Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality
Stars: Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer
A mafia boss (De Niro) who has testified against the mob is relocated with his family to a sleepy town in France under the protection of a CIA agent (Jones). Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element,” “The Professional”) directed the crime comedy.
INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey
The evil spirits who attempted to posses a comatose young boy in the 2010 original continue to plague the Lambert family. James Wan (“The Conjuring,” “Saw”) directed the horror.
Rated: Rfor violence and pervasive language
Stars: Liam Hemsworth, Emma Roberts, Dwayne Johnson
Two childhood friends (Hemsworth and Roberts) planning to rob an armored car depository must first deal with a New York City police officer who stands in their way. Dito Montiel (“A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”) directed the crime drama.
Rated: R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
Stars: Vin Diesel, Jordi Molla, Katee Sackhoff, Bokeem Woodbine
A fugitive (Diesel) left to die on an arid planet is forced to contend with an alien race of predators. David Twohy (“Pitch Black”) directed the sci-fi thriller.
Rated: PG-13 for disturbing war images, thematic elements and smoking
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal
The private world of the reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye is explored in this documentary. Directed by Shane Salerno (“Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs”).
Rated: R for language and brief violence
Stars: Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent
We don’t get to see or hear the massive explosion that opens this complex courtroom/political thriller — only the tense moments leading up to it. Mainly because “Closed Circuit” isn’t a movie about stuff getting blown up. It’s a movie about the dramatic complications that follow. After a terrorist bombing that kills 120 people in London, two embittered hostile former lovers (Bana and Hall) on the defense team are forced into a dangerous situation after uncovering evidence of a government cover-up. Intelligent, increasingly suspenseful and full of bitter plot twists, this is one of those films where few of the characters are likable, but just about everyone is interesting enough to make that irrelevant. Especially since about half of them stand an equal chance of being killed at any given moment.
Rated: PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem throughout, some rude gestures, and language
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight, Rebecca Budig
Even if car-crash movies are your cotton candy and you’re about to blow a gasket waiting for the next installment of “Fast and Furious,” don’t be tempted by this pointless exercise in high-speed ridiculousness. Failed race-car driver Brent Magna (Hawke, who should have been scared away as soon as he read that name in the script) is trying to start a new life in Bulgaria (yes, Bulgaria) when he’s given an ultimatum by a mysterious villain (Voight): Do as he’s told or his kidnapped wife will die. Soon, Magna’s racing through the streets of Sofia in a souped-up Mustang with a million police in pursuit and the car’s tough-talking, computer-genius, nefarious-scheme-foiling teenage owner (former Disney star Gomez) bickering with him in the front seat. That might have been fun if “Getaway” had been made with style and a tongue-in-cheek sensibility — or if it delivered the thrills it appears to promise. Unfortunately, it’s 90 minutes of drive, bicker, crash and crash, bicker, drive, with a handful of explosions to break the monotony.
Rated: PG-13 for violence, some smoking, brief drug use and language
Stars: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Jin Zhang
Despite its dazzling pedigree and its visual splendor, “The Grandmaster” simply doesn’t get the job done, either as a biographical drama or a martial arts saga. It might be worth looking into, however, as a potent cure for insomnia. Directed by the celebrated Chinese auteur Kar Wai Wong (“Chungking Express,” “Ashes of Time”), with star performances by Leung (“In the Mood for Love”) and Zhang (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) and action choreography by Yuen Woo-ping (“The Matrix”), “The Grandmaster” is an epic attempt to tell the life story of Ip Man — the Wing Chun master best known here as the mentor of Bruce Lee. The idea, apparently, was to place less emphasis on kung fu action and more on tragic drama. Unfortunately, after being cut by half, “The Grandmaster” provides just enough information to keep us frustrated while lulling us into somnolence with long, searching close-ups and far too much slow-motion — particularly in the infrequent martial-arts sequences.
ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US
Rated: PG for mild language
Stars: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson
The mega-popular British boy band looks back on its meteoric rise. Morgan Spurlock (“Supersize Me”) directed the documentary.
