Disney's re-jiggered, live-action Alice in Wonderland returns in another eye-boggling fantasy outing produced by (but not directed by) Tim Burton. This time around, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is forced to travel back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) and defeat the evil machinations of Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen). 113 minutes PG. (Opens Thursday 5/26)
In this loose remake of Jacques Deray's languidly erotic 1969 thriller La Piscine, a glam rock superstar (Tilda Swinton) and her documentary filmmaking lover (Matthias Schoenaerts) retreat to the isolated Mediterranean island of Pantelleria. But their quiet vacation is soon crashed by a loud, libidinous record producer (Ralph Fiennes) and his Lolita-like daughter (Dakota Johnson from 50 Shades of Grey). The visit kicks off some nostalgic flashbacks and a bunch of questionable behavior. Where it all ends up is at the whims of the slow-burning script. But there's plenty of nudity and crackerjack acting to keep things interesting, even when the script fails to deliver on its ominous promise. 125 minutes R. (Opens Friday 5/27)
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, About Elly) wrote and directed this 2006 drama about a middle-class maid (About Elly's Taraneh Alidoosti) stuck in the midst of a domestic dispute between her new boss and his wife at the start of the Persian New Year. Is this about infidelity or something far worse? In Farsi with English subtitles. 102 minutes Unrated. (Opens Friday 5/27)
The contentious Gaza Strip is the setting for this idealistic musical drama (based on a real story) about a brother and sister who grow up dreaming of getting their neighborhood band on stage at the world-famous Cairo Opera Hall. Years later, when auditions for "Arab Idol" are announced, young Mohammed (Tawfeek Barhom) sees a path to his lifelong dream. But how can he get across the closed border to perform? In Arabic with English subtitles. 100 minutes Unrated. (Opens Friday 5/27)
Ten international directors (led by The Lion King's Roger Allers) tackle Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran's much-loved collection of prose poetry. The spiritual life lessons of Gibran's text have been reduced to three-minute stanzas, and an overarching story has been added--something about an exiled artist fleeing his homeland with daughter and housekeeper in tow. It's imaginative, but choppy. Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek and Quvenzhané Wallis provide the voices. 84 minutes PG. (Opens Saturday 5/28)
Erudite American filmmaker Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco, Damsels in Distress) finally finds a kinship in British author Jane Austen. Here, he adapts a long-lost and rather scandalous Austen novella about a gold-digging widow named Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale, at her best) who shows up on the doorstep of her in-laws and proceeds to romance her sister-in-law's eligible young brother (Xavier Samuel)--that is until Lady Susan's teenaged daughter gets kicked out of boarding school. Now our sensibly unromantic protagonist has got two get herself and her daughter properly wed. The cast (also encompassing Chloë Sevigny, Stephen Fry and Morfydd Clark) is in tip-top shape and the script is hilariously cynical. FULL REVIEW:Jane Austen anti-romance adds the wit of a modern sophisticate by Devin D. O’Leary (5/19/2016). 92 minutes PG. (Opens Thursday 5/26)
Documentarian Robert Greenwald (Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price) offers up stories of how guns, and the billions made off of them, affect the lives of everyday Americans. Personal stories of people from across the country who have been affected by gun violence are spotlighted. The aim of it all, of course, is to expose how gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association consistently oppose responsible legislation for the sake of profit. 100 minutes Unrated. (Opens Wednesday 6/1)
From the deep, dark vaults of the legendary Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, comes this mind-bending collection of "coming attractions" trailers from around the world and throughout movie history. Here's your chance to check out dozens of three-minute masterpieces advertising insane, inventive, exploitative, explosive cult films you should probably never watch while sober. 113 minutes Unrated. (Opens Friday 5/27)
The X-Men timeline (rebooted all to hell by 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past) heads into the 1980s with a handful of familiar faces (James McAvoy's Professor X, Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique) and a bunch of unfamiliar ones (Sophie Turner's Jean Grey, Alexandra Shipp's Storm). This time around an immortal mutant from ancient Egypt (The Force Awakens' Oscar Isaac) is back and trying to wipe out all of humanity. There's plenty of action to be had, but the script feels far too cliché-filled and retrograde explodey in today's post-Civil War MCU world. 144 minutes PG-13. (Opens Thursday 5/26)
That puzzle game the kids used to play obsessively on your laptop back in 2010 is now a feature-length animated movie. To refresh your memory, the game was about flinging birds out of a slingshot to knock down rickety towers full of green pigs. And that's pretty much what the movie is about. With voices by Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage and two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn (who plays one of the birds, not one of the pigs). 97 minutes PG.
