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/
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Young soldier is given a hero’s welcome. Kristen Stewart stars.
Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur Warrior rises to bring freedom and truth.
The Edge of Seventeen Life is hard in high school for an awkward teen. Hailee Steinfeld stars.
Bleed for This Boxer Vinny Pazlenza battles back after a car crash. Miles Teller stars.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Eddie Redmayne stars in this story based on the Hogwarts textbook.
Hunting Elephants: This month’s presentation in the Jewish Film Series. Saturday screening only.
A Late Style of Fire: Larry Levis, American Poet: Documentary on the Fresno State poet. Friday screening only.
Moonlight Young black man searches for his place in the world.
The Accountant (☆)Ben Affleck plays a math savant who gets involved with a criminal element. Rated R (language, violence). 128 minutes.
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).
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.
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).
Ghostbusters (1/2) Team is formed to stop the host of ghosts in the city. There’s something strange in the neighborhood, and it’s the way director-writer Paul Feig handled the reboot. Instead of taking the classic franchise and making it a unique product, he settles for a story that lacks originality. The only sparks of interest are the endless cameo appearances and references to the original film. Rated PG-13 (crude humor, action scenes). 105 minutes.
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.
Kubo and the Two Strings (☆☆☆) A young boy must use magic to save himself and his village. The latest visual feast served up by Laika is a blend of action and emotion set in a fantasy world of the Far East. Rated PG (scary inages, action scenes). 101 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.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life: Young boy uses his wits to deal with his principal and bullies. Not reviewed.
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 slightly 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)
Ouija: Origin of Evil (no stars) Just like in the original film, a Ouija leads to supernatural events. The title of “Ouija: Origin of Evil” should be changed to the more appropriate “Ouija: Bored.” This lackluster follow-up to the incredibly bad “Ouija” of two years ago is more likely to put you to sleep than keep you awake. Rated PG-13 (scary images). 99 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.
Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween Madea spends the holiday battling killers and ghosts.
Opening next week
Allied Love affair between World War II spies becomes complicated. Brad Pitt stars. Opens Wednesday.
Bad Santa 2 The team gets back together to rob a charity. Billie Bob Thornton stars. Opens Wednesday.
Loving Mixed race couple must overcome the law to be together. Opens Wednesday.
Moana Future island queen goes on a quest across the ocean to save her people. Opens Wednesday.
Rules Don’t Apply Warren Beatty film about Howard Hughes and the people around him. Opens Wednesday.