THE WORLD’S END
Rated: R for pervasive language including sexual references
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman
The third film in writer/star Simon Pegg and writer/director Edgar Wright’s trilogy of wild, action-centric genre spoofs (after 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead” and 2007’s “Hot Fuzz”) ably sends up the sort of alien sneak attack best exemplified by “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” But the most interesting thing about it is the way it makes dredging up thepast much more harrowing. Pegg plays Andy King, a developmentally delayed 40-something layabout, who decides to reunite with his old high-school mates for the epic pub crawl they failed to complete in 1990. Though frequently funny, “World’s End” is surprisingly dark, given that Andy’s old pals are now responsible, middle-aged men who regard him with varying degrees of pity and/or disdain. And that they’re all more or less unhappy with how their lives have turned out, disillusioned by the world in general and soured on the future. Alien invaders are really the least of their worries.
Rated: PG-13 for some suggestive content and innuendo
Stars: Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, J.J. Field, Bret McKenzie, Georgia King
There’s a fairly brilliant idea at the heart of “Austenland,” given that the ongoing enormous popularity of all things Jane Austen make it easy to believe such a thing as an Austen-themed, romance-guaranteed fantasy vacation really could exist. It’s just a shame that instead of a smart, literate send-up of Austen’s novels and the yearnings of a modern-day woman who prefers them to the real world, we have to settle for a modest, mildly amusing, romantic-comedy rehash. Russell is engaging as Jane, who spends her life savings on a vacation to Austenland, an English country estate stocked with actors playing Regency-era gentlemen, hoping to make her romantic fantasies come true. Coolidge provides most of the laughs, though, as a wealthy, likeably vulgar guest who’s never heard of Austen, but thinks she’ll “look great in those wench gowns.”
THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action, and some suggestive content
Stars: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Robert Sheehan
There’s nothing in this first adaptation of novelist Cassandra Clare’s six-book fantasy adventure series that hasn’t been seen before, the author having swiped big hunks of plot from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Twilight” along with a certain well-known shocking revelation from the “Star Wars” saga. But everything chugs along briskly and reasonably entertainingly until running off the rails a bit with a wildly over-complicated finale. Collins is appealing as 15-year-old Clary, who discovers she is in reality a Shadowhunter, a hereditary half-angel/half-human clan devoted to fighting demons and maintaining the cosmic balance of good and evil. Though her attention is somewhat distracted by a love triangle involving her boy BFF Simon (Sheehan) and Jace (“Twilight” veteran Bower), a blonde, bad-boy Shadowhunter in low-slung leather pants.
THE WORLD’S END
Rated: R for pervasive language including sexual references
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman
The third film in writer/star Simon Pegg and writer/director Edgar Wright’s trilogy of wild, action-centric genre spoofs (after 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead” and 2007’s “Hot Fuzz”) ably sends up the sort of alien sneak attack best exemplified by “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” But the most interesting thing about it is the way it makes dredging up the past seem much more harrowing. Pegg plays Andy King, a developmentally delayed 40-something layabout, who decides to reunite with his old high-school mates and have another go at the epic pub crawl they failed to complete in 1990. Though it’s frequently funny, “World’s End” is also surprisingly dark, given that Andy’s old pals are now responsible, middle-aged men who regard him with varying degrees of pity and/or disdain. And that they’re all more or less unhappy with the way their lives have turned out, disillusioned by the world in general and not looking forward to the future. Alien invaders are really the least of their worries.
Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Stars: Nicolas Tucci, Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg
This low-budget, shot-on-video, no-thrills throwback to the slasher movies of the late-’70s and ’80s is basically a cavalcade of old-school, straight-ahead, skull-splitting, throat-slashing, brain-bashing splatter. It’s got just enough plot twists and twisted humor to elevate it, slightly, above the level of mindless slaughter. The kills — a dozen or so spread out over the 95-minute running time — get under way as a trio of psychos in cute animal masks rudely interrupt a family reunion at an isolated country mansion with machetes, axes and crossbows. The reason all this is happening, revealed halfway through the attack, ups the suspense ante somewhat. But the only really interesting development is that one of the girlfriends at the celebration (Australian actress Vinson) turns out to have been raised in a survivalist compound (no kidding), where she picked up a skill set that enables her to fight back. With extreme psycho-killing prejudice.
