NEW THIS WEEK
Letter grades are listed only when a review is available.
(A-) AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER Director James Cameron immerses viewers in a gargantuan slice of mind-boggling spectacle with the long-awaited follow-up to 2009′s Avatar. Through classical action-adventure storytelling, the sequel follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) as he explores the dazzling aquamarine oceans of Pandora with his growing Na’vi family and fends off an attack by the Sky People. Also starring Zoe Saldaña, Kate Winslet and Sigourney Weaver. PG-13 (for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language). 192 mins. In wide release.
THE HONEYMOON In this comedy, a couple’s honeymoon in Venice turns disastrous when a friend tags along and a gangster falls for the new bride. Starring Pico Alexander, Maria Bakalova, Asim Chaudhry and Lucas Bravo. R (for pervasive language, crude sexual content and drug content). 98 mins. At Galaxy Theatres Grandscape in The Colony.
(B) LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE Life inspires fiction when a comatose director steps into her own action screenplay in Martika Ramirez Escobar’s playful debut feature. The film is creative and clever — perhaps too clever at times, with the script’s meta ambitions outreaching its grasp. Starring Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera and Rocky Salumbides. Not rated. 101 mins. In Filipino and English, with subtitles. At the Texas Theatre.
(B) MEMORIES OF MY FATHER In this drama, an author examines the life of his father, who fought against oppression in 1970s Colombia before being killed by paramilitary forces. Those seeking a pleasantly expansive, somewhat old-school dose of laughter and tears will enjoy this handsomely produced tale. Not rated. 136 mins. In Spanish, Italian and English, with subtitles. At the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
COMING NEXT WEEK
PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH The last gasp (maybe?) of the Shrek franchise, this animated adventure features the swashbuckling title character (voiced by Antonio Banderas) who’s dismayed to learn that he’s on the last of his nine lives. PG (for some scary moments, rude humor, language and action/violence). 102 mins.
THE WHALE Brendan Fraser is getting strong Oscar buzz for his performance in Darren Aronofsky’s latest, a drama about a 600-pound man trying to connect with his teenage daughter (Sadie Sink). R (for language, some drug use and sexual content). 117 mins.
BABYLON Damien Chazelle’s La La Land was set in Los Angeles of the present; his new film returns to that city, but in the past. Set in the 1920s, as Hollywood transitioned from silent films to talkies, the movie has a large ensemble cast led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Jean Smart. R (for strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, bloody violence, drug use and pervasive language). 188 mins.
I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY British actor Naomi Ackie plays the late singer Whitney Houston in Kasi Lemmons’ biopic, which also features Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown — and Houston’s legendary vocals. PG-13 (for a suggestive reference, smoking, strong drug content and some strong language). 146 mins.
THE PALE BLUE EYE A detective (Christian Bale) enlists the help of a young Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling) as he seeks to solve the murder of a West Point cadet. R (for some violent content and bloody images). 128 mins.
(A) ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED This exquisite documentary examines the life and work of photographer and activist Nan Goldin, who fought to hold the Sackler family accountable for its role in the opioid epidemic. Filmmaker Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) takes her work to new aesthetic heights and wrenching emotional depths. Not rated. 113 mins.
(C+) BLACK ADAM This superhero flick isn’t bad; it’s just predictable, stealing from other films like an intellectual property supervillain. But Dwayne Johnson is a natural in the title role, mixing might with humor. PG-13 (for sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language). 124 mins.
(B) BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER After the 2020 death of star Chadwick Boseman, director and co-writer Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole went back to the drawing board for this sequal, writing a script that focuses on his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), stepping into power as she grapples with grief and loss. Wright steps up to the plate and proves her chops and gravitas as an actor, carrying the emotional weight of this film, which is as much a bittersweet sendoff for Boseman as it is for his character, T’Challa. PG-13 (for sequences of strong violence, action and some language). 161 mins.
(B+) BONES AND ALL Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet star as a pair of young cannibals in this 1980s-set road movie that’s more tenderly lyrical than most conventional romances. The film is both brutal and beautiful, and Mark Rylance — as a fellow cannibal — plays one of the creepier movie characters in recent years. R (for strong, bloody and disturbing violent content, language throughout, some sexual content and brief graphic nudity). 130 mins.
CHRISTMAS BLOODY CHRISTMAS In this holiday horror flick, a young woman (Riley Dandy) must fight for survival after a robotic Santa runs amok. Not rated. 81 mins.
(B) DEVOTION Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell star as real-life Korean War aviators Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner, whose friendship reflects the U.S. Navy’s early attempts at integration as Brown becomes the first aviator of color to complete the Navy’s basic training program. It’s a square but satisfying social justice drama. PG-13 (for strong language, some war action/violence and smoking). 138 mins.
(C+) EMANCIPATION Will Smith stars as an enslaved man fleeing a Louisiana plantation in this film from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) that’s more action thriller than prestige drama. Emancipation is often harrowing and gripping, but it’s less nuanced than its real-life protagonist deserves. Also starring Ben Foster and Charmaine Bingwa. R (for disturbing images, strong racial violence and language). 132 mins.
