawn into his memories of a past love.
    Can his story inspire them to stay together?
    Based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Longest Ride promises all the author’s signature plot devices, including sappy love speeches and a tragic death. The success of the film relies on the chemistry of the two leads. Robertson and Eastwood (son of legendary squinter Clint) are both attractive, but their connection seems vapid. Can they generate a spark?
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 139 mins.

While We’re Young
    Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) can’t believe they’re adults. Not ready to let go of their youth, the couple feels alienated as their friends have children and settle down.
    Rejecting this form of adulthood, Josh and Cornelia befriend Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) a couple in their 20s. Enchanted by Jamie and Darby’s hipster lifestyle, artistic clothing and free spirits, Josh and Cornelia begin a second youth.
    Can they stay young forever?
    Director Noah Boaumbach is known for biting comedies examining the minutia of life. This reflection on the meaning of adulthood should be funny and poignant.
Prospects: Bright • R • 97 mins.

New for the week of April 3

Danny Collins
    Inspired by a true story, Danny Collins is a dramedy about earning second chances and the difficulty of change.
    In the 1970s, Danny Collins (Al Pacino) was a superstar who filled arenas and had his pick of groupies. Now he’s a has-been who still parties like a rock star.
    An undelivered letter changes his life. It’s a 40-year-old note from John Lennon, advising him to seek peace and balance. Inspired by Lennon’s entreaty, Collins stumbles his way back, seeking love, family and new music.
    It’s been nearly two decades since Pacino abandoned acting in favor of screaming through his roles with bug eyes and wild gesticulations. In case he hasn’t found the volume control, director Dan Fogelman filled the cast with fantastic actors including Annette Benning, Christopher Plummer and Bobby Cannavale.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 106 mins.

Effie Grey
    At 19, Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) has secured a good life by marrying lauded art historian John Ruskin (Greg Wise). By Victorian standards, the marriage is ideal: John is a good provider and well-respected man society. But Ruskin refuses to share a bed with his wife, and Effie grows lonely.
    When painter John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge) shows interest, she must decide whether to risk her reputation and loveless marriage.
    Based on a scandal that swept Victorian society, Effie Grey is a period piece with an eye for modern issues. Scripted by Emma Thompson, the story touches on women’s rights, homosexuality and repression.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 108 mins.

Furious 7
    Do you like cars? Men’s biceps slathered in oil? Watching the same old plot over and over? Then you’ve probably already ordered your tickets for Furious 7.
    Following the death of Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) in Fast & Furious 6, Shaw’s older brother Deckard (Jason Statham) vows to hunt down every member of the Toretto crew.
    Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) team up with cop Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) to protect their families, which will require crashing many cars.
    Buy an extra large box of popcorn and settle in for a mindless ride. I’m looking forward to watching two favorite action charmers — Statham and The Rock — beat the snot out of each other.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 137 mins.

Seymour: An Introduction
    Piano came naturally to Seymour Bernstein. By 15, the prodigy was giving lessons. As an adult, he performed all over the world. His career could have lasted decades had he not stepped away from performance to dedicate his life to teaching the instrument he loved.
    A documentary directed by Ethan Hawke, Seymour: An Introduction profiles the life of an extraordinary man who decided to dedicate his genius to developing the talents of others. A film that celebrates the importance of music in our lives, Bernstein will prompt you to follow your bliss.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 84 mins.

Woman in Gold
    Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is one of Austria’s most treasured art works. To Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), the picture is her aunt’s portrait stolen from her family when the Nazis swept into her home.
    Frustrated in her claim for 60 years, Altmann teams with lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to sue the government of Austria. The trial makes international headlines and dredges up painful memories.
    Based on a true story, The Woman in Gold is, on its surface, yet another historical drama about the evils of Nazis. But with Mirren in the lead, this one could have power.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 109 mins.

New for the week of March 27

Get Hard
    Banker James (Will Ferrell) is convicted of fraud and sentenced to San Quentin. Terrified, he hires a jail tutor to teach him the ropes. Latently racist as well as a convicted felon, James chooses the first black man he sees, Darnell (Kevin Hart), to teach him how to survive.
    Not a thug but happy to take a fool’s money, Darnell devises a prison prep course for James.
    A crude film filled with racial stereotypes, rape jokes and physical comedy, Get Hard is nominally a comedy. The title, a crass sex pun, tells all.
    Hart will likely shout a lot, Ferrell will perform the lost man-child act he hasn’t changed since his SNL days and you will be bored to tears.
Prospects: Dim • R • 100 mins.

    Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) is an alien on the run. A perpetual screw-up, he has so annoyed his own people that they’re chasing him across the universe. When Oh lands on Earth, he befriends Tip (voiced by Rihanna), a girl searching for her mother.
    Through a series of adventures Oh and Tip become friends and learn that being different is a beautiful thing.
    A colorful animated romp, Home promises to be beloved by kids and tolerated by parents. There will be lots of silly humor, a few fun songs and plenty of toy tie-ins.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 94 mins.

Merchants of Doubt
    Do you believe everything you see? A lot of people do. Put a person in a suit, give them an official sounding title and broadcast them on television, and most people will trust what they’re saying.
    A documentary about the ways media experts lie, cheat and spin to make money, Merchants of Doubt is a lesson on not trusting what you see. Investigating the moneymaking industry, Director Robert Kenner concludes that creating panic is the most effective way to keep on the air and earning money.
    Merchants of Doubt will inform and disturb you.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 96 mins.

New for the week of March 20

Do You Believe?
    See faith, love and religion at work in the households of 12 people in this film celebrating the wonders of Christianity. A pastor reaffirms his faith after an encounter with a street corner preacher, an EMT faces a lawsuit after comforting a dying man with the gospel and a homeless mother struggles to provide for her child.
    This anthology of religious parables will likely not convert you. But the choir might find it an enjoyable couple hours of preaching.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 115 mins.

The Gunman
    Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) earned his reputation as a mercenary assassin. A contract to kill a Congolese mining minister leads him to switch jobs as he realizes he was a pawn in a mining company scheme to destabilize the region.
    Now hoping to redeem himself working with an NGO, Terrier returns to The Democratic Republic of Congo. A near escape from the other end of an assassination makes him fear his past is catching up to him.
    Apparently Sean Penn decided Liam Neeson shouldn’t be the only serious actor profiting from a mature career in silly action movies. This film seems well meaning, but geopolitical problems in Congo play third fiddle to Penn’s gun-firing gymnastics.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 115 mins.

    Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is ready for a fight. She’s leading an anti-government resistance to free society and her few surviving loved ones from the tyrannical rule of Jeanine (Kate Winslet).
    This sequel to Divergent and successor to the Hunger Games is aimed at teens and features lots of angst and love. Dystopian teen movies starring powerful women have become a trend, and I’m loath to decry a film that features a strong heroine, even when it’s not otherwise particularly good.
    Except as a two-hour teen distraction.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 119 mins.

New for the week of March 13

    If the shoe fits, you’re probably a princess. At least if you’re Cinderella (Lily James), an orphan who changes her fate with an extreme makeover. But an evil stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and two scheming stepsisters still stand between the abused woman and her prince charming.
    The fairy tale that convinced children everywhere that shoes really do make the outfit, Cinderella is the latest Disney movie to get a reboot focusing on the baddie. Last year’s Maleficent rehabilitated Disney’s most wicked fairy; this year, Cinderella villain Lady Tremane steps into the spotlight. With Blanchett sneering and chewing scenery, Cinderella is a bit player.
    For fans of Blanchett and children who love glass slippers and magic, Cinderella may be worth the ticket. A Frozen cartoon short is part of the package, so little viewers will have a new catchy song to play on repeat before the feature.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 112 mins.

Run All Night
    Hitman Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is the most trusted henchman of mob boss Sean Maguire (Ed Harris). After Conlon’s retirement, he and Maguire remain best friends. Until their sons fight, and Maguire’s ends up dead.
    Seeking vengeance, Maguire will settle for nothing less than the death of Conlon’s son. With the full force of the mob hunting down his kid, Conlon leaves retirement to save him.
    Neeson has made a great second career as an action star, but so far his movies have been pretty rote. Harris may give him a worthy adversary.
    If you love guns, car chases and geri-action movies, Run All Night should be worth the ticket. Otherwise, wait till it joins Neeson’s other action yarns on late-night cable.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 114 mins.

New for the week of March 6

    The police force of the future is a fleet of robots. These perfect peacekeepers become a brutal force for the government, oppressing the people. To overthrow these violent machines, programmer Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) joins a rebel group with larger aims.
    Deon works to reprogram a captured police bot. He christens it Chappie and replaces its programming with a code that allows free thought. Able to make his own decisions, Chappie becomes a childlike friend of the revolution.
    Can he lead the way to a brighter future? Or is he doomed for the scrap heap?
    A marriage of Robocop and Short Circuit, Chappie is director Neill Blomkamp’s latest sci-fi parable. Blomkamp is a visionary, but his dystopian futures can distract him from creating credible plot. If he’s stayed focused, Chappie should be a touching meditation on the power of the human spirit, even encased in a motherboard.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 120 mins.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
    After creating a senior paradise for British ex-pats in India, hotelier Sonny (Dev Patel) expands.
    The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful is full but for one room. When Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) vie for that last room, Sonny is inspired to take a loan to expand his hospitality empire.
    With the help of his tenant/advisor Muriel (Maggie Smith), Sonny hopes to build a Second Exotic Marigold Hotel and plan his wedding. But chaos builds in his life, and Sonny’s guests come to his rescue.
    A popular golden years comedy sequel, The Second Exotic Marigold Hotel is the cinematic equivalent of a pastry: Not very good for you, but delightful to consume. A rote plot is made fun by a cast of Britain’s best, including Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Diana Hardcastle and Ronald Pickup. Their collective charms make up for any deficits of plot or direction.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 122 mins.

Unfinished Business
    Dan (Vince Vaughn) has one chance to make his small business successful: close a big deal with European investors. He gathers his two associates, the inexperienced Mike (Dave Franco) and the jaded Tim (Tom Wilkinson), and heads overseas.
    The trip doesn’t go as planned.
    Sex, drugs and run-ins with the law make Dan’s objectives nearly impossible.
    Can he find bail money and still close the deal?
Prospects: Dim • R • 91 mins.

New for the week of February 27

    Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) is a conman at the top of his game: slick, smart and confident. As a protégé, he trains Jess (Margot Robbie), who has natural talent in seduction and deception. When their training becomes an affair, Nicky gets spooked and sends Jess packing.
    Three years later, Nicky’s working a high-stakes job when he sees her again. Now his life depends on figuring out what angle his former flame is working.
    A romantic thriller with plenty of twists and turns, Focus dares you to figure out who is playing whom. It’s been nearly a decade since Smith has appeared in a good movie, so here’s hoping this breaks the pattern. Robbie is an up-and-coming star who generates natural chemistry with Smith. It should be fun to watch the pair try to out-scheme each other.
Prospects: Bright • R • 104 mins.

The Lazarus Effect
    University researchers Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) are working on a serum to reverse death. Apparently neither has read Frankenstein, because they don’t realize that messing with death is a bad idea.
    They bring a dog back to life, and even though there’s something clearly off about it, they continue their testing. Disaster strikes when Zoe is killed by an electrical shock. Overwhelmed with grief, Frank extends the experiment to her.
    It works. Zoe is revived. But she is not the same, and claims to have been to hell. Now she’s bringing hell to Earth.
    Watch it on cable; it’s not worth the $10 movie ticket.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 83 mins.

New for the week of February 20

Hot Tub Time Machine 2
    Kids discover a hot tub time machine and use it to change their lives. Nick (Craig Robinson) becomes a music mogul by ripping off pop hits before they’re written. With stolen ideas, Jacob (Clark Duke) and Lou (Rob Corddry) become the inventors of tech marvels from the Internet to the iPad.
    When an assailant shoots Lou, the friends use the time machine to find out where their schemes went wrong.
    The sequel to a ridiculously fun family romp, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 should be just as absurd and enjoyable, with pop-culture references, goofy antics and slightly scandalous humor.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 93 mins.

McFarland, USA
    Jim White (Kevin Costner) plans to invigorate the high school sports teams of McFarland, Texas. But in a community so poor, kids work instead of play. Watching a boy run miles to school every day, he imagines starting a cross-country running team.
    The kids are already experienced runners. Equipment costs are low, and practices can be flexible.
    Can these underprivileged teens prove that sportsmanship is about heart, not money?
    Based on a true story, this inspirational sports underdog story could be great in the wholesome vein of Chariots of Fire.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 128 mins.

    Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a happy high school senior with friends and a good social life. So she’s devastated when she discovers that boys refer to her as The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend).
    Not that Whitman looks ugly or fat. She’s a beautiful girl who wears — gasp! — T-shirts and jeans to school.
    To go from DUFF to babe before graduation, Bianca enlists Wesley (Robbie Amell), a callous jock.
    In the grand tradition of most teen makeover films, we’re watching a pretty girl go from casual clothes and minimal makeup to sexy outfits and glamour paint.
    Perhaps The DUFF will have something clever to say about the pressure girls face to be sexy and beautiful even during puberty, but don’t hold your breath. Like most teen comedies, this one seems more aspirational than inspirational. You, too, can look like a model if you skip your homework and spend three hours getting ready in the morning.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 101 mins.

New for the week of February 13

Fifty Shades of Grey
    College Student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) interviews business magnate Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for her school newspaper. An obsessive relationship develops, and sweet, innocent Anastasia is drawn into Christian’s world of money, excess and sex.
    Christian does not do romance or love, and he warns the inexperienced Anastasia that his sexual proclivities might be a bit much for her. Enthralled by the handsome billionaire, Anastasia insists she can be taught.
    If this sounds like the summary of a tawdry romance novel, there’s good reason. It is. Based on bestselling romance novels that brought us bad grammar, insulting characters and lurid portrayal of the BDSM community, Fifty Shades of Grey promises to be as awful on the screen. Leads Dornan and Johnson are devoid of chemistry and heat. Both speak as if they had consumed a handful of sedatives before each scene.
    This is not a date night movie. The relationship borders on abusive, and the sex — which the books were known for — has been watered down to appease the MPAA.
Prospects: Pitch Black • R • 125 mins.
Kingsmen: The Secret Service
    Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a street kid looking forward to a dismal future. Until he catches the eye of Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who asks if he’d like a different life. Hart is a member of the Kingsmen, a British spy group dedicated to protecting queen and country. Think of them as a squad of bespoke James Bonds.
    Though vastly different from the other Kingsmen recruits, Eggsy finds that he might just be suited for the life of a gentleman spy. If he can earn a spot in the highly competitive organization.
    Based on comic books, Kingsmen: The Secret Service is an action yarn with wry humor. All of the spies have Arthurian code names, and much is made of the upper-crust nature of agents who fight but never muss their suits. Director Matthew Vaughn is known for combining wit and action, so this film should entertain those who enjoy a raised eyebrow and a hail of bullets.
Prospects: Bright • R • 129 mins.

New for the week of February 6, 2015

Jupiter Ascending
    Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) dreams of more than cleaning toilets. Constantly down on her luck, Jupiter can’t help but think she’s meant for something more. She’s proven right when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered alien, arrives searching for the heir to the Earth.
    It turns out that Jupiter is actually a princess and the true ruler of the planet, which has been used as a galactic mine. It’s up to Caine to keep Jupiter safe until she takes her rightful place among the stars.
    When a big blockbuster is delayed until February, as Jupiter Ascending was, typically it means that the studio is attempting to cut its losses. With an overly complex story and a cast that looks just as lost as the audience will be, Jupiter Ascending is more likely to disappoint than enthrall. Directed by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (the team that brought us one excellent Matrix film and two abysmal sequels), Jupiter should be visually stunning and mentally draining.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 127 mins.

Seventh Son
    Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) has dedicated his life to protecting humanity from the supernatural. His greatest accomplishment was locking evil witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) away in an enchanted prison.
    When Malkin breaks out, Gregory has only days to find and train a new apprentice before the world is plunged into eternal darkness.
    Apparently Jeff Bridges has big car and house payments. That is the only plausible explanation for why he continues to squander his talent on ridiculous movies. At least Moore has the decency to look embarrassed about her part in this ridiculous fantasy adventure.
    The lack of coherent script and uninteresting special effects should make this a low-budget affair, despite $15 to $20 for a ticket to this 3D dud.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 102 mins.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
    Nefarious pirate Burger-Beard (voiced by Antonio Banderas) searches for a magical book that makes anything written in its pages a reality. To get the final page of the book and use its magic for evil, Burger-Beard must raid a pineapple under the sea, otherwise known as SpongeBob SquarePants’ house.
    SpongeBob’s home destroyed and his town thrown into anarchy, what’s to do but lead a group onto land to retrieve the page and restore order.
    Can these sea creatures survive among the landlubbers?
    The SpongeBob Movie should keep little ones giggling as they eat their popcorn. Whether adults find the film funny depends entirely on how humorous you find animated posteriors, sea puns and a scenery-chewing Banderas. SpongeBob’s devout following should guarantee a good box office even if the movie looks mind-numbingly dull for anyone over the age of 12.
Prospects: Silly • PG • 93 mins.

New for the week of January 28, 2015

Black Sea
    Captain Robinson (Jude Law) has dedicated his life to the sea without much reward. Laid off, he takes a job commissioned by a private banker.
    At the bottom of the Black Sea is a submarine laden with Nazi gold. Robinson and crew must dive into the depths and retrieve the treasure. But the mission turns into a fight for survival as the sailors turn murderous for the sake of fewer, larger shares of the bounty.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.

Black or White
    Elliot (Kevin Costner) fights to raise his bi-racial granddaughter Eloise (Jillian Estell). However, Eloise’s black grandmother Rowena (Octavia Spencer) wants the child raised in a community sensitive to her cultural heritage.
    Costner and Spencer are both capable actors, but I am skeptical of any movie whose characters solve a racial problem in two hours.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 121 mins.

The Loft
    Five married friends plan to cheat on their wives, renting a penthouse as the staging ground for their liaisons.
    Their plan goes awry when they discover the mutilated body of a woman in their bachelor pad. None admits to knowing her, and none wants to ruin his marriage by going to the police. As the men try to cover up the crime, they begin to suspect each other, and tensions rise to violence.
    This movie has been languishing on a studio shelf for years, which is not a great sign. Worse, it was released in January, where most studios burn off their bad bets.
Prospects: Dim • R • 108 mins.
Project Almanac
    High school pals find plans for a time machine and attempt to build it. To their amazement, the machine works. Now in control of time, they use the machine the way any teenagers would: They get revenge on their bullies, hook up with cute classmates and win the lottery.
    Their time-traveling spree, however, has serious consequences. Planes fall from the sky, natural disasters devastate the planet and friends start to disappear. Can they fix the timeline?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 106 mins.

Still Alice
    Linguistics professor Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) first forgets words, then routines. When forgetfulness affects her work, she sees a doctor, getting the diagnosis everyone dreads: early-onset Alzheimer’s.
    As the disease progresses, Alice seeks ways to cling to her memories and relationships.
    This is obviously not going to be a movie with a happy ending, so remember to pack tissues or stock up on napkins at the concession stand. Moore has earned rave reviews for a heartbreaking performance that is likely to win an Oscar.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 101 mins.

New for the week of January 23, 2015

The Boy Next Door
    Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) needs to be noticed. The teacher’s confidence is shaken by her divorce. Raising her son, teaching and fixing up her house fill her days.
    Claire’s humdrum life is interrupted when Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door. He’s young, handsome and enamored with her. She knows he’s too young, but she’s lonely and consents to an affair.
    As often happens in movies, things go spectacularly wrong real quickly. Noah turns out to be her new student and a stalker. Claire risks not only losing her job but also going to jail and endangering her family.
    A Lifetime movie with a bit more swearing, The Boy Next Door exemplifies one of the few times sexism works in women’s favors. If the genders were reversed and it were George Clooney seducing a teenage girl, this film would be renounced as utterly creepy. But since JLo is a pretty woman, she can get away with statutory rape.
    If you’ve got to see it, wait a few months for its certain appearance on basic cable within the year.
Prospect: Dim • R • 91 mins.

    Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is a man of varied interests. An art dealer and rake, he is a man about town, fop and adventurer. Tasked by MI5 with recovering a stolen painting that is the key to finding a cache of Nazi gold, Mortdecai and his manservant undertake a globe-trekking journey that will lead to peril and possibly money.
    Based on a zany book series, Mortdecai is supposed to be a madcap spy thriller with hints of Upstairs/Downstairs humor. But Depp’s recent cinematic choices prove that he lacks the restraint to make a good film. Humor in this one seems based solely on Depp’s mustache.
Prospects: Dim • R • 106 mins.

Strange Magic
    In an enchanted bog, fairies, elves, imps, goblins and other mystical beings race to get a magical potion that could change the fate of their land.
    It has been a long time since the phrase “from the mind of George Lucas” has inspired anything but dread in this reviewer. Strange Magic’s origin in A Midsummer Night’s Dream does nothing to assuage my fear that he is continuing his trend of ruining classic stories.
    Much like the newest Star Wars films, Strange Magic promises a technologically superior movie with an unoriginal story. The cute creatures and colorful animation might distract younger viewers, but adults shouldn’t expect a story worthy of its source.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 99 mins.

New for the week of January 16, 2015

    Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) is a dangerous man on the Internet. In prison for an Internet heist gone wrong, the hacking genius sees an opportunity for release: catching a cyber terrorist targeting nuclear reactors.
    This will be a film filled with furious typing. Can director Michael Mann bring tension to keyboarding?
    Plus, there’s Hemsworth’s credibility as a hacker. Can the man behind the Avengers’ Norse god be taken seriously as a coding genius?
Prospects: Flickering • R • 135 mins.

    An Anglophile young bear from Peru (voiced by Ben Whishaw) packs a bag and journeys to London. Hopelessly lost in Paddington Station, he is rescued by the Brown family.
    Now christened Paddington, the bear must learn to adjust to life in the city. Just as he is beginning to acclimate, the talking bear attracts the unwanted attention of a taxidermist (Nicole Kidman).
    Based on the beloved children’s stories about the talking bear who loves marmalade and snappy dressing, Paddington should delight smaller moviegoers. Clever writing and an appealing cast — which features Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent — should keep adults entertained as well.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 95 mins.

The Wedding Ringer
    Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a loner who plans to marry. Embarrassed to admit that he doesn’t have a wedding party to fill out his side of the aisle, he hires a ringer.
    Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) is a professional friend. His company, Best Man Inc., provides the friendless with a fake entourage, Jimmy is a professional, but he isn’t prepared for Doug, whose awkward clumsiness attracts chaos.
    Can both men survive the wedding week?
    Expect outrageous situations and silly slapstick but not great writing or originality.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 101 mins.

New for the week of January 9, 2015

    A powerful biopic about the most famous face of the Civil Rights Movement, Selma is one of the most important films of the year. Instead of trying to cram the entirety of Dr. King’s life into the movie, director Ava DuVernay wisely chooses to focus on three months that lead from Selma, Alabama, to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
    David Oyelowo has earned raves and award show notice for his performance as Dr. King. In the current political climate, the film’s message of respect and peace is especially timely. Whether you remember the marches on Selma or read about it in text books, Selma is essential viewing.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 127 mins.

Taken 3
    Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is framed for the death of his wife, when in fact the murder was retaliation for Mills’ brutal take down of an Eastern European mob. Yet again, Mills worries that his daughter will be the next target. So he goes on the offensive, vowing to kill every member of the mob before they can harm his little girl.
    Taken was an amusing diversion that introduced Neeson as a credible action star. Taken 2 was a silly rehash. The third installment promises guns, explosions and lots of shots of Neeson growling threats.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 109 mins.

New for the week of January 2, 2015

Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death
    Why are creepy old houses so irresistible to movie characters? Would you spend the night in a dilapidated house filled with scary toys?
    Orphans fleeing the Blitzkrieg attacks in London take refuge in Eel Marsh House. Bad choice. In Victorian days, it housed a vengeful but now-forgotten ghost who kills children.
    Now, the ghost returns.
    The sequel to a decent Victorian-style chiller, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death does not have the promise of its predecessor. The plot is stupid, and it lacks the acting power of Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer and Daniel Radcliffe.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 98 mins.

New for the week of December 25, 2014

Big Eyes
    Walter Keane’s (Christoph Waltz) distinctive painting style made him a household name in the 1950s. Keane reinvented the art business, selling prints, postcards and other affordably priced knickknacks featuring adorable people with exaggerated eyes.
    The real secret to Keane’s success was his wife Margaret (Amy Adams), who allowed her husband to take credit for her work, believing that a woman’s paintings wouldn’t sell as well.
    When the Keane marriage unravels, the con is revealed. Will Margaret get recognition? Or will the revelation destroy her business?
    A compelling true story about art, love and sexual politics, Big Eyes promises director Tim Burton’s return to legitimate film. It’s been over a decade since Burton made his last competent live-action film, and for a while it seemed the director and his frequent collaborator Johnny Depp were content to continue ruining each other’s careers.
    Big Eyes is a welcome escape from Burton’s typically gothic style and features great performances. The big question: Can Burton keep this quirky film from drifting into melodrama?
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 105 mins.

The Gambler
    English professor Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is passionate for more than literary analysis. His first love is high-stakes poker. When he borrows from a local gangster and loses big, he must find the money to save his life.
    Wahlberg is a very specific type of actor. That type is not very good. When paired with a strong director, he can grunt, furrow his brow and occasionally speak with a semblance of human emotion. He’s never done particularly well playing intellectuals, so be prepared to hear him mangle a few author names as he phones in yet another performance.
    Though Wahlberg isn’t a draw, director Rupert Wyatt wisely stacks the deck with a dream ensemble. Brie Larson, Jessica Lange, Michael K. Williams, George Kennedy and John Goodman all show up to distract us from a Wahlberg performance. The big question: Does this gamble pay off?
Prospects: Dim • R • 111 mins.