Marvel steps in to show DC how superhero conflict is done. This smartly written action flick bristles with contemporary moral quandaries. And yet it's fast, fun and light on its feet. Seems that the near disastrous events of the last Avengers movie have made many question the whole idea of superpowered heroics. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), for example, thinks heroes should now be regulated by the U.N. Captain America (Chris Evans), on the other hand, thinks otherwise. What follows is a head-to-head battle that forces a lot of familiar faces (and a few new ones) to choose sides. 146 minutes PG-13.
A family (including Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell and David Mazouz) returns from a Grand Canyon vacation, haunted by an ancient supernatural entity they unknowingly awakened. ... Wait. Wasn't that the plot to an episode of "The Brady Bunch"? 92 minutes PG-13.
Unlike Disney's recent live-action Cinderella , Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz revamps, this family fantasy sticks pretty close to the original cartoon version. John Favreau (Elf, Iron Man) does an admirable job directing one kid and a whole bunch of CGI animals. Star Neel Sethi is a ball of energy, leaping and tumbling his way from one action sequence to the next. A string of celebrity voices (Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken) take on the familiar characters. The action is a bit intense at times for the littlest of tykes. The decision to include two of the songs from the original Disney cartoon is odd, but doesn't upset the overall balance of the adventurous film. FULL REVIEW:Fancy computer animation brings Kipling classic to life by Devin D. O’Leary (4/21/2016). 105 minutes PG.
Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne star in this comedy/drama about an aging widow from New York City who follows her screenwriter daughter out to Los Angeles in hopes of starting a new life after her husband passes away. With her busy daughter unable to adjust to the 24/7 TLC, our protagonist turns her attention to other random people (including J.K. Simmons as a Harley-riding possible love interest). 100 minutes PG-13.
Jodie Foster directs this hot-button thriller about a distraught investor (Jack O'Connell from Angelina Jolie's Unbroken) who hijacks a financial TV show at gunpoint in order to get back at the host (George Clooney) whose flawed advice drove him into bankruptcy. Unfortunately for all involved, he ends up accidentally uncovering a conspiracy in the process. 98 minutes R.
Having successfully excised the hard-partying fraternity next door, husband and wife Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne find a hard-partying sorority taking up residence next. ... I'm thinking maybe a hard-partying youth hostel for Neighbors 3. 92 minutes R.
Ryan Gosling is a down-on-his luck single father/private eye and Russell Crowe is the muscleman-for-hire who teams up with him (reluctantly, of course) to solve the murder of a porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. The setting is evocative, and writer-director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero, Iron Man 3) knows his way around buddy action comedies. It's painfully funny and brutally violent at times. Gosling and Crowe are clearly having a ball. But the Chinatown-esque plot is so convoluted (something about porn films, catalytic converters and the Department of Justice) that it's hard to completely swallow. R.
A plucky country rabbit (Ginnifer Goodwin) dreams of becoming a tough-as-nails cop in the teeming city of Zootopia. Unfortunately, the place is run by predators, who relegate the barrier-busting bunny to meter maid duty. But when a series of mysterious disappearances rocks the city, she teams with a self-serving con man of a fox (Jason Bateman) to crack the case. This funny animal take on sun-dappled L.A. noir manages to tackle some hot-button issues (racism, sexism) while still being a colorful, entertaining Disney romp. FULL REVIEW:Disney turns an animal utopia on its ear in this savvy, sociological crime caper by Devin D. O’Leary (3/3/2016). 108 minutes PG.
