MOVIES OPENING FRIDAY
Bharat Ane Nenu
Indian movie being shown in Telugu, with English subtitles. Only showtimes: 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets $20 for general public age 12 and older, and $15 for children age 11 and younger. The movie is directed by Siva Koratala and stars Mahesh Babu, Kiara Advani, R. Sarathkumar and Devaraj. The story: A university graduate returns to India and becomes disillusioned by the government corruption.
Not rated — Movies 16.
Borg vs. McEnroe
It's the summer of 1980, and Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) is the top tennis player in the world. A powerful and rigorously disciplined player, there is only one obstacle in his pursuit of a record-breaking fifth Wimbledon championship: the talented, but ferociously abrasive young American John McEnroe (Shia LeBeouf). With three days until the tournament begins, Borg trains religiously in his lavish Monaco home, aided by his coach and mentor Lennart Bergelin (Stellan Skarsgard) and girlfriend Mariana Simionescu (Tuva Novotny).
R: Language and nudity — Alamo Drafthouse.
I Feel Pretty
Renee Barrett (Amy Schumer), an ordinary woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis, wakes from a fall suddenly believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet, despite looking the same she always has looked. She is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly, but what will happen if and when she realizes her appearance never changed? Aidy Bryand and Busy Phillips play Renee's best friends. Michelle Williams plays Avery, Renee's stunning cosmetics company boss; and Emily Ratajkowski is Mallory, the woman Renee always admired for her good looks. Rory Scovell is cast as Renee's love interest, Ethan. The film is co-directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein.
PG-13: Sexual content, partial nudity and language — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
Super Troopers 2
When a border dispute arises between the United States and Canada, the Broken Lizard comedy troup of Super Troopers are ordered to establish a Highway Patrol station in the disputed area. Having been fired for their previous shenanigans, former Vermont Highway Patrol officers Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar, who also directs) , Farva (Kevin Heffernan), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), Foster (Paul Soter) and Mac (Steve Lemme) get a shot at redemption from Capt. O'Hagan (Brian Cox) and Gov. Jessman (Lynda Carter). Their unconventional methods soon get put to the test when they encounter the smarmy Mayor Guy Le Franc (Rob Lowe), mischievous Mounties, a smuggling ring and a 1,300-pound bear.
R: Crude sexual content and language, drug material and graphic nudity — Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Brea (Paula Patton) and John (Omar Epps) embark on a romantic weekend getaway to an isolated estate in the mountains. They are pleasantly surprised when two of their friends, Darren (Laz Alonso) and Malia (Roselyn Sanchez), show up unexpectedly. Their plans give way to terror when members of a violent biker gang of sex traffickers invade the peaceful countryside. The couples find themselves in a fight for their lives as the gang members will stop at nothing to protect their secrets from the outside world. Deon Taylor directs his own script.
R: Violent and disturbing material, language, drug use and sexual content — Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
Written and directed by Tyler Perry. Melinda, a faithful wife of 18 years (Taraji P. Henson) is tired of standing by her devious husband Robert (Lyriq Bent). She becomes enraged when it becomes clear that she has been betrayed yet again. Her husband is engaged to another woman, Diana (Tika Sumpter).
R: Language, sexual content and violence — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Set in 1982 during the Lebanese Civil War. In Beirut, Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is a former US diplomat called back into service to save a colleague from the group possibly responsible for his own family's death. Meanwhile, a CIA field agent (Rosamund Pike) working undercover at the American embassy, is tasked with keeping Skiles alive and ensuring that his mission is a success. State Department officials are portrayed by Dean Norris, Shea Whigham and Larry Pine. Brad Anderson, who directed "The Machinist" with Christian Bale, directs from a script by Tony Gilroy.
R: Language, violence and nude image — Tinseltown 17.
Black Panther (3-D/2-D)
Kerns rating: Four and one-half stars
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, which has been used 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 Chqdwick Boseman returns home for his own 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. No doubt sequels will find Wakanda emerging from its cloak of invisibility, and reactions of racist leaders whom T'Challa's ancestors tried so long to avoid.
PG-13: Action violence and rude gesture — Premiere Cinemas.
High school seniors Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) are three overprotective parents who flip out when they find out about their daughters' intentions. So they join forces for a wild, chaotic and reportedly hilarious quest on prom night to stop the girls from sealing the deal.
R: Crude and sexual content, language, drug content, teen partying and graphic nudity — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
On July 18, 1969, Sen. Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. The accident caused the death of passenger Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), a 28-year-old campaign strategist who worked for him. Kopechne was trapped inside the fully submerged vehicle. Kennedy swam free, left the scene and did not report the accident to the police for 10 hours. Through true accounts, documented in the inquest from the 1969 investigation, director John Curran and screenwriters Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen intimately expose the broad reach of political power, the influence of America's most celebrated family, and the vulnerability Kennedy in the shadow of his family legacy. Bruce Dern co-stars as Joe Kennedy Sr.