Into the Woods
    Be careful what you wish for, or you might end up singing about it.
    Cinderella, the Baker and his Wife, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack all have dreams. To pursue them, each character must enter the woods and face peril. Will a wish granted bring happiness or despair to the fairytale crowd?
    This adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s well-loved fractured fairytale musical features one great performance and a lot of mediocre singing. As a witch who stirs trouble more often than cauldrons, Meryl Streep is at her vampy best. She sings, she sneers, she whirls into scenes like a glamorous Tasmanian devil. The rest of the cast tries to keep up, but they seem under Streep’s spell.
    Broadway aficionados will notice that Sondheim’s lyrics have been altered to make the songs acceptable for a Disney audience. The change doesn’t matter much, as director Rob Marshall’s perfunctory adaptation offers nothing to make the movie worth your while.
Fair Musical • PG-13 • 124 mins.

New for the week of December 19

    The tale of the little orphan who could gets a modern remix in this adaptation of the musical Annie.
    Foster child Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) believes that her parents will one day rescue her. Under the thumb of the cruel Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), Annie and her fellow foster kids lead the hard-knock life. Then a chance encounter with mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jaime Foxx) gives Annie her escape. Stacks takes her in as a photo prop to help him in the polls. Though he intends the arrangement as temporary, Stacks and his staff fall for the charming orphan.
    Wallis has proven herself a pint-sized powerhouse with her astounding performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild. But the rest of the cast lacks her promise. Diaz has proven time and again that she’s a dismal singer, so it’s maddening that she gets one of the musical’s most beloved songs to ruin.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 118 mins.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    The final installment of The Hobbit series finds Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his dwarf friends on the verge of a bloody battle. Dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) intends to wage war to win back his throne.
    Complicating matters is Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), a gold-loving dragon.
    At this point, you’ve either given Peter Jackson $30 to watch his first two bloated, boring Hobbit films, or you’ve hidden from this series like Gollum. The movies feature fantastic effects, rote characters and a story so stretched that you can feel Jackson stalling. This time, his stall is a 45-minute battle sequence that should be visually stunning and completely satisfying — as long as he keeps the dialog to a minimum.
    If you’re a dedicated Tolkien fan, you might as well cough up the final $15 and finish the series. If you’ve managed to avoid the Hobbit films, save your money and stay home secure in the knowledge that you’ve saved roughly nine hours of precious time.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 144 mins.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
    It’s running out, the magic that has brought the Smithsonian’s exhibits to life as soon as the museum closes every night. Security guard and de facto caretaker, Larry (Ben Stiller) gets to solve the problem.
    There seem to be answers in London, so Larry and some special exhibits pack for a trip.
    The final installment of the Night at the Museum series, this is also one of Robin Williams’ final films.
    If you’ve got a group of kids to entertain, a movie featuring broad humor and a monkey is probably a good bet.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 97 mins.

New for the week of December 12

Exodus: Gods and Kings
    Pharaoh Rhamses (Joel Edgerton) grew up with adopted brother Moses (Christian Bale) his closest companion. Though Moses is a Jew, his status as a member of the royal family has saved him from slavery. As Moses grows, he can no longer turn a blind eye to Rhamses’ mistreatment of the Jews.
    Bolstered by God, Moses leads a rebellion. Rhamses in turn vows to exterminate his traitor brother and the Jews. Now, Moses and Rhamses will find out who is more powerful: the Pharaoh or Jehovah.
    Based on the Bible story, Exodus: Gods and Kings has already stirred a controversy. Director Ridley Scott chose to cast white actors as the principal characters and black actors as slaves. The casting choices are odd and insensitive but hardly new. Hollywood has a long history of skipping over actors of color.
    If you’ve wondered what the Ten Commandments would look like if Batman replaced Charlton Heston, Exodus: Gods and Kings will be worth the ticket. But if you’re uninterested in watching two men shout lines from a well-known story across vast CGI landscapes for two and a half hours, consider catching this drama on cable.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 150 mins.

Top Five
    Andre Allen (Chris Rock) is known for his biting standup comedy. He successfully transitioned from comic to actor, starring in a string of hit comedies. Now, Allen wants to take the step to dramatic star.
    Before he can make the conversion, he’s got to do a press tour. One reporter (Rosario Dawson) questions Allen’s career, making him rethink his abandoning comedy and his roots.
    Written, directed and starring Rock, Top Five is an incisive comedy about race, the entertainment industry and fame. Rock has earned raves for the film, earning comparisons to Woody Allen. Featuring some of the most influential names in comedy — including Whoopi Goldberg, Cedrick the Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Romany Malco and Sherri Shepherd — Top Five should afford plenty of laughs as well as some razor-sharp observations on race in America.
Prospects: Bright • R • 101 mins.

New for the week of December 5

The Pyramid
    Archeologists hope to dig into the mysteries of a recently discovered Egyptian pyramid rumored cursed. As they plunge into the ancient structure, they are so excited by their discoveries that they fail to realize they’ve become lost.
    Desperately retracing their steps, the scientists realize that something is hunting them as they wander booby-trapped corridors.
    The Pyramid is a reboot of classic Egyptian horror movies with more computer graphics, fewer extras dressed as mummies. Expect lots of jump scares, silly dialog and phenomenally poor decision making from a group of PhDs.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 89 mins.
    After the death of her mother, Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) spirals out of control. Drugs, affairs and deep depression rend her marriage. To make a life change, she takes time off to find herself, committing to hike 1,100 miles of the West Coast. Along the way, she confronts the grief she’s been hiding from and learns to ask for help.
    Witherspoon has been a frontrunner in the Oscar race since the announcement of this movie. A one-woman show that allows her to run the gamut of emotions, Wild is based on a bestselling autobiography.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.
Zero Motivation
    A group of Israeli women serving in a military unit count down the seconds until they can return to the comforts of civilian life. No commandoes, these soldiers spend most of their time in offices, finding creative ways to avoid work.
    This Israeli comedy about the boring everyday life of soldiers was a hit in its native land.
Prospects: Bright • NR • 100 mins.

New for the week of November 28

Horrible Bosses 2
    After successfully getting revenge on their bosses, Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) remain dissatisfied with their working lives. To reap the rewards of their hard work, they start their own company.
    Naturally they are duped by a nefarious businessman, and their million-dollar idea is stolen. Broke, angry and desperate, they decide to get even. The plan is to kidnap the investor’s adult son (Chris Pine) for ransom. When their plan goes spectacularly wrong, the three friends have to scramble to come out on top.
    The sequel to the crude yet funny Horrible Bosses, this film will be more slapstick. It is not the movie for grandma and the kids after Thanksgiving dinner.
    Day, Bateman and Sudeikis are a great team and play well off each other. But the plot looks absurd, even for a comedy.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 108 mins.

Penguins of Madagascar
    Four penguins leave their families for adventure and join The North Wind, an animal undercover agency. Their assignment is to stop Dr. Brine from destroying the world.
    How? Well, that’s classified.
    A prequel featuring the funniest characters from the Madagascar series should have plenty of family friendly laughs and silly humor.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 92 mins.

New for the week of November 21

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I
    After dismantling the Hunger Games and gaining acclaim as a figure of rebellion throughout Panem, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has gone into hiding. Recovering in District 13, which was thought destroyed, she finds a vast resistance waiting to take up arms against the oppressive Capital. Naturally, she is recruited to be the symbol of the rebellion.
    Based on the bestselling series of young-adult novels, Mockingjay is the end to the Hunger Game series, which means, of course it must be split into two movies to maximize profit for the studio. Unfortunately, Mockingjay was also the weakest entry in the book series, with ridiculous plot twists and a lackluster ending.
    Can the studio improve on the disappointing book?
    It’s not a common occurrence, but this film has a chance. Its odds rise with a great cast, including Oscar winners Lawrence and Philip Seymour Hoffman, plus Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland and Jeffery Wright.
    Don’t go expecting resolution. Part I is sure to be a cliffhanger so you’ll be back in line with your $15 next year when the series concludes.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 123 mins.

The Theory of Everything
    Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is working toward his PhD at Cambridge University when he falls in love with fellow doctoral candidate Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Promising career and romance are both thrown for a loop when Hawking is diagnosed at 21 with a neurological disease expected to kill him in his youth.
    Hawking chooses to fight for life. With Jane’s help, he triumphs over time and circumstances, becoming a world-renowned scientist.
    Films that attempt to capture the life of an extraordinary figure often spread themselves too thin. Hawking’s scientific breakthroughs in the face of his debilitating disease would fill two hours. Adding a grand romance assures skimpy treatment for both themes.
    Redmayne has earned universal praise. He’s an Oscar frontrunner for both his transformative performance and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ fondness for biopics about famous people with physical afflictions.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 123 mins.

New for the week of November 14

Beyond the Lights
    Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the biggest chart-topper in music, is feeling the pressures of fame.
    Her instant attraction to Kaz (Nate Parker), a police officer on her security team, leads the pair into an intense relationship. Noni’s management is unhappy about their star’s distraction, and Kaz’s friends worry that Noni will hurt his political aspirations.
    Can their love work in spite of their careers? Or is it impossible to hit the right note?
    The plot of this love story could be fodder for a Lifetime movie. But writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who directed the beautiful Love and Basketball, is an old hand at turning seeming clichés into masterworks. She has a strong lead in Mbatha-Raw, who impressed critics with her period turn in Belle earlier this year.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 116 mins.

Dumb and Dumber To
    Not much has changed since we last checked in with Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey). Still a pair of dolts who delight in pranks and willful ignorance of their surroundings, the duo now has a mission: Finding Harry’s long-lost daughter.
    If they do, will they ruin her life?
    A sequel 20 years in the making, Dumb and Dumber To features the same cast, the same directors and pretty much the same jokes. This latest Farrelly Brothers comedy is likely to prove that the director brothers should have stopped making movies around 2004.
    If you enjoy watching Jeff Daniels fall down and listening to Jim Carrey make ear-piercing noises, please send me an email, because I would love to meet the one person who wanted a sequel to the dismal Dumb and Dumber.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 110 mins.

    Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal) was born in Iran. Returning to his homeland to cover the election between Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he finds unrest. Unhappy with the results of the election, which many believe to be falsified, Iranians take to the streets to protest.
    Sensing a story, Bahari films the protests and sends the footage to global news networks. Police arrest him. For 118 days, a man who calls himself Rosewater interrogates and tortures Bahari. Meanwhile his wife leads a campaign to bring him home.
    Based on a true story, Rosewater is a current-events drama about the strength of the human spirit. The film also marks the directorial debut of Jon Stewart, of Daily Show fame.
Prospects: Bright • R • 103 mins.

New for the week of November 7

Big Hero 6
    Teen robotics genius Hiro (Ryan Potter) isn’t sure what to do with his life. When his brother Tadashi, also a robotics prodigy, dies, Hiro inherits Tadashi’s last project: an inflatable robot named Baymax. Programmed to help the injured, Baymax becomes Hiro’s constant companion.
    When the duo discovers a nefarious plot afoot in San Fransokyo, they need reinforcements. Recruiting Tadashi’s old college buddies, Hiro creates a squad of tech-savvy heroes itching to do good.
    Based on the popular Marvel comic, Big Hero 6 is a movie about more than beating the baddies to a pulp. Dealing with grief, finding your place and embracing new family are heavy themes that might be too much for younger viewers. Still, the star is a giant inflatable robot who likes cats.
    Disney has had an animation renaissance of late, producing two quality films (Frozen and Wreck it Ralph) that brought in big bucks. Here’s hoping Big Hero 6 continues the tradition of family entertainment that enchants little ones and involves adults.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 108 mins.

    The Earth can no longer sustain life. After years of environmental abuse, the planet is devolving into an arid rock. Extinction is only a matter of time — until scientists discover a rip in space-time.
    A team is assigned to treck into the tear, exploring the far side of the universe to find a planet that can sustain human life.
    A sci-fi epic with eco-friendly messages, Interstellar is an ambitious piece of filmmaking. Three Oscar winners — Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine and Matthew McConaughey — should lend great performances to the sweeping narrative. Christopher Nolan is a capable director, and visuals should be stunning; this is a film that may be worth the IMAX upcharge. On the other hand, Nolan tends to self-serious, over-long films. His cleverness and technical proficiency sometimes stand in for heart and humanity.
    As an environmental parable that clocks in at more than two and a half hours, Interstellar could be a punishing slog if you’re not invested in the material.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 169 mins.

    Megan (Keira Knightley) isn’t quite ready to be an adult. When her boyfriend pops the question, she flees. Desperate to forget that she’s approaching 30 with no goals accomplished, she befriends 16-year-old Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz).
    Megan wants to crash with the high schooler while she figures out a few things. Annika is fine with the plan, but her father (Sam Rockwell) is concerned that a grown woman rooms with his daughter.
    If Megan’s journey seems familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it 1,000 times before in indie movies with alternative rock soundtracks and unoriginal scripts.
    The film lives or dies on the promise of its actors. Knightly, Moretz and Rockwell are unrelentingly charming, but will their comely figures distract from the hackneyed story?
Prospects: Flickering • R • 99 mins.

    Andrew (Miles Teller) can lay down beat with the best of them. The most talented drummer at his music academy, he attracts the attention of Professor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher is the best instructor in the school, but he uses physical and mental abuse to get results.
    Andrew and Fletcher clash over music and life. Are Fletcher’s hard-knock lessons a jealous man’s way of stomping out a young talent?
    A forceful drama with great performances, Whiplash is a study of whether greatness can be achieved without insanity. Teller and Simmons are earning raves and awards buzz for their visceral performances as two men unable to settle for anything less than perfection.
Prospects: Bright • R • 107 mins.

New for the week of October 31

Before I Go to Sleep
    Christine (Nicole Kidman) goes to bed in her 20s and wakes up in her 40s. Once the shock wears off, Ben (Colin Firth) introduces himself as her husband, explaining that a head trauma has affected her memory. Every night, her brain resets and she loses any information she’s learned that day.
    While Ben’s at work, Christine discovers a recording she made. Don’t trust Ben, the video implores. Before she loses her memories and possibly her life, she must try to ferret out what happened all those years ago.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 92 mins.

    Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton, Tim Burton’s Batman) was famous for his portrayal of superhero Birdman. Now he’s a joke respected only for a pair of movies he made decades ago. To reinvent himself as a serious stage actor, Thomas has gone for broke, financing a Broadway drama.
    With opening night looming, he deals with one disaster after another. As pressure mounts, his inner voice becomes increasingly like Birdman.
Prospects: Bright • R • 119 mins.

    Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras began receiving troubling emails in 2013. Signed Citizenfour, they made wild-seeming claims about illegal NSA surveillance on U.S. citizens. Convinced the story could be true, Poitras flies to Hong Kong in hopes of meeting Citizenfour — who she’s identified as Edward Snowden.
Prospects: Bright • R • 114 mins.

    Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a self-styled crime journalist in Los Angeles, filming deadly accidents, smoldering fires and bloody crime scenes.
    Not content to wait for crime reports to come in, Bloom takes to the streets. As he skids down this slippery slope, the police wonder if this diligent cameraman is more than an observer.
    A morally ambiguous thriller, Nightcrawler examines tabloid culture and easily bent ethics. In it, Gyllenhaal extends his characterization of half-crazed oddballs.
Prospects: Bright • R • 117 mins.

    Two men wake up shackled in a dingy bathroom. Their only hope? Two saws on the floor next to them. Who will make the chop? Will it make a difference?
    Ten years after a clever concept spawned seven dismal sequels, there’s not much to celebrate about Saw.
Prospects: Dim • R • 103 mins.

New for the week of October 24

John Wick
    A couple of thugs break into a man’s house, kill his dog, leave him for dead and take the beautiful car they came for.
    But the thugs’ victory is temporary, as they picked the worst possible target for their crime spree.
    A former assassin, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) retired from the murder business. Now a widower tired of his quiet life, he’s ready for revenge.
    Reeves has always been best with physical roles, so this movie may be just what the doctor ordered to revitalize his career.
Prospects: Bright • R • 101 mins.

    When a friend dies playing with a Ouija board, a group of buddies seek answers in the spirit world. They begin futzing with the Ouija board, and suddenly they’ve met a spirit. It is not Casper the friendly ghost.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 89 mins.

St. Vincent
    Recently divorced Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) is doing her best. Working long hours to support her family means leaving son Oliver at home alone. In desperation, she asks neighbor Vincent (Bill Murray) to help out.
    Vincent is no one’s first choice for a babysitter. He drinks, gambles and makes everyone miserable. His plan to teach Oliver how to be a man involves hard work, alcohol and trips to a strip club.
    Any movie where Bill Murray plays a drunken reprobate has promise. Expect St. Vincent to be a comedy with a heart of gold pulled off by two of the most popular comedians in modern cinema.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 102 mins.

New for the week of October 17

The Best of Me
    Dawson (James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) were high school sweethearts driven apart by fate and tragedy. When they meet 20 years later at a funeral for a friend, their affair rekindles.
    The Best of Me is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, which guarantees three things: The characters will be boring, the dialog flowery to the point of nausea and a tragic death or three will provide emotional punch. In the pantheon of saccharin writers, Sparks is perhaps the most successful of the modern era.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 117 mins.

The Book of Life
    Manolo (Diego Luna) is desperately in love with Maria (Zoe Saldana). To win her heart, he must compete with village hero Joaquin (Channing Tatum). But just when things are looking up for Manolo, disaster strikes. He wakes up in the land of the dead, a skeleton among the calavera.
    Can love conquer all?
    A gloriously animated family film, The Book of Life earns a recommendation for the gorgeous, intricate designs that proliferate the movie. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this film promises to be a visual feast, and in spite of the skulls shouldn’t be too daunting for younger viewers.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 95 mins.

    In April of 1945, the Allies have the Axis forces on the run. As the Allies make their final bloody charge toward victory, a Sherman tank crew comes to the fore.
    The tank is crewed by Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) and his team. After a trusted member is lost, the crew is assigned an inexperienced gunner who freezes under fire. Now they are outnumbered and out-gunned.
    Fury has a mixed bag of talent including Pitt, who is more entertaining in his post-heartthrob days, the always-excellent Michael Pena and solid character actor Jon Bernthal. The film also features troubled actor Shia LaBeouf, who vacillates between terrible and mildly annoying.
    If writer/director David Ayer’s ensemble can make it as a team, Fury should be a thrilling WWII flick with plenty of action and noble speeches. But if it fails, 134 minutes is an awfully long time to be stuck in a tank.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 134 mins.

Men, Women & Children
    Put down your phone and pay attention.
    Men, Women & Children is a film that explores how instant communication has changed American life for better or worse. A series of vignettes examine how our social media obsession has affected our relationships, self-esteem and interactions.
    If this film feels familiar, that’s probably because 2012’s Disconnect had essentially the same plot. It’s an interesting concept but one difficult to explore cinematically. Watching teens text isn’t particularly exciting, and it’s hard to weave together a coherent plot that doesn’t seem ridiculous or alarmist.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 115 mins.

New for the week of October 10

    Zoe Reynard (Sharon Leal) wants for nothing. She has a great career, beautiful children and a devoted husband. But she longs for danger and takes a walk on the wild side that she may not survive.
    Based on Maryland novelist Zane’s bestselling potboiler, Addicted is a titillating thriller featuring steamy scenes and lots of twists. It’s also a good step to getting more diverse offerings at the local box office.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 105 mins.

Alexander and the Terrible, ­Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
    When you wake up with a wad of gum in your hair, your day is off to a bad start. For young Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) this is the start of a day in which nothing seems to go right.
    Unfortunately, the rest of the Cooper clan is experiencing a similar streak of bad luck. Facing their own spate of problems, they realize they must band together to survive this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
    Based on the beloved children’s book, this family comedy may overwhelm adults with silly humor, but it’s sure to keep younger viewers giggling.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 81 mins.

Dracula Untold
    When a rival lord threatens his peaceful kingdom Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) knows he must go to war. Outnumbered and facing defeat, Vlad makes a desperate choice: trading his soul for the safety of his family and subjects.
    Vlad becomes Dracula, a vampire who boasts immense power but can no longer live out his life with his family.
    Beyond a new spin on the Dracula origin tale and flocks of bats flying in fist formation, the movie looks like it should remain Untold.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 92 mins.

The Judge
    Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a successful lawyer defending the rich and famous. When his father, a judge, is accused of murder, Palmer leaves his practice to return to his small home town.
    Convinced of his father’s innocence, Hank offers his services. But when the judge (Robert Duvall) refuses. Hank must battle the legal system and his cantankerous father to save the day.
    The best hope for this movie lies in the cast, which includes Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio and Billy Bob Thornton as well as Downey and Duvall.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 141 mins.

Kill the Messenger
    Journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) is on the hunt for a great story. But is the scoop of a lifetime worth his life?
    As he investigates the CIA link in America’s crack craze, agents tail him, drug dealers want to silence him and his family is in mortal danger.
    Based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning Webb, Kill the Messenger is a historic thriller with a solid actor leading the cast.
Prospects: Bright • R • 112 mins.

Meet the Mormons
    To combat negative publicity, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered the film business. This documentary chronicles the lives and service to the church of six devout Mormons.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 78 mins.

New for the week of October 3

    The Forms are a happy couple expecting a baby girl and decorating her nursery. Husband Jim completes the décor with Annabelle, a huge white doll with a porcelain face. When satanic cultists break into the house, the centerpiece of their baby’s room becomes a conduit for evil.
    This prequel to The Conjuring will give you good reason to throw out your toy collection.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 98 mins.

Gone Girl
    Everyone wants a marriage like Amy (Rosamund Pike) and Nick’s (Ben Affleck). They’re beautiful, successful and deliriously happy.
    Until Amy disappears.
    Based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel, Gone Girl is a domestic thriller that will make even the happiest couples glance at their beloved with a bit of suspicion.
Prospects: Bright • R • 149 mins.
Hector and the Search for Happiness
    Psychiatrist Hector (Simon Pegg) is stuck in a rut, so he leaves his practice to trek around the world.
    I find the trope of rich white people learning from impoverished third-world people to appreciate the simple things distasteful at best, racist at worst. I’m sure this movie has the best of intentions, but it seems like a superficial look at a real problem. What if you can’t afford to quit your job and fly to China to demand enlightenment?
Prospects: Dim • R • 114 mins.

Left Behind
    The Rapture removes millions of people from Earth without a trace. For the pour souls left behind, chaos rules. Planes fall from the sky; driverless cars cause massive crashes. Survivors huddle in the dark after the electricity goes out. In this terrifying new order, Rayford Steele (Nicholas Cage) leads a small band of survivors on a quest for redemption.
    Based on the bestselling novels, Left Behind is a Christian parable with the heart of an action movie. But it’s been well over a decade since Cage’s presence in a film was a mark of quality.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 110 mins.

    Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) abandons city life for a walkabout in Western Australia’s desert. With a backpack, four camels and her faithful dog, she undertakes a journey of nearly 2,000 miles, documented by National Geographic photojournalist Rick Smolan (Adam Driver).
    Based on a true story, Tracks is the opposite of Hector and the Search for Happiness. Instead of demanding answers from others, Robyn looks within. The scenery should be impressive, but this is a one-woman show. Luckily, Wasikowska can be a magnetic presence on screen.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 112 mins.

New for the week of September 26

The Boxtrolls
    Orphan Eggs is taken to the sewers by the Boxtrolls, a benevolent bunch of critters who have built a world from the trash of the people living above them. The boy grows up as part of the Boxtroll community, ferreting away pieces of trash from the town of Cheesebridge and helping his fellow trolls construct magnificent inventions.
    A nefarious surface dweller discovers the Boxtrolls and proposes the town exterminate them. Now Eggs must brave the surface to save his family. Can he broker peace between the trolls and the humans?
    A Claymation adventure from the creators of Coraline and ParaNorman, clever writing and subtle humor make The Boxtrolls fun for all ages. But very young viewers may be frightened by this style of animation, which features grotesque caricatures.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 97 mins.

The Equalizer
    Mild-mannered hardware store worker McCall (Denzel Washington) shows his tough side when his young friend (Chloe Grace Moretz) is harmed by Russian mobsters. McCall turns out to be a retired spy and highly skilled killer determined to avenge his friend.
    Based on the popular television show of the 1980s, The Equalizer is Washington’s foray into the geri-action genre. Fortunately, Washington, like Liam Neeson before him, is an accomplished actor likely to bring gravitas to an otherwise ridiculous plot. Without a dependable actor in this genre, you end up with The Expendables.
Prospects: Bright • R • 131 mins.
The Skeleton Twins
    Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) are twins who haven’t spoken in a decade. When both narrowly avoid death, they reunite to figure out how their lives have become so disappointing.
    As they heal the rift, the twins discover that they may need each other to make changes to their lives.
    A slight departure for comedians Wiig and Hader, The Skeleton Twins gives them room to prove themselves as actors and cinematic leads. With some clever writing from Mark Heyman (Black Swan), the film should be an amusing study of dysfunction.
Prospects: Bright • R • 93 mins.

New for the week of September 19

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
    Every love story has two sides. When tragedy tests the marriage of Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain), we see the relationship crumble and reform from both perspectives.
    Writer/director Ned Benson cut two planned movies — Him and Her — together to create a love story that explores how the different people view the same relationship. Two capable actors keep the film from straying too far into melodrama. But the ambitious project feels more like a cinematic experiment than a cohesive story.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 122 mins.

The Maze Runner
    Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in an arena with other boys. None remembers his earlier life. Each morning, the gates to an elaborate maze open, and the boys try to navigate it in hopes of getting out.
    In the ever-changing passages, Thomas discovers clues that could lead him to answers about his past and his condemnation to this world.
    Yet another dystopian teen thriller based on young adult fiction, this one is distinguished by its predominately male cast.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 113 mins.

My Old Lady
    When his father dies, Mathias (Kevin Kline) learns he’s been left a Parisian apartment. Inside, he is surprised by Mathilde (Maggie Smith), the apartment’s original owner.
    The property is part of a viager, a French system in which the buyer pays an older owner a monthly fee until death, at which time the apartment transfers to the buyer. It’s usually an easy arrangement, but Mathilde is determined to outlive her buyers.
    Based on a true story, My Old Lady is a European comedy offering laughs and little substance. Maggie Smith has made a career portraying cantankerous old ladies, and by now we know what to expect when she arches an eyebrow.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 107 mins.

