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/
Captain America: Civil War: Superheroes are divided by new rulings from United Nations.
Just the 3 of Us: Three people forced to live together find love.
Vaisakhi List: Two men who escape from jail discover they were about to be pardoned.
The 5th Wave: Young girl fights back from an alien invasion. Not reviewed.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip: A misunderstanding leaves the Chipmunks worried about their future. Not reviewed.
Barbershop: The Next Cut (☆☆☆): Workers at the shop arrange a weekend ceasefire among local gangs. The script by Tracy Oliver and Kenya Barris is a strong balance of serious and funny that is accented by all of the comedians who love to improvise. It’s not a matter of the comedians trying to save the story, it’s just adding comedy accents along the way. Cedric the Entertainer continues to shine as the shop’s veteran employee, Eddie. Rated PG-13 (language, sexual situations). 112 minutes.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (☆☆): Batman takes on Superman. Holy bloated muddled mess! The first 45 minutes of director Zack Snyder’s film is such a confusing menagerie of worn-out and worthless story points that only a well-staged battle and the appearance of a female savior keep this latest comic-book-inspired film from being the biggest failure in the genre. Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot star. Rated PG-13 (language, violence). 151 minutes.
The Boss ( 1/2 ): Business leader (Melissa McCarthy) is not greeted with open arms after a stint in prison. The film is about as funny as getting fired on your birthday. Not only is this movie devoid of any humor, it promotes both the forced labor and physical abuse of children. Try laughing at that. McCarthy has not shown the acting ability to pull off a role where she starts as an unlikable character but wins over the audience by the finale. All she manages to do is create an unlikable character who just gets more unlikable until the final credits mercifully roll. Rated R (language, sexual content, drug use). 99 minutes.
Criminal (☆ 1/2 ): Killer (Kevin Costner) gets the memories of a government agent. Costner ventures into “Silence of the Lambs” territory playing Jericho Stewart, a criminal with no moral compass. His violent ways are the aftermath of a childhood injury that affected the part of his brain that understands right from wrong. Costner’s portrayal of both the psychopath and the pseudo-psychopath is the most interesting thing in the movie. Rated R (violence, language). 113 minutes.
Compadres: Framed cop seeks revenge after getting out of prison. Not reviewed.
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.
Green Room (☆☆☆): Punk rockers must face depraved club owner. Patrick Stewart stars. Director/writer Jeremy Saulnier makes the situation relatable through the band members who go from shocked to frightened to surviving on pure instinct. The moment when the band members go from being helpless victims waiting to be eliminated one by one to hatching a plan to battle back is spelled out very clearly through a story Pat (Anton Yelchin), the band’s unofficial leader, tells about playing paintball. Rated R (graphic violence, language, drug use). 95 minutes.
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 is 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.
Hail, Caesar!: Studio head must call on his top stars to help find kidnapped actor. George Clooney stars. Not reviewed.
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 Huntsman: Winter’s War (☆☆): The war between rival queen sisters intensifies. This “Huntsman” wildly misses its target. Rated PG-13 (violence, sensuality). 114 minutes. (Katie Walsh, Tribune)
The Jungle Book (☆☆☆ 1/2 ): Young boy survives in the jungle with a little help from his animal friends. Director Jon Favreau, who showed with “Iron Man” his skill at handling movies with heavy special effects, uses a blend of the original writings with the whimsy of the Disney 1967 animated classic and the realism of the 1994 version starring Jason Scott Lee. It’s the way all of these bits and pieces are presented that makes this movie the new king of the jungle movies. Rated PG (scary images). 111 minutes.
Keanu: Cousins impersonate ruthless killers to save a kidnapped cat. Not reviewed.
Mother’s Day (☆☆☆): Several moms deal with the ups and downs surrounding their special day. Jennifer Aniston stars. Director Garry Marshall uses the same formula of blending together multiple story lines for his light comedy “Mother’s Day,” but this time has better defined the plot and embraced the emotion. It’s not perfect, but it’s a sweet Mother’s Day gift. Rated PG-13 (suggstive material, language). 118 minutes.
Ratchet & Clank (☆☆1/2): Space hero and his robot companion must stop an evil force. Based on the popular video game. “Ratchet & Clank” film is designed to make sure the fans of the video game get a nostalgic kick. So many years have past since the original video game was released that the movie now has to deal with comparisons to other movies and TV shows that fit the genre. Rated PG (rude humor, action). 94 minutes.
The Revenant (☆☆☆): A foundation story of the American West starring Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Oscar winner Alejandro Inarritu. The film features stunning performances by DiCaprio and Tom Hardy and fabulous visuals. It only begins to miss when Inarritu moves from the material to the mystical and tries to elevate an ugly story into a spiritual one. Rated R (intense, at times graphic, violence, including scenes involving animals). 156 minutes. (Manohla Dargis, New York Times).
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.
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (☆☆☆☆): Han Solo and Gen. 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.
Zootopia (☆☆☆): Fox and rabbit must work together to uncover a kidnapping conspiracy. When the new animated movie focuses on the critters, it’s a funny trip through the animal kingdom. What slows the ark (oops, make that arc) of the film is a crime story that’s in need of a few more jokes. Rated PG (rude humor, scary images). 108 minutes.
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
City of Gold: Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Goldas explores Los Angeles. This month’s presentation by Fresno Filmworks.
Money Monster: Irate investor takes over a cable money show and threatens to set off a massive explosion. George Clooney and Julia Roberts star.