COMING NEXT WEEK
CORSAGE This 1870s-set fictionalized account follows Empress Elisabeth (Vicky Krieps) of Austria as she struggles with turning 40 and seeks to chart her own course in life. Not rated. 113 mins. In German, French, English, Hungarian and Italian, with subtitles.
EO This Polish drama follows a donkey that travels around Europe and witnesses both the good and the cruelty of humanity. Not rated. 86 mins. In Polish, Italian, English, French and Spanish, with subtitles. Starring Sandra Drzymalska and Isabelle Huppert.
IMANI While recovering from amnesia, a woman (Brittany S. Hall) learns she’s an Army officer with knowledge of a government conspiracy. Not rated. 118 mins.
A MAN CALLED OTTO A grumpy and suicidal widower (Tom Hanks) forges a life-changing friendship with a new neighbor (Mariana Treviño). PG-13 (for mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language). 126 mins.
M3GAN In this sci-fi horror thriller, a robotics engineer (Allison Williams) at a toy company builds a lifelike doll (played by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis) that begins to take on a life of its own. PG-13 (for violent content, a suggestive reference, terror and some strong language). 102 mins.
THE OLD WAY A former gunslinger (Nicolas Cage) must face the consequences of his past when an outlaw gang puts his family in peril. Also starring Clint Howard, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Abraham Benrubi and Noah Le Gros. R (for violence). 95 mins.
Letter grades are listed only when a review is available.
(A-) AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER James Cameron’s dazzling, long-delayed follow-up to 2009′s Avatar (the highest-grossing film ever) tells the story of the Sully family and their efforts to protect one another. All of Cameron’s cinematic obsessions coalesce within this gargantuan slice of mind-boggling spectacle presented with classical action-adventure storytelling. PG-13 (for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language). 192 mins.
(C-) BABYLON Set in 1920s Los Angeles, as Hollywood transitioned from silent films to talkies, director Damien Chazelle’s latest film has a large ensemble cast led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Jean Smart. No doubt plenty of cool kids will eagerly sign up to be pummeled by the film’s crazed excesses, though just as many will find it exhausting and sour. Even its technical virtuosity feels assaultive. R (for strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, bloody violence, drug use and pervasive language). 188 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.
(A) DECISION TO LEAVE In this sensual thriller, a detective (Park Hae-il) investigating a man’s mysterious death in the mountains begins to suspect the man’s widow (Tang Wei) — while also falling for her. With gorgeously staged scenes and creative camera shots, this is noir at its most nourishing. Not rated. 138 mins. In Korean and Mandarin, with subtitles.
(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.
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.
(B+) PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH Darker in tone than previous films in the Shrek franchise but still extremely funny, 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. The film falters when resorting to frenetic action sequences seemingly designed for tykes’ short attention spans. But what really makes it work is Banderas’ silky-voiced turn, conveying all of the character’s over-the-top feline suavity while making it clear that he’s very much in on the joke. PG (for action/violence, rude humor/ language and some scary moments). 102 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) 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.
(B-) THE WHALE Brendan Fraser brings piercing emotional honesty to this drama about a 600-pound man in failing health who reckons with his life over the course of a week while trying to connect with his estranged teenage daughter (Sadie Sink). It’s an emotionally and morally messy film that doesn’t quite conceal its single-setting stage origins. R (for language, some drug use and sexual content). 117 mins.
(B+) WHITNEY HOUSTON: I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY British actor Naomi Ackie plays the late singer in this bracingly authentic portrait of Houston’s glories and demons. This is the kind of lavishly impassioned all-stops-out biopic you either give in to or you don’t — and if you do, you may find yourself getting so emotional, baby. PG-13 (for a suggestive reference, smoking, strong drug content and some strong language). 146 mins.
(B-) WILDCAT This documentary follows the story of a young British war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who finds healing in the Amazon rainforest with the help of a wildlife rehabilitator and a baby ocelot. The film is enjoyable while it lasts but fades from the mind soon after. R (for language). 106 mins.