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/
Airlift: Kuwaiti royal family looks to escape during invasion.
Everything About Her: Ill businesswoman and her caregiver enter into an odd relationship.
Fifty Shades of Black: Comedy about a college student who must deal with a wealthy businessman’s sexual practices.
The Finest Hours: Small Coast Guard crew stages a major rescue mission.
Jane Got a Gun: Couple look to build a new life after facing outlaw gang. Natalie Portman stars.
Kung Fu Panda 3: It is time for the student to become the teacher.
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.
Bridge of Spies (☆☆☆1/2): Tom Hanks is a Brooklyn lawyer thrust into the center of the Cold War. There's simmering tension and a tremendous Steven Spielberg payoff. Rated PG-13 (violence, language). 142 minutes. (Donald Munro, The Fresno Bee)
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 Mark 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.
Dirty Grandpa: Grandson and his grandfather go on a road trip. Not reviewed.
The Forest: Woman goes in search of her missing sister. Not reviewed.
Goosebumps (☆☆☆): A kid teams up with the niece of young adult horror author. Jack Black stars. An older audience may feel nostalgic for the books or get a smile out of the cornucopia of creatures that come to life. But the movie is aimed at the same youth market that embraces the books. Rated PG-13 (scary images, language). 113 minutes.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (☆☆☆): Dracula tries to help his grandson find his inner monster. It’s as rare as vampires on a beach to have a movie sequel be better than the original. But vampires might start looking for some sunglasses because the spookiest thing about “Hotel Transylvania 2” is how much funnier, colorful and original it is this second time around. Rated PG (scary elements, rude humor). 87 minutes.
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.
Krampus: A young boy's rejection of the Christmas holiday unleashes an evil force. Not reviewed.
The Martian: (☆☆☆1/2): In one of the most comforting science fiction films in years, Matt Damon plays an astronaut who must find a way to survive on Mars after being left behind. Ridley Scott’s zesty direction turns this into a highly enjoyable team-building exercise, with Damon playing the team of one. Rated PG-13 (strong language, injury images, brief nudity). 141 minutes. (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)
Norm of the North: Polar Bear heads to New York to stop construction in his backyard. Not reviewed.
The Peanuts Movie (☆☆☆ 1/2 ): Charlie Brown and the gang are back for more adventures including Snoopy’s heroic flying. The animated film from the company that produced “Rio” and “Ice Age” is a loving tribute to the characters first introduced through the creative talents of Charles Schulz. It has a colorfulness and energy that will introduce a new generation of fans to this gang, while adhering to the deep emotions with which Schulz infused his work. Rated G. 92 minutes.
Point Break (☆☆1/2): An FBI agent infiltrates a gang of extreme sports criminals. Luke Bracey stars. If you are an extreme sports junkie, "Point Break" is cocaine. If you are a fan of good writing, it's a placebo. Rated PG-13 ( (peril, action, thematic elements, drug material). 113 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 OG-13 (violence, sexual content, language). 101 minutes. (Katie Walsh, Tribune)
Room (☆☆☆☆): A woman and her son try to adapt to life after escaping from the man who held them captive. 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. Tina Fey stars. The film just doesn’t cohere as a consistent piece. Rated R (crude sexual content, language, drug use). 118 minutes. (Katie Walsh, Tribune).
Spectre (☆1/2): James Bond goes in search of a mysterious agency. Daniel Craig stars. The latest in the long-running 007 series proves that even James Bond can have a bad day. The film's convoluted script, watered-down villain and forgettable Bond girl makes "Spectre" the worst of the Craig Bond films. And it has so many flaws that it falls into the bottom third of all Bond movies. PG-13 (action, language). 150 minutes.
Spotlight (☆☆☆☆): Reporting team with the Boston Globe uncovers a conspiracy in the Catholic Church dealing with priests who molest children. Not since the Oscar-winning "All the President's Men" in 1976 has a movie offered such a compelling, intriguing and important look at the world of journalism. This examination of the Boston Globe's investigative team - known as Spotlight - uncovering the massive cover-up is one of the best pictures of the year. Rated R (sexual content, language). 109 minutes.
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. The same beautiful chemistry that actors like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher brought to the middle trilogy has not lost a single bit of purpose or power in the latest film. Rated PG-13 (peril, action scenes). 136 minutes.
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
The Choice: Couple discover that life is a series of big and small choices that have to be made.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Father trains his daughters to be able to fight the undead.
Hail Caesar: Studio head must call on his top stars to help find kidnapped actor. George Clooney stars.