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/
The Boy and the Beast: Orphan stumbles into a world of beasts.
London Has Fallen: Plot to kill all the world leaders leaves London in ruins. Gerard Butler stars.
The Other Side of the Door: Mother tries to bring her son back from the dead so she can say goodbye.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Novice war correspondent tries to adjust to the strange world around her. Tina Fey stars.
Zootopia: Fox and rabbit must work together to uncover a kidnapping conspiracy.
The 5th Wave: Young girl fights back from an alien invasion. Not reviewed.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: Six elite ex-military operators must protect members of the CIA. Not reviewed.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip: A misunderstanding leaves the Chipmunks worried about their future. Not reviewed.
The Boy: Woman hired to take care of a family’s child discovers the boy is actually a life-sized doll. Not reviewed.
Concussion (☆☆1/2): A doctor begins to look at head injuries in the NFL. Will Smith stars. Peter Landesman fumbles by structuring this story around Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), the Pittsburgh pathologist who uncovers the truth about how the early death of former NFL players is connected to a lifetime of blows to the head. Rated PG-13 (thematic elements, language). 123 minutes.
Creed (☆☆1/2): Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) agrees to train the son of Apollo Creed. “Creed” is a reboot of the franchise and follows a very similar structure to the original movie. To that end, the movie repeatedly falls short. Rated PG-13 (violence, language, some sexuality). 133 minutes.
Daddy’s Home (☆ 1/2 ): Stepfather (Will Ferrell) battles with biological father (Mark Wahlberg) for the attention of two children. Will Ferrell again resorts to his over-the-top style. But there is no counterbalance from Wahlberg, who looks bored with the project. The result is a film that has a good heart but no strong humor. Rated PG (thematic elements). 96 minutes.
Deadpool (☆☆☆): Superhero with an attitude starring Ryan Reynolds. Deadpool is a foul-mouthed jerk who would rather put a bullet in a bad guy’s head than to take him off to jail. He loves to talk about sex, violence, sex, sex, sex and more sex. And, just like he does in the comics, Deadpool has no problem breaking the fourth wall. Rated R (violence, sexual content, language, drug use). 117 minutes.
Dirty Grandpa: Grandson and his grandfather go on a road trip. Not reviewed.
Eddie the Eagle: Eddie is an underdog in ski jumping but won’t back down. Hugh Jackman stars. Not reviewed.
The Forest: Woman goes in search of her missing sister. Not reviewed.
Gods of Egypt (1/2): “Gods of Egypt” looks at the battle between Set (Gerard Butler) and Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to be the king of Egypt. Their battle’s staged with such clunky special effects, hackneyed dialogue and amateurish acting that instead of being a battle royal, it’s purely “Ra”-tten. Rated PG-13 (violence, language). 127 minutes.
The Good Dinosaur (☆☆): In a world where dinosaurs have progressed more than humans, a young dinosaur must learn how to face his fears. It is weighed down by a flawed concept, unappealing characters and a soundtrack that lacks anything close to a memorable tune. The only aspect worthy of high praise is the background work, which is so stunning it keeps the movie from heading for a tar pit. Even Mother Nature can’t make a landscape this amazing. Rated PG (peril, action, thematic elements). 100 minutes.
How To Be Single (☆☆☆): Four women deal with life in the dating world. Dakota Johnson stars. “How To Be Single” actually is a smart, fun and sweet movie. Despite an all-female starring cast, it delivers its comments about relationships in such a full and inclusive manner that men will be pulled into the intertwined stories. Rated R (sexual content, language).
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (☆☆ 1/2 ): Katniss Everdeen faces one last showdown with President Snow. Jennifer Lawrence stars. Splitting the final book in the popular series into two feature film parts created a bloated feeling to the story. Instead of the heart-pounding tempo that made the first two movies so entertaining, the slow grind of the finale is less compelling. It made financial sense – not artistic sense. Rated PG-13 (violence, action scenes). 136 minutes.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (☆☆☆): It is time for the student to become the teacher. Much of the appeal of the “Panda” films is he starry cast of voices. Rated PG (martial arts action, mild rude humor). 95 minutes. (Jocelyn Noveck, AP)
Neerja: Extremists hijack a plane headed from Bombay to New York. Not reviewed.
Norm of the North: Polar Bear heads to New York to stop construction in his backyard. Not reviewed.
Race (☆☆☆): Jesse Owen travels to Germany for the 1936 Olympics to win four medals in front of Adolf Hitler. “Race” is as important a movie as “Selma” or “12 Years a Slave.” It presents some horrible truths about mankind with a power and grace. The film’s messages are beautifully conveyed. Rated PG-13 (thematic elements, language). 134 minutes.
Risen (☆☆1/2): Roman tribune (Joseph Fiennes) investigates events following the Crucifixion. “Risen” is more “The Last Temptation of Christ” than “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It’s a film that comes wrapped in the theological teachings of the Bible but is really a procedural drama that looks to fill in the gaps left between the Crucifixion and the Ascension. Rated PG-13 (Biblical violence, disturbing images). 107 minutes.
The Ride Along 2 (☆☆1/2): Ice Cube and Kevin Hart hit the road to dish out their comedic style of justice. Watching the “Ride Along” films is an exercise in succumbing to Kevin Hart’s unique, manic charms. Rated PG-13 (violence, sexual content, language). 101 minutes. (Katie Walsh, Tribune)
Room (☆☆☆☆): Director Lenny Abrahamson has created with “Room” a compelling story that appears to have very distinct halves. But in reality, each half is an emotional mirror of the other. This reflection is strengthened by a powerful story of a mother’s undying love, the revelations of the world seen through a child’s eyes and the unwavering strength of the human spirit. Rated R (language). 113 minutes.
Sisters (☆☆): Sisters throw one last party before selling the family home. Rated R (crude sexual content, language, drug use). 118 minutes. (Katie Walsh, Tribune).
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (☆☆☆☆): Han Solo and General Leia are pulled into a new battle between light and dark forces. The strengths George Lucas brought to his films were the examination of family, the importance of friendship, the fight between good and evil, and the necessity of finding your own place in the galaxy. Abrams took those elements and presented them through a structure that combined characters from the 1977 offering with an entertaining and engaging group of new players. Rated PG-13 (peril, action scenes). 136 minutes.
Triple 9: Russian mob blackmails dirty cops to execute a nearly impossible heist. Not reviewed.
The Witch (☆☆☆): Family in 1630s New England torn apart by witchcraft. “The Witch” is the kind of movie that works more on the psychology of terror, which is why it will haunt you long after the film ends. Rated R (violence, graphic nudity). 92 minutes.
Zoolander 2: Male supermodels face danger from competing company. Ben Stiller stars. Not reviewed.
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
10 Cloverfield Lane: Group goes underground to escape a major disaster. John Goodman stars.
Treasure: Two men search for a hidden treasure. This month’s presentation by Fresno Filmworks.