This Is Where I Leave You
    When the patriarch of the Altman clan dies, the estranged brothers and sisters converge on their childhood home for the funeral. As part of their father’s final wishes, the children spend the week at home with their mother, attempting a family reconnection.
    This comedy about the benefits of small families treads no new ground in the screwed-up-relative genre. Mom is plastic surgery-obsessed, the kids aren’t happy in their marriages and everyone blames a sibling or a parent. The cast — Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll and Jason Batemen — could make it worthwhile.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 103 mins.

    Podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) disappears when his search for fascinating stories takes him to Canada. Wallace’s girlfriend and his best friend journey to Manitoba seeking answers. What they find is a sadistic killer determined to transform Wallace into a monster.
    The latest horror yarn from director Kevin Smith, Tusk combines humor and gore. But be warned: his movies feature profanity and depravity galore.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 102 mins.

A Walk Among the Tombstones
    Former NYPD officer Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) isn’t crazy about his new job: finding who kidnapped a heroin dealer’s wife.
    Neeson has evolved from a dramatic actor to a new generation’s Clint Eastwood. He is physically imposing and a capable action lead, but it’s depressing to see him squander his dramatic chops on potboiler mysteries and dumb action yarns like this one, based on Lawrence Block’s Scudder mystery series.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 113 mins.

New for the week of September 12

Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt?
    With the economy in near collapse, the nation has devolved into chaos. Amid crime and corruption, wealthy leaders of industry grow scarce.
    In the midst of the anarchy, one man holds the key to peace and prosperity: John Galt. Unfortunately, no one knows who or where he is.
    The third installment of this Ayn Rand adaptation completes the epic. As in the first two films, expect low-budget effects, middling acting and so-so writing. If you haven’t seen the first two films and aren’t familiar with the story, this is not the installment to start with.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 98 mins.

Dolphin Tale 2
    Rescued dolphin Winter has adapted well to her prosthetic tail, thriving at the Clearwater Marine Hospital. Her recovery is challenged when her surrogate mother and only dolphin companion dies. Because of USDA regulations, the hospital must find Winter a new companion or release her into the wild.
    Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) and Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) race against time to find Winter an appropriate companion.
    The sequel to Dolphin Tale, the film is based on the exploits of a real dolphin with a prosthesis. The first movie was earnest as Winter conquered her biggest challenge, learning to swim with a custom prosthesis. Compared to that feat, making a new aquatic friend seems easy.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 107 mins.

The Drop
    Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) is a bored bartender at one of Brooklyn’s many drop bars. A front for mob activities, drop bars quietly launder cash for the underworld. When the bar is robbed, Bob and his uncle Marv (James Gandolfini) must explain to the mob what happened to the money.
    Bob and Marv must untangle the crime and make their debt right before the mobsters that run their neighborhood decide to take things into their own hands.
    Modern crime master Dennis Lehane adapted his short story Animal Rescue for this film. It’s sure to have a brilliant sense of place and more than a few plot turns. The film is also one of the last screen performances of the great Gandolfini.
Prospects: Bright • R • 106 mins.

Love is Strange
    Together nearly 40years, George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow) are thrilled that they can finally legally marry in New York. Until marriage shatters their idyllic existence.
    As a teacher in a Catholic school, George is fired, and the couple loses its only source of steady income. Older and with few job prospects, they sell their apartment. Eventually they’re forced to separate to live with family.
    Can they find their way back?
    This modern love story takes a poignant look at how a moment of joy can lead to years of pain. Filmmaker Ira Sachs explores not only the discrimination faced by gay couples but also the treatment of aging Americans. Both fantastic performers, Molina and Lithgow will doubtlessly make the story heartbreaking.
Prospects: Bright • R • 94 mins.

No Good Deed
    Terri (Taraji P. Henson) is cooking for her kids when she hears a knock at the door. She finds Colin (Idris Elba) soaked to the bone. He says his car ran off the road and asks to use the phone to call for help. Always willing to do the right thing, Terri goes to get her phone.
    This impulse for kindness begins a night of terror for Terri and her family. Colin is, in fact, an escaped convict who engages Terri in a violent battle of wills.
    A standard-looking thriller, No Good Deed is elevated by its cast. Plot points and some dialog seem to be recycled from 1980s B-movies, but if anybody can redeem hackneyed material, it’s Elba and Henson.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 84 mins.

New for the week of September 5

The Identical
    In the Great Depression, twins are born to an impoverished couple. Unable to care for two babies, the parents make the heart-rending decision to give one of their boys to a childless preacher (Ray Liotta) and his wife (Ashley Judd).
    As the separated boys grow, each shows a talent for music. Encouraged to perform, Drexel (Blake Rayne) becomes a musical sensation. Discouraged from his musical path, Ryan (also Rayne) must follow his adopted father into the ministry.
    Can he deny his genes? Or are both boys destined for musical stardom?
    If you spot the similarities between this story and the story of a certain blue-suede shoe singer, you’re on the money. The Identical borrows heavily on the Elvis Presley origin story, creating a fictional universe where The King’s twin lived to experience a very different life.
    While the movie seems a sincere character study, I’m not sure it can escape parody. Liotta, who is a fine actor, offers a southern accent that would make Larry the Cable Guy cringe. Rayne is a handsome blue-eyed singer with slicked-back greaser hair, but he isn’t able to capture the magnetism that made Presley a phenomenon.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 107 mins.

    After her mother dies, troubled teen Beckett (Sophie Curtis) and her father move across the country. Enrolling at an elite school, Beckett falls under the spell of a beautiful teacher (Kelly Reilly). But as Beckett explores the school, she realizes that something is amiss. Girls die mysteriously and the faculty is oddly ageless.
    Yet another supernatural teen thriller based on a young-adult novel, Innocence doesn’t have much for audiences beyond high school. The film was lost in production purgatory for more than a year, never a good sign.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 96 mins.

The Remaining
    Friends gather for a wedding plan to party the night away. When the ceremony is interrupted by the Rapture, those remaining on Earth are left to wonder just what happened to their loved ones.
    They won’t have too much time to think about it, because the end of days starts promptly. Soon they are fighting for their lives as the apocalypse unfurls.
    A found-footage horror film with a Biblical twist, The Remaining promises to have lots of low-budget thrills and PG-13 violence. If you can stomach a wildly gesticulating camera and lots of people screaming Look at that! while pointing to something we can’t see, this is the movie for you.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 87 mins.

The Trip to Italy
    Frenemy comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take to the road once again to review six of Italy’s most storied restaurants. You might not think watching two men feast sounds like much of a movie, but their loony, hilarious conversations are the real meat of the film.
    Whether battling over who has the best Michael Caine impression or discussing success as they age, Coogan and Brydon are fascinating and funny dinner companions.
Prospects: Bright • NR • 108 mins.

New for the week of August 29

As Above, So Below
    The City of Lights is built on a morbid foundation. Deep below the streets of Paris are the catacombs, comprised of stone, mortar and bones. Walls of skulls and femurs were arranged into a maze that holds up the city.
    Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) assembles a team to investigate, but soon they are lost. As panic rises, strange things appear among the bones. Are they going mad? Or does an ancient evil lurk among them?
    Daily tours explore the catacombs in Paris (which really do have human remains decorating them), so the mysterious evil seems unlikely. Concepts are hackneyed and jump scares predictable. Still, a horror movie could have worse settings than a literal house of bones.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 93 mins.

    When three scientists lose their jobs to budgetary cuts, they make their occult studies a business. Billing themselves as The Ghostbusters, the trio set out to rid The Big Apple of ghosts, ghouls and other ectoplasmic nightmares.
    When business booms, the ghostbusters must figure out why. It turns out the gates to an evil dimension have been opened in the subway. That’s a bummer because subways in New York are bad enough without demons.
    In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Ghostbusters is re-released this weekend. The comedy of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis is timeless. This is easily the best movie at the box office.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 105 mins.
The November Man
    The November Man (Pierce Brosnan) is deadly Peter Devereaux, the CIA’s best assassin, who has earned a quiet retirement — or so he thinks.
    A witness who could bring down several high-ranking government officials appears at Peter’s doorstep, the two are marked for death by the CIA. Now Peter must elude his brightest pupil, David Mason (Luke Bracey).
    It’s been a few decades since Brosnan played a superspy on the big screen. This rote political thriller doesn’t seem worthy of the former Bond.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 108 mins.

New for the week of August 22

If I Stay
    Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a cello prodigy on her way to Juilliard. She thought leaving home — and her first love (Jamie Blackley) — would be the hardest decision of her life. Until the car accident.
    With her family dead, she lies in a coma. Will she face the world alone or join them in the great beyond?
    Based on the best-selling teen novel, If I Stay is a drama about growing up and moving on. It may be the vehicle to propel Moretz to roles equal to her impressive talents.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 106 mins.

Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
    In Sin City, there are no happy endings. Gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) swears revenge after his beating by a powerful senator. Two-bit crook Dwight (Josh Brolin) vows to kill the love who betrayed him. Exotic dancer Nancy (Jessica Alba) is after the man who took away the love of her life.
    Things will end bloody and messy, as they always do in Sin City.
    Based on Frank Miller’s dark and depraved comics, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For promises scantily clad women, violence and beautiful (if graphic) black-and-white imagery. Director Robert Rodriguez has found an effective way to translate Miller’s distinctive style to the screen. But the subject matter isn’t for everyone. If you like a character development and clothing with your female characters, it’s not for you.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 102 mins.

When the Game Stands Tall
    The De La Salle Spartans are legendary among high school football teams, with a 151-game (roughly 12-year) winning streak. Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) is credited with motivating the team to this unprecedented success.
    When the streak ends, tragedy strikes. Ladouceur’s job is to bring his team back from despair. Just in time for football season, Stands Tall seeks to inspire and motivate.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 115 mins.

New for the week of July 24, 2014

    Demi-god Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) has had enough of his immortal family. He spent his early life seeking to become a hero to prove his worth to his father, Zeus. After completing 12 impossible labors to earn a spot in history, Hercules is punished by jealous gods.
    Now a shell of his former vainglorious self, Hercules commits his life to destruction and joins a band of six mercenaries. When the King of Thrace hires the band to train an army, the demi-god questions his choice.
    The second Hercules movie of 2014 looks to continue a trend of horrible action movies that feature Greek gods. Like most of these films, Hercules employs some great British actors (John Hurt and Ian McShane) for embarrassing work. Director Brett Ratner has yet to make a movie that justifies his big-budget bonanzas. While Johnson certainly has the build of a Greek god, even The Rock’s wealth of charm can’t save the dismal dialog and silly effects.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 98 mins.

    Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) wakes up in a hotel room in incredible pain to find a scar on her abdomen. A nefarious group has made her into a drug mule, inserting a bag of mysterious chemicals into her system and instructing her to transport them to their headquarters.
    But the bag leaks, and the chemicals seeping into Lucy’s system alter her brain chemistry. Now, instead of 10 percent of her brain, she is able to access 100 percent. This means she can control her cells, time and space. The evolved Lucy goes on a rampage, seeking revenge on the criminals who turned her into a super human.
    Writer/director Luc Besson has made a career creating strong heroines who kick butt and take no guff from the men around them. It’s always a treat to see a female action star rescue men and save the day. If you can get past the laughable conceit that Johansson is the first human to use 100 percent of her brain, Lucy could be a satisfying feminist action yarn.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 90 mins.

A Most Wanted Man
    A tortured Islamic immigrant walks into a Hamburg bank claiming to be the heir to a great fortune. But he raises the radar of German and American intelligence agencies that scramble to verify his identity, fearing he may be the key to a terrorist plot.
    Most spies don’t look like James Bond. Some are pudgy middle-aged office workers who authorize horrible things in the name of national security. Mostly, it’s paperwork, negotiations and guesses made while poring over classified documents. No one understands just how mundane the life of a spy can be quite like John le Carre, who was a spy himself. His novel is the basis for A Most Wanted Man, which promises both smart political intrigue and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last leading performance.
Prospects: Bright • R • 121 mins.

Wish I Was Here
    Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) is struggling as an actor and man. He has a beautiful wife and two children but feels he hasn’t reached his true potential. When Aidan’s father is diagnosed with cancer and can no longer pay for his grandchildren’s private schooling, Aidan must home school the children or send them to — gasp! — public school.
    But how can Aidan ever rise above his out-of-work-actor status if he’s stuck schooling the kids all day?
    Like most films written and directed by Braff, Wish I Was Here could easily be entitled First World Problems. He’s ­seeking a Holden Caulfield-like quality, but he comes off as a complainer. Naval gazing might be interesting with the right navel, but it isn’t Braff’s.
Prospects: Insufferably Smug • R • 106 mins.

New for the week of July 17, 2014

Planes: Fire and Rescue
    Famous plane racer Dusty (Dane Cook) gets devastating news: His engine is damaged and his racing career is over. Determined to be useful and still in search of adventure, Dusty joins the aerial firefighting brigade The Smokejumpers.
    A sequel to Disney’s Cars spinoff Planes, Planes: Fire and Rescue is sure to delight kids and sell a lot of toys. Sadly, the Cars and Planes movies produced by Disney and Pixar are usually fairly weak as far as storytelling. Be prepared for a film your kids will love and you will have to tolerate through repeated viewings.
Prospects: Dim • PG • 83 mins.

The Purge: Anarchy
    One night a year in a dystopian version of America, all crime is legal. Marauders roam the streets during this purge, preying on the weak and the poor while the rich stay safely ensconced in bunkers.
    On the night of the purge, Eva and her daughter are chased from their home by armed assailants. A couple runs out of gas, stranding them near a terrified Eva. Desperate and about to be killed, the defenseless group is saved by Leo (Frank Grillo), a purger who has taken to the streets to kill the man responsible for his son’s death.
    The sequel to the underwhelming The Purge, this is a horror movie with lofty metaphoric intentions and no ability to deliver upon them. Director/writer James DeMonaco, who also helmed the first movie, wants to make a bloody statement about class warfare, but he’s only capable of making a bloody mess with his characters and action sequences.
Prospects: Dim • R • 103 mins.

Sex Tape
    Things have gotten a little stale for Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) in the 10 years since they got together. Bored by their romantic life, Annie suggests using their new iPad to film their sexual escapades. The evening of filmed illicit activities reignites their spark.
    The two are happier than ever, until they realize their sex tape was accidently uploaded onto the Cloud. Now, their friends, children, parents and bosses all can see them.
    Back in the dark ages when people rented VHS tapes from Blockbuster Videos, this same plotline was used in several sitcoms. This modern take on the tale might be fun, but it depends on your tolerance for sexual humor and crass language and your interest in seeing Segel and Diaz in skimpy clothing.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 94 mins.

New for the week of July 4, 2014

Life Itself
    One of the most trusted opinions in the film industry and the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, Roger Ebert made a career out of shepherding moviegoers to good films. His thumb rating system became a dependable indicator of a movie’s quality. His life was dedicated to the movies: first watching them, then writing them, finally writing about them.
    Acclaimed director Steve James (Head Games) shows you the man behind the thumb in his new documentary Life Itself. The film uses Ebert’s biography as its blueprint and features interviews with friends, family, fellow critics and directors.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.

New for the week of June 26, 2014

Begin Again
 When Dave (Adam Levine) makes it big, he unceremoniously dumps Gretta (Keira Knightley) his longtime songwriting partner and girlfriend. Depressed, Gretta plays small gigs at New York coffeehouses to restart her career.
    When former record-executive Dan (Mark Ruffalo) hears Gretta sing, he sees dollar signs.
    A musical drama with some A-List talent, Begin Again could be the romance of the summer. It could also be a mess of a film, filled with clichés and insipid songs. Still, Ruffalo and Knightley have chemistry, and it should be fun to watch them make beautiful music out of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 104 mins.

Earth to Echo
    Three lifelong friends receive bizarre signals on their cell phones. Tracking down the source of the signals, the boys discover something amazing: a small alien stranded on earth. The friends try to hide him from the government while looking for a way to get him home.
    If this movie sounds familiar, then you’ve probably heard of a film called E.T. I suppose each generation needs their own kiddie alien epic. If you’ve got little ones or you want to see what E.T. would have looked like with superior CGI graphics, this film should be worth the ticket.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 91 mins.

Deliver Us from Evil
    As police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) investigates a string of odd crimes and disturbing violence, he suspects that the force behind the crime spree isn’t human. So he teams with a priest (Edgar Ramirez) to fight this unseen evil.
    On the surface, this looks like The Exorcist with guns. Still, Bana and Ramirez are both underrated actors, so this film might be better than your standard what-goes-bump-in-the-night fare. If you’re in the mood for a few chills to combat the heat wave, this is the movie for you.
Prospects: Creepy • R • 118 mins.

Obvious Child
    Up-and-coming standup comedian Donna Stern (Jenny Slate: Bob’s Burgers) is having a terrible Valentine’s Day. She is dumped, fired and pregnant. Her 20-something lifestyle having failed, she has to try growing up.
    A divisive comedy about taboo realities, Obvious Child will leave some viewers laughing and others cringing. If you don’t think humor can be mined from abortion, casual sex and delayed adolescence, this is not the movie for you.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 83 mins.

    A global-warming experiment backfires, killing almost all life on Earth. The few human survivors jump onto a train called the Snowpiercer, which traverses the globe via a perpetual-motion engine. The group frays as messages of dissent show up in the cars.
    Korean auteur Bon Joon Ho is already widely regarded as one of the most interesting voices in the sci-fi genre, so it should be interesting to see what he does in his English language debut. Ho has a great cast including Oscar winners Tilda Swinton and Octavia Spencer, as well as John Hurt and Captain America himself, Chris Evans.
    If you’re interested in stylish thrillers and metaphoric sci-fi tales, there’s no better ticket this weekend.
Prospects: Bright • R • 126 mins.

    Perpetual loser Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is having a bad run of luck. Fired from her fast food job, she discovers that her husband is dumping her for another woman. Lost and alone, Tammy takes a roadtrip with Grandma Pearl (Susan Sarandon).
    McCarthy is a brilliant comedian, but filmmakers don’t seem to know what to do with her, so they take the easy road, casting her in gross-out comedies that exploit her weight for stupid laughs.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
    Down-and-out mechanic Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg: Lone Survivor) comes across an intriguing hunk of junk: Instead of a beat-up truck, this is Optimus Prime.
    Will Yeager protect the Transformer or turn him over to an interested government official? While he makes his choice, the evil Autobots plan to launch an attack to extinguish both the Transformer and humans.
    Director Michael Bay could be a good filmmaker. But he’s more interested in breasts and special effects than storytelling. This one runs well over two hours, so you should probably pick up some Excedrin Migraine Relief with your Coke and popcorn.
Prospects: Loud • PG-13 • 157 mins.

New for the week of June 20, 2014

Jersey Boys
    Four middling Jersey crooks discover they’re better at harmonies than crime and form a quartet. As they rise from the streets to international fame, tension builds as the group’s lead singer, Frankie Valli, becomes the media’s darling. The Four Seasons threaten to tear themselves apart because of conflicting egos and bad habits.
    Based on the hugely popular Broadway musical, Jersey Boys chronicles the family, crimes, attitudes and music that defined the group. We share the perspective of each of the four characters as the story unfolds.
    Director Clint Eastwood (Trouble with the Curve) wisely chose to use the actors who originated the parts on Broadway rather than casting well-known faces.
    If you’re a fan of The Four Seasons or are interested in how a bunch of low-level thugs parlayed their Sopranos-like youth into superstardom, Jersey Boys is worth the ticket. Chances are, you’ll leave the theater and head straight to iTunes.
Prospects: Bright • R • 134 mins.

The Rover
    After a global economic catastrophe, the world has become a cesspool. In the Australian outback, a drifter (Guy Pearce) is robbed of his only possession: his car. He tracks down the thieves seeking bloody revenge. When he finds one of the robbers (Robert Pattison) badly wounded and abandoned by his cohorts, the drifter takes the naive man on as his apprentice.
    A story of grit, violence and friendship, The Rover is a dramatically refined Mad Max. Pearce has a long record of great performances and little recognition, while Pattinson is world famous for a terrible performance in an awful film franchise. They should be an interesting pairing as they fight their way across the outback.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 102 mins.

Think Like a Man Too
    A wedding brings five couples to Las Vegas. The men and women go their separate ways for bachelor and bachelorette parties, until the nights of fun devolve into a competition to see which sex parties harder.
    The sequel to the hugely successful comedy based on a Steve Harvey relationship advice book, Think Like a Man Too continues the battle of the sexes. The strength in these films is doing hackneyed comedy well. With stars like Kevin Hart, Regina Hall and Taraji P. Henson, even rote material can be hilarious.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 106 mins.

New for the week of June 13, 2014

22 Jump Street
    Now far too old to plausibly work as undercover high school police officers, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are reassigned. The duo heads to college to ferret out a drug ring.
    At school, cracks form in Jenko and Schmidt’s relationship. Jenko is more interested in the football team than the case. Schmidt becomes infatuated with the avant-garde scene. Can the duo work together to find the drug dealers? Or should they call it quits and enroll full-time?
    The success of 21 Jump Street was due to the electric chemistry between Hill and Tatum. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller need only to wind up this proven team and let them loose.
    The sequel to the wildly popular 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street will be a cavalcade of self-aware, slapstick and crude humor. That’s not a bad thing.
Prospects: Bright • R • 112 mins.

How to Train Your Dragon 2
    In the five years since Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) proved that dragons could be allies, dragon riding has become a hugely popular pastime in the village. Still best friends with his dragon Toothless, Hiccup spends his days mapping uncharted dragon territories and discovering new species of fire-breathing friends.
    On a cartography expedition, Hiccup encounters the legendary Dragon Rider, a figure locked in battle with an evil force seeking to control dragons. Hiccup, Toothless and the Vikings join the war to save the dragons they’ve come to love.
    How to Train Your Dragons 2 features stunning graphics, interesting new dragon species and the loveable yet goofy Vikings (many of whom are Scottish for no apparent reason). I hope the sequel continues the original’s affirmative kid-friendly messages about being yourself and overcoming disabilities.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 102 mins.

The Signal
    MIT students Nick and Jonah aspire to becoming the badest hackers on the Internet. To prove their worth, they’ve planned to decode the location of Nomad, a rival hacker.
    When they find Nomad, Nick and Jonah are elated — until he attacks and the boys’ loose consciousness. When Nick awakens, he finds that he and his friends are now captives in a nightmarish game. Can the trio discover a way out? Or is this a code the hackers can’t crack?
    A science-fiction film with a low budget, The Signal thrives on conspiracy theories, computers and implausible scenarios. The cast features Laurence Fishburn.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 95 mins.

Words and Pictures
    Prep school English teacher Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is content to lecture his students and drink himself to death until he meets the newest member of the faculty. Severe arthritis has hampered the once-successful career of apathetic artist Dina (Juliette Binoche). She provokes Jack’s ire by asserting that words aren’t nearly as important as pictures.
    Jack and Dina enlist students in a battle to determine language or images. As they spar, the two troubled teachers spark an attraction. Can they conquer their demons? Or are they doomed to a life of pedantry?
    With Owen and Binoche, Words and Pictures is sure to be a beautifully acted romantic comedy. Taking a cue from the Tracy and Hepburn films of old, director Fred Schepisi (The Eye of the Storm) fills the movie with snappy dialog and crackling chemistry.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 111 mins.

New for the week of June 6, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow
William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an unprepared soldier dropped in the middle of a combat zone. Within five minutes, he’s killed by the aliens he’s meant to be fighting.
    Imagine his surprise when he wakes up alive the day before he dies. Turns out Cage is in a time loop: He dies and dies, only to wake up the day before his death. Retaining his knowledge from previous lives, he begins to learn from his deadly mistakes. 
    Super soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) discovers Cage’s secret and recruits him to beat the seemingly invincible invasion force. Her training involves killing him every time he’s injured so they can start afresh when he regenerates. 
    Think of it as Groundhog Day if Bill Murray had a machine gun. Time looping can be tricky because it’s easy to devolve into repetition. Cruise was once king of the action and sci-fi films, but his star has dimmed. Perhaps the talented Blunt will add charm and charisma. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 113 mins. 
The Fault of Our Stars
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is a typical teen: She’s sarcastic, eager for freedom and uncomfortable in her own skin. She also has cancer. Forced into a support group, she meets Gus (Ansel Elgort), a fellow teen whose cancer took his leg. 
    Gus is attracted to Hazel, but she is unsure. Hazel thinks of herself as a grenade that will eventually blow up and destroy her loved ones. Consumed by the idea that her parents will not survive her impending death well, she doesn’t want to think about love. But a persistent Gus wins her over, and Hazel discovers the beauty of first love.
    Based on the revered young adult novel by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars is a tragic love story. Woodley, a rising star for several years, gets to show off her dramatic chops. Bring plenty of tissues.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 125 mins. 
Night Moves
Three environmentalists decide to make a splash by blowing up a hydroelectric dam. Directed by Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff), this promises to be a tense, pensive thriller about activism and the extremes to which people will go to be heard. Don’t expect lots of action. Reichardt is a thoughtful filmmaker who likes to make her characters discuss and reflect on their actions. Night Moves will reward interest in the issues, but it won’t be light fare. 
Prospects: Bright • R • 112 mins.

New for the Week of May 30, 2014

    When an army threatens her peaceful forest kingdom, a young fairy named Maleficient (Angelina Jolie) becomes a ferocious defender of her realm. Betrayal turns the once sweet-natured fairy to vengeance.
    To ensure the usurper king suffers as she has, Maleficent places a curse on his family and the newborn princess who will one day rule. As Maleficent waits for her revenge to play out, she doubts her decision to curse the good-natured princess. Can she reverse the spell? Or have her rash actions doomed them all?
    A twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, Maleficent is retold from the perspective of one of Disney’s most iconic villains. This fractured fairytale also looks to continue Disney’s admirable trend of female-focused cinema, showing young women taking control of their own stories.
    Whether you’re curious how Jolie will fill out Maleficent’s impressive cheekbones and horns or you’re looking for an adventure film for the family, Maleficent is the ticket this weekend.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 97 mins.

