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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Allied Love affair between World War II spies becomes complicated. Brad Pitt stars. Opened Wednesday.
Bad Santa 2 The team gets back together to rob a charity. Billie Bob Thornton stars. Opened Wednesday.
Dear Zindagi A cinematographer is in search of a perfect life. Opened Wednesday.
Loving Mixed race couple must overcome the law to be together. Opened Wednesday.
Moana Future island queen goes on a quest across the ocean to save her people. Opened Wednesday.
Rules Don’t Apply Warren Beatty film about Howard Hughes and the people around him. Opened Wednesday
Almost Christmas (☆☆1/2) Estranged family must reunite for the holidays. Danny Glover stars. It’s truly only Mo’Nique who owns both the biggest laughs and truly heartfelt moments. Rated PG-13 (suggestive material, drug content, language). 112 minutes. (Katie Walsh, Tribune)
Arrival (☆☆☆) Scientists and military scramble to unravel mystery behind alien crafts. The film builds its mystery scene by scene. Rated PG-13 (language). 116 minutes. (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune).
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Young soldier is given a hero’s welcome. Kristen Stewart stars. Not reviewed.
Bleed for This (☆☆1/2) Boxer Vinny Pazlenza battles back after a car crash. Miles Teller stars. “Bleed for This,” the latest in a recent swarm of movies based on true stories, not only has to overcome the need to build drama despite the audience knowing the ending but also has to do that while working with a very familiar sports movie trope. This is another drama that looks for sweet ratings from the boxing movie genre that has already gone into extra rounds. Rated R (language, sexuality, nudity). 116 minutes.
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. It takes a confident actor to be able to slip into a superhero costume and make it look serious. Cumberbatch embraces the look as if he were starring in “Hamlet.” Rated PG-13 (comic book violence).130 minutes.
The Edge of Seventeen Life is hard in high school for an awkward teen. Hailee Steinfeld stars. Not reviewed.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (☆☆☆☆) Eddie Redmayne stars in this story based on the Hogwarts textbook. If you are looking for a fantastic movie and don’t know where to find one, look no further than “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” This new offering from the creative mind of J.K. Rowling is as fun and entertaining as it is visually stunning. Rated PG-13 (fantasy action and violence). 132 minutes.
Finding Dory (☆☆☆1/2) The blue fish who helped Nemo goes on a trek to find her parents. The long-awaited follow-up to the 2003 release “Finding Nemo” has all the fun and charm of the original movie. In some ways – especially dealing with themes of friends and family –the sequel trumps the original. Rated PG (mild thematic elements).
Hacksaw Ridge (☆☆☆1/2): Man who refuses to carry a gun into one of the bloodiest battles of World War II becomes a hero. Andrew Garfield stars. Playing a pacifist in such a deadly war zone is a tricky proposition. Garfield shows just the right of commitment to make the hardline stand feel real while allowing his emotions to occasionally bubble to the surface. Playing the role with too little commitment would have turned the character into a World War II version of Gomer Pyle. Rated R (violence, language). 139 minutes.
The Magnificent Seven (☆☆☆): Seven gunmen come to the aid of a small village. Denzel Washington stars in this remake. Living up to the original is an almost impossible task. The remake tries to match the star power with Washington and Chris Pratt, but the overall lineup eventually pales in comparison. Rated PG-13 (violence, language, smoking). 132 minutes.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (☆☆) Young boy discovers a refuge for children with special abilities. The first half of the film is fun because of director Tim Burton’s whimsical style of making movies. Once the story begins, the plot gets more peculiar than any of the children. The casting seems off and Samuel L. Jackson goes so far over the top he needs a parachute. Rated PG-13 (intense scenes of fantasy). 127 minutes. (Katie Walsh, TNS)
Moonlight (☆☆☆☆) Young black man searches for his place in the world. The movie, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, is a slow journey through the pain-filled life of a young black man charted from his troubled childhood to his uncertain adulthood. The way Jenkins has structured his work isn’t to give us a fully formed adult but to give the audience a ringside seat to see the outside influences that shaped this young man. Rated R (sexuality, violence, language, drug use). 110 minutes.
Pete’s Dragon (☆☆): A young boy who has been living alone in the woods is separated from his pet dragon. Rated PG (action, peril, mild language). 90 minutes.
The Secret Life of Pets (☆☆): The way your pet acts when you are away is very different than when you are home. Rated PG (rude humor, action). 95 minutes.
Suicide Squad (☆☆) A group of villains that include the Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) go on a mission. “Suicide Squad,” the latest fumbled movie offering based on a DC Comics franchise, has only two things going for it. The most noteworthy is Robbie, who brings a wonderful crazy energy to her role. The character has been immensely popular since debuting in “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992, and Robbie is flawless. Rated PG-13 (violence, sexual situations) 126 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.
Opening next week
Kidnap L.A. mom chases the person who abducted her child. Halle Berry stars.