The rating system: A, excellent; B, good; C, so-so; D, poor; F, terrible. Unless noted otherwise, reviews are by Bee critic Rick Bentley. Check movie time: http://calendar.fresnobee.com/movies.aspx.
Avengers: Age of Ultron:The heroes reunite to stop a creation with artificial intelligence out to destroy the world. Chris Evans, James Spader star.
The Blood Street: In this Punjabi action movie, directed by Darshan Darvesh, peaceful villagers rise up against a brutal police commander.
Gabbar is Back: Hindi action drama directed by Krish, involves a special investigator send to track down vigilantes killing corrupt officials.
1915: A mysterious director (Simon Abkarian) stages a play at the Los Angeles Theatre to honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey, exactly 100 years after the horrifying crime.
Age of Adaline (B): Woman (Blake Lively) who has stopped aging faces a new and old love. It’s Lively who helps “Adaline” avoid the major pitfalls. She does a wonderful job of playing the centenarian in a 20-something body. Although she looks young — from the way Adaline dresses to her manner of speaking — everything she does suggests an old soul. Rated PG-13 (suggestive comments). 109 minutes.
Chappie: A robot with artificial intelligence becomes a new life form. This film has not been reviewed. Rated R (violence, language, brief nudity). 120 minutes.
Cinderella (A): A young woman gets help from her Fairy Godmother to attend a royal ball. Lily James stars. The new version is an enchanting take on the familiar story of a young beauty, friendly mice and a slightly wacky Fairy Godmother. Staying loyal to the 1950 Disney animated production makes this new version bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful. This film finds its strength in its tales of love. Rated PG (thematic material). 112 minutes.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (C-): Tris continues to search for allies while being hunted. Shailene Woodley stars. Director Robert Schwentke (replacing Neil Burger, who guided the first film) mounts a couple of big action scenes. Computer technology allows for visuals that are staggeringly amazing. There’s just nothing left when all the dust clears. Rated PG-13 (violence, language). 119 minutes.
Do You Believe? (B): A series of events bring a group of people together and test their faith. Mia Sorvino stars. In a spiritual version of "Crash," 12 people come together - each with a different level of belief. The only common bond for them is a small wooden cross handed out to a congregation by a pastor (Ted McGinley) who realizes even he might not be living his life as a true believer. Rated PG-13 (thematic material, violence). 115 minutes.
The DUFF (B): High school senior is crushed to learn she is the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Mae Whitman stars. Rated PG-13 (crude and sexual material). 101 minutes. (David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle)
Ex Machina (B+): Young programmer part of artificial intelligence testing. Domhnall Gleeson stars. “Ex Machina” is a 21st century take on the classic “Frankenstein” monster tale. Instead of the creature being a lumbering giant, it’s a lithe young woman. And, where Dr. Frankenstein and Igor might discuss why there are so many townspeople at the game with torches and pitchforks, the new film has two computer experts discussing the definition of life. Rated R (nudity, language, sexual references, violence). 108 minutes.
Focus (B): High-stakes con man (Will Smith) breaks a major rule when he falls in love. It would have made for a tighter tale of sneaky larceny had the story been one long scam. In this case, two cons don’t equal one major flim flam. The good thing is that it’s not quite so noticeable because Smith and Margot Robbie bring so much to the film. Rated R (violence, language, sexual content). 105 minutes.
Furious 7 (B+): The fast-driving series starring Vin Diesel continues. The only fair way to judge the latest sequel in the fast-driving franchise is to look at the action scenes. The emotional moments are just speed bumps in the fast lane that is the “Fast and Furious” films. Using that guideline, “Furious 7” is the best one yet. Director James Wan (“Saw”) shows he can create more than just horror films by staging huge stunts that pull the viewer into the seat for the ride. He accomplishes this through clever filming, where the camera often tumbles and turns with the action. Rated PG-13 (violence, language). 140 minutes.