This low-budget horror-mystery is a "secret" spin-off of the J.J. Abrams-produced giant monster movie Cloverfield. John Goodman plays a survivalist who rescues a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and stashes her away in his underground bunker. But is the world really coming to an end, or is he just a crazy dude? (Given that this is a sequel to Cloverfield, the surprise ending probably isn't much of a surprise.) 105 minutes PG-13.
Batman and Superman duke it out in a grimdark setting that involves lots of glowering, real estate-flattening explosions and concrete-colored costumes. The action is frenetic, the production design is faithful to its comic book roots and there's plenty of fan service--but the film just doesn't differentiate its heroes enough for the long-awaited confrontation to feel particularly justified. Batman and Superman are now both dark, brooding, murderous vigilantes feared by polite society. This crowded, lengthy film wastes a lot of energy setting up future Justice League films, but doesn't spend enough time being fun or escapist or particularly entertaining. FULL REVIEW:Superheroes battle to see who can cause the biggest explosion in unnecessarily dour franchise filler by Devin D. O’Leary (3/24/2016). 153 minutes PG-13.
Ryan Reynolds single-handedly tries to rescue his cult superhero for the horribly botched 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He succeeds beyond the wildest dreams of most comic book fans. In this self-mocking parody, he stars as a brain-addled mercenary who gains incredible healing powers but loses his good looks thanks to a little mad science. Boil it down and the film is your basic "get revenge on the bad guy and rescue the girlfriend" plot. But the third-wall-breaking humor, raunchy sex and over-the-top violence make this a shockingly fun "adult" action comedy. FULL REVIEW:Comic books get comic in R-rated superhero parody by Devin D. O’Leary (2/11/2016). 108 minutes R.
The third film in the Divergent trilogy shows up, and--par for the course--it's part one of two. Following the "Earth shattering" revelations of Insurgent (their words, not mine), pouty but special rebel girl Tris (Shailene Woodley) must lead her futuristic millenials in a rebellion against the evil totalitarian government. Fans know what they're in for. 121 minutes PG-13.
Movies 8 Fri-Mon 12:30pm, 3:50, 6:50, 9:50; Tues 3:50, 6:50, 9:50; Wed-Thu 12:30pm, 3:50, 6:50, 9:50 Movies West Fri-Thu 12:50, 3:50, 6:50, 9:50
Egyptian mythology gets the CGI-heavy, Clash of the Titans-esque treatment in this epically overdesigned action flick by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City). Scottish actor Gerard Butler plays Set, the ancient Egyptian god of the darkness, which should tell you where this is going. 127 minutes PG-13.
There's a surprising amount of life and laughter left in this lovable series. Jack Black is back as the roly-poly panda with the mad martial arts skills. This time around he's stuck between his adoptive father (James Hong as a gruff but loving goose) and his biological dad (Bryan Cranston, in fuzzy panda mode). Can he figure out who he is in time to defeat an evil yak turning kung fu masters into stone-faced slaves? FULL REVIEW:Family feud grounds martial arts fantasy in unexpected emotional reality by Devin D. O’Leary (1/28/2016). 95 minutes PG.
Movies 8 Fri-Mon 12:10pm, 5:40; Tues 5:40pm; Wed-Thu 12:10pm, 5:40 Movies West Fri-Thu 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00
Having saved the American president (Aaron Eckhart) from evil terrorists attacking the White House in 2013's Olympus Has Fallen, tough-guy Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is prevailed upon to save him once again again from a slightly different bunch of evil terrorists. This time the action takes place in London--so, you know, change of scenery. 99 minutes R.
Lassie gets a patriotic, post-9/11 makeover. A dog that helped U.S. Marines in Afghanistan returns to America and is adopted by his handler's teenage brother after "suffering a traumatic experience." Troubled teen and troubled dog bond. Then somebody gets lost in the woods, and there's an adventure. 111 minutes PG.
Ben Affleck's estranged wife Jennifer Garner stars in this faith-based "true story" about a little girl with a rare digestive disorder who fell out of a tree and subsequently--according to the book her mother wrote, anyway--went to Heaven and met Jesus. Also, she was cured of her disease. If you paid to see that other "kid meets Jesus" film Heaven Is For Real, the producers of this one want your money as well. 99 minutes PG.