A Million Ways to Die in the West
    The Old West wasn’t a great place to live a long and healthy life. Albert (Seth MacFarlane) is a simple farmer with one goal: to live as long as possible. He avoids plagues, wolves, bullets and every other common cause of death in the west. Until he meets Anna (Charlize Theron).
    Beautiful and mysterious, Anna draws Albert’s admiration. But Anna’s husband Clinch (Liam Neeson) is a renowned gunfighter who doesn’t like men messing with his woman. Can Albert learn to defend himself and the woman he loves?
    Blazing Saddles for a new generation, MacFarlane’s lampooning of the Old West is sure to have sex jokes, scatological humor, meta pop-culture jokes and a liberal amount of theft from other, better comedies. There will be plenty of visuals and language you won’t want your little ones repeating.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 116 mins.

New for the Week of May 23, 2014

    Lauren (Drew Barrymore) and Jim (Adam Sandler) are single parents looking for love. Set up on a first date that ends in disaster, they vow to never meet again.
    Until, of course, contrived circumstances book Lauren and Jim on the same African family vacation. Thrown together, they blend their families and make a romantic connection.
    The ploy is as old as Shakespeare and comfortingly simple.
    Sandler and Barrymore proved their easy chemistry in their first outing, 50 First Dates. But Sandler’s Happy Maddison Production Company has a long track record of subpar films. Here’s hoping Barrymore’s effervescent charm works magic.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 117 mins.

X-Men Days of Future Past
    In a dystopian future, the X-Men are fighting a losing battle for the survival of themselves and mutants. To stop a world war, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) sends an envoy back in time to the first seeds of conflict.
    Now the X-Men must fight on two timelines to stop the annihilation of humanity and mutants. Can they succeed? Or is the world’s fate sealed?
    X-Men Days of Future Past is a twisting, intricately plotted entry in the superhero comic series. Filled with such wonderful actors as Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman, it should be a favorite among fans.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 131 mins.

New for the Week of May 16, 2014

    Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is the daughter of a Navy admiral and a lowborn woman. She is of mixed race, which makes her an outsider in every circle of society.
    Raised by her great-uncle (Tom Wilkinson), Belle grows up in a huge house with servants and fine clothing. But she can’t join her family for dinner because of the color of her skin. When she meets a pauper son of a vicar, who advocates for equality among the races, she must choose to risk her somewhat privileged position or accept her fate.
    Based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, this period drama has an excellent cast and covers an interesting period in British history. If you’re interested in learning about the rules of British culture and the beginning of the abolitionist movement, Belle is a good teacher. If you’ve never been engrossed in a British parlor drama, you might want to skip this flick.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 104 mins.

    When an immense monster emerges from the ocean bent on destroying cities, soldiers try to stop the creature as civilians flee in terror. One man is committed to discovering the truth about where the monster came from and how long world leaders have known.
    The last time Americans made a Godzilla movie, it was an unparalleled disaster, with terrible effects, a stupid story and actors who looked embarrassed to put their names on the project. This time, Warner Brothers is being a little more careful with the classic Japanese monster series. Director Gareth Edwards, who won acclaim for his low-budget tense horror film Monsters, is a good choice for a fresh start.
    The cast is a stacked deck. Featuring Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Sally Hawkins, this Godzilla remake could be a great addition to the classic Gojira lineage. If you’re in the mood for explosions, big effects, dramatic monologs and lots of people running, this is the film for you.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 123 mins.

Million Dollar Arm
    JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) will lose his sports agency if he doesn’t sign some new talent. Out-maneuvered by ruthless competitors, he must get creative to find the next big thing in sports.
    Inspiration strikes while he’s watching a late-night cricket match. JB goes to India to recruit the next Major League Baseball pitcher among the players on the cricket field. He organizes a trip and brings back two players who he believes could make it as MLB pitchers.
    Back home, JB sends his pair of prospects to training camp and puts them up in his home. Cultures clash as a committed bachelor learns to live with others.
    Based on a true story, this feel-good sports movie should please baseball fans and bore most others. Unless you’re a dedicated Mad Men fan, watching Don Draper groom baseball players in a family-friendly movie probably won’t inspire feeling. Still, a good-natured movie about accepting other cultures and following your dreams might be just the tickets for families with children who might be afraid of Godzilla.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 124 mins.

New for the Week of May 9, 2014

Fading Gigolo
    To help his broke friend Murray (Woody Allen), Fioravante (John Turturro) turns to the world’s oldest profession. Fioravante becomes a professional gigolo, wooing the lovelorn for exorbitant fees. Murray, who is impressed with Fioravante’s earning potential, decides to become a manager in the Don Juan business.
    Can Fioravante be a success as an escort? Or will love distract him from financial prosperity?
    Written and directed by Turturro, Fading Gigolo looks like a farcical comedy worthy of his co-star. With an all-star cast that includes Sophia Vergara and Sharon Stone, Fading Gigolo promises entertaining neurotic comedy.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 90 mins.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
    Dorothy (Lea Michele) comes back from her adventures in Oz to post-tornado Kansas. She has no time to settle in because she’s immediately drawn back to Oz by her buddies The Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), The Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and The Lion (James Belushi). They need Dorothy’s help to defeat a new threat to Oz: The Jester (Martin Short).
    Can Dorothy once again take the yellow brick road to adventure?
    An animated film for kids and Oz fanatics, The Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return should be a lighthearted continuation of the Baum books. Michele is an accomplished vocalist, so her Dorothy should add impressive songs to keep the plot moving.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 88 mins.

    On his way home from work, construction manager Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) takes a phone call that could end his career. Desperate to right the situation, Locke enters an all-night driving odyssey filled with frantic phone calls and frenetic driving.
    Set entirely in the car, Locke is an interesting acting exercise. Hardy must move the plot along, maintain an accent, keep the audience’s attention and perform believably without the help of any other actors, fancy editing or CGI effects. One of the most charismatic actors to come out of England recently, Hardy is up for the challenge. His one-man-show performance has earned him raves from critics around the world.
    But Locke is, in essence, an acting exercise. Before you buy a ticket, Consider whether you want to be trapped in a car with Tom Hardy for 85 minutes.
Prospects: Bright • R • 85 mins.

Mom’s Night Out
    Allyson (Sarah Drew) needs a break. Tired of a life of underappreciated work, she organizes a Mom’s Night Out. But disaster gets in the way of fun, and soon the group of mothers are on a city-wide hunt for a misplaced child.
    Gross-out humor and slapstick comedy need grounding in excellent performances. This film looks out for easy laughs.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 98 mins.

    Kelly (Rose Byrne) and Mac (Seth Rogen) settle into parenthood in a quiet neighborhood perfect for raising a family. But their domestic tranquility is shattered when a fraternity moves in next door.
    They want to be cool neighbors, but late-night partying and binge-drinking students make their neighbors unbearable. Their call to the cops sparks a war with the fraternity, until a series of escalating pranks threatens to destroy the quiet neighborhood.
    Can Mac and Kelly triumph over the testosterone-fueled antics of their new neighbors? Or should they give up and put their dream house on the market?
    A prank war between Seth Rogen and Zac Efron guarantees gross humor. Director Nicholas Stoller is another alum of the so-wrong-it’s-right school of humor, meaning that this film is sure to have you cringing while you laugh.
Prospects: Bright • R • 96 mins.

New for the Week of May 2, 2014

The Amazing Spiderman 2
    Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still trying to balance a normal life with his secret identity as Spiderman. Working a regular job by day, crime-fighting at night and maintaining a relationship with his girlfriend Gwen (Emma Stone) is difficult. As new foes threaten New Yorkers every day, Peter has his hands full.
    In this sequel to The Amazing Spiderman, director Marc Webb took the more-is-more approach. Spidey deals with relationship issues, identity crisis and three major villains. Cramming Electro (Jamie Foxx), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and Rhino (Paul Giamatti) into one film ­doesn’t leave much room for depth.
    I’m still not convinced that Garfield has the charisma and acting chops to make Spidey an interesting hero, but the success of the first movie proves that I’m in the minority.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 142 mins.

The Railway Man
    During the Second World War, thousands of Allied prisoners were forced to build the Thai/Burma railway. British prisoner Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) builds a radio to offer his fellow captors hope by broadcasting music and news of the Allied advance to their encampment.
    When his radio is discovered, Eric is punished brutally. He returns to England a recluse suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Marriage to Patti (Nicole Kidman) gives him a chance at healing — if he can overcome his obsession with his Japanese torturer.
    With strong performances from Oscar-winners Kidman and Firth, this true story promises a moving tale of love and vengeance.
Prospects: Bright • R • 116 mins.

New for the Week of April 25, 2014

Brick Mansions
    In the large brick high-rises of Detroit, the police have given up trying to stop the surge of crime. Instead, they build a huge containment wall around the buildings and leave the baddies to their own devices. This fixes the problem until a drug kingpin threatens the city from within.
    To stop the destruction of Detroit, an undercover cop (Paul Walker) joins with an ex-con (David Belle) to infiltrate the stronghold.
    One of the last films made by Walker, Brick Mansions was slated as a direct-to-DVD release before the actor’s untimely death in a car crash. This doesn’t bode well for the quality of the story. However, Belle is one of the founders of the ­Parkour movement — bounding like Spiderman up walls and over objects — so the stunts in this simple action flick should be impressive.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 90 mins.

The Other Woman
    Lawyer Carly (Cameron Diaz) discovers that her gorgeous boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is married. When she bumps into Mark’s wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), Carly does the unthinkable: She makes a friend. The two team up to get revenge on Mark. Yet another girlfriend (Kate Upton) joins the mission.
    The script looks predictable, but Diaz and Mann give hope as experienced comedians.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 109 mins.

The Quiet Ones
    Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) is plagued by supernatural problems. She moves from home to home, as no one will house her for long. Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) doesn’t believe the supernatural stories that surround her. If he can prove she suffers from mental illness, he can disprove the existence of ghosts and ghouls.
    Coupland brings Jane to an isolated house to document her illness. What happens next terrifies the university crew and may cost them more than their academic credibility.
    Inspired by true events — these movies always are — The Quiet Ones looks to be sustained by CGI effects rather than tension in plotting or character.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 98 mins.

Walking with the Enemy
    Searching for his family in World War II Hungary, Elek Cohen (Jonas Armstrong) forms a brilliant plan: He steals a Nazi SS uniform so he won’t be questioned.
    Elek’s plan works, exposing him to the horrors of the Nazi regime. Disgusted by what’s happened to his country, he attempts to reroute his family and other Jews from the slaughter. Walking with the Enemy is inspired by a true story.
Prospects: Bright • NR • 124 mins.

New for the Week of April 18

    Two Alaskan bear cubs learn to survive in the wild with help from their mother in Disneynature’s newest documentary. The film follows the cubs as they emerge from winter hibernation into a frozen world where mother bear teaches them how to hunt, avoid rival bears and evade natural dangers.
    Narrated by John C. Reilly, Bears’ stunning visuals will delight viewers of all ages. Like Chimpanzee and African Cats before it, Bears is a Disney-fied look into the natural world. It’s perfect for small kids or squeamish older viewers. But the films depict the wild unrealistically.
    If you purchase a ticket this week, a portion of your payment goes to wildlife preservation charities.
Prospects: Cute • G • 40 mins.
Dom Hemingway
    Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) has finished a 12-year prison sentence. Will he go back to a life of crime? Or will he abandon the only life he’s ever known to reconnect with his daughter?
    The story of one man’s struggle against his own nature, Dom Hemingway is a showcase for Law, who has found a niche as a reliable character actor game to destroy his cinema-idol looks for a good performance. His brash, profanity-laden performance is earning him praise.
    Expect a good cockney crime caper in the spirit of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or the original Italian Job.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 93 mins.

A Haunted House 2
    After helping exorcize his ex-girlfriend, Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) pursues a fresh start. Unfortunately, Malcolm’s demons aren’t done with him.
    A lampooning of horror movies, A Haunted House 2 is big on crude humor, hammy performances and silly takes on famous scary moments.
Prospects: Dim • R • 87 mins.

Heaven is for Real
    After emergency surgery, young Colton Burpo claims to have died and traveled to heaven. The parents dismiss it as the imaginings of a little boy, until Colton names people and places he should not know.
    Based on the popular book, Heaven is for Real is the latest offering in the steadily growing Christian film market.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 100 mins.

    Artificial Intelligence researcher Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is on the verge of a technological breakthrough. His work is controversial, and an anti-technology terrorist group poisons him. As Caster fades from life, his wife and fellow researcher (Rebecca Hall: Closed Circuit) uploads his mind to his AI experiment.
    She hopes to save the man she loves. But Caster uses his newfound omniscience to fix the world. Can he be stopped?
    With The Lone Ranger and roughly 50 Pirates of the Caribbean movies to his name, Depp has gone from well-respected indie actor to a big-budget joke. Will this performance put Depp back on track?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 119 mins.

Under the Skin
    If Scarlet Johansson offered you a lift, would you take it?
    Johansson plays an alien who has come to rural Scotland to seduce and kill unsuspecting men. Patrolling the streets in a white van, the alien has quite a bit of success. But as she interacts with humans, she becomes curious about humanity and questions her mission.
    The third movie from director Jonathan Glazer (Birth) is no sexy action thriller. This moody musing on humanity is more into tone and atmosphere than sexy shenanigans and gore. Johansson is a capable actress who often gets stuck playing the seductress. It should be interesting to watch her turn the typecasting on its head with this measured, subtle performance.
    Under the Skin isn’t a movie for everyone, but it’s fun to see Glazer play with different genres, picking them apart to show the human fears and foibles beneath common plot tropes.
Prospects: Bright • R • 108 mins.

New for the Week of April 11

Draft Day
    Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) has a chance to change the fate of his team. Trading for the Number One draft pick, he must decide if he will build the team he wants or listen to the orders of the owner. As draft day approaches, Sonny opts with making the most of his position.
    Costner returns to film after a lengthy absence, following mixed reviews, with the same old charisma. You won’t find hard-hitting commentary on football in this sugary script, but you may find a family-friendly fix for your football jones.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 109 mins.

    Mirror, Mirror on the wall, will you kill my family, after all?
    Ten years ago, Tim Russell was convicted of butchering his parents. He claimed an antique mirror possessed his parents, forcing Tim to kill them in self-defense. His only advocate was his sister Kaylie.
    Newly released, Tim wants to forget the past and move forward. Kaylie, however, is obsessed with finding the mirror and exonerating her brother. When she finally finds the so-called Lasser Glass, she also enters a world of trouble. Soon mysterious deaths and odd breaches with sanity again occur in the Russell household.
    Can Kaylie and Tim defeat the mirror? Or are they already through the looking glass?
Prospects: Bright • R • 105 mins.

Rio 2
    After finding freedom, Blu and Jewel settled down in the wild to have a family. Three hatchlings later, city-bird Blu is still trying to fit in with the jungle crowd. Can Jewel and the kids help him learn the ways of the wilderness? Or is this bird fated to fly back to the coop?
    Animation sequels are almost never as much fun as the originals. Still, Rio 2 offers a great voice cast, featuring Anne Hathaway, Jessie Eisenberg, Kristin Chenoweth and Andy Garcia, as well as some impressive animation. Like its predecessor, Rio 2 is written for younger audiences with bright colors, flashy animation and a few feathered puns.
Prospects: Flickering • G • 101 mins.

New for the Week of April 4

Captain America: Winter Soldier
    After the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still looking for an identity beyond Captain America. He’s uncomfortable with the modern world and unsure of technology. As he struggles to conform to a new era, he throws himself into working with SHIELD, the super-hero equivalent to the CIA.
    When a rogue Soviet spy terrorizes Americans, Rogers volunteers to bring down the threat. But the so-called Winter Soldier’s link to Rogers’ past life gives him pause.
    Any Marvel fan knows the secret identity of the Winter Soldier and that Captain America will ultimately triumph (I mean, he is an Avenger, after all). The joy in these movies is watching the action and the acting. Evans has proved himself an able hero with an impressive physique and a stoic screen presence. The stoicism works for the character, but sometimes it makes poor Cap a stick in the mud. The addition of Emily VanCamp, Robert Redford and Anthony Mackie to the already impressive lineup may make for more fun.
    Remember to stay to the end to see the preview of Marvel’s next venture.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 136 mins.

New for the Week of March 28

    A humble man is told by God that disaster is coming. Noah (Russell Crowe) is to build an ark and prepare for an oncoming flood. At first, he’s seen as crazy, but odd changes in the weather convince the men around him that the town nut might actually be a prophet.
    Now the real danger begins.
    A Bible tale directed by Darren Aronofsky should be visually stunning and dramatically gripping. A master of physical and psychological horrors, Aronofsky is expert at picking apart the mental and physical frailties of humanity. Don’t go expecting a Sunday school story; Noah will carry a deeper and more subversive message.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 138 mins.

    John ‘Breacher’ Wharton (Arnold Schwarzeneggar) leads a DEA task force against drug cartels. They shoot, punch and stab their way into the most violent drug dens in America, seizing cartel cash for the government and racking up the body count.
    When some of the drug money goes missing, Breacher’s team becomes a problem for both the cartels and the government. One by one, the team is murdered. Is the cartel seeking revenge? Or is there a traitor among them?
    Writer/director David Ayer was behind one of 2012’s most interesting cop films, End of Watch. His gritty, hyper-violent sensibility can be tough to take, but he also develops nuanced characters. It should be fun to watch Ah-nuld reach up to a subtle script.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 109 mins.

New for the Week of March 21

Bad Words
    Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) is a bit of a loser, but he sure can spell. A loophole in the Golden Quill National Spelling Bee rules allows him to seek glory by out-spelling eighth graders.
    While demolishing the self-esteem of most of the children, he befriends a small boy with antisocial tendencies. Can Trilby help his young friend become well-rounded? Or will he make a small malcontent in his image?
    A foul-mouthed black comedy about a vindictive man-child, Bad Words could be hilarious or awful. Bateman is a usually reliable comedic presence, and his directorial debut should be a promising source for inappropriate humor.
Prospects: Bright • R • 88 mins.

    In the future, society will be divided into five factions. Each group represents a different walk of life: Soldiers, selfless charity workers, politicians, peacekeepers and intellectuals. When teenagers come of age, a blood test determines their factions.
    Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) doesn’t fit neatly into any of the factions. Called a divergent, she shares the qualities of several different factions and is free to choose which life she wants. But divergents scare the government into seeking to eliminate them for the good of society.
    Divergent clearly wants to follow in the footsteps of The Hunger Games, a wildly successful and well-respected dystopian teen series. Whether the trials of Tris are as compelling as the trials of Katniss is yet to be seen, but Divergent has a great supporting cast featuring Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn and Miles Teller.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 139 mins.

God’s Not Dead
    Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) is having a tough time in his freshman philosophy class. His professor (Kevin Sorbo) is a committed atheist who preaches that God is dead and all forms of religion are wrong. The professor tells all his students that they must deny the existence of god in an essay or fail the class.
    Can Wheaton, a devout Christian, convince his professor that God is alive? Or should he report this ethically reprehensible classroom assignment to the college?
    If you’re looking for a movie to reaffirm your faith, this will likely do it. If you’re looking for a balanced debate, you won’t find it here.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 95 mins.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge at the famous Grand Budapest Hotel, is a lothario. Throughout two world wars, he has wined and dined elderly heiresses, battled for their inheritances and been accused of the theft of priceless art.
    Written and directed by the king of quirky cinema, Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel promises a cavalcade of stars, gorgeous production design and a smart script.
Prospects: Bright • R • 100 mins.

Muppets Most Wanted
    When the Muppets tour Europe, disaster strikes. A master thief, Constantine, happens to be a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog and switches places with the muppet, who is immediately arrested.
    While Kermit rots in prison, Constantine infiltrates the Muppets. At first, they don’t notice the difference, but soon personality quirks tip them off that something is amiss with their typically mild-mannered leader.
    Can the Muppets spring Kermit?
    Muppets Most Wanted is a kids’ movie with adult appeal. If you have a small moviegoer or fond memories of Miss Piggy, this is your weekend ticket.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 112 mins.

New for the Week of March 14

Need for Speed
    Tobey (Aaron Paul) joins a cross-country street race as his first act out of prison. Framed and angry, Tobey hopes that the race and its winnings will help him seek revenge against the former friend who put him in jail.
    But the friend sets out to make sure Tobey never finishes the race.
    Based on the wildly popular video game, Need for Speed promises to combine B-movie action with a terrible script. Still, Paul is coming off of the critically acclaimed show (Breaking Bad) and might have the acting clout to make this movie a success. There seems to be a market for pretty cars and big explosions. If you dream of violating every motor vehicle law in existence, this is your ticket.
Prospects: Fast and furious • PG-13 • 130 mins.

Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club
    An incident at school brings a group of single mothers together. The unlikely collection, each from a different socio-economic class, bonds over their single status. They start a support group to help single mothers navigate life with kids.
    From writer/director/star Tyler Perry, the Single Mom’s Club seems to be an attempt at straight comedy rather than a condescending parable. It just might be the movie that allows Perry to put aside his issues with women. As long as Madea doesn’t pop up, it might even be funny.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 111 mins.


New for the Week of March 7

300: Rise of an Empire
    The fall of 300 Spartans to the vast Persian army was just the beginning. Tales of the valiant Spartans have spread throughout Greece, and the city-states are joining ranks to fight off the demonic Persians and their otherworldly army.
    Filled with oiled abs, loincloths and macho warrior screams, 300: Rise of an Empire is a blood, sweat and brawn action movie. Actors and characters are fairly interchangeable in the vast field of set pieces and odd creatures. If you dream of the days when Greeks fought sexy sea witches while wearing naught but a cape and their underoos, this is your movie. If you have a passable knowledge of Greek mythology and/or history, avoid this film or risk a migraine the size of the Persian Empire.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 102 mins.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman
    Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is a brilliant scientist, inventor, Olympian and business genius. He is also the world’s smartest dog. Bored with his life of invention and industry, Mr. Peabody invents the WABAC Machine, a time machine that takes him and his adopted human boy Sherman way back, traveling to history’s important moments.
    Sherman, a bad pet, breaks the rules of time travel and throws the world into chaos. Can Mr. Peabody fix Sherman’s mistakes? Or is disaster inevitable?
    Based on the fun Rocky and Bullwinkle Show cartoons, Mr. Peabody and Sherman looks like a pale imitation of the original. Gags that make little ones laugh will make adults groan.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 92 mins.

New for the Week of February 28, 2014

    Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is experiencing some mental turbulence. Midair, he gets a text from an unknown source demanding $150 million. Pay or one passenger will be killed every 20 minutes.
    Bill has two problems: Not only are passengers being bumped off but somebody is using a cell phone during the flight.
    Neeson has made the improbable leap to action star in his later years, and it’s paid off extremely well. He’s already killed half of Paris in Taken, ravaged Germany in Unknown and fought a pack of Alaskan wolves in The Grey. He’s running out of populations to beat to a bloody pulp, so now he must take to the skies.
    He’s backed up by a surprisingly talented cast that includes Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery. Neeson action films are usually pretty entertaining — if you remember to check your brain at the door.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 106 mins.

Son of God
    The story of how Jesus Christ founded one of the world’s most powerful religions, Son of God is meant to inspire its audience with the messages of the Bible.
    There’s not much suspense, as the plot of the rise of Jesus (Diogo Morgado) from carpenter’s son to messiah is well-known.
    Oddly, the film is billed as a documentary, but a re-creation complete with actors and special effects is not a documentary.
    If you’re looking for a film that will reaffirm your religious convictions, this will be well worth the ticket. Be careful taking children, however, as scenes depicting the crucifixion might be a little too intense for small viewers.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 138 mins.

The Wind Rises
    As a boy, Jiro dreams of becoming a daring pilot. His imaginary friend is Italian aeronautical engineer Giovanni Caproni. When poor vision keeps Jiro from taking wing, he follows in Caproni’s footsteps and begins designing planes for a Japanese Engineering company in 1927.
    Jiro’s innovative designs change the face of the aeronautical industry and almost turn the tides of a world war.
    The final film of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki (who retired from the industry this year), The Wind Rises is sure to be one of the most visually sumptuous films of 2014 with imaginative characters and breathtaking sequences. Unlike many Miyazaki films, The Wind Rises is based more on history than fantasy. Miyazaki has also gathered an all-star vocal cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Mandy Patinkin, for his finale.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 126 mins.

New for the week of February 14, 2014

About Last Night
    Can you find true love in a one-night stand? Debbie (Joy Bryant) and Danny (Michael Ealy) are about to find out. Set up by their friends for a date, Debbie and Danny feel an immediate attraction. As they try to make a go of it as a couple, the relationship of friends Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall) implodes.
    About Last Night is a remake of a 1980s sex comedy. So do you like your lighthearted romcoms with big hair or smart phones?
    This reviewer votes for the modern update, crediting the considerable talents of the supporting cast. Hall and Hart are both talented comedians experienced at stealing scenes and winning laughs even with thin material.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 100 mins.

Endless Love
    Jade (Gabriella Wilde) is beautiful, rich and sheltered. She summers in the refined world of country club living. Wouldn’t you know she’s going to fall for David (Alex Pettyfer), a grunt worker at the club? The attraction is instantaneous and obsessive.
    He’s from the wrong side of the tracks, her parents are mortified and all hell is about to break loose as the young lovers decide they must be together at all costs.
    Another remake of a 1980s film, Endless Love should be a movie about the dangers of all consuming love. Instead, it romanticizes and idealizes obsessive behavior. The formula worked for Twilight. But it promotes poor writing, bad acting and silly relationships.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 103 mins.

