After years of a zombie plague that ravaged Europe, humanity grapples with how to reintegrate the former zombies into society.
R: Cci-fi violence and action, language, thematic elements — Alamo Drafthouse.
Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is an average businessman who works for a company that has developed a “Weed Pill,” medical marijuana that has been simplified to pill form. His bosses, Elaine (Charlize Theron) and Richard (Joel Edgerton), send him to Mexico to handle the marketing of the product. However, he is kidnapped by a cartel — specific ally one that holds a grudge against Harold’s bosses and their company. Richard hires a professional named Mitch (Sharlto Copley) to safely remove Harold from harm’s way, but Mitch and Harold end up having to survive one outrageous situation after another. Paris Jackson also appears as Nelly. Directed by Nash Edgerton.
R: Language, violence, sexual content — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
The rural town of New Hope, Alabama, has a pair of super-sized problems heading its way: A hurricane bearing down on the Gulf coastline and a team of 30 well-armed mercenaries intent on looting the local treasury facility.
PG-13: Gun violence, action, destruction, language, suggestive material — Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Mike and his wife Cindy take their son and daughter on a road trip that becomes their worst nightmare. The family members soon find themselves in a desperate fight for survival when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park that’s mysteriously deserted — until three masked psychopaths show up to satisfy their thirst for blood.
R: Horror violence and terror, language — Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems — no matter what the cost.
R: Disturbing behavior, bloody images, language, sexual references, drug content — Alamo Drafthouse.
Meg Murry and her little brother, Charles Wallace, have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a tesseract to travel there. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe.
PG: Thematic elements, peril — Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 (includes XD) and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Danish director Nicolai Guglsig avoids waving Old Glory in front of cameras. His movie is an entertaining tale about the first American military allowed to take the fight to the Taliban and al-Qaida allies in Afghanistan weeks after the 9/11/2001 attack. The story captures Americans’ reaction. Based on declassified accounts and Doug Stanton’s 2009 book “The Horse Soldiers,” the film focuses on the Fifth Special Forces Group and Captain Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) who, though inexperienced in war, pledged to bring everyone home alive. Guglsig focuses on Hemsworth, his initial lack of “killer eyes” and uneasy relationship with the Northern Alliance general (Abdul Rashid Dostum) whom he must befriend. Matters are helped by Nelson having been raised on a ranch and thus comfortable on horseback — because many battles must be waged while riding into battle, automatic weapons blazing.
One of director Clint Eastwood’s lesser efforts. The film follows three real American friends: Anthony Sadler; Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos; and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone. While traveling through Europe, they become heroes on Aug. 21, 2015, by stopping an attempted terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364, bound for Paris. ISIS terrorist Ayoub El-Khazzani had boarded the same train, armed with a Draco AK-47 assault rifle, a 9-millimeter Luger semiautomatic pistol and enough ammunition to kill all aboard. Eastwood asks Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone to portray themselves. The film follows their lives, from childhood struggles through finding individual footings in life, and on to the unlikely events leading to the attack aboard the train.
PG-13: Bloody images, violence, suggestive material, drug references, language — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Alex Garland’s debut, 2015′s “Ex Machina,” remains memorable. His science fiction followup “Annihilation” — admittedly not for everyone, and inspired by Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach Trilogy” — is helped mightily by an eerie original score and wildly innovative visual effects. Phrased in nostalgic terms, this film will blow a lot of minds. Audiences learn the military tried repeatedly to cross a colorful barrier within the United States, aptly called the Shimmer, in an attempt to discover how Area X beyond has been affected. Only one soldier, Kane, returned alive, if not mentally whole, from a possible environmental disaster zone. The military has five female scientists try next. Biologist and former soldier Lena (Natalie Portman) wisely tells no one that Kane is her husband. Joining her: an anthropologist, psychologist, surveyor and linguist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Tuva Novotny. Not all will return. What they discover defies laws of nature. It includes plants exhibiting human form, graceful fawns with blossoms sprouting from antlers and a threat of creation recognizing no boundaries. Time is an unspoken factor; the Shimmer is approaching cities as Area X expands daily. Good luck grasping it all. “Ex Machina” may be the better film, but I can’t wait to see what Garland does next.
R: Violence, bloody images, language, sexuality — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse and Tinseltown 17.
Good films sometimes rely on villains. One example is Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a distinguished American military hero, potential contender for the king’s crown in Wakanda, at the top of his game when motivated by ignored global realities. Look for him to battle Wakanda crown prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). Certain monsters, says T’Challa, “are of our own making.” The intelligent script conjures thought and questions. Directing only his third film, Ryan Coogler makes stunning decisions. Viewers will be awed when introduced to the apparent Third World African country of Wakanda, which resisted being colonized by all who might discover its source of Vibranium, used to secretly transform Wakanda into the world’s most advanced culture and civilization. Art direction, costumes and music are perfectly realized, as is the manner in which the nation’s women play vital roles. As Boseman returns home for his inauguration, he reunites with Lupita Nyong’o, one of Wakanda’s many spies, and soon is advised by Danai Gurira, who leads the country’s security forces. Stealing scenes is charismatic and funny newcomer Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s half sister. She also is Wakanda’s James Bond-ish Q, a courageous technical genius providing equal numbers of gadgets and one-liners. No doubt sequels will find Wakanda emerging from its cloak of invisibility, and reactions of the racist leaders whom T’Challa’s ancestors tried so long to avoid. Not your ordinary superhero movie. Don’t miss it.
