★★½ Man of Steel Director Zack Snyder (”300”) has made a superhero blockbuster that carries the weight of its fraught times, but where’s the pop joy? As Superman, Henry Cavill is very good without quite convincing us he’s a star. With Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and crazy-eyed Michael Shannon as General Zod. (143 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)
★★★ Post Tenebras Lux Despite or because of the film’s extreme scenes of sex and violence, Mexican director Carlos Reygadas has created another genuinely religious work with this chronologically cockeyed, nightmarish, and transgressive meditation on the lives of an upper-class family and their lumpen counterparts. Set at a country estate, it combines stunning beauty and wrenching ugliness to achieve a kind of transcendence. In Spanish, French, and English, with subtitles. (115 minutes, unrated) (Peter Keough)
★★★ This Is the End A cheerfully crass meta-comedy in which the Apocalypse comes to Hollywood and takes most of the A-list with it. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and others play comic versions of themselves. The opening scenes are inspired, but then the world ends and the movie still has an hour and a half to go. (106 min., R) (Ty Burr)
★★★★ Before Midnight The third installment in director Richard Linklater’s saga of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is richer, riskier, and more bleakly perceptive about what it takes for love to endure (or not) over the long haul. Like Michael Apted’s “Up” documentaries, this series offers a touching and humbling time-lapse study of human nature. (108 min., R) (Ty Burr)
★★★ The Kings of Summer What if Henry Thoreau moved to Walden just to get away from his parents? That’s the conceit (more or less) behind this stylish, funny teenage coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old kid (Nick Robinson) who builds his own house in the woods of suburbia. (93 min., R) (Ty Burr)
★½ The Purge What might have been a promising concept falls flat as the film resorts to a pastiche of hackneyed thriller motifs. In the future unemployment and crime have been eradicated by means of an annual “Purge” during which crime is unpunished. Writer/director James DeMonaco could have made some points about class and violence but chooses instead to demonstrate his ineptitude at duplicating genre clichés. (84 min., R) (Peter Keough)
★★★ Wish You Were Here The ironic title describes the fateful vacation in Cambodia taken by four Australians, only three of whom return. The fate of the fourth is revealed in cryptic flashbacks that strain for effect at times but, aided by outstanding performances, ultimately achieve an effective resolution, one that says more about the problems left at home than the nightmare endured abroad. (93 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)An archive of reviews is at www.boston.com/movies.