    In the near future, OmniCorp is a robot company in charge of policing the world. America is the only holdout. Now OmniCorp is experimenting with a new robot prototype combining human and machine.
    The prototype is built when detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is killed in the line of duty. His consciousness and head are linked to machines. Robocop becomes an overnight sensation; every city in the United States will soon have one.
    Another reboot of a 1980s’ original, RoboCop is the most controversial of the week’s remakes. The original is a classic, raising the bar for a remake. Acting will decide the competition. Character actors like Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson have the right stuff. But is Kinnaman worthy to be the new Alex Murphy?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 108 mins.

Winter’s Tale
    Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is at the end of his rope when he breaks into one of New York’s finest homes. Finding a woman in the seemingly deserted house, he begins a love affair with heiress ­Beverly that spans 100 years.
    How? The movie is vague beyond telling us true love is magic.
    Based on a 1980s fantasy novel, Winter’s Tale combines love, time travel, religion and magical realism. Without hundreds of pages to develop the intricate plot, the movie could be confusing. On the other hand, you get to see Russell Crowe snarl after the young lovers as the devil personified.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 118 mins.

Newfor the week of February 7, 2014

The LEGO Movie
    Ordinary LEGO minifigure Emmet (Chris Pratt) leads a humdrum life in LEGO land. When the world is threatened, Emmet is incorrectly identified as the most important minifigure in the LEGO universe. Convinced Emmet is the one to save the world, LEGO Batman, Gandalf and a host of other LEGO celebrities recruit him to go on an adventure.
    Can Emmet save his fellow LEGOs from a seemingly unstoppable evil? Or is he in over his head?
    Sure to attract just about every kid under the age of 12, The LEGO Movie should be chock-full of pop-culture references and rigid-limbed action. Wonderful voice actors, including Morgan Freeman, should entertain adults in guessing who they’re hearing.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 100 mins.

The Monuments Men
    As the Allied forces fought the Axis powers through Europe, buildings were blown to bits or burned to the ground. In the rubble was another casualty of the war: great works of art. To prevent the cultural destruction of Europe, President Roosevelt assembled a special team.
    Nicknamed The Monuments Men, this group of artists, restorers, architects and art historians seek to preserve great buildings and sculptures; track down art stolen by the Nazis; and prevent unnecessary destruction.
    GIs risking their lives on foreign soil weren’t reliably interested in sacrificing more to preserve a Michelangelo. The Monuments Men fight an uphill battle against their own troops and the Nazis.
    Based on a true story, The Monuments Men is a star-studded film, including George Clooney (who also directed), Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin and Cate Blanchett.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 118 mins.

Vampire Academy
    Vampires have been a powerful society for millennia, but that doesn’t make them invulnerable to danger. They entrust their lives to dhampirs, vampire/human hybrids, who serve as guards.
    Rose is a dhampir training to protect a vampire princess at St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for both species. Smart-mouthed and rebellious, Rose doesn’t fit in well with the strict rules of the Academy. When the princess is threatened by a dangerous tribe of vampires, Rose must prove herself.
    Vampire Academy is based on a popular series of paranormal teen books recognized for biting dialog and high-school satire. Think Clueless with fangs.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 104 mins.

New for the week of January 31, 2014

Frozen Sing Along
    If you’re a karaoke junkie or can’t stop singing “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” then Disney has the movie for you. Out this week comes the smash hit Frozen with a sing-along track. That means you and everyone else in the theater get to follow the bouncing snowflake in song.
Prospects: Noisy • PG • 102 mins.

Labor Day
    Driving up a lonely road, Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son encounter a grungy hitchhiker. Frank (Josh Brolin) is a convict who was injured escaping from jail. This might raise red flags for some mothers, but Adele gives Frank a chance and offers him shelter. Apparently, if you’re cute enough, you earn the benefit of the doubt from lonely single mothers.
    With the police closing in, Adele and Frank seek happiness by eluding the law.
    This is the type of overwrought love story possible only in the movies. It assumes attractive people are inherently good and escaped criminals just need a little love.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 111 mins.

That Awkward Moment
    Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) are best buds who share everything. When love affects each of the trio in a different way, can the guys stay together?
    A relationship comedy from the male perspective is rare. With two impressive talents Jordan and Teller, this one could become a jocular classic instead of ­another crude comedy.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 94 mins.

New for the week of January 24, 2014

Gimme Shelter
    Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) is a pregnant teen with a horrible home life. Her mother, an abusive prostitute (Rosario Dawson), wants Apple to join her working the streets. In the vain hope of escaping the life she’s always known, Apple tracks down her father (Brendan Fraser), who she has never met.
    Dad turns out to be a Wall Street tycoon who is happy to accept his pregnant teen daughter into his life. Can Apple adapt to life outside the streets? Will her father be able to connect to his child?
    An overwrought drama with a plot straight out of a Lifetime movie, Gimme Shelter’s success will depend wholly on the performances. Considering the film stars a Disney teen queen and George of the Jungle, I wouldn’t look for much award recognition.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 100 mins.

I, Frankenstein
    Sometimes, you know a movie is a bad idea. I, Frankenstein is that kind of movie. Nor is From the creators of the Underworld series much of a recommendation.
    Frankenstein’s monster, known as Adam (Aaron Eckhart), has spent centuries hiding in plain sight. Seeking his place in the world, this immortal wretch draws the attention of two factions warring for supernatural supremacy: The Gargoyles and the Demons.
    Will Adam side with the Demons or the Gargoyles? Can a Frankenstein’s monster find love in a futuristic dystopia? Why on earth is this movie getting a theatrical release?
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 100 mins.

New for the week of January 17, 2014

Devil’s Due
    Newlyweds Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha (Allison Miller) are enjoying a dreamy honeymoon when they receive an odd warning from a gypsy. Instead of heeding the warning, they continue to party.
    One lost night later, Samantha discovers she’s pregnant. It’s a little earlier than expected, but the couple is thrilled with the news … Until Zach notices some weird changes in Samantha’s personality, including increased strength and fits of violence.
    The problem with the found-footage conceit is that we know how it ends: If anyone survived to show the footage, it wouldn’t need to be found. This found-footage take on Rosemary’s Baby is filled with horror clichés and silly dialog instead of scares.
Prospects: Dim • R • 89 mins.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
    Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) puts his life on the line during his tour in Afghanistan. But his talent is for detecting complicated plots against the nation. In the CIA’s Financial Intelligence Unit, he uncovers a plot by a Russian baddie to destroy the U.S. economy and is sent into the field to foil it.
    Jack is a re-imagining of the late Tom Clancy’s most popular character. Whether this version of Ryan will be popular enough to start a new series is yet to be determined, but the film has a few things going for it. Pine is a popular young star just bland enough to be the perfect action hero. For the role of evil Russian, director Kenneth Branagh has made an appropriately hammy choice: himself.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins.

Nut Job
    Surly (Will Arnett) isn’t your typical park squirrel. To feed him and the rest of the park through the cold months, he plans a heist of Maury’s Nut Store. But he’ll need the whole of the park to pitch in if he’s going to get the goods.
    A combination of Ocean’s 11 and a Disney movie, The Nut Job is a crime thriller for the under 12 set.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 86 mins.

Ride Along
    High-school security officer Ben (Kevin Hart) dreams of becoming a cop. He also dreams of marrying his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). With a Police Academy acceptance letter and a diamond ring, Ben is close to achieving both goals. The only thing standing in his way is Angela’s hot-tempered police officer brother, James (Ice Cube).
    To prove his worth as a cop and a potential family member, Ben goes on a ride along with James through the mean streets of Atlanta. What starts out as a day of hazing becomes more serious as Ben becomes embroiled in a major case.
    Comedy superstar Hart is looking to turn his standup career into a film career. This easy, silly comedy won’t suit high-minded viewers, but there’s a lot to be said for slapstick.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

New for the Week of January 10, 2014

August: Osage County
    The only thing that could bring together the Weston women is a tragedy. When the family’s patriarch, poet Beverly, goes missing, the three sisters converge at their ancestral home, steeling themselves to deal with old hurts, family secrets and, worst of all, their mother.
    A beautifully acted, foul-mouthed take on family dramas, August: Osage County is filled with strong female performances for several generations of actresses, with Meryl Streep holding court as the venomous Weston matriarch.
    Not a film for those who don’t like profanity or high drama, August: Osage County is a fun piece of camp for those who love to watch a good fight. As the barbs and the foul language fly, you’ll realize your family problems aren’t so bad.
Good Drama • R • 121 mins.

The Legend of Hercules 3D
    Born of Zeus, Hercules (Kellen Lutz) is a man destined to be king. But a forbidden romance gives the world’s strongest man an option. He could run away with his love.
    A revamp of the ancient Greek myth, The Legend of Hercules features lots of action, horrendous dialog and 3D graphics. There are also lots of mangled British accents because apparently Ancient Greeks spoke the King’s English. January is notoriously a slow time at the box office, so many studios release duds like this one now.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 99 mins.

New for the Week of January 3, 2014

    How much do you love your iPhone? Is it your best friend and constant companion? Could you see yourself falling in love with Siri? If so, director Spike Jonze has created a frightening glimpse into your future.
    Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix: The Immigrant) is an isolated man in a world of electronics. Making friends is hard for him, but in this world of constant connection to electronic devices, human contact is no longer a necessity. When he upgrades his operating system to an artificial intelligence named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson: Under the Skin), he finally feels connected.
    Phoenix is impressive in a role that requires him to romance a smart phone. His isolation and sweetness make this tale of virtual love sad instead of creepy. Under the direction of Jonze, Her will give you excellent reason to put away your iPhone for a few hours.
Good Drama • R • 126 mins.

Lone Survivor
    A team of Navy SEALs is sent on a routine reconnaissance mission in the hills of Afghanistan. Discovered by kids and an old man, the team of four faces a hard choice: kill the kids and complete the mission or let them go and risk alerting their enemies.
    A mix of blood, sweat and action-movie clichés, Lone Survivor is based on a true story. As the title predicts, only one of these men makes it out of the mountains alive. Despite a weak script, likeable performances make the three deaths heart wrenching.
Good Action • R • 121 mins.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
    Jesse (Andrew Jacobs: Major Crimes) has strange experiences. Objects move when no one is near them. He feels people watching him. Something sinister follows him.
    Jesse has been marked as next in line for a demonic possession. Can he and his friends stop the assault?
    The latest in the found-footage series, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones offers us the same scares with different characters. Once an inventive and genuinely scary film, the series has gotten progressively sillier and more predictable. Why do all these people take cameras with them wherever they go? If you believe a demon is trying to steal your immortal soul, is it really a good time for a selfie?
Prospects: Dim • R • 84 mins.

New for the Week of December 25, 2013

47 Ronin
    Based on an ancient Japanese legend, 47 Ronin is the story of a group of warriors out to rid the land of violent warlords. Kai (Keanu Reeves) is a shunned man who joins with 47 samurai to fight for freedom.
Prospects: Dull • PG-13 • 119 mins.

Grudge Match
    Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (Robert De Niro) feuded in and out of the boxing ring. Long retired from their careers, the two prehistoric pugilists are lured back for a final bout to find the toughest.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 113 mins.

Justin Bieber’s Believe
    Pop brat Justin Bieber is great at making headlines. His teen and tween fans are legion, which is why he’s come out with yet another behind-the-scenes
Prospects: Dim • PG • 92 mins.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
    When Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) chose to fight for equality in his native land of South Africa, he knew it would be a long journey. Mandela was thrown into jail, his family harassed and his compatriots murdered. After 27 years, he was freed, astounding the world when he called for forgiveness instead of vengeance.
    Long Walk to Freedom is a straightforward chronicle of his early years. See it as a way of paying homage to a great man.
Good Drama • PG-13 • 139 mins.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
    Wallflower Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) has big dreams. His astounding imagination gives him a rich inner life. Reality isn’t so kind. He’s a pushover at work, desperately shy and barely noticed by those around him.
    When a picture under his care goes missing, his job at Time is in peril. To find the missing negative, he must go globetrotting. Can Walter finally live his dream life? Or is he too shy for adventure?
    Based on a short story by James Thurber, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about the power of the mind. The movie is a departure for Ben Stiller, who usually traffics in sillier fair.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 114 mins.

The Wolf of Wall Street
    Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a stockbroker who discovers that fraud is the best way to make money in the market. But no good crime goes unpunished as Jordan’s ostentatious lifestyle draws federal scrutiny.
    Based on the true story of Belfort, who was the mastermind of a securities scam in the 1990s, The Wolf of Wall Street is a story of excess. Clocking in at 180 minutes, it’s a film of excess too, though master director Martin Scorsese may make it easy for you.
Prospects: Bright • R • 180 mins.

New for the Week of December 20, 2013

American Hustle
    The flimflam team of Irving (Christian Bale) and Sydney (Amy Adams) is caught by the FBI while running a low-rent scam. Instead of jail, they’re offered a deal: Work with the Feds to help bring down the corrupt politicians of New Jersey, then walk away. The script is based on a real incident in Jersey in the 1970s, but the story plays fast and loose with what really happened.
    Now working for volatile agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), Sydney and Irving must ingratiate themselves into Jersey politics, a dangerous mission for the small-time pair. Making matters worse is Irving’s wife (Jennifer Lawrence), who might blow the whole operation in a fit of jealousy.
    There are few casts as dreamy as this one. Every lead character has at least one Oscar nomination, including director David O. Russell. A whiz at fast-paced dialog and oddball characters, Russell is a master of the screwball drama.
Prospects: Bright • R • 138 mins.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
    Already a legend in San Diego, news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) leaves his comfortable job for an anchor position at a startup 24-hour news channel. He brings with him his co-anchor wife Veronica (Christina Applegate) and his goofy newsroom buddies.
    Can Ron stay classy in a new city?
    The first Anchorman was a riotous comedy. In this sequel, Ferrell has upped the star power, casting a host of big comic names like Amy Pohler and Tina Fey as well as movie stars like Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. I’m not convinced this will make the story better, but Ferrell’s throwback anchorman is consistently funny, even when the material is weak.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 119 mins.

Inside Llewyn Davis
    Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) has nothing to his name but a guitar. A folk musician trying to make it in 1960s’ Greenwich Village, he lives on the charity of others, crashing on couches and looking for gigs.
    We follow Llewyn on an Odyssey around the boroughs of New York, searching for success that won’t compromise his artistic integrity. Prickly and constantly getting in his own way, he won’t have an easy journey.
    One of the best movies of 2013, this meditative look at the pain and perseverance needed to be an artist is filled by the directors, the Coen brothers, with brilliant performances and familiar folk tunes.
    A wonderful take on the musical, all the songs are live recorded, meaning there are no studio tricks, just singing and playing. If you’ve ever owned a Peter, Paul and Mary album or wondered what it would be like to be a professional musician, Inside Llewyn Davis is your ticket.
Prospects: Bright • R • 105 mins.

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D
    Patchi (Justin Long) is the runt of his dinosaur litter. Small and overlooked, he hangs with bird pal Alex (John Leguizamo), dreaming of the day he’ll be big enough to lead the pack. He’ll get the chance sooner than he thinks, as he must help his group find a safe new home while avoiding carnivores.
    Billed as an immersive experience, Walking with Dinosaurs is the kids’ film of the week. For $20, you’ll get a cheap pair of 3D glasses and an 87-minute film that looks like a mash-up of Ice Age and The Land Before Time. Adults might find themselves wishing for an asteroid.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 87 mins.

New for the Week of December 13, 2013

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas
    What happens at the meeting of two actors who have made their living off ugly stereotyping? We’ll find out when Tyler Perry’s Madea meets Larry The Cable Guy in A Madea Christmas. Perry and The Cable Guy have spent years lowering the entertainment bar, yet audiences flock to their films.
    The film follows Madea (Tyler Perry) and a friend to the country to surprise said friend’s daughter for Christmas. The mother-daughter relationship is strained, so it’s up to Madea and her home-truths to set everyone straight.
    Madea needs you to boycott lest we get more of the same.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 105 mins.

New the Week of December 6, 2013

Out of the Furnace
    Russell (Christian Bale: The Dark Knight Rises) is not living the American Dream. He works long hours for small pay at a steel mill and takes care of his ill father. When little brother Rodney (Casey Affleck: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) comes home from Iraq, Russell’s hopeful for a better life.
    It doesn’t happen. When Rodney disappears, the only clues to his whereabouts lead Russell to a crime ring. The police do nothing, so Russell heads into the woods after the criminals and, he hopes, his brother.
    With a cast that boasts great actors like Bale, Affleck, Sam Shepard, Willem Dafoe and Woody Harrelson, Out of the Furnace promises good drama.
Prospects: Bright • R • 116 mins.

New the Week of November 28, 2013

Black Nativity
    Baltimore teen Langston (Jacob Latimore) is sent to New York by his mother (Jennifer Hudson) to spend Christmas with relatives. Langston bristles in the home of the Rev. Cobbs (Forest Whitaker), who is a harsh disciplinarian. Mrs. Cobbs (Angela Bassett) is more welcoming, but Langston flees.
    Traveling from New York to Baltimore, he needs a little divine help in discovering the truth about his family. 
    A musical adaptation of Langston Hughes’ play, The Black Nativity features a magnificent cast and a compelling story. With a soaring soundtrack to set the scene, the film could be an instant holiday classic.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 93 mins.

    The kingdom of Arendelle has been locked in perpetual winter thanks to the frosty enchantment of Elsa (Idina Menzel). With powers growing fearfully beyond her control, she withdraws from the world.
    Arendelle’s hope for a warm front is sister Anna (Kristen Bell), who seeks to find Elsa and end her icy reign. Joined by mountaineer Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a snowman and a reindeer, Anna journeys across the treacherous winter landscape.
    The latest animated offering from Disney may entertain the kiddies but it’s likely to leave parents feeling cold.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 108 mins.

    Phil Booker (Jason Statham) left the DEA to give his family a normal life. But even in a quiet little town, he runs afoul of the local drug lord (James Franco) who specializes in making meth and killing people.
    A B-Movie with bad accents, ludicrous storylines and silly acting, Homefront has all the marks of cinema best enjoyed with alcoholic beverages and heckling friends. As both are disapproved in our area, skip this one.
Prospects: Southern-fried Silly • R • 100 mins.

    In 1950’s Ireland, Philomena (Judi Dench) is unmarried and pregnant, a huge sin in her conservative Catholic town. Her son is taken from her by the church to be adopted by an American family. Forced to sign a contract saying she will never seek her boy, Philomena must live with guilt.
    Though she marries and has a family, Philomena wonders about the boy she never knew. Then she meets BBC investigative journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), and the pair take on decades of government and church red tape to reunite lost mother and son.
    Based on Sixsmith’s book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, this film is a true story. Dench is getting raves for her performance as the fierce and funny Philomena and Coogan as her stuffy foil. The film fought the MPAA to win a PG-13 rating, despite its language.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 98 mins.

New the Week of November 22, 2013

Delivery Man
    David (Vince Vaughn: The Internship) is a schlub. Working for his dad in a menial job, directionless and not appreciating his girlfriend, he would be in a midlife crisis if his life had started. Given the ultimatum to grow up, David looks for something to give his life meaning.
    Meaning finds David when he learns that, due to a fertility clinic mix up, he’s fathered 533 children. Given that he donated to the clinic over 20 years ago, he’s understandably upset to discover this alarming growth of his family tree. When 142 of his kids file a lawsuit in hopes of learning the identity of their father, he must decide whether to come forward.
    Can David be a father to hundreds of children? Will he ever grow up?
    A remake of a French Canadian comedy, Delivery Man looks to have heart. David’s struggles make him relatable. As for the scores of children, don’t you want to know how that works out?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 103 mins.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
    After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence: Silver Linings Playbook) has become a symbol of rebellion. President Snow (Donald Sutherland: Crossing Lines) blames his slipping power on Everdeen.
    To destroy her challenge without causing a rebellion, Snow orchestrates the 75th Hunger Games as a Quarter Quell, pitting past winners against each other for supremacy.
    Faced with a group of even more dangerous killers, Katniss and her faithful partner Peeta once again battle for their lives. Their fight also fuels the talk of rebellion, which is breaking out all over the dystopian nation of Panem.
    The second in the wildly successful Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire features a tight plot and memorable characters.
    There’s no doubt this film will be a success. Buy your tickets and prepare for legions of screaming teens.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 146 mins.


New the Week of November 15, 2013

The Best Man Holiday
    Fifteen years after a near-disastrous wedding, college friends decide to meet for a Christmas celebration. Their joyous reconnection goes fraught with tension over old rivalries, romances and betrayals.
    The sequel to the popular Best Man, The Best Man Holiday is a light holiday break from shopping. The script is filled with romantic comedy clichés, and the story becomes silly.
    Still, it’s rare to find a mass-market romantic comedy featuring a black ensemble cast that doesn’t include Madea. This film might outdo the white-washed fare typical this time of year. With Nia Long, Regina Hall, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs it’s sure to charm even with a weak script.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 122 mins.

The Dallas Buyer’s Club
    Bull rider Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey: Mud) is all about sex, drugs and danger. His lifestyle catches up to him when he’s diagnosed with HIV. A committed racist and homophobe, Ron takes some time to adjust suffering from a “gay disease.”
    As his health declines and hospital visits become more frequent, he reconsiders both the disease and the people he used to shun. Outraged that the government is restricting he use of drugs available across the border in Mexico, Ron vows to die fighting. He organizes a network of AIDS patients, all desperate for effective medicine, and crosses the border to procure AZT, a drug that might save Dallas’ growing population of infected people.
    McConaughey is making great strides to convince the world he’s a credible actor. This is the latest in a line of films that shows the fit Texan is more than a chiseled jaw and six-pack abs. Films like this tend to preach, but it’s impressive to see McConaughey’s transformation from a Hollywood joke into a respected actor.
Prospects: Bright • R • 117 mins.

New the Week of November 8, 2013

Blue Is the Warmest Color
    Adele (Adèle Exarchopoulo: I Used to Be Darker) is a girl of 15 who is hoping to find a true love. She dates a few boys, but she first finds romance in a blue-haired girl named Emma (Léa Seydoux: Grand Central).
    Exploring her burgeoning sexuality, Adele dives into a relationship with Emma. Like most young love, theirs is intense, passionate and hard to maintain.
    A darling of the Cannes Film Festival, Blue Is the Warmest Color is a beautifully shot and written love story. It isn’t, however, a story without controversy. The sex scenes are so provocative that the film earned an NC-17 rating. The real controversy is that the lead actresses say that director Abdellatif Kechiche (Black Venus) exploited them and their bodies for the film. Only you can decide whether great art excuses such transgressions.
Prospects: Bright • NC-17 • 179 mins.

Thor: The Dark World
    It’s been two years since Thor (Chris Hemsworth: Rush) last saw his love Jane (Natalie Portman: Thor). He’s been desperate to return to Earth and continue their romance, but his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins: Red 2) refuses to let him leave Asgard.
    When Jane goes missing, Thor is driven to action. He returns to Earth, locates Jane and whisks her off to Asgard.
    While the lovers reconnect, an old threat looms over Asgard. The Dark Elves have found their leader and power and return to threaten both Earth and Asgard. Survival may come from an unlikely source: Thor’s duplicitous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston: Deep Blue Sea). Can they save the worlds? Can they trust Loki? Can Marvel generate any interest for its least popular hero?
    The sequel to Thor has a cleverly built-in audience. Like all Marvel movies, they interconnect, so if you haven’t seen all the Iron Man, Captain America and Thor movies, you won’t understand The Avengers films. The problem with this system is that it puts no pressure on Marvel and the studios to make these films good. So even if Thor: The Dark World is a mess of storylines that needed massive reshoots from a different director, it’s likely that you’ll end up seeing it anyway. The bright spot in The Dark World: Hiddelston’s Loki has found more popularity than the hero of the movies, and he’s devilish fun to watch whenever he’s on screen.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 112 mins.

New the Week of November 1, 2013

All Is Lost
    An unnamed man (Robert Redford: The Company You Keep) is enjoying the solitude of the open water on a solo voyage across the Indian Ocean. His pleasure cruise turns into a nightmare when he wakes to water in his cabin. After bashing into a floating shipping container, his small yacht is taking on water that’s damaging his radio equipment.
    Unable to navigate without computers or to call for help, he must abandon his ship and hope that his knowledge of currents will get him and a raft into a shipping lane, where he can be rescued.
    A film about our will to survive in spite of overwhelming circumstances, All Is Lost is a movie about one man versus the sea. Director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) takes a big risk by making this film a one-man-show. Like Gravity, it derives most of its tension from the idea of a person alone against overwhelming elements. It has already become a darling of the festival circuit.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 106 mins.

Ender’s Game
    Seventy years after a race of aliens took over the Earth, humanity is having a hard time. Edging to annihilation, the human military force recruits children to lead battles. Perhaps kids have a different thought process up to outsmarting the technologically superior threat.
    The savior of the human race might be Ender (Asa Butterfield: Hugo), a brilliant boy who scores high on aptitude tests and is taken from his family to an orbiting military school to begin training.
    Vying to be the next Hunger Games, Ender’s Game is sci-fi for adolescents, adapted from a popular series of books.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 114 mins.

Free Birds
    Two Tom turkeys (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) team up to change history and remove turkeys from the first Thanksgiving menu by traveling back in time.
    An animated film with a fun voice cast that includes Amy Poehler and George Takei, Free Birds is an easy choice for families, although adults might wish they could baste these turkeys after an onslaught of birdbrained jokes.
    When children realize that one of these turkey pals is trussed up next to the mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving could turn tearful.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 91 mins.

Last Vegas
    When 60-something Billy (Michael Douglas) finally decides to tie the knot, he plans a wild weekend in Vegas, assembling the gang for two days of debauchery.
    But Vegas and his friends have changed. Instead of the Sinatra-style ’60s strip, there’s a new generation, loud music and odd entertainment. On top of that, Billy’s buddy Paddy (Robert De Niro) is still nursing a decades-old grudge. Can they heal old wounds? Can they acclimate to a new Vegas? Can they stay up past 10pm?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins.