PG-13: Action violence, rude gesture — Premiere Cinemas (includes IMAX), Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17 (includes XD) and the Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
The first “Death Wish” in 1974 turned around Charles Bronson’s career, to the point that he was still making “Death Wish” sequels in his 70s. There was no call for a remake, even with a better performance from Bruce Willis as pacifist turned modern day vigilante Paul Kersey, along with Vincent D’Onofrio in a new role as Kersey’s younger brother Frank, and yes that’s Elisabeth Shue in the small supporting part of his doomed wife. The setting has changed from New York City to a Chicago, described as “murder town.” Kersey now is a surgeon who usually experiences the aftermath of city violence only in the ER — that is, until his wife and daughter (Camila Morrone) are attacked in their home in a robbery gone bad. His wife is killed; his daughter survives, and Kersey happens upon an unregistered gun and walks the streets, looking for hoodlums to shoot. He doesn’t have to look too hard. The film is not as gory as director Eli Roth’s past projects, but this movie also won’t spark the discussion and debates enjoyed by Bronson’s original.
R: Bloody violence, language — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
The story focuses on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, expected to protect the LA branch of the Federal Reserve, where reportedly more than a million dollars in cash is taken out of circulation and destroyed. But on this day, a crew of seasoned bank robbers plans to pull off a heist. Gerard Butler is “Big Nick” Flanagan, determined to stop any robbery. Look for 50 Cent as the leader of a criminal crew.
Shy, 16-year-old girl Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) falls in love with a traveling soul named “A,” who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life. Feeling an unmatched connection, Rhiannon and “A” work every day to find each other. The more they fall for one another, the more the realities of loving someone who is a different person every 24 hours takes a toll.
PG-13: Thematic content, language, teem drinking, suggestive material — Premiere Cinemas.
Director Carlos Saldanha could not resist placing a bull in a china shop in this Oscar nominee, with predictable results. Yet it remains an amusing tale, a loyal adaptation of 1936 children’s book “The Story of Ferdinand,” a story not seen on screen since the Disney cartoon in 1938. One cannot help but like Ferdinand, introduced in a training camp where young bulls have been promised a happy life if only they can channel their anger enough to reign victorious over matadors. Ferdinand — ironically voiced by wrestler-turned-actor John Cena — is bullied as a youngster for preferring to smell flowers. Naturally, Ferdinand grows (and grows) and is mistaken for a prime opponent by an undefeated matador.
Following “Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015) and “Fifty Shades Darker” (2017), the final installment of a trilogy. Billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey (Jame Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) are couple finding happiness with a BDSM sexual relationship. After accepting Grey’s proposal, Anastasia must adjust not only to married life, but to her new husband’s wealthy lifestyle and controlling nature. Sinister events — attempted murder and kidnapping, mistrust and blackmail — come to light.
R: Strong erotic sexual content, graphic nudity, language — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Liam Page (Alex Roe) left high school sweetheart Josie Preston (Jessica Rothe) at the altar. He ran away for a shot at fame. Eight years later, he is a country music star when he returns. Few care. But life has one more surprise awaiting him.
PG: Thematic elements including drinking, language — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
The film avoids total disaster when a few ensemble members provide enough consistent fun to help audiences forget how often Mark Perez’s inconsistent script slips off the tracks. On the other hand, yawns are barely dodged thanks to too much familiar slapstick. . Happily, co-stars Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman shine as married and mutually competitive game nerds who share legitimate charisma and inspire smiles. They play Annie and Max, whose couples game night is one-upped when Max’s richer, more popular brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) calls on a local company called Murder We Wrote to host a party in which guests try to win by solving a realistic murder mystery.
R: Language, sexual references, violence — Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In
Hugh Jackman impresses in his dream role of P.T. Barnum, but the storytelling is shallow. Music by John Debney and Joseph Trapanese is linked to lyrics by “La La Land” winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. A few songs are memorable (such as “This Is Me”), yet there is precious little story exposition between them. Deserving applause is choreography by Ashley Wallen, revealing fantastic rapport with director Michael Gracey. Jackman and Zac Efron are musical veterans, and it shows. Michelle Williams is tragically underused as Charity Barnum. Social statements blend into entertainment and, by the end, good gosh, even elephants seem to appear out of nowhere.