Get Hard (F): Millionaire (Will Ferrell) looks for help in getting ready to serve time in prison. Kevin Hart co-stars. “Get Hard” isn’t merely a major disaster, it’s the Titanic of comedy movies. Weighed down by endless jokes about prison rape, relentless homophobia and a bevy of absurd stereotypes, this Ferrell and Hart film sinks into an abyss of failure. Rated R (language, graphic nudity, drug use). 100 minutes.
Home (D): Young girl and alien go on a quest to find her mother. Jim Parsons stars. The combination of a feeble script, unnecessary music montages, unlikable characters and so-so animation leave “Home” a close encounter of the dull kind. E.T. would use his call to phone the theater to get his money back. Even those who put the advertising together for this movie don’t have a clear idea of what is happening. Rated PG (mild thematic elements). 93 minutes.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (B-): A young man is recruited to be part of an elite spy force. Colin Firth stars. Matthew Vaughn, writer and director of “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” has created a spy thriller that falls somewhere between James Bond and Austin Powers. Rated R (violence, nudity, language) 100 minutes.
The Lazarus Effect (D+): Efforts to bring back the dead lead to an evil result. Mark Duplass stars. First-time feature director David Gelb tries to create lively scares out of the bringing-back-the-dead film genre. The best he gets are a few nervous twitches. Rated PG-13 (violence, sexual references). 83 minutes.
Little Boy (C): An 8-year-old boy will try anything to bring his father back home from the war. “Little Boy” is guilty of trying too hard. Had it just focused on a youngster’s heartbreaking efforts to get his father home from World War II, it would have been a touching tale. Rated PG-13 (thematic material, violence). 86 minutes.
The Longest Ride (B-): Story of star-crossed lovers based on the book by Nicholas Sparks. “The Longest Ride” features one of the most emotionally connected couples since Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams starred in “The Notebook.” Scott Eastwood’s good ol’ boy Southern gentleman is sweetly charming. He’s perfectly matched with Britt Robertson, who has grown since the under-appreciated CW Network series “Life Unexpected.” Rated PG-13 (some thematic material, sports action, partial nudity). 128 minutes.
Monkey Kingdom (B): Nature documentary that follows a newborn monkey and its mother. An intriguing peek inside the social structure of macaque monkey society. Rated G. 81 minutes. (Roger Moore, Tribune)
McFarland, USA (B+): Coach (Kevin Costner) builds a winning cross country team of farmworkers. The real strength comes from the film’s deep look at the beauty of diverse cultures and the importance of family and following a dream. Then “McFarland, USA” becomes a story of the determination, devotion and desire of seven young men to rise above the back-breaking lives of field hands and the man who helps them accomplish what always seemed like a pipe dream. Rated PG (mild action). 129 minutes.
Paddington: Young bear makes his way to England to find a new home. It’s as sweet as orange marmalade. Rated PG (mild action, rude humor). 94 minutes. (Roger Moore, Tribune)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: Paul Blart (Kevin James) doesn’t stop his concerns about safety even while on vacation. This movie has not been reviewed.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (B+): SpongeBob and the gang go on a quest to find a stolen formula. Rated PG (mild action). 100 minutes.
Unfriended (B): A computer hacker threatens people online to find the truth about a suicide. Not since “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999 has a horror film taken such a creative approach to conjur scares as “Unfriended.” It’s a cautionary tale of a group of friends who become the target of an unseen cyberentity starving for revenge. Rated R (thematic material, violence, language). 82 minutes.
The Water Diviner (B-): A father (Russell Crowe) travels to the battlefields in Turkey to find the remains of his three sons lost in battle. If you can overlook the historical lapses, Crowe’s work both as a director and actor show a sensitivity to the larger picture of the horrors of war. This is a powerful story of love, loss, faith and hope. It just suffers from the tunnel vision it has when it comes to history. Rated R (war violence). 111 minutes.
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
Hot Pursuit: By-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) has to protect a mobster’s wife.
The Wrecking Crew: Fresno Filmworks presentation. A look session musicians.