PG-13: Thematic material, disturbing images, strong language and historical smoking — Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
Kerns rating: Two and one-half stars
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 to host a party in which guests try to win by solving a realistic murder mystery.
R: Language, sexual references and violence — Movies 16.
I Can Only Imagine
Based on a true-life story that inspired the chart-topping song.
PG: Thematic elements and violence — Tinseltown 17 and Movies 16.
Isle of Dogs
Kerns rating: Four and one-half stars
I tend to either love or dislike films by Wes Anderson, with little middle ground -- and "Isle of Dogs" is a jewel, setting the bar high very early in the annual race for best animated film. His stop-motion animation results in a clever, funny and touching film, with underlying statements about the need for a crusading press and the dangers of a corrupt government. Not to mention a twist regarding identities. Set in a near-futuristic Japan, where, after an epidemic, executive decree finds all canine pets in Megasaki City trapped and exiled to a vast garbage dump called Trash Island. The first dog banished is Spots, who belonged to 12-year-old Atari Kobayashi, orphaned nephew and ward of the mayor. Atari makes it across the river to the island, and begins searching for Spots. Soon, he is assisted by a pack of new mongrel friends. And how did even Anderson land this vocal cast: Bryan Cranston as Chief, Edward Norton as Rex, Bob Balaban as King, Bill Murray as Boss, Jeff Goldblum as Duke, Frances McDormand as Interpretor Nelson, Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg, Harvey Keitel as Gondo, F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter, Yoko Ono as scientist Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton as Oracle, Fisher Stevens as Scrap, Liev Schreiber as Spots, Courtney B. Vance as the narrator and Ken Watanabe as the head surgeon. I cannot wait to see it again.
PG-13: Thematic elements and violent images — Alamo Drafthouse and Tinseltown 17.
The Miracle Season
Kerns rating: Two stars
Predictable, if sweet, melodrama recalling how teammates and friends of Iowa volleyball star Caroline Found rallied to come from behind and attempt to win a championship in her honor after a tragic (off screen) death early in the film.
PG: Thematic elements — Premiere Cinemas and Movies 16.
Pacific Rim Uprising (3-D/2-D)
Kerns rating: One and one-half stars
Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" did not impress and, even with Industrial Light and Magic providing visual effects, the sequel is worse. It boasts all the drama of a Saturday morning cartoon mixed with the worst of the Transformers series, adding wooden acting and melodramatic (and loud) music.
PG-13: Sci-fi action and violence and brief language — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Paul, Apostle of Christ
Written and directed by Andrew Hyatt, this Biblical drama stars James Faulkner as St. Paul and Jim Caviezel costars as Luke. Paul had been known as a ruthless persecutor of Christians. Upon his conversion to Christianity, Paul became a pivotal figure in the formation of the early church. This film follows his final days, awaiting execution by Emperor Nero in Rome. Where Paul is held captive in Nero's darkest and bleakest prison cell in Rome because he is deemed a threat to the Roman Empire. He interacts with his jailer, Mauritius, and with Luke. Mauritius is curious about Paul and wants to learn how one man has such a profound effect on the empire. Dutiful caretaker Luke takes the opportunity to write his Gospel. Meanwhile, Nero's infamous persecution of Christians is in full effect, and Paul, haunted by shadows of his past misdeeds, questions whether God can forgive him for his sins.
PG-13: Violent content and disturbing images — Premiere Cinemas.
Peter Rabbit (3-D/2-D)
Peter Rabbit, the mischievous and adventurous hero who captivated generations of readers, now stars in his own irreverent film comedy with attitude.
PG: Rude humor and action — Premiere Cinemas.
A Quiet Place
Kerns rating: Four stars
A virtuoso horror film, only 90 minutes long, grabs viewers and dares them to look away from the screen. At times, it works as a near-silent picture, and one of the best things about "A Quiet Place" is that it makes you care about each character because they are haunted by more than the truly creepy aliens who appear to have wiped out much of humanity, attacking only what they HEAR at blinding speed. These characters are haunted by grief, personal guilt, questioning decisions. John Krasinski directs and also plays father Lee Abbott, trying to protect his wife Evelyn (real wife Emily Blunt), daughter Regan (excellent deaf actress Millicent Simmonds) and frightened son Marcus (Noah Jupe). Try remembering the last time no one was peeking at a cell phone during a movie, too nervous that they would miss something important. While wondering if anything can really kill one of these ugly aliens ... and make it stay dead. Sound design is brilliant even as we quite often worry most when we hear nothing at all.