Rated PG-13 for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Though it’s buoyed to a certain extent by a heavyweight cast, “The Butler” is a superficial effort at best, showing none of the oomph of director Lee Daniels’ Oscar-nominated debut with “Precious.” The idea, basically, is to illustrate the painful progress of racial equality from the civil rights era to Obama. There’s a limit, though, to how much Cecil (Whitaker) can overhear while carrying a serving tray into the Oval Office and attempts to draw historic connections to his personal life (his son first joins the Freedom Riders, then the Black Panthers) are pretty desperately contrived.
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language
Stars: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith
The modern-day, half-mortal, teenage son of Poseidon (Logan Legman, looking appropriately half-embarrassed) gets suckered into another insanely dangerous quest—this time to the Bermuda Triangle in search of the Golden Fleece. Unfortunately, insanely dangerous barely translates to even mild excitement in this tepid second adaptation from the best-selling, mythology-raiding young-adult novel series. The big action set -pieces fizzle for the most part. And that’s not good for a fantasy adventure movie. Especially when the fantasy component is frequently undercut by sub-standard special effects.
Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharto Copley, Diego Luna
Neill Blomkamp’s big-budget followup to his Best Picture-nominated Apartheid allegory “District 9” also mixes lots of gritty sci-fi action and heavy social commentary, but with less emotional oomph. The thinly-veiled messages about illegal immigration and universal healthcare are secondary to the main business at hand. Namely, the urgent need of dystopian future factory worker Max (Damon in reluctant action-hero mode) to break into Elysium, an orbiting Valhalla of the super rich, to cure a lethal dose of radiation. Motivations don’t come much more basic and believable than that. But things get a bit more iffy when the writer-director tries to up the dramatic ante by mingling Max’s personal battle with a revolutionary power struggle, especially since the outcome of the latter is based on a disappointingly flimsy premise.
RatedPG for some mild action and rude humor
Stars: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Cleese, Val Kilmer
Disney intended this low-flying “Cars” knockoff to be released direct to DVD (produced by the same sequels unit that turned out “The Lion King 1 ½,” “Bambi II,” “Cinderella III,” etc.) and it certainly plays that way. Mildly enjoyable, but second rate in all particulars, “Planes” is the story of Dusty Clodhopper (Cook), a small-town crop duster who gets the chance to live his dream of competing against the world’s fastest propeller-driven racers in an around-the-world rally. You can pretty much imagine most of what’s going to happen, from Dust’s crash-course training in high-speed flying with a crusty old mentor plane, to the dirty tricks employed by obnoxious champion racer, to the photo-finish finale. It’s the sort of thing you can snooze through with no loss, in other words, if you wind up taking a tyke to see this one at a multiplex. But you’re hereby advised to wait until this one winds up where it belongs after a month or two, pop it into a player and find something better to do for 92 minutes.
WE’RE THE MILLERS
Rated: R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity
Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms
Despite its transgressive trappings, this excruciatingly awful comedy has been designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience by defaulting to family values straight out of a ’50s sitcom. The utter bogusness of that strategy makes the whole thing fundamentally artificial and unfunny. “Saturday Night Live” alum Sudeikis stars as David, an aging, friendly neighborhood pot dealer who’s forced to smuggle a large shipment of weed out of Mexico to settle a debt with his sleazy boss (Helms). So he decides to hire a stripper and an abandoned teenager from his apartment building (Aniston and Poulter) and a homeless runaway girl (Roberts) to pose as his wholesome American family and drive the dope across the border in an RV. Nothing ever really clicks, though, because while the film tries to set up the faux Millers as the opposite of a loving family, it’s obvious that’s what they’re going to wind up being. Whether it’s the slightest bit believable or not.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, language and sexual content
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins
Woody Allen’s most serious—and painful—film in years has one thing going for it at least: a powerhouse performance by Cate Blanchett in the title role—though she’s working with very familiar material. Her Jasmine, a formerly wealthy Manhattan socialite rapidly losing touch with reality while forced to live with her working-class sister (Hawkins), is a less sympathetic variation on Blanche Dubois. Just as “Blue Jasmine” is a thinly disguised reworking of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” with little to add that’s new or improved. Most of the plot developments of the Tennessee Williams classic are present and accounted for, but less so. The characters are sketchy, the dialogue is prosaic and the tragedy, when it comes, is accompanied by the unpleasant feeling that Jasmine, unlike Blanche, has gotten what’s coming to her.