New the Week of October 25, 2013

The Counselor
    A squeaky-clean lawyer (Michael Fassbender: 12 Years a Slave) seeking a fast buck agrees to aid drug trafficking. The supposed one-time deal turns into a tangled web of illegal activities. The counselor’s dilemma: how to get out without blood on his hands or handcuffs on his wrists.
    Based on a script written by legendary novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men), The Counselor is sure to be bleak, bloody and packed with seedy characters. Director Ridley Scott (Prometheus) is wonderful at lifting up rocks to show the slithering underbelly of the crime world. He works best exploring a cast of deeply flawed characters, so he should excel with a McCarthy story.
    The Counselor can also rely on its all-star cast. With Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Dean Norris, the film should be a master class in acting.
Prospects: Bright • R • 117 mins.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
    Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville: Jackass) celebrates his 86th year on earth in a trek across America with his eight-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll). Along the way, the duo causes enough property damage and enrages enough people to make Borat look dull.
    Playing hidden-camera pranks on mostly unsuspecting Americans has been a tradition of the Jackass franchise, and Knoxville and his crew of troglodytes thrive on making Americans clutch their pearls in shock. Most pranks are physical, crude and humorless.They seem to be up to their old tricks in Bad Grandpa, with young Billy performing a semi-striptease at a child beauty pageant; Irving smashing motorcycles at a biker bar; and the pair ruining a funeral.
Prospects: Dim • R • 93 mins.

12 Years a Slave
    Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor: Dancing on the Edge) is a free, well-educated and well-traveled black man living with his family in pre-Civil War New York. Until he is kidnapped, sold into slavery and must learn to survive.
    In a new world of pain and suffering, he finds kindness and kinship among fellow slaves. Yet despair threatens.
    Inspired by the true story of Solomon Northup’s struggle to regain his freedom, 12 Years a Slave is already winning rave reviews on the festival circuits and earning Oscar buzz.
    Long overlooked for excellent work, Ejiofor could become a household name with this breakout role. Director Steve McQueen (Shame) — who is known for his character studies — supports Ejiofor with a cast featuring Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.
Prospects: Bright • R • 133 mins.

New the Week of October 18, 2013

    Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz: Kick Ass 2) is a shy girl who’s been fodder for school bullies throughout high school. Her mother (Julianne Moore: Don Jon), a religious zealot, punishes Carrie because of her supposed sins. Alone in the world, Carrie discovers she’s telekinetic and rethinks her status as perpetual victim. 
    The problem here isn’t scripting, acting or even production values. Carrie is already an icon. Most people interested in scary movies have already seen Sissy Spacek wild-eyed and drenched in blood in the 1976 original, so why spend money to see Moretz do it? 
Prospects: Flickering • R • 99 mins. 
Escape Plan
    Security expert Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone: The Expendables 2) makes his living breaking out of prisons. Now he has to break out for real. He partners with Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Last Stand), is a veteran prisoner with an axe to grind.
    Can this odd couple make it to freedom without killing each other first?
Stallone and Schwarzenegger have an easy charisma and great chemistry, and it can be fun to watch these legends. 
Prospects: Nostalgic • R • 116 mins.
The Fifth Estate
    A look into the life of controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch: Star Trek). The film has been decried by WikiLeaks and Assange himself. Depending on your views, this might make you want to see the film or decide against purchasing a ticket.
Wherever you stand on the topic, it’s undeniable that Cumberbatch is having a big moment right now. The British actor is on a fast track to earning his first Oscar nomination, and this might be the film that does it. 
Prospects: Flickering • R • 128 mins.
I’m in Love with a Church Girl
    Miles Montego (Ja Rule) is a retired drug trafficker. He’s got all the money in the world and plenty of women to spend it on. Still, he’s unfulfilled, and he can’t get the DEA off his back. 
    He’s immediately attracted to Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon: Lovestruck). But she isn’t impressed by money and cars; she’s a church girl who values faith and commitment over bling.
    Can Miles find faith and prove himself worthy? But is Ja Rule an actor? Can performances outweigh heavy-handed moralizing? In this movie with a messgae, how much are you willing to bet?
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 118 mins.


New the Week of October 11, 2013

Captain Phillips
    In 2009 the Alabama, a U.S. container ship in international waters, was hijacked by Somali pirates. To save his crew from harm, captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) allows himself to be taken hostage by Muse (Barkhad Abdi), the leader of the outlaws.
    In a standoff, with each other and the Navy SEALS, the two men examine how they got themselves into this situation. They form a tentative understanding as the American learns what motivates the Somali pirates.
    As the movie is based on a real incident, a quick Google search will give you spoilers on what happened to both Phillips and Muse.
    Hanks has won two Academy Awards, but in recent years his non-Toy Story work has been questionable. Here, his New England accent sounds overdone. Will this Hollywood superstar recover his on-screen magic?
    Directed by shaky-cam aficionado Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips is sure to be a taut action-thriller filmed with wildly jarring hand-held shots. If you can stomach Greengrass’ unsteady action aesthetic, the story should be a compelling examination of how desperation drives people to crime.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 134 mins.

Machete Kills
    A crazy arms dealer (Mel Gibson) plans to launch a missile into America, spreading war and anarchy. The desperate president (Charlie Sheen) calls in the only man that can stop the disaster: Machete (Danny Trejo). Machete must murder his way through a bevy of beautiful assassins, crazed killers and Mexicans.
    A sequel to an unnecessary movie, Machete Kills promises a non-stop cacophony of breasts, bullets and explosions. The cast is an interesting mix of pop-culture personalities, crazy people and legitimate actors. You’ll find Michelle Rodriguez, Demian Bichir, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Tom Savini, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sheen and Gibson under the same marquee.
    The problem is Machete, who turns out to be a dull blade. Trejo is an intimidating presence on screen, but he doesn’t carry the movie. His delivery is wooden, his fight scenes are slow and creaky and the idea that nubile, barely clad women are cat-fighting for him is ridiculous.
    Still, director Robert Rodriguez is experienced at crafting male power fantasies. If you’re interested in sexy babes who fire gun bras, you’ll find no better movie this year.
Prospects: Dim • R • 107 mins.

Romeo & Juliet
    In a time before sexting, dramatic Facebook posts and Taylor Swift albums, teenagers resorted to suicide pacts to deal with oppressive parents and surging hormones. Such is the case for Romeo (Douglas Booth) and Juliet (Hailee Steinfeld), two teens who meet at a party, fall instantly in love and decide they must be together forever. But a feud between their families makes their union impossible.
    Screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) and director Carlos Carlei (The Flight of the Innocent) take the traditional tack with this Shakespeare play. That’s just as well as I’m loathe to see Romeo texting, “wt lite thru yonder window br8ks?”
    Oscar-nominee Steinfeld is a strong Juliet. Booth has less prestige but offers passion as the other half of the star-crossed lovers in the ultimate tale of teen love gone wrong. Still, adaptations of Shakespeare can be tricky, as modern actors find iambic pentameter difficult.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 118 mins.

New the Week of October 4, 2013

    Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock: The Heat) joins an elite team of astronauts for her first shuttle mission. She and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney: The Descendants) are on a space-walk when an explosion sends them hurtling through space.
    No gravity, no way of stopping, no shuttle and no hope of immediate help, Kowalski and Stone are held together by a tenuous radio connection. Will they find a way to save themselves? Or are they doomed to float ever further into the abyss of space?
    A terrifying premise that plays on our worst fears of death and isolation, Gravity has been earning rave reviews around the world. Director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men) has a knack for building tension, so expect Gravity to be gut-wrenching. As with many movies that feature minimal casts who spend long periods alone (127 Hours, Castaway), the film’s success will hinge on the performances of the leads. Cuaron has cast a pair of Oscar winners to act out this nightmare.
    This film looks like a contender in awards season, so check it out if you want to stay up-to-date. For a literary version of similar themes, check out Ray Bradbury’s short story Kaleidoscope.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 91 mins.

    President John Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, threw Dallas into turmoil as secret service agents attempted to make sense of the unimaginable and doctors struggled to save the life of the most powerful man in the world.
    Parkland is the story of how a few ordinary people were drawn into that day. The film follows the staff at the Parkland Hospital, the secret service, the family of Lee Harvey Oswald and Abraham Zapruder.
    With an all-star cast that includes Marcia Gay-Harden, Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thorton, Parkland could be fascinating. The addition of Zac Efron as a doctor tasked with saving JFK worries me that some of the actors are not up to the material.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 93 mins.

Runner Runner
    Grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake) has a gift for numbers that allows him to earn his tuition via offshore online gambling. When he’s cleaned out, the whiz kid believes he’s been robbed by a technical glitch.
    Richie takes his suspicions to the source: Online gambling entrepreneur Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Instead of demanding a refund, Richie concludes that the big money of Ivan’s criminal lifestyle sounds pretty good. Soon, he’s Ivan’s right-hand man, enjoying the women and toys that come with having all the money in the world.
    Somehow, Richie is shocked to discover that Ivan isn’t a nice guy. Thus he must find a way to avoid the long arm of the law and the longer arm of Ivan while trying to keep his ill-gotten gains.
    For a movie that seems like a summer thriller left on the shelf too long, Runner Runner has one positive: Affleck’s delightfully unhinged performance. There’s something enjoyable about a ham, especially one adding levity to an otherwise dull movie.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 91 mins.

New the Week of September 27, 2013

Baggage Claim
    Gorgeous flight attendant Montana (Paula Patton: 2 Guns) is miserable. Poor Montana doesn’t have a date to her little sister’s wedding. She uses her job to meet as many eligible bachelors as she can, hoping to find Mr. Right and earn her MRS degree before the big day.
    It’s truly depressing that in 2013, Hollywood still thinks a woman is incomplete without a man. Send a message: Boycott this movie.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 96 mins.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
    Inventor Flint (Bill Hader: The To Do List) made a machine that turned weather systems into delicious food. It was fun until meatball storms and ice cream snow forced the residents of Flint’s tiny island home to flee.
    When Flint and a cleanup crew return, they find that sentient food has taken over. Can they combat tacodiles and shrimpanzees?
    Though the humor skews young, the graphics and voice acting should be entertaining for even the most sophisticated viewers. Who doesn’t like a good food pun?
Prospects: Bright • PG • 95 mins.

Don Jon
    Jersey boy Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Lincoln) is happy with his simple life. He works out, he hangs out with his pals, he hooks up with girls on Saturday night and he goes to church with his family on Sunday morning. In his spare time, he cultivates an impressive pornography obsession.
    His life changes when he meets a beautiful girl (Scarlett Johansson) who demands that he give up the porn and commit to her.
    Gordon-Levitt — who writes and directs as well as acts — seems to be revising last year’s Shame, a searing sex-addiction film, by adding a little humor and a lot more Jersey accents. Can he  walk the line between silly and serious in his character study? He’s certainly stacked the deck in his favor, casting impressive performers like Johansson, Glenne Headly, Tony Danza and Julianne Moore.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 90 mins.

Enough Said
    Masseuse Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Veep) is content with her single status but isn’t looking forward to sending her daughter off to college. Fighting empty nest loneliness with an improved social life, she meets Albert (James Gandolfini: Zero Dark Thirty) another soon-to-be empty nester.
    There’s one fly in the ointment. Albert complains incessantly about her ex-husband. Is the relationship worth the flow of negativity?
    Gandolfini's last screen performance, Enough Said looks at the price of relationships. Louis-Dreyfus is a skilled comedian whose natural  timing and inherent charm will carry her well. Gandolfini gets the rare opportunity to play against type as a funny man not involved in the waste management business. Eva isn’t desperate, and it’s refreshing to see a romantic comedy star over the age of 30.
    A charming comedy could be a great way to say goodbye to a fantastic actor.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 93 mins.

    Formula 1 racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth: Thor) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl: Seven Days in Havana) are polar opposites. James believes in sex, alcohol and reckless driving. Niki worships practice, science and precision. The two rivals electrify the racing circuit until a horrific accident sidelines Niki.
    Faced with his own mortality, James considers whether to change his reckless ways or continue pursuing racing greatness. Niki faces his own challenges, trying to get back to racing while dealing with debilitating injuries.
    The story of a real life competition that excited the racing circuit in the 1970s, Rush is about the power of rivalry. It’s also a story that speaks more to men than women, as you’ll see ladies are merely sexual conquests in this macho flick.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 123 mins.

New the Week of September 20, 2013

Battle of the Year
    For 15 years, the Americans have lost the competition for Best Dance Battlers. Tired of disgrace on native turf, a hip-hop mogul strives to reclaim the title, hiring former championship basketball coach Blake (Josh Holloway: Lost). Blake has three months to assemble a Dream Team.
    Movies about dance crews shimmying their way to supremacy are popular. Who needs a plot or well-rounded characters when you’ve got rhythm?
Prospects: Rhythmic • PG-13 • 109 mins.

    The Dover and the Birch families share the Thanksgiving celebration. While the adults prepare dinner, both six-year-old daughters go outside on an adventure. When the girls haven’t returned by turkey time, a desperate search begins.
    Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal: End of Watch) soon finds a likely suspect: Alex Jones (Paul Dano: Looper) a creepy young man driving a beat-up RV in the neighborhood on Thanksgiving. But there’s no proof, so he’s released.
    The horrified families conclude that interrogating Alex themselves might be their last chance.
    A tense drama with a plot that is the stuff of nightmares with questions of morality, justice and family duties to add depth, Prisoners looks promising. It also features a knockout cast including Hugh Jackman, Viola Davis and Maria Bello. On the downside, the subject matter is grim and the running time nearly three hours.
Prospects: Bright • R • 153 mins.

    J. D. Salinger wrote one of literature’s most beloved books before disappearing from the public eye. A notorious hermit, he kept writing but never sought to publish another book.
    This documentary looks into the psyche of one of America’s most enigmatic authors, exploring Salinger’s time in World War II and experiences that could have inspired Catcher in the Rye.
    If you spent high school cursing Holden Caufield, this might make you re-open the book and give it another try.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 120 mins.

Thanks for Sharing
    When Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltro) meets Adam (Mark Ruffalo), she thinks she’s hit the jackpot. Adam is funny, successful and available; he’s also a recovering sex addict. Phoebe pursuing the relationship, soon meets Adam’s support group: reformed family man Mike (Tim Robbins), new-to-recovery Neil (Josh Gad) and compulsive Dede (Alicia Moore).
    Soon, Phoebe is battling her own compulsions, trying to deal with her fear of Adam’s relapsing without following him 24/7. Can a relationship survive when one partner is a sexual compulsive?
    Though the film seems to take a light tone, it deals with a serious subject. Can it strike the right balance between funny and dramatic? With an excellent cast and a script from Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are Alright), Thanks for Sharing could win over audiences and critics alike.
Prospects: Bright • R • 112 mins.

Opening September 13, 2013

The Family
    After mob boss Giovanni Manzoni (Robert De Niro) snitches on his fellow gangsters, he and his family join the Witness Protection Program. In Normandy, the Manzoni family has some trouble fitting in with the French neighbors.
    The Manzonis’ reversion to old behaviors attracts attention. Now the mob has flooded the sleepy French village with trained killers.
    Director Luc Besson does know his way around an action sequence, but his recent films are action heavy and plot poor.
    The Family looks like a paycheck movie, albeit one that sinks De Niro’s acting legacy into cement shoes.
Prospects: Grim • R • 112 mins.

Insidious 2
    The Lambert family thought they had escaped the supernatural forces set on destroying them and stealing their son. Yet in a new house with a new baby, familiar and disturbing phenomena are still with them.
    Considering how Insidious ended, I’m curious to see how the Lamberts got to a bright new beginning. Two seems like an unnecessary sequel to a good single-shot horror film. Still, director James Wan has proven to be a deft hand at suspense, and perhaps he can make this sequel chilling.
    If want to spend your weekend checking closets and peering under the bed, you could do worse than Insidious 2. Rather than pay the box office prices, however, I recommend you rent Wan’s other work, The Conjuring.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins.

The Ultimate Life
    Jason Stevens is having a tough time with his money. As the head of his late grandfather’s charitable foundation, Jason is being sued by his extended family, who want dear old grandpa’s money for themselves.
    Jason turns to his grandfather for help. It seems grandpa left a diary of his life just after the Great Depression. Jason is so engrossed in the story that he’s actually transported back in time to 1941. Now, as he bears witness to his grandfather’s amazing rags-to-riches story, he finds the inspiration to do the right thing.
    A sequel to 2007’s The Ultimate Gift, The Ultimate Life is another well-intentioned drama meant to offer us moral choices and inspiration. While seeing Peter Fonda on screen is a treat, The Ultimate Gift plays regularly on the Hallmark Channel. Perhaps its sequel is also best left to basic cable television, since box office tickets are so expensive these days.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 105 mins.

Opening September 6, 2013

Instructions Not Included
    Playboy Valentin (Eugenio Derbez: La familia P. Luche) is enjoying the single life in Acapulco. His conquests are put on hold, however, when someone leaves baby Maggie at his door with a note explaining it is his.
    Now Valentin must journey to Los Angeles, looking for the mother and a way to get back to his former carefree life. Six years later, Valentin still hasn’t found the mom but has enjoyed raising Maggie. So it comes as a surprise to him when Maggie’s mother shows up demanding the child back.
    This Mexican comedy looks like a typical genre piece, but it can be fun to watch a new parent fumble while learning the ropes. The jokes will probably be rote, but this type of movie usually relies on the performances of its leads to elevate the material.
    Whether Derbez can deliver a stellar performance is yet to be seen, but this could be a welcome relief from summer’s abundance of dumb action movies.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

    Escaped murderer Riddick (Vin Diesel: Fast and Furious) is still being tracked by bounty hunters eager to earn the price on his head. Abandoned to die on a desert planet, Riddick discovers that this place isn’t lifeless when the sun goes down. He’s battling alien predators for survival, and his only way off the planet is to activate his emergency beacon — which will bring every bounty hunter in the galaxy straight to him.
    After the disastrous Chronicles of Riddick, producers waited nine years to attempt another sequel. Dark, moody and brutal, the Riddick franchise would make for great genre filmmaking, if only they cast a compelling lead. Diesel’s monotonous delivery is equivalent to Ambien for moviegoers.
    If you absolutely must see this movie, I suggest buying a cup of coffee at the concession stand to help you stay awake through Diesel’s lurching, mumbling performance.
Prospects: Dim • R • 119 mins.

Opening August 30, 2013

Closed Circuit
    Lawyers and ex-lovers Martin (Eric Bana: Deadfall) and Claudia (Rebecca Hall: Iron Man 3) are brought back together for the case of their lives. They must defend the only suspect from a bombing in London.
    Pressured to botch the case in the name of justice, Martin and Claudia suspect there is something more to the bombing. Once they begin to dig, they uncover a conspiracy that will endanger their lives.
    A paranoia thriller that examines the perils of always being on camera in big cities, Closed Circuit features a well-worn plot and an excellent cast. Global government conspiracies tend to seem implausible when examined closely. But with Bana, Hall, Jim Broadbent and Ciaran Hinds playing pivotal roles, this hackneyed genre could get new life.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.

    Ex-race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke: Before Midnight) is having a bad day. His wife is kidnapped by a madman who demands Brent complete a series of tasks to gain her return.
    Stealing a Shelby Mustang to complete his tasks, Brent must evade the law and race through increasing dangers. His only help in his mission is The Kid (Selena Gomez: Aftershock), a mysterious hacker who tags along for the ride.
    Can Brent get his wife back? Will he find out the story behind his pint-sized passenger? Does anyone care about this movie?
    An action movie whose stars look bored, Getaway stalls before opening. Hawke, who has made a living staring in B-horror movies, seems particularly embarrassed with his racecar driver role. For Gomez, this is obviously an opportunity to branch out from her squeaky-clean Disney image. But she doesn’t look believable as a hacker street kid.
    If you’re looking for a race car film to get your adrenaline pumping, go see the latest Fast and Furious. At least those actors are having fun with their plotless flick.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 90 mins.

One Direction: This Is Us
    If you loved Katy Perry’s documentary or felt that Justin Bieber was robbed when his biographical film Never Say Never was overlooked at Oscar season, here’s the movie for you.
    Learn about the popular teen band One Direction, which rose to fame in Britain while competing on The X-Factor. Explore the boys’ backgrounds, see rare behind-the-scenes footage, and watch them perform at sold-out concerts.
    If you — or more likely your tween — are a big fan of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis, One Direction: This Is Us will be a great investment. Otherwise steer clear of the theater, lest your eardrums be perforated by the screams of tween girls.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 93 mins.

Opening August 23, 2013

In a World …
    Vocal coach Carol (Lake Bell: Children’s Hospital) is living in the shadow of her father, Sam (Fred Melamed: The Dictator), a famous voice-over artist. Told repeatedly that the movies don’t want a “female sound” for their trailers, Carol is determined to make it in the industry.
    Written and directed by Bell, In a World is a passion project that tackles the sexism and nepotism of Hollywood through an original lens. Bell has a great supporting cast, featuring Eva Longoria, Geena Davis, Nick Offerman and Rob Corddry.
    With witty writing and some great performances, Bell’s passion project should be a treat for cinephiles.
Prospects: Bright • R • 93 mins.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
    Clary Fray (Lily Collins: Mirror, Mirror) is a New York teen with a seemingly ordinary life. When her mother disappears, Clary learns that she is descended from a long line of Shadowhunters — half-angel warriors who battle demons for control of the human world. With the help of the mysterious but totally hot angel Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower: The Twilight Saga), Clary seeks her mother, fights a great evil and maybe falls in love.
    Gosh, I hope she finished her homework.
    Now that the studios have exhausted their supply of sparkly vampire movies, they’re looking for the next big thing. The lusty story of a seemingly ordinary teen who catches the eye of an impossibly sexy yet completely respectful angel isn’t a new one. The film is based on a bestselling young-adult novel series, which must be more imaginative than this bland-looking movie.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 130 mins.

The Spectacular Now
    Sutter Keely (Miles Teller: Project X) is a high schooler who believes in the now. He’s happy as a popular student, content to work at a men’s clothing store, date his hot girlfriend and binge drink. He’s content to let others worry about the future.
    When he’s dumped, Sutter goes on a bender and wakes up on the lawn of Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley: The Descendants). He forms a bond with this idealistic, kind girl, who’s making big plans for her future.
    A darling of the independent film circuit, The Spectacular Now is being heralded as one of the most touching and realistic portrayals of a teen relationship ever captured on film. Both Woodley and Teller have earned raves for their unflinchingly
adolescent performances.
Prospects: Bright • R • 95 mins.

The World’s End
    As young men, Gary King (Simon Pegg: Star Trek) and his friends failed to complete an elaborate pub-crawl. Twenty years later, Gary reunites the gang to try again. The plan is to start at the top of the bar row and drink their way to The World’s End.
    The guys have respectable jobs and lives, but they feel sorry for their perpetually adolescent friend.
    In a haze of suds and brews, the guys are slow to notice something different about townsfolk. An invasion is under way, and the only hope humanity has is a bunch of booze-soaked, middle-aged men. Uh-oh.
    Will they make it to The World’s End? Or see the end of the world?
    The final movie in Pegg and director Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End promises violence, gore and hilarity. Like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz before it, it’s a clever send up filled with wonderful character actors embellishing a whip-smart script.
Prospects: Bright • R • 109 mins.

You’re Next
    The Davidson Family reunion is interrupted by an unpleasant scene. No, granny didn’t get into the schnapps; the problem is a gang of masked killers.
    Luckily, the Davidsons have a secret weapon: One of the girlfriends comes between them and the sharp end of an axe.
    It’s a rarity for women in such films to kick butt, so I’m hoping this one can rack up some carnage in the name of feminism and equality.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 96 mins.

Opening August 16, 2013

    Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher: Two and a Half Men) was a college dropout with a business dream. With fellow tech-obsessed nerds, he took Apple computers from a garage-based business to a billion-dollar global empire.
    Jobs tell the story of one of the greatest tech-minds of our time, but it doesn’t seem interested in the controversial aspects of Jobs’ life.
    I’m also not sure that the man who became famous for dating Demi Moore is up to the challenge of portraying Steve Jobs. When your greatest acting credit thus far is Dude, Where’s My Car? it may be a stretch to carry a dramatic lead.
    Still, if you have an iPhone, you have to see this film. Seriously, check your contract; I’m pretty sure you’re required to buy a ticket.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 122 mins.

Kick-Ass 2
    Teen vigilante Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Anna Karenina) has inspired a slew of like-minded crime fighters to take to the streets in masks. These do-gooders aim to violently stop criminal enterprises.
    Not content to be beaten into submission by a bunch of Spandex-clad civilians, the criminals decide to make the streets safe for crime once again. Led by a villain so evil his name isn’t fit for print (it starts with Mother), the baddies wage war on masked vigilantes.
    Can Kick-Ass save the city? Are armed vigilantes the solution to crime? Why must superheroes wear so much Spandex?
    The first Kick-Ass was a fun, foul-mouthed romp that explored themes of violence, revenge and personal identity. Kick-Ass 2 could be more of the same, but its writing seems to have weakened.
    If you’re in the market for a blood and guts action movie so violent that Jim Carrey (who stars in the film) renounced it, Kick-Ass 2 is a great choice.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 103 mins.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler
    Southern servant Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker: The Last Stand) gets a job as a White House butler. There, he attends to the most powerful people in the free world: the president and his family. He’s a silent observer to policy decisions that affect the world at large as well as his nation.
    Though Cecil’s wife (Oprah) is proud of him, his civil rights activist son is ashamed of his father’s subservient career. Can Cecil teach his son the lessons he’s learned observing the working of politics, or are they destined to never reconcile?
    The writing seems hokey — can Cecil truly change everyone’s heart that he meets? — but it is a true story and a chance to look behind the scenes of history.
    Whitaker is an Oscar-caliber actor; I’m hoping The Butler gives him opportunity to show off his amazing range. With supporting performances from Vanessa Redgrave, Lenny Kravitz and Jane Fonda, The Butler should be beautifully acted, if overwrought.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 132 mins.