(C-) EMPIRE OF LIGHT Director Sam Mendes takes a break from blockbusters (Skyfall, Spectre, 1917) to tell a quiet, small-scale love story taking place in the 1980s at an old movie house in a British seaside town. The fine cast is let down by a script whose many parts come together like oil and water and concession stand soda. And the film distastefully treats anti-Black violence as a vehicle for a white woman’s emotional and psychological deliverance. Starring Olivia Colman, Colin Firth and Toby Jones. R (for brief violence, sexual content and language). 119 mins.
(A) THE FABELMANS In this deeply personal movie, legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg turns his lens on his own upbringing, his parents and his childhood journey to becoming a filmmaker. What could have been an overly idealized autobiography is instead a playful, honest and ultimately gracious childhood memoir. PG-13 (for some strong language, thematic elements, brief violence and drug use). 151 mins.
I HEARD THE BELLS This drama tells the story behind the writing of a beloved Christmas carol based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Stephen Atherholt). Not rated. 110 mins.
(C) LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE Josh Gordon and Will Speck directed this choppy live-action/animation hybrid film adaptation of Bernard Waber’s 1965 children’s book of the same name about a singing crocodile (voiced by Shawn Mendes) who lives in New York City. The film is a strange beast that can’t decide whether it wants to be a warm and whimsical family adventure comedy or an ironic hallucinatory fever dream geared toward adult viewers. Also starring Javier Bardem, Constance Wu and Scoot McNairy. PG (for mild peril and thematic elements). 106 mins.
(B+) THE MENU Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult play a couple who travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant presided over by a chef (Ralph Fiennes) who puts more than food on the menu. This black comedy-thriller skewers high-end foodie culture with a hilariously shocking zest. R (for strong/disturbing violent content, language throughout and some sexual references). 106 mins.
ONE PIECE FILM: RED In this Japanese anime film — the 15th in the One Piece series — a mysterious pop singer decides to reveal herself to the world at a live show. PG-13 (for violence, suggestive material and language). 115 mins. In Japanese with subtitles.
PREY FOR THE DEVIL A nun (Jacqueline Byers) sets out to perform an exorcism to save the soul of a young girl (Posy Taylor) and comes up against a demonic force with ties to her past. PG-13 (for violent and disturbing content, terror, thematic elements and brief language). 93 mins.
THE QUINTESSENTIAL QUINTUPLETS MOVIE Five sisters vie for the affections of their tutor in this animated romantic comedy based on a popular manga series. Not rated. 136 mins. In Japanese with subtitles.
(B) ROALD DAHL’S MATILDA THE MUSICAL A brilliant girl (Alisha Weir) takes a stand against the loutish adults in her life in this brashly entertaining Netflix adaptation of the beloved novel and musical. Emma Thompson is a hoot as a vile school headmistress. PG (for some language and thematic elements). 117 mins.
SMILE After witnessing a traumatic incident that results in a patient’s death, a doctor (Sosie Bacon) starts to experience frightening and unexplainable occurrences. R (for strong violent content and grisly images, and language). 115 mins.
SPIRITED Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds star in this musical version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that tells the story from the perspective of the ghosts of past, present and future. Also starring Octavia Spencer. PG-13 (for language, thematic elements and some suggestive material). 127 mins.
(B-) SPOILER ALERT Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge star in this heart-rending holiday weepie about two men in love, facing cancer together. The pair bring a sincerity to their performances that provides a gut punch. Don’t forget the tissues. PG-13 (for drug use, thematic elements and sexual content). 112 mins.
(B) STRANGE WORLD Three generations of explorers chart unknown territory in order to save their city in this effortlessly charming Walt Disney Animation Studios sci-fi original. The fantastical world is meticulously and wondrously rendered, with a painterly feel that draws inspiration from pulp magazines of the 1930s and ‘40s. Featuring the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Dennis Quaid, Lucy Liu, Alan Tudyk and Jaboukie Young-White. PG (for action/peril and some thematic elements). 102 mins.
(B-) TICKET TO PARADISE George Clooney and Julia Roberts look like they had a grand time making this Bali-set comedy, starring as a bitterly divorced set of parents whose daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) is fresh out of law school. The familiar beats get played with sincerity, though there’s not nearly as much to laugh at here as you might expect. PG-13 (for some strong language and brief suggestive material). 104 mins.
(B-) VIOLENT NIGHT In this violent and gory action-comedy film, Santa Claus (David Harbour) steps in to save the day after mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family. If you think watching Santa try to strangle a guy with Christmas lights is funny, this is the film for you. R (for strong bloody violence, language throughout and some sexual references). 101 mins.
(A) THE WOMAN KING Energetic performances and technical precision come together to glorious effect in director Gina Prince- Bythewood’s rousing historical epic, with Viola Davis starring as the general of an all-female warrior army that protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century. It’s a lush, crowd- pleasing piece of entertainment. Also starring John Boyega. PG-13 (for sequences of strong violence, some disturbing material, thematic content, brief language and partial nudity). 126 mins.
Compiled from staff and wire reports