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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams) directs Michael Keaton (Batman) in this winkingly meta farce about a washed-up action movie star who tries to mount a comeback on Broadway. Shot in what looks like a single, breathless take, the film swoops and soars through the corridors of a venerable Broadway theater watching its manic, self-loathing, hallucination-prone protagonist face crisis after crisis. Dark and funny, cynical and empathetic, this oddly experimental gem offers viewers this year's most original cinematic vision. 119 minutes R.
SUB Theater

Black or White

Kevin Costner stars as a widower lawyer fighting for custody of his biracial granddaughter. Octavia Spencer is the equally righteous paternal grandmother of the little girl, who wants her to be raised by African Americans and not the guy from Dances with Wolves. This is a seriously well-intentioned family drama, but the liberal-minded ideals of writer-director Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger, Reign Over Me) get lost in TV-movie-of-the-week courtroom melodrama. 121 minutes PG-13.
Movies 8
Movies West

Chappie

From the writer-director of District 9 and Elysium comes another South Africa-based sci-fi drama. In the near future, Hugh Jackman has built an army of oppressive robot cops to patrol the streets. But a rebellious scientist (Dev Patel) and a couple of street thugs (Ninja and Yo-Landi from Die Antwoord) kidnap one of the robots and reprogram it, teaching it the value of human life. The effects are amazing, but the story is sorely lacking in the sypathetic character department. 120 minutes R.
Movies 8

The DUFF

A young woman (Mae Whitman, "Arrested Development") shakes up the social order of high school after discovering she's been labeled a "DUFF" (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by her more popular pals. Naturally, this is accomplished though the time-honored magic of the cinematic makeover. As in all Pygmalion-inspired romcoms, this is easily accomplished, since our "fat" and "ugly" heroine is clearly neither. Think John Hughes with hashtags ... and you're trying a lot harder than this formulaic tween comedy is. 101 minutes PG-13.
Movies 8
Movies West

The Gunman

Sean Penn--hungry for some of that sweet, Liam Neeson-style, old-man-running-around-and-kicking-ass money--hires the director of Taken to give him a career boost. Penn stars in this humorless thriller as a mercenary sniper who assassinates a political bigwig in the Congo. Years later, he's a reformed good guy, who suddenly finds himself the target of an international hit squad. Like a wrinkled Jason Bourne, he hops around the globe trying to figure out who's behind it all. 115 minutes R.
Movies 8
Movies West

Jupiter Ascending

The filmmakers formerly known as the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) are responsible for this madly over-conceptualized, pulp sci-fi doohickey. Mila Kunis is a poor, Chicago house cleaner who finds out the Earth is just an "estate" built and populated by an ancient alien dynasty--and that she's the long-lost queen of the galaxy. The story is a transparent fairy tale about a missing princess in (frequent) need of rescuing and the dashing knight (Channing Tatum) who protects her from her evil royal family. On top of that familiar framework, the Wachowski siblings have added bits of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Dune, The Matrix, Brazil and The Fifth Element. It's entirely ridiculous, but damned if it isn't eye-poppingly pretty and filled with zippy, zappy entertainment. 127 minutes PG-13.
Movies 8
Movies West

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Ben Stiller and friends (and the monkey) are back in this third outing about wacky hijinks at a natural history museum after the lights go out. Seems the magic that causes all the displays to come to life at night is fading, and our security guard hero (Stiller) must travel the globe, uniting characters old (Robin Willams' Teddy Roosevelt) and new (Dan Stevens' Sir Lancelot) to save it. 97 minutes PG.
Movies 8
Movies West

Paddington

The beloved British picture book character gets the requisite CGI makeover for the movies. Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) voices the raincoat-wearing Peruvian bear who ends up lost and alone at a London train station. He gets adopted by a kindly family (led by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins) and has some episodic adventures. Nicole Kidman plays the villain, an evil taxidermist. Because there has to be a villain in these sorts of things. 95 minutes PG.
Movies 8
Movies West

Run All Night

Terrorists, criminal kingpins and bad guys in general: When are you going to stop threatening members of Liam Neeson's family? It never ends well for you. Neeson--still in full-on, ass-kicking, old-man mode--stars as a mob hitman who accidentally (sorta) shoots his boss' son. As expected, the boss man (Ed Harris) doesn't take too kindly to the action and pledges to execute our protagonist's offspring (Joel Kinnaman from "The Killing"). Our hitman antihero has just one night to figure out where his loyalties lie and how many people have to die before dawn. Spaniard Jaume Collett-Serra (Orphan, Unknown, Non-Stop) directs this violent action thriller. 114 minutes R.
Movies 8
Movies West

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

When the secret formula for Krabby Patties goes missing, SpongeBob and his pals (Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, Mr. Krabs) venture into the real world (featuring a mix of live-action and 3D animation) to recover it from a dastardly pirate (Antonio Banderas ... no, really). Also, they become superheroes. Yeah, SpongeBob doesn't make a lot of sense. But it's awesome. 93 minutes PG.
Movies 8
Movies West

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water 3D

Movies 8
Movies West

The Wedding Ringer

Josh Gad (Frozen) plays a well-meaning, friendless schlub who hires a fake best man (comedian Kevin Hart) in order to impress his fiancée (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) at their wedding. As one does in contrived romantic comedies. 101 minutes R.
SUB Theater
Times and listings are for Friday 4/17 through Thursday 4/23
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