The rating system: ☆☆☆☆, excellent; ☆☆☆, good; ☆☆, so-so; ☆, poor; zero stars, terrible. Unless noted otherwise, reviews are by Bee critic Rick Bentley. Check movie times: http://calendar.fresnobee.com/
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Fifty Shades Darker: Unique relationship between a man and women continues.
John Wick: Chapter 2: Wick is forced to come out of retirement. Keanu Reeves stars.
Jolly LLB 2: Struggling lawyer moves to the big city. Akshay Kumar stars.
The LEGO Batman Movie: Caped crime fighter saves the city one brick at a time.
Midnight Orchestra: The estranged son of a famous Jewish musician hopes to reunite with his father and understand his legacy. This month’s presentation in the Fresno Jewish Film Series on Feb. 11.
Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animated, live action and documentary shorts are this month’s offering from Fresno Filmworks on Feb. 10 and 11.
Assassin’s Creed: Search for meaning in memories of ancestors leads to special skills. Based on the popular video game. Not reviewed.
The Accountant (☆): Ben Affleck plays a math savant who gets involved with a criminal element. Rated R (language, violence). 128 minutes.
Collateral Beauty (☆☆☆) Man seeks answers from the universe after a great tragedy. Nestled among all the holiday releases based on video games and big sci-fi adventures is the sweet “Collateral Beauty.” Although it continuously slips into being overly sentimental, it’s hard not to be pulled in by the film’s tale of love, loss and the time it takes to deal with both. Rated PG-13 (language, thematic elements). 94 minutes.
The Comedian: Robert De Niro plays an aging comic who connects with a young woman. not reviewed.
Doctor Strange (☆☆☆☆): Egotistical surgeon finds new mystical powers. Benedict Cumberbatch stars. Cumberbatch brings a seriousness to the role that helps bridge the skepticism gap created with any feature film based on a comic book. His reverent approach to playing the role makes it easy to accept the character, both as a self-centered man of medicine and as a manipulator of magic. Rated PG-13 (comic book violence). 130 minutes.
A Dog’s Purpose (☆ 1/2): Dog brings joy to numerous families through his multiple existences. The purpose of a dog, according to “A Dog’s Purpose,” is to be a tool for manipulating emotional responses through repeated cloying death scenes. What starts out as a celebration of canines ends up being one of the saddest and most contrived movies in decades. Rated PG (thematic elements). 100 minutes.
The Founder Michael Keaton stars in this look at the man who started McDonald’s. Not reviewed.
Fences (☆☆☆☆) Father deals with race relations in the ’50s while trying to raise his family. Denzel Washington stars. August Wilson’s 1983 play “Fences” earned the author a Pulitzer Prize for drama and a Tony Award for best play. In other words, this is a superbly written story about a Pittsburgh family dealing with financial and social struggles in the late 1950s.Washington’s film looks like a stage production with one of the best ensemble cast of the past decade. Rated PG-13 (thematic elements, language). 133 minutes.
Hidden Figures (☆☆☆☆) Three black woman prove to be valuable additions to America’s race for space. he film continues the hot Hollywood trend of basing feature films on real stories. It’s a tale of incredible courage and determination that has such a powerful message about the pure absurdity of racism that this movie should be mandatory viewing for every man, woman and child. Rated PG (thematic elements, language). 127 minutes.
La La Land (☆☆☆) Actress and jazz musician find music in their lives. Emma Stone stars. The first three quarters of the film constitute a light romantic musical movie that’s slightly off the mark. As soon as Stone sings the showstopper “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” that’s when the movie becomes a brilliant mix of musical performance and visual storytelling. Stone delivers the tune – that summarizes the themes of the film brilliantly – with a power and passion that is nowhere to be found in the earlier numbers. Rated PG-13 (language). 128 minutes.
Manchester by the Sea A teenage boy moves in with his uncle after his father dies. Casey Affleck stars. Not reviewed.
Moana (☆☆ 1/2 ) Future island queen goes on a quest across the ocean to save her people. The problem is the story is nowhere near as interesting as the animation. It’s slow-paced and the multiple attempts to explain the Polynesian tales that serve as the fabric of the story never make the plot clear. Rated PG (peril). 103 minutes.
Monster Trucks High schooler builds a monster truck as a way of getting out of his hometown. Not reviewed.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter: Alice (Milla Jovovich) must return to where her nightmare began. Not reviewed.
Rings: Watching a video can be deadly. Not reviewed.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (☆☆☆ 1/2 ) A ragtag team goes on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Felicity Jones stars. A task as big as building a Death Star fell to director Gareth Edwards to create the first of what is intended to be a series of standalone tales based on events in the “Star Wars” universe. His contribution is “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” a fast-paced adventure that takes place just before events of “Star Wars: A New Hope.” If you ever wondered how Princess Leia got the plans to the Death Star and loaded them into R2-D2, this film fills in the backstory. PG-13 (peril. violence). 133 minutes.
Sing (☆☆☆) Musical competition held to save a theater. “Sing,” a toe-tapping film that’s “Zootopia” meets “American Idol,” is charming and entertaining as long as the music is playing. The quieter bits between the songs come across as being slightly out of rhythm. The good thing is that there are barely any moments when a gorilla, porcupine, pig or camel isn’t belting out a tune. Rated PG (rude humor, peril). 108 minutes.
The Space Between Us: Young man born on Mars makes a trip to Earth. Not reviewed.
Split: Man with multiple personalities kidnaps three young women. Not reviewed.
Storks (☆☆☆☆): After years of being out of the baby-delivery business, one stork must make a very important delivery. The film manages to deliver on many levels, from broad comedy to a sweet family story. There’s a lot going on in this tale of a world where storks have been made to deliver packages from a superstore. But directors Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland layer the elements in such a way that one just makes the other stronger. Rated PG (mild violence). 92 minutes.
Trolls (☆☆ 1/2 ) Two trolls go on an adventure into new lands. The juvenile humor and dazzling use of color in “Trolls” makes it fancifully designed to entertain the young. There are a few elements – from the trippy psychedelic look to retro selection of music – that may lure adults, but those are not plentiful enough to give the film a broad, all-ages appeal. Rated PG (rude humor). 85 minutes.
Un Padre No Tan Padre: New age collides with old age. Not reviewed.
Why Him? (no stars): Father is upset his daughter wants to marry an outlandish billionaire. The name of the new film starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco is "Why Him?" A better question is "Why Us?" What horrific thing did members of the moviegoing public do to deserve such an unimaginative, excruciatingly vile and worthless comedy? Rated R (nudity, language, sexual material). 111 minutes.
xXx: The Return of Xander Cage: A government agent comes out of retirement. Not reviewed.
OPENING NEXT WEEK
A Cure for Wellness: A wellness center is using treatments that are not what they seem to be.
Everybody Loves Somebody: Woman who seems to have it all struggles with her love life. Karla Souza stars.
Fist Fight: Two teachers are scheduled to settle a dispute after school.
The Great Wall: Mystery behind the building of the Great Wall of China is revealed. Matt Damon stars.