    A young tech genius Adam (Liam Hemsworth) needs a break. He’s talented, but he lacks the smooth appeal and Ivy League credentials of his peers.
    His big break comes with a price: Tech wizard Nicholas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) hires him to be a corporate spy, gleaning secrets from Wyatt’s biggest rival Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford).
    Can Adam commit industrial espionage without getting caught? Can he survive between two warring giants?
    Imagine you’re seeing a Steve Jobs/Bill Gates battle royale.
    Paranoia is a pretty standard-looking thriller with a stellar cast. Watching Ford and Oldman chew scenery and snarl at each other is well worth the price of admission, whether or not you pay attention to Hemsworth and the tech-stealing storyline.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 106 mins.

Opening August 9, 2013

    By 2154, the one percent have risen even higher above the 99 percent. The rich luxuriate on Elysium, a space station equipped with the greatest luxuries and technologies, while the rest of humanity slaves away on environmentally bankrupt Earth.
    Earth dwellers are desperate to ascend to Elysium so Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), has devised anti-immigration laws to keep the grubby masses out. Earth dweller Max (Matt Damon) challenges the laws and Elysium itself.
    Directed by Neill Blomkamp, Elysium could be one of the more intelligent blockbusters of the summer. His District 9 offered social commentary and great practical effects. With a bigger budget and big-name stars, his biggest challenge will be to stay true to his indie roots.
Prospects: Bright • R • 109 mins.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
    Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon and a demi-god — not a full-blooded god but with great powers and strength unknown to humans. When last we saw Percy, he had saved the Olympians from an usurper.
    This time around, gods and demi-gods are threatened by the resurrection of the Titans. To stop this massive evil, Percy and his friends must venture into the Sea of Monsters to retrieve the Golden Fleece.
    The sequel to a film no one saw, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is what happens when a studio is desperate for a franchise that will bring in money. Nonetheless, it’s a good introduction to Greek mythology and might pique kids’ interests in the classics.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 106 mins.

    Crop-duster Dusty aspires to compete in an aerial race. He’s got the speed. He’s got the heart. But he’s afraid of heights.
    Can Dusty get over his phobia to break into the world of jet racing?
    Think of this film as Cars with more altitude. Like most Pixar films not based on people, Planes will probably be a big disappointment to fans of human stories. There will be a few ethnic stereotypes, lots of laughs and plenty of entertaining aeronautic acrobatics.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 92 mins.

We’re the Millers
    To travel to Mexico to smuggle marijuana across the border, pot dealer David needs the perfect cover: an all-American family on an RV vacation. He recruits a stripper to play his devoted wife, a punk kid to play his wholesome daughter and a weird neighbor boy to play his son.
    As a stripper, Jennifer Aniston plays against her good girl image. Let’s hope she has found a vehicle to jumpstart her stalling film career.
    A crude comedy that looks equal parts hilarious and disgusting, We’re the Millers is selling cheap laughs. If you find spider bites to the groin, drug humor and physical comedy funny, this is the flick for you.
Prospects: Bright • R • 110 mins.

Opening August 2, 2013

2 Guns
    DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington: Flight) is tasked with infiltrating a drug cartel. The price of admission is robbing a bank with drug cartel member Stig (Mark Wahlberg: Pain and Gain). When the job goes bad, Bobby gets another shock: Stig is a Naval intelligence officer infiltrating the cartel.
    Set up, the two men unwittingly robbed the CIA. Now, they must avoid the angry spy agency and figure out who framed them.
    A straight-forward looking shoot-em-up, 2 Guns could be a refreshing spin on buddy-heist movies or another hackneyed paycheck project for Washington and Wahlberg. Big arms and scowling line delivery is pretty much the sum total of Wahlberg’s acting style, so he should be right at home in this shallow-looking caper. Washington’s charisma and seemingly ageless face suit him to action-movie roles. He must view them as stylish vacations from his in-depth performances in films like Flight.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 109 mins.

Opening July 31, 2013

Smurfs 2
    When Gargamel (Hank Azaria: The Simpsons) kidnaps Smurfette (Katy Perry) and whisks her away to Paris, the Smurf population falls into a panic. With good reason too, as Smurfette is the only female in the village and therefore, I assume, their only hope of species propagation.
    Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity Smurf travel to the City of Lights to reclaim their only female. With help from their human pals, the Smurfs seek Smurfette — whose name, you’ll notice, gives her no personality trait besides gender. The team must defeat Gargamel and overcome the Naughties, a breed of evil Smurfs conjured by the evil wizard.
    I could tell you more, but it’s all pretty smurfin’ stupid.
    The only acceptable reason to see this tripe is an especially insistent child. I recommend enduring tantrums rather than giving in. The only thing worse than the plot is the obvious embarrassment of the live-action actors, who clearly need a paycheck.
Prospects: Bleak • PG • 105 mins.

Opening July 26, 2013

Fruitvale Station
    On New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan: Chronicle) connects with friends and family before going out to watch fireworks. A day of reflection is turned into a night of horror when police officers accost Grant and his friends with deadly consequences.
    This is a true story.
    Grant’s life, loves and death are specially poignant in the aftermath of the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, another young black man slain under suspect circumstances.
    Jordan is already generating Oscar-buzz for his captivating portrayal of Grant.
    In the midst of summer movies, Fruitvale Station invites you to exercise your mind. Timely, moving and disturbing, it has bigger ambitions than box office returns.
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.

The To Do List
    Nerdy Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza: Parks and Recreation) is nervous about going to college. Luckily her big sis is there to assuage her worries, telling Brandy that smarts don’t matter; only sexual prowess counts on campus.
    The inexperienced Brandy, a quick study, makes a list of sexual acts and conquests to check off before she heads to campus. Can this one-woman sexual revolution make herself a woman of the world without suffering the consequences?
    This modern take on the 1980s sex comedies, The To Do List looks like a great flick for admirers of crude sex humor. Plaza is a fun presence on screen, so her dour deliveries might add a bit of wit.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 103 mins.

The Wolverine
    Wolverine (Hugh Jackman: Les Miserables), the super-healing X-Men with ripped muscles and funky hair, journeys to Japan when an old acquaintance offers him the gift of mortality. Anxious to shuffle off the immortal coil, Wolverine accepts and finds that for the first time in ages, he doesn’t immediately heal when injured.
    Weak for the first time, he must now battle a league of samurai bent on finally killing him. Can Wolverine defeat the threat? Will he eventually embrace his mutant healing powers and accept immortality? Could this movie possibly be worse than X-Men Origins: Wolverine?
    The story of Wolverine takes a darker turn in this origin movie styled after the Frank Miller comics. The more dramatic, action-heavy take worked for Batman, but I’m not convinced that Wolverine is interesting without his X-Men friends.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 126 mins.


Opening July 19, 2013

The Conjuring
    Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are used to things that go bump in the night. As successful paranormal investigators, the Warrens traverse the country looking into and lecturing about hauntings. When a desperate mother begs them to help her and her family with an aggressive spirit, the Warrens take on their most dangerous haunting.
    Based on a true story — as such movies always are — The Conjuring opens the door of one of the most violent haunted houses in America. Directed by James Wan (Insidious), the film should be filled with odd set pieces and eerie scares.
Prospects: Bright • R • 112 mins.

Girl Most Likely
    Playwright Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is having a tough third act. Her career and love life have had their curtain calls. No longer the toast of the town, Imogene moves back in with her mother (Annette Bening) to rebuild her life.
    Wiig loves making movies about women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. While Bridesmaids was a hit with the crude-humor connoisseurs, Girl Most Likely takes a subtler approach. Wiig and Bening play well off each other, and it’s nice to see a movie that’s concerned with women finding their place in the world.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 103 mins.

Red 2
    Frank Moses (Bruce Willis: GI Joe) has been retired from the CIA for years, but he still takes freelance jobs to keep up his deadly skill set.
    His golden years are threatened when MI:6 gets erroneous information that Moses is responsible for stealing a nuclear device.
    A sequel to the silly but wildly entertaining Red, this film is part of a new genre of action films I’ve begun calling The Golden Oldies. Like The Expendables, Red 2 is a collection of older actors, some of whom have been written off as has-beens, gleefully reclaiming the spotlight in dumb action movies.
    Dialog and plotting are less than stellar, but Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox are having such a good time that it hardly matters.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 116 mins.

    When Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is slain in the line of duty, he’s given a second chance to protect and serve as an undead officer in the R.I.P.D. – that’s the Rest in Peace Department. Paired with a wild and wooly sheriff (Jeff Bridges), Nick hunts down undead evildoers.
    Nothing about this movie seems like a good idea. The plot is in essence a twist on Men in Black but without a charismatic lead. Special effects did not get the budget they needed to be believable.
    I can’t think of a single positive thing in this film. But if Grown Ups 2 can make $42.5 million at the box office, I’m sure there’s an audience for this derivative nonsense as well.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 96 mins.

    A snail with dreams of life in the fast lane, Turbo (Ryan Reynolds again) is granted super speed and becomes the fastest snail — and just maybe the fastest object — in the world.
    With the help of some human allies, Turbo competes in the Indie 500. How a little snail will keep from becoming a smear on the pavement is anybody’s guess.
    A well-meaning cartoon about following your dreams, Turbo looks like a movie that will be more popular with kids than with parents. There are a few ethnic stereotypes that seem problematic, but if Johnny Depp can run around with a bird on his head in the Lone Ranger, I doubt these characters will raise many eyebrows. Lacking the layered humor of movies from Pixar, this is a kids’ flick, plain and simple.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 96 mins.

Opening July 12, 2013

Grown Ups 2
    Lenny (Adam Sandler: Hotel Transylvania) decides that the big city is no place to raise a family, so he moves back to his small hometown. As a bonus, he is now close to all his childhood friends. Soon, however, Lenny learns that small town life is just as crazy as the big city hustle. But what does that matter when you’ve got your best buds to pal around with?
    Will Lenny and his pals ever grow up? Will his family adjust to life in a small town? Will Adam Sandler ever make a movie that isn’t derivative, crude and boring?
    Likely not.
    We moviegoers deserve better than the likes of Sandler. Sure, it’s nice that he keeps his buddies David Spade, Kevin James and Nick Swardson employed, but at what cost to us? If we keep paying to see fart jokes, lazy humor and barely-there plots, he’ll keep delivering just that.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 101 mins.

Pacific Rim
    In the future, a rift opens deep in the Pacific Ocean, unleashing a host of giant sea monsters bent on the destruction of humanity. The creatures tear down skyscrapers, crush people under their feet and cause mayhem wherever they go.
    How do you get rid of a monster infestation? With robots, duh!
    Pilots and soldiers are recruited to drive a fleet of building-sized robots to battle the sea monsters for control of Earth.
    Director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II) has a wonderful, dark visual style that is influenced by comedy from Lovecraft to Burton. Del Toro’s artistry might take Pacific Rim from stupid action movie to classic summer blockbuster. Or the film could be a beautiful disaster. He’s certainly stacked the deck in his favor, casting Idris Elba (The Wire), Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) and Rinko Kikuchi (The Warped Forest).
    But with a plot that sounds as if it were dreamed up by a seven-year-old on a Pixie Stix high, Pacific Rim isn’t exactly high art.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 131 mins.

Opening July 5, 2013

Despicable Me 2
    Former super villain Gru (Steve Carell: The Office) has given up most of his evil ways to better raise his three adopted daughters. Though semi-retired, he is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help take down a new evil threatening to take over the world.
    A sequel to Dreamworks’ adorable villain-with-a-heart-of-gold film, Despicable Me 2 should be a great option for parents hoping to distract their young ones for a few hours. I’m concerned that Gru as a good guy won’t be as compelling as Gru the super villain falling in love with his three children and choosing good over evil. Time will tell if Gru was meant to play nicely with others.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 98 mins.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
    One of the most successful standup comedians today, Kevin Hart invites you to his sold-out Madison Square Garden show. Hart’s brand of comedy covers everything from growing up with a crack-head father to learning how to manage money once he became a success.
    If you’re a fan of Hart’s no-holds-barred humor, here’s your way to cool off this summer.
Prospects: Bright • R • 75 mins.

The Lone Ranger
    When lawman John Reid (Armie Hammer: Mirror Mirror) is killed in the desert, the bad guys assume they’ve won. They don’t count on Reid’s body being revived by Tonto (Johnny Depp: Dark Shadows), a Native American warrior dedicated to justice.
    Based on a classic radio show, The Lone Ranger is a great Western story with some troubling Native American stereotypes. Even more troubling, Disney chose to cast their cash cow Depp in one of the only roles in years that calls for a Native actor. Depp runs around in white war paint and a ridiculous headpiece.
    Depp hasn’t had a decent live-action role since 2004. While it looks like he’s trading dreadlocks for a bird headpiece, his quirky comedy shtick remains the same. With director Gore Verbinski (Rango) behind the camera, there’s a good chance you’ll be in for big action sequences and decent humor. Whether that is enough to overcome the troubling portrayal of Tonto remains to be seen.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 149 mins.

Unfinished Song
    Grumpy Arthur (Terence Stamp: The Adjustment Bureau) snipes his way through life’s later years. Angry with his son and surly to the world around him, Arthur connects only with his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave: Political Animals).
    When Marion falls ill, she convinces Arthur to reach out to the community by joining a senior choir. As Marion weakens, Arthur must decide whether he has the strength to engage with the world around him.
    This British dramedy promises plenty of tears, humor and an exceptionally predictable plot. Still, it’s fun to see Stamp and Redgrave in their golden years with roles that let them play fast and loose. If you’ve got a fondness for British comedies on PBS, Unfinished Song may be your cup of tea.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 93 mins.

Opeinging June 28, 2013

The Heat
    Fastidious federal Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) hopes to earn the respect of her male coworkers by taking down a drug kingpin. Standing in her way is Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy: The Hangover III), a tough-talking, crude Boston cop who wants the collar.
    Forced to team up, Sarah and Shannon try to overcome their differences and help each other succeed in a man’s world. Basically, it’s The Odd Couple with women, violence and fart jokes.
    Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), The Heat has the potential to be the next big female blockbuster. It’s refreshing to see a movie where women are focused on something other than getting a boyfriend. Still, there’s a limit to how far crude humor can take you even in service of breaking down gender roles.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 117 mins.

White House Down
    Cop John Cale (Channing Tatum: G.I. Joe) dreams of joining the Secret Service. On the day of his interview, his skills are put to the test as a heavily armed band of terrorists bent on killing the president (Jamie Foxx: Django Unchained) takes over the White House.
    Cale must not only protect the leader of the free world but also keep his daughter out of harm’s way. That’s a pretty tough first day on the job.
    White House Down is the second Die Hard in the White House movie to be released this year. The White House hasn’t been this imperiled since the War of 1812.
    Still, dumb action is fun, and you could do worse if you’re in the mood to mindlessly eat popcorn and laugh. If you’re into big explosions, nonsensical plots or Channing Tatum, this won’t disappoint.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 131 mins.

Opening June 21, 2013

The Bling Ring
    A clique of spoiled high schoolers with fame fixations achieves the glamorous life by theft. The crew breaks into the homes of the rich and famous, stealing the latest fashions, jewelry and more. Now the best-dressed and coolest kids in school, the crew is like totally confused when the cops tell them that stealing is like a crime or whatever.
    Unrepentant, bored and like a victim of the system, the kids become a media sensation overnight, the best reward they could imagine.
    Based on a true story of the world’s most vapid burglars, The Bling Ring is an honest look at America’s obsession with the rich and famous. Does watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians really turn teens into horrid self-obsessed monsters? Director Sofia Coppola (Somewhere) thinks so. Her take on the criminal enterprise casts the teens as victims of their culture.
Prospects: Bright • R • 90 mins.

Monsters University
    Before Mike (Billy Crystal: Parental Guidance) and Sully (John Goodman: The Internship) became the greatest scaring team in Monstropolis, they were just a pair of crazy college kids trying to earn their degree in scaring. At first competitors, Sully and Mike learn to work together to win the university’s Scare Games and graduate on time.
    A sequel to Pixar’s beloved Monsters Inc., Monsters University is the kid-friendly version of Animal House. Frat antics, college stereotypes and funny monsters abound in this much-anticipated origin story.
    Pixar is a mark of quality, with the notable exception of the Cars movies. Combine the dynamic comic team of Goodman and Crystal with the sharp writing of Robert L. Baird, and Monsters University should be a great movie for kids and their parents.
Prospects: Bright • G • 110 mins.

Much Ado About Nothing
    Director Joss Whedon (The Avengers) is on top of the world. Boasting a loyal cult following, the director/writer has broken into the mainstream, directing the biggest superhero movie ever. Now he follows his success with a bold experiment, retelling Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s most popular romantic comedy.
    The story follows warring pair Benedick (Alexis Denisof: The Avengers) and Beatrice (Amy Acker: Grimm), who both swear to remain single and at each other’s throats for all eternity. Of course their friends — more regulars from his movies and television shows — enter into a conspiracy to trick the acrimonious duo into falling in love.
    The passion project was shot at Whedon’s home to keep the budget down.
    Will the experiment succeed? Denisof seems stiff and uncomfortable with his dialog, suggesting that at least one half of the central pairing isn’t up to par.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 107 mins.

World War Z
    The zombie apocalypse is upon us, sending U.N. worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt: Killing Them Softly) around the world seeking the cause of the outbreak and ways to save humanity from the hordes of the undead.
    Based on Max Brooks’ bestselling novel, World War Z bears little resemblance to its source material. The film suffered numerous script rewrites and production problems. Instead of a steady throng of unstoppable menace, zombie attacks are a tumbling mess of CGI monsters. With a PG-13 rating, you won’t even get any decent gore with your zombies.
    Unless you’re desperate for the undead or your only requirement for a movie is Pitt’s flowing locks, I recommend the book for a brilliant take on the zombie apocalypse.
Prospects: Shot to the Head • PG-13 • 116 mins.

Opening June 14, 2013

Before Midnight
    Loquacious lovers Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) return for the final film in Richard Linklater’s relationship trilogy. Now married with young children, the pair still argues, flirts and talks endlessly about every aspect of their lives.
    Hawke and Delpy both worked with Linklater to develop and write their characters. This technique enables great, honest performances. The characters have been building for nearly two decades.
    For fans of the two previous films (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset), Before Midnight is an excellent way to end the story of Celine and Jesse. The hallmarks of the film are deep character work and long, twisting conversations about life, love and relationships. If that sounds like a fascinating window into modern relationships, this film is for you. If you rolled your eyes reading my description, see another movie.
Prospects: Bright • R • 108 mins.

The East
    When a group of eco-terrorists calling themselves The East wages war, Corporate America fights back. Elite operative Sarah (Brit Marling) is hired to infiltrate and take The East down from the inside.
    Committment to the job wanes as Sarah sympathizes with the cause and falls for the leader (Alexander Skarsgard). Can she go through with her planned sabotage? Or will she join The East?
    An interesting thriller with an accomplished cast, The East is the second offering from writer/star Marling, who penned and starred in last year’s fascinating cult thriller The Sound of My Voice. With a twisting plot and a hard-line eco-message, The East looks well worth the ticket price.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 116 mins.

Man of Steel
    It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the next superhero franchise!
    Helmed by Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch), the film hopes to reboot the Superman franchise. It’s an origin tale of how Clark Kent (Henry Cavill: The Cold Light of Day) went from boy with a secret to the hero America needs.
    Clark spends his life concealing his amazing powers and attempting to live a normal life. When General Zod (Michael Shannon: The Ice Man) comes to Earth demanding Clark’s head on a platter, the prodigy must decide whether to fight or kneel.
    Snyder is a deft hand with visuals, but he’s proved himself a messy filmmaker when left to his own devices. Man of Steel needs a great editor to retain Snyder’s distinctive style while tightening the plot.
    As Superman, Cavill certainly has the look, but the draw is the baddy. Shannon has made a name for himself as a wild-eyed character actor. This is his chance to chew the scenery as the epically evil General Zod. It will be a joy to watch him menace the Man of Steel.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 143 mins.

This Is the End
    James Franco hosts a party in his Hollywood home. Featuring celebrities, drugs and sex, the party is in full swing when disaster strikes. No, they don’t run out of drugs; the apocalypse comes.
    With half of young Hollywood dead, Franco and his buddies Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride must attempt to survive the end of times with only drugs and a Milky Way bar.
    This Is the End skewers the public personas of its stars while making fun of The End of Times. Who doesn’t want to watch a bunch of inept Hollywood types fumble through the last few days on Earth? Written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this crude comedy is only for moviegoers who can stomach foul language, violence and James Franco.
Prospects: Bright • R • 107 mins.

Opening June 7, 2013

The Internship
    When the economy collapses in the watch sales industry, lifelong buddies Billy (Vince Vaughn: The Watch) and Nick (Owen Wilson: The Big Year) must reinvent themselves. Salesmen by trade, neither man has fully accepted the digital age and as a result both are under-qualified for jobs they want.
    They may not be good with computers, but they’re great with people. The duo uses their quick-talking skills to get themselves highly sought after internships at Google. But to compete with brilliant college grads half their age for spots on Google’s staff, Billy and Nick must join the information age before they’re as obsolete as MySpace.
    Wilson and Vaughn are both good supporting comedians, but they tend to flail in the spotlight. In the broad comedy of this fish-out-of-water story, there’ll likely be little for the duo to do but act befuddled by smart phones and crack wise about the whippersnappers around them.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 119 mins.

The Purge
    In a dystopian future, America has found a creative solution to crime and overpopulation: All crime is legal for 12 hours one day a year. During The Purge, people are invited to let their darkest impulses out. Emergency services are suspended, and the government wishes their citizens the best of luck.
    For those with money, the night is simply a nuisance. Their security systems and gated communities are relatively safe from the mayhem on the streets. The violence is broadcast on television for the enjoyment of the masses.
    During this year’s Purge, James Sandin’s family discovers real fear — and how to fight for their lives — when their ample home security is breached.
    A horror story with a social message, The Purge could easily tip to overwrought. With a limited setting, the Sandin home, the effectiveness of this movie depends on the actors in the main roles. Luckily, they are Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey.
Prospects: Bright • R • 85 mins.

Opening May 31, 2013

After Earth
    When their spaceship crashes on a wild and dangerous planet, father and son Cypher and Kitai Raige (Will Smith: Men in Black III;  and Jaden Smith: The Karate Kid) must learn to survive.
    Injured Cypher sends his son to signal for help on an Earth long-abandoned by humans and full of lethal wildlife and plants.
    After Earth could be a fun bit of sci-fi action. Visuals look strong, and the evolution of Earth into a bloodthirsty wildlife preserve should be interesting. Still, this father-and-son story looks a bit flat. Smith and son have a sort of robotic delivery in their scenes together that make me wonder whether people in this future have evolved to be emotionless. Maybe the plot twist will reveal they’re Vulcans.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

Now You See Me
    The Four Horsemen are a popular magic act, and not because of their ability to pull a rabbit out of a hat. The team of illusionists ends its shows by pulling heists against corrupt businesses and redistributing the wealth amongst their audience.
    Sounds worth the price of a ticket, right?
    Surprisingly, this Robin Hood trick isn’t exactly legal. The FBI and Interpol would very much like to stop them from robbing billionaire business leaders. But catching master illusionists is challenging even for such big crime busters.
    Now You See Me promises an interesting premise backed by a great cast, including Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson. Still, the fact that Freeman fell asleep while answering questions about the movie doesn’t instill confidence. Characters look glib but underdeveloped.
    If the movie can manage to find substance under style, that might be a trick worth the ticket price.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 116 mins.

Opening May 24, 2013

    Teenage MK (Amanda Seyfried: The Big Wedding) magically shrinks while in the woods. Though her diminutive size won’t help her find her way home, it does open up a whole new world. She’s introduced to the protectors of the forest, leaf-sized warriors on the side of nature’s balance. These guardians are in the midst of a battle to save their beloved woods from the forces of destruction.
    Can MK help? Will she ever find a way home?
    An eco-conscious cartoon that can reach both adults and kids is a wonderful approach to a family movie. Writing seems humorous and contains a great message, but what will hold viewers are the impressive animated visuals.
    With an all-star voice cast featuring Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Beyonce, Aziz Ansari and Josh Hutcherson, Epic has a chance to earn its name.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 102 mins.

Fast & Furious 6
    Hardworking federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson: GI Joe Retaliation) is desperate to bring down an evil car theft ring that terrorized Europe before setting sights on America. The thieves are brutal, efficient and nearly impossible to catch. Hobbs is going to need an expert.
    He recruits his favorite illegal street racers/fugitives Dom (Vin Diesel: Fast Five) and Brian (Paul Walker: Fast Five). If they succeed, they and their crew will earn full pardons and a chance to help a friend they believed dead.
    Fast & Furious movies will continue to be made until moviegoers tire of flashy cars, explosions and women in skimpy outfits. Fast & Furious 7 is already in development. I have no doubt I’ll be writing a preview for Fast & Furious 13: Cars Go Vroom! in just a few years.
    There is something to be said for knowing what works and giving it to your audience. So if you buy a ticket for this flick, you know you’re in for two hours of oiled-bicep flexing, tough-guy one-liners and beautiful cars.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 130 mins.

The Hangover Part III
    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and I’m as stupid as the characters in this sequel to The Hangover.
    Phil (Bradley Cooper: Silver Linings Playbook), Alan (Zach Galifianakis: The Campaign) and Stu (Ed Helms: The Office) find themselves back in Vegas, where they fall into yet another night of debauchery. Sex will be had, drugs will be done, animals either abducted or abused and all of their lives will be threatened.
    Why do these men continue to hang out together? How is it possible that none is in prison?
    The Hangover was a great and gross comedy. Hangover Part II was simply a pale imitation: the same jokes, the same plot points and, infuriatingly, the same characters. What makes these films so egregious is that no one ever learns anything. The Wolfpack should have learned at the least to avoid life-threatening situations.
Prospects: Dim • R • 100 mins.