PG: Thematic elements, including brawl — Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
This 2017 drama from writer-director Scott Cooper takes a darker approach to the western, examining characters on the edge, affected by lives of brutal violence. The main characters, U.S. Cavalry Capt. Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) and Northern Cheyenne war chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), developed hatred for one another over years of bloody battles, until the latter was captured and incarcerated. The story opens in 1892. Blocker, nearing retirement, has finished a campaign against the Apache; yet Comanches continue to murder homesteaders for horses, recently a father and three children in merciless fashion. The mother (Rosamund Pike) survived by hiding, and emerges emotionally broken. Blocker is ordered to escort Yellow Hawk, who contracted cancer during seven years of confinement, and his family from a New Mexico fort to ancestral grasslands in Montana, by order of President Benjamin Harrison. Crossing paths with marauding Comanche, dangerous fur trappers and racist whites, their survival odds are slim. “Hostiles” is special, however, because of character arc and change. Bale is incredible as he questions his own humanity; he is heartbreaking during his “I had a friend” monologue, and dodges a racist tag when he calls black Buffalo Soldier Henry the best soldier he’s ever known … and may also mean best friend. Bale learned to speak Northern Cheyenne, which grants enhanced authenticity to conversations with the brilliantly subtle Studi.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (3-D/2-D)
Kudos to the writing, casting and performances. The story opens a la “The Breakfast Club,” with high school detention again populated by types. They find a game console (Jumanji), and barely hear African drums before being sucked into the game and transformed into adult avatars. The nerd becomes a smoldering, muscular adventurer (Dwayne Johnson), the jock is now a small whiner (Kevin Hart), a shy bookworm gives way to a Lara Croft-type (Karen Gillan), and sexy Bethany trades her body for that of middle-aged cartographer Jack Black. Adult avatars, however, maintain teenage personalities and fears. Ensemble work shines, despite Black stealing several scenes as he channels his much-too-believable inner Bethany.
PG-13: Adventure action, suggestive content, language — Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
The final chapter of a trilogy, following “The Maze Runner” in 2014 and “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trial” in 2015. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) again leads his group of escaped Gladers.To save their friends, they break into the last city, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all.
Peter Rabbit’s feud with farmer Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates to greater heights as they rival for the affection of Bea (Rose Byrne), a sweet animal lover living next door. James Corden provides the voice of Peter.
Important on historical and cultural levels. Meryl Streep’s brilliant work as a shy Katharine Graham, who inherits the power of Washington Post publisher, is the actress’ most subtle and powerful work in years. Steven Spielberg introduces Graham as a role model for all women. “The Post” deals with the realities of 1971; it carries power as a story about men and women who risked lives and careers for freedom of the press and government accountability. Relevancy cannot be discounted. Spielberg credits The New York Times as the first to publish a portion of Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, a classified study of decades of governmental decision-making involving Vietnam. Government secrets span three decades and four U.S. presidents. But the Times is muted by an injunction. Obtaining top secret documents, powers at the Post ask if the public’s right to know is worth defying President Richard Nixon.
Francis Lawrence, who directed the last three “Hunger Games” films, reunites with Jennifer Lawrence. She is introduced as Bolshoi prima ballerina Dominika Egorova, who faces a bleak future after suffering a career-ending injury. She has no choice but to become a Russian spy and train at Sparrow School. Matthew Schoenaerts portrays her uncle, who knows the former dancer will do anything to help her infirm mother Nina (Joely Richardson). Charlotte Rampling is the icy headmistress running the training school, and Jeremy Irons is Russian General Vladimir Korchnoi, who knows just how far a Sparrow like Dominika can be trusted. It appears that Lawrence’s Sparrow is being pursued by CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) to become a double agent.
R: Strong violence, torture, sexual content, language, graphic nudity — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Taylor James stars as long-haired Biblical hero Samson. Caitlin Leahy portrays Delilah, the temptress who betrays him.
Academy Award winner, Best Picture. Sally Hawkins impresses as Eliza, a lonely mute who forges a relationship with an amphibian male imprisoned in the government lab that she helps clean each night. Bookend narration by Giles, Richard Jenkins’ gay character, emphasizes imaginative filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s original fairy tale, and so much more. This fairy tale blooms into a tragic romance influenced by the director’s affection for 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The year is uncertain. A Cold War rages against the Russians, inspiring sadistic Col. Strickland (Michael Shannon) to drag the amphibian (Doug Jones) from a South American river. The amphibian is kept in chains and tortured. Yet this becomes a story about love and language, as Eliza secretly uses eggs, sign language and music to communicate. Del Toro reveals an affection for horror films, government conspiracies and, surprise, dreamy 1930s musicals — all within an original romance where everyone colors outside the lines. Cinematographer Dan Lausten creates amazing images in a flooded apartment, and composer Alexandre Desplat delivers a romantic score.
R: Sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language — Tinseltown and Movies 16.
Frances McDormand delivers a powerful performance as Mildred, a divorced mom whose daughter was raped and murdered seven months earlier. Furious that the crime never was solved, the bitter McDormand, seeking justice, provides accusatory reminders on three billboards near town. They are meant to embarrass the local police chief. The chief (Woody Harrelson) is not a bad guy — which does not appease Mildred’s anger in the slightest. In the hands of writer-director Martin McDonagh, the film gains intensity throughout. The screenplay and direction are a mixture of wrenching drama and dark comic moments constructed with jaw-dropping surprises and twists. Also standing out is Sam Rockwell’s amazing work as Officer Dixon, whose immaturity and anger issues may lead to even more violence in defense of a friend.
Ratings, from one to five stars, and reviews are by A-J Media film critic William Kerns.