PG-13: Terror and bloody images — Premiere Cinemas (includes D-Box), Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 (includes XD) and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Kerns rating: Two stars
Dwayne Johnson has fun transforming science fiction into live action cartoons -- fighting a gigantic gorilla (his buddy), wolf and crocodile when he is not advising officials to "Evacuate Chicago" with a straight face, or coming up with an idea to climb into a helicopter with no tail and glide down amid the rubble to the street when a skyscraper is leveled. Jeffrey Dean Morgan provides the occasional laugh as a southern FBI agent who comes around to Johnson's way of thinking.
PG-13: Violence, action and destruction, language and crude gestures — Premiere Cinemas (includes IMAX and D-Box), Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Ready Player One
Kerns rating: Three and one-half stars
Never having read Ernest Cline's best seller, good friends nevertheless wanted me to know that filmmaker Steven Spielberg apparently opted for a few detours while navigating his way through the original story. It doesn't matter. What amazes me is that a brilliant director in his 70s purposely avoids most of his own inventions while creating a valentine to (mostly) 1980s pop culture -- including clues to more than 80 films. And he explores it with a racing-paced intensity that glues smiles onto faces. Put simply, "Ready Player One" is fun. No, it cannot hold a candle to Spielberg's classic cinematic escapism. And yet he follows "The Post" by adapting to the times, expressing a future in which a generation facing overpopulation finds escape in an alternate reality where they re-invent lives, right down to their own names and descriptions with avatars. There is a potential loneliness beneath the surface, although some do share feelings, preferences and even loyalty with avatars they meet. When a poor, if intelligent, young man -- Wade Watts, from Columbus, Ohio -- is excited to learn that alternative reality (Oasis) creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) hid Easter eggs before his death. Each leads to a key; three keys might lead to Charlie Bucket's Golden Ticket, the equivalent of wealth and power. Wade and friends compete against a corporate villain willing to destroy anyone he cannot defeat fairly. The movie provides more than two hours of eye candy; you'll recognize Kong, Chucky and a longer tribute to Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." Give Spielberg kudos for amazing casting, from Rylance (best performance) to delightful Olivia Cooke as Samantha/Art3Mis and Lena Waithe, funnier when disguised as best friend (avatar) Ache. OK, it runs a bit too long. You'll still want to play more than once, despite the Disney Co. allowing no "Star Wars" references.
PG-13: Sci-fi action violence, bloody images, suggestive material, partial nudity and language — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17 (includes XD), Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.
Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
A computer-animated adventure about young Army doughboy Robert Conroy (voiced by Logan Lerman), who found his life changed when a little dog with a stubby tail wanders into camp as the men of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division train on the parade grounds of Yale University.
PG: War action and thematic elements — Premiere Cinemas and Tinseltown 17.
Sherlock Gnomes (3-D/2-D)
Following a string of garden gnome disappearances, Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) turn to legendary detective Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp) to solve the case of missing friends and family. Other featured voices include Chiwetel Ejiofor as Gnome Watson; Mary J. Blige as Irene, Sherlock's former girlfriend; James Demetriou as Moriarty; Michael Caine as Lord Redbrick; Maggie Smith as Lady Bluebury; Ashley Jensen as a plastic garden frog with a Scottish accent; and Ozzy Osbourne as a garden deer.
PG: Rude and suggestive humor — Premiere Cinemas and Movies 16.
Truth or Dare
Olivia (Lucy Hale), Lucas (Tyler Posey) and their college friends travel to Mexico for one last getaway before graduation. While there, a stranger convinces them to play a seemingly harmless game of Truth or Dare. Once the game starts, it awakens a demon which forces friends to share dark secrets and confront deepest fears. The rules: tell the truth or die, do the dare or die, and, oh yes, if you stop playing, you die. Jeff Wadlow directs.
PG-13: Violence and disturbing content, alcohol abuse, sexuality, language and thematic material — Premiere Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, Tinseltown 17, Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes drive-In.
A Wrinkle in Time (3-D/2-D)
Kerns rating: One and one-half stars
This is just a bump in director Ava DuVernay's career. She already proved her chops in "Selma" and "13th" (on Netflix). The next step for anyone in her place was to say yes when Disney came calling with a bucket of cash and a challenging story, dominated by a visual effects budget and bad dialogue. Major filmmakers had shied away from popular book "A Wrinkle in Time" since the 1960s. Now we know why.
PG: Thematic elements and peril — Movies 16.
Ratings, from one to five stars, and reviews are by A-J Media film critic William Kerns.