Opening May 17, 2013

    How far would you go to prove you were right? In 1947, explorer Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen: I Travel Alone) believed that pre-Columbian South Americans crossed the Pacific in rafts.
    To prove his thesis, he assembled a team of five men and set out for the Polynesian islands on a balsa wood raft. During 101 days of searing sun, privation and danger, Heyerdahl documented the journey. Heyerdahl’s footage was turned into an Oscar-winning documentary about the harrowing trip.
    Kon-Tiki is a reenactment of Heyerdahl’s voyage across the pacific. Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg insisted they film on the open ocean to make it feel as authentic as Heyerdahl’s trip. Graphics and acting both appear to be top-notch.
    Kon-Tiki is a fascinating story about one of the 20th centuries most determined adventurers. So buy a ticket, or Netflix the documentary to experience a true seafaring tale.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 118 mins.

Star Trek Into Darkness
    When a man with a dark Star Fleet history (Benedict Cumberbatch: Sherlock) turns to destruction, stopping him is up to Captain Kirk (Chris Pine: Rise of the Guardians) and the intrepid crew of the Enterprise.
    Can Kirk find his inner leader? Will he save Earth from the wrath of a former ally? How many complaints about minutia will Trekkies post online after they screen the film?
    The second film in the J.J. Abrams (Super 8) Star Trek series will undoubtedly rule the box office this weekend. Abrams is a good director with a sense of humor and action pacing that benefits the Star Trek universe. However, Pine’s Kirk is still all smug smile and no substance, little more than a frat boy captain of a space ship. I need more depth to my fearless leaders, like Captain Picard.
    Fortunately, the supporting cast includes Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Peter Weller, which means that there should be plenty to enjoy. If you’re in the mood to watch space battles, hear witty one-liners or just watch a bunch of pretty people in futuristic clothes, Star Trek Into Darkness is a safe bet for Preakness weekend. Live long and prosper.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 132 mins.

Opening May 10, 2013

    When’s the last time you went anywhere without a cell phone? You could be reading this from your mobile. Disconnect warns of the perils of this always-connected life. The film tells four interwoven stories about how technology affects our lives and hampers our ability to make human connections.
    This timely tale about the effects of our technology-obsessed society should be a must-see for anyone who owns a smart phone. Just make sure that you don’t use the phone during the movie.
Prospects: Bright • R • 115 mins.

The Great Gatsby
    Based on the classic novel we all read in high school, The Great Gatsby is the story of Jazz Age excess and the people who revel in it. Midwestern writer Nick (Tobey McGuire: The Details) is drawn into this world of lavish parties and small social intrigue and is dazzled by a newcomer to the scene: Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio: Django Unchained), a war-hero millionaire.
    Nick becomes devoted to Gatsby, who longs for love and acceptance in the upper echelons. When Gatsby begins an affair with married socialite Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan: Shame) secrets and violence threaten the glossy veneer of New York society.
    Director Baz Luhrmann (Australia) is known for his glitter- and music-filled productions. The man has never met a sequin he didn’t love, which explains his better film efforts Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom. This obsession makes him exceptionally qualified to capture the excess of Fitzgerald’s Long Island. Still, Luhrmann has a tendency to revel in visuals while forgetting plot and pacing.
    The Great Gatsby will no doubt be filled with glorious Jazz-interpretations and shiny visuals. Whether Luhrmann can create a film that lives up to the novel is yet to be seen.
Prospects: Sparkly • PG-13 • 143 mins.

    Wade Walker (Craig Robinson: The Office) has fallen for the beautiful Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington: Scandal) and hopes to propose. To kill two birds with one stone, he decides to pop the question when he meets her family at their annual Hamptons reunion.
    Both Robinson and Washington are big-screen talent who found their fame on television. While I have faith in both stars’ abilities, I’m not thrilled that the plot resembles Ben Stiller’s opus Meet the Parents. Still, with a cast that also features S. Epatha Merkerson, Diahann Carroll and Melvin Van Peebles, there’s a chance that the actors can elevate their hackneyed material.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 95 mins.

Opening May 3, 2013

Iron Man 3
    When last we saw Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.: The Avengers), he was enjoying some shawarma with his fellow Avengers. Since he saved New York City from an alien takeover, Tony wants to return to his California home for a little R&R with his best girl Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow: The Avengers).
    Unfortunately, there is no rest for the man in the iron super suit. A man called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley: The Dictator) has decided to destroy everything Stark loves. That means Pepper, Stark Industries and Tony’s very life are all in peril. Now he must not only rely on his inventions but his inner strength to triumph.
    Can Tony save himself and his love from a madman with a seemingly unlimited reach? Probably, since the Iron Man franchise is the most successful of all Marvel’s superhero movies.
    Still, Downey is an amazing force, exuding charm whenever he’s on screen. There’s no doubt he can carry a movie by himself —there’s a reason no other movie is premiering this weekend. So the only question is whether Kingsley is up to the super villain task. Either way, it should be pretty amusing to watch Iron Man battle Gandhi for two hours.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 130 mins.

Opening April 26, 2013

Arthur Newman
    Have you ever wanted to make a change? Wallace Avery (Colin Firth: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is stuck in a dead-end job, divorced and depressed. Deciding he doesn’t have to live like that, Wallace walks away from his life to start again as Arthur Newman, a golf pro.
    On the road to a new life, Arthur is waylaid by Mike (Emily Blunt: Looper), a troubled woman who could use a life change, too. Now a dynamic duo with new identities, Mike and Arthur traverse the country to create new and better lives.
    Firth and Blunt are great performers and likely can carry this quirky comedy. But I’m concerned that the story might be a little too cute to bear. Many writers mistake quirkiness for character development, leaving the viewer to watch an endless parade of odd behavior without creating who these people are.
    If Arthur Newman can keep the quirk to a minimum, Firth and Blunt could shine as lost souls.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 101 mins.

The Big Wedding
    Don (Robert De Niro: The Silver Linings Playbook) and Ellie (Diane Keaton: Darling Companion) have been divorced for years. After Don married Ellie’s best friend (Susan Sarandon), the rift grew deeper and more acrimonious. They’re willing to put aside their feud and play nice, however, to give their adopted son Alejandro the wedding of his dreams.
    How far would you go to ensure your child’s happiness? Don and Ellie are about to find out. Turns out Alejandro invited his super-conservative biological mother, who will create a scene if she discovers the people who raised her baby boy are divorced.
    Don and Ellie must pretend to be a happy couple again, throwing their family and the wedding into turmoil.
    Why hasn’t Alejandro’s mom kept better tabs on the people raising her son if she’s so darned concerned about his morality? Why must women in these movies act like shrews to get laughs? How is it possible that so many great actors could be in a movie that looks this dismal?
    Whether The Big Wedding rips off La Cage aux Folles or an old episode of The Golden Girls, it looks like a paycheck movie. De Niro has spent the better part of a decade destroying his legacy and selling Ben Stiller what’s left of his soul; I expected more from Keaton and Sarandon, who usually have better quality control.
    It’s possible that these powerhouse actresses can elevate this lazily written farce, but I doubt it.
Prospects: Dim • R • 89 mins.

Pain and Gain
    Three meathead gym rats are tired of always getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop. They decide to make it through hard work and determination.
    Just kidding. They kidnap and torture a millionaire until he signs over all his assets to them. But it’s okay you guys, because the gym rats are Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, and the bad guy is like totally sleazy or something. Think of it as Occupy Wall Street with steroids instead of sleep-ins.
    Pain and Gain is based on a true story about a loathsome group of men who tortured a businessman for weeks, set him on fire and left him for dead. This brain trust also managed to murder and dismember two people. It’s not cute, it’s not funny and it’s certainly not a story that should be lionized by director Michael Bay.
    By making this crime spree look like a rap video, Bay is essentially making the Sun Gym Gang into modern-day Robin Hoods whose crimes just happen to be horrific.
Prospects: Pitch Black • R • 129 mins.

Opening April 19, 2013

    Abused foster child Eli gets a reprieve from his horrible life each year at a camp sponsored by the state. There, Eli is paired with Ken, a camp counselor who cares more about his phone than about Eli.
    Slowly, the unlikely duo bond and teach each other important lessons about life, love and faith.
    Camp seems like a pretty straight-forward inspirational film. The cast of unknown actors is a potential weakness. Still, a movie about the power of human connectivity could be a nice break from sex, lies and violence.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 111 mins.

The Company You Keep
    Jim Grant (Robert Redford) has been looking over his shoulder for years. A member of the radical Weather Underground, Jim has been on the lam for decades while living a quiet life in suburbia. That all changes when a reporter (Shia LaBeouf) digs through his past. On the run again, Jim must find a way to save himself and his new life.
    The Company You Keep is based on Neil Gordon’s novel and directed by Redford. While Redford is always reliable in a good political thriller, I’m not sold on the idea that LaBeouf can carry a film. Perhaps a cast that features Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Chris Cooper and Nick Nolte can overcome LaBeouf’s overly affected acting style.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 125 mins.

    After a devastating alien attack wiped out Earth, survivors fled to a lunar colony. Jack (Tom Cruise: Jack Reacher) is one of the few drone repairmen allowed to visit the planet.    While exploring overgrown buildings, Jack makes a troubling discovery. The history of the war, what happened to Earth and the fate of humanity could all be a lie.
    Tom Cruise needs to reestablish himself as a box office star. Oblivion may be the action hit he needs to regain his status in Hollywood. Still, the plot seems inspired by a SyFy Channel film. The movie hinges on whether Cruise can manage a winning performance.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 126 mins.

The Lords of Salem
    Salem radio DJ Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto) receives a mysterious package in the mail. Labeled only From the Lords, the box contains a recording that triggers bizarre and violent visions in Heidi. Convinced the recording is a message from an evil force, Heidi tries to stop the Lords of Salem from bringing the town’s violent history back from the grave.
    Directed by Rob Zombie (Sheri’s husband), The Lords of Salem promises to be a gory, brutal, underwritten horror flick. While both Zombies have a flare for blood and guts, they frequently drop the ball when it comes to dialog, plot and cinematography.
Prospects: Dim • R • 101 mins.

Opening April 12, 2013

    Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman: The Kill Hole) was not the first black man to break into Major League Baseball. That honor belongs to Moses Fleetwood Walker, who played for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884.
    Robinson may not have been the first to break the color barrier, but he was the man who made integration stick.
    42 tells the story of Robinson’s career, chronicling the physical threats, verbal abuse and outright violence from both fans and teammates he had to overcome.
    While I’m thrilled that Robinson is getting a second movie celebrating his life — the first starred the actual Robinson — I’m fearful that 42 will succumb to the common problem of movies about racial issues written and directed by white people. I don’t want another film that follows in the footsteps of The Help, which focused on how benevolent white people uplifted oppressed African Americans.
    I’m interested in Robinson and his struggle. If the film can keep its focus on this brave and talented player, 42 might hit it out of the park.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 88 mins.

Scary Movie 5
    Has there been a dearth of fart jokes in your life? Not enough crude sex humor to get you through the day? Then rejoice, for there is a new lazy parody film from the producers that have brought you such classics as Scary Movie IV and Superhero Movie.
    This film follows a couple who notice their house has taken on a life of its own since they brought their newborn home from the hospital. They set up surveillance cameras, call in exorcists and hope that they can stop the haunting.
    The brilliance of these movies is that they make millions of dollars by poorly parodying interesting films such as Paranormal Activity, Mama, Sinister and Black Swan. They don’t do it well, but they don’t need to: All they have to do is make a lead character fall down, lose bowel control, botch a sex act or a combination thereof.
    We need to demand better from our filmmakers. If you absolutely must see horror movie comedy this weekend, Netflix offers a host of options that don’t reward bad filmmaking.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 85 mins.

Opening April 5, 2013

Evil Dead
    Five attractive 20-somethings spend the weekend in a remote cabin in the woods. They find a creepy old book with disturbing sketches and unsettling incantations. So of course they read the incantations aloud.
    What could go wrong?
    In the grand tradition of attractive people vacationing in remote areas, the group unwittingly unleashes a great evil that slaughters them with extreme prejudice.
    A remake of Sam Raimi’s classic horror film, Evil Dead features better effects and a higher budget. I’m not sure that more money makes for a better movie, however. The brilliance of Raimi’s original was its wry wit mixed with horrific gore.
    Also, I’m not sure any actor could fill the void left by Bruce Campbell, who became a cult idol in the original and whose deft physical comedy helped make Evil Dead an instant classic.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 91 mins.

Jurassic Park 3D
    A billionaire sins against nature by cloning dinosaurs. He funds an island theme park populated by long-extinct thunder lizards, then invites a group of paleontologists, scientists and children to preview the park.
    All seems well until a catastrophic event frees the dinos from their pens and traps the humans on the island. Now bottom of the food chain, they must try to survive — and contain — these multi-ton predators.
    With this film, Steven Spielberg inspired interest in paleontology in a generation of children. Paleontology novices also tuned into the wonders of raptors.
    The classic film featured state-of-the-art graphics, amazing practical effects and some wonderful performances. It’s still an excellent fantasy film, but I’m not sure we need a 3D update. When 3D effects are added to films shot in 2D, images often darken and deteriorate. But the studio can recycle old material and charge new higher prices.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 127 mins.

The Sapphires
    Four Aboriginal sisters have a talent for singing, but their skin tone limits opportunities. In 1968, indigenous Australians had just won the right to vote but were not accepted as equals.
    A talent scout takes the group, named The Sapphires, to Vietnam to perform for the troops. As the sisters experience the thrill of fame, they also see the horrors of war. The movie develops a new theme. Will the girls make it out of Vietnam? If they do, will their dreams of fame thrive in their native land?
    Based on a true story, The Sapphires has a lot on its plate: unrest in Australia, protests of Vietnam, oppression of a race of people and the difficulties of making in into the music industry. Walking the balance between oppression and comedy is a difficult task. But genuine warmth and humor are on its side.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 103 mins.

Opening March 29, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
    The military’s elite G.I. Joe unit is almost annihilated in a strike ordered by the president. That’s the first clue that something is rotten in the White House. It turns out the Cobra Organization has kidnapped the president and replaced him with a doppelganger.
    What’s left of the Joes must come together to defeat the Cobra threat and save the free world from destruction. Success depends on digging up retired Joe leader General Colton (Bruce Willis). With a cast that also boasts Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Channing ‘No Pants’ Tatum, the film has plenty of star power. As for plot and character development, who expects to find any in a G.I. Joe film?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 110 mins.

The Host
    Need a sparkly vampire in your life? Twilight scribe Stephanie Meyer has you covered with a new story of nubile young love and long-suffering sexual longing.
    Instead of supernatural threats, we have the Hosts, an alien parasite that infects human consciousness and controls most of the world’s population.
    Rebel Melanie (Saoirse Ronan: Hanna) is captured and infected. She fights off her parasite and returns to her people, but must convince them that she’s not a traitor in their midst.
    It’s nice that Meyer is expanding her horizons to ruin other genres, but I’m not convinced that this teen-romance take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers will achieve the popularity of Twilight.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 125 mins.

Tyler Perry’s Temptation
    Ambitious executive Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell: True Blood) is happy in her career but bored with her marriage. When a sexy billionaire client romances her, she makes decisions that will shake the foundation of her marriage and possibly ruin her life.
    Tyler Perry has a bad habit of preaching to women about how they should act. Women should support and appreciate their man. Women should trust in God and do what the Bible tells them.
    There is never any grey area for his characters. They’re either sinners or redeemers; maternal teachers or smart-mouthed witches who need a lesson. Occasionally part of this lesson is physical violence.
    The formula has worked for Perry, who is one of the most successful directors and writers working today. I’m uncomfortable with his preaching and condescension. Then again, I’m a woman and need to be taught a lesson.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 112 mins.

Opening March 22, 2013

    Tough and fair, Princeton admission officer Portia (Tina Fey: 30 Rock) has never caved to bribes, begging or threats. Now up for a big promotion, she’s thrown a curveball. The dean of an alternative high school (Paul Rudd) asks Portia to look at a student. The boy is not standout Princeton material, but he might just be the child she gave up for adoption 18 years ago.
    Admission is a fairly standard romantic comedy that compensates for predictability with a decent cast. Together, Rudd and Fey might transcend the clichés of the genre, but odds are this is a film worth saving for cable.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 117 mins.

The Croods
    Grug Crood (voiced by Nicholas Cage: Stolen) knows the dangers of the outside world. He protects his cavemen clan by keeping them at home while he ventures out to find sustenance. But Grug’s rebellious daughter Eep wants freedom.
    When a freak accident destroys the family’s cave, Eep gets her wish: Looking for a new home, they discover that while life can be dangerous, the world outside the cave is beautiful.
    Cage hasn’t been a mark of quality for a while. But rising talents like Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds could infuse The Croods with energy and excitement. Animators have also gone out of their way to create a colorful if not entirely accurate portrait of prehistoric life. The Croods looks like a great option for younger moviegoers, but the humor and slapstick will likely fall flat on older audiences.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 98 mins.

Olympus Has Fallen
    If one season of 24 could be reduced to a two-hour film, this is what you’d get.
    Bad choices by Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler: Movie 43) led to the death of the first lady.
    Luckily for him, terrorists take over the White House and hold the president hostage. Mike is the president’s only chance — which must make them both a bit anxious.
    Olympus Down plays like it was dreamt up over a three-martini lunch. Producers imagined that Die Hard in the White House would draw in big box office numbers with its mix of dumb action and sensationalism. What makes this film unique, therefore, is not the script or the direction but the cast of legitimate actors.
    If you’d like to know how Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo — as well as nominees Angela Basset and Aaron Eckhart — make their mortgage payments, this film is the answer.
Prospects: Dim • R • 100 mins.

Spring Breakers
    Four girlfriends are tired of their boring, goody-two-shoes lives. They cast caution — and most of their clothes — to the wind and embark on a wild drug- and booze-filled spring break. Along the way, they flee the cops, tangle with a sleazy rapper and discover the joys of partying until they’re blackout drunk.
    Spring Breakers is comedy for boys. Please don’t take impressionable girls to this Disney Girls Gone Wild production. They might love Selena Gomez, but I doubt you’ll want them repeating her behavior.
Prospects: Dim • R • 94 mins.

Opening March 15, 2013

The Call
    Traumatized by a call from a murder victim she was unable to help, emergency operator Jordan (Halle Berry: Movie 43) vows to do better the next time.
    She gets her chance with Casey (Abigail Breslin: Perfect Partners). Jordan realizes the monster behind the 911 call is the same killer from that earlier victim.
    Now, as they say, it’s personal. As this is a thriller and not a horror movie, odds are Jordan will kick butt and take names in her quest to stop the psycho and save the girl.
    The premise looks a bit silly, but I’m always in favor of thrillers featuring female leads who can solve their own problems. Can Berry’s Jordan join Ripley and Sarah Connor in the pantheon? If Berry stays out of the Catwoman costume, she has a fighting chance.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 95 mins.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
    Old-school illusionists Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell: Hope Springs) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi: 30 Rock) once packed Las Vegas theaters. Lately, they’re playing to empty rooms, upstaged by daring stunt magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey: 30 Rock).
    To save their stage show and show up Gray, Wonderstone and Marvelton must update their acts and win a magic competition. Along the way, Wonderstone is supposed to rediscover his passion for the art of illusion.
    A slapstick comedy of magic and marvels, the only surprising aspect of this movie is that Will Ferrell didn’t grab a starring role. But the combination of Carell, a proven comic, and Carrey, who needs a hit, could be a winning formula.
    Still, silly gags and goofy costumes don’t make a magical movie. The trick will be pulling fantastic performances out of this hat.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 100 mins.

    Quiet India (Mia Wasikowska: Lawless) further withdraws when her father dies. Left with her cruel mother (Nicole Kidman: The Paperboy), India is surprised by the appearance of her long-lost uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode: The Poison Tree).
    But dear uncle Charlie proves more sinister than sincere. Can India find out her uncle’s secret without ending up dead, like her father?
    Seemingly a riff on this reviewer’s favorite Hitchcock film, the brilliant Shadow of a Doubt, Stoker could be an excellent tribute. Or not. Chan-wook Park (Thirst) is an expert at setting a mood and teasing out the quirks of character, so his English debut may follow in Hitchcock’s footsteps.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 98 mins.

Opening March 8, 2013

Dead Man Down
    Victor (Colin Farrell: Seven Psychopaths) is a man bent on death and destruction. The target of his ire is gangster Alphonse (Terrence Howard: Movie 43), who massacred Victor’s family. When a mysterious woman joins Victor’s scheme for vengeance, the duo tears apart Alphonse’s crime syndicate, body by body.
    A fairly standard-looking crime thriller, Dead Man Down depends entirely on Farrell’s ability to do a convincing Charles Bronson impression. Noomi Rapace, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, should be a welcome addition to the cast, as she’s proven time and again that she can kick butt and take names.
    Still, this film seems more late-night cable fare than Hollywood blockbuster. It might be better to wait a few months for it’s inevitable arrival on Cinemax.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 110 mins.

    Directly after the surrender of the Japanese forces to end World War II, General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones: Lincoln) is put in charge of the enemy nation. He must decide whether emperor Hirohito should be tried and hanged as a war criminal or given a reprieve.
    MacArthur turns to Japanese expert General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox: Alex Cross) to navigate this delicate situation.
    An interesting look at a tough time in U.S. and Japanese history, Emperor could be a stirring drama about the heavy responsibilities of powerful men. The romantic story woven into the plot seems unnecessary, but it might offer relief for those who don’t enjoy political and historic drama.
    Fox has yet to prove he can carry a film, but perhaps putting him back on an island will remind this Lost alum that he can emote. Jones should be an excellent — and likely scene-stealing — MacArthur. History lovers should line up to see this film, though WWII laymen might find it a little too scholarly.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 98 mins.

Oz the Great and Powerful
    Circus magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco: General Hospital) is sick of hustling Kansas rubes and longs for a life of wonder and luxury. He gets his wish when a twister takes him over the rainbow to the land of Oz.
    Diggs realizes he’s landed in the middle of a power struggle among three witches: Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams). He must use illusion and a bit of magic of his own to help the people of Oz. Can he become the wizard they’ve been waiting for?
    If you ever watched the epic story of Dorothy and wondered about the man behind the curtain, Oz the Great and Powerful is the film for you. Directed by comic-horror master Sam Rami (Drag Me to Hell), the effects and action should be exciting. Still, I’m not sure this candy-colored tale can live up to its 1930s’ techno-color inspiration.
Prospects: Flickering • PG • 130 mins.


Opening March 1, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer
    After years of bitter fighting, giants and humans reached a peace accord. The treaty is shattered, however, when farmhand Jack (Nicholas Hoult: Warm Bodies) unwittingly opens a gateway between their dimensions with a magical beanstalk.
    Now, giants are stomping through the countryside, and Jack must find a way to fix his mistake.
    An interesting take on a classic fairytale, Jack the Giant Slayer looks like a fun film for smaller moviegoers and a bit mind-numbing for older ones. Big special effects and hokey writing don’t offer much hope for a nuanced story. Do giants really need to yell Bring the Thunder when they attack? Isn’t their size intimidating enough without catchphrases?
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 114 mins.

The Last Exorcism Part II
    Nell (Ashley Bell: Chasing Shakespeare) finally rid her body of an evil spirit and fled her rural surroundings to start a new life. Now it seems that her devilish imaginary friend has found her in the big city, forcing her to once more fight to keep her body and mind free from evil.
    It doesn’t say much about the power of the first exorcism if a part two is needed. It also doesn’t say much about the competence of the studio to have approved a project with such a weak premise and lazy title.
Prospects: Dim • PG-13 • 88 mins.

    Soviet sub captain Demi (Ed Harris: Sweetwater) is called back to duty to escort a group of shady men on a secret mission. It isn’t long before Demi realizes that these men and his government are bent on igniting World War III.
    I’m not convinced this story is anything more than an over-long Twilight Zone episode, but perhaps it’s a really good Twilight Zone episode. Phantom’s cast certainly has pedigree, boasting Harris, William Fitchner and Lance Henriksen.
    If you long for the days of Red Dawn, Rocky IV or The Hunt for Red October, this Soviet-steeped drama may be just the ticket this weekend.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 97 mins.

21 and Over
    Jeff Chang is an overachiever who walks the straight and narrow. On the eve of his 21st birthday, his two best friends invite him out for the traditional drinking binge. Jeff demurs, citing an important medical school interview the next day.
    But peer pressure and idiocy win the day, and Jeff agrees to go out for one beer.
    As with all these movies, one beer turns into two and before you know it, Jeff and company are running from cops, crashing cars and causing general mayhem wherever their drunken staggering takes them. Think of it as The Hangover, college years.
    If you enjoy boobs, drunken humor and whacky destruction, 21 and Over might be a great way to spend an hour and a half. But the only way most moviegoers will make it through this film is with a flask. Chug! Chug! Chug!
Prospects: Dim • R • 93 mins.

Opening February 22, 2013

Dark Skies
    The Barret family is enjoying a typical suburban life when things turn odd. They lose hours in their day, objects are moved around the house and strange markings appear on their bodies.
    They’ve been marked for abduction by aliens.
    Dark Skies looks like it might be creepy, but the problem with these tales is that audiences are usually familiar with the genre. So instead of experiencing suspense, you anticipate the events. Let’s hope the movie finds a creative way to expel those pesky aliens from the Barrets’ lives.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 95 mins.

One Life
    You’ll experience the journeys of several species struggling to thrive in their natural habitat in One Life, which focuses on the cyclical nature of life for all animals on Earth.
    The documentary, narrated by James Bond himself Daniel Craig, takes you touring exotic locales and teaches you about the lives of different animals.
    The film should be low on gore and sadness, so you shouldn’t worry about bringing the little ones to the screening to learn about nature.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 85 mins.