The rating system: A, excellent; B, good; C, so-so; D, poor; F, terrible. Unless noted otherwise, reviews are by Bee critic Rick Bentley.
Black or White: Man fights to keep his daughter after his wife dies. Kevin Costner stars.
Black Sea: Rogue submarine captain goes in search of sunken treasure. Jude Law stars.
Game of Thrones: Two episodes of the cable series will be show on IMAX.
A Most Violent Year: Immigrant fights to protect his family and his business during the early ’80s in New York. Jessica Chastain stars.
Project Almanac: Time machine results in a group of teens changing the world.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (C+): Movie banks heavily on the natural charms of Steve Carell and the motherly ways of Jennifer Garner to win over an audience. Rated PG (crude humor, language). 80 minutes. Birthday wish creates disasters for every member of a family. Steve Carell stars.
American Sniper (A-): Navy SEAL finds he can’t leave the war behind when he returns home. Directed by Clint Eastwood. What pushes Bradley Cooper to such heights is the role based on the true story of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL who became the deadliest sniper in American history. Rated R (war violence, language). 134 minutes.
Birdman (A): Aging action film actor tries to revive his career with a Broadway play. Michael Keaton stars. The stunningly unique visual style and sacrificial slaughter of stardom makes “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” a modern day “Sunset Boulevard” - where winning and losing recognition can be a maddening experience. Rated R (language, violence, sexual content). 119 minutes.
The Book of Life (A-): A young man embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears. A visually Stunning effort. Rated PG (mild action, rude humor). 95 minutes. (Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter)
The Boy Next Door (F): Thriller starring Jennifer Lopez. A mature woman facing a divorce falls for a younger man. The affair takes an obsessive, dangerous turn. Jennifer Lopez’s new movie, “The Boy Next Door,” is cheesier than a Chicago double topping deep dish pizza. From the profoundly absurd idea that anyone married to a woman who looks like Lopez would cheat on her to the teen-age Lothario who looks older than Lopez, this movie is the culmination of a cluster of idiotic ideas. Rated R (nudity, violence, language). 91 minutes.
Cake (B): A woman must find a way to deal with chronic pain. Jennifer Aniston stars. Her performance is a triumph. Rated R (language, substance abuse). 102 minutes. (Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle)
Dumb and Dumber To (D-): Pair reunite to look for one of their lost children. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels star. Rated PG-13 (crude humor, language). 109 minutes.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (C): Moses (Christian Bale) rises up against Ramses who must deal with deadly plagues. For an epic, there are, at best, only two clearly seen characters in “Exodus.” Rated PG-13 (violence). 142 minutes. (Jake Coyle, AP)
Foxcatcher: Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team move in with multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont to train for the 1988 games. Steve Carell stars.
Gone Girl (B): A man (Ben Affleck) becomes the main suspect in the case of his missing wife. The film is a great thriller until it stops being one, about 20 minutes before the finish. Rated R (violence, nudity, strong sexual content, language). 148 minutes. (Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle)
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (B-): Forces come together to claim the riches that had been guarded by Smaug. Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy — noteworthy for the way Jackson has transformed the book into a visual feast and delivers the tent pole moments — ends with uninspired battles and muddled characters. Personal moments are overshadowed by endless battles with characters poorly defined. Rated PG-13 (fantasy violence). 144 minutes.
Horrible Bosses 2 (D-): The three guys must hatch a new illegal plan after their new business is threatened. Jason Bateman stars. This kind of asinine offering is just the result of an uninspired effort to milk a few dollars out of the good feelings generated by the original movie. Rated R (sexual content, language). 108 minutes.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (B): Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) struggles to find her place in the revolution that is brewing. In a film that cranks up the action even more than the first two movies, Lawrence’s work grows even stronger as she commands attention with each word, phrase and breath. Rated PG-13 (violence, disturbing images). 125 minutes.
The Imitation Game (B): Group of Brits rush to defeat German code machine during World War II. Benedict Cumberbatch stars. At the core, this is a story about how one man can be both a hero and an outcast. It is depicted through the mesmerizing performance by Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the genius who helped bring World War II to an end two years early.
Into the Woods (B+): Fairytale characters come together in this musical from Stephen Sondheim. Meryl Streep stars. “Into the Woods” is a musical journey full of strong performances, a beautiful fairytale landscape and a story that is emotionally haunting. Climb up a beanstalk to see this movie musical.
The Maze Runner (B-): Group of young captives must find a way out of a giant maze. In film — based on the James Dashner young-adult dystopian science fiction novels — director Wes Ball gets off to a faster start, in part by the way the movie is put together and because the story is so thin there is no need to spend time explaining why things happen. Rated PG-13 (science fiction violence). 113 minutes,
Mortdecai: An action-comedy starring Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor. An art dealer searches for a stolen painting reportedly linked to a a Nazi bank account. This movie has not been reviewed.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (D+): This time the weird antics in the museum take place outside the United States. Ben Stiller stars.
Nightcrawler (B+): Look at freelance video shooters who prowl the streets of Los Angeles at night. Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo star. Gyllenhaal’s performance falls somewhere between Norman Bates and Gordon Gekko in his entrepreneurial efforts. At times he seems driven by sociopathic tendencies while at other times, his work borders on the madness of a great artist. Rated R (violent images, language). 117 minutes.
Paddington: Young bear makes his way to England to find a new home. Is sweet as orange marmalade. Rated PG (mile action, rude humor). 94 minutes. (Roger Moore, Tribune)
Penguins of Madagascar (A): Secrets of the world’s best spy team are revealed. From their first appearance in “Madagascar, “ Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico have been committing grand-theft scene stealing. It’s a winner. Rated PG (mild action, rude humor). 85 minutes.
Selma (A-): David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in this chronicle of the leader’s campaign to secure equal voting rights. “Selma” is a movie that should be mandatory viewing for future generations as a reminder that behind every big historical moment are some very human stories. Rated PG-13 (violence, language). 2 hours, 7 minutes.
Spare Parts: George Lopez and Marisa Tomei star in the drama about four undocumented Mexican-American students who enter the National Underwater Robotics Competition.
Strange Magic (D): An animated musical fairy tale inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and centered around goblin, elf, fairy and imp characters. Rated PG (Scary images). 99 minutes. (Michael Ordona, San Francisco Chronicle)
Unbroken: Olympic athlete must face the ordeal of being held in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II. Suspense and pathos evade director Angelina Jolie as she turns an admittedly unwieldy biography into a dull, perfunctory and truncated film.
The Wedding Ringer (C+): Socially awkward groom turns to a professional best man. Kevin Hart stars. A bromantic comedy that feels like a romantic comedy. Rated R (language). 101 minutes. (Roger Moore, Tribune)
Whiplash (A-): Young jazz drummer must endure a ferocious instructor (J.K. Simmons). Rarely has a movie shown so viscerally the utter pain that can accompany the bliss of creating good music. Rated R (language). 106 minutes. (Jocelyn Noveck, AP)
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death: Eel Marsh House is awakened when a group of children evacuated from WWII London arrive. This film has not been reviewed.
NEXT WEEK’S OPENINGS
Jupiter Ascending: Mila Kunis plays a woman who discovers she was born to save the cosmos.
The Seventh Son: Hero born with incredible powers is sought to fight an impending evil. Jeff Bridges stars.
SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water: SpongeBob and the gang must